“You are the first healthy-looking vegetarian I’ve ever seen!” is something I hear a lot. I know it’s not possible, and that the person who just said it a) doesn’t know many vegetarians and b) is oblivious to how many of the people they see day to day are vegetarians. I know a lot of vegetarians – all very strong and healthy people. “But, then, what do you eat?” is another common line thrown at us herbivores. The answer seems so obvious that it’s almost difficult to answer without feeling foolish. There are just so many delicious possibilities.
I love to eat. It is one of my favorite things, and is also a curse as I don’t have the kind of body that allows me to eat whatever I want and still fit into my jeans. It is totally possible to put on unwanted pounds as a vegetarian – believe me. It is also possible to be a strong and successful athlete, a tradesperson with enough endurance to get through a ten-hour workday and even a summer BBQ master.
Starting now, on this page I will be providing loose recipes to an assortment of easy and yummy meals, 99% of which will not only be vegetarian, but vegan. (I say loose because I have never been one to follow recipes, use patterns or read instructions – so I can’t expect you to do it.) If you aren’t ready or willing to go all the way vegan, then you can always make your own additions. I decided to start this blog for several reasons. I want to help people who have thought about becoming vegetarian or vegan, but feel completely lost in the kitchen. I want to challenge myself to make more vegan meals myself, as I have read many frightening facts about the effects of an animal-protein-based diet. I also feel that if someone is going to eat eggs and dairy, it’s so important to find ethical sources for it. I am blessed to be living on a beautiful island with many farmers who treat their animals better than many people treat their children. I can buy eggs from friends and know for sure that the chickens who laid them are happy. But this is not the case for most consumers, and many of them say they cannot budget for ethical (local, free-range, organic) eggs and dairy. So, if it’s not affordable for my readers to buy the good stuff, I’m not going to promote using the bad stuff instead. So, vegan it is.
(I would like to note, however, that if you are cutting out meat, which is uber-expensive whether the animal had a nice life or a terrible one, and you don’t want to cut out the eggs and dairy, you could easily use the money you save from the meat to upgrade in the dairy department.)
I am going to start by posting some of my favorite recipes here, and later I’m going to try and get some ideas from friends who are vegan and vegetarian. I am lucky to know three professionally trained vegan cooks, a slew of vegetarians that are great at-home chefs, and even some non-vegetarians who have made some amazing vegetarian food when I’ve visited.
Sound good? Let’s eat!
Mexican food makes a perfect meat and dairy free meal. Since I discovered the glory that is guacamole I am happy to make cheese-free Mexican any day of the week.
For this dinner I used corn tortilla chips, but you can use wraps or taco shells too – whatever suits you – the filling is all the same.
I made four different toppings for this meal. First up is the bean mush.
Sauté half a giant yellow onion by heating up some oil in a pan to medium hot, then dropping the diced onion into the pan. The onion should sizzle. Keep mixing it around until the onion becomes see-through and kinda floppy. Then add some spices – about a tea spoon of Chili powder and half a teaspoon of Paprika and Cayenne and maybe a little cumin if you like to. Add whatever you think you might like. Let that cook just a little, then open a can of black beans, drain and rinse it out and dump it in. If you soak your own beans and you have them ready, you can use those instead of course. Let that all simmer for a while, but don’t let it dry out. You could also add corn and some grated carrot if you like. I like – but I didn’t have any for this picture.
Second topping: Chop up the other half of your onion and put it in another oily hot pan. Slice some red and yellow bell peppers into thin pieces, and throw them in. Cook them until they get a little bit brown. Then add some minced garlic and mix it in for just a minute – don’t overcook the garlic or it looses it’s flavour.
Third topping is the raw salsa. Dice a couple big tomatoes, some green or a little white onion, a little bell pepper if you want – pretty much whatever you want. I would add some garlic too. Add some olive oil and mix it all up.
Fourth – The Guac. Squeeze the guts out of 2 or three ripe avocados. Press or dice three big cloves of garlic and throw it on top. Squeeze the juice from a lime and put it in. If you have any cilantro, chop it up into tiny pieces and put it in too. (I don’t like cilantro, but since my friend Stacey made Guacamole with cilantro, I have decided I like it for this purpose. It freshens the whole Guac up a little.) Mush it all together really well.
Put the four different toppings into serving bowls. I put the peppers and the beans into one, side by side. They are best all together on one chip (or shell) anyway.
I randomly made up this dish. I recently discovered that Philo pastry is Vegan, which just opens up a world of possibility.
Thaw your Philo pastry as per the instructions on the box. You could cheat and use the microwave like I did after forgetting to thaw it.
Cut some potatoes into 2cm cubes and soak them in hot water for half an hour. This is something I learned very recently, once again from Stacey. Soaking the potatoes takes the starch out, and so they crisp up nicely in the oven.
While the potatoes are soaking, turn a frying pan on Medium and toast a handful of pine nuts on it. If you don’t have pine nuts, (which I unfortunately did not,) use walnuts or even almonds. Hmm… maybe even pecans. Keep stirring the nuts as they toast – don’t abandon them, to burn them is a sad and expensive mistake. They will get a little bit golden brown on the outside, and that’s all you need. Remove the pan from the heat.
Satay some diced onions like in the last recipe. Use half a large onion for each plate.
Chop red peppers into fine slices. Make zucchini ribbons my running a carrot peeler down the sides of a zucchini until you get to the seedy core. Chop up a few mushrooms if you like mushrooms. Throw all of this stuff in with the Sautéed onions and Sauté it all, lightly. Add a few handfuls of spinach at the last minute, and mix it around until it wilts. You could also add fresh basil. If you don’t have fresh, add dry basil at the end. Lots of it.
Slice some small tomatoes into thick slices. Chop up a few cloves of garlic. Mix the garlic and tomatoes with the red pepper and zucchini mix, which should be removed from the heat by now.
Now, take your potato cubes out of the water and dry them with a clean dish towel. Try and get all the water off of them. Next, toss them in cooking oil so they are covered in a shiny glaze, and then put them onto a baking sheet or in a broiling pan and put them in the oven at about 425 F. Leave them for about half an hour.
Now it’s time to be fast and creative. The Philo pastry falls apart easily, so you don’t want to get it soggy, and you don’t want to let it dry out. Be careful when you’re unrolling it out of the package – it might break.
Don’t be afraid to use your hands to grab fistfuls of the tomato zucchini filling and blob it onto the Philo. You can roll up the edges of the Philo to made a little danishy-looking thing like I did, or you can fold it into a pocket. If you choose to fold it right over, you won’t see the pretty colours of the filling. If you do fold it, add some toasted nuts first. If you are making a danishy-thing, sprinkle some nuts on top. For a danishy thing – use three layers of Philo for each one so the filling doesn’t fall through. If you are wrapping or rolling, I would suggest two, but do whatever works for you.
Steam some corn if you want. Or make a salad or something – that’s not too hard, is it? Use a real leafy green lettuce. Head lettuce is boring and gross.
Shake your potatoes. Do it again in a few minutes and take them out when they are golden brown.
Turn the oven down to 350
Brush a little oil onto the Philo. Put your Philo pockets/danishy-things in the oven on an oiled cookie sheet. They need about 20 minutes or so – watch them so they don’t burn. They should turn goldeny brown too. Don’t put them too close to the top element. Right in the middle is good.
Once everything is cooked to perfection, put it all together on a plate and eat it. Yum.
This may not really look that exciting, but I'm adding it because it's a potato salad with no mayonnaise. I have made a great roasted potato salad, but when you live way off the grid and you have no means of roasting, but you do have a way to steam potatoes, this is a good option. It can be eaten cold or hot.
Cut your potatoes to the desired size and steam them. Either let them cool, or mix this stuff in hot.
For about 5 large potatoes add:
4 tbsp of Macadamia Nut butter
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 sticks of finely chopped celery.
A small squirt of mustard - size depending on how much to like mustard.
Some dill, maybe basil if you're interested
A tsp of Sea Salt
Adjust this recipe to your liking, because it's really just a guess - I don't actually measure things.
Easy breezy and quite delicious.