Vegan Chanterelle Mushrooms & Black Rice Bowl

I don’t know how you guys feel about mushrooms but they are one of my all time favorite things to eat, even more so after adopting a vegan lifestyle. There are so many ways to cook, flavor and enjoy mushrooms that it’s almost impossible to get bored or tired of them. Check out my Beyond Stuffed Mushrooms! And if you’re lucky and happen upon a package of King Oyster or Enoki mushrooms, consider yourself lucky. In my (current) neck of Romania, those are what I consider a TREASURE find because they are so hard to come by.

But when I find myself staring at Chanterelle mushrooms in the mushrooms section, well my vegan heart does a little pitter-patter because I know that I’m gonna go a little bit crazy. These suckers are so flavorful and versatile that I actually can’t get enough of them and my only real problem is figuring out how to make them the star of the dish. Okay, that felt kind of like a Chopped intro, didn’t it?

Now, I don’t want to get your hopes up because there is one downside to chanterelle mushrooms and it is that they are a monster to clean. It takes forever. Literally.

At least it used to. But a few moments of internet sleuthing and I came upon a website that was the MOST helpful in finding a more streamlined way to clean them. All you’ll need is a bowl of water and a kitchen towel or paper towel, but be prepared to change that water a few times because these are very dirty mushrooms.

That sounded kinda dirty, didn’t it?

Three hundred years later and the mushrooms are clean…now we can cook!

This was another easy vegan meal, at least if you don’t count the time spent cleaning, with a simple ingredient list mostly made up of pantry staples.

You’ll need: smoked tofu, mushrooms, bell pepper, corn, onion and rice, plus herbs & spices.

I thought about using the air fryer for these but they have so much water I was worried how it would work, so I opted for my trusty mushroom pan which is the opposite of a non-stick pan. So…a stick pan? Just kidding, a good stainless steel pan is your BFF when it comes to cooking mushrooms. Either way, cook them in a pan without oil, stirring often until a lot of that water has rendered and cooked itself out. Then you can add some fat if you want and start sauteing them until brown and slightly crispy.

When the mushrooms start cooking without rendering any more water, I added the smoked tofu because I also like to have the brown parts a little crispy. When those two are close to done, I added the onion and bell pepper while I cut the corn from one fresh cob. While all that is happening, the black rice is cooking for about 20 minutes in my waste free broth.

See how brown and crispy the mushrooms are? In my opinion that gives them an excellent depth of flavor that means you don’t need to go crazy with herbs and spices, just enough to make the ingredients shine.

This is the brand of black rice I normally use but sometimes the “bio” section will have one type of organic black rice that I also love. But use what you can find and what’s right for your budget. And if you’re worried about the color, don’t be. This rice is rich in antioxidants and fiber, plus it gives a simple vegan dish a very fancy air about it, don’t you think?

With a little bit of planning and prep work, this meal can be on the table in about 30 minutes, 45 if you include the mushroom washing time but in my opinion it is totally worth it because one does not happen upon Chanterelle mushrooms regularly.

Not to mention, this is the perfect calorie friendly vegan meal to pair with an ice cold beer plus a tall glass of water!

What’s your favorite mushroom dish?

Easy Vegan Meals: Crispy Korean Spiced Tofu & Rice

Even on days like this one, stuck in the house, sometimes this vegan just doesn’t feel like gettin’ down in the kitchen. But I have to eat because I love to eat and because, ya know, we all need it to survive and all that, it means one of us still has to cook.

That’s when easy vegan meals come in super handy.

These vegan meals are ALWAYS delicious (but that part is up to you) and flavorful and most of all simple. So simple that no amount of glossy photos will make it look any different, but since we’re all friends here and everyone knows that my photography skills could use some help, it’s cool. Right?

This particular easy vegan meal was one of our now classic Midnight Tokyo Diner meals. I asked for crispy Korean tofu and this is what he made.

What’s your favorite easy vegan meal when you don’t want takeout? I often choose something Asian inspired because there’s always rice or noodles so…carbs!

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!

Colorful Vegan Buddha Bowl

Sometimes you just want a Buddha bowl. At least I do.

And when I want a Buddha bowl, I can go a little crazy with piling veggies onto the plate. I make no apologies.

The key to making a proper bowl is prep work. And an awesome spice rack.

The first step is to pull out all the ingredients you’ll need so you have some semblance of organization as you move forward. I wanted distinct flavors that blended well so I started with the ingredients with the longest cook times; sweet potatoes, cauliflower and carrots. Toss them with oil or vegan yogurt and seasoning and toss them into a pre-heated oven.

We have lots of colorful veggies with the carrots and sweet potatoes but we can’t forget the most important color: dark leafy greens.

Okay, maybe Bok Choy isn’t all that dark green but it is packed with nutrients and it is super delicious. Saute with leeks, ginger and garlic, a flavor profile that will combine with just about any cuisine style you choose. And then, if you must have grains…have your grains! I added about 60 grams of bulgur to this recipe because I always feel better with some grains on my plate.

Sauces are mandatory and I don’t always make one when I make a Buddha bowl but the carrots came with really amazing greens and there was basil and mint in the fridge, so I added lemon and capers and vegan yogurt for a refreshing sauce that allowed me to add a bit more spice to the different vegetables in the bowl.

Toss it all into the food processor and let’em rip. It’s worth the extra step, I swear!

Don’t make the same mistake I did and ignore the timers or you’ll end up with slightly charred bits of vegetables. It was still tasty but I’d rather not eat charcoal, if you know what I’m saying.

Buddha bowls can take time but I promise that prep work will be your best friend at the end of the day. And you don’t have to add quite so many vegetables as I did, but ever since I started using Chronometer, I’m obsessed with hacking my diet to get a greater variety of nutrients to each plate. The best part of all is that the oven does most of the work, the bulgur cooks in 10 minutes which gives you about 15 to properly saute your favorite dark leafy greens.

It’s an hour well spent in the kitchen in my opinion but if you want to chop that time in half, skip the greens and the grains…but seriously, don’t skip either. Your body needs them.

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?

Ginger Mushroom Stir Fry

First let’s start with some good news: my book is out! Yay! It took a long time, much longer than it should but that was then and now it’s done and I’m super duper excited…can you tell?

But that means things have been busy. Crazy busy in fact but that’s when it’s most important to eat healthy and right. Right? At least for me it is. My weight loss goal is in sight, I feel good and I need a lot of energy to give this round of book promo the old college try.

So for this recipe I relied heavily on my spice rack. Aside from curries and stews, stir-fries are on my list of easy go-to meals when you’ve got a fridge full of vegetables and no game plan. Even if you do have a game plan but you change your mind, grab a few key ingredients and you’re good to go.

Since I love ginger and we had about a kilo of cap mushrooms, ginger mushroom stir fry seemed like the perfect quick and easy vegan meal.

The ingredients don’t matter a lot when it comes to a good stir fry so just follow these tips:

Cut the vegetables in a uniform-ish size. This helps with cooking and eating later.

Cook the vegetables that take the longest first, adding them by cook time if you use a wok

Prep your starter herbs & spices: ginger, garlic & onions

This dish consisted of leeks, mushrooms, bell peppers, garlic, cauliflower & ginger. You can add tofu or beans or whatever else you want but with the rice it was plenty satisfying and the sauce really brought it all together.

A good stir fry sauce doesn’t have to come from a jar, all you need is tomato paste, soy sauce, corn starch and your favorite herbs and spices. I like to add spicy Korean chili flakes, cumin or cardamom, garam masala, Hoisin, Sambal or sriracha just to name a few. The point is to experiment and see what you like. Add some fresh orange zest and juice to give your vegan stir fry an General Tso’s flavor!

And there you have it, another thirty minute vegan meal you can enjoy any night of the week. Or, if you’re feeling very creative, every night of the week!

Easy Vegan Meals In A Pinch ~ Mix & Match Asian

If you were to listen to some of the conversations I have with my friends you notice two things. The first is that I often sound like a broken record because, well what’s true is…true. The second is that they have a hard time understanding how I overcome my love of variety while eating a vegan diet. (Now the broken record thing makes sense, doesn’t it?)

But other than frustration those conversations were the inspiration for today’s post. Well that and the actual meal itself.

Variety, on any diet, starts with your spice rack/cabinet/drawer or whatever, at least in my opinion. If you have a fully developed space for herbs and spices you can turn mashed potatoes (for example) into curry mashed potatoes. Or Asian inspired fries. It is also how a healthy vegan can eat everything and never, ever get bored.

Even when it’s the day before grocery day and you realize your cute little Tokyo diner idea means you sometimes run out of food earlier, and you simply have to make do with what’s on hand.

There were two directives for this particular meal: Asian & Mushrooms.

That made things easy. Sort of. There was about 300 grams of mixed brown & white mushrooms in the fridge along with half a head of cauliflower, bell peppers and scallions, which I love to put in my salads. Not the most exciting ingredients but this is where your spice rack won’t let you down.

Start with Asian basics: garlic, ginger and lemongrass. I find lemongrass pretty hard to find around here and the only grocery store in my town that has it is inside a mall which is a big heaping helping of no thanks for me unless we need to stock up on vegan junk food like cheese and luncheon style slices. So let’s stick with garlic and ginger. Add any or all of the following: soy sauce (or Worcestershire if you want to change it up a bit), tomato paste, lime juice, Sriracha, chili peppers, sesame seeds, miso paste. Take your ingredients and put them in a small mixing bowl. Add a starch & water mix to it and when the veggies are ready, toss it on top.

Boil, then simmer until thick and serve it over rice. Delicious Asian style vegan food in 30 minutes. Totally doable.

Your spice rack will never let you down and if you have a cabinet full of grains, you can experiment with different types of rice or you can test out different Asian noodles with recipes like this.

Tweak the ingredients and you can turn this into an Indian or Thai style curry. Add lemon and herbs instead and turn this into a Mediterranean style veggie & rice dish.  The point is to experiment, get creative and hit up the Google Machine for inspiration. It’s out there and once you start, you won’t be able to go back.

If you want to add extra spice…don’t be afraid to dice up a jalapeno or any other spicy pepper and toss it in with the other veggies. Or if you’re cooking for those who can’t handle the heat, it’s a perfect garnish when mixed with mint and parsley.

Pre-Shopping Day Vegan Pasta Primavera

What do you do when you need to make something quick, easy and nutritious to make for dinner with a fridge full of leftover ingredients? I had no clue but my husband and I have been taking inspiration from the Netflix show, Midnight Diner. It’s a Japanese vignette show centered on a diner where people come up and request whatever they want to eat and the chef will make it, provided he has the ingredients.

It’s been an experiment that’s into the second week now and it’s produced some pretty great results. I think so but maybe I’m biased.

Anyway if you’re unfamiliar, a primavera is a great way to make use of fresh vegetables before they go bad…you know who you are out there.

The easiest way to explain pasta primavera is a pasta dish with fresh veggies, at least as far as I understand it. And after a week of making delicious off-the-cuff dishes, this is what I whipped up when the hubs requested pasta primavera.

The good thing about a dish like this is that it is easy to make vegan and it’s a great dish to make sure you use up every veggie you doled out hard earned cash to buy. For this dish I started with my basics: onion, bell pepper and garlic. Broccoli, crimini mushrooms and smoked tofu rounded out the dish along with this strange mix & mash of pasta that I just couldn’t resist.

I sauteed it the veggies using a little bit of olive oil, adding the mushrooms first so they have plenty of time to get a bit of crisp around the edges and broccoli last so it didn’t get too soft because I like my vegetables with a bit of a bite. I did manage to get a bit of char on the onions and red bell peppers, which only enhanced the flavor of this vegan pasta dish.

The star of any good pasta primavera, in my opinion, is the sauce. I opted for a scampi-style sauce with lemon juice, capers, dijon mustard and nutritional yeast. Instead of dragging the dish down with a heavy cheesy sauce, I sprinkled Parveggio on top as a garnish.

I opted for smoked tofu in this dish because you can’t beat that smoky flavor in a dish like this. I didn’t want to replicate a fishy flavor but I wanted layers of taste and the smoky tofu and smoked paprika helped me accomplish that.

Feel free to add extra like hot chili flakes or fresh greens to garnish, but this was a day before grocery day kind of meal for us and it was an excellent way to clear up the fridge for a new batch of fresh goodies.

 

Vegan Fish Sticks, A Love/Hate Tale

Before I tell you about these vegan fish sticks, I want to share something. My British friends find it hilarious that Americans call it chicken fingers instead of chicken strips because, duh, chickens don’t have fingers. Which we all know and that’s probably what makes them so palatable. But my American friends (me too, when I first heard it) think it’s funny–for the exact same reason–that they call it fish fingers instead of fish sticks.

But when I point it out, I’m the nerd.

Anyway on to these delicious vegan fish sticks we tried out recently by Vantastic. I’m not getting paid by them, by the way. This was just the brand we chose to try because we were familiar with them from our time in Germany.

These were good for what they were, which is fried fish-scented tofu. Because I knew this would be a one and done (but if you’re interested it’s calorie friendly at 62 calories per stick), I was able to enjoy it with the nostalgia of my seven year old self, who loved fish sticks and fries with lots and lots of ketchup.

But we’re grown ups now so we fancy it up…sort of. Mostly, we had baked sweet potato fries.

The sticks were seasoned as much as you really can season something that’s pre-cooked but since we popped them in the oven, they were tossed with salt, pepper, garlic granules and smoky paprika. It helped, but not as much as the ketchup! The fries were also tossed in a spice blend with a little bit of oil and put in the oven for about 30 minutes, which I loved about this meal, it was super low key.

No muss.

No fuss.

This isn’t meant to be gourmet vegan food and that’s all right, it was a reminder of how much I loved them as a kid. I almost certainly wouldn’t buy these again but if you’re interested they are calorie and wallet friendly.

It’s not pictured but I’m pretty sure I ‘paired’ this with an ice cold dark beer.

My husband convinced me not to take any photos after I “slathered” it with ketchup, which I totally didn’t do. I created a little pile of my hot ketchup & Sriracha blend to one side and dipped the fries & sticks into it. Respectfully. Not at all like a feral child.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Have you recreated any vegan fish dishes? Drop links below!