Sometimes the biggest struggle when transitioning to a whole-foods, plant-based diet is “what to make” and “what can I make – fast!” A friend who has recently “veganized” her diet asked me just this question, in particular the “fast” part. There are many recipe books and websites out there trying to answer just that, some more successfully than others. I certainly don’t pretend to be a cookbook author but we’ve had our share of cereal or toast for supper on those nights when you’re almost too exhausted to even eat (ok, so I’m not sure I’ve ever been that tired, lol … maybe once). So no stolen recipes tonight, instead I will post a compilation of some of my easy, go-to favorites in hopes of either inspiring you to try them or to post your own easy veggie delights!
Quicker than traditional pizza dough, whole tortillas make a nice, light, crispy pizza base. If you want to avoid the sugar in store-bought pizza sauces but still need something quick, use a can of spaghetti sauce with no sugar added or you can freeze small batches of a homemade spaghetti sauce; I like to use my homemade alphaghetti sauce. Or, you can just add chopped tomato instead of sauce; just brush the tortillas with a little olive oil & sprinkle some garlic powder. Feel free to substitute the veggies for whatever you have on hand or prefer. You don’t even have to take the time to cut it into slices, as the tortilla can just be folded in half for a healthy, homemade version of a pizza-pop!
2 (55g) whole wheat tortillas (I like Eating Right’s Ancient Grains)
6 – 8 vegan pepperoni slices
1 – 2 tbls pizza sauce
Handful of torn baby spinach
1/4 red pepper cut in thin strips
Small amount of thinly sliced red onion to taste
1/4 cup shredded Daiya cheddar or mozzarella, loosely packed
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread pizza sauce evenly on both tortillas then top with remaining ingredients. Carefully pick each pizza up by the edge & place on oven rack (placing on a pizza pan will not allow the pizza base to crisp up). Bake for 5 – 6 minutes; you should be able to carefully remove the pizza with your fingers. Cut into slices or fold in half and enjoy!
~ Julie’s Recipe
Packed with flavor, quick & filling, these burritos blow their fast-food cousins out of the park. If really pressed for time, you can use a can of refried beans but if you have 10 minutes to spare, the homemade Salsa & Pinto Bean Spread is worth the effort (note: it should be refrigerated for an hour before using so it might be best to make it ahead).
1 (55g) whole wheat tortilla
1/4 cup salsa & pinto bean spread (recipe below) or refried beans
1/4 cup salsa, plus more for topping
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
1/3 cup sautéed mushrooms (optional, but I love sautéed mushrooms!)
1/2 cup baby spinach, torn into bite size pieces
1/4 cup shredded Daiya cheddar or mozzarella
Olives, sliced, to taste (optional)
Heat a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Place tortilla in pan, spread bean mixture down the middle and top with remaining ingredients. Allow to heat slowly for 4 – 5 minutes or until lightly browned underneath and the filling warmed through. Fold in half, lift carefully onto a plate and top with extra salsa if desired.
~ Julie’s Recipe
Salsa & Pinto Bean Spread
(makes about 2 ½ cups)
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 (15.5 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup tomato salsa
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley or cilantro
1 tsp fresh lime juice (I use bottled most of the time cause it’s just easier!)
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp chilli powder
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients. Pulse until well mixed, but still slightly coarse. Taste, adjusting seasonings if necessary. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Properly stored, it will keep for up to 3 days.
~ From Robin Robertson’s “1,000 Vegan Recipes”
Baked Sweet Potato with Hummus & Veggies
There is nothing like the combination of melt-in-your-mouth baked sweet potato with a creamy, homemade hummus and slightly spicy salsa. Top it all with fresh, colourful veggies and you have a meal so filling and satisfying, you’ll know what you’re having for dinner tomorrow night!
1 sweet potato, medium – large (depending on hunger level!)
1/2 – 3/4 cup hummus, any flavor
1/4 – 1/2 cup salsa, any heat level – mild, medium or hot
1/2 cup leaf lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
1/4 cup each chopped grape tomatos, cucumber, yellow pepper, sugar snap peas
1/8 cup red onion or green onion, chopped
Scrub sweet potato, poke a few times with a fork & bake in the microwave for 5 – 6 minutes or until soft when punctured with a fork. Place sweet potato on a plate, slice down the middle & open, then top with hummus, salsa and the rest of the veggies. Serve immediately.
~ Julie’s Recipe
Rich in calcium due to the combination of chickpeas & tahini, hummus is my go-to fast food because it is so easy to make and stores well in the fridge for 4 – 5 days. This is the basic hummus recipe in Brendan Brazier’s “Whole Foods to Thrive” but as he points out, it can be adjusted in countless ways depending on your preference (eg, add roasted red peppers, sundried tomatos, curry powder, olives, parsley or cilantro). If you prefer a milder garlic flavor, roast the garlic before using it (personally, I LOVE a garlicky hummus!).
2 cups canned or cooked chickpeas
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste, usually found in the nut butter section of the grocery store)
3 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp water
In a food processor, puree all ingredients. Add more water if necessary to get the consistency you like.
Curried Lentil Soup
This classic soup is fragrant and tastes as good as it smells. Serve with a colourful green salad and/or crusty bread for a complete meal. Don’t feel like putting together a salad but still want to get your greens in? Add a cup of chopped baby spinach for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Puree half or all of the soup depending on what consistency you prefer. For a heartier dinner soup, add slices of vegan sausage.
1 tbsp olive or canola oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp curry powder
6 cups vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, medium, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion & sautee for 3 – 4 minutes or until almost translucent then add the garlic & sautee for another 1 – 2 minutes. Add the curry powder and stir continuously for one minute. Add the remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
~ Julie’s Recipe
Lazy Housewife’s Spaghetti
I’m not really sure you can classify this as a “recipe” but it is quick and tasty. In a large saucepan, heat Imagine’s Organic Creamy Tomato Soup, add cooked macaroni or bite-size pasta of choice, dried basil & Italian seasoning, and salt & pepper to taste. Enjoy!
Mexican One-Pot Wonder
This “recipe” was a supper I put together one night when I was tired and just used what was on hand but it was so good we made it again the next night! I’m not a big potato fan but surprisingly, these little gems made this recipe better and was a nice change from the usual rice or quinoa.
5 or 6 baby potatoes, quartered
1 cup salsa, any heat level – mild, medium or hot
1/2 cup cooked black or pinto beans, drained & rinsed
1/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
Shredded Daiya cheddar or vegan sour cream to top (optional)
Place the potatoes in a soup bowl and microwave until soft when pierced with a fork, approximately 3 minutes give or take depending on your microwave and size of potatoes. Meantime, in a medium size saucepan, heat the salsa, beans and corn. Pour over the cooked potatoes and top with cheeze or sour “cream” if using.