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!

vegan salad recipes

Supreme Vegan Salads

We all know the jokes about vegans eating nothing but grass or lettuce or any other leafy green, right?

To a certain extent that’s true for this vegan, but that’s because once you open your mind, salads are damn good. They aren’t just delicious though, they are also packed with vitamins and nutrients that keep you healthy and beautiful! Besides all that, you plenty of natural fiber to keep everything in working order.

Let’s not forget, for those of us looking for a calorie friendly way to satisfy our appetite, salads are super calorie friendly!

So yeah, we vegans definitely know how to do salad right.

vegan salad recipes

Of course you can always make salad with pretty much anything you want, but I prefer to add a bit of beans & grains for a little heft to go along with all the fresh, raw goodness of traditional salad veggies.

My go to salad ingredients are: lettuce, tomato, scallions, cucumber, radishes, olives & sprouts

If I’m feeling creative or if I have some extra time I’ll add shredded carrots, apples, cranberries, fennel, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes or kohlrabi. The point to making delicious vegan salads for lunch or for dinner, is to get creative. Don’t be afraid to test out a vegetable you think you don’t like or don’t know how to cook. You have your phone, never be afraid to whip it out in the middle of the grocery store and type in “how to cook/eat” a particular food item. Phones are tools too, people!

vegan taco burrito bowl

Another thing I love about salad? Adding lettuce to an otherwise super caloric meal is an awesome cheat. Feel like tacos or a burrito? Add the all fixings on a bed of lettuce and you can eat it guilt-free, in addition to cruelty free! And with the addition of grains, you can easily turn a taco salad into a taco bowl…and you can even add your favorite vegan cheese too!

One of my favorites is a Chipotle style burrito bowl and you can make it so many times without repeats!

Feeling too lazy to make a big ol’ dinner? Mix your lettuce with some shredded cabbage to fill you up and toss in fifty grams of cooked tofu or TVP and you’ve got a vegan chicken salad that will satisfy your appetite.

I have a cabinet filled with vinegar and there’s always veggiegurt (vegan yogurt) in my fridge for salad because some days I feel like a vinaigrette and others I want something creamy. The options are endless, so the next time someone cracks a joke about vegans eating nothing but lettuce, sit back with a smug smile knowing they if they knew what you now know about salads, they’d be halfway to changing their lives!

creamy vegan pesto salad dressing

And if you find yourself running out of ideas, consider some of your favorite dishes butt salad-ized! (Is that a word? If not, it totally should be!)

Think about it, pasta salad…nix the pasta and add lettuce instead. Take your favorite antipasti ingredients and toss it with a cup or two of Romaine, Spinach or Arugula, whatever tickles your taste buds.

Check out this soy & steak fries salad!

Eating healthy and eating vegan NEVER ever means you have to have a boring meal. All you need is a bit of desire and tons of creativity.

Pofta buna!

Spicy Soy & Steak Fries Salad

Any good relationship is about compromise, this is something we’ve all heard plenty of times and probably rolled our eyes at it more than a few times. But this is one of the truisms that helps in all relationships.

Take for example this quick and easy vegan meal I’m about to tell you about, it happened easily.

I planned to make salad for lunch because this was one of my workout days and therefore the best days to create the biggest calorie deficit I can while also eating and enjoying my whole life. I’m not at my weight loss goal yet but my husband is and before he knew what I had planned, he requested some type of fries.

Full disclosure: In my house our French fries are never fried. Always light coated in oil and baked in the oven, but still we call them Fries because calling them Bakeds would be weird.

So anyway, I said “sure” and this oddball vegan creation is what I came up with!

The ingredient list on this easy vegan meal is simple:

Lettuce

Tomato

Scallion

Cucumber

Potatoes

TVP

Pesto

Veggiegurt

Herbs & Spices

Of course you can always add anything else you like but last week my market was out of sprouts, artichoke hearts and radishes so I worked with what I had on hand.

Make the salad and toss all the ingredients together in a big bowl, using a little more than half of the basil pesto cream as the salad dressing. Plate it and then add the spicy TVP and French Fries on top, drizzling the remaining pesto cream on top for color and taste.

As long as you keep your serving size reasonable (400 grams of potatoes and 50 grams of TVP for 2 servings), this is a meal that can be healthy and indulgent at the same time.

What are your healthy hacks for cheat days?

Orzo Greek Salad with Vegan Feta

From the day I started this new journey to healthy, cruelty-free living, I have been trying to do a better job of adding fresh, raw vegetables to my diet. Before I turned vegan I always made sure I had plenty of vegetables to go along with my meat and dairy, but salad was something mostly reserved for the “soup or salad” option when eating out.

Now though, I am a full time writer and author which means I can take my time to make a proper salad for lunch. But…I am human. It came as a shock to me too, but there you have it. I am a human and some days I’m not in the mood for a raw salad, especially this time of year when the temperature drops. And now that I have a lot less fat covering my body, I feel that cold a heck of a lot more and I want something at least a little bit warm.

And then…I found Violife Greek White Block, which I just called vegan Feta!!!!! So of course, I had to make a Greek salad and I had to do it my way.

The one thing I think it’s important for everyone to remember is that you can make a salad any way you want it. Don’t let so-called rules about what a salad should and shouldn’t be, dictate how you eat them. Or don’t eat them. As long as it’s healthy and delicious, have fun with it.

I kept the ingredient list pretty simple: orzo, romaine lettuce, feta, tomatoes, cucumber, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, sauteed onions, bell pepper & sun chokes. Make a dressing if you want but if you saute the veggies, the remaining oil should help you toss it beautifully.

This doesn’t taste exactly like feta but it does have that tangy, salty flavor. It is WAY creamier than dairy feta cheese which I loved about it and in fact, I took a few pieces from my plate and put it on my husband’s plate because it was a bit too rich for me.

Make the orzo and sauteed vegetables first and once they’ve cooled down a bit put them in a bowl so you don’t completely wilt the lettuce or warm the fresh raw veggies like tomato & cucumber. Set it aside and get to chopping.

Add the rest to the big bowl and toss it thoroughly.

If you’re not sure, give it another toss.

Plate it up and enjoy!

Or wash it down with something cool and strong. I couldn’t find a Greek beer…my bad.

Nutrition Facts:

Time & Figure Friendly Vegan Quinoa Salad

When it comes to eating healthy and eating vegan, you don’t have to resign yourself to a life of salad and tomatoes. Though for the record I should state that there is absolutely nothing at all wrong with lettuce or tomatoes. Or cucumber. Or radishes. Scallions. Or sprouts. I love it all and they are a regular part of my diet because…weight loss.

But that doesn’t mean that a girl doesn’t want a little bit of variety for her taste buds. Most days I eat some version of a salad for lunch because they are healthy, packed with vitamins and a great way to satisfy your appetite without going overboard on calories. I’m down plenty of kilos at this point which means my way is working and I’m sticking to it.

So…quinoa salad.

The best thing about this salad is that you can use whatever you have handy. I made up this recipe using what was in the fridge and we loved every single bite of it.

I started with my usual salad ingredients: Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, scallions. Then I decided to use some of this extra extra large carrot I had on hand and grated some of it, about 100 grams. Throw in half a diced red bell pepper, 100 grams of cannellini beans and you’re almost finished with this easy, healthy vegan salad.

Toss in the cooked quinoa. For this recipe I used organic red lentils because they were pretty and I think added the perfect splash of color to this dish.

Fluff the quinoa and you’re ready to mix the vegetables and grains.

For the creamy dressing on this vegan salad I used veggiegurt, about 80 grams and mixed it with a tablespoon of mustard, a pinch of gochugang (Korean chili past), salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix it and toss with the veggies & quinoa and you’re good to go!

There is a bit of prep work with rinsing and chopping up all the vegetables but I managed to get it all done in less than 30 minutes. And you’ll love even more than this dish was less than 300 calories per bowl!

Calories aren’t everything. Taste does matter and if you give new foods a chance, often you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

How Make A Vegan Burrito Bowl

As many of you may or may not know, I love a good bowl. I have mentioned it a time or two but today instead of just teasing you with another delicious burrito bowl, I’m going to walk you through creating your very own burrito bowl.

The next time you’re in the mood for a taco, a burrito or even a fajita but you’re looking for a way to cut down on calories or carbs, consider tossing out those tortilla shells in favor or…something else.

Today’s lesson in vegan burrito bowls starts at the bottom. We’re gonna stack this baby up the way it should be, so let’s start with the grains at the bottom of the bowl.

If you want to stick with a Mexican-style bowl, choose your favorite grain of rice. Basmati, jasmine, brown, wild…whatever you like, try it out. If you want a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern flair, use bulgur or couscous. If you’re feeling adventurous, consider quinoa or amaranth, even! The point is, experiment with grains and keep stackin’.

I like to add a little bit of turmeric to the water when I put the rice in for the health benefits.

And the color!

Next, are your greens. I’m partial to Romaine so its my go to but feel free to use butter lettuce, spinach, arugula, kale or any other leafy green that floats your fancy.

Now we’re at the protein portion of the dish and this is where you can get super creative. I used oyster mushrooms because when you slice them into shredded pieces and cook them until they start to crisp around the edges, you’ll get a magnificent flavor that will blow your mind. Add in some sliced onions and bell peppers, and you’ve got a delicious shredded mushroom burrito bowl.

As a vegan, I’m sure you’re no stranger to beans or tofu, both of which are great alternatives. Or feel free to dice up vegan burgers, nuggets or setian sausages and use those instead. Just make sure you season it to fit in with the theme of your vegan burrito bowl.

Now it’s time for my favorite part…the toppings!

I’m a simple girl, give me salsa and jalapenos and I am good to go. But others, like my hubs appreciates a good guacamole, shredded cheese and sometimes even sour cream. If you’re going for another type of cuisine, try vegan yogurt sauce with mint, lemon and cucumber. There are plenty of things you can do, so be creative and when in doubt, consult Google.

I ALWAYS make salsa fresh because I love the taste of fresh tomatoes over canned ones. The recipe is simple: tomatoes, onion/shallot, garlic, parsley, jalapenos, lime juice and hot sauce. Toss in some oregano, cumin, chili powder and paprika and…voila!

Top with jalapenos and serve alongside a nice cold cerveza/beer.

Bok Choy Kimchi ~ Vegan Style

So, it turns out that if you can’t find Napa cabbage to make vegan kimchi, you don’t have to give up altogether on kimchi. I know, I know, it seems like common knowledge, right? Yeah well, I’ve been eating kimchi for years but I’ve only been making since 2019 so…

It turns out that you do pretty much everything you do with traditional kimchi, except with bok choy you have to figure out what to do with those beautiful green leaves. The first time I did this, I added the green leaves to the white stems in the salt-water blend and it turned out all right, but I thought the leaves were a bit too soft. The second time around, I added the leaves to the other vegetables and they stayed crunchy longer.

The most time consuming part of homemade vegan kimchi is…rinsing and chopping up all the veggies. ALL the veggies!

A good rule of thumb for kimchi vegetables is to keep it crispy. Think carrots, celery, radishes (red or daikon or kohlrabi will do), cucumbers, other types of cabbage and even…peppers. Be sure to rinse them well or else you’ll end up with dirt in your kimchi.

See all that dirt clinging to your veggies? That’s a good thing…just not when it’s time to get your grub on. A quick rinse or a scrub if necessary, then dry them off and you’re good to go.

I just love the bright colors so I decided to share another photo with you…

When you’ve given your cabbage (at least) 30 minutes of being tossed on and off with the salt water and chopped your other veggies, it’s time to create the sauce. You can use the traditional kimchi recipe from above for the details. And then…it’s time to get messy!

Okay I lied, I didn’t get messy because I have a strong sense of self-preservation and I use both Korean chili fakes and chili paste, which means my vegan kimchi is spicy-spicy. Kimchi needs a VERY good toss with your hands so that the sauce coats all the veggies. Use gloves so you’re not stuck with that spice on your hands for a couple days. At least.

Toss kimchi like this

And if you’re in the mood for kimchi and you only have a few veggies on hand, consider super easy kimchi pickles! Skip the salt & water stage and move right to the sauce.

vegan kimchi pickles

Eat these pickles quickly though because they don’t have a long shelf life. We made it to the 4th day before they were a little too soft to eat and after that they became very watery. Maybe there’s a way to get past that but I haven’t found it yet.

Easy Vegan Sandwiches

It took me a long time to get creative about making sandwiches to fit my new vegan lifestyle but now I’ve finally figured it out. Once I stopped thinking that sandwiches equal meat, my sandwich game stepped up considerably.

Here’s the secret: put whatever you want on the dang sandwich!

I know, it’s crazy but trust me, nothing tastes better than the crazy stuff your mind comes up with when a sandwich craving strikes.

There aren’t many rules but generally there should be some type of bread, roll, sub, wrap, slices or whatever else floats your boat, and something that goes inside of it, preferably a lot of somethings. Sauces and condiments are optional, of course.

Behold, my deli style tofu sandwich! Just kidding, but it was delicious. I used some carrot greens and basil to whip up a rustic pesto, mixed a bunch of Indian spices on the crumbled tofu and added some tomatoes and cucumbers. It was DELICIOUS!

One of the ways I started to come around on having sandwiches again was to take my favorites and replace the meat. Duh, right? I know, but one day I got a craving for my favorite sandwich from Portillo’s, in Chicago. Dipped Italian beef. As a teenager it was my favorite and I used giant crimini mushrooms to replace the beef and it was delicious.

So, I decided to try completely replacing the bbq beef/pork sandwich with mixed vegetables, of course!

Yeah, I totally popped in a photo of my first attempt at big batch vegetable pickling. They were WAY too vinegary but there are some cucumbers working away in the kitchen as I type.

Or if you feel like feeling healthy when you eat a sandwich, add a wrap.

This spicy tofu, potato & onion wrap (those flecks are chia seeds) was delicious and the jalapenos are totally optional.

My point is, do what you want when it comes to sandwiches. There are no rules for it, trust me I’ve checked.

If you’re not quite that brave yet, take someone else’s idea and make it your own.

Check out my Smoky Tofu Scramble

Or if you want something lighter…my Vegan Lobster Roll

More vegan sandwiches

Or this muffuletta if you’re feeling brave!

Spiced Cauliflower Salad with Peanut Sauce

I’m not one to follow trends, per se, but the upside to a particular food being ‘on trend’ means there’s a flood of new recipes to make you rethink your stance on, say…cauliflower.

Now I was never a cauliflower hater but I’ve always preferred broccoli. Then I adopted a plant based lifestyle and that began to change. Slowly. One night The Hubs made cauliflower buffalo wings and they were INCREDIBLE. So crispy and spicy and surprisingly delicious and that made me look at cauliflower in a whole new light.

And now I’ve begun experimenting with my own recipes, like today’s spiced cauliflower salad with peanut sauce. I’m calling it a salad but this is a cooked dish, served warm (or hot if that’s how you like it).

The first thing you’ll want to do is preheat the oven to 175c/350f so you can get the cauliflower going. Toss it in herbs and spices with just a pinch of olive oil so you get a little bit of crisp around the edges. I used: cumin, smoky & spicy paprika, garlic granules, ras el hanout, harissa, salt & pepper and tumeric. Toss and bake about 35-40 minutes, until nice and crispy.

Then put the water to a boil for rice and follow the package instructions. I used a basmati and wild rice blend because it’s tasty and pretty.

Okay, on to the easy part. Chop onion, ginger and garlic and add to a skillet with a splash of oil if you want. Cook until brown and then add peas, we used frozen peas because they taste better than the canned ones in my opinion. By the time you’ve done all this, the cauliflower should be done and ready to toss in the skillet.

Get a big serving spoon or a giant wooden spoon and stir in the cauliflower and rice until everything is blended.

Okay, two more things.

First, the peanut sauce. It’s simple. All you need is soy sauce, coconut sugar, powdered or grated ginger, peanut butter and lime juice. Stir in hot water, a tablespoon at a time to get the sauce to a thin enough consistency to drizzle. Once the food has been plated, just drizzle on this on top.

Second thing is…green garnish. Thin slice a scallion and a few tablespoons of mint together with a few peanuts and sprinkle on top for the final garnish.

Now, get your grub on!

We really enjoyed this dish. A lot. It was flavorful and satisfying and very calorie friendly. It’s something I’ll definitely add into the rotation.

The only thing missing was an ice cold beer or maybe some kind of tea-based cocktail.

I’ll keep you posted.

Tofu Steaks with Chimichurri

When it comes to meal planning and grocery shopping, I am a champ. I mean, not to toot my own horn but I’m pretty great at it because I take the time to be. I subscribe to different recipe blogs both vegan and non-vegan because let’s face it, inspiration can come from anywhere. Sometimes it comes from my love of cooking shows, a spark of an idea and sometimes I just re-create the recipe as is…mostly.

Before I went vegan I wasn’t much of a steak eater because my dad is a HUGE steak eater and we ate it too much growing up. So when I became an adult, I shied away from red meat altogether which means I never got to really and truly enjoy chimichurri sauce. Okay, so I never even tried it.

But I saw a recipe for steak with chimichurri and thought, why the heck not, right?

One reason jumped out at me immediately. Oil. Chimichurri contains a ridiculous amount of oil so I figured I’d follow the recipe, mostly and use the oil as needed. If you’re a purist, you’ll hate this recipe…fair warning.

The tofu steaks were pretty simple, just press them and then marinate before you do anything else so that when you’re ready to put them in a hot skillet, they’re ready. Use whatever seasonings you want, I kept it simple to highlight the chimichurri.

I stuck to the recipe pretty closely using: parsley, garlic, sun dried tomatoes, piri piri peppers, fresh oregano, green olives, lemon juice and red wine vinegar. Toss it all into the food processor and it’s ready to go. I used lemon juice to help get everything blended instead of olive oil and sure, it wasn’t as liquidy as traditional chimichurri but I’d argue the taste was more powerful without 1/4 cup olive oil.

The great thing about a meal like this is that the tofu steaks and chimichurri are so flavorful that you can go light and easy on the side dishes or even just make a simple salad like the bulgur salad below.

To feed 2 people there was about 50 grams of bulgur, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and scallion, tossed together with a dill mustard sauce and ta-da, you’ve got a healthy and delicious meal!

Want even better news? This recipe came in at less than 400 calories per serving!

Eating healthy and vegan doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming.

Don’t be afraid to take a meat/dairy recipe and make it your own!

Mushroom Gyro Bowl & Vegan Yogurt Sauce

One of my favorite things to eat as a teenager was a gyro. There was this great little shop within walking distance of our house that sold fried catfish, barbecue chicken and gyros…mostly. Or maybe that’s all I remember because that’s mostly what I ordered.

Every. Single. Time.

Recently I was watching a cooking show that featured different takes on the gyro and I was inspired. So I went to my own personal favorite vegan meat replacement. Mushrooms.

Sure, I like seitan and tofu and even lupine, but nothing is as tasty or as versatile as mushrooms. And best of all, they only require strategic cuts and proper seasoning.

Before you get worried that this is a time heavy dish, don’t. There are just four components and they are all SUPER easy.

The first thing is the rice and I used a basic basmati because its one of my favorites. Follow the instructions and voila, done.

Next you need to tackle the mushrooms because they’re going to take a bit of time to get crispy and even if you don’t want them crispy, you don’t want them mushy. Clean and trim the mushrooms, slicing them fairly thick so you get 3 to 4 slices per crimini mushroom.

Now you’re ready for the spice mixture:

Cumin

Garlic granules

Coriander

Cinnamon

All spice

Smoky paprika

Spicy Paprika

Oregano

Thyme

Salt & pepper

Jerk Seasoning (pinch)

Cook the mushrooms as desired. I like to cook them on high heat for a minute or two so they water cooks out and then I cover them to get ALL the water out…well most of it. Then I uncover and let the water evaporate before I add oil and then onions so they all crisp up together. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how patient you are.

Once the onions and mushrooms have reached desired done-ness, you’re just about ready.

Grab a handful of lettuce, about 50 grams, one juicy tomato and a few olives. Thin slice the lettuce, dice the tomatoes and rough chop the olives. Add them into a small dish with salt, pepper and a dash of balsamic vinegar.

It may seem like an unnecessary step but this little salad is a few fresh veggies for the day plus it adds the perfect amount of freshness to the vegan gyro bowl.

You can’t have a gyro without tzatziki sauce, at least I can’t.

And this is an easy sauce to make that is always worth it, especially if you have a blended spice household. I like it spicy and he doesn’t but when there’s a yogurt-dill-cucumber-mint sauce around, I can make it a little spicier.

Layer it from the bottom: Rice, Mushrooms, Salad, Tzatziki.

Simple Bulgur Salad

What do you do when you don’t have enough fresh veggies to make a salad but you’re not prepared to make anything more complicated than a salad? You hit up the grain section in your kitchen pantry, pull out the bulgur and make magic!

I don’t know how you guys go shopping but I am a list-a-holic. I create a menu for what I plan to make and all the ingredients I need, with a check mark besides ingredients we already have at home. I give my husband the list and he does the same, then I put it into my Shopping List app which I use inside the supermarket.

My point? Only that it often happens that I’ll have a quarter of a head of lettuce, one tomato and just a nub of cucumber the day before shopping day and let’s face it, there’s not a lot that can be done with that. Unless you’re feeling creative.

Enter, bulgur salad.

If I was feeling less than generous I might call this the kitchen sink salad or garbage salad, but let’s stick with bulgur salad because you still have to put this in your mouth.

As you can see, there’s a little bit of the following:

Romaine lettuce

Bell pepper

Tomatoes

Chickpeas

Scallions

Vegan yogurt

Dill

Corn

Mustard

The yogurt, mustard and dill made a nice creamy dressing that tied everything together nicely. It was healthy, satisfying and tasty, which makes it pretty much an ideal lunch in my opinion.

Add some fried tofu or a beer on the side if you think it’s too late, but I think you’ll love it as it is. My favorite thing about a simple dish like this is you can change it up based on what you have. Since there were chickpeas and bell peppers, I added curry and cumin and piri piri to the mix, but you can make it Mexican, Italian, Greek or even American with a vegan ranch sauce.

What’s your go to vegan salad or what do you want to learn to make next? Answer in the comments below!

 

Light & Easy Hearts of Palm Ceviche

Sometimes, as a vegan, you want something that you didn’t even remember you liked. Enter ceviche. It’s not something I’ve ever eaten on a regular basis but on the rare occasions I’ve had it, I loved it. Then I came across hearts of palm.

It’s not something I’ve eaten on the regular basis, or ever really but I’m always on the lookout for fresh and refreshing dishes that cut down on my time in the kitchen when I need to spend extra time in the writing cave. So when I saw an actual ceviche dish that used scallops and hearts of palm I thought to myself, why not leave it as is minus the seafood?

Why not, indeed.

This recipe is actually pretty simple and only requires about ten minutes or so of prep work, most of that is chopping and tossing ingredients into a bowl. At this point you can pre-heat the oven for the chips if that’s how you choose to eat it and let me tell you that those hot, slightly greasy chips are a great companion to vegan ceviche.

Here’s what I used:

Hearts of palm (3)

Plum tomatoes, pulp removed & chopped finely

Scallions, sliced thinly

Cucumber, diced

Parsley

Jalapeno (only because I couldn’t find habanero)

Lime juice

Bell pepper (optional)

Chop everything and put it into a bowl and season it as you see fit. I added salt, pepper, garlic granules and lime juice with a pinch of smoky paprika to keep it simple. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to let the flavors blend and serve with hot chips.

This vegan ceviche is low in calories, about 200 calories per serving and that’s WITH the chips, so if you need something a little heartier put it on a bed of lettuce or do like I did and pair it with olives and peppers, antipasti style. Because it’s fresh, high fiber foods it’s actually pretty filling despite it’s low calorie density.

This works as a salad or an appetizer, so keep it in mind for a quick and easy dish to bring to a party, potluck or holiday meal.

Tip: Skip the pepper if you can’t handle heat or remove the seeds to reduce it.

Next time I’m making two batches so I can add more heat for me and less for him.

Korean Fried Tofu & Creamy Ginger Slaw

Sometimes, and by sometimes I mean all of the time, a girl just has to have take out. Unless of course she is visiting several small towns in an eastern European country–and she’s vegan–then she just has to get in the kitchen and make it herself. Or himself.

This recipe, was all me, inspired by a delicious meal I had in Koreatown when I lived in Los Angeles.

Back then I ate…everything. Literally. I had only been working as a freelancer for a year or so, nose to the grind while I drummed up writing work. Any and all kinds of work. During this time I struck up a friendship with a Korean woman named Soo (pronounced like: Sue) and she introduced me to this amazing place in Koreatown. This restaurant knew customer service, let me tell you! There were about a dozen little glass dishes filled with kimchi and a variety of other vegetables and meats and I was delighted! Everything was so new and delicious and exciting and by the end of that two hour lunch, I had fallen in love with yet another style of Asian cuisine.

Longing for a similar, but vegan, meal in a place where there’s decent Chinese is about as hollow a wish as one can make, but I have a working kitchen and a pretty impressive spice rack so…I went to town.

And created…Korean Fried Tofu & Creamy Ginger Slaw!

The important thing about this recipe is to spice it how you like it. I like mine spicy and even though the hubs doesn’t, I like to whip up two batches of sauce just in case. 🙂

Let’s start with the tofu, which I pressed for about 10 minutes while I chopped all the veggies for the slaw. I’m not certain my way is the right way (it is), but I wrap the tofu in a paper towel and put something heavy on it, like my salt mill or jar of jalapenos. Then I used a variety of Asian or Asian inspired spices–Korean chili flakes, cayenne pepper, garam masala, ginger, lemongrass–along with soy sauce as a marinade. Since I shallow fried the tofu, I coated it with a flour-corn starch blend because I wanted it extra crispy before tossing it into the sauce.

While the tofu was crisping up in a skillet, I got to work on the slaw, which included:

Cucumber

Napa cabbage

Scallions

Ginger (fresh, raw)

Red & yellow bell pepper

Celery (very thinly sliced)

Mint

I squeeze half a lemon over the top while I made the slaw and massaged it in. The slaw sauce was made of vegan yogurt, sriracha, spicy brown mustard, 2 tsp. coconut sugar, lime juice, cumin and freshly grated garlic & ginger. I really wanted to make it a kimchi slaw but my new spices are on their way!

Toss and set aside.

Give the tofu about 5 to 7 minutes on each side and drain any excess oil. If you go easy on the oil there shouldn’t be much to drain, but you don’t want all the sauce sliding off the tofu!

For this sauce, I used Hoisin, canned peaches because I couldn’t find any fresh ones, dark soy sauce, Sriracha, chili flakes and black pepper. Toss the tofu in the sauce and plate, then sprinkle with sesame seeds if you like.

The thing I love most about this dish is that the fried tofu lets you indulge in something that feels extremely decadent but the crunchy fresh slaw gives you heaps of fresh veggies to discount any guilt you feel. But don’t feel guilty, enjoy it and promise to do better tomorrow!

Plant Based Chickpea Salad Sammie

I’ve made no secret out of the fact that going vegan wasn’t a huge challenge for me, beyond re-learning to pay attention to the ingredients in the products I buy and trying to be a better, more conscious consumer. But there was one area that proved problematic for me from the outset.

Lunch.

This is how I used to think vegan lunch looked…

I work from home as a writer which means I can’t (or don’t) always set aside actual time for lunch. I like to be able to grab something quick and easy that I can eat while I work if possible, and yes I do know all about how bad that is for weight loss, but it is what it is. I tried vegan lunch meat, mostly soy based because it is the most pervasive in Germany which is where I lived at the time, and it was horrible. I couldn’t find any that I liked and that probably had to do with the fact that I wasn’t a fan of animal-based lunch meat even before going vegan. So of course there would be problems with that. Duh.

But I stayed on this track for a few months and there were a few products made from seitan or lupine that I found pretty tasty but they required special trips to out of the way stores so it became more of an indulgence once in a while and salads became my go to lunch meal. Add lentils or beans and you can make a quick and easy lunch.

And boring after a while.

Then I remembered my old friend, tuna. Whip up some tuna salad and pop it in the fridge and I could nosh on sammies every day for lunch. That’s when I had my light bulb moment. You can turn just about anything into a tuna salad sandwich with a bit of creativity.

 This is a REALLY easy recipe and if you make a bigger batch you can get away with not cooking for a few days!

All you need is:

Chickpeas (smashed a bit)
Scallions
Purple cabbage (or is it red?)
Red & green bell pepper
Garlic
Ginger
Cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper

 

Now all that’s left is the creamy sauce that makes this perfect between the right kind of bread. It’s no secret that me and mayo are not friends and we never have been so I used vegan yogurt instead, but feel free to use what you like. Toss in some mustard, fresh dill, along with cumin and any other herbs & spices you prefer and voila, you’ve got a chickpea salad sandwich…almost.

Mix it up well and if you need to loosen the sauce (which you might if you use vegan mayo) add a splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, it’s also a nice splash of acid with all the creamy goodness.

Stack it and you’re good to go!

Sometimes though I’ll add lettuce & tomato, spicy banana peppers, jalapenos, pickles, olives, artichokes or any other sandwich fixing I’m jonesing for at the moment. The point is you can add plenty of other vegan options without sacrificing taste.

Add a handful of chips and be sure to check for the pernicious “milk powder” found in SO many potato chip brands for some reason and you’ve got an easy vegan lunch that’s satisfying and nutritious.

And if you’ve got company, add an icy beer to the and enjoy!

Sometimes You Just Want A Salad ~ Vegan Salad Hacks

As some of my closest friends will tell you, salad is not food. It is torture in a bowl to those who;

A. Hate veggies
B. Are children
C. Aren’t adventurous

Those are some pretty bold statements, right? I know. But c’mon. Seriously, how can any adult human say they ‘don’t like’ or ‘hate’ salad? Is it all salad or just those without creamy dressing on top? Is it a particular type of lettuce or just the fact that you are literally eating a bowl full of vegetables?

I’ll admit that as a former teenage girl, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with salad for most of my life. Then about a decade ago, maybe more, I became an actual adult, you know, eating foods that are good for you and finding ways to make them more flavorful. Now, I try to eat a salad every day and if not, every other day.

Why?

That’s easy. Salad is packed with fiber thanks to all the raw veggies, which has several amazing benefits. First, the fiber makes you FEEL full which means a calorie-friendly salad is a great tool to put in your weight loss arsenal. Then there’s the fact that every vegetable in your salad has health benefits such as the antioxidant beta-carotene in tomatoes, the dark leafy greens that contain vitamin K along with a host of other antioxidants is another great reason to add a salad to your diet.

Raw veggies can help reduce your risk of cancer, lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke.

Plus making salad is…EASY.

All you need to do is grab a handful of your favorite salad veggies, or better yet, try out some new ones and see what strikes your fancy. Above is a spiced chickpea salad with corn and that only out of the ordinary ingredients I used were the chickpeas and corn, otherwise it was your basic lettuce (butter), tomatoes, scallions, black olives and bell peppers. I added some curry and turmeric to the salad dressing and a quick and easy, calorie friendly lunch.

The best thing about a yummy vegan salad for lunch? You can splurge (occasionally) on a creamy yogurt based dressing…if you make it yourself. You won’t get the same calorie content if you slather ranch or blue cheese on your veggies. Personally, I prefer a quick oil-free vinaigrette because it adds a TON of flavor without all the calories.

Then there are the days where you know you need some fresh, raw veg in your diet but you’re feeling lazy. Bored. Not in the mood to eat healthy. What do you do then?

Easy…compromise.

I recently came across some delicious beefsteak tomatoes, totally out of season but flavorful nonetheless. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any fresh basil so I made do with the dried stuff, added a few shavings of vegan cheese and created a quick & easy Caprese salad…sort of.

The photo isn’t all that pretty, I know, but it was delicious. All you need is tomatoes, cheese, basil, salt & pepper and garlic granules and a splash of balsamic vinegar. It was the perfect side dish to a chickpea burger.

I like to call this a Happy & Healthy Meal.

But don’t go patting me on the back just yet because one of my vegan salad hacks is to add fresh veggies wherever I can and one of my favorite places to do it is Asian dishes. Add a handful of lettuce tossed in scallions and rice vinegar to a noodle or curry dish. But I find it easiest with Mexican cuisines.

Not technically a salad, but these nachos have raw lettuce, tomatoes, onion and garlic (in the fresh salsa & guacamole). Sometimes when I really want to clear toxins from my body–thanks to too much junk food or booze–I’ll add cucumber and shaved carrots to my nachos or tacos, or burrito/fajita bowls.

The point is, sometimes your body just needs a little salad to keep it functioning like the well-oiled machine it is, so make sure to give your body the fuel it needs.

Taco Tuesday Vegan Style ~ Spicy Taco Salad

I know we’re a day early for Taco Tuesday but we’re doing this. TODAY.

I don’t know about you but I’ve been doing some form of taco Tuesday since college but let’s be honest every day of the week was Taco Thursday or Pizza Monday or whatever…you get the idea, right? Well now, as an adult, I appreciate tacos as much as ever–7 years living in southern California solidified it–but I don’t always appreciate all the extra calories that come from taco shells.

Maybe I eat too many tacos. Maybe.

Possibly.

Who can really say?

In case you’re wondering I DO love a hard shell tortilla and it’s a plus they’re vegan. But if you knew how many I could eat then you’d understand why I salad-ified my go to Mexican dish.

This is a pretty easy dish to make especially if you opt to use beans, which I did. Or tofu crumbles, which I also did.

Told ya, I can be a bit of a pig under the right circumstances!

Seriously though, this recipe is pretty easy because you cook everything on its own.

Brown rice
Chop, rinse & spin lettuce
Saute onion, bell pepper & mixed garlic
Homemade salsa with tomatoes, jalapenos, parsley, lime juice and tequila
Slice or halve olives
Chop avocado (optional)
Top with sliced jalapeno peppers

Then…the fun part. Loading it up!

Be sure to rinse the lettuce in cold water so you keep a nice crunch with every bite!

The thing I love about this dish, besides its simplicity, is that it’s healthy and packed with veggies. If you use fresh salsa, which I recommend, you get ALL the nutrients from tomatoes, onions, parsley, lime juice, scallions, garlic, bell pepper and all the herbs and seasoning which includes: chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt & pepper and oregano. It’s jammed packed with flavor and good stuff for your body.

Feel free to omit the 1/2 shot of tequila too. I don’t always use it but I do love the flavor it adds to a really good salsa. Up the lime juice if you want more acidity without the alcohol or go really crazy and mix lemon and lime juice.

Or just do a shot and enjoy your salad with ice cold beer or water.

I prefer both because good skin doesn’t happen without lots of water.

I’ve been experimenting with filters…what do you think? Leave your comments below!

Fried Tofu Sammies with Raw Vegan Slaw

Sometimes you have a need for something so specific that you just can’t let it go. It happens to all of us, I think, and at any rate it happened to me recently. I really felt like having a chicken sandwich which has proven to be pretty much an empty wish in Romania. In Germany there were plenty of vegan schnitzel options and even a Qorn brand vegan ‘chicken’ breast.

But here there was no such luck so I had to improvise.

At first I was feeling brave and inspired, thinking I would just mash-up a bunch of vegetables into a patty, bread it, fry and voila homemade vegan sandwiches. It was a nice dream while it lasted, anyway. But on a trip to Kaufland they actually had firm tofu and I remembered a recipe I’d recently saved to my Plant Based Plate Pinterest page. I grabbed American style hamburger buns with sesame seeds and because I was trying so hard to be a good little healthy woman, I skipped over the thought of potatoes and opted for vegetables.

Cole Slaw is my jam. Always has been going back to the days where me and KFC were on a first name basis and as soon as I discovered a plain vegan yogurt that I liked, it went back into the meal rotation. I used red and green cabbage, scallions (because I didn’t have shallots), red bell pepper, fresh dill and parsley, lime juice, cumin, paprika and fresh pressed garlic. Oh and mustard. Spicy mustard or whatever you prefer really because you have to eat it. Put the veggies in a bowl and in a separate bowl, mix together the yogurt, mustard, herbs and spices until blended and toss with vegetables. If you make a lot like I did, add the dressing in 3 separate batches until it is all coated.

Set aside or chill if you prefer.

The tofu is a little more time consuming but still pretty easy. You need two bowls one for the vegan egg and milk soak and another for the flour, cornstarch, garlic, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper coating. How you proceed from here is a matter of preference. You can dip it in the liquid, into the flour and then straight into 1 to 2 tbsp. of oil to fry up. OR you can double dip it for an extra bit of crispness. I added a few tablespoons of flaked coconut to the flour mixture for extra crunch.

I set out mustard, ketchup and leftover yogurt for condiments for the sandwiches and washed it down with an ice col Ciuc.

As you can see, they came out pretty crispy and the skin didn’t fall off until I was a little heavy handed with the spatula. You need a light touch when flipping over the patties or else you’ll peel that breading right off. Also don’t be afraid to turn down the heat if they’re cooking too fast. You want a golden brown crisp not a black too crunchy mess.