Vegan Meatloaf Dinner: Take ONE

Trying out new things is kind of my jam and even if they don’t turn out photo-worthy, they are almost always tasty and I will always consider that a success. Always.

There are some vegan meat brands, like Beyond, which work very well as a direct meat substitute if you want to make vegan meatballs or Bolognese, but that’s not always available and that’s when you have to get creative and experiment a little bit.

Recently I wanted to make meatloaf, like old school, 1980’s style meatloaf with the retro feel but updated for, you know, the 21st Century vegan.

It tasted delicious but it wasn’t all that pretty. #Notsorry

My problem when creating this vegan meatloaf dinner was that I tried to make it too healthy, or rather too calorie-friendly and that impacted the structure of the vegan meatloaf. Oh, and maybe it had something to do with the vegan mince I used from Verdino, it isn’t an exact substitute so it needed more magic than I gave it.

Lazy But Tasty Vegan Dinner ~ Meatless Balls with Broccoli & Rice

I don’t always use meat alternatives when I cook, in fact I try not to use them too often just because you can’t go wrong with a plate full of whole food foods. But times are rough and sometimes your self-care just has to be a bigger priority without sacrificing healthy choices, and when that happens you need a lazy but tasty vegan dinner.

Lazy meals don’t necessarily mean vegan comfort food so just get thoughts of vegan pizza or deep fried cauliflower wings out of your head right now. Lazy mostly, for the sake of this vegan food post, means quick and easy.

Not a lot of prep time.

Not a long list of ingredients.

And it doesn’t get easier than this. Okay, yeah it does but you’re an adult and you still need to eat your veggies.

So. Eat. Your. Veggies.

All you’ll need is: vegan meatballs, rice, broccoli, onion, red bell pepper and whatever you want from your herbs & spices.

That’s it.

No more.

Cabbage Spring Rolls & Peanut Butter Soba Noodles (VEGAN)

Recently I was in the mood for cabbage rolls, but not really, more like spring rolls made with cabbage instead of rice paper. I don’t know why, not really, other than I was reminiscing about some really delicious Vietnamese spring rolls I had once in Wheaton, IL.

Then I was walking down the aisle of a very crowded Lidl and spotted a gorgeous head of Savoy cabbage. I had to have it, knowing it would be great for the wraps, not to mention a vegan soup or two. Maybe even a vegan ramen dish.

The possibilities were endless.

As was the prep time for these vegan cabbage spring rolls. 🙄

The good thing about this kind of vegan recipe is that it’s mostly raw so you’re getting plenty of natural fiber, but also that you can use any of the raw vegetables in your crisper that you just don’t know what to do with. I had a pretty specific idea of what I wanted in my vegan spring rolls, starting with smoked tofu and ending with this beautiful platter you see below.

The ingredient list for the Savoy wraps is pretty straightforward:

Carrots
Scallions
Bell peppers
Cucumber
Sprouts (these are radish sprouts)
Smoked tofu
Savoy cabbage

The most important step is to give the cabbage leaves a quick boil or steam, about 2 minutes. Do it early enough that the cabbage cool and are easy to manage while wrapping. I to roll the first one with the cabbage spine still on it and…it was a mess so I recommend trimming it down but not necessarily cutting it off completely, because that will just make wrapping it harder.

While you wait for the water to boil for the cabbage, preheat the oven or airfryer to 200C and add the seasoned smoked tofu until nice and crispy.

Set aside.

Use the biggest leaves on the Savoy cabbage and wrap them the wide way, across the spine rather than up or down. Trust me, it’ll make the process easier and less annoying.

Take a little of each ingredient and line it up across the leaf, then roll.

If you want to add anything to these vegan spring rolls to fill out the meal, I added soba noodles that I tossed in a mixture of peanut butter, hot water, lime juice, Sriracha and soy sauce. It was easy and delicious..

I also made a quick yogurt sauce for my partner, just in case the smoked tofu had a bit too much tandoor spice on it, which I’m happy to report it did not.

This was a quick (mostly) and easy vegan meal, at least if you make it through the prep work without losing your mind. I rewarded myself for all he prep work with an ice cold beer made without fish belly, thank you very much.

Do you like rolls? How do you prefer to enjoy them?

Vegan Brunch Recipe ~ Hangover Edition

Happy New Year!

I’m not much for resolutions and all that, so my sincere hope for you is that 2021 is better than the previous year. Cook better. Eat better. LIve better. Be better.

And I just might be able to help you with the first two. Maybe.

Full disclosure: I was not hungover when I whipped up this recipe but as I put it all together, it occurred to me that this the perfect vegan breakfast fry up for when you consume a little too much booze the night before. But hey, even if you don’t overdo it, this is a great vegan meal to put together on a Sunday afternoon, or any other day you enjoy brunch.

Unlike most vegan breakfast recipes, you won’t find tofu scramble here but not becuase I don’t love them, I totally do. The real reason is just simple oversight, I thought I had firm tofu in the fridge and when I went to search for it, surprise! No tofu.

Visch & Chips – Vegan Fish & Chips: Take Three

I know what you’re thinking because I’ve been thinking the same thing myself, when is this woman going to give up on her quest for a proper vegan fish and chips? The answer is, “Probably a few more times.”

Seriously though, this time my goal wasn’t to make this dish taste anything like vegan fish & chips, but rather the goal was to get that crispy cornmeal crusted crunchiness on the textured vegan protein. So in that regard, I would say that this is a win.

But I must warn you, it ain’t pretty.

For starters, let me explain the reason for the odd spelling. I spent some time living in Germany and there, fish is spelled “f-i-s-c-h” and my concession to that was “v-i-s-c-h” and so there we have it, Visch & Chips.

Okay, now that we have that settled, let’s talk about the simplicity of this easy vegan fish & chips dish.

Picnic Style Vegan BBQ Buddha Bowl

With the weather turning cold and 2020 being the year that never ends, I was in the mood for something simple to remind me of those times when he weather was nice, when you could outside and have a picnic without worry, when you could just go…outside.

And I just got a new tablecloth and it’s so picnic-y that I just couldn’t resist!

And when you want something healthy with a splash of something less than healthy, vegan Buddha bowls are an excellent choice. Just remember to add: protein, carbs and loads of veggies.

It looks really good, I know, but this is also a very calorie friendly vegan meal, and if you need to cut a little more, I recommend cutting the corn on the cob in half.

The tofu was seasoned and popped into the air fryer for about 10 minutes giving it a crisp & crunchy taste that was perfect with the rice and broccoli.

The corn was par boiled in salted water and then seasoned before it went into the oven for about 15 minutes and I kid you not, it tasted like street food corn, minus the loads and loads and loads of butter.

The broccoli received the same treatment as the corn, only less time in the oven and it was delicious, but I am also a huge fan of broccoli so…yeah.

The best thing about a meal like this is you can easily turn it Mediterranean by switching up the spices, maybe rubbing pesto onto the corn. Add ginger and garlic and garam masala for an Indian taste. Or whatever flavor profile you want because herbs & spices are what makes food taste GOOD.

The point is that you can do what you like because it’s your kitchen and your body, and anything that makes it easier to make healthy vegan meals is what we should all be doing.

What’s your go to meal when you need to change your mood?

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!

Roasted Aubergine & Zucchini Vegan Buddha Bowl

Buddha Bowls. What more can be said about them that hasn’t been said already?

They are packed with nutrients, but only if you pack’em.

They offer the spice of life…variety.

They can help you get your daily amount of grains, proteins and vegetables.

Personally, I LOVE Buddha Bowls. I love making them and I really love eating them.

So here we are, for another round of #vegan Buddha Bowl fun!

Chances are good that you’re aware of all the nutritional and health benefits of these fun bowls, but you’ve probably strayed away because they seem time intensive. Let me tell you that it’s really not all that time-consuming, at least not with a little bit of planning.

For this harissa roasted Buddha bowl, the oven will do all the work for you.

First thing you have to do is choose your: Veggies + Grain + Protein

I chose carrots, zucchini (for me) and eggplant (for him), cut into ‘steaks’ + Quinoa + Chickpeas

You’ll notice a little bit of blackness on the eggplant and other vegetables but rest assured, it’s because of the marinade which included: smoky paprika, oregano, salt & pepper, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, curry, garam masala, spicy paprika and thyme. Whip it all up into a bowl and pour it all over the (scored, doesn’t it look so pretty?) veggies.

Roast in the oven on 200°C/400°F for about 20 minutes, or until they reached your desired level of tenderness or crispiness.

Cook your grain according to the packaging, I used a total of 100 grams of quinoa for 2 adults.

Now it’s time for the protein. CHICKPEAS!!!

Don’t you just love this wonderfully delicious and diverse legume? It makes great dips, falafels, goes excellent in salads or you can even season them and bake them up like nuts for a crunchy snack.

I made another spice blend using cayenne pepper, turmeric, smoky paprika, curry, salt, white pepper and a masala spice blend. But the only way to get the perfect bake is to make sure you dry the chickpeas completely after you’ve rinsed them. Then coat them with the spices and bake for about 25 minutes, less if you want less crunch.

Since each element of this vegan Buddha bowl was SO flavorful, I decided to skip the sauce this time around and let me tell you, the sauce would have taken away from the carefully planned spice profile.

Whenever I’m at a loss over what to make for dinner, I just grab a little of this and a little of that, and 45 minutes later you have a bowl full of yum!

Vegan Fish & Chips Take Two: His Turn

You all know that I’m not one of those vegans who needs to recreate my meals to taste like the old version that involves suffering. I don’t miss the taste of meat or fish or cheese, but I do enjoy experimenting to see how to make those dishes fit for any kind of vegan.

For this version of #vegan fish & chips though, my husband took his turn at bat. You’ll remember my own F&C recipe, which didn’t turn out so well visually but the taste was delicious…if you love nori which I kind of do not.

As you can see, he took a different route than I did, deciding to wrap the nori around the TVP first and then he added the breading, which included a beer batter! It worked out much better and the added lemon and vinegar really decreased the overpowering taste and smell of nori sheets. Maybe it just worked out better because he doesn’t shy away from frying foods the way I do!

This is the point I wanted to make about experimenting with your old pre-vegan days recipes, you can find something really awesome that isn’t exactly as you remembered, but it is something better. Healthier.

Without the cruelty.

I’ll tell you right up front that if you’re expecting it taste like fish & chips, you will be sorely disappointed. But the flavors added provide a nice brine-y sea flavor, and the beer batter meant I was getting something greasy and friend and delicious. I see no problems with that, do you?

And yeah, okay so the “chips” aren’t technically chips but there’s no fish in this dish either, so who cares? But the potatoes were tossed in about 4 grams of oil and tons of herbs & spices, then baked for about 30 minutes. Crispy and delicious and not nearly as fattening as the version that includes actual fish.

You can’t have vegan fish & chips without some kind of tartar sauce, can you?

Not in my book!

We went to our old favorite, veggiegurt, because that’s what’s available to you as a vegan in the part of Romania where we are…if you have a hate-hate relationship with mayo of all types, which I do. Use whatever vegan yogurt or mayo you prefer, just make sure you read the ingredients and the nutritional information.

For the vegan tartar sauce you will need: yogurt/mayo, dill, lemon, salt, pepper, ground fennel. Stir and then refrigerate until you’re ready to use it. For those of you who love a little bit of heat, I like to add a few drops of hot sauce or Tabasco to the tartar.

You’ll notice the plate is much lighter than it normally looks, but that’s because oil has LOTS of calories and frying anything means you have to make room for that in your diet. We did, but you don’t necessarily have to.

But if you do want to add some extra calories, consider an ice cold beer. Maybe a Jameson on the rocks?

Not Another Buddha Bowl ~ Featuring Crispy Eggplant Frites

At this point I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all got the hang of Buddha Bowl’s, right? I mean you take your favorite 5 to 7 vegan ingredients and turn it into a yummy and nutritious bowl.

I know you’re probably wondering how in the hell did I get to another Buddha Bowl with our whole Midnight Tokyo Diner theme as of late? That’s a pretty easy answer and not a very interesting story, actually. The Hubs had one directive for his meal: eggplant. Again, this probably goes without saying but eggplant is not my favorite vegetable, in fact I would argue it is in my top 5 least favorites. Along with avocado and beets too!

So I decided to do something I could taste–eggplant fries–along with a bunch of ingredients we both LOVE.

So…another Buddha Bowl.

My secret for a perfectly seasoned and crispy piece of eggplant? Veggiegurt. Toss the eggplant in yogurt, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic and smoky paprika and set aside while you blend the crispy breading. For these fries I used a 70-30 blend of flour and cornmeal because I wanted the emphasis on the crunch. Pop in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes and you have a delicious snack with your bestie.

The rest of the recipe is pretty straight forward: mashed sweet potatoes with butter and nutmeg. Steamed broccoli and a mixture of onion, bell peppers and TVP strips made this a perfectly healthy vegan meal, but one that feeds your inner fat girl.

If you’re feeling brave, feel free to add a quick cooling yogurt sauce, which is what I did. It was veggiegurt, basil and parsley along with a few other herbs & spices.

You don’t have to be a chef or even love to cook to whip up a healthy vegan Buddha bowl for you and your loved ones, all you need is a few vegetables, a nice spice rack and a willingness to learn.

Enjoy!