Category Archives: Easy Vegan Meals

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Cooling Salads for Hot Days

Warm greetings to my gentle readers who have patiently awaited a new recipe while I took some time off this summer. I’d like to reward you with a quick and easy dish to cool you off during these hot summer days—a satisfying and totally yummy Tofu Salad that even omnivores will enjoy (much to their surprise)!

You can serve this as a side dish to a summer soup, on a bed of salad greens, or as the added protein on a colorful vegetable plate. Hmmm…I’m envisioning sweet potato fries, quick asparagus or green beans, and corn on the cob with a half-cup of tofu salad in the center. If you love a sandwich for lunch, pile some tofu salad on your favorite bread. (The salad’s moisture will be a good balance to bread that has become dry, making it easier to digest.)

Summer guidance from Ayurveda

When the “dog days” of summer arrive in August (or, sadly, much earlier across the globe this year) it is important to eat cooling foods that help your metabolism avoid overheating. You’ll also feel cooler on hot days if you choose cooling foods over those that are naturally heating.

Did you know that symptoms such as irritability, headaches, itchiness and sleeplessness (if you wake 2 to 4 a.m. and have difficulty going back to sleep) are often linked with too much heat in the body? This is the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, which may also be your intuitive understanding. Fortunately, food is our friend when we pay attention to a food’s qualities and the ways these impact our bodies, minds, and emotions.

What are cooling foods?

As you may know, Ayurveda classifies foods in several ways, including whether a food is inherently heating or cooling.

You shouldn’t be surprised to see Ayuveda’s list of cooling foods because we turn to them instinctively when the weather turns hot. Some of the most cooling foods include these:

  • Lettuce, cucumbers, celery, fennel
  • Summer squash, zucchini, asparagus, kale, and spinach
  • Coconut, apples, red and black grapes, and all melons
  • Mint, cilantro, coriander, cumin, and rosewater.
  • Tofu

Balanced cooking

Yes, on its own, tofu is naturally cooling. Combine it with other cooling foods such as fennel or celery, cilantro, and mint and you’ll create a perfect summer dish loaded with protein. However, this combination of foods is so cooling that I added some garlic to the recipe, not only for flavor but for a little balancing heat to aid digestion.

Other foods like dates, figs, cruciferous vegetables, and avocado may not seem to be obviously cooling. This is especially true of avocado because many people make guacamole by adding intensely heating ingredients such as raw onions and jalapenos to avocado—making most guacamole something to avoid during the summer! Certain legumes are also cooling, but they are more easily digested when they’re cooked with generous amounts of warming herbs and spices such as fresh garlic, fresh ginger, turmeric, and other Indian spices including fenugreek and black mustard seeds.

Just as warming spices can balance overly cooling foods such as legumes, you can enlist the help of cooling herbs and spices any time you cook foods that are inherently heating. For instance, Ayurveda classifies carrots as heating, so I serve carrots with lots of cilantro, mint, and a drizzle of coconut milk to make a perfect summer soup.

Enjoy this cooling Tofu Salad throughout the summer, and always feel satisfied at the end of your vegan meal.

PS Looking for more summer dishes? Try these summer soups: Summer Sweet Potato Soup, Corn and Avocado Soup, Broccoli Carrot Soup over basmati rice, PeanutButter Cucumber Soup, Beet and Fennel Soup, Creamy Zucchini Soup in 20 minutes or less.

 

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Easy Meals for Holiday Weekends 

As spring eases into summer with frequently warmer days and delightfully cool nights, you will enjoy this delicious gluten-free, vegan Spinach and Mushroom Pasta. (And if you don’t like mushrooms, leave them out for a simple yet satisfying meal.)

I occasionally make a dish with shiitake mushrooms because I love that umami flavor and because their well-documented health benefits include immune support and anti-inflammatory defense. Many vegans and vegetarians see mushrooms as a meat replacement. Although I personally don’t think of them as an instead-of-meat choice, they do add texture, volume, and another layer of flavor to this dish that will be welcome to any mushroom lover.

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The Last of Winter Soups

Wouldn’t you love some Sweet Potato and Spinach Soup to help you stay warm during these last frigid winter nights! Despite an early spring color extravaganza in the Carolinas since the first of February, we’ve been thrust back into the mid 30s every night—which means that hot soup is definitely on the menu!

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Healthy Comfort Food: Creamy Vegan Casseroles

Today’s multi-use recipe for a Broccoli, Carrot, and Fennel Casserole got oohs and aahs at our table recently, so I promise you won’t want to miss this one! If casseroles aren’t your thing, you can serve it as a veggie side dish or make it a one-dish meal and serve the vegetables with rice or quinoa.

Loyal readers, have you noticed that I enjoy creating dishes that lend themselves to slightly different approaches? You could even turn this into a soup by adding some delicious homemade stock. All these options give you greater flexibility if you’re comfortable enough in cooking to adapt the directions ever-so-slightly to suit your preferences.

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Delicious Vegan Casseroles for the Holidays

I rarely make a casserole for the two of us, but when it comes to convenience, there’s nothing quite so simple as this Easy Vegan Squash Casserole. It’s the kind of dish that you can make the day before and pop into the oven while you’re cooking other parts of your holiday menu. It’s a perfect addition to any potluck and a delicious way to balance all the season’s sugary meals!

Of course, every recipe on my blog is always gluten-free. (This Reimagined Green Bean Casserole is also awesome and worthy of your Hanukkah, Christmas, or New Year’s table.)

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Easy Dinners with Vegan Protein

Whether you are a strict vegan or an omnivore looking to add more vegetarian meals to your dinner routines, a Vegan Pad Thai will satisfy your checklist for an easy, satisfying, and delicious weeknight dinner.

Early on in my journey as a vegetarian, I was unaware that Pad Thai—one of my favorite dishes—is traditionally made with fish sauce.

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Start a Fresh New Year with Delicious Vegan Food—Even if You’re an Omnivore!

Have you been eating a lot of heavy foods throughout the holidays? It’s no surprise if you’ve been cooking traditional roasted meats, cheesy comfort foods, and artisanal breads for your family. Oh, and we haven’t even gotten to all those sugary cookies you ate while making batches of baked goods for colleagues, teachers, and friends! Even vegans and vegetarians may suffer after a long season of overeating favorite comfort foods.

If you’re feeling lethargic or bloated after New Year’s Eve, it’s no wonder! Your body is likely signaling it’s ready for a break. May I suggest that you make a fresh start on New Year’s Day with a lighter, yet totally satisfying, dish for your family—Hearty Lentil Stew.

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Potluck Picnics (and Some Good News about Lectins)

Earlier this week I began talking about summer salads, and today I offer you this Black Bean Salad with Avocado Dressing for your July 4th celebration and for ongoing summer picnics and potluck events.

In the past my go-to veggies to accompany most any black bean dish would have been red bell peppers and tomatoes, but now I find myself looking for something different.

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Plan Summer Entertaining with Delicious and Inclusive Menus

This Simple Chickpea Salad is not only delicious and easy, but will also wow everyone this Memorial Day, from omnivores to vegans to gluten-free diners. I will take this holiday prelude as an opportunity to remind my omnivorous readers how thoughtful it is to provide a vegan protein when you’re serving a group of partiers with diverse dietary needs.

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