My Vegan Junk Food Haul

I’ve made no secret on this blog about my attempt to eat healthier. I started a vegan lifestyle in May 2017 and since then I’ve lost more than 45kg, I have increased my muscle mass and have almost no jiggly skin remaining. Yay me.

But I’m not telling you this just to brag or clap myself on the back, I’m telling you because I have worked really hard to maintain a healthy diet at all times without going overboard. But, a person with more than 45 kilograms to lose has a clear love and/or addiction to food, right?

Soooo right.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy a little bit of junk every once in a while. And whenever there are new vegan products that hit the market, I try them out to see if they’re worth breaking the calorie bank. Newsflash: They usually aren’t.

But let’s dig in and see, shall we?

Before I get into my vegan junk food haul, let me tell you a little bit about the healthy things I do to keep the weight off and stay healthy & fit.

Vegan Chicken & Penne Arrabiata

When I’m not in the mood to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, I go for something that’s simple and tasty. Not necessarily comfort food, but delicious home-cooked food that’s easy to make. Something that always satisfies.

Like pasta.

Whether you just like pasta or you want to try something new, enjoy this easy vegan fried chicken and penne Arrabiata.

If you love pasta, quick cooking times and delicious vegan tomato sauce, this is a dish you’ll love and add to your roster of old faithfuls.

Spicy Buffalo Vegan Tacos w/Corn & Tomato Salsa

In our house, any night is taco night. Whether is taco bowls or taco nachos or even something as simple as a taco salad, we LOVE tacos.

My personal favorite is hard shell tacos but for some reason they have been pretty difficult to come by recently so I had to settle for my second favorite, corn tortilla taco shells. Poor me, right?

Anyway the Hubs requested buffalo soya tacos and that was my starting point for what I called our taco bonanza!

Quatro Vegan Formaggio ~ Vegan Shells & Cheese

I’ll tell you up front that I was so excited about how well, and by well I mean cheesy this dish came out, that I dug right in and finished it all before I remembered the small matter of taking photos. Oops.

Forgive me?

Since the Hubs and I still do the Midnight Tokyo Diner dinner choices, our meal choices are at the mercy of that on any given night, which means some nights we have more not-so-healthy meals than others.

This is one of those nights.

He requested cheesy mac & cheese and I may have gone a little overboard, but here we are.

The truth is that I like to experiment with different vegan foods when they hit the market and well, my most recent haul included several different types of vegan cheese and since my husband LOVES mac & cheese, I knew this request would come, sooner or later.

So when he made his request, I had my marching orders.

Vegan Pancake Lasagna ~ Easy Vegan Meals for One

Do you guys watch a lot of YouTube or is it just me? I use it for many of my workout videos, my crime documentaries and most of all, recipes. I subscribe to vegan and non-vegan channels alike because sometimes non-vegan cooks have some really good ideas too.

One of my favorites is Chef John from Food Wishes. I love his corny dad jokes and even though there is always meat or dairy in his recipes, I love to veganize so many of them that it’s worth it. During one of my recent YouTube sessions, which its pretty difficult to call it a single session since it pretty much goes on and on for most of the day, especially since I pay for premium which means…no ads!

Sorry, Chef John and the Pancake Lasagna (recipe here and video here). So my partner and I watched this video together and we both pretty much had the same reaction. “Let’s make this. ASAP.”

So, that’s what we did.

The idea behind this vegan lasagna is pretty simple. Make the lasagna you love, only replace the pasta with thin, homemade pancakes. This idea appealed to me immediately because ever since moving to Europe, I have had a difficult time finding the long lasagna noodles that you boil so they’re nice and malleable no matter what size/shape baking dish you use.

Childhood Favorites Gone Vegan ~ Spaghetti & Meatballs

When I was a kid one of my favorite canned meals was spaghetti and meatballs. As a latch-key kid, there was nothign better than racing home from school to crack open a can of ravioli, spaghetti-o’s or spaghetti and meatballs. All of that tomato-y goodness that, in hindsight, wasn’t all that good, waiting to stain your lips and your microwave safe bowl!

Who could resist?

Not me, that’s for sure!

So, when I was walking the aisles of Lidl last week and noted that here in Romania they have started to up their vegan food choices game. I found Verdino brand meatballs and you know what I did, grabbed up the last package with a giddy smile. I knew then what I wanted.

What is that?

Well, let’s see. Combine my love of carbs, noodles and pasta with these vegan meatballs and what do you have? One of my childhood favorites, re-done for the fancy, grown-up vegan I am today.

This is one of those vegan dinner recipes that you can do the easy way or the tasty way. Just kidding, I’m sure your jarred pasta is super delicious, it’s just a little too sweet for my taste. But if anyone knows of any no sugar added options, I’m game to give it a try.

Easy Vegan Comfort Food ~ Vegan Schnitzel & Cheesy Pasta

Many of my friends think that eating a vegan diet means always eating healthy, and it doesn’t. Sure, most days I try to eat a whole food, plant based diet with plenty of fresh & colorful vegetables, grains, beans and legumes.

That doesn’t always happen.

As a professional writer and self-published author, there is a lot on my plate and sometimes I just want something hot and yummy and not necessarily totally healthy, and that’s all right because I work out regularly and I am as active as possible when I’m not parked in front of a computer screen.

So when I want to eat a greasy vegan schnitzel with creamy cheesy pasta and broccoli, I do.

This post doesn’t require a full on recipe because you can find your favorite brand of vegan chicken, or make your own vegan fried chicken, and cook in the air fryer or the oven with your desired seasonings. I used garlic, black pepper and smoky paprika and popped it in the oven on 200C so it would be crispy enough not to get soggy on top of the pasta.

Vegan Mince & Mushroom Stroganoff

Back in my non-vegan days, I wasn’t a big fan of any type of stroganoff. I don’t like adding sour cream to warm dishes and overall, I just thought it was too weird and creamy with tough beef. I realize now that maybe it was the cook that was problematic and not the dish, but I generally stayed away from it.

Until recently and my ongoing love affair with mushrooms.

We always have mushrooms in the fridge, provided we can find them. White button mushrooms. Shitake mushrooms. Porcini, Enoki, Portobello and my favorite, chanterelle mushrooms. I. Love. Them. All.

But this was my partner’s night to choose, so it wasn’t just mushroom stroganoff, there was some Naturli brand vegan mince added for good measure. So, let’s do this!

This dish is easy to make and doesn’t require very many ingredients. BUT if you want to add more and fancy it up, the choice is yours.

Linguine & Vegan Balls with Red Sauce

Spaghetti and meatballs, it’s pretty much a classic among pasta meals and it’s been a long damn time since I’ve eaten any variation of them. Part of it is because meatballs can be a really cumbersome task, more so when they’re vegan, at least that was the case when I first went vegan in Germany. The options were limited and getting them to hold their structure in the sauce was, well, a big ol’ mess.

But this is 2021 and times have changed for vegans the world over. Whether you’re looking for a nostalgic meal because you love pasta and vegan meatballs, or you’re looking for easy vegan meals for Veganuary, this is an excellent one to try.

There’s no need to go crazy with the vegan tomato sauce, if you don’t want to, but I always think we should all go a little bit crazy when whipping up a pasta sauce. Here’s a tip: don’t skimp on your herbs. Red sauce loves herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil or marjoram. Buy the little cheap-o packets in the herbs & spices section at the grocery store to test them out and see what you like.

You’ll thank me for this tip, but you don’t have to. Just knowing that you obeyed and loved it, is enough for me!

Other than herbs and spices you’ll need:

Vegan soy balls (or falafel, seitan, tempeh, or veggie balls)
Onion
Garlic
Linguine (or spaghetti or other long pasta)
Bell pepper
Tomatoes
Vegan Worcestershire
Cornstarch
Red chili flakes

If you cook with oil, you’ll want to sauté the onions, bell pepper and garlic in hot oil, otherwise use water or broth, added periodically to keep them from sticking to the pan, on medium-high heat. Add onions and bell peppers first, adding the garlic when the other vegetables are just about done.

Dice the tomatoes by hand or mix them in a food processor until you have a fresh tomato sauce without all the added sugar. Add the tomatoes and chili flakes to the sauté pan and bring to a boil, then simmer until the sauce starts to thicken. Add a cornstarch-Worcestershire-water mixture to thicken, and don’t forget to season your veggies or your sauce!!!

Cook the pasta according to instructions and when it’s done, scoop it straight from the pot to the skillet to toss with the sauce.

For the vegan meatballs, just season them and pop in the oven for 10 minutes or until warmed through and slightly crispy around the edges. Add to sauce until fully coated. If you want them extra crispy, put them in the air fryer for a few minutes and see what happens.

With a little bit of prep work, this is an easy vegan meal that can be on the table in 30 minutes or less.

The best thing of all about this easy linguine and vegan soy-balls dinner is that you can mix it up, however you want. Add almond milk and vodka for a nice vodka sauce. Or add spicy peppers for a type of arrabiata sauce. Add olives and capers for an upscale vegan Bolognese. The point is this is one of those easy vegan meals that you can switch up by adding different herbs, spices and pasta types to the dish.

What is your go to pasta dish when you have a carb craving and which kind of red wine do you drink with it?

Creamy Vegan Mushroom Tetrazzini

Whenever I think of tetrazzini, instantly I’m propelled back to the 90’s when my former step mother would make this dish with leftover dry chicken (or turkey if it was just after Thanksgiving) and mushrooms and some cream-type style. It wasn’t my favorite dish back then, other than the fact, you know, that pasta is delicious.

In fact, I’d argue that pasta is a lot like pizza. Even cold and a day old, it’s pretty damn good.

So why on earth did I request mushroom tetrazzini when it was my night to choose what we would have for dinner?

No clue.

But here we are, or rather, there we were.

Just so we’re clear, this is a bastardized version of whatever ‘traditional’ tetrazzini is supposed to be, but it’s close enough in my opinion that I’m called it a vegan mushroom tetrazzini, whether you like it or not.