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.

Easy Vegan Comfort Food ~ Vegan Schnitzel & Cheesy Pasta

Many of my friends think that eating a vegan diet means always eating healthy, and it doesn’t. Sure, most days I try to eat a whole food, plant based diet with plenty of fresh & colorful vegetables, grains, beans and legumes.

That doesn’t always happen.

As a professional writer and self-published author, there is a lot on my plate and sometimes I just want something hot and yummy and not necessarily totally healthy, and that’s all right because I work out regularly and I am as active as possible when I’m not parked in front of a computer screen.

So when I want to eat a greasy vegan schnitzel with creamy cheesy pasta and broccoli, I do.

This post doesn’t require a full on recipe because you can find your favorite brand of vegan chicken, or make your own vegan fried chicken, and cook in the air fryer or the oven with your desired seasonings. I used garlic, black pepper and smoky paprika and popped it in the oven on 200C so it would be crispy enough not to get soggy on top of the pasta.

No-Meatball Creamy Curry Risotto

Perhaps my favorite part of getting to choose what my husband cooks on his nights, is coming up with new combinations to see what he’ll do with the dish. On this night, I wanted three things: curry, vegan meatballs and risotto.

It sounded strange even to my own ears, so I hit up the Google machine just in case I was sending him on a fool’s errand. Turns out, I was…kind of.

There were curry meatball dishes for all diets and lifestyles, but I guess most people are purists when it comes to risotto, where I am not. So this is what happens when you ask for curry, vegan meatballs and risotto for dinner.

Meatless Creamy Curry Risotto.

The key to any good curry is a well-stocked spice rack, or finding the right premade vegan curry sauce or seasoning packet. Those aren’t all that easy to come by here in Romania, which works out fine because my spice rack is more like a spice shelving unit and it borders on ridiculous.

Vegan Pub Fare: Falafel Balls & Baked Fries

One of the things I’m always trying to do is find ways to take the greasy foods I love and make them a little bit healthier and more calorie friendly. Thanks to my trusty air fryer, that’s now a possibility. But there are some days when you want to just pop some stuff into the oven and call it a day.

Right?

When it comes to falafel, you usually end up with a lot of oil for frying so this was a challenge. Let’s see if you like what I’ve come up with!

This is a relatively easy dish to make and even more so if you don’t have to stand in front of the stove, turning the vegan falafel balls so each side gets nice and crispy. If you have your own vegan falafel mix recipe, feel free to use it, or just grab these ingredients from the pantry:

Garbanzo beans
Onion (grated)
Parsley (optional)
Nutritional yeast
Soy sauce
Garlic
Flour (whole wheat or chickpea)
Water (only if the mix is too thick)

I prefer to pulse the chickpeas alone in the food processor first so they break down and get crumbly but you can always do everything all at once if you’re a lazy vegan. Season with salt, pepper and smoky paprika, or whatever else you feel like using and form into balls.

You might need to let it rest in the fridge for about 10 minutes and if you have time, I suggest you do that…maybe while the oven preheats (or the oil heats up if you decide to deep fry).

Form the falafel mix into balls and lay on a lightly greased parchment paper, cook for about 20 minutes or until the vegan balls start to crisp up. If you find that it’s taking too long, turn on the top heat and crank up the heat for an extra 5 minutes.

The good thing about this recipe is that you can bake the falafel and fries at the same time!

For the potatoes, just cut into the desired shape/width/length and season. We went for a spicy cajun-masala blend because of the creamy lemon & dill veggiegurt dipping sauce (which I forgot to photograph) so they came out a little on the spicy side.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until crispy and you’ve got easy vegan pub food in 30 minutes or less!

I haven’t had falafels in a long time and this was a good, pita-free, way to enjoy them without sacrificing my love of potatoes!

If you decide to try these vegan falafel balls, please share the recipe with me!

Easy Vegan Char-fu (Vegan Char Siu)

I know, I know, you’re shocked to see yet another noodle dish from me.

Cue: your shocked face!

Seriously though, with everything going on in the world sometimes you just want a dish that brings you comfort and for me that is usually Asian noodles. They are versatile so you can get super fancy with it or do it up as simple as you like. This particular dish is a play on char siu, but obviously we’re not going to be using adorable pigs in our vegan meal, so we relied on good ol’ TVP to get the job done.

This vegan dish is all about the seasoning (and the noodles) but mostly the seasoning.

I don’t know about where you guys are–feel free to tell me where you are while reading this in the comments–but even if we were eating out these days, the suburbs of Bucharest aren’t exactly a haven for vegan cuisine, which means I can get all the Asian food I want right here in the comfort of my kitchen.

Now, you can too!

What you’ll need:

Onion
Bok Choy
Garlic
Chow Mein noodles
TVP
Peanut oil
Napa cabbage
Soy Sauce
Scallions
Hot sauce

Cook the TVP as indicated, same with the noodles.

Drain the TVP and season it, then pop it into the air fryer, oven or just fry it in a skillet, the choice is yours.

Add peanut oil to a pan or skillet and cook onion, bok choy, ginger and garlic until done, about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how you like it. Add soy sauce and hot sauce, then toss with crispy soya.

Serve on a bed of your favorite noodles and garnish with fresh, thin sliced scallions.

This quick and easy vegan meal should take you 30 minutes or less in the kitchen, but if you’re feeling like going there, feel free to share your fancier version of vegan Char-fu!

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?

Chicken Fried Tofu Dinner

One of the things that I’ve been slowly starting to do again is add some of the so-called bad foods back to my diet, foods that I stopped eating over the years because they were just too caloric or just too damn bad for ya (and by you I mean me). Well mostly it was that but also it was another Tokyo dinner night and the hubs chose, what else? Fried chicken.

Back in my meat eating days I was known to nosh on a piece of fried chicken or two but combined with the fact that I’m not a fan of deep frying because it’s time intensive and a waste of food unless you deep fry food on a regular basis, which we do not. So this was a nice challenge from a few different angles and the end product was impressive, delicious and not quite as caloric as I expected going into this vegan dinner.

Since the whole chicken fried tofu part of the meal required a few steps, I kept this a simple vegan dinner inspired by one of my favorite TV dinners as a kid.

Let’s start with the soya since it took the most amount of time. I used the dehydrated stuff (Texture Vegetable Protein, aka TVP) which means you need to soak/boil it in hot liquid, and since I used the biggest pieces they have it took about 15 minutes. Then you have to let them sit for at least fifteen minutes to get some of the water out, or else you’ll have a big fat mess when you start breading and frying. Yeah, see? Time intensive.

Once the soya pieces are as dry as they’re gonna get, you can bread them. I used a flour/Panko mixture that I seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic granules, smoky paprika, ground cumin and dry oregano. Blend and coat, then add to a deep skillet. I only shallow fried them to get a good crisp going and then I transferred them to the oven to crisp-ify even more!

Since this is soya and it is already done, don’t get too carried away during the cooking process, just cook it until you get the level of crispiness you’re looking for.

To keep things simple, I added oven fries and some very sweet Spanish corn on the cob to complete the meal.

Sorry to gloat but let’s just take a moment to appreciate the fine cook on this soya. It’s a skill that one, apparently, does not forget over time. I don’t fry or deep fry food often but it’s nice to know that I’ve still got it! 😉

When in doubt about how to eat healthy and vegan without depriving yourself, be smart. Be grown up. Fried tofu isn’t healthy but baking the fries and adding vegetables means you’re being as healthy as this meal allows. Besides, a small indulgence here and there keeps the big, diet-destroying indulgences at bay.

What’s your favorite trick for eating what you want without going overboard?

Easy Vegan Chow Fun

One of the things I love most about sharing a life with someone who’s life experiences are so different than my own, is sharing those experiences. But even better than that, is making those experiences ours.

Wondering what I’m talking about? Tokyo Diner night…again!

It was my pick of the night and I chose Chow Fun. Remember back in the day when you’d go to a certain type of Chinese restaurant and they’d advertise Cantonese Chow Fun noodles? Well that was probably the start of my love/obsession with Asian cuisine and it was one that, after 15 years, I hadn’t shared with The Hubs.

How crazy, right?

Anyway, I love Chow Fun because it’s simple and it’s fast, and you can use whatever you have on hand to make it a meal.

Your basic Chow Fun recipe has sprouts, beef, scallions and noodles. So if you have a vegan protein to replace the beef, you’re good to go. But if you’re feeling adventurous (or hungry) you can add snowpeas, leeks, carrots, broccoli or whatever else you want. We kept it simple, mostly because The Hubs went way overboard with the dehydrated soya so we didn’t need much else.

The key to a good Chow Fun dish is cooking it quick and high, preferably in a Wok. Even if you don’t have a wok, none of these ingredients need to cook for a long time. They’re vegetables!

We lucked out when it came to the noodles. It’s hard to find real Chow Fun noodles here but we had these long lasagna-like noodles that were the perfect replacement and I didn’t even have to tell my husband that’s what I was hoping he’d use. How awesome, right?

Finally, there’s the sauce. Sesame oil is an ingredient but you can take it as easy or as heavy as you want. Combine it with soy sauce (we used light and dark), a pinch of sugar (optional), Xiaoxing wine and a pinch of spice if desired.

Add the soya first until it’s cooked how you want, then add onions/scallions and cook another few minutes. Once all the veggies are close to desired done-ness, add wine around the rim of the pan and then the soy and wine mixture. Add bean sprouts.

Stir/toss until cook through and serve over those yummy Chow Fun noodles.

This is another quick and easy vegan meal that anyone can cook. And best of all, if you do all the prep work you can have it on the table in 30 minutes or less.

Add vegetables and spices as desired and feel free to share your version below!

Egg Roll Fried Rice

You know those meals some people refer to as refrigerator meals or kitchen sink meals? The name comes from the fact that you just take a bunch of random ingredients to make something pretty awesome. That’s pretty much how this recipe came out.

I had three different needs for cabbage in one week but none of them required a lot of it which means two small cabbages would have been perfect. But life isn’t perfect and the market only had giant cabbages fit for holidays like Thanksgiving or for industrial kitchens. I figured I could make a big bowl of cole slaw and use it on sandwiches since two different markets had no sprouts for sandwiches. Aw, sad face.

Long story short-ish…I had too more cabbage than need for cabbage and the only thing I knew was that I wanted to do something with an Asian flavor. A big shocker for me, I know.

And egg roll fried rice was born.

When I say this is a super easy weeknight vegan dinner I mean it!

Check out this ingredient list: smoked tofu, onions, garlic, ginger and cabbage. And rice. Duh.

Start with the onions and tofu first, giving them a head start on getting crispy before tossing in the garlic and ginger. Slowly add the cabbage and add water as needed to help it cook down. You can also cook it stir-fry style on a very high heat, but I chose the steam method. Stir and season as needed while you go. Add the already cooked rice at the end and some spicy stuff if you want, and bam…easy and satisfying vegan dinner in about 30 minutes.

Maybe 35.

I used basmati rice because for some reason it’s my favorite. The grains separate nicely making it very easy to eat with chopsticks.

Keep soy sauce and sriracha or sambal on hand in case you need more salt or spice.

The longer you let the smoked tofu cook, the saltier and crispier it will become and you’ll see exactly why this is called egg roll fried rice.

Spicy Tofu & Red Quinoa Bowl

Been busy finishing up my latest book but I wanted to share another Buddha Bowl with you. The thing I love most about them, aside from all the healthy stuff, is that you get a little bit of a variety of foods. After a tough workout or just because I’m feeling really hungry, I crave them.

So when I found this organic red quinoa at the nearby Kaufland, I knew it would go nicely with the beautiful broccoli florets that were already in the shopping cart. Okay, the truth is that I had a vegan Buddha bowl on the menu but I wasn’t sure which grain I would use until I checked out what was in stock.

I’m pretty new to the quinoa bandwagon so I put them on first, adding  salt and turmeric to the water when it started to boil.

Next came the onions and bell peppers because I wanted to pop them into the oven to get a little char on’em. As you can see, I got a little more than I wanted but some of that was because of the spice rub I used. Same with the tofu.

Put together your favorite spice blend for the tofu, I used a tandoori spice blend with sumac and baharrat and some other stuff, with a few drops of oil and tomato paste. Rubbing it on both sides of the tofu and pan fry it or pop it in the oven when the onions & bell peppers start to cook.

Steam the broccoli and toss with your favorite seasonings. I used vegan butter and minced garlic. Easy peasy.

Feel free to make a sauce if you like. I thought about it but after tasting it all, I didn’t think it needed it.

This was a quick 30 minute vegan meal that you can use over and over again. Take your spice cabinet around the world and mix up the veggies for an endless supply of easy vegan recipes.