Vegan Summer Salads ~ Broccoli, Sweet Potato & Chickpea Salad

With this unbelievable and sometimes, unbearable, heat, I have been working to up my salad game.

We’ve all heard the vegan jokes about munching on lettuce nonstop to fuel our malnourished bodies, but the truth is that if I’d known how amazing I could make salads in my pre-vegan days, my life might be very different today. Thank goodness, I didn’t figure it out until now.

This is what my friends think I eat.

Nothing wrong with this…as a side salad.

But this is what my salad actually looks like.

Sweet potato, chickpea & broccoli salad

See the difference?

Another Vegan Buddha Bowl Recipe

I have talked time, and time again about my love of the marvelous Buddha bowl.

I mean, what’s not to like about a bowl of food that contains tons of veggies, a heaping pile of grains and just enough protein to provide a well-balanced vegan meal that nourishes while tasting wickedly delicious?

I can’t think of one thing that’s unappealing about any of that.

So, here is (yet) another vegan buddha bowl recipe for you to enjoy. Or experiment with. Or try to top.

Whatever you prefer. 😉

It doesn’t matter if you’re a new vegan or an old vegan, the Buddha bowl is the perfect way to get you in the kitchen, cooking healthy vegan meals, and taking control of what you put inside your body.

Vegan Squash & Lentil Stew

For the past few days the weather outside has left much to be desired. It’s been gray and rainy, which means the hard work of editing takes even longer. My energy is low and even getting through my workouts takes more effort and focus than usual. It’s the end of May but it feels as if Spring has only just arrived.

So what’s a girl to do when it should be bright and sunny and warm outside, but instead it’s gray and dreary and chilly?

Make soup.

By some odd stroke of luck, I found a squash at the market and after getting caught in the rain while loading groceries, I knew what had to be done.

Squash & lentil stew.

This soup is thick and creamy and though it make taste and look like a complicated vegan bisque recipe, the truth is that this is an easy one-pot vegan soup that anyone can make at anytime.

Oil-Free Vegan Pesto – Recipe & Tips

When you think of pesto, you probably imagine the light green sauce we know as pesto alla Genovese, made with basil and pine nuts and usually some type of hard cheese. This is my go-to pesto recipe because the flavor of fresh basil is pretty incredible. When I talk vaguely about pesto, this is what I am referring to.

But, that isn’t the only way to make pesto. In fact, all you really need is the right leafy green and you can make pesto out of almost anything. I’ve used carrot greens, spinach, a mix of herbs, sundried tomatoes and now…ramsons!

Making pesto is pretty easy if you have a food processor but if you prefer the old school method that requires a mortar & pestle you’ll need a bit more muscle to get the job done. Either way will work, so pick your method and grab your ingredients.

Let’s start with basic ingredients for vegan pesto!

Vegan Basil Pesto Ingredients

Ingredients
Basil
Scallions (optional)
Lemon (juiced)
Garlic
Pine nuts (I like to lightly toast them)
Nutritional yeast (or vegan parmesan)
Water (if needed and added gradually)

That’s a super basic ingredient list, right? Pesto, for all its delicious flavors, isn’t a sauce that’s over-complicated and that’s certainly part of it’s charm. It’s so flavorful that a little bit goes a long way.

Tip: If you use more than a bunch or 2 of basil, give it a pulse or two on its own before adding the rest of the pesto ingredients. This is especially important if you choose to go oil-free because you won’t get that smooth chop that comes with adding 1/4 cup or more of olive oil to the pesto.

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl of the food processor and start with a gentle pulse until the ingredients start to blend. If you’re having trouble, add a tablespoon of water and crank up the speed of the food processor until you get the desired consistency.

Tip: Add half the lemon juice up front and the rest as you need more liquid to break up those leafy greens, and then switch to water or you’ll end up with a SUPER lemony pesto.

Tip: Add nutritional yeast a little at a time, tasting as you go. If you use vegan parmesan, please let me know your tips because I have some Violife Parmesan arriving in the mail…any day now today!

If you make a big batch of pesto, I recommend adding a teaspoon of oil after two days to make the batch last longer. If you make enough for one or two days, feel free to keep the pesto oil-free.

My mother-in-law recently returned from the local Farmer’s Market with a huge bag of ramsons, also known as wild garlic or ramps (pictured below) and once I got a whiff of that yummy garlicky scent, I knew this would be perfect for pesto. The first batch, which I didn’t photograph, was super garlicky because I added about 20 grams of roasted garlic to the pesto. It was delicious but very, very garlicky.

Very.

For the second batch, I decided to go with a vegan Ramson Pesto alla Trapanese style vegan pesto which means leafy greens, nuts and fresh tomatoes. I had some heirloom kumatoes that I hoped would work.

Organic Kumato

My Ingredients:
Ramsons
Lemon (juiced & zested)
Walnuts
Kumato
Mustard
Nutritional yeast or Vegan Parm
Tabasco sauce (just a few drops)
Water

Break up the ramsons with a few pulses in the food processor and then add the remaining ingredients, starting with a slow pulse and then giving them a good go ’round until you have a nice pesto consistency.

If the leaves aren’t broken up enough, add water or lemon juice to keep it an oil-free pesto, but if you don’t mind some extra fat, add oil one teaspoon at a time.

Refrigerate and add to your favorite pasta dishes, sandwiches or whatever else you fancy. In fact, tell me in the comments section how you like to enjoy your pesto. My favorite thing to do besides enjoy it on a toasted baguette or crackers, is to add some veggiegurt to it for a creamy, flavorful salad dressing.

Quick and easy oil free vegan pesto!

Next time you make pesto of any kind, I’d love to see it so hit me up on Facebook or Instagram with photos!

Creamy Sweet Potato Polenta & Roasted Veggies

I just love it when we have our Midnight Tokyo Diner nights and my partner chooses something that stomps me…at first. Yeah, I’m not ashamed to admit that his request for sweet potato polenta threw me for a moment but after a few minutes of research, my confidence rose and I was like, “I got this.”

If you’ve never had sweet potato polenta before, I hope this recipe inspires you to add more than vegan butter and nutritional yeast to your next batch of polenta.

Before we begin, I’ll tell you right off the bat that this is a pretty cumbersome ingredient list, but that doesn’t mean that it is a complicated or difficult recipe. It just has several different components that are put together separately before they find their way to the same plate.

Vegan Corn & Potato Chowder

You know how sometimes you’re scrolling through Facebook and you see a vegan dish that calls to you? Well that’s what happened to me with this meal. There is no long story about why I love it or why I was craving it, just a simple case of I saw it. I wanted it. I made it.

Back in my non-vegan days, I couldn’t not stand chowder because I have never been a fan of milk or heavy cream, but after seeing a photo, I decided to give a shot. So, after a long walk on a very cold day in Romania, I whipped out my ingredients and tried my hand at vegan corn & potato chowder.

The ingredient list for this vegan chowder is pretty simple:

Couscous & Vegan Mince Stuffed Mushrooms

I love mushrooms. They are just…delicious.

You can use them as the ‘meat’ replacement if you’re just starting to transition to a vegan diet or lifestyle because they are sturdy and heavy and did I mention, delicious? You can grill them, fry’em, roast them in the oven or pop them in the air fryer. These suckers are very versatile, use them in your favorite mushroom vegan Buddha bowl.

I will put mushrooms in any vegan recipe I can from vegan risotto, to shredded barbecue oyster mushrooms on a bun and even vegan burgers.

I recently came across some of those giant mushrooms that are just perfect for a night of stuffed mushrooms, and then I found out that the new Romanian vegan food brand, Verdino, made a mince and I knew I had to try it out!

The hard part of any stuffed mushroom recipe is figuring out what to stuff it with. Do you load it up with veggies or look for a protein source? Since I already knew the Verdino mince was on the menu, it was time to fill up the giant brown and white mushroom caps.

I decided to keep this vegan dinner recipe simple with easy ingredients for both components of this dish. Inside the mushrooms are: couscous, shallots, sundried tomatoes, garlic, green bell pepper and vegan mince not meat.

Just saute the shallots, bell pepper and garlic, add in the mince last unless it’s really greasy, then add it first so you won’t need to add any additional oil, a perfect option if you want an oil-free diet option. Season and cook until brown and warmed through, set aside.

I recommend that you give it some time to cool down before you handle the mixture because you will end up using your hands.

Now, while this is all going on, you’ll have to make the couscous. Bring salted/seasoned water to a boil and add the couscous. Stir and remove from heat and, voila, couscous.

Annnnd, while you’re doing all that, you should get the mushrooms going in the oven unless you want them to get super water logged while stuffed. Bake them for about 15 to 20 minutes until they are still firm but starting to crisp around the edges.

Stuff the mushrooms with your vegan mince mixture and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Oh and as my Hubs suggested, add cheese on top if you want, but you don’t need them.

If you mis-measured the way I did, put the rest of the mix on the plate to make a ‘bed’ of stuffed mushroom goodness.

Since we know this isn’t a proper vegan dinner for any grownup vegan, what will you add with these stuffed mushrooms? You can go with fries because they DO go with just about everything. But I opted for carrot, garlic & ginger soup instead. Please be kind because the photo, well, it isn’t pretty.

It was a very satisfying vegan dinner recipe and it was pretty quick to put together. It was the perfect bistro night dinner, at least in my opinion.

As for the Verdino mince, it was delicious and not too oily. I added a few basic seasoning like salt, black pepper, garlic granules and smoky paprika and that was all it needed. If you find it, give it a shot, and tell me in the comments what’s your favorite brand of vegan mince not-meat?

Vegan Risotto alla Bolognese

Is there anything better on a cold November day than some thick and hearty carbs smothered in a creamy sauce that just makes you feel better about being stuck in the house and cold as hell?

Not on this particular November day, anyway.

This vegan dinner was a request from my husband a la Midnight Tokyo Diner and I decided to go fairly authentic with the vegan bolognese sauce, so let’s jump right in to this vegan risotto alla bolognese recipe!

To make things easy for me, I made the risotto and the bolognese separately and tossed them together over low heat at the end, but here is the full ingredient list:

I will tell you up front that this wasn’t the most calorie friendly vegan recipe, coming in at just over 600 calories per servings, but holy moly was it worth every minute of working out the day of and the next day!

If you know how to cook risotto or if you have a preferred method, warm up your vegan broth and get it going. If you’re not sure the best way to cook risotto, check out this long ago recipe of mine!

Now…onto the vegan bolognese!

I used a mixture of onions and shallots to cook the risotto and for the sauce, so to get the vegan bolognese started, add a splash of oil to the pot along with the chopped onions, shallot, bell pepper, carrot and celery. Cook until it starts to soften and add the vegan burger meat. This was another new vegan product find for me from a company I was unfamiliar with, Naturli, but the burgers weren’t too greasy and it was very tasty, blended in perfectly with this vegan dinner recipe.

Next add the garlic for 2 minutes, then the fresh tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes start to break down, it should take a few minutes while you stir regularly.

Add tomato paste and some broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to thicken.

When everything is ready, toss together over low heat. Normally I would add some nutritional yeast to the vegan red sauce but it was perfectly seasoned and didn’t need it. See how I patted myself on the back right there? Don’t be afraid to do that once in a while…it feels good.

Now comes the tough question: to add or not to add vegan cheese?

The choice is yours! I didn’t think it was necessary but if you have a vegan cheese you love, feel free to add it and PLEASE drop a link below with your vegan cheese recommendation.

Be sure to season the sauce every step of the way or you’ll end up with bland red sauce. And if you don’t have any fresh tomatoes, canned/jarred crushed tomatoes work well but they are a little sweeter so you’ll have to be more diligent about seasoning.

And there you have it, a delicious vegan risotto alla bolognese. If you try it out, feel free to leave photos in the comments section or share with me on Instagram or Facebook.

Picnic Style Vegan BBQ Buddha Bowl

With the weather turning cold and 2020 being the year that never ends, I was in the mood for something simple to remind me of those times when he weather was nice, when you could outside and have a picnic without worry, when you could just go…outside.

And I just got a new tablecloth and it’s so picnic-y that I just couldn’t resist!

And when you want something healthy with a splash of something less than healthy, vegan Buddha bowls are an excellent choice. Just remember to add: protein, carbs and loads of veggies.

It looks really good, I know, but this is also a very calorie friendly vegan meal, and if you need to cut a little more, I recommend cutting the corn on the cob in half.

The tofu was seasoned and popped into the air fryer for about 10 minutes giving it a crisp & crunchy taste that was perfect with the rice and broccoli.

The corn was par boiled in salted water and then seasoned before it went into the oven for about 15 minutes and I kid you not, it tasted like street food corn, minus the loads and loads and loads of butter.

The broccoli received the same treatment as the corn, only less time in the oven and it was delicious, but I am also a huge fan of broccoli so…yeah.

The best thing about a meal like this is you can easily turn it Mediterranean by switching up the spices, maybe rubbing pesto onto the corn. Add ginger and garlic and garam masala for an Indian taste. Or whatever flavor profile you want because herbs & spices are what makes food taste GOOD.

The point is that you can do what you like because it’s your kitchen and your body, and anything that makes it easier to make healthy vegan meals is what we should all be doing.

What’s your go to meal when you need to change your mood?

Easy Vegan Lunch Ideas – Spicy Buffalo Tofu Sandwich & Salad

Sandwiches are one of my favorite foods in all the world. I’m like Joey when it comes to sandwiches, just give me some good bread, tons of veggies, some good sauce like pesto or hummus or dill-veggiegurt and I am a happy camper! And when you find bread that is delicious and low calorie, well it’s like sandwiches are calling my name.

So when my mother in law brought over a bag filled with little ciabatta rolls just 60 grams per roll, I was ECSTATIC! Like Joey-level excited and I knew exactly what I wanted. Spicy TVP, cooked in the air fryer and tossed in a blend of spices & hot sauce.

Spicy Vegan Buffalo Tofu Sandwich

This recipe is pretty easy as far as vegan lunch recipes go.

Ingredients:
2 Ciabatta Rolls
70 grams TVP ~ I use inedit but use whatever you like
1 Garlic clove (pressed/minced)
Franks Red Hot (which is accidentally vegan!)
1 tbsp. Vegan ketchup
5 grams Olive oil
5 grams Cider vinegar
Sriracha
50 grams Veggigurt
Scallion & Dill
Salad fixings

Rehydrate the TVP in water or broth and let it rest to get as much liquid out as possible. When you’re ready, toss it in a variety of seasonings & spices such as: smoky paprika, turmeric, piri piri, garlic, cumin & white pepper…don’t forget the oil.

Pop the vegan buffalo strips in the air fryer for 10 to 15 minutes. I ended p going closer to 15 minutes because I use the big chunks and cut them in half before seasoning them. When the spicy tofu is done, toss it in a mixture of hot sauce, vinegar (optional), and vegan butter (also optional).

I used: Sriracha, ketchup, pressed garlic, hot sauce & cider vinegar (just enough to think out the mixture).

For the sauce, mix veggiegurt, dill, lemon juice and thinly sliced scallions. Season with salt & pepper and add to bread.

Then whip up your salad and dress it with a quick vegan vinaigrette (mustard, vinegar, herbs & spices), and your easy vegan lunch recipe is ready to go. If you do your prep work, this is a quick and easy vegan lunch for two but if you’re cooking for more, just double the recipe as needed.

Wondering what that drink is above? Just a little bit of Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition & Bundaberg sarsaparilla, also known as a Lynchburg Beer or, since I used Jameson, Dublin Beer!