Pesto & Chickpea Tabbouleh Salad

We all know how much I love salads and Buddha bowls (get my vegan sushi bowl recipe here). I can eat them just about every single day of the week without eating the same thing, or getting sick of them. But, that doesn’t mean that I’m not always trying to improve a recipe or improvise on existing recipes. The possibilities are endless and it’s important in general, but especially when you’re trying to eat clean and healthy, that you keep things fresh.

It’s easy to get sick of eating anything, but that is especially true of healthy, whole foods that aren’t fatty and addictive, that aren’t made to keep you coming back for more. So it requires some effort, not a lot, but some.

So a while back my niece made tabbouleh for me and the husband since we’re the only two vegans in the family. She was adorable, at fourteen years old, making this dish for us. So proud of herself and I was too, honestly. And when I was in need of a new vegan salad recipe, I thought back to Alex and her tabbouleh.

This is technically tabbouleh, but not in it’s traditional way. This is how vegans fancy up a simple salad.

Pesto & chickpea tabbouleh

Before we even begin, I’ll let you know that chickpeas aren’t a traditional ingredient in tabbouleh and I, of course, omitted the oil. Those are the major changes I made so if you’re still interested, keep reading for a unique twist on tabbouleh salad.

Lazy Vegan Dinners – Crispy Soy & Broccoli

I know, I know. As a certified carb-a-holic, it seems crazy to cook a meal without rice or noodles or pasta or…whatever. But sometimes you’re just too lazy, especially on workout days and you just want something quick and easy that tastes good.

Enter this super fast lazy vegan dinner. And the best part? If you need more sustenance, add a baked potato or a side of rice, like I did for this lazy vegan mashed potato bowl.

The second best part? You can switch this up use a vegan burger with corn on the cob, vegan sausage with roasted carrots or whatever meat alternative and vegetable you want.

Lazy vegan chicken & broccoli

This might not be lazy enough for some of you, but I promise that this meal will be done before your delivery order arrives at your front door. Don’t take my word for it, just test it out.

Moroccan Style Vegan Chicken & Couscous

One of the things I’ve learned over the past year of nonstop cooking, is that you can have a simple meal that’s full of flavor and doesn’t require a lot of hard work. How?

Simple, you just have to step outside of your cuisine comfort zone. For me, that’s no problem. I lived in Los Angeles for many years where I was able to take advantage of all that Mexican and Mexican-American fusion cuisine has to offer. Then there was Germany, which gave me a great appreciation for sauerkraut that I didn’t have before. No to mention the flammkuchen, the beer and all the myriad ways there are to enjoy the King of vegetables, potatoes (click here for my potatoes two ways recipe). And now there’s Romania, where I’ve had plenty of exposure thanks to living with a Romanian born man for more than 17 years, but being here in the country, it’s different.

My long-winded point? Trying new things is good for the palate and good for you. How else can you take a simple dish like texture vegetable protein and couscous, and turn it into a mouthwatering dish?

All you need is the will to try and a fully stocked spice cabinet.

Tasty vegan chick & couscous, Moroccan style

The ingredients in this dish are pretty simple: TVP, couscous, cauliflower, peanut oil, onion and bell peppers. Open up your spice rack and let the herbs and spices do the rest.

Couscous & Tofu Salad w/Green Goddess Salad Dressing

It’s time for another vegan salad with all the delicious goodies you know and love, but this time the focus is on the vegan salad dressing.

Want a unique vegan salad? Check out my vegan sushi salad bowl recipe here!

When I first got on the Salad Train, I can admit that I wasn’t very imaginative, not with my ingredients and certainly not with healthy salad dressing options. I started with simple vinagrettes and then creamy dressings made with vegan yogurt, mustard and even Sriracha. But the oil is a real killer.

I know, I know, life isn’t just about calories. But when you’re trying to lose weight, which was my original goal, much of your eating life is about calories and oil comes in at 120 calories per tablespoon which is INSANE. Add in how much you need to use to make a proper vinaigrette and you can see why I started to explore other options.

So when the weather permits and when the supermarket or farmer’s market has them, I pile up on herbs. Dill, parsley, basil, mint, and pretty much whatever else green I can find. Except cilantro, it is not my jam and never has been.

So, let’s do this, shall we?

This is a hot & cold salad, which means you don’t need to cook everything but that also makes it versatile enough to eat during the hottest day of summer or as the autumn chill sets in.

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: