Crispy Cauliflower Wings & Fries

When you want something that’s easy to make but seems really complicated, try these cauliflower wings! You can make whatever sauce you want, spicy or sweet, or go crazy and make it spicy-sweet!

This dish is easy but it does take time for the prep work. I couldn’t find bread crumbs so I used some day old bread, which I ripped up and seasoned with salt, garlic, pepper, smoky paprika and oregano. When the bread cooled, I added it to the food processor to break it up evenly and put it in one bowl. Mix in a tablespoon or two of nutritional yeast and more seasoning if desired.

In the other bowl was vegan yogurt, Sriracha, mustard and lime juice. Feel free to add other wet flavor creators here.

Coat the cauliflower in they yogurt mixture first and then the bread crumbs before laying them out on a baking sheet. Crowd the sheet if you must just don’t double up or it will take FOREVER to cook. Spread them out evenly and pop in the oven for 35-45 minutes.

While the cauliflower cooks, get started on your side dishes and your sauces.

Since we like different spice levels, I didn’t want to toss the cauliflower. I made a hot sauce for me, using vegan butter, rice vinegar and plenty of spicy stuff. For him I used a tablespoon of the spicy stuff and added it to more yogurt and we were both happy because there was enough sauce for the vegan wings and the fries!

This requires a lot of oven work so make sure you time it right. The last thing you want are cold or overcooked cauliflower wings. I started with the cauliflower and when it started to brown, I put the potatoes in on the bottom shelf.

This was easy and delicious and even with the bread crumbs it was calorie friendly, at least as far as this vegan is concerned!

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.

Vegan Sausage & Peppers

You know how sometimes you can go years, decades even, without thinking about something and then you see something that triggers a memory or a smell that brings a smile to your face, and suddenly you can’t stop thinking about it? Well that’s what happened with me and sausage and peppers.

Back in my pre-vegan days, I loved a good sausage and peppers dish. Whether it was a sandwich from Portillo’s, a super delicious sandwich joint in Chicago or my granny’s spicy sausage and peppers with rice, I used to LOVE this dish.

And apparently…I still do.

The first thing you need is to figure out your sausage situation. If you live somewhere with a big vegan population then you can probably pop on down to the market and get a variety of vegan sausages. If, like me, you’re living vegan in a place with a pitifully small vegan community–even temporarily–then you’ll have to take the sausage situation into your own hands.

Get my vegan sausage recipe here and switch up those herbs and spices to fit any dish you want. I used a Cajun blend with chili powder, ancho chiles, smoky paprika, garlic granules, onion powder/granules, thyme, oregano and a pinch of cumin because I love it.

Next, grab a few of your favorite peppers and a couple onions, some garlic and herbs and you’re ready to go. I recommend a blend that features bell peppers and spicy peppers. I seeded and diced a jalapeno and rough chopped a long red pepper to go with the green & red bell peppers. It’s a nice sweet & spicy blend to go with the sausage.

Add some seasoning, herbs and a splash of water if you want it saucy…and lay it over whatever carb, um I mean grain you want and pofta buna! I served it over polenta because it’s been a while since I’ve had it and I really wanted it. Badly. But you could serve it over rice, bulgur or couscous, put it on a roll or in a wrap. Whatever floats your boat, baby!

This dish was easy because I made the vegan sausage with seitan a few days before and I cooked the onions and peppers in the oven (an easy way to make your vegan dish oil-free) so it was a low-key, stress free meal that was super delicious. And if you’re feeling funky or adventurous, add some vegan cheese to the polenta for a creamier flavor.

Pair it with beer or wine and enjoy!

 

Easy Tofu & Broccoli Stir Fry Recipe

When you’re feeling lazy but you still need something tasty, fast and healthy to eat, I find stir fry is always a good option. It packs your plate with vegetables, tons of flavor and most important of all….carbs. And it does all that without becoming a calorie bomb, though that part is pretty dependent on the cook.

Grab whatever vegetables you have on hand, a bag of rice and throw open the doors of your spice cabinet so you whip up a delicious vegan stir fry in just 30 minutes.

The key for a simple meal is to minimize ingredients and choose foods that have a similar cook time. Since I didn’t feel like spending all night in the kitchen, I kept it simple with an ingredient list that included broccoli, red & yellow bell pepper, onion, ginger, garlic and tofu. Smoked or natural works well, just use what you have on hand. If you have mushrooms, seitan or tempeh, use it instead of the tofu. Again, this is a quick and easy vegan meal.

If you’ve never made a stir fry before, let me preface this by saying that this is in no way authentic, just my way of doing things.

I like to add the ginger to the oil or water first to let it start pulling out the flavor and scent, along with some of the dry spices like curry, lemongrass, cumin, paprika and garam masala. When the air becomes super fragrant, add in the tofu, onions and bell peppers. Broccoli cooks fairly quickly and we like it with some crunch, so it goes in later. With the garlic.

The comes the sauce. I like to keep this simple too with a quick mixture that includes soy sauce, Sriracha, tomato paste, ground ginger, water and cornstarch. Mix it well and pour it over the cooked vegetables. Give it a good stir and let it come to a boil before turning it down to simmer until the sauce thickens.

That’s it. Easy, right?

Serve on a bed of rice, whatever you like. I always have jasmine and brown basmati rice on hand because they’re my favorite but any rice will do.

And there you have it, a quick and easy vegan stir fry with no unknown or difficult to find ingredients.

If you do your prep work and get the rice started early, you’ll find this is an excellent lazy weekday dinner that you can make using any mixture of vegetables you have on hand.

Easy Meatless Chickpea Balls

I love balls. I’m not ashamed to admit it, no matter how dirty and how naughty it sounds, I do. Chickpeas, lentils, veggie, zucchini, black beans, kidney beans, mushroom balls. You name it and I’ve probably ball-ified it for a recipe.

For the past week or so I was thinking about over-sized “meat” balls. Like the big kind that are so big you have to put them in a muffin tin so they maintain their integrity throughout the cooking process. When the day came, I was excited about these giant chickpea and vegetable balls but I decided if I made them too big, they might come out undercooked or worse, gross.

Making the chickpea balls will take some time, but not too much. Besides, this is only your nourishment we’re talking about, right?

I digress…

For the balls, I drained the beans and dried them as well as I could before popping them into the food processor. I pulsed them a few times until most of the chickpeas were broken up but there were still a few chunks in there. For texture. In a separate bowl I mixed together: shallots, ginger, garlic, red bell pepper, spinach, cumin, baking soda, breadcrumbs and one vegan egg. Pretty easy so far, right?

You can do what you want here, but I blended everything BUT the breadcrumbs, egg and beans first. Then the beans and a quick stir before adding a healthy sprinkling of breadcrumbs and another toss. Keep going until you have a mixture that is malleable enough to shape into balls. Now they’re ready for the oven!

I stuck with the idea of using the muffin tin because it worked and this way I wouldn’t have to worry about them falling apart while they were out of my sight in the oven. I rubbed a little coconut oil on each muffin liner to keep from sticking since the only fat in this recipe is the Arche brand vegegg.

Pop the balls into the oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until they’re nice and crispy on the outside and soft & flavorful on the inside.

Now you can get on with your side dishes. I went simple, fries to satisfy my never ending carb craving and sauteed onion, garlic, apple and green cabbage because fresh vegetables are always welcome at our dinner table!

This was a simple meal that took very little prep time. In fact I had enough time to whip up a quick vegan yogurt based remoulade. It was yogurt, Sriracha, mustard, black pepper and diced dill pickle. It is totally optional but the balls needed something and the vegan remoulade was the perfect addition.

Don’t worry if you make too much, toss it on top of a burger or your favorite sandwich or wrap!

Crispy baked potatoes…few things in life are better.

The flavors were incredible and this was the perfect amount of food, which made it a meal I could enjoy without any guilt or fretting over calories. Or fat.

Spicy Ginger Peanut Fried Rice

Have you ever gone down the YouTube rabbit hole? You know what I’m talking about, you go in search of something very specific and it leads you to a whole world of videos that you never knew existed but wish you knew about a lot sooner. Well if you don’t know, I suggest you try it because that’s how you get amazing dishes like this one. The easiest way to describe it is an Indian spiced fried rice.

Dishes like this are great because they satisfy any kind of takeout cravings you have but you get to decide how greasy you make it!

This recipe does require a bit of planning because you’ll need to cook the rice and let it sit for a few hours until it is cool all the way the through. It’s worth the extra effort.

For the rest of it, I used: ginger (lots and lots of ginger), onion, shallots, red & yellow bell pepper, tofu pieces, peanuts, garlic (rough chopped so you can really bite into it), lemongrass powder, jalapeno (diced with half the seeds removed in concession to my Hubs), coconut oil, and as you can see from the photos, turmeric.

You can add any kind of vegetables you want to this dish, just be sure to add them to the pot starting with the longest cooking time or you’ll have some very mushy vegetables because this cooks pretty fast and at a high temp.

Add the garlic and the peanuts at the same time, tossing for a few minutes. The thing you don’t want to do is just turn the pot of rice over into the skillet, fluff the rice with a fork first and then add it, tossing or stirring until it’s all blended. If you want a bit of grease, you can add a splash of sesame oil on top. I chose a soy sauce and lime juice blend and a few dots of Sriracha.

Cooking it on a high heat gives a nice little char on the edges which is doubly nice for the tofu and the peanuts.

Add a nice icy lager and you’ve got a quirky take on fried rice to satisfy any takeout craving.

Quick & Easy Spicy Vegan Mushroom Orzo

One of the things I’m guilty of doing when it comes to cooking is getting stuck in a rut. Not a bad rut, but I’ll create recipes surrounding the same ingredients, like bulgur or rice, when there are tons of other grains I could be using. It’s one of the reason I am obsessed with watching cooking shows whether it’s on YouTube or regular television. Thanks to a show with Grill Master Supreme, Bobby Flay, I was reminded of how much I enjoy orzo.

Before anyone gets upset, yes I do know that orzo is a pasta but it’s shaped like rice so I consider it both, depending on the recipe. And for this particular recipe, I used it as a plain ol’ grain.

If you’re unfamiliar with orzo, this is what it looks like, a pasta rice if you will. Anyway it is very easy to cook–boil in salted or unsalted water as the package indicates and then drain–and very versatile as you’re about to learn! But you have to make sure you season the dish properly because otherwise you’ll end up with a bland dish.

We eat a lot of mushrooms in our house. Like, a lot. Sometimes as a meat replacement in things like shredded BBQ mushroom sandwiches or a plant based mushroom bourguignon, but also just because mushrooms are delicious and go great with just about everything. So we have orzo and we have mushrooms…what else?

That’s what makes this meal so quick and easy, it has just a few ingredients: crimini mushrooms, onions, garlic and orzo. Of course you’ll have to add herbs & spices but you have those anyway so you don’t have to buy a ton of extras.

Since orzo is a pasta, I recommend cooking it separately so this isn’t a one pot meal, but it’s close enough that you can keep this vegan recipe in your back pocket for those lazy weeknights.

I didn’t use oil because mushrooms produce SO MUCH water that it really wasn’t necessary, but feel free to add it if you think you need it. I cooked the mushrooms first until most of the water had cooked out, then I added the onions (an onion & shallot blend because we’re always trying to diversify the flavor profile!) and allowed them to use some of the mushroom water to cook without sticking to the pan.

When the onions start to crisp a little around the edges, add the garlic. For this recipe I used about 8 cloves, maybe 10 because I planned to add some heat to it and the Hubs can’t handle too much heat.

For herbs & spices, I used a pinch of curry, baharrat, scotch bonnet powder and smoky paprika. These flavors when combined made this dish taste like it had been cooking for hours, which is also a great way to increase the gratitude for those you cook for!

When everything was done, I tossed it all together, using about a quarter cup of the orzo water to give the dish a hint of creaminess without adding any actual cream.

But it turns out that I added maybe one or two too many spices because I had to grab some vegan yogurt for the hubs…

Good news is that the yogurt & lime mixture was a great addition to the meal, according to him anyway so feel free to get (a little) carried away with your spice rack with the confidence that a little bit of yogurt will go a long way.

And you know I had to wash it down with something delicious…right?

Ice cold with a delicious flavor profile, I’d say this beer was created to go with a variety of mushroom dishes.

Roasted Veggie Sub & Oil Free Pesto

Just because you want to eat healthy doesn’t mean you can’t eat good.

This has been the key to my weight loss success this far, finding creative ways to keep the flavor without adding too much extra fat or calories. It’s something that has to be done so instead of whine about it, I just get creative. It’s kind of my thing, I don’t know if you’ve heard.

So sometimes I really just want a sandwich. Some thick pillowy bread fresh from the bakery with just enough crunch to let you know it won’t fall apart when you load it up with veggies. I found these rolls that were like baguettes but softer and wider, basically they were perfect for this kind of sandwich which I came up with when I got a look at the big red bell peppers at the market.

I’ll concede right now that the photos of this delicious sandwich aren’t the greatest, but I am a work in progress. 🙂

This is a pretty easy sandwich but if you need to eat within five minutes of hunger striking, this probably isn’t the meal for you because the oven does ALL the work. For me, it’s an excellent trade off because I can sit at my desk and spend thirty minutes working. Or making an oil free pesto, which isn’t as easy as it might sound.

Gather your favorite veggies, enough to fill the rolls without going overboard. Since I opted out of side dishes for this meal, I went a little veggie crazy.

Grab your favorite herbs and spices and toss everything at once, or individually. I chose to do it individually because I like to mix it up, but you can do it all with one batch of spices. Lay it all out on a baking sheet or casserole dish and pop in the oven.

Then…

I added tomatoes during the last fifteen minutes of cooking and look how juicy and plump they got!

While the veggies cooked, I made the pesto but before anyone gets crazy, I know there is no oil in it so technically it can’t be a pesto…I guess. So it is a blend of fresh herbs, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, walnuts, scallions, capers, lemon juice and hot sauce. Popped it in the food processor and gave it a few go rounds. It takes time without oil but I added a splash of lemon juice here and splash of water there and finally it started to look like more like a tapenade, honestly.

Now you’re ready to build. Spread the pesto/tapenade on the top bun (it’s just a preference, more of a suggestion really but it tastes better this way) and the veggies on the bottom.

In total, it took about 40 minutes, which was worth every minute in terms of taste.

Since the weather has been so HOT, I won’t suggest a beer or even a lemonade. Nothing but ice cold water.

Again, a preference, but once that will make you feel better.

Simple Herb-Roasted Veggies with Couscous

Some days I feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen whipping up a delicious vegan meal from scratch because it keeps my cooking skills active and it’s a great way for me to work out plot problems while occupying my mind with something else. Then there are those days where I want to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, BUT I also want a meal that’s tasty and nutritious.

And quick.

This was one of those days but the good news is that with a little bit of prep you can be in and out of the kitchen in a half hour. The first thing you want to do is prep. Clean, peel and chop all the vegetables you plan to put into the dish, for me it was marinated mushrooms, onion, carrots and potatoes. The onions were marinated in balsamic vinegar, rosemary, basil, garlic, salt and pepper FIRST, and set aside while I finished the chopping.

Because the mushrooms take some time to cook, you should get them going first, cooking until the water is all evaporated before adding the rest of the vegetables. Now I didn’t use oil in this dish but a tablespoon can be used after the mushrooms have been cooked properly. But if you’re feeling adventurous, try it without oil. Your heart will thank you.

The couscous is the easiest part of this meal, just boil water (2 to 1 ratio) and drop the couscous and remove from heat until the water is absorbed. Make this dish less dense by fluffing the grains with a fork before serving. Add a bit more nutrition by adding a 1/2 tablespoon of turmeric to the water.

The real star of this dish is the herb pesto that I whipped up and best of all it’s oil-free!

I used fresh basil, roasted garlic, toasted pine nuts and a handful of carrot greens for the pesto. Put all the ingredients into a food processor, add lemon juice and zest and seasoning. I didn’t use oil so I added water or acid to mix up the greens and the consistency came out perfectly. You might have to stir and mix it a few times while you do but it’s worth the extra minute or two it takes.

I like to add a few drops of chipotle Tabasco sauce and a pinch of cumin for a deeper, smokier flavor but test out different herbs & spices until you find a combination you love.

I don’t know if you noticed but I also added a can of butter beans, which I rinsed and added during the last few minutes of cooking, adjusting the seasoning one final time.

Layer the couscous and then the vegetables and add a spoon of pesto on top and you’ve got a meal that’s healthy, delicious and nutritious in under an hour.

And of course you need something to wash it down with, in this case a dark oatmeal stout.

 

Spicy Broccoli & Tofu Noodles

One of my favorite things is noodles. Asian style noodles. I love them all from the delicious buckwheat taste of soba noodles to rice noodles (thick or thin) and of course, ramen. But I also adore Udon noodles, glass noodles, wok noodles and all the undiscovered noodles out there waiting for me. I. Love. Them.

And most of all, I keep a good stock in my pantry so that when I’m at a loss for what to make for lunch or dinner, or if I don’t feel like having what’s on the menu, I hunt down veggies and pantry staples, grab a pack of noodles and I’m good to go. That’s pretty much how this dish came to be.

The best part is that, despite how complicated the dish seems, it’s really simple to make. For the ramen, all you need is boiling water but be sure to read the instructions carefully because sometimes you boil them for a few minutes and others you let them sit in the water for about five minutes. These were the simple boil for three minutes and they’re done, but I really loved that these particular noodles had only three ingredients: rice flour, turmeric and water.

Turmeric! An amazing anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant that also provides increased brain function and helps stave off brain diseases.

I just used what i had on hand which was a half floret of broccoli, half a brick of tofu, onion, red bell pepper, garlic and ginger. I topped it with sliced scallions and these amazing purple sprouts that were beet sprouts which I found surprisingly delicious considering that beets are one of about three vegetables that my taste buds don’t like.

For this recipe I did use oil, cold pressed olive oil BUT just a half tablespoon which I heated and mixed with the ginger, garlic and two types of curry. As soon as that hearty aromatic scent hit the air, add the vegetables. You can add the tofu last but I cooked it separately in a small skillet so brown it around the edges.

TIP: Give your tofu extra flavor by cutting and marinating it. For this recipe I used soy sauce, garlic powder and curry. I did it first so it sat getting flavorful while I chopped and did everything else.

This is yet another thing I love about Asian cuisine, you can fancy it up or enjoy a quick and rustic style meal. And if you’re a picky vegetable eater you’re not beholden to anyone’s recipe, just use what you already have on hand.

I’m sure you’re wondering where the ‘spicy’ in this recipe came from and the answer is mostly the pinch of red curry and the half Thai chili pepper I used but I removed the seeds because I LOVE it spicy but the hubs…doesn’t. So in the spirit of compromise I just decorated my plate with a bit of Sriracha. Okay, more than a bit.

Sue me, I like it spicy!

Let me know your favorite noodle dish and I just might make it!