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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Vegan Meal Planning Without Tears, part 2

Vegan meal planning, part 1 (breakfast.)

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Oat- and corn-crusted eggplant over collards sauteed with garlic and curry. Hummus on top. Recipe for the eggplant forthcoming!


 
Now for lunch and dinner! I usually just make enough dinner for lunch the next day, but here are some light meal options:

1. A big protein-packed salad. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are both a great source of protein, and add nice texture. Lately I’ve also been making big batches of beet and carrot salad and adding a big dollop to a green salad. Consider making your own dressing—I like whisking up some mustard, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Otherwise, Goddess dressing is my absolute fave.

2. Another salad option, alone or on top of a green salad: chickpea and tomato salad.

3.  Sometimes I just like a sandwich. I’m a huge fan of the soy-free olive-oil-based vegan mayo from Earth Balance (Follow Your Heart brand is also good). I’ll do some Tofurkey or Smartbacon slices with lettuce and tomato on sourdough bread from Trader Joe’s. Vegan mayo is also great with textured vegetable protein (TVP) to make a salad that approximates tuna or chicken. (Not that I want to approximate those foods, but TVP is great for transitional purposes!)

And for dinner:

1.  I often just do a stirfry, which you can jazz up by using different combinations each time. Stirfry essentials (in the order you put ’em in):

—onion and garlic
—other vegetables: carrots, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, potato/sweet potato, etc.
—for protein: beans or tempeh
—greens (I use kale, collards, spinach, or callaloo)

I am using nutritional yeast on a daily basis now because it’s a good source of protein and B vitamins and it gives a rich cheesy taste. LOVE it. (Also great on kale chips.) So I stir in a healthy shake of “nooch” every time I sauté vegetables.

2.  I do “unrecipe” versions of chili or lentil stew. Easy peasy. Don’t worry about getting the proportions perfect—just throw it all in there and leave it to cook.

Lentil stew: Begin by sauteeing onion, garlic, and herbs, add carrot/potatoes/etc., then veggie broth and rinsed lentils. If you buy beets for another recipe, you can chop up the greens and use them in this stew. (But you can use the beetroot here too. Yay for unrecipes!)

Chili: same deal (onion, garlic, potato, etc.), then add crushed tomatoes, black/pinto beans, peppers, and chili powder or spice mix.

Make sure you cook a lot because the older the leftovers the better they taste!

3.  As for a proper curry recipe, my go-to is chickpea and pumpkin curry (I usually sub butternut squash for the pumpkin and skip the lemongrass).

4.  “Alfredo” sauce using avocado + veggie broth (fresh herbs optional) = HEAVENLY. Put it on pasta or over a stirfry. Makes everything you put it on taste amazing.

Great easy side dishes:

Roasted root vegetables: beets, parsnips, carrots, potato/sweet potato with garlic cloves and fresh sage or rosemary. Bake at 400º for one hour.

Best way (I’ve found) to cook Brussels sprouts—halved, tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper, and baked at 375º for 45 minutes.

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Tofu prepared with a similar coating to the eggplant above—this time just cornmeal and seasoning—over sauteed rainbow chard. Inspired by my friend Emma’s “hangover” recipe with tofu and mushrooms, which I mentioned in my breakfast post.


 
When people tell me they feel overwhelmed by the notion of cooking (like, “proper cooking”) for themselves, I try to present my meal planning tips like this, as simply as I can. Not everyone could have a confident grandmother to learn from in the kitchen—I do think that’s a big part of why my sister and I cook so much, and are open to trying new recipes and improvisation—but EVERYONE can prepare flavorful, simple, nutritious meals for themselves and their loved ones as long as they’re willing to go through a bit of trial and error. Heck, isn’t that just life? Besides, figuring out what you like and how you like it is a way more satisfying process than you might expect!
 

2 Comments to Vegan Meal Planning Without Tears, part 2

  1. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    August 27, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Awesome recipes! Everything looks so professional and delicious. How did you get the coating on the tofu/eggplant to stick without eggs–did you just use egg replacer?

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.