Plant Based Chickpea Salad Sammie

I’ve made no secret out of the fact that going vegan wasn’t a huge challenge for me, beyond re-learning to pay attention to the ingredients in the products I buy and trying to be a better, more conscious consumer. But there was one area that proved problematic for me from the outset.

Lunch.

This is how I used to think vegan lunch looked…

I work from home as a writer which means I can’t (or don’t) always set aside actual time for lunch. I like to be able to grab something quick and easy that I can eat while I work if possible, and yes I do know all about how bad that is for weight loss, but it is what it is. I tried vegan lunch meat, mostly soy based because it is the most pervasive in Germany which is where I lived at the time, and it was horrible. I couldn’t find any that I liked and that probably had to do with the fact that I wasn’t a fan of animal-based lunch meat even before going vegan. So of course there would be problems with that. Duh.

But I stayed on this track for a few months and there were a few products made from seitan or lupine that I found pretty tasty but they required special trips to out of the way stores so it became more of an indulgence once in a while and salads became my go to lunch meal. Add lentils or beans and you can make a quick and easy lunch.

And boring after a while.

Then I remembered my old friend, tuna. Whip up some tuna salad and pop it in the fridge and I could nosh on sammies every day for lunch. That’s when I had my light bulb moment. You can turn just about anything into a tuna salad sandwich with a bit of creativity.

 This is a REALLY easy recipe and if you make a bigger batch you can get away with not cooking for a few days!

All you need is:

Chickpeas (smashed a bit)
Scallions
Purple cabbage (or is it red?)
Red & green bell pepper
Garlic
Ginger
Cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper

 

Now all that’s left is the creamy sauce that makes this perfect between the right kind of bread. It’s no secret that me and mayo are not friends and we never have been so I used vegan yogurt instead, but feel free to use what you like. Toss in some mustard, fresh dill, along with cumin and any other herbs & spices you prefer and voila, you’ve got a chickpea salad sandwich…almost.

Mix it up well and if you need to loosen the sauce (which you might if you use vegan mayo) add a splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, it’s also a nice splash of acid with all the creamy goodness.

Stack it and you’re good to go!

Sometimes though I’ll add lettuce & tomato, spicy banana peppers, jalapenos, pickles, olives, artichokes or any other sandwich fixing I’m jonesing for at the moment. The point is you can add plenty of other vegan options without sacrificing taste.

Add a handful of chips and be sure to check for the pernicious “milk powder” found in SO many potato chip brands for some reason and you’ve got an easy vegan lunch that’s satisfying and nutritious.

And if you’ve got company, add an icy beer to the and enjoy!

Sometimes You Just Want A Salad ~ Vegan Salad Hacks

As some of my closest friends will tell you, salad is not food. It is torture in a bowl to those who;

A. Hate veggies
B. Are children
C. Aren’t adventurous

Those are some pretty bold statements, right? I know. But c’mon. Seriously, how can any adult human say they ‘don’t like’ or ‘hate’ salad? Is it all salad or just those without creamy dressing on top? Is it a particular type of lettuce or just the fact that you are literally eating a bowl full of vegetables?

I’ll admit that as a former teenage girl, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with salad for most of my life. Then about a decade ago, maybe more, I became an actual adult, you know, eating foods that are good for you and finding ways to make them more flavorful. Now, I try to eat a salad every day and if not, every other day.

Why?

That’s easy. Salad is packed with fiber thanks to all the raw veggies, which has several amazing benefits. First, the fiber makes you FEEL full which means a calorie-friendly salad is a great tool to put in your weight loss arsenal. Then there’s the fact that every vegetable in your salad has health benefits such as the antioxidant beta-carotene in tomatoes, the dark leafy greens that contain vitamin K along with a host of other antioxidants is another great reason to add a salad to your diet.

Raw veggies can help reduce your risk of cancer, lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke.

Plus making salad is…EASY.

All you need to do is grab a handful of your favorite salad veggies, or better yet, try out some new ones and see what strikes your fancy. Above is a spiced chickpea salad with corn and that only out of the ordinary ingredients I used were the chickpeas and corn, otherwise it was your basic lettuce (butter), tomatoes, scallions, black olives and bell peppers. I added some curry and turmeric to the salad dressing and a quick and easy, calorie friendly lunch.

The best thing about a yummy vegan salad for lunch? You can splurge (occasionally) on a creamy yogurt based dressing…if you make it yourself. You won’t get the same calorie content if you slather ranch or blue cheese on your veggies. Personally, I prefer a quick oil-free vinaigrette because it adds a TON of flavor without all the calories.

Then there are the days where you know you need some fresh, raw veg in your diet but you’re feeling lazy. Bored. Not in the mood to eat healthy. What do you do then?

Easy…compromise.

I recently came across some delicious beefsteak tomatoes, totally out of season but flavorful nonetheless. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any fresh basil so I made do with the dried stuff, added a few shavings of vegan cheese and created a quick & easy Caprese salad…sort of.

The photo isn’t all that pretty, I know, but it was delicious. All you need is tomatoes, cheese, basil, salt & pepper and garlic granules and a splash of balsamic vinegar. It was the perfect side dish to a chickpea burger.

I like to call this a Happy & Healthy Meal.

But don’t go patting me on the back just yet because one of my vegan salad hacks is to add fresh veggies wherever I can and one of my favorite places to do it is Asian dishes. Add a handful of lettuce tossed in scallions and rice vinegar to a noodle or curry dish. But I find it easiest with Mexican cuisines.

Not technically a salad, but these nachos have raw lettuce, tomatoes, onion and garlic (in the fresh salsa & guacamole). Sometimes when I really want to clear toxins from my body–thanks to too much junk food or booze–I’ll add cucumber and shaved carrots to my nachos or tacos, or burrito/fajita bowls.

The point is, sometimes your body just needs a little salad to keep it functioning like the well-oiled machine it is, so make sure to give your body the fuel it needs.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Spiced Vegan Medley

In my household we do a lot of cooking. A lot. Most days one of us gets in the kitchen to prepare dinner from scratch and since we made the move to Romania, that pretty much happens seven days a week thanks to the distinct lack of vegan offerings beyond side dishes at most restaurants. That’s a lot of cooking for any household but doubly so when we both have small businesses to maintain so some days we try to keep it simple.

Ish.

It’s not always easy to eat fresh and healthy when you’re not in the mood to spend time in the kitchen, but if it’s important you find ways to do it. Right?

My go to is potatoes. On this night, it was sweet potatoes. Specifically, roasted sweet potatoes.

I saw a recipe online for this really amazing Moroccan spiced dish but I couldn’t find some of the ingredients so I improvised.

This recipe was time consuming but the oven did most of the work, baking the sweet potatoes until they were fork tender. It took about an hour because I found some giant potatoes that I failed to boil or pan roast before popping in the oven, but otherwise it was pretty easy going despite all the ingredients.

Speaking of ingredients, all you need is: sweet potatoes, onion, cannellini beans, smoked tofu, red bell pepper, garlic, vegan yogurt, dill, lemon, parsley, turnip with the greens.

I did another oil-free experiment with the remaining ingredients, adding the onion, turnip and peppers to the pot with just a tablespoon of water. It worked well but keep in mind that if you want to reduce the amount of oil/fat in your diet then you’ll have to keep an eye on the pan because you’ll have to add more to avoid burning and starting over. I added the smoked tofu next because when you let it get crispy on the edges it has an amazing smoky, salty flavor that means you won’t have to add more salt to the dish.

Another win-win!

Add the beans and let this cook until you get the results you want, about 5 minutes. This is where I added cumin, paprika and 1/2 diced jalapeno but feel free to add whatever favors you want. Finally, the turnip greens went in last because they don’t take much time to cook.

But a tip I found out while researching this recipe is this: bitter greens have a way of neutralizing spice in any dish so if you want it spicy, add more after the greens have started to wilt. Just drape this mixture over the cooked sweet potatoes and you’ve got a delicious, healthy and totally satisfying meal in about an hour.

If you decide to make it extra spicy like I did, you might want to make a yogurt sauce if you have dinner companions who can’t handle the heat. It was a simple mix of vegan yogurt, fresh dill & parsley, cumin, lemon juice and a pinch of Sriracha.

This meal was a hit with everyone and best of all, afterwards there was no bloating, over-stuffed feeling and you know

what that means…dessert!