Vegan recipes can sometimes get over-complicated, requiring precisely measured seasonings, difficult cooking techniques, weird ingredients, and what seems like every dish in the kitchen.
It might be time to get back to the basics. A satisfying, nutritious meal should taste good and include protein, healthy fat, and vegetables, and it doesn't have to take all day or a Michelin certification. The possibilities are endless.
Use canned black beans for a dinner that only takes half an hour to come together. The beans just need to be simmered in a pot with some kind of seasoning. Salt, cumin, cayenne, and garlic form a solid base of flavor, but you can toss in diced onions, jalapeños, and tomatoes as well.
Black beans are an excellent source of fiber, which has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and colon cancer by up to 27%.
Tomato soup is a vegan classic that is shockingly easy to make, especially with an immersion blender. The soup is made by sautéing onion and spices in oil, adding canned tomatoes and water, simmering for about fifteen minutes, and blending. That's it.
Adding sliced almonds and brown rice gives you a complete protein and taste delicious in this rich soup.
Chilaquiles is a super easy Mexican dish that involves simmering fried tortillas in a spicy tomato sauce. Frying tortillas at home is delicious, but using store-bought tortilla chips works just fine as a time-saving shortcut.
Another way to save time is to blend up a jar of store-bought salsa instead of making the sauce from scratch. Chilaquiles usually include eggs but scrambled tofu is a great vegan substitute that makes for a protein-packed, satisfying dinner.
Curry is a great way to use up any leftover vegetables or grains from the fridge. There are many ways to start a flavorful curry—store-bought liquid bases, seasoning blends, or any homemade curry sauce recipe.
Vegan curry can be seriously satisfying with lentils or chickpeas for protein and coconut milk or olive oil for healthy fat. In addition, this dish can easily become a vitamin powerhouse when you add cauliflower, broccoli, and onion.
Vegan burrito bowls make for a versatile, filling dinner. A foundation of rice and beans—black, pinto, or even refried—provides a complete protein.
Drizzle it with an easy vegan “sour cream” sauce made by soaking raw cashews for half an hour and then blending them with water and a little lemon juice and salt.
Technically lettuce wraps can be made with any ingredients, but using mushrooms as the main ingredient can help protect against brain disease, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Sautéed mushrooms can be coated in any flavorful sauce—teriyaki, gochujang, chili garlic, or a simple soy sauce and honey mixture. One suggestion for a delicious combination: matchstick carrots for crunch, green onions for flavor, and rice for staying power.
Peanut butter noodles are inexpensive and quick, delicious, and filling, even without added ingredients—natural peanut butter provides a heart-healthy source of protein and fat, and mixing in a little soy sauce adds tons of flavor.
Throw in some tofu, edamame, sesame seeds, or bell pepper to bring this dish to the next level of flavor and nutrition.
Casseroles don’t need to be packed with cheese and cream of mushroom soup. A basic casserole formula consists of a carbohydrate base like rice or pasta, a protein like tofu or chickpeas, some vegetables, and a sauce; then, just bake it all together in a pan.
An easy sauce can be made by whisking flour, salt, and nutritional yeast into hot vegetable broth until it thickens. Adding plant milk fortified with vitamin B12 provides creaminess and an essential nutrient that’s not naturally found in plant sources.
Store-bought pesto usually contains cheese and anchovies, but vegan pesto is easy to make at home with a food processor or blender, and it’s just as flavorful. The foundation of classic pesto is basil, pine nuts, oil, and garlic.
Basil, like other leafy greens, contains healthy fiber as well as several natural compounds that can help prevent cancer. Pesto only takes a minute to purée, and then it’s ready to be tossed with pasta or roasted vegetables for a quick, hearty dinner.
Walnut tacos are miraculous. Simply pulse walnuts in a blender or food processor with taco seasoning and a bit of liquid—soy sauce, olive oil, a little vinegar, or just water. The walnuts quickly take on a very similar consistency to ground taco meat.
Walnuts are not only high in protein, fiber, and healthy unsaturated fat, but they’re also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help prevent heart attacks.
Sandwiches don't have to be boring or plain, and they don't need to be drenched in cheese to be delicious. Grilling vegetables brings out their natural sweetness and produces a rich, juicy texture behind that lip-smacking char.
Excellent vegetables for grilling include eggplant, tomato, onion, and bell pepper. All are good sources of vitamins and antioxidants, especially eggplant, which contains anthocyanins to protect against cellular aging and blood clots. To add protein, whole grain sandwich bread can be slathered with hummus, pesto, or a purée made from white beans and garlic.
A huge benefit of lentils is that they take much less time to cook than beans. A batch of lentils seasoned with cumin, paprika, and garlic can be ready in less than half an hour.
Combining lentils with pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) forms a complete protein that tastes delicious in a classic southwest salad of lettuce, avocado, corn, and tomatoes.
Chickpeas can be easily made into a salad in much the same way as tuna, eggs, or chicken. Just add vegan mayo and mustard or, for a fresh twist, avocado, to lightly mashed canned or cooked chickpeas. Mixing in diced onion, salt and pepper, and any favorite herbs elevates the flavor and provides additional nutrients.
Chickpeas are a good source of fiber and minerals, and when served on whole grain bread, they provide a complete protein.
Vegan pizza is easy and quick to make at home, especially with a premade pizza crust. A parmesan-like alternative can be made by pulsing nutritional yeast together with garlic powder and some cashews. Skipping the cheese altogether is also a fine option, especially when the pizza is loaded with flavor heavyweights like roasted red pepper, red onion, and artichokes.
All these vegetables contain insoluble fiber, which aids digestion and ensures satiety for hours after eating.
Tempeh is unique because it is a fermented protein source. Fermentation provides numerous health benefits including lowered risk of inflammation and improved brain health.
Tempeh is easy to prepare by baking, sautéing, or grilling, and it absorbs marinades well. A simple foundation of tempeh and bread can easily be dressed up with leafy greens, a favorite sandwich spread or salad dressing, and any other vegetables.
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