10 Easy Vegan Meal Ideas, Part 2

Hey all!

I’m highly enjoying the responses to “what’s your favorite flavor” in yesterday’s giveaway post!  As of this moment, 21 folks have participated, so feel free to jump in if you haven’t already – the odds are looking great right now!

Back in September, I did a post called 10 Easy Vegan Meal Ideas, born from my bare and empty kitchen in Fort Bragg, and a desire to share the most ridiculously easy things I’d been eating during the first two weeks of my stay (aside from all the great food at Living Light, of course).  I shared my pantry staples and must-have ingredients (Ezekiel bread, almond butter, salt, rice, etc), and what I’d been making out of them.

I still used all of those ingredients in the last two weeks, but had a bag of red lentils and wheat berries to use up as well.  I have seldom cooked wheat berries in the past, so don’t ask what possessed me to buy them – luckily, desperate times and empty cupboards have the power to force creativity, and I totally didn’t mind eating wheat berries every day for a week straight.  I know that sounds sarcastic, but I swear sincerity.

#1: Tofu Burger

The thing that inspired this burger was actually a craving for ketchup, as strange as that may sound (not pictured were the sweet potato cubes I also enjoyed with ketchup).  And it really isn’t a burger so much as marinated and fried tofu slabs on Ezekiel-style English muffins, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was delicious.  This is my idea of comfort food, and being so far from home I did desire familiar, comforting meals.

#2: Red Lentil Spread

…but I didn’t only eat familiar comfort foods.  Nope, this frugal and waste-hating gal had a big bag of red lentils to deal with, and was determined to get through it all before returning home – and she’s happy to announce that success was had!  I cooked the red lentils in some veggie broth with ginger and garlic, and then they broke down and the mixture got all thick and creamy the way red lentils do.  So I pulled out my scant selection of seasonings and added miso and lemon juice.  The result was a cheesy spread that I enjoyed on bread (rhyme skillz), especially grilled bread that I dunked in ketchup.

#3: Cheesy Kale and Wheat Bowl

This looks and sounds weird, I get it.  But I had this truckload of red lentil spread that I didn’t know what to do with, as well as a big container of cooked wheat berries.  So of course I had to throw them together and add kale, because kale can be eaten anytime and with anything.  The result was peculiar and delicious all at once.  I can’t even compare it to anything because it doesn’t resemble any meal I’ve made, probably because I rarely cook with wheat berries.  But it was awesome.  Creamy, cheesy, warm comfort food.  Who knew.  +1 for red lentils.

#4: Lemon-Mint Wheat Berry Salad

This was another bowl-style meal I created to use up my wheat berries.  I happened to have a big bundle of fresh mint and some lemons, which, along with some salt and olive oil, formed the simple seasoning of this salad.  The chewy wheat was nicely contrasted by the crunchy and sweet apple and the pungent red onion.  The green cabbage was thrown in out of necessity but turned out to be a lovely addition.  This salad was bright and fresh tasting and made for a perfect light supper.

#5: Asian Vegetable Grain Bowl

Can you tell I love one-bowl meals?  I figured as much.  You can also probably guess what forms the grain base of this bowl.  Massaged kale, diced carrots, julienned red onions and shredded green cabbage were topped with some raw kimchi and sesame seeds, and dressed in a simple concoction of olive oil, soy sauce, sugar, lemon juice, crushed garlic and minced ginger.  Simple and fresh-tasting Asian food.

#6: Wheat Berry Breakfast Cereal

Wheat berries for breakfast, too?  Yup.  The good news is that I got through all of my wheat.  Actually, this breakfast, which I ate several days in a row, was also good news.  The chewy grains made for a great-tasting cereal, especially along with my homemade almond milk, sunflower seeds, chopped dates and banana slices.  It was a hearty breakfast, too, sticking to my ribs or whatever they say when you stay full for a while.

#7: Brown Rice Breakfast Porridge

Wheat berries weren’t the only grain I enjoyed for breakfast – this rice porridge showed up more than a few times, until I finally ran out of brown rice (boo).  The rice was pre-cooked, and then cooked again on the stove with sweetened hemp milk (store-bought this time) for about 10 minutes until the milk was absorbed and the mixture became thick and creamy.  Sunflower seeds were sprinkled in for a pleasant, crunchy texture contrast.

#8: Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Speaking of great breakfasts, I had access to a (cheap) blender at my little apartment, which meant I was able to enjoy smoothies, and some other goodies which you’ll see in a minute.  This one was the classic banana-strawberry-almond milk combo, which really doesn’t get old.  Especially because the strawberries I used were fresh and local and THE BEST I’VE HAD IN MY WHOLE LIFE.  California, I will miss many things about you, but your great strawberries top the list.

#9: Green Soup

It’s no secret that I love soups and green food, sometimes together.  This raw, blended beauty took all of 10 minutes to make, including all the chopping, and turned out smooth even in my very cheap blender.  The flavor profile was loud and exciting, just the way I like it, using ingredients such as apple, orange, zucchini, kale, cilantro, garlic, miso and avocado.  If I can work up the courage to spend a bunch of money on a blender during MoFo, then I shall share this soup recipe with you, because it’s fantastic and easily the best green soup I’ve ever had.

#10: Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

Well I certainly couldn’t do without dessert, and banana ice cream is wonderful on so many levels.  It’s smooth and creamy and surprisingly rich-tasting, and it’s made out of frozen bananas so is therefore guilt-free.  Not that I ever feel guilt when I eat dessert.  My banana ice cream is more liquidy than I would have preferred, but at least I had a blender – I wasn’t about to complain.  With some amazing raw cacao and a few Dandies marshmallows (scored at the Vida Vegan Con!), the dessert experience was complete.

There you have it, folks, some of the simplest meals on the planet, often strange but almost always tasty, and 100% frugal.  Deciding not to splurge on a bunch of pantry items meant that I had more money to buy fresh and local produce, and dessert at the Living Light Cafe. I miss those treats already, especially the tiramisu.  And the brownie.  And everything.

  • https://www.blogger.com/profile/11889495966280435950 Emily Segal www.TriumphWellness.com

    Great post idea! I love seeing what other people's staple dishes are.

  • https://www.blogger.com/profile/11545245728462853370 Bianca

    Good use of those Dandies! Mine are still lurking in my pantry, waiting for a good way to get into my belly. And I love tofu burgers like that too! Ultimate comfort food!

  • https://www.blogger.com/profile/14532890894030753470 Erin

    Sometimes creativity born out of necessity is a great thing! Nice lookin' meals, especially the kale and wheat berry bowl and the green soup. I'd love to see the recipe for the soup if you recreate it.

  • https://www.blogger.com/profile/16097190577011498780 Allysia

    The problem with Dandies, I find, is that I treat them like a sacred treasure and then never use them, telling myself I'm saving them for a dessert of epic proportions.

    And Erin, I'm totally going to recreate the soup. It's just a blender away from my belly. Must…buy…Blendtec…

  • https://www.blogger.com/profile/15308083149461173686 Jesse

    It all looks so yummy! But the red lentil spread spoke to me – and he have gobs or red lentils laying around (one of the many perks of marrying an Indian). Thanks for the great ideas!

  • https://www.blogger.com/profile/03138304038414526669 Cindy

    great ideas! they look wonderful!

  • https://www.blogger.com/profile/04615563913854946465 Mandy Gardener

    What great meals. That red lentil spread sounds like such a great idea.

  • https://www.blogger.com/profile/11490816021651698189 Jolene – EverydayFoodie

    These all sound really good 🙂 I love experimenting with new vegan recipes.