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!