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.

Mujadarrah Inspired Cauliflower & Soya

I’ve been away for a while. A long while. First my husband had the flu while I was editing my latest book and then, for the very first time in my life, I was taken down with the flu as well. It was awful and an experience that I never, ever, ever want to experience again. So the blog had to take a backseat and now, I’m back. 😀

Yes, I’m calling this a mujadara even though there are no lentils in it. Sue me.

I wanted the flavors of this dish without the lentils so after a few adjustments, I was armed with tofu, a beautiful head of cauliflower and brown basmati rice, and I was ready to get the vegan mujadara started.

When it comes to cooking cauliflower, I prefer to cook it separately and usually in the oven because it gets those nice crispy edges in the oven or the air fryer. For this particular recipe, I used a combination of Indian spices and peanut oil, tossed with the cauliflower and then laid out on a baking sheet. It can take anywhere from 20 to 35 minutes in the oven, or about 15 to 20 in the air fryer, but you should use your eyes and your mouth to decide when your cauliflower is perfectly ready.

Pick a rice and cook it according to the package instructions. I used brown basmati here because I wanted a grain with a bit of a bite.

For the rest of the recipe you’ll need: rehydrated TVP or tofu if you have it handy, onion, garlic, ginger, green chili pepper and Korean chili paste. The onions should be cooked until caramelized as this will provide SO much flavor to this dish and it is a key in any mujadarrah recipe.

Cook it on the stovetop until everything is fragrant and tender. Toss all the ingredients together and heat through, and then get your yum-yum on!

Garnish with thinly sliced scallions and you’re good to go. A delicious vegan meal in less than an hour.

What is your favorite way to eat cauliflower?

Fire Noodles & Mongolian Style Tofu

These days I’m loving the mix & match meals that my partner and I have been enjoying. What is a ‘mix & match’ meal, you ask?

Easy, it’s a meal that can actually be two separate meals but you decide to put’em together to create something vegan and delicious. Some people, fancier people than me, might call it fusion but it’s not meant to be a modern statement on any particular cuisine type or anything like that, just a way for the greedy vegan in you to enjoy two things at once.

My hubs wanted Mongolian style vegan beef and fire noodles, and he asked which one would be easier to make and since he was so sweet to ask…I made them both.

The recipe name might not be pretty and to be honest, my photos leave A LOT to be desired. But what you really want to know is, was it delicious?

Hell yeah, it was!

You might think that making two separate dishes is more time consuming, but it’s not. Well, not as long as you do a little bit of prep work.

Step one: Gather your ingredients

I made enough for two adults who eat proper portion sizes, so use that as your best estimate for how much to use, or sign up for Cronometer or any other calorie tracking app. If you’re not there yet, consult the nutrition information on the package.

Step Two: Hydrate the TVP
Obviously if you’re using tofu or seitan or tempeh, you can just follow those instructions, but I used TVP so if you do that, I recommend getting it going as early as possible.

Step Three: Cook ginger, onion, chili pepper, garlic & scallions
I didn’t use any oil, just a bit of water to get it going before seasoning, but cook your veggies how you like.

Step Four: Add TVP to air fryer
I wanted the soy to be nice and crispy before adding it to the vegetables and sauce, if you want it less crispy, drain the TVP and toss it right in once the vegetables are done.

Step Five & Six: Make the SAUCE
The Mongolian sauce is soy sauce based with brown sugar and a cornstarch slurry to thicken. I added chili peppers and Korean chili flakes to spice it up, but you can add ketchup or bbq sauce or premade teriyaki sauce if you like.

For the fire noodles, I used Korean chili paste, butter, tomato paste, spicy mustard and water to thin out the sauce just enough that it was easy to toss the ramen noodles with it.

and there you have it, a quick and easy vegan dinner that will satisfy your craving for noodles, Mongolian beef or just Asian food in general. Don’t be afraid to improvise and taste as you go along.

What’s your favorite vegan mix & match meal?

Vegan Cabbage Cakes & Garlic Mash

Looking for something greasy and fried without the hassle of deep frying? Or the calories? Yeah, me too and that’s how I found these yummy vegan cabbage cakes, and don’t worry, there’s more than cabbage in these babies!

These little cakes are satisfying to eat, packed with veggies, which means packed with nutrients and super easy to make. I realized after the fact that I should have tried to make these in the air fryer, but I didn’t so here we are.

Vegan cabbage cakes with creamy garlic mashed potatoes.

They key, I realized, to making a really good crab cake is the dreaded ‘u’ word. Uniformity. That’s right, all the veggies need to be thinly slice and as even as possible. You could probably even use a box grater or the grater option on your food processor for the cabbage, carrots, onion and garlic.

Sweet & Spicy Apricot Mushrooms & Tofu Vegan Dinner

I don’t know about you guys, but I love to cook. I don’t have a problem with blasting some music or listening to a true crime podcast while I get busy in the kitchen. Whether it’s making my favorite dessert from scratch–brownies–or any other thing that’s asked of me, I’ll do it.

But that doesn’t mean I’m all that creative in the kitchen. I will mix and match with the best of’em. For example, I recently made Jerk Cabbage Ramen and it was delicious, if I do say so myself. But vegan cooking isn’t my main job, or even my second job. It’s more of a passion so when it comes to creativity, I have no problem looking to others for inspiration.

One of my favorite vegan food blogs is Rabbit & Wolves because they have tons of unique vegan recipes and they’re just complicated enough to be challenging without pissing me off. So a few weeks back I was scrolling through recipes in search of something delicious and made with mushrooms, and most importantly, something I hadn’t eaten in the past, oh I don’t know, six months.

And that’s when I spotted it. Sticky. Apricot. Mushrooms.

Yep, you heard me right. I was like, “what?” And then I immediately knew what I wanted my partner to make on our next Midnight Tokyo Diner night. But when that night rolled around, there were no apricots and no apricot jam anywhere in the house, because who the heck keeps apricot jam on hand?

Vegan Chickpea & Quinoa Tandoori

Let’s just get this out in the open right now; I do NOT have a clay Tandoori oven so, sure, technically this isn’t a real vegan Tandoori. But I used all the delicious flavors that mean Tandoori to me, so here we are.

I’m not going to let myself get boggled down in the details when I have a perfectly good stove, oven and air fryer. You work with what ya got, and this is what I got.

Vegan Chickpea & Quinoa Tandoori.

If you’re into one pot vegan meals, then you’ll be happy to know that you can pop this all into one pot and minimize your dish load. I didn’t do that, but it’s only because I like to have different flavors and textures on my plate. Instead of popping everything in one pot, I used the air fryer for the sweet potatoes and the oven to crisp up the chickpeas.

Easy Vegan Dinner Recipes ~ Chickpea Masala

Life as we know it under normal circumstances is…a distant memory. You know that as well as I do, and as such, we have all been doing the best we can as often as we can. For the purposes of today’s blog, that means making sure you get a good chunk of whole foods in your vegan diet.

When was the last time you ordered/cooked a meal without soy or seitan? How about the last time you cooked a meal, period? Or one that consisted mostly of vegetables, grains, beans and/or legumes? It’s not a judgment, believe me. Some weeks I have to really go through the photos to find a meal without pasta or tofu or vegan burgers. It happens and I’ve forgiven myself.

Have you?

Good because today we have a quick and easy vegan chickpea masala for those nights when you just need something simple, whole and plant based to eat.

The chickpeas are the main source of protein in this, but the good thing about a plant based, vegan whole food diet is that you get tons of essential vitamins and nutrients from ALL of the ingredients.

To get this vegan dinner started, you start with the onion, ginger and hot chili peppers. If you’re using oil, add that into the pan, otherwise look the vegetables cook until fragrant, adding water or waste-free broth a little at a time.

Add the garlic along with any herbs and spices such as: cumin, turmeric, curry, smoky paprika, garam masala seasoning and chili powder. Stir until well coated and then add the chickpeas (rinsed & drained) and cherry/grape tomatoes or just canned crushed tomatoes which is what I used, because this was a day before shopping meal for us.

Add some broth and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring regularly so it doesn’t stick. You want to let this liquid reduce a little so the end result is thick and creamy.

Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Add coconut milk (for cooking) at the last five or so minutes, making sure to taste as you go and adjust for flavor preferences.

Serve on a bed of rice and that’s a pretty darn quick and easy vegan recipes, perfect for lunch or dinner.

If you need a little extra spice, jalapenos or Sriracha will do the trick, but my hubs thought it had a nice little kick to it, emphasis on little.

The other thing I loved about this vegan chana masala? It’s super calorie friendly, even with the creamy coconut milk added to it.

This is for one serving but ingredients list is chickpea masala for 2.

Quick and easy and delicious, so next time you’re in need of a whole food vegan meal, consider hitting up your pantry for that can of beans you haven’t used in forever and toss’em in a pot.

Twice Cooked Vegan Gobi Manchurian

As you guys know, my love for all forms of Asian cuisine knows no bounds. None. Okay well, I can veganize pretty much anything so I guess–technically–that is a boundary, but the point is that I just love the flavor profiles and I’m always happy to find something new.

Different.

Exciting.

Imagine my surprise when it was my partner’s turn to choose a meal and he chose Gobi Manchurian. I was skeptical at first, not because of the flavors, but because I cringe a little when it comes to anything that is deep fried. I’m not quite at my goal weight yet and I’ve been more relaxed about indulging in the things I love, but all that extra oil is where I draw the line.

Draw. The. Line.

But I’m a trooper. And an experimenter. So I decided to veganize it and healthy it up, and it was a challenge. Though, not as big a challenge as I anticipated, so let’s get to it, shall we?

This recipe had a few moving parts to it, but honestly it was pretty simple. Mostly.

Vegan Risotto alla Bolognese

Is there anything better on a cold November day than some thick and hearty carbs smothered in a creamy sauce that just makes you feel better about being stuck in the house and cold as hell?

Not on this particular November day, anyway.

This vegan dinner was a request from my husband a la Midnight Tokyo Diner and I decided to go fairly authentic with the vegan bolognese sauce, so let’s jump right in to this vegan risotto alla bolognese recipe!

To make things easy for me, I made the risotto and the bolognese separately and tossed them together over low heat at the end, but here is the full ingredient list:

I will tell you up front that this wasn’t the most calorie friendly vegan recipe, coming in at just over 600 calories per servings, but holy moly was it worth every minute of working out the day of and the next day!

If you know how to cook risotto or if you have a preferred method, warm up your vegan broth and get it going. If you’re not sure the best way to cook risotto, check out this long ago recipe of mine!

Now…onto the vegan bolognese!

I used a mixture of onions and shallots to cook the risotto and for the sauce, so to get the vegan bolognese started, add a splash of oil to the pot along with the chopped onions, shallot, bell pepper, carrot and celery. Cook until it starts to soften and add the vegan burger meat. This was another new vegan product find for me from a company I was unfamiliar with, Naturli, but the burgers weren’t too greasy and it was very tasty, blended in perfectly with this vegan dinner recipe.

Next add the garlic for 2 minutes, then the fresh tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes start to break down, it should take a few minutes while you stir regularly.

Add tomato paste and some broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to thicken.

When everything is ready, toss together over low heat. Normally I would add some nutritional yeast to the vegan red sauce but it was perfectly seasoned and didn’t need it. See how I patted myself on the back right there? Don’t be afraid to do that once in a while…it feels good.

Now comes the tough question: to add or not to add vegan cheese?

The choice is yours! I didn’t think it was necessary but if you have a vegan cheese you love, feel free to add it and PLEASE drop a link below with your vegan cheese recommendation.

Be sure to season the sauce every step of the way or you’ll end up with bland red sauce. And if you don’t have any fresh tomatoes, canned/jarred crushed tomatoes work well but they are a little sweeter so you’ll have to be more diligent about seasoning.

And there you have it, a delicious vegan risotto alla bolognese. If you try it out, feel free to leave photos in the comments section or share with me on Instagram or Facebook.

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?