Seitan Sausage & Vegan Carbonara

Just for the sake of clarification, I should tell you that I am not a tradititonalist when it comes to recipes. I will take something that looks interesting and try it once to decide how I like it, and then I will tweak it to fit my palate, ingredients and desires. But I will totally keep the name.

So when my partner requested “a type of carbonara” I knew exactly what he meant; give me some kind of creamy pasta dish.

And thus this vegan carbonara dish with seitan sausage was born.

If you don’t have access to any vegan sausage at your local market and you want to make it from scratch, you’ll need vital wheat gluten and nutritional yeast or chickpea flour.

You will also need the following:

It’s a pretty simple vegan pasta dish if you’re ever in need of a quick weeknight dinner, or like me, those nights when you end up writing until ten at night and forget all about dinner.

This is a pretty easy vegan recipe to execute. Cook the pasta according to the box instructions, but I recommend that you cook it 1 or 2 minutes shy of the box recommendation because you’ll add it to the hot vegan carbonara sauce and it’ll cook a little more. But if you like very soft pasta, do you.

I like my mushrooms with a bit of a bite so I cook them until the moisture is gone and they start to crisp around the edges, and then I add the onion (cook 5 to 7 minutes) and the garlic (another 2 or 3 minutes, until fragrant). Slice the seitan sausage and add it with the garlic, cooking until the edges start to crisp.

That brings us to the carbonara sauce, which I know is nothing like the authentic Italian carbonara mostly because this is a vegan carbonara which means NO ANIMALS. Instead I used unsweetened almond milk, black pepper, garlic and nutritional yeast. The yeast will help the sauce thicken and give it depth of flavor, but you might want to try your hand at a thick and creamy vegan bechamel (get my recipe here) if you don’t possess enough patience to wait for the sauce to thicken, which it will.

When the pasta is done, add it straight from the water into the pot with the mushrooms, onion, garlic & sausage and pour the vegan carbonara sauce over it, tossing over low heat until combined.

Serve and garnish with fresh ground black pepper and vegan parmesan cheese. I use ParVeggio because it is literally my only option here in Romania, but it is tasty and creamy and salty, and it smells much better than the canned crap I used to eat.

The next time you need a quick and easy vegan pasta dish, consider this creamy, plant based carbonara.

Enjoy!

Creamy Vegan Indian Butter Cauliflower

This week has been pretty hectic–sorry I skipped Wednesday–but I really wanted to share yet another delicious cauliflower recipe for vegans. Everyone loves to joke about the ‘glow up’ cauliflower has had lately but if you loved cauliflower back when there was just steaming, roasting, sauteeing options, you’ll love this vegan take on butter chicken.

If you’ve ever eaten at an Indian restaurant you’ve probably seen butter chicken on the recipe and thought, “Butter & chicken? No thanks.” And then you tasted it and your world was absolutely rocked.

Am I right?

Well preapare yourself for this super creamy vegan version of Butter Cauliflower.

The ingredient list on this meal is pretty simple:

Cauliflower
Jasmine rice
Tomato paste
Coconut milk (creamy, but feel free to get coconut cream if your waistline can afford it!)
Peanut oil
Onion
Ginger
Cornstarch (or tapioca starch)
Coconut oil
Garlic
Spices: turmeric, smoky paprika, yellow curry powder, garam masala, ginger powder, salt & pepper

The reason there are two types of oil on the ingredient list is because my partner loves our air fryer and decided to give the cauliflower a little crisp before tossing it on the creamy vegan coconut sauce. It takes about 15 minutes on 200C/180F in the air fryer.

Melt the coconut oil over medium heat and add garlic & ginger until it starts to brown and becomes fragrant. This is about when my hunger usually kicks in. Toss in the onion and cook until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes then add the spices (turmeric, garam masala, etc…) and cook for another 1 minute.

Add tomato paste an coconut milk, but if you don’t want this too thick or you want it more soup-like, mix it with water. Otherwise, cook until the sauce starts to thicken and reduce a little, about 15 minutes or so. Then toss in the crispy cauliflower and serve it on a bed of rice, turmeric in your rice is totally optional.

You can serve this with noodles if you want to give it an Asian flare, or just get creative with your grains and use bulgur or couscous. Whatever floats your boat.

As I mentioned earlier, thanks to the creamy coconut milk, this is a fairly decadent vegan dish as far as I’m concerned, but it was crazy delicious. Below I’ve posted the calorie content of this vegan meal for two, courtesy of Cronometer, which I use to track my meals, snacks, booze and anything else I put in my mouth and you really should too!

What’s your favorite Indian dish to veganize?

Vegan Meatball Pizza & Creamy Béchamel Cheese

Sometimes, no matter how committed you are to eating healthy and treating your body as the vegan temple that it is…and all that jazz, you just want pizza.

It took me awhile to rediscover my love of pizza because of my well documented love-hate relationship with vegan cheese and because, holy hell, do you have any idea how many calories are just in pizza dough? A lot, my friend.

A lot.

But when the mood for vegan pizza strikes, you ask yourself a few questions.

Do I deserve this?

Have my workouts been sufficiently grueling to warrant this meal?

Am I gonna have it no matter the answers to these questions?

And then you thaw out a couple Beyond Burgers and create the vegan pizza recipe that’s been swirling in your mind for days and days.

Because of the aforementioned calories in pizza dough, I keep the ingredient list pretty simple:

Pizza dough
Tomato sauce
Beyond burger
Onion
Garlic
Almond milk (no sugar added)
Tapioca starch
Turmeric
Nutritional yeast
Mushrooms

Take the burgers and put them in a bowl with grated garlic and diced onion, plus your favorite herbs & spices. Form into vegan meatballs and pop in the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes.

Saute mushrooms, onion & garlic until crisp.

Add oregano, basil and garlic powder to your tomato sauce and you’re good to go.

Mostly.

For the vegan bechamel: place nut milk in a small sauce pan over medium heat and let it warm while you add seasoning. Once it starts to steam add the turmeric and nutritional yeast, then add the tapioca starch. It will get thick and creamy and once it does, assemble your pizza.

I use a cornmeal & herb mixture to separate the pizza dough from the parchment paper, but use whatever you’re comfortable with, and then put everything together.

I prefer sauce-toppings-cheese order of assembly but that’s just me and this is your pizza. Go wild. Go crazy.

Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how crisp you want the dough and whether or not you pre-cooked it, which I always do for a few minutes.

Let it cool and then…enjoy!

I wasn’t going to post this vegan pizza recipe, which is why it’s a day late but I had to remind myself that not everything you eat will be pretty and, even if it is, it might not photograph well. Especially with my limited photography skills.

But it was a damn good pizza and we eat it so rarely, I had to share!

My Attempt at Vegan Okonomiyaki

I’m ba-aack! Did you miss me?

Work had gotten a little out of control and I needed to focus so I decided to take a few days away from posting but now I’m back and ready to share with you my version of a healthy-ish vegan okonomiyaki, which is a Japanese vegetable pancake.

I will tell you right off the bat that this recipe seems a lot more daunting than it actually is. Don’t let the long, but not complicated, ingredients list scare you away. To veganize his recipe takes just as much time as the original version, which means the prep work is where most of your time will be taken up, so if you’re willing to put in the effort, let’s do this!

I’ll tell you right up front that presentation is (still) not my strong suit but this vegan pancake did come out delicious and cooked properly, even if she isn’t the prettiest girl on the dance floor.

Let’s start with the ingredients. I’m feeling a little lazy so I just copy and pasted the ingredients list I posted in Cronometer, which works out well because now you’ll have exact measurements too.

This ingredients list includes EVERYTHING you see in the first image, so it includes the Asian slaw and the Korean style tofu, because I like to mix and match my food, my clothes, my languages and my fashion. Oh, and my music!

The first step is grating potatoes, cabbage and scallions for the batter and put them in a bowl. Add flour and water, just enough water to make it smushy, which I know is super vague but I realized as I was writing this hat I didn’t include water in the ingredients. The batter is going to seem wrong, like it’s not nearly enough to produce a pancake, which was exactly what I thought. But I listened to those who know better than I do, if you don’t include all the substitutions, that is. Mix it well and refrigerate it for 10 to 30 minutes. I think this step helped everything come together, so please don’t skip it.

Oil a skillet and pour enough for one large pancake, use a wooden spoon to create a nice little pancake shape and cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side. This type of pancake should be very vegetable-y, so don’t be discouraged that this isn’t anything like your fluffy breakfast pancakes…it’s not supposed to be!

Looking at that one little vegan Japanese pancake seems sad, right? Yeah, I thought so too which is why I rounded out the meal with two little side dishes. One was a cabbage, carrot & scallion slaw mixed with veggiegurt, Sriracha and plenty of herbs & spices. The other was a small bit of TVP mixed with some Asian pastes & sauces to create a full on vegan meal…Asian style.

The sauce you see on top of the vegan okonomiyaki, is the leftover veggiegurt mixture because, who doesn’t love a little sauce with dinner?

This is a great vegan meal for when you want to impress someone, but like someone who already likes you a lot and will feel really special that you went through all this trouble for them. On top of that, it was very tasty and worth the time and effort because now I can say, “Yeah I totally know how to cook vegan okonomiyaki.”

So concludes another Midnight Tokyo Diner meal in our household. If you try this, please oh please send photos here to the blog or on Facebook or Instagram if you’re feeling frisky!

Thanks for stopping by and enjoying another vegan meal with me!

Takeout Friday – Vegan Kung Pao Cauliflower

I know we just did a cauliflower recipe last week but sometimes you just have to make do with what the market provides, and sometimes the market provides…cauliflower.

That’s one of the amazing things about being vegan and doing our Midnight Tokyo Diner meals, as long as you have food, you have a fun recipe that can be whipped up into something fantastic. So, that’s what I told the Hubs, “baby make me Kung Pao Cauliflower.”

And he did.

Under normal circumstances this wold seem like a really complicated dish to veganize, but ignore the long ingredient list and focus on taking it one step at a time.

What you’ll need:

Cauliflower
Wild basmati rice
Ginger
Cashews
Peanut oil
Garlic
Soy sauce
Onion
Red bell pepper
Breadcrumbs
Cornstarch

To get your cauliflower crispy enough that it doesn’t get soggy when the sauce is added, mix the cornstarch with the breadcrumbs and bake it or add it to your air fryer. If you don’t care about oil, you can fry it up in a skillet.

Cook up the onions, ginger and garlic, adding soy sauce and water once you’re ready to make the sauce. If you need to thicken it, add a teaspoon each of cornstarch and water. Serve on top of rice on along side it. Sprinkle chopped cashews on top and you’re good to go.

This vegan Kung Pao recipe is fairly easy and quick, but it has multiple components so it can be intimidating. Don’t let this vegan dish pass you by!

What’s your favorite Asian takeout dish to vegan-ize?

Garlicky Vegan Mac & Not Cheese

I LOVE mac & cheese…at least I used to love it.

Then I went vegan and stopped eating cheese and an odd thing happened; I stopped putting cheese on EVERYTHING. And what’s crazier is that I stopped adding a sprinkle of cheese here and there because I no longer craved it. So began a year of experimenting with pizza and mac without using cheese. I tried all the #veganhacks that included using sweet potatoes, Russet potatoes, carrots, cauliflower…all of it. They were okay but none of them made mac & cheese a crave-able dish for me anymore.

Oh, the dismay.

So I did a deep dive into it and there’s a good reason I stopped needing cheese on dishes when I got off animal cheese. In a word, casomorphin. It’s what makes cheese so addictive, but don’t just take my word for it. Wikipedia explains it here.  If you want the TLDR version, here ya go:

Source, Forbes 2017

Once I had that information, I didn’t feel like a bad vegan for disliking most vegan cheese options available to me in Germany and then Romania. So I decided to get creative about it.

Rather than using vegan cheese whenever I got a craving, I would go for other things like tapenade, pesto or romesco because they are flavorful, vegan and way more calorie friendly than any type of cheese, and my primary focus initially was weight loss, so calories mattered too.

Then I discovered a way to make a cheese-like sauce that was still vegan and calorie friendly, and it satisfied my need for mac & cheese, which let’s be honest was really a craving for carbs drenched in sauce…right?

All you need is: plant milk, turmeric (if you find it raw, grate it straight into the sauce), nutritional yeast, garlic granules, smoky paprika, mustard (optional), salt & pepper.

I employ the ‘low & slow’ method, which means it takes about 10 minutes (maybe longer if you’re using a lot of milk) to get the not cheese sauce nice and thick so it’ll stick to your pasta of choice.

Add the nutritional yeast one tablespoon at a time, letting it simmer and dissolve before adding more, and be sure to taste it in between just to make sure it doesn’t get too salty. Set a timer for 10 minutes and keep going until you get the thickness you prefer.

For this particular dish, I kept it pretty simple with pasta, 30 grams of sauteed garlic, and soy pieces. Add not-cheese and stir. If you’re feeling extra, pop it in the oven for 10 minutes to get a little bit of crust on top but it’s totally not necessary because this vegan mac stands on its own.

vegan alternative to mac & cheese

Just a quick note here: turmeric doesn’t just add the color of American cheese to this dish, it also comes with plenty of health benefits that include anti-oxidant as well as anti-inflammatory properties, which is a nice change for cheese, don’tcha think?

Let me know if you decide to make your own version…what do you put in it?

Weird But Good Vegan Recipes: Spicy Tofu & Sauerkraut

Let’s keep it real, when it comes to cooking not every meal can be a gourmet masterpiece or the very definition of healthy and nutritious. We hope for one of those of two, but sometimes you just want what you want. Right?

That’s pretty much how this easy vegan meal came about. I felt like having something spicy but I didn’t want to go crazy with calories and I didn’t want to make something that would cost too much time in the kitchen because I was furiously trying to get my book properly formatted so the paperback could be completed.

Update/Shameless promotion: How Could I Forget is finally ready to order in paperback and digital!

Luckily for me, I found some leftover sauerkraut and decided…why the heck not? I love sauerkraut actually. I spent a part of my childhood in Wisconsin where I experienced many Oktoberfest celebrations and learned a lot about German and Polish culture. Then, I went on to spend about 8 years living in Germany, so yeah, sauerkraut is my jam! But, I’ve never used it out side of my seitan & kraut style recipes. So I did what any internet savvy home cook does, I consulted Google to find out other ways to use sauerkraut and what to pair it with.

Turns out, it makes an excellent side dish, with only a little prep time.

Since we’ve talked so much about the kraut, let’s start with that. I like to rinse it a little just so the taste isn’t quite so vinegar-y, then drain and set aside. Chop up one onion and a few cloves of garlic to saute (in oil or water) and when they start to crisp and turn brown, add the kraut. Cook until warm OR you can just turn off the stove and stir together if you want the full health benefits of fermented foods.

While the onions & garlic are cooking, you should re-hydrate your soya (TVP) if that’s what you’re using because that’s why I used in this easy vegan recipe, but you can always use whatever vegan protein floats your boat. I used the big pieces because there’s a lot of surface to cover in yummy spicy sauce and because I wanted a reason to break out my new air fryer!

While the soy chunks are in the air fryer, I added a bunch of spices to a bowl along with soy sauce and just enough olive oil to turn it into a paste/sauce that would work for a tossed coating. My spices: smoky & spicy paprika, garlic granules, ground ginger, harissa powder, piri piri, turmeric and cumin. When the timer beeps, remove the crispy vegan tofu wings and toss in the spice mixture.

If you’re my kind of vegan home cook and you tend to make foods a little on the spicier side, consider adding a cooling sauce for those in your home who don’t love spicy vegan foods the way you do.

I opted for a veggiegurt sauce with lemon juice, cumin, parsley and oregano. The hubs said it helped with the heat…a lot.

If you’re in the market for quick and easy vegan recipes, you will be happy to know that this recipe took about 30 minutes and that includes entering the ingredients into Cronometer.

What do you like to pair with your vegan hot wings?

Vegan Lentil Lasagna Masala

I’ll just say this right at the top of the post, the only way to make lasagna simply is to buy it frozen or by using a ton of packaged ingredients. If you don’t have the time or patience, those are your options. But if you feel like blasting some old school grunge rock, chick rock or hip hop (maybe that’s just me??) and getting your cook on, might I recommend taking your time to make a killer vegan lasagna?

What I like to do is divide this up into three parts: the sauce, the filling and the cheese. I know it seems strange to consider vegan cheese an element of a proper lasagna but sometimes I like to whip up a béchamel with nut milk and nutritional yeast. But that’s any vegan lasagna in a nutshell, so let’s get started.

This meal was my husband’s choice for his Midnight Tokyo Diner night. He asked for lasagna and I decided to with a lentil lasagna masala because, well because Indian flavors are incredible and I am a wee bit obsessed.

The Sauce

The choice is yours, but I like to get the tomato sauce started first because if you use fresh tomatoes, which I highly recommend, you’ll need time to let it reduce and thicken. I kept this sauce fairly simple, using shallots, garlic, a small spicy red pepper for heat, tomato paste and tomatoes. Don’t forget herbs like oregano, thyme, rosemary or marjoram because they add a nice flavor that’ll remind you why sometimes a good red sauce is all you need, plus curry, ginger, garam masala and cardamom. It’s simple for a vegan lasagna, but I promise the filling has plenty of flavor and so does this spicy tomato sauce. In fact, I think it could also be really great as a pizza sauce or an arrabbiata sauce for your next pasta night.

Saute the shallots and pepper until fragrant and then add the garlic and tomato paste. Stir until it starts to smoke and slowly add the chopped tomatoes, or canned if that’s your jam. When the tomatoes start to break down, add a little water or broth or wine and let it simmer so it can begin to reduce. Reduce until the sauce is nice and thick, checking for flavor as you go.

The Filling

For the filling, I went with basic vegetables such as onion, bell pepper, garlic, spinach and mushrooms. For the vegan “meat” I went for lentils because I thought it would suit the taste profile I was going for better. And, it did. And the best part of all? I did it all in the same skillet!

Get the mushrooms going first and then add the onion, pepper and garlic. When they’re all cooked how you like them, add the lentils and water until just about done, then add the spinach. I used frozen because I’m not a big spinach fan and they keep a lot longer. When the filling is done, set aside and prepare to assemble.

Pop in the oven on 200/400 for about 30 minutes, adding the vegan cheese during the last ten minutes of cooking. If you want the cheese bubbly and crisp, crank the oven up for the last few minutes of cooking.

The Cheese (sorta)

In case you’re wondering, I’m in love with my new oven and if you look really close, you can see my reflection in there…somewhere.

Make sure you check the package of your lasagna noodles because for some reason some of them contain egg or milk powder. How else will they keep you addicted enough to add it to everything you eat?

Just…always read the labels before you buy! End of my PSA, I promise!

Lazy Vegan Chickpea Bowl

I’m going to let you in on a little vegan secret: not every meal requires you to be in the kitchen for hours on end. I know that may come as a shock to you, but sometimes you’re just feeling lazy and you want something quick, easy and nutritious.

When it comes to a lazy vegan meal, I try to keep it as simple as possible.

Does the meal have:

◊ Protein

◊ Carbs

◊ Fiber

If it does, you’re good to go…at least I am.

Let’s start with the easiest part of this meal first, the rice. I used a simple Jasmine rice because it was all that we had left in the pantry and because I love the fragrant goodness of Jasmine rice. It only takes about ten minutes to cook, but you want to give the rice time to cool so it gets good and fluffy when you take your fork to it later.

The fiber part of this lazy vegan meal includes crimini mushrooms, red bell pepper and onion. Simple, right? Sauté them up with or without oil until they reach the done-ness level you prefer. I like my mushrooms with a little bit of crisp on them so I cook them first before adding onions and peppers to the mix. The herbs and spices can be whatever you like, but if you’re going for simplicity I recommend, basil, oregano, garlic and thyme.

Sounds bland, right?

It’s not, especially because we still haven’t dealt with the chickpeas.

The chickpeas are the protein and the spice element to this meal for me. Grab a small ramekin and add any kind of spice mixture you like. I opted for cayenne pepper, spicy paprika, tikka masala spice, harissa, curry, turmeric, cumin and garlic granules. Rinse & dry the chickpeas and then toss with the spice blend. Bake on 200/400 for 20 to 25 minutes until they’re crispy and then…voila, your lazy vegan meal in 30 minutes or less.

Full disclosure: I have a tendency to make spicy dishes too spicy, which my husband is not a big fan of, so I preemptively made a cooling sauce featuring veggiegurt, scallions, fresh dill and lime juice. It did the trick…he didn’t complain once about the heat level, which was at about a 6 or 7 (he said 8 but we all know he’s totally exaggerating).

This is a great vegan meal no matter what you’re looking for: quick, easy, calorie friendly and DELICIOUS.

Sometimes You Just Want A Vegan Welsh Rarebit Pasta Bake

Hey guys! Hope you don’t mind a Tuesday post, but I spent all weekend in my writing cave and suddenly Monday rolled up and there I was, with no post ready to go. So after spending the morning grocery shopping, here we are, ready to talk two of my favorite things: vegan food and pasta.

Pasta gets a bad rap from plenty of people but you will NEVER hear me say a bad word to the almighty carb. It is a necessary fuel for all of us, plus pasta is truly one of the best things in the world, at least according to this vegan. If you don’t ‘do’ pasta then this isn’t a dish you’ll enjoy, but it was a delicious, fun and indulgent meal that kind of reminded us both of childhood, except you know, vegan.

When it comes to a good pasta bake, I think you only need a few things: pasta, something cheesy and a good dose of aromatics.

Of course, that’s all up to you but here is one of my versions of a cheesy #vegan pasta bake!

Choose your favorite pasta first. I opted for a whole wheat rotini because I think whole wheat pasta adds a flavor and texture that you just don’t get with refined (white) pasta.

Next you have to decide what you want to put in the “sauce”. I like to make the sauce as one big entity but you can make a simple tomato sauce and add whatever variety of vegetables you choose. I opted for onion, bell pepper, garlic and kidney beans because, why not?

Saute the onions, garlic and bell pepper in as little oil as you need to make it how you like it, or you can add a water-soy sauce blend to cook them up. I try to keep my oil/fat to a minimum but sometimes you just want that nice char or carmelization that comes with using oil. Once the veggies are where you want them to be, it’s time to talk tomatoes.

Fresh or canned, that is the question, isn’t it?

For me, yes, that is absolutely the question. Some days I feel all creative and chef-y and I will chop up fresh tomatoes and reduce the hell out of it until I have a thick and chunky tomato sauce worthy of a pasta bake. Other days, I don’t have the energy and I’ll use canned stewed tomatoes that I first, squish with my fingers and reduce it until its palatable. BUT let’s be honest, when you choose canned tomatoes you have to add A LOT of seasoning to get rid of that super sweet taste that is kind of off-putting when it comes to red pasta sauce. Ultimately, the choice is yours, but try them both and see which you find tastier and more time effective.

If you choose beans as your protein, I recommend adding them after the sauce has reduced because you still have to pop this in the oven and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes and you don’t want mushy beans. At least I don’t want mushy beans.

Now the most time-consuming part of this vegan pasta bake is the “cheese” sauce. Since I have a well documented love hate relationship with vegan cheese, I opted for a béchamel style sauce, using unsweetened almond milk, flour, olive oil and nutritional yeast, not to mention salt, pepper, smoky paprika, turmeric, basil and oregano.

Add the oil and flour, stir until blended and kind of meal-y, then slowly add the almond milk. If you want to be creative, and who doesn’t, add some spicy mustard, hot sauce and soy sauce for a Welsh Rarebit style cheesy pasta bake, then add the milk. Slowly still, adding nutritional yeast as needed. I usually start with about 15 grams of nutritional yeast and work my way up from there after tasting it. Always, always taste it as you go. I used about 250-300 ml of almond milk total, adding it slowly, but depending on the size of your vegan pasta bake, you might need more or less than that.

Once everything is done, stir the pasta and veggie red sauce together and place in an oven safe baking dish. THEN it’s time to pour the cheesy vegan cheese-less sauce over the top.

Bake at 200°C/400°F for 20 to 30 minutes. If you want to get a bit of a crisp on top, use the broiler or if you have an electric oven, add the top heat and crank it up for an additional 5 minutes.

Cool for 5 to 10 minutes and then…get your grub on!

Poftă Bună!!!!

A Vegan Twist on Twice Baked Potatoes & Cheesy Broccoli

People always ask me if I feel like I’m missing on out something because I don’t eat or use any products derived from animals. It’s as if they think Beyond Burger doesn’t exist, or tofu or seitan or tempeh. Or vegetables and grains, beans…legumes.

I think I’ve made my point here, right?

The truth is that trying to lose weight can often be super restrictive, but not on a #vegan diet. You see, I can request that the Hubs whip up twice baked potatoes and feel confident that he can bring the meal in under 600 calories because there is no animal cheese, no bacon, no butter…no dairy to increase my inflammation and my butt size.

Now if you’re a particularly determined vegan, then yeah, you can make this as calorie crazy as the animal eaters. But why would you want to?

The best thing about a recipe like this is that it is incredibly easy to customize. Rather than going for vegan bacon, we opted for sauteed onions de-glazed with balsamic vinegar. Add a pinch of smoky paprika and you’ll get that smoky flavor you think you need with bacon, vegan or otherwise.

For the broccoli, just steam or boil for 3 to 5 minutes and then give an ice bath to keep it bright green and beautiful. The cheese is a simple almond milk, corn starch, mustard, nutritional yeast and vegan cheese sauce. It’s quick thanks to the cornstarch, which is also why you don’t need to had several fist fulls of cheese. I learned my lesson from this calorie bomb masquerading as #vegan mac & cheese.

As you can see, the plate was a lot lighter than it usually is which is how he managed to make it tasty and calorie friendly.

This is one of the key points we all need to remember when we enjoy indulgent meals like this, the best way to not go overboard is to make sure you adhere to serving sizes. I would have loved a bigger portion of this, but the medium dress I just bought reminds me why I skip it!

Here’s my tip for enjoying this cheesy vegan dish: eat it on your workout day!

Any vegan cheese recommendations? I’m always in search of something new so tell me, what’s new in your part of the vegan world?

Lazy Vegan Mashed Potato Buddha Bowl

Even though we are vegans with good health, good skin and our food is our fuel, we are still only humans which means we don’t always feel like doing the things we should. Like making healthy food choices, working out (a biggie for me) or making magic in the kitchen.

But, we’re adults and it has to be done. That’s why we get to buy the good booze!

When I’m feeling lazy but still in the mood for something that tastes good but doesn’t take all damn night, I go to my recent favorite: Buddha bowl.

The trick here is to, well it’s to be tricky. Hack your life, so to speak.

Be a lazy vegan by organizing and you’ll never look back.

How do you take all of this food and cook it simply? Easy…you just do it!

First, decide how you want to season everything. If you want it all to have the exact same flavors, clean, chop and measure everything and toss it on a big ol’ baking sheet, season and pop in the oven. That’s the easiest, laziest way to enjoy a delicious vegan dinner.

If you choose to change up the seasoning like I did, just do it separately. Season each element separately and then line them uniformly on a baking sheet like the photo below.

Pick whatever vegetables you want and bake them until crisp around the edges and soft in the center. The soya chunks got nice and crispy without sacrificing moisture.

The mashed potatoes were made on top of the stove. Boil until tender and season how you want. Since I roasted garlic, I just stirred most of it into the potatoes and used the rest as edible decorations!

To finish it off, I added a spicy veggiegurt sauce that it didn’t really need but it was a nice touch since the soya was just a little bit spicy.

Next time you start eyeing takeout menus, remember that as long as you have a few veggies and some grains, a vegan Buddha bowl is just thirty minutes away.

30-Minute Beyond Pasta Bolognese

When I first adopted a vegan diet, I chose the KISS method. Keep it simple, stupid, and the transition won’t be as jarring or difficult. What that means, exactly, is that I used all of my old recipes that I had collected, created or curated over the years and only replaced them with things I had on hand or simple substitutes.

For example, I wasn’t sure if I’d stick to the diet, never mind adopt it as a full on lifestyle, so I didn’t want to invest in vegan products that I might not like, so I used applesauce to replace the binding agent in cakes and cookies. Turns out, I find it too dense. Anyway that’s what I did for just about everything, replaced the meat with beans or mushrooms and eventually, tofu. Same thing with dairy until I was all the way on the vegan train and not looking back.

And with these latest creation, I kept it simple and went kind of old school.

Bolognese or ragu, whatever you call it this is a fairly easy dish to make when you feel like pasta. And if you have a family recipe or one that you’re really fond of and don’t want to replace this or that, don’t.

Just use Beyond Meat or whatever brand you prefer and…BAM, bolognese just like you remember. Minus the cruelty.

When I say I kept it simple, I mean it!

The ingredients include: onion, garlic, bell peppers, nutritional yeast, herbs & spices, tomato paste, canned peeled roma tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and water.

Yep, it really is that easy. One simple replacement and you’ve got a delicious #vegan pasta dish in thirty minutes or less.

Choose whatever pasta you have on hand, just make sure it’s something that will allow the sauce to cling to it…ooh, yummy goodness!

What is your go-to pasta dish? Or the one dish you haven’t been able to vegan-ize perfectly?

Happy Friday Folks…Thursday Night Vegan BBQ

While I’m trying to get back in the habit of blogging regularly, I’ve decided to post some meals that might not be too photo-worthy and this one definitely fits the bill. We had a little bit of a grill night because it’s so warm here in Romania right now and our balcony is finally clear…just a table and chairs for me and the Hubs.

Like I said the photos, the few of them that were decent, are not great but the food was delicious, I promise!

The premise was simple: barbecue soy cauliflower, grilled with something on the side. That’s what I asked for and this is what I got.

Steak fries and fresh corn on the cob, seasoned with leftover sauce and Korean chili paste!

It was perfectly delicious and healthy if you don’t think too hard about the sauce, even then it was still pretty calorie friendly.

What #veganmeals do you prepare for a BBQ?

Seitan Gyro Bowl & Tofu Tzatziki

Since I have a lot of time on my hands, being mostly stuck indoors these days, I’ve developed quite the fascination with seitan. You can make all manner of vegan proteins from sausages to steaks, ribs, burgers and patties. If you have a proper spice rack, worthy of a grown up vegan, you won’t have to worry about a thing.

There are tons of seitan recipes online and you can switch up the seasoning to get whatever type of cuisine you prefer.

The seitan recipe I use is pretty simple: 30 grams of gluten flour, 7 grams nutritional yeast, herbs & spices as desired, oil and water. Mix dry ingredients first and taste, add more seasoning as needed. Then mix in wet and shape into whatever food you want. Wrap it in foil and simmer for 45 minutes and that is it.

Now, the rest of the bowl is even easier. Sauteed oyster mushrooms, bell peppers and onion with Greek or Mediterranean seasoning if you want to achieve that classic gyro flavor. Add a grain like rice or bulgur and you’re good to go!

And we can forget the famous cucumber yogurt sauce known as tzatziki sauce. The market was out of my favorite veggiegurt last week so I had to improvise and I did, using left over tofu in brine. I took the tofu, mint, lemon zest and juice, parsley and basil to make a cooling agent, though it wasn’t spicy so cooling wasn’t quite the goal just…flavor.

You can skip this sauce if you want or you can enhance the spice so you can truly enjoy it properly.

This is by no means an authentic dish, but it’s no secret that I can turn pretty much any cuisine into a Buddha bowl!

What’s your favorite Buddha Bowl?

Vegan Tuna Casserole

Full disclosure: there is no tuna, vegan or otherwise in this dish.

Think of it more as an essence of tuna casserole because that’s what it is, but this vegan dish contains all the things you miss about this dish without any of the things you could do without.

Instead of tuna or vegan tuna products, I went with simple brown mushrooms. Sauteed in a pan until crisp on the edges and yummy.

Choose a noodle, cheese sauce and bread crumb topping and you’re good to go!

I opted for a creamy cheese sauce that used unsweetened oat milk and half the amount of cheese as similar vegan recipes, some of which might recommend coconut milk. Choose what fits your palate and your diet.

Bake it for 20 to 35 minutes in the oven, until the top is crispy brown and some of the noodles have a crunch.

The only thing missing? An ice cold drink, fit for a grownup.

 

Vegan BBQ Bourguignon

Back in my younger days I was a bit of a Francophile, complete with a rainbow of berets, cigarette holder and an lifelong crusade for the perfect shade of red lipstick. In my 30’s I was able to spend a week in Paris and it was…everything I hoped and more.

What’s the point of all this?

Good old Google has a nice little habit of reminding you of all the things you’ve done and places you’ve been. Recently a batch of photos from Paris made an appearance and that little reminder along with a nice string of warm days had me thinking of two things.

One: Can I use wine with the dehydrated soya. Two: I can’t wait to clean the balcony so I can cook on the grill.

And that, my friends, is how BBQ Bourguignon was born.

vegan mushroom and soy bourguignon

You might think this is a complicated recipe but it isn’t, and the ingredient list isn’t long either.

Ingredients: Mushrooms, Onion, Carrot, Garlic, Potatoes, Barbecue sauce, Olive oil, Red Wine, Herbs

I didn’t re-invent the wheel with this recipe either, just hydrate the soya, season and set aside.

Saute the onion, carrots, mushrooms and garlic. Add the wine and let it reduce, then add the barbecue sauce and water if you want a thinner sauce.

Instead of adding the soy to the vegetables, I coated it in the same wine/mustard/bbq sauce mixture and popped it in the oven, hence the little crisp you see around the edges.

For the potatoes, Boil in salted water until tender. Drain and smash gently with a potato masher. Brush with oil and season however you want, using fresh herbs where you can for maximum flavor. Bake about 20 minutes, until crisp.

This was not one of our Midnight Tokyo Diner meals, but just something I’d been playing with and wanted to try out.

It was a success, from my mouth as well as the Hubs’!

Cheesy Vegan Broccoli Mac

During these endless days when one calendar day turns into the next, sometimes you get the urge to enjoy some comfort food. But you’re also an adult which means you have to eat your greens and your veggies.

So, what do you do?

One of my personal favorites is mac & cheese. Now it’s true that I’m not a huge fan of the vegan cheese options currently available to me but I am a huge fan of vegan béchamel sauce with just a pinch of cheese, and it turns out it was just what my mac & cheese dishes were missing to satisfy that craving.

Just like the mac & cheese you used to eat as a child, this dish is easy and (relatively) quick to make.

This was my third or fourth attempt to perfect my béchamel sauce, alternating between Alpro almond and soya milks in search of a slightly higher fat content to get that thick creaminess I was in search of. The unsweetened soya is better than the almond in terms of fat but not necessarily taste, at least to me.

The ingredient list for this dish is pretty simple:

Pasta (I prefer whole wheat, choose what you like)

Broccoli

Mushrooms

Garlic

Soy milk

Nutritional Yeast

Vegan butter (I used olive oil)

Flour

Water

Make the pasta according to the instructions but if you prefer to bake your pasta before you serve it, cook it a minute or two shy if your preferred doneness. Steam the broccoli and set aside.

For the mushrooms you can saute them on a high heat on top of the stove or season them and bake’em until the moisture is gone. The choice is yours since it’s your time, after all.

The sauce is the most time consuming part and if you want it really thick and flavorful, take your time here. Add fat (vegan butter or oil) and flour. I added a few cloves of minced garlic to the oil and let it cook until fragrant before adding the flour. Once the flour and fat mix starts to brown you can go straight for the liquid (water or milk) or you can do like I did and get fancy with it!

Before adding the liquid, I added a teaspoon (or more) of the following: mustard, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and Sriracha. It’ll get good and sizzle-y and then its time to add the liquid. Note: You can alternate water and milk if you need a bigger batch of sauce without all the calories, but if you take it easy on the vegan cheese you’ll find the soy milk is pretty calorie friendly.

Once the liquid is in, keep a steady stir over a low heat, adding vegan cheese and nutritional yeast in alternating spoonfuls. A little bubbling is good but if it’s too much, turn down the heat. Add turmeric for that yellow American cheese color and smoky paprika for that smoky, grown up cheesy flavor!

If you choose, pop it in the oven for about 15 minutes, then cool and serve.

With a blackberry & mint margarita!

Cheers and pofta buna and please, pretty please…stay safe!!!