Shifting toward a plant-based diet is a crucial step one must take if your goal is to have your body and mind running at its peak. What most people are not prepared for, and many times is the reason they give up, is the inability to accept that the transition is not always a walk in the park. Dietary and lifestyle changes require extensive research, sophistication, and many, many trips to the grocery store!
Sometimes it can be difficult to prepare a new recipe, because you either have never heard of some ingredients, do not know how to prepare said ingredients, or have no idea where you can even obtain them! I surmise that the craving and longing for classic comfort foods will soon follow. After all, we live in an omnivore’s world, and the stress of your transition may be enough to make you revert back to the convenience of the standard American diet!
I have crossed paths with people who are literally appalled at the thought of veganism; not only because of the lifestyle changes, but mostly due to their apprehension of consuming unfamiliar foods. But trust me; the chemical-laden foods many of them consume also send me running in the other direction! I believe the biggest deterrent is the thought of not being able to satiate themselves and their family, making this an easy justification for why they, more often than not, hop off the plant-based train.
Whether it be to jump start your health, to practice a more compassionate lifestyle, or to be kinder to our environment, adopting a plant-based diet is not as overwhelming and unobtainable when you are still able to indulge in the foods you crave. Enjoying food that is familiar to you is very important to make this transition a successful one, especially when you are entering a very unfamiliar lifestyle.
To educate and enlighten those who are interested, I have come up with a few simple, beginner vegan recipes that will placate even the biggest meat-lover. These recipes were designed to be the vegan versions of conventional comfort foods we adored growing up. My goal is to acclimate those who are interested in evolving toward a plant-based diet, but are unsure of where to start, and concerned they will miss out on their favorite foods.
Once you possess basic knowledge on veganism, this will undoubtedly lead you on a quest to find fresher, cleaner, ingredients. Knowing that you can start out on your journey to a plant-based diet without giving up the taste and nostalgia of well-known comfort foods will mentally prepare you for a positive lifestyle and dietary transformation!
Hopefully the four recipes below will help you start on this journey!
Recipe 1 – Crispy Seitan
This seitan recipe mimics the taste of a classic comfort food. Since you can enjoy this dish without feeling guilty, there is little to be missed from the conventional choice (except maybe the cholesterol)! Currently, I am in the kitchen working on a gluten free version of this highly requested favorite!
For the “Chicken”
- 1 lb. of vital wheat gluten sliced into 1 inch ‘cutlets’
For the Coating
- 2 tbsp. egg replacer
- 1 Tbsp. of cayenne pepper sauce
- ½ cup finely ground corn flakes
- 1 cup flour (I used whole wheat flour)
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. paprika
- ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. sage
- 1 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp. chopped raw almonds or nuts of your choice (optional)
- Coconut oil (for sautéing)
- Set up two separate dishes
- Place egg replacer and the hot sauce in the first dish.
- In the second dish, place the spices, flour, cornflakes, and nuts (if using).
- Dredge the seitan in the egg replacer/hot sauce mixture and transfer to the next bowl, pressing both sides firmly to get the spice, flour, and corn flake mixture to stick.
- Transfer to skillet.
- Heat a skillet with a shallow coating of coconut oil and sauté for 4-5 minutes per side, or until you have reached a desired crispiness.
- Serve with preferred condiments.
Recipe 2 – Don’t Make Me Blush Sauce
Lather your favorite pasta with this blushing sauce! It gets its subtle hint of pink from delicious garlic-roasted tomatoes. You won’t miss the butter and cream from conventional Alfredo, as this sauce has many elements that are sure to please the palate!
Roasted Red Sauce
- 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 4 Tomatoes
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- 2 tsp. Rosemary
- 2 tsp. Basil
- ½ tsp. Sea Salt
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Slice tomatoes in half.
- Rub tomatoes with olive oil, fresh garlic, spices and salt.
- Bake tomatoes for 20 minutes or until charred.
- Let cool. Transfer to blender and puree 30 seconds.
- Keep the red sauce in the blender, as you will be combining soon.
- 1 Tbsp. vegan butter substitute
- 4 leaves fresh basil, torn
- 1 Clove garlic –chopped
- 2 Cups unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 tbsp. arrowroot powder
- ½ Cup raw cashews (soak in water one hour prior – this will help the cashews blend much smoother.)
- Melt vegan butter substitute, add garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes on medium heat.
- Add coconut milk and stir, do not bring to a boil.
- Add arrowroot powder and whisk immediately, making sure there are no lumps.
- Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.
- Transfer sauce to the blender to combine with the red sauce.
- Add soaked cashews.
- Blend for 60 seconds.
- Serve over your favorite pasta. Garnish with torn basil leaves.
Recipe 3 — Stuffed Pepper Stew
This thick, hearty stew is sure to comfort you any day of the year. With its rich, decadent taste and appetizing aesthetic qualities, this will surely become an essential go-to meal!
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- 1 Cup Cooked red Quinoa
- ½ Cup Cooked Brown Rice
- ½ white onion, chopped
- 1 Green pepper sliced thin
- 1 Red Pepper sliced thin
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 Cups Vegetable Stock
- 2 Cups Water
- 16 oz. jar of crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 tbsp. dried basil
- Basil leaves for garnish (optional)
- Heat olive oil in skillet
- Add onions and peppers
- Sauté for 10 minutes on medium heat
- Add garlic, sauté for 5 more minutes
- To the skillet add the vegetable stock, water, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, dried basil, cooked rice & quinoa.
- Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Garnish with basil leaves. Serve with your favorite sprouted bread!
Recipe 4 — Confetti Lentil Loaf
This lentil loaf is sweet, savory, and comforting. The pairing of mouthwatering vegetables, with the succulent dried cherries, makes for a unique and flavorful dining experience that will surely please even the pickiest palate!
- 1 Cup Lentils (cooked)
- ½ Cup cauliflower
- ½ Cup Green Pepper
- ¾ Cup Onion
- 1 Tomato
- 2 Cloves of Garlic
- ½ cup of breadcrumbs (I toasted 2 pieces of sprouted grain bread and processed until they turned into fine crumbs)
- 1 Tbsp. Ground Flax Seed (as egg replacer)
- 3 Tbsp. Warm Water (as egg replacer)
- 1 tsp. of Tamari (organic soy sauce)
- ½ Cup Dried Cherries (other options: cranberries, raisins, etc.)
- Warm & Savory Glaze
- 1 tsp. each: Cinnamon, cumin, garlic powder, & coriander
- 1 tsp. Tamari
- 1 16 oz. can of crushed tomatoes (I used the fire roasted for extra flavor)
- Preheat oven to 350
- Mix together ground flax seed and warm water, set aside.
- Chop cauliflower, green pepper, onion, tomato and garlic.
- Sauté vegetables in olive oil until tender.
- Add cooked lentils to a food processor.
- Cool vegetable mixture and process in a blender with the lentils until combined.
- Transfer to bowl.
- Fold in the rest of the ingredients to the vegetable mixture
- Press into a loaf pan
- Spoon half of the glaze over the loaf.
- Bake covered at 350 for 30 minutes
- Spoon the other half of the glaze over the loaf
- Bake uncovered at 350 for another 10 minutes or until loaf is browned
Ashley Shamus: Ashley strives each and every day to live the most sustainable vegan life possible. Her biggest joy is being able to practice and preach her self-taught knowledge on the importance of living and eating with nature in mind. One day she hopes to open an incredible co-op/café, but until that opportunity comes along, she is happy as a lark contributing to ecologically friendly blogs, volunteering with animal rights organizations, and frolicking around with farm animals on her days off!