Hi Everybody! I hope you had a great kick off for Veganuary — now let’s press on to February.
Share any struggles you’ve noticed last month in the comments and let’s talk about how to stay on track. Planning and preparing meals before the hunger kicks in is key to consistently eating more home cooked, whole foods meals. My biggest piece of advice is to keep it simple. Here’s what I made the first week of the Whole 90 Challenge.
You’ll notice how I incorporated staple ingredients to make a variety of meals. Find ways to use up leftovers and plan how you can use bulk vegetables, beans, grains and legumes before buying. Simple meals mean throwing endless combinations of whole foods together in a cooked dish or chopped up separately in salads, or however you enjoy food. Use at least 3 key ingredients for variety and make it fresh or savory with herbs and spices.
1. Chickpea Tomato Bulgur
I would say this is a fusion dish with all the right flavors to awaken and inspire. I looked at what I had in my cupboards and what I thought would go together. This meal of potato and chickpeas in a stewed berbere tomato sauce is a one pot creation with a side of bulgur.
Sautee: onion and garlic until glassy smooth with some glaze
Add in: potato, chickpeas and chopped tomato.
Spice up: berbere and salt to taste.
Stew on low heat.
Use a pinch of berbere if you can only tolerate mild spices, but for those of us who need to spice up life, add a heaping teaspoon or so to taste.
I felt called to finally use bulgur since it’s been stashed away for months now.
After this dish, I’ll definitely publish a whole post on this hardy grain later this month.
2. Vegetable Biryani
Biryani is another spicy favorite to make in bulk and eat throughout a busy week. There are so many recipes to find online, but there really aren’t any rules. It’s a great way to load up on an abundance of veggies or to make an easy meal with whatever you happen to have on hand.
Partially cook: carrots and potatoes with basmati rice. Steam to finish cooking.
Sautee in empty pot: garlic and onion.
Add in: rice mixture, chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, green peas.
Spice up: cinnamon, clove, ginger and cardamom. Hot chili, cumin and coriander.
What I love about biryani is the nuances of sweetness and spice. You could make it hotter, but it’s perfect for anyone who loves lots of flavor.
Experiment with the ingredient combinations and squeeze in lemon before serving.
3. Mac + Cheez
If eating whole foods — let alone all vegan meals — gets tough, stick to dishes you know and love. Everyone deserves a bowl of comfort that gives a warm hug from the inside out.
Cook: pasta (whole grain, if available), potato and carrot; separate pasta from veg after cooking.
Blend: cooked carrots + potatoes with vegetable broth to create a puree.
Add in empty pot: veggie puree, nutritional yeast and spices of choice. Stir on low heat.
Extra Add-ins: soy cooking cream and/or vegan cheese to make it extra rich and creamy (this is optional). Stir on low heat.
Mix in: pasta to coat in the sauce.
I love this so much more than the recipe from childhood. Apart from salt and pepper, I mix in a finely chopped habanero and top the mac+cheez with chili flakes and sriacha.
I mixed in some coriander to my mountain of green peas before serving.
4. Soba Noodle Bowl
When I need a fast meal, I still make sure to get heaping portions of whole veggies in. I went for store bought vegan thai egg rolls and soba noodles one night and balanced it with lots of spinach in the soup and as a garnish to munch on between bites of egg roll.
While the noodles were cooking, I heated up frozen mixed veggies and stuffed this rainbow medley into the bowl. Top this with sriracha and you got your favorite takeaway at home in 10 minutes.
5. Holiday Whole Foods
Holiday side dishes is a plate of love with a bad reputation. Bring on the cheer all winter long by cooking with whole foods. A plate of vegetables is super easy with a variety of seasonings.
Red cabbage is my all time favorite! If this is one veg that never makes it into your grocery cart, try stir frying or roasting it with garlic or rosemary.
Try fresh herbs with peas; two of my favorites are coriander or parsley.
Acorn squash is another favorite of mine and after baking it in the oven, all it needs is some salt and pepper to bring out the nutty flavor.
Mashed potatoes are a holiday staple in many families, but I find them to be too bland. If your potatoes need more pizazz, the classic garlic mashed potato is always killer. My new taste is harissa to give a savory spice.
This plate wouldn’t be rounded off without Stuffing:
Start with dried breadcrumbs and mix in any combination of celery, onion, mushroom, soy or seitan cubes you like.
Moisten with vegtable broth.
Season with garlic, sage, thyme and salt to taste.
Bake to fuse flavors and enjoy!
6. Hummus Veggie Platter
Hummus is a must-have when introducing more whole foods into your diet and it’s incidentally vegan. Hummus is perfect for dipping any fresh veggies in. You can mix it into a salad, which would also be perfect with a side of bulgur. It’s the best spread for wraps, flatbreads and sandwiches, piled high with more veg.
As long as you have a multi-setting blender, Hummus can be yours in a matter of minutes!
Blend: chickpeas and water in the can or that you soaked them in. Blend until smooth.
Add in: minced garlic, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil. Blend until smooth.
Garnish: olive oil, fresh parsley or coriander, paprika or cayenne pepper
7. Mexican Salad
All your summer favorites back together for a Mexican salad reunion. This super fresh bowl has no rules and infinite rewards. I used all the ingredients I had available to me, either in season or on sale this Veganuary.
Throw in: lettuce leaves, red pepper, onion, tomato, cucumber, red cabbage.
Top with: baked potato slices, black beans, avocado.
Spice up: coriander, jalapeño, hot chili, lemon or lime juice.
These herbs and spices make the perfect dressing and pack a punch of big flavor. You can eat as is or use this salad as a filling for tortillas.
Share your easy whole foods meals in the comments and let me know what simply vegan meal I should make next!