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Category Archives: Lunch

Vegan Recipe – Spaghetti Squash “Pasta”

In the new year, I have been trying to increase the amount of whole foods that we consume.  To me, this means coming up with creative ways to eat less processed food and re-think traditional meals.  I have already experimented with (and found that I love) cauliflower rice, so I decided to try spaghetti squash pasta next.

I followed these instructions from Colorful Eats for preparing the squash.  First you bake it a bit, then you cut it open and clean it out a lot like preparing a pumpkin on Halloween.  Then you use a fork to scrape out little shavings from the inside of the squash.  This took a whole lot of wrist strength, to the point where I felt that I maybe undercooked the squash.

Preparing Spaghetti Squash | A Vegan in Progress

Cleaned squash on the left, Squash shavings on the right

Once I was done preparing the spaghetti squash shavings, I mixed them with everything I would put in a typical Italian pasta bowl.  I added kalamata olives, tomatoes, basil, garlic, and just a little bit of a red pepper spread.

Spaghetti Squash Bowl | A Vegan in Progress

It has a little bit of a crunch in comparison to spaghetti, and the pieces are obviously shorter, but it’s got the feel of a bowl of pasta without the guilt.  Eric happily ate the leftovers on another night.  He said that he would eat it again, and so would I, but I’m not sure it was worth the effort.  It was kind of a pain to prepare, especially in comparison to the incredibly easy cauliflower rice.

Vegan Recipe – Sriracha Tofu Wraps

I recently found myself wanting to cook with tofu again, since I had done so little of it in the past.  I also wanted to try making something with Sriracha sauce.  I came up with Sriracha Tofu Wraps.

Sriracha Tofu Wrap | A Vegan in Progress

It was relatively easy to make.  First, I started with preparing the tofu much like I did in my Tofu Vindaloo with Cauliflower Rice post.  For the sake of ease, I will post it again here.

Directions

1.  Ahead of time, maybe in the morning (or at least an hour ahead) press the tofu.  You can use any technique you like, but I placed a towel on a plate, then paper towels on top of that, sandwiched the tofu between more paper towels, then another plate, and stacked cans of beans on top.

2.  Cut the tofu into the strips.

3.  Marinated the tofu using Liquid Smoke and a little bit of Tamari sauce (like a soy sauce, without the salty flavor).  I let it marinate for about 30 minutes, but I’m sure it would only improve if it sat longer.

4.  Next, I tried a great tip that I found at delish.com, I tossed the marinated tofu strips with about 1/2 a cup of cornstarch before pan frying it.  It helps create a crispy outer coating.  Pan fry the tofu until all the sides turn a golden brown.

Sriracha Tofu | A Vegan in Progress

Spread any kind of hummus on a tortilla, add the Sriracha, and roll up.  This is the lazy version, but I bet the recipe would be even better with some greens.

Sriracha Tofu Wrap | A Vegan in Progress

Vegan Recipe – Meatless Marinara Pita

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This is a simple and satisfying lunch or dinner recipe.  It came from hunger and a random selection of groceries in the fridge.  It is very similar to the Soyaki Sliders.

Meatless Marinara Pita | A Vegan in Progress

Meatless Marinara Pita

INGREDIENTS:

  • Pitas
  • Bag of frozen Meatless Meatballs (from Trader Joe’s)
  • Jar of Marinara Sauce
  • Daiya Mozzarella Cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  • Put the meatballs on a plate and microwave for one minute.
  • Put the, now mostly warm, meatballs in a small saucepan.  Add enough marinara sauce to coat the meatballs thoroughly.
  • Simmer the meatballs for 5-10 minutes until warm all the way through.
  • Place a few meatballs in each pita half and sprinkle a little Daiya on top.
  • Pop the pitas in the microwave for about 30 seconds to melt the cheese.

Marinated Crock Pot Seitan

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I had some leftover crock pot seitan (from this post) that I thought might taste good in a rice bowl.  This particular seitan recipe from The Vegan Slow Cooker: Simply Set It and Go with 150 Recipes for Intensely Flavorful, Fuss-Free Fare Everyone (Vegan or Not!) Will Devour is meant for use in slow cookers (it’s wetter), so the raw dough had to be cooked a bit before just tossing it into a rice bowl.  I decided to try a double boiler method.  First, I put the seitan slices into an oven-safe bowl, tossed them in Mrs. Dash Spicy Teriyaki Marinade.  Next, I added some water to the crock pot, thinking that, as the water heated up, the heat would transfer to the bowl more effectively and lightly cook the seitan.  I was careful not to add so much water that it would spill over into the bowl.

marinated crock pot seitan | A Vegan in Progress

The seitan came out perfect.  It was a great meat substitute that went very well with some rice and veggies.  It was a delicious and easy lunch (even easier if you have a programmable rice cooker with a steaming basket, like we do).  I will be using this technique again!

Marinated Crock Pot Seitan | A Vegan in Progress

Vegan Recipe – Super Simple Mini Pizzas

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I was home for dinner on my own one night recently and wasn’t in the mood to cook much.  I looked through the pantry and finally settled on mini pizzas made on pita bread.  This is no ordinary pita bread.  It’s super thick and soft.  I buy it at the Sherman Oaks Farmers Market from the Brothers booth.  They sell also awesome hummus and garlic spreads as well as stuffed grape leaves.

Super Simple Mini Pizzas | A Vegan in Progress

INGREDIENTS:

  • Soft, thick pita bread
  • Daiya vegan mozzzarella cheese
  • Marinara sauce (or any vegan pasta sauce)
  • Toppings of your choice (I used sundried tomatoes and olives)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat the oven to 375
  • Spread sauce thinly over the pita (be careful not to get it too close to the edges)
  • Sprinkle Daiya cheese all over the top, but don’t cover every bit of the sauce like I did… this was too thick – let a little sauce peak through
  • Sprinkle toppings to your taste
  • Cook for about 20 minutes
  • Watch for the Daiya cheese to melt, that’s all you’re really waiting for since none of the raw ingredients will make you sick.  Just keep in mind that non-dairy cheese doesn’t melt exactly the same as traditional cheese, and you don’t want to overcook it.

These mini-pizzas came out great.  The pita bread, which started out incredibly fluffy and thick, became a little thinner and stiffer – much more crust-like.  I loved it and will make it again when I’m fending for myself for dinner or Eric and I are each making our own meals (he wouldn’t like this much).  The leftovers also held up surprisingly well.

Super Simple Mini Pizzas | A Vegan in Progress

Vegan Camping – Table Mountain Campground

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As I mentioned before, two of our closest friends are likely to move out of the state this year, so we have lately been making an effort to appreciate and explore LA and the surrounding areas.  Previously, we went on a day trip to Solvang, where I had a surprisingly nice vegan meal at Bit O’Denmark.  This time we planned a camping trip.  We all agreed on woodsy camping and eventually Eric found Table Mountain Campground in Wrightwood, about two hours from our home.  We estimated that the tent, sleeping bags, two coolers, four chairs, personal bags, and other supplies would not all fit in the trunk of a regular car, so we rented a Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab extended bed.  This turned out to be a great decision because the truck gave us plenty of room for all of our luggage, but was also super comfortable for the ride to and from the campground.

I put a lot of thought into food that would be easy, filling, and easily made vegan for me.  Before the trip, we bought a Coleman Matchlight 2-Burner Propane Stove.  I thought that this would be really useful because, although each campsite has a grill, the stove allowed us to cook two things at once and allowed us to cook something warm for lunch without setting up the charcoal grill again.

We chose campsite #103, in the Zuni loop.  It had lots of shade and a great view and was spaced pretty far away from the other campsites, giving us privacy.  The only downside was that the bathroom was literally a short hike away.  The hill we had to hike up to get to the bathroom, combined with the 7,500 foot elevation left us huffing and puffing every time we had to make the climb.  Something worth knowing about Table Mountain is that you can reserve a campsite, but once you are there, you can change to any other unreserved site, so if you find one with a better view, you are free to move.  Some sites are first come, first served, so this is a good way to get them.  Overnight camping on a single site is $20 per night.

We left early on Friday afternoon and made it to the site with enough time to set up before making dinner. I knew that we would want something quick and easy for dinner after the drive and all the setting up, so I planned on burgers for everyone and Don Lee Farms Veggie Patties for me.  We cut up tomatoes and onions at home and totally forgot to get them out of the cooler Friday night, so our burgers were pretty plain.  I also cubed up a package of Trader Joe’s Organic Baked Tofu, Teriyaki Flavor, before we left.  I wrapped the cubes in tinfoil and cooked it on the grill.  It was actually a really tasty addition to my veggie burger, all on its own.

The next morning, I woke up really early (to use the restroom) and got a chance to see the sunrise.  I decided to set up the propane stove and make some tea.  I was so glad that we brought the tea kettle, because this was a nice treat.  I then set up breakfast for everyone… we had cereal with soy milk as well as bagels and fruit.  After a simple breakfast, we were ready for the day.

The great thing about camping in the forest is the hiking.  During our two off-trail hiking adventures, we came across beautiful views, steep hills, fallen trees, and fleeting glimpses of deer running deeper in the forest.

Vegan Camping | A Vegan in Progress

Hiking, day one

Vegan Camping | A Vegan in Progress

Hiking, day two

After our hike on day two, we were pretty hungry, so we headed back for hot dogs.  They had kosher dogs and I ate Lightlife Smart Dogs.

They taste exactly how I remember cheap hot dogs tasting.  It was nice to have something quick and easy to grill.  I put spicy mustard and chopped tomatoes on them.

Lightlife Hot Dogs - Vegan Camping | A Vegan in Progress

That night, while they had grilled pollo asada, I had an awesome foil pack meal, grilled corn, and grilled veggies.  Prior to the trip, I had done a lot of searching online for recipe ideas and really liked the idea of foil pack meals.  I adapted this BBQ Party Pack recipe from Vegan Yack Attack.

I just made a few changes, though.  Instead of chopped onion, I threw in some Pearl Onions from a frozen bag that I bought at Trader Joe’s.  I decided to double the spices in the recipe.  I also took Yack Attack’s suggestion and added chickpeas.  I also steamed some tempeh, to get the bitterness out, then cubed it and left it in a container of the following marinade, then spooned out the tempeh pieces and added them to the foil pack right before grilling it.

Tempeh Marinade:

  • 1/4 cup liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves

I was really looking forward to this meal and for good reason, because it turned out delicious.  The bell peppers and the tempeh were the best part.  The only bad thing was that I should have chopped the carrots MUCH smaller because they took so long to cook.  They never softened much and I ended up eating around them, mostly.  The foil pack was simple and a very clever way to have a whole meal without a pot, also effectively keeping my food separate from the meat on the grill.

We all ended up with plenty of food.  Get a load of my full plate!

Vegan Camping | A Vegan in Progress

Dinner, night two

A while after dinner we made s’mores (I used vegan ingredients).

We all got ready for bed and a movie.  We brought a small camping table into the tent, set it up at our feet, and watched The Cabin in the Woods on my laptop.  I thought it would be cute and clever to watch a scary movie set in the woods while we were camping in the woods, but it just made it harder to hike up to the bathroom that night!

The next morning, we expected to have chocolate chip pancakes, but the propane stove heated up so hot that the outside of the pancakes were burning before the inside had cooked.  We abandoned that idea, just packed up early, and stopped for breakfast on our way home.

The lesson for me was that vegan camping is actually quite easy.  Foods that are commonly eaten while camping are easily veganized.

I hope this post helps others plan for a dual dining camping trip!

Vegan Camping | A Vegan in Progress

A few tips for future campers:

  • Definitely bring a tablecloth for your picnic table.  I bought tablecloth fabric from a Joann’s near me that is relocating and liquidating all of their material.
  • Go to a Dollar Tree or 99 cent store for the majority of your supplies.  We found big plastic clips there that held the tablecloth down and attached the trash bag to the side of the table.
  • Bring lots of water.  For the four of us, for essentially two full days, we drank 6 gallons of water.
  • Fill large tupperware bins 1/4 full and freeze in advance of the trip.  Run warm water over the outside of the tupperware containers to release the ice blocks.  They have less surface area than ice cubes and melt slower.  Ours lasted us the whole weekend.
  • Freeze all of your food that can handle it… it will work as ice packs as well.
  • Bring reusable water bottles to drink from since you can also use them on hikes.
  • Bring walkie-talkies for the hike to the bathroom at night – cell phones don’t always work in the forest!

Vegan Recipe – Thug Kitchen Buffalo Falafel Balls

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If you haven’t heard of Thug Kitchen, do yourself a favor and head over to Facebook and like the page, where recipes and healthy eating advice are presented in a really frank and funny way.  Each post is accompanied with a recipe in the caption.

The other day I saw this post for Buffalo Falafel Balls and realized that we had almost all of the ingredients for it and what we didn’t have, I could get at the Sherman Oaks Farmer’s Market that night.  The original recipe can be found here.

Thug Kitchen Buffalo Falafel Balls | A Vegan in Progress

I used the Thug Kitchen recipe, but I wasn’t sure how much cauliflower I would need for 1/3 pound.  I rationalized that a head of cauliflower would weigh about a pound (that could be totally off), so I pulverized 1/3 of a cauliflower head in the food processor.  Then I started to think that this would be way too much cauliflower and had visions of really dry, crumbly falafels, so I held back a little.  This turned out to be a mistake.  I would recommend either following the recipe exactly or adding more and more cauliflower until you reach the desired consistency.  You don’t want it to be too dry and not hold together, but if it’s so wet that it’s sticking to your hands more than forming into balls, it needs more cauliflower.  I ended up letting them cook much longer because mine were so wet.  They were really hard to flip over halfway through without losing their shape and came out much softer and flatter than they should have been, but they still tasted great.  I will be making this again and experimenting with the ratios.

I didn’t have bread crumbs, so I used Corn Flake crumbs, which worked just fine.  I used 1 tsp pizza seasoning and 2 tsp cajun seasoning since I didn’t have any all purpose seasoning and felt that the original measurements seemed like too little seasoning.  Since I didn’t have a lot of time after fighting an hour of traffic to get to Sherman Oaks to go to the Farmer’s Market with my sisters, I didn’t have a lot of time to cook, I ended up using store bought buffalo sauce.  I just made it less hot by mixing one part buffalo sauce and one part vegetable oil.

Buffalo Falafel Balls Pita | A Vegan in Progress

These falafel pitas were delicious and relatively easy to make considering what you get.  Eric liked them a lot as well, but said they didn’t hold up too well after refrigerated overnight.  We will definitely have these again.

Vegan Recipe – Soyaki Sliders

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Well, I kind of stole this recipe from my mom.  As you may remember from previous posts, my mom’s meatless meatball sliders are pretty famous with our friends and family.  They are great little bites of party food and pretty simple to make.  I will post her recipe one of these days, but for now, here’s my quick version.

Soyaki Sliders | A Vegan in Progress

INGREDIENTS:

All ingredients can be purchased at Trader Joe’s, making this a one stop shopping trip.

soyaki sliders | A Vegan in Progress

  • Bag of Mini Sesame Seed Buns
  • Bottle of Soyaki sauce
  • Bag of frozen Meatless Meatballs (these meatballs are great for anything, including smushing and using as meatless ground beef, because they are so soft)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Put the meatballs on a plate and microwave for one minute.
  • Put the, now mostly warm, meatballs in a small saucepan.  Add enough Soyaki to coat the meatballs thoroughly.  The ton of sesame seeds in the Soyaki sauce add a great texture.
  • Simmer the meatballs for 5-10 minutes until warm all the way through.
  • Place one or two meatballs on each slider bun and enjoy!

Vegan Recipe – Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich

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Sandwiches are a really tough thing to wrap your head around once you go vegan.  We’re used to sandwiches built around meats and cheeses, so it’s often a challenge to think of alternatives.  This is a quick, filling, tasty sandwich that doesn’t require fake meats to make it satisfying.  I made it with stuff I just happened to have on hand.

Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich | A Vegan in Progress

Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 bread bowl sized sourdough loaf (I got mine at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 or 2 roasted red peppers (the kind that come marinated, in a jar)
  • Tofutti Better Than Cream cheese (or any other imitation cream cheese)
  • A handful of spinach leaves

DIRECTIONS:

  • Simply cut the loaf in half, spread cream cheese on one side, cut red peppers into strips, and pile peppers and spinach on the sandwich.

My sandwich was a little bread-heavy, so I would suggest maybe cutting a slice or two of bread out of the middle of the loaf to make it more manageable.

Sourdough bread sandwich | A Vegan in Progress

Vegan Recipe – Tempeh Tornado

My apologies for missing so many weeks recently!

I know that I tend to make a lot of slow cooker recipes, but it’s what keeps us fed while I’m in school.  I promise some active cooking recipes soon.  In fact, I’ve got a brownie recipe for next week!

Anyway, I haven’t had Sloppy Joes in I don’t know how many years, but for some reason I decided to try the Tempeh Tornado recipe from The Vegan Slow Cooker: Simply Set It and Go with 150 Recipes for Intensely Flavorful, Fuss-Free Fare Everyone (Vegan or Not!) Will Devour.  If you haven’t already – I really recommend picking up your own copy of the cook book, because there are so many awesome meals in it.  The Tempeh Tornado recipe makes a hearty sandwich filling that’s so nice and cozy.  It’s so good for warm dinners in the winter.  It also works really well for lunches if you pack the filling and the bun separately.

Please excuse the paper plate!  This photo is from when I enjoyed it at work for lunch!

Tempeh Tornado | A Vegan in Progress

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 packages (8 ounces) tempeh, cubed (I just crumbled it)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ bell pepper
  • Buns for serving

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes of 3 cups chopped fresh
  • ½ cup water  (Add a little more water if you will be cooking it for more than 9 hours.)
  • 1 tablespoon vegan chicken-flavored bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider, plain white or white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon molasses (I didn’t have any and it was fine without)
  • 1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce (This stuff is expensive!)
  • ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder or smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon pasilla chile or regular chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce (to taste)

THE NIGHT BEFORE:

Steam the tempeh in a steamer basket for 10 minutes.  This takes out some of the bitterness.  While the tempeh is cooking, mince the garlic and bell pepper,

To make the sauce: place all the sauce ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.  Add the tempeh, garlic, and pepper, cover, and store in the fridge.

(You may have noticed this by now, but I tend not to prepare this stuff the night before, so I prepared everything in the morning and it worked out fine.)

IN THE MORNING:

Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  Serve as open-faced sandwiches or on buns.