Crash Test Vegetarian

Vegan to Omnivore outreach program

Chickpea Couscous Bowl

When I’m feeling down, I have a few go-to recipes.  Tonight it was my Black Bean Soup which I omitted the liquid on and just made black beans and rice.

The other night my husband chanted, “Couscous! Couscous!” when asked what he wanted. So I guess that meant I was making couscous!

I typically keep all of the ingredients on hand, so it’s almost always a “Sh*t I forgot to cook” meal.  But as a bonus, it has won over every single person who’s tried it.  It’s packed with fiber and protein, it fits into one bowl, it makes everyone happy, it’s cheap, it’s easy and best of all it’s comforting.

There are 3 key ingredients.

Better Than Bullion No Chicken Base, it’s my favorite bullion.  It literally tastes just like chicken.  And if you’re one of those vegans that says, “If you want to eat meat or have stuff taste like meat, then why did you become a vegan?” you can just find your way out. 🙂

Whole Wheat Couscous:

I’ve never seen this in the grocery store, but the whole wheat couscous in bulk at a health food store is cheaper than packaged couscous anyway, so why not?  If you’ve never worked with couscous – it’s easy.  Bring 1 1/2 cups water or broth to a boil (some fat optional), stir in 1 cup couscous, cover and remove from heat.  Let it set for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork, and it’s done!  I love the stuff.

And last, but not least – Blurry TVP.  But regular TVP will work as well.  TVP is Texturized Vegetable Protein.  It’s what’s leftover from soy beans when the oil has been extracted.  It’s extremely inexpensive, versatile and LOADED with protein.  I don’t use it very often, but it’s perfect in this recipe.  Use equal parts water and TVP.

So those are the 3 basic ingredients.  From there I add a can or two of Garbanzo Beans, and a bag of frozen mixed vegetables.  When I have a little more time, I saute some onions and garlic first.    But that’s about it.

So here’s about how I do it.

In a small pot or saucepan, saute (optional)
1 large onion, minced
3-5 cloves garlic, minced 

1 cup water
Chickpeas – 1 or two cans, your choice
About 3 cups worth of bullion – in this case 3 Tbsp

When the chickpeas are desired tenderness, add some mixed vegetables (I usually use an entire small bag).  This time, mine had corn, carrots and asparagus in it this time, but usually I use the standard variety.

Return to a boil then add TVP and cook until liquid is completely absorbed.


Bring 1 1/2 cup “chicken” broth to a boil.  Add 1 cup couscous, cover and remove from heat.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Mix the two together.

Salt to taste and serve topped with plenty of fresh ground pepper, and some Earth Balance for a nice buttery flavor.

Baby Approved


Sweet Potato and Black Bean Hash

A long, long time ago (The song “American Pie” comes to mind),  I made Black Bean and Soyrizo hash and heard of other people using different things like kale and sweet potatoes so I was on a mission to make another – just as easy – version.  Things didn’t work out, exactly as planned.  I spent a week looking for Kale at my local supermarkets and produce stand, and I have yet to find any.   My husband didn’t care for this recipe, cause he’s not a sweet potato fan, and after accidentally mixing stuff up on my plate, I decided that the best way for me to enjoy this was topping my favorite salad greens and drizzled with the cilantro-lime dressing I also tried that also failed the hubby test.

So the instructions include the sweet potato – if that’s your thing, but I highly suggest making a big ol’ tex-mex salad out of it all.

Incidentally, a few of the recipes I found included coriander – which if you don’t know is the seed counterpart to cilantro.  I get ALL my spices from the local natural food store (I highly suggest this, it’s waaaaaaaaaaay cheaper and fresher), and my husband and I smelled coriander for the first time and decided that it absolutely did NOT belong on any food products in our home.  I even gagged a little.

So um, if you like coriander, add some.  Maybe I’m just not ready for it.  Granted, the first time I tried cilantro I spit it out…. guess tastes change.

For the Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette:

In a food processor whip together

1 cup cilantro leaves (or more to taste)
1/4 cup orange
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste
pinch or two dry mustard (optional) to emulsify – this adds no flavor

For the hash:

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  When warm, add a drizzle of oil and heat until shimmering. When the oil is shimmering, add
1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced

Cook until the onion and green pepper are browning, about 3-5 minutes or so.  Meanwhile, peel and cut 1 medium to large sweet potato into 1/2 inch cubes.  Add sweet potato to pan when the onions have browned.
Continue cooking until sweet potato has browned a bit, about 3-5 minutes.  You can also skip this and just move on to the next step.

Add to the skillet
1 1/2 tsp cumin (or more to taste)
1 1/2 tsp chili powder (again, or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
2-4 cloves garlic, minced

Stir around and cook for about a minute or so, then add
3/4 cup chicken flavored (I used Better Than Bullion No Chicken Base) or vegetable broth

Scrape the pan to make sure there’s nothing sticking and let the potatoes cook in the broth.  The broth will completely cook down while the potatoes cook, but be sure to test them when the pan gets dry to make sure you don’t need to add some more in.  Continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated then add in
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup corn (if using from frozen, no need to defrost first)

Cook until heated.  Serve topped with cilantro and lime, or drizzled with the vinaigrette in a salad.


Caramelized Onion and Mushroom [vegan] and Garlic Pizza

My husband has declared this as “probably the best pizza I’ve ever made,” which is pretty gosh darned high praise considering how much pizza I make.     After making the Mujadara, I wanted more caramelized onions.    I also had some leftover sauce, so I decided why not!?

The ingredients are pretty obvious.  I caramelized some onions, sauteed some mushrooms in garlic and topped a Daiya drenched crust with it.    Was muy yum.


Sugared Dill Carrots

Yep, kinda sounded weird to me.  Buuuutttt, had this as a pretty highly rated recipe, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a whirl.  I cooked all my baby carrots, but only made a mini batch of the recipe at first.  As soon as we tasted it I went back into the kitchen to make a double batch of it.

It’s worth a shot, the worst you can lose is about a dollar worth of carrots!

Sweet Dill Carrots

Place 1lb sliced or baby carrots in a medium sized saucepan and fill with water until carrots are just covered.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and add about a teaspoon of salt.

When carrots are tender, drain and set aside momentarily (you will want a tiny bit of the water on them, so don’t let them literally dry out.  Return the saucepan to the stove and add
1 Tbsp Earth Balance or your favorite buttery spread
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar, Agave, or Maple Syrup

Heat just until the brown sugar and the butter have melted.  Throw the carrots back in the pot and glaze with the butter / sugar mixture.

Sprinkle with
2 tsp dried dill weed, or 1 Tbsp fresh dill weed
salt and pepper to taste

Toss to coat.

Toddler, omnivore husband and Izzy approved. 


Thai Curry – Again!

Yep.  I’m addicted.  Just wish my husband was.  🙂  This is a super easy, super simple recipe.

Thai Curry

In a non-stick fry pan, dry fry
1 lb cubed, drained and pressed (or vacuum packed) tofu.

In a  mixing bowl make a cornstarch slurry using a little bit of water (about 1/4 cup)  and some chicken flavored bullion (I use Better than Bullion No Chicken Base).

To the slurry, add
1 can light coconut milk
3 Tbsp Red Curry Paste (I used Taste of Thai)
1 squirt Sriracha sauce
3-5 Tbsp Soy Sauce
a pinch or two of kosher salt

When the tofu cubes have more sides dry and crispy than not, add
about 2-3 cups fresh broccoli florets
a healthy handful of sugar snap peas
1-2 green onions, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
any other veggies you’d like 

Simmer everything together until veggies are desired tenderness.  If they aren’t cooking quickly enough for you, cover the pan with aluminum foil or a lid if your fry pan has one.

Serve over rice and top with
fresh lime wedges and cilantro


Lime and Thai Basil

Oh, and do not freaking skip the basil or cilantro or basil.

I mean it!

Original recipe found at My Everest.   Baby liked this, hubby liked it but wasn’t thrilled by it.  I did not find this to pack well for lunches.  Eat it fresh!


Spicy Asian Sugar Snap Peas

I made a promise to myself to try one new vegetable recipe per week, or at least average that.

This week was these babies:

Sugar Snap Peas

And yes, those ARE Star Wars chop sticks.  Actually called chop sabers. <<— linkage

Anyway, I also attempted to make roasted Brussels sprouts, but you’ll see more about that ATTEMPT later.  Today is about these.  When it came down to it, this ended up basically just being a stir fry, so for the purpose of a “vegetable,” I didn’t feel like this fit the bill.   I dunno, I suppose if I were still eating meat, this could go along with a meat entree, but as it was – it still felt like it called for brown rice and soy marinaded tofu.  Soo…. kinda feeling like this didn’t do the trick for me, but still I tried a new vegetable recipe.

Prepare ye 1 lb of sugar snap peas

Heat wok or nonstick frying pan (I don’t own a wok) and add
about a teaspoon or two of olive or peanut oil 

Heat until oil is shimmering, about 30 seconds or so. Then add
1 tsp ginger, sliced, minced or paste
2 large garlic cloves, minced or sliced 

Cook just until fragrant, then add the sugar snap peas. 

Meanwhile, mix together
1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp Sriracha Sauce

Depending on how you like your peas cooked, will depend on how long you continue to cook them.  Kalyn suggested 2 minutes, or until they turn bright green – to keep them tender crisp.  Ideally, this would probably would produce the highest nutrient content, however I’m also cooking for my 13 month old foster son so I cooked them considerably longer and put a lid on the pan to steam them for a bit.

Regardless of how you like them, when you’re about a minute or two away from being done, add the sauce mix and cook for another minute or so, then enjoy.


Roasted Sugar Snap Peas

Roasted Sugar Snap Peas

Like the oven roasted broccoli, these roasted peas are a “snap!”  Get it…?  Get it?!
Yep, that was pretty lame.  But these aren’t.  The thyme really compliments the pods.
After snapping (or cutting) off the ends, and removing the string, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with dried thyme, kosher salt and pepper and roast at 450 degrees for about 6-10 minutes until desired tenderness. 

Oven Roasted Broccoli

Roasted Broccoli

Since this IS a vegan blog afterall, one might expect there to actually be vegetable recipes on it, but alas, there are not. It’s not that I don’t eat vegetables – I do – 7 servings a day, as a matter of fact.  Well, most days.

So my goal now is to find more vegetable recipes and try new vegetables.  When I say vegetable recipe, I mean a recipe that’s quick and easy to make, and does not have a lot of things added that detract from the nutrition of the vegetation itself – but at the same time, makes it so that  broccoli doesn’t taste like fart, for example.

So each week I will be posting at least one “plain old vegetable” recipe/idea.

This oven roasted broccoli is a good example.  With just 3 ingredients, it’s a cinch to make and it tasted pretty darn good too, it sweetened the broccoli slightly and you can just roast it to your preferred tenderness.  I like it soft (that’s not what she said),  but most people like it firmer (heh heh).

I am almost positive that this method of cooking would work for most vegetables.

If you want the broccoli to brown, preheat your oven to 425 degrees, otherwise wait to turn the oven on until you place the broccoli in.

Cut broccoli into desired size florets. I was lazy and purchased pre-cut broccoli because it was on sale, and because that’s just how I roll sometimes.

Drizzle with some olive oil. I do mean some, I used a bit too much and it was too oily.  I’d say about a tablespoon, and toss around a bit.  It’s difficult to see that it’s coated, but it will coat it.

Toss with some garlic salt, or garlic powder and kosher salt, or some minced garlic and kosher salt (I also think garlic infused oil would be nice).

Throw it on a cookie sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil, or a non-stick cookie sheet.    Roast away for 8-12 minutes depending on your desired tenderness.


Apparently I am channeling my inner 13 year old boy today.





French Lentil Soup

This easy, but flavorful soup, ranks number 3 in my husbands favorite soup recipes – which is nice, because it’s easy and as are most vegan soups – it’s cheap!   It doesn’t have a heck of a lot of veggies in it though, so be sure to serve it with a big salad!

French Lentil Soup

Nope,  it’s really not pretty.  AND, if you look at the ingredients, you’ll probably think to yourself, “Self, that doesn’t look very exciting,” and in a way your self might be right, it’s not exciting, but it IS loaded with a lot more flavor than you would expect thanks to the team players leek and vinegar.  Did I mention it’s pretty good for you too.

And, my husband (and his family) loved it, so it really is worth a shot.  Just don’t skip shit, ok?  They’re all important. 
In a bowl, cover
1 lb French green lentils
with boiling water (with the water at least an inch or two over the lentils) and let sit for 15 minutes – then drain

Meanwhile, in a large stockpot saute for 20 minutes or until onions are translucent:
4 cups chopped leeks (about 8) – white white and light green portion only
4 cups chopped onions 
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp cumin

To the stockpot add and saute for an additional 10 minutes:
3 cups diced carrots
3 cups diced celery

Add to the pot,
3 Quarts Vegetable Broth (I used better-than-bullion brand No Chicken Base)
1/4 tomato paste
The soaked (and drained) lentils

Cover pot and bring to a boil, then continue simmering, uncovered, for 1 hour or until lentils are fully cooked.

When sufficiently cooked, add
2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar or Red Wine

Serve hot and enjoy!

Curious what my (omnivore) husband’s top 5 soups are?

1. To be announced – This isn’t on my blog yet.  Soon!
2. Black Bean Soup
3. French Lentil Soup
4. Scarborough Fair White Bean Soup
5. Italian Vegetable Soup


Scarborough Fair White Bean Soup

At heart, I’m a hippie.  Well, maybe on the surface a little bit too.

So when I saw the title of this soup, I absolutely had to try it.  There was no choice.  It’s a very simple, very mild soup and it’s perfect the way it is.   I told my husband that it’s my future “sick” soup which I will make in place of chicken noodle.  For some reason making vegan chicken noodle soup has been a little bit on the difficult side.

I just can’t find any vegan chickens.  (My husband rolled his eyes at this joke)

If you’re not familiar with Scarborough Fair, listen:

While listening, eat:

Scarborough Fair Soup

In a small amount ofolive oil OR water, saute until onion is translucent:
1 small onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, diced  Another vegetable you may want to add is zucchini, but you wouldn’t add this till near the end.  I wouldn’t suggest any vegetable that has a very strong flavor.

Add to the vegetable mixture,
6 cups vegetable or chicken flavored broth (I use Better Than Bullion No Chicken)
1/3 cup tomato paste

Cook until celery is tender and add,
1/2 – 3/4 cup pearled barley
1/2 tsp each – dried parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
salt and pepper to taste 

Continue cooking for about 30 minutes, or until barley is puffed up and tender

When barley is done, add in
1 can white beans 

If you want zucchini, now’s the time to add it.  Continue cooking for another 10 minutes or so.


Have I mentioned that I still can’t bake anything because we’re on our third stove and the oven still doesn’t work properly?  Not sure why my landlord thinks that it’s cheaper to buy multiple used stoves rather than do it right the first time.


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