Happy Friday Folks…Thursday Night Vegan BBQ

While I’m trying to get back in the habit of blogging regularly, I’ve decided to post some meals that might not be too photo-worthy and this one definitely fits the bill. We had a little bit of a grill night because it’s so warm here in Romania right now and our balcony is finally clear…just a table and chairs for me and the Hubs.

Like I said the photos, the few of them that were decent, are not great but the food was delicious, I promise!

The premise was simple: barbecue soy cauliflower, grilled with something on the side. That’s what I asked for and this is what I got.

Steak fries and fresh corn on the cob, seasoned with leftover sauce and Korean chili paste!

It was perfectly delicious and healthy if you don’t think too hard about the sauce, even then it was still pretty calorie friendly.

What #veganmeals do you prepare for a BBQ?

Vegan Steak Frites!!!

So you guys know that I’m an author, a traveler and a vegan. But did you also know that I’m a total Francophile? Is that a word you can still use? I don’t know but since I was about eleven years old I have had a deep fascination with France, with French food and French culture and of course, the language.

Back in 2014 the Hubs and I finally went on our (MY) grand Parisian vacation and it was everything I hoped it would be. And more. Keep in mind that 2014 was pretty much a million years before we adopted a plant based lifestyle which means we indulged to the fullest, as you can see based on my chunky face.

Okay I concede that this photo was just an opportunity to relive one of my favorite travel spots AND to show off my weight loss progress since making the change to a vegan diet. 😉

Back to the dinner.

So steak frites for vegans sounds like a pretty tall order, right?

Wrong!

Okay, that’s a lie. The process for making the seitan steak is pretty darn lengthy and, thankfully, my hubs was the one to make this dish so for me it felt pretty effortless.

Full disclosure: This recipe was adapted from Gaz Oakley (Avant Garde Vegan) so if you want all the ins and outs, I’d seek out his advice because that man knows his stuff. Even better, he has a YouTube channel so you can work right along side him, which is exactly what the Hubs did.

It is pretty simple, if time-consuming. You mix a bunch of wet ingredients with dry (seitan) and then you have to knead it like dough, let it rest and all that. It’s not something either of us would recommend you do if you’re short on time, but the good news is that it makes about 3 or 4 days worth of meals for 2. We made steak, ribs and even a seitan doner!

This is what the seitan steak looks like before it’s been cooked. This perfect half moon is the result of about 5 minutes (or more) of rigorous kneading and shaping. It hasn’t been cooked yet but it’s got good color and texture thanks to the spices and herbs like soy sauce, vegan Worcestershire, paprika and a bunch of other tasty stuff.

Now comes the fun part! We broke out the stove top griddle and gave it a good sear on both sides before brushing it with homemade vegan barbecue sauce and popping it in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.

This is an excellent barbecue sauce and incredibly easy to make. All you need is:

Ketchup

Mustard

Balsamic vinegar

Coconut sugar

Sauce

Mix it in a bowl and set it aside until you’re ready to use it. And it’s also an excellent dipping sauce for those thick cut French fries.

The potatoes were the easiest part. Take 2 large potatoes and cut them into thick-cut fries. Add a about a teaspoon of olive oil along with your preferred seasoning and toss. Give it a really good toss so that each potato is covered. Pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and stick it in the oven for 20-30 minutes.

The steak came out pretty tasty. It was a little gummy at first but another 10 minutes in the oven and it was just about perfect. We don’t often do things like this, preferring a more plant based diet, but it was a fun change for a night or three.

And now, as promised, a current photo of me (okay, us) so you can see just how much a vegan diet has transformed both of us and our lives.

The photo on the left is about 4 months before I went vegan and the one on the right is April 2019!

How has going vegan changed your life? Photos welcome!

 

Vegan Sunday Dinner for Two!

We’re not really a ‘Sunday Dinner’ kind of household. That’s a day that we often spend working since we both work for ourselves and it means that we can schedule dates and outings during the week when the stores, restaurants and roads aren’t nearly as crowded. Since Sunday around the world seems to be recognized as a day to go out and BE out, we’ve gotten used to staying inside.

But there was a delicious batch of turnips at the supermarket last week and I just couldn’t resist. Truthfully, I had no plans for them specifically and when we got home, I tossed the bag in the veg crisper and forgot about it.

Pretty much.

But after a week of working crazy hours in anticipation of another mini-holiday, I’d gotten off schedule and completely forgot it was my night to cook. Thinking of those turnips, I hoped the bag wasn’t filled with more yellow leaves than green.

Lucky me, they were still in excellent shape…now I just had to figure out what to make with them.

Enter Sunday Dinner on Saturday.

Since this meal wasn’t planned–at all–I had to go pantry hunting. I knew I had to do something with the turnips so immediately I thought mashed potatoes. But then I was like, but turnips aren’t that great on their own, and I decided to add two medium potatoes to the pot with the 3 turnips. Boil 20-30 minutes or until tender, then drain and reserve some of the water.

I know this is probably controversial because people LOVE to put milk and butter (vegan or otherwise) into their mashed potatoes but I like to use the water to minimize how much fat I’m adding to each dish. But I did use vegan butter and about 5 cloves of garlic and a tablespoon of dried basil for creamy, yummy, vegan vegetable mash.

Rather than hand mashing, I added everything to the pot and used a hand mixer and it made all the difference. They were silky smooth and so flavorful my husband has decided that this is what mashed potatoes should be from now on.

Next up, the “chicken”.

I’ve been experimenting with those dehydrated soy products to see if there’s a discernible difference between them and tofu. Let me tell you, there is. But mostly in a good way. I used the large chunks, simmering them for 15 minutes in seasoned water and then letting them sit for another 15. When they were cool enough to handle I cut them into pieces and made a barbecue sauce to toss them in.

The sauce was tomato paste, coconut sugar, Korean chili flakes, cumin, water and 1/2 tablespoon of habanero hot sauce. Pop it in the oven for 15 minutes and then put it in your belly!

All that was left was the turnip greens and they were super easy. Saute two large sliced onions and then add the washed & dried turnip greens to the pot in batches until tender and delicious.

Best of all, this meal served two and came in under 500 calories per serving!!!

It was a delicious meal that reminded me of Sundays at either of my grandmother’s houses with the whole family gathered, only it was quieter. And with less animal products.

Vegan BBQ Bean Bowls

Bowls are my jam. Whether it is a Buddha bowl, burrito bowl or the newly discovered barbecue bowl…I am ALL IN!!

They are a delicious way to pack your plate full of delicious vegetables and grains, cooked in a variety of ways and with whatever herbs & spices you have on hand, and it’s all in one little bowl so you can dig right in. It’s a perfect way to entertain a crowd because there’s something for everyone.

Whenever it comes to beans, I prefer to use dry beans. It does take a little more time to soak or quick boil them before you can even start the cooking process, but if you have a slow cooker one batch of beans can become 2 or 3 meals. I cooked 3.5 cups of dry pinto beans for this recipe but you can do more or less depending on how many people you need to serve.

This meal seems like its time consuming but that’s just because there are three separate components to the dish. Where the beans are concerned, the slow cooker does most of the hard work, all you have to do is saute the onions, corn, bell pepper and garlic in a deep pot and then add the beans. To get a yummy and completely vegan barbecue sauce, I recommend you do it yourself if you can. All you need is tomato paste, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, spicy paprika and a dash of hot sauce. Simmer it for about 10 minutes and you’re good to go.

The slaw is the first thing I made because I like to give it plenty of time so all the flavors swirl and mingle together. Shred or thinly slice the carrots, cabbage, red bell pepper, celery and cucumber into a mixing bowl. The mixture I prefer to use for my slaw is vegan yogurt (plain) two types of mustard, turmeric, garlic granules, apple cider vinegar, black pepper and a dash of salt. Let it sit for as long as you can until you’re ready to serve.

The cornbread is easy and optional. The reason mine came out a little darker is because I used whole wheat flour with the cornmeal and a tablespoon of brown sugar. A cup of whole kernel corn will add a nice hint of freshness and it’s a great compliment to the beans. I used Arche brand veg egg for the binder and unsweetened almond milk to make it vegan.

You can enjoy as little or as much as you want in a bowl but I think the cole slaw adds a nice hint of freshness that brings the whole bowl together nicely.

Add an ice cold brown ale or a tall iced tea and you can have a summer vegan barbecue bowl anytime you want it! Best of all, we were able to eat the beans for lunch the next day. Re-purpose the leftovers by adding tortilla chips, jalapeno peppers and salsa for a quick Tex-Mex style lunch!