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 Bar Food ~ Oil-free Buffalo Cauliflower Nuggets

As a girl from Chicago, one of my favorite foods to eat is anything deep fried and drenched in hot sauce. When I switched over to a vegan lifestyle, that meant TVP in the air fryer and dunked in my famous Frank’s-based sauce. And then cauliflower had her glow-up.

Now I’m not like most people who used to hate on cauliflower as being the paler, less delicious form of broccoli. I’ve always been a fan and I don’t need it covered in cheese or breading, no matter how good it might be.

In fact, I made it a goal to find different ways to have vegan buffalo wings without all the oil and calories.

And I’m pretty sure this is the winner.

Oil free vegan cauliflower in buffalo sauce

So what’s the trick to tasty but oil-free cauliflower nuggets? High cook temperature.

Vegan Burgers ~ Funkink Burgers, Bucharest, Romania

So recently we were feeling a hint of cabin fever and decided to get out, only all the fun places in the mountains and the countryside were packed with others who had the same idea, so we ventured into the city.

Which city, you ask?

Bucharest. It’s only about 75 kilometers from Ploiesti so within an hour–give or take for traffic–we can be there with the frustration of city driving behind us. The day was nice and sunny, we got there just late enough to bypass rush hour traffic and parked quickly, so it was mostly an easy journey.

ARCUL DE TRIUMF, Bucharest, Romania

I’ll tell you later all about my new tattoo, complete with vegan, cruelty-free vegan ink. For now, let’s talk food.

Funkink Burgers, formerly known as Sarah’s Burgers, is a fully vegan establishment. The cool thing about this place besides their artisan burgers? It’s a collaborative effort with an NGO, Romanian Vegan Association, to “promote a vegan lifestyle and reduce the consumption of animal products for ethical, economic reasons, to protect health and the environment.”

Pretty cool mission statement, if I do say so myself.

After sitting on a stool for hours until my butt was numb, all I could think about was burgers. Vegan burgers and fries, and homemade vegan dipping sauces. Sign me up. Now.

Funkink Burgers view, Bucharest, RO

The walking path to get to Funkink was a lot like wandering the side streets of Paris, basically a labyrinth of cobblestone streets that feature bars and eateries from around the world. I spotted an American style sports bar, an English pub, several German pubs because Germany is a HUGE influence in this country, and even a Scottish pub that promised “authentic Scottish fare”.

Easy Vegan Dips ~ Shallot & Banana Pepper Relish

Hummus.

Salsa.

Pesto.

Spinach & artichoke.

Romesco.

Tapenade.

Vegan queso.

What do these yummy dishes all have in common? They are delicious vegan dips!

I don’t know about you guys, but I am always looking for different things to dip-ify. My favorite is salsa, followed up with hummus but I can totally get down with a nice tapenade if the olive selection is appealing enough. But any one of these vegan dips can get boring after a while and I find it’s nice to switch things up once in a while, so when my father-in-law brought A LOT of white plums back from a trip to the Romanian countryside, it was the perfect time to improvise.

White plums are not just for sweet vegan dishes

To be fair, white plums are not all that delicious on their own. The texture is very similar to the plums you can find in most supermarkets around the world, but the taste is so mild that it’s almost nonexistent. If you give them a day or two after they’re perfectly ripe, they are much sweeter and perfect for this vegan relish I created. Well…maybe someone else created and I just made it up in my head. Either way, this one is mine and I’m claiming it.

Quick & easy vegan dips don’t have to be complicated. Just add chips!

The ingredient list on this vegan dip is super simple. All you need is: banana pepper, shallot, white plums, fresh lemon juice and rice vinegar. The only seasoning I added was salt, black pepper & garlic granules.

Nothing else.

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Start with the shallots, because you want to give him a little bit of pickling so they don’t overpower the other ingredients. Dice the shallots and add them straight to a bowl, along with salt, pepper, lemon juice and vinegar. Give it a little stir and let it sit while you chop the banana peppers and plums.

I used jarred banana peppers because that’s what I had on hand, and truthfully I don’t think I’ve seen any fresh banana peppers since moving to Romania. Add the banana peppers to the bowl and give a good stir before moving on to the plums.

For the white plums, you can peel the skin off but I kept them on because, you know, fiber. Give them an even dice and add to the bowl. Give everything a quick stir and refrigerate. I let them sit in the fridge for a few days so the flavors could get together and have a little party, but you can dig right in if you want.

And now you have another easy vegan dip added to your repertoire.

And what’s even better? It is SUPER calorie/figure friendly!

cronometer.com

I know what you’re thinking. What the hell do I do with this weird vegan relish?

I’m glad you asked.

Shallot, banana pepper & white plum relish with tortilla chips

You can use this dip in a number of ways

*Mix it with your favorite brand of vegan tuna and make a sandwich

*Grab tortilla chips and nosh away

*Pita chips or pita bread, naan, rustic bread etc…

*Add a few tablespoons to your favorite vegan yogurt or sour cream and make a creamy dip

*Add it on top of your favorite vegan hot dog or sausage, Chicago style

If you’re feeling really hungry, grab a spoon and let go, but I recommend a healthy dose of carbs to go with it.

Southern Style Vegan Black Eyed Pea & Spinach Stew

I know, I know, it’s barely September and here I am with a stew recipe. The weather is still nice but has cooled dramatically after the super warm summer we’ve had all over Europe (and home in the US too, no?), which makes it the perfect time to hop on the stew train. Or if you prefer, the soup train?

Not to mention the fact that black eyed peas are very difficult to find here so when I found them (jarred, boo) I grabbed them, held on tight and knew I had to make a southern style vegan bean stew.

Why? Both of my grandmothers have southern roots–Alabama & Tennessee, respectively–which means I have eaten my fair share of bean soups, stews and the mysteriously named soup beans. Sometimes, when my longing for time with my grannies gets too strong, this is one of my go to recipes. Or when it’s a little bit chilly and I’m making an excuse to eat soup. Or just because the mood strikes.

Black eyed peas are perfect for vegan stews or slow cooker vegan recipes

This is a very hearty stew which means, in my opinion, it doesn’t require bread or crackers or anything else on the side. You’ve got spinach for dark leafy greens, onions and potatoes for fiber and tons of other nutrients. Just season well and let this big bowl of vegan goodness do it’s thang.

Vegan Backyard BBQ Salad Recipe – Smoked Tofu, Sweet Potato & Corn Salad

We have all seen the vegan salad memes and if you’ve been vegan for even a few months, you know how true the meme is.

loaded vegan salads

It’s kind of sad to think that only vegans are privileged enough to enjoy these delicious salads when they are so packed with nutrition, vibrant colors (which is also a clue to nutrition) and tons of raw, high fiber vegetables. But hey, if you need animals in your salad…

Today’s vegan salad recipe is kind of my own creation. In my mind, I love a good backyard barbecue and that probably stems from all the great cookouts spent at my grandmother’s house as a kid. But the reality of charcoal and lighter fluid, the awful smell and burnt food makes it less appealing.

So I decided to veganize and salad-ify the backyard barbecue.

Easy vegan salads and homemade vegan salad dressing
Fresh cut corn, smoked tofu & herbed veggiegurt vegan salad dressing

One of the first lessons I learned when I became a vegan and a healthy (ish) eater, was that a salad can be just about anything. I always thought of salad as the pitiful thing you get at restaurants when the choice is soup or salad, you know two quartered tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and a few half-moons of cucumber. That can–and has–turned plenty of people of eating salad.

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.

Graffiti Eggplant & Courgette Couscous Salad ~ Easy Vegan Meals

Have any of you noticed that it’s not as easy to find all the foods you need at one supermarket these days? I used to be able to hit up Kaufland and get most of what I needed, using a delivery service for the rest. But given everything going on in the world, it seems to be hit or miss with lots of things.

At the top of that list I would put lettuce. Romaine lettuce has been gone for months, which leaves very few options because I’m not a fan of bagged lettuce or salad mix. There have just been too many problems over the years so I try to stay away from those. But I LOVE to eat a big, hearty salad for lunch on most days.

So, what am I to do?

Improvise, of course.

This warm couscous salad with graffiti eggplant and zucchini fits the technical definition of a salad, and it was delicious to boot, so here we go!

I came across some beautiful graffiti eggplant and my husband asked me to get some because he loves the stuff. I, on the other hand, have just started to like eggplant and not out of necessity. Here in Romania there’s a dish called vinete, which is basically an eggplant dip. For me, it’s hit or miss but we were recently visiting Sinaia and I actually slathered it on two slices of bread…and ate them both.

Vegan Chicken & Soba with Peanut Sauce

You know what I love that I don’t eat nearly enough of? Peanut butter. It’s creamy and delicious and the expensive stuff tastes like you just ate a handful of peanuts. There’s nothing about it that I don’t love, except the calories. My life would be complete if I could find calorie-free peanut butter for cookies or international stews, or did I mention cookies?

But my love of Asian food means that occasionally I do give in to my love for peanut butter to make a quick sauce to accompany whatever noodles I’m craving at the moment. Try my Mongolian Fire Noodle recipe!

If you love nuts or nut butters, this is an excellent way to indulge without going overboard, just remember that the key is always…moderation.

This vegan chicken and noodle dish seems small, right? I know, but when you add peanut butter you have to make certain adjustments. It’s still delicious, though. I promise.

This vegan dinner has a few unusual ingredients but I think you’ll find them wonderful additions that make this dish taste like it was made my a professional.

Quick & Easy Vegan Dinners

It’s no secret that I love to spend time in the kitchen, whipping up vegan recipes from around the world. For me, cooking is another creative outlet that allows me to stay healthy and fit, while forcing me to take a much needed break from my excessive daily screen regimen.

But some days I am just too busy with writing for clients, publishing my books, catching up with family back home in the U.S., and even just doing stuff for me. Days are long and days are busy, but that doesn’t mean I want to crack open a frozen pizza and call it a meal. But there is something in between vegan junk food and elaborate vegan dinners.

Right?

For me, yeah.

So today let’s take a look at a very simple vegan dinner that doesn’t require even an hour in the kitchen. What is this mythical vegan recipe, you ask?

Easy. Vegan falafel balls with a delicious barbecue sauce and one of my favorites…vegan garlic mashed potatoes!

Even the photos look as simple as this meal is to make, which means there is no reason to reach for takeout menus that probably don’t have enough vegan offerings to satisfy your hunger. Do it yourself.

It’s easy, I swear.