There are many misconceptions about vegans. While health is the biggest reason why most people become vegan, not all vegans eat healthily. (1) And although animal safety is yet another big reason why people become vegan not all people who eat a plant based diet care about animals. (2)
People seem to think that all vegans are either dedicated members of PETA or salad-addicted fiends. While many vegans support animal rights and certainly don’t mind the taste of salad that doesn’t mean they want to always eat like rabbits.
Vegans crave home cooked meals and comfort food just as much as the next person. The smell of BBQ is still tempting. The foods we all know and love, such as, mac and cheese, biscuits and gravy, and many deep fried foods still are just as alluring to members of the vegan community.
Vegans don’t share a traditional outlook on food but it’s a myth that they don’t enjoy eating. Here are some of the vegan recipes I’ve either tried or heard were really good. They are sure to impress your vegan friends:
French fries are one of the most all-American Comfort foods on the planet. This recipe tastes great and is easy to make.
- 3 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes
- Olive Oil
- Sea Salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Clean and rinse potatoes
- Leaving the skins on the potatoes, chop into thick matchsticks, approximately ¼” by ¼” thick.
- Spread chopped potatoes onto a parchment lined cookie tray, ensuring that none of the potatoes are overlapping each other. Make sure to not overload your tray. For three potatoes, you will most likely need to cook them in two batches, depending on the size of your cookie trays.
- Using an oil mister or spray oil, mist the chopped potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt
- Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown and crispy,
- Enjoy the best vegan french fries. (3)
Mac and “cheese”
Mac and cheese is one of my personal favorite comfort food dishes. This recipe is a new take on a classic dish.
- 2⅔ cups dry macaroni
- 1 cup peeled and diced yellow potatoes
- ¼ cup peeled and diced carrots
- ⅓ cup chopped onion
- ¾ cup water
- ½ cup raw cashews
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 pinch paprika
- Cook macaroni al dente, according to package instructions (usually requires boiling for 6-8 minutes in salted water), drain, and set aside.
- Bring several cups of water to boil in a small pot. Place chopped potatoes, carrots, and onion in the boiling water, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and soft enough to blend. Cooking time will vary slightly, based on how small you have chopped your veggies.
- When veggies are soft enough to blend, use a slotted spoon to remove them from cooking water, and place them in your blender. Add ¾ cup of that cooking water to your blender, along with your remaining ingredients.
- Blend until smooth.
- Pour sauce over your cooked macaroni noodles in a dish of your choice, taste for salt, and serve immediately.
- Or, place macaroni mixture in a baking dish, sprinkle with bread crumbs, and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes, or until crumbs are turning golden brown. (4)
Spaghetti and “Meatballs”
This italian dish is big with big families everywhere. Great for dinner parties. This is a meal everyone can enjoy.
- 1/2 cup white onion, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 flax egg
- 8 ounces tempeh
- ⅓ cup vegan parmesan cheese (available at your local Walmart)
- 2 tsp Italian seasonings
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley (optional)
- 1/2 cup vegan bread crumbs and ⅓ cup of vegan bread crumbs
- 2 Tbsp tomato sauce
- Olive Oil for sautéing
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 2 cups dried noodles
- Marinara sauce
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and prepare flax egg in a small dish.
- In a large, deep skillet, saute onion and garlic in 1/2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat until soft and translucent – about 3 minutes. Set aside.
- Add tempeh to food processor and pulse to break down. Then add sautéd garlic and onion, the flax egg, parmesan cheese, italian seasoning parsley and ½ cup of vegan bread crumbs, to the food processor and mix. scrape down sides as needed. You want it to form into a moldable “dough.”
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. The tempeh will come across as a little bitter, but once coated, baked and served with marinara it’s not nearly as apparent.
- NOTE: Depending on how salty your vegan parmesan cheese is, you may need to add a little salt and pepper at this point. However, I didn’t find it necessary.
- Scoop out 1 Tbsp amounts of dough and roll into balls. At this time, heat the same skillet you used earlier to medium heat.
- Mix remaining bread crumbs and parmesan cheese together in a shallow dish. Add tempeh balls one or two at a time and roll to coat.
- Add enough olive oil to form a thin layer on the bottom of your hot skillet, then add your coated tempeh balls in two batches, as to not crowd the pan. Brown for about 5 minutes total, shaking the pan to roll them around to brown all sides.
- Add browned meatballs to a baking sheet and add to the oven to bake for about 15 minutes, or longer if desired for a crispier result.
- At this time, prep any pasta you want to serve with your meatballs, as well as your favorite marinara sauce.
- Once meatballs are deep golden brown and fairly firm to the touch, remove from oven.
- To serve, top cooked pasta with meatballs and pour over marinara sauce. Top with another sprinkle of vegan parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to a few days, though best when fresh.
- NOTE: For an extra healthy substitution try spaghetti squash instead of cooked pasta. (5)
This delicious comfort food that will send your taste buds south of the border. This not-quite-queso dip is delicious although it is best served fresh.
- half of a medium eggplant
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- 1.5-2 cups unsweetened original almond milk
- 2-3 Tbsp nutritional yeast (see instructions)
- 1/4 tsp finely minced fresh garlic
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp cornstarch (optional for thickening)
- 1/4 cup chunky medium salsa, slightly drained
- Lots of chips or veggies
- Slice your eggplant into thin rounds just under 1/2 inch (not quite 1/4 inch), then sprinkle both sides of the flesh with a little sea salt and arrange in a colander to help draw out some of the moisture and bitterness. Let set for 10-15 minutes, then rinse with cool water and thoroughly pat dry between two clean towels.
- Preheat oven to high broil and place an oven rack near the top of the oven. Arrange the dried eggplant rounds on a baking sheet lightly spritzed with nonstick spray and drizzle both sides of the eggplant with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with a very small amount of salt.
- Broil on high for 4-5 minutes on each side, watching carefully as to not let them burn. Flip at the halfway point to ensure even cooking. Once the eggplant appears tender and both sides have golden brown color, remove from the oven and wrap loosely in foil to steam.
- After a few minutes, unwrap and peel the eggplant skin away. It should come right off. If you pack your roasted eggplant into a 1-cup measuring cup, it will be almost 1 cup.
- Place eggplant in a blender with the 1.5 cups (to start) almond milk, 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, minced garlic, cumin, chili powder and cornstarch and blend on high until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added a pinch more sea salt and a little more nutritional yeast. To thin, add more almond milk.
- Transfer to a small saucepan and warm over medium to medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly – about 5 minutes. The longer you go the thicker it will become.
- NOTE: If it isn’t looking as thick as you want, thicken with a slurry of cornstarch by adding an additional 1 tsp cornstarch to a small bowl with a little almond milk and 2-3 Tbsp of the cheese mixture. Whisk to combine and then stir back into the pot. This should thicken it right up.
- Once hot and thickened, remove from heat and stir in drained salsa. Don’t put the liquid in or it will make it runny. Pour into a serving dish.
- Serve with chips, crackers or veggies. (6)
Everybody loves pizza! This vegan pizza’s is both nutritious and delicious.
- 1/2 of a pizza crust
- 1/2 cup each Red, Green and Orange bell pepper, loosely chopped
- 1/3 cup red onion, chopped
- 1 cup button mushrooms, chopped
- 1/2 tsp each dried or fresh basil, oregano and garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1/2 tsp each dried or fresh basil, oregano, garlic powder, granulated sugar
- Sea salt to taste
- Red pepper flakes
- Dried oregano
- Sea salt
- Nutritional yeast
- Garlic powder
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and position a rack in the middle of the oven.
- Bring large skillet to medium heat. Once hot, add 1 Tbsp olive oil, onion and peppers. Season with salt, herbs and stir. Cook until soft and slightly charred – 10-15 minutes, adding the mushrooms in the last few minutes. Set aside.
- Prepare sauce by adding tomato sauce to a mixing bowl and adding seasonings and salt to taste. Adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside. NOTE: If using tomato paste, add water to thin until desired consistency is reached.
- Prepare vegan parmesan by blitzing raw cashews, sea salt, nutritional yeast and garlic powder in a food processor until a fine meal is reached. Transfer to jar and refrigerate to keep fresh.
- Roll out dough onto a floured surface and transfer to a parchment-lined round baking sheet. You’re going to add the pizza with the parchment directly to the oven to properly crisp the crust, so any round object will do as it’s not actually going into the oven (I use a wood board).
- Top with desired amount of tomato sauce (you’ll have leftovers, which you can store in a jar for later use), a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and the sautéed veggies.
- Use the baking sheet to gently slide the pizza directly onto the oven rack with the parchment underneath. Otherwise it will fall through.
- Bake for 17-20 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.
- Serve with remaining dried oregano and red pepper flake. (7)
The comfort foods we all know and love will always have a special place in our hearts. These foods provoke nostalgia by the smell alone and allow you to revisit childhood memories by their taste are their own kind of magic.
Most comfort foods are not considered healthy although eating comfort foods does appear to reduce stress improve brain function. (8) Nobody should have to give up enjoying comfort foods completely, but maybe if we tweak them just a little bit we can get double the good benefits.