Tag Archives: sustainable

Vietnamese Inspired Banh Mi Bowl

We absolutely LOVE Vietnamese food in our house! We are so lucky to have a large number of amazing and authentic Vietnamese restaurants just a few blocks away!

Since going vegan, I’ve had to give up the beef pho and pork banh mi I once loved, so I really haven’t been to them! Today I decided enough is enough and I would just have to make it myself!

For this recipe, I can’t emphasize enough the benefit of pickling the veggies and marinading the tempeh ahead. The pickled carrots and radishes are what really make this dish taste authentic. You can begin the pickling process 1 to 3 days ahead.

Today I actually came up with this idea last minute, so I only had a few hours for the veggies to pickle (I know, I know, do as I say, not as I do). They came out crisp, fresh, but with a slight tang. It was still super delicious so if you’re short on time, don’t let it stop you!

As for the tempeh, marinading ahead really helps prevent it from having a bitter flavor. I always keep a block of it in my freezer so today I soaked it in the marinade while I let it thaw on the counter.

As a side note, if you want to make this banh mi bowl into…well…banh mi: serve it on a roll instead of over rice! We try to avoid over doing refined grains in this house (and we had pizza yesterday…whoops!), so bowl it is!

Vietnamese Inspired Banh Mi Bowl

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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A fun, healthy twist on your favorite Vietnamese street food.

Pickle the carrots/radishes/red cabbage ahead ideally 1-3 days before serving. The longer it pickles, the stronger the flavor.

Ingredients

    For the pickled vegetables:
  • 1/2 pound carrots, julienned or sliced thin
  • 1/2 pound radishes, julienned or sliced thin
  • 1/4 of a head of red cabbage (optional)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup white or rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • For the tempeh:

  • 1 block tempeh
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil (I used sesame)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white or rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha or chili garlic sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • For the bowl:

  • brown rice (1 cup dry)
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • fresh basil, chopped
  • fresh scallions, chopped (optional)
  • fresh lime for serving

Directions

  1. Before any other steps, start with pickling the veggies. Julienne the carrots and radishes, or slice extremely thin. Slice your red cabbage thin as well if you are using it. Combine the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Taste test the pickling liquid and add more vinegar, sugar, salt, or water as needed to balance the flavor to your liking. Pour over the vegetables and keep in an air tight container with a lid overnight or up to 3 days ahead. I also recommend pickling the cabbage in a separate container from the carrots and radishes. Remember to reserve the pickling juice for sprinkling over your bowl at the end!
  2. Marinade the tempeh. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, water, sriracha (or chili garlic sauce), ginger, and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro in a bowl. Mix together and pour over tempeh. Marinade in a container with lid for at least one hour, making sure to turn once halfway through.
  3. Begin making your brown rice. Submerge the rice in water and boil 30 min, then drain, return to stove top and let sit with lid to steam for 5 minutes before fluffing with fork. Chop the remaining cilantro, basil, scallions, and slice up your cucumber while the brown rice is cooking.
  4. Time to make the tempeh! Heat 2 tbsp cooking oil in a large pan on medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the tempeh and the remaining marinade. Cook the tempeh approx 5 minutes on each side. The tempeh is ready when it has a puffed look from absorbing the liquid and is slightly browned on both sides. When finished cooking, cut into slices and set aside.
  5. Assemble your bowl! Spoon in some brown rice and pile on the cilantro, basil, scallions, cucumber, pickled vegetables, and tempeh to your liking. Squeeze some fresh lime on top and spoon on a drizzle of your leftover pickling liquid. Enjoy!

I hope you guys enjoy this recipe as much as I did! It was so easy, delicious, and perfect for summer. Let me know what you think!

General Tso’s Cauliflower

Do you ever just CRAVE Chinese takeout?

Of course you do. It’s savory, sweet, universally loved, and straight up addictive.

Since the vegan days I haven’t gotten to enjoy that greasy, sticky Chinese chicken, I saw a few inspiration pictures of how to make it yourself around the internet and came up with this!

This General Tso’s Cauliflower is approved by my omnivorous husband, tastes great as leftovers, and completely cured all of my cravings. Although it still has a quite a bit of sodium from the soy sauce and some added sugar to give it that General Tso’s taste, it and has a FAR lower fat content (NO deep frying for this one) and much less salt and sugar than what actual Chinese takeout would have!

General Tso's Cauliflower

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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As easy vegan version of your favorite Chinese takeout

I absolutely love serving this with rice and steamed edamame to balance the powerful flavor of the cauliflower and for protein. You can buy bags of pre-shelled edamame in the frozen section of the grocery store. Just steam for five minutes, sprinkle some salt and you’re good to go!

Ingredients

  • 1 large head or 2 small heads of cauliflower
  • For the sauce:
  • 2 pounds vine ripened tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger minced (or 1tbsp pre minced ginger)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Juice of one orange (or lemon or lime, if you don’t have citrus on hand, increase the rice vinegar to 1/3 cup)
  • 1 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2-4 tbsp coconut sugar
  • Optional: if you like it spicy can add 1 tsp Chinese chili garlic sauce or 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes!
  • For the batter:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/ 3cup corn starch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup plant based milk

Directions

  1. Prepare the cauliflower by cutting florets into bite sized pieces and keeping the stems cut short so that it is easy to coat in batter
  2. In a large sauce pan or skillet, start the sauce. Turn the stove top to a medium heat and add the sesame oil. When the oil is warm, add the garlic, ginger, and tomato paste. Sauté until fragrant (approx 2 min)
  3. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, orange juice, water, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, turn heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally while you prepare the batter (approx 20 min).
  4. Pre heat your oven or air fryer to 400 degrees. Prepare the batter in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, dry corn starch, salt, and slowly add the milk, 1/4 cup at a time until the batter is watery to submerge the cauliflower but thick enough to stick! I find that 3/4 cup is usually the right amount.
  5. Dump your cauliflower florets into the batter and cover completely. Spray a baking sheet or a flat pan in your air fryer with a high smoke point oil like avocado, grape seed, or canola oil. Don’t use a mesh basket for this, you will need a flat surface for it to cook on! Lightly spray the cauliflower once on the sheet. Cook the cauliflower in the air fryer for 7 minutes on each side, or bake for 10 minutes each side in the oven. The batter will become lightly golden brown at the end and your cauliflower will be nice and soft in the middle. Remember to keep stirring your sauce! If you’re cooking rice and edamame, now is a good time to start making those as well.
  6. Add the corn starch/water mixture to the general tso’s sauce to thicken it. Continue to stir until the cauliflower is cooked. Once the cauliflower is done, add to the general tso’s sauce, turn off the heat, and toss to coat. I had some sesame seeds on hand so I sprinkled some of them in at the end as well! Enjoy!

Let me know what you guys think! Drop a comment below if you have any other takeout suggestions you want me to try to create!

Pasta Primavera with Vegan Parmesan

This is one of my favorite summer recipes that my parents made when I was growing up. It’s incredibly simple, light, and is perfect for using up leftover veggies! It also is a fantastic meal prep because it makes a huge batch and reheats well throughout the week. My parents used to make it with shrimp and chicken, but if you add a decent variety of veggies and a can of cannellini beans (or navy beans or great northern beans), you don’t miss the chicken one little bit!

Primavera means “Spring” in Italian. This dish is all about celebrating the growing season and welcoming back fresh garden vegetables to the dinner table.

The absolute best part of a primavera, though, was always drowning it in parmesan cheese. When I went vegetarian, I made this all the time, but when I ditched the dairy, I missed the way that parmesan complimented the dish so much that I actually abandoned it! Since then, I have found a few halfway decent vegan store-bought parmesans, but today I finally tried making my own and it did not disappoint!! (Recipe from the Minimalist Baker)

Today I used chickpea pasta (rotini) for extra protein (Banza brand), but feel free to use whatever style you like! Today’s veggies included red onion, garlic, broccoli, red pepper, zucchini, tomato, great northern beans, and spinach. I also love using mushrooms and carrots but didn’t choose them today. If you are making this at home, I encourage you to definitely use at least three kinds of vegetables in addition to your onion and garlic and make sure you have a protein source like beans, chickpeas, edamame, or green peas.

Pasta Primavera with Vegan Parmesan

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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A simple Italian pasta classic. that does not disappoint


The vegetables I used here are just a suggestion, feel free to use any kind you like. I do recommend at least three types of vegetables plus a plant based protein source like cannellini beans

Ingredients

  • extra virgin olive oil (4-6 tbsp)
  • 1 onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 crown of broccoli
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 large or 2 small tomatoes
  • 1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch of spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste (but at least 1/2 tsp salt)
  • Optional: 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Optional: 1 fresh lemon
  • For the parmesan (Recipe from the Minimalist Baker, see link in post):

  • 3/4 cup cashews
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Because it can take a while for a large pot of salted water to come to a boil, start by heating up the pasta water while you chop the veggies into bite sized pieces.
  2. In a second large pot or dutch oven, warm up 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil on medium heat. When oil is hot, add the onion first and sauté until fragrant and translucent.
  3. Next, add garlic, broccoli, and a dash of salt and pepper (at least 1/4 tsp salt). Stir to combine and allow to sauté with the lid off for approx 5 min until broccoli begins to soften.
  4. Add the red peppers and zucchini, stir to combine, and sauté until slightly softened (approx 2 minutes), then add the beans and tomatoes, plus another round of salt and pepper to taste (at least another 1/4 tsp salt).
  5. The water is likely boiling at this point, go ahead and cook the pasta according to package instructions.
  6. Turn down the heat on the veggies to low. Leave the lid off of the veggies to ensure it doesn’t get too watery. If you are making your own parmesan, now is a good time to whip it up while you wait for the pasta to cook. (The only instruction is to combine all parmesean ingredients in a food processor and mix/pulse until combined into a fine meal)
  7. After the pasta is drained, combine with the vegetables and fold in the spinach. Check out the consistency of the combined dish. Th pasta should have a slick consistency. If not slick, go ahead and add another 1-2 tbsp of olive oil (or as much as needed so it is all lightly coated in olive oil). If adding fresh basil, fold it in now as well.
  8. Enjoy! Feel free to fold in a hefty amount of parmesan, plus save extra for sprinkling on top. If you like an extra bright flavor, slice up a lemon and sprinkle some lemon juice on top as well.

What are your favorite pasta primavera variations? Drop a comment below!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Tostadas With Avocado Sauce

Above all else, my absolute favorite kind of food is Mexican. Not Tex-Mex. Not Taco Bell. Actual Mexican food from Mexico. It is simple, delicious, and typically uses just a few ingredients. Because Mexican food features so few ingredients, it’s incredibly easy to veganize.

You might be thinking “but what about the sour cream! And cheese!” For those of you who are not familiar with authentic Mexican cuisine, you might be surprised to hear dairy is actually an extremely small part of Mexican cooking. Perhaps a sprinkling of cheese here and there, maybe a drizzle of crema at a restaurant (a more runny version of American sour cream), but that’s about it. It isn’t central to any dish, and can easily be replaced by a squeeze of lime or some avocado without compromising the integrity of the dish.

And yes, I understand that sweet potatoes aren’t Mexican, but I do LOVE how they taste with black beans and they are just so good for you. How can I NOT Mexicanize them?

Tostadas are one of my favorite Mexican dishes to eat. A tostada is essentially a tortilla that has been baked until it becomes a giant round tortilla chip. They are a creative way to reduce food waste (they’re made from tortillas that are just starting to go stale). The revamp is both useful and delicious. I love tostadas because the open faced style allows you to enjoy the flavors of what’s on top in a different way than if it were wrapped up inside of soft shell tortilla. In a taco, you would taste the shell first and get the flavors of the filling on the back end. In a tostada, you get all the flavors at the same time, plus a nice crunch and a little extra flavor from the baked shell.

**Tip for the Avocado Dressing: make ahead the day before or a few hours before serving if you can. Although it tastes great fresh, letting the flavors marinade together makes them REALLY blend as one. The best part about the avocado dressing? Even if you make ahead, it stays green!

PS: this is a great recipe for meal prepping. Instead of tostadas, put the potatoes and beans on a bed of lettuce, rice, or wrap it up in some tortillas for tacos or burritos. The sky is the limit!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Tostadas

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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A flavorful, fun Mexican-inspired recipe perfect for Taco Tuesdays


Ingredients

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 15 oz can black beans
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-4 tbsp salsa
  • tostadas (or small tortilla shells if making your own)
  • oil of choice
  • optional for topping: shredded lettuce, diced tomato, fresh lime, fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Peel and dice the sweet potato and red onion into small pieces. If making your own tostada shells, begin pre-heating the oven to 350.
  2. Put 2 tbsp oil in a sauce pan and turn to medium heat. Add onion first and sauté until fragrant, then add sweet potato. Stir and cover with lid.
  3. While sweet potato and onions are cooking, drain and rinse the black beans and begin measuring your spices.
  4. Once the sweet potatoes begin to soften, add the spices, salsa, and black beans. (The salsa will help add moisture to the dish. If you don’t have any on hand, add a few tbsp water instead).
  5. If making your own tostadas, take out a baking sheet and either lightly brush or spray both sides of tortillas with oil of choice. Sprinkle a dash of salt on one side of tortillas. Bake for approx 10 minutes. Tostadas are ready when the edges begin to curl up and the tortillas are slightly brown.
  6. My favorite way to top these is the traditional way. First, a bed of finely shredded lettuce, then the protein, then some finely diced tomato, cilantro, avocado, and a squeeze of fresh lime. Today I made an avocado dressing that combined all of my favorite usual toppings…I have to say I HIGHLY recommend it! I will definitely be using this on many more Mexican dishes to come.

Avocado Sauce

  • Difficulty: easy
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This dressing is incredibly easy. If you like cilantro, lime, avocado, and all things Mexican NEARLY as much as I do you will seriously love it!

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/3 cup vegan sour cream (or plain unsweetened yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (I actually just used half a bunch)
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions

  1. Put all ingredients in a blender, blend until liquified.
  2. Add more liquid if you want a runny salad dressing, use less if you want a dip or thicker topping more like the consistency of sour cream.
  3. Enjoy!

What do you think? Leave a comment below if you’ve tried it or have a suggestion for something I should try!

Mexican Inspired Vegan Ceviche

This recipe may appear extremely simple (spoiler alert: it is), but trust me, when the flavors come together it is…unbelievably delicious. It has been tested on my vegan-suspicious-seafood-snob parents. Not only did it pass with flying colors, they’re making it tonight and bringing it to a barbecue for all their meat eating friends!

This recipe was specifically inspired by a trip I took to Cancun with my husband. I will say seafood was the last thing to go (even after cheese!) on my plant based transition. After all, what is more refreshing than a cool, limey ceviche on a hot, sunny day? I won’t lie to you, I missed it…that is until I went to a restaurant in Philly called Bar Bombón (which you absolutely MUST try if you are ever in Philadelphia). I saw vegan ceviche on their menu and knew I NEEDED to try it. Their ceviche used hearts of palm, which does in fact, have a seafood look about it, and no, is not from the same type of palm that is killing orangutans in Indonesia and Malaysia.

(PS: If you’re not up to date on the palm oil crisis, I encourage you to take a quick gander… https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/8-things-know-about-palm-oil)

After trying their ceviche, I realized it was extremely similar to a recipe I already have been making for years (but without the palm)! So I thought to myself…I can do this!

Mexican Inspired Vegan Ceviche

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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A cool, refreshing summer dish perfect for parties.


Tip: Serve in a cocktail glass and a fork like ceviche, with tortilla chips like a dip, or use it like a side for any summer dish!

Ingredients

  • 1 large( or 2 small) tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion (or 1/2 large onion)
  • 1 mango
  • 1 lime
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 can of hearts of palm, drained and rinsed (found in grocery store with canned veggies)
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro (or more if you like!)
  • Salt

Directions

  1. Drain and rinse hearts of palm and cut into small pieces (about 1/4 inch)
  2. Chop red onion, mango, tomatoes, and avocado small and combine with hearts of palm in large mixing bowl (tip: the smaller the red onion is chopped, the better for flavor distribution)
  3. Squeeze juice of one lime over bowl, get out as much juice as you can! The more lime the better.
  4. Chop or use kitchen scissors to cut the cilantro into fine pieces and add to bowl
  5. Add salt (I used about 1/2 tsp, you don’t need much) and mix!
  6. Pop the bowl in the fridge and let sit for at least 30 minutes (or longer) for the flavors to marinate. Enjoy!

Drop a comment if you make it and let me know what you think!