A day of vegan meals

Since this blog is dedicated to making a vegan lifestyle approachable to everyone, I thought I would go ahead and answer the very common question “What do you eat?” I’m going to choose a day last week (not today, because nobody makes the best food choices all the time) and tell you what I ate that day and how I made all of it.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with a banana, almonds, vegan butter, and a little sugar and cinnamon. I keep a bunch of pre-peeled bananas in the freezer most of the time. It’s handy for adding to oatmeal, smoothies, banana bread, or as an egg substitute for baking. So I microwaved one in the bottom of a cereal bowl for about a minute. Then I boiled some rolled oats in water. I used about three cups of water to one cup of rolled oats (these are not the instant kind, so you have to boil them for a bit). I cooked the oats for about 10 minutes while I did other stuff. Then I poured them over the banana. I had some crushed almonds left in the pantry, so I put those in, too. Then I added a little bit of Earth Balance butter stick, about a teaspoon of sugar*, and some cinnamon. Then I ate it with a spoon!

Lunch: Faux chicken and dumplings, leftover from dinner. I almost always take dinner leftovers for lunch. I make enough dinner for three people, even though I’m only feeding two. Then I divide the remaining portion into lunch containers so we both have lunch. This time, I took leftover faux chicken and dumplings (recipe at the bottom).

Dinner: Barbecue bean burritos with salsa. I cooked dry pinto beans in the pressure cooker. If I didn’t have a pressure cooker, I would have either used canned beans or soaked the dry ones overnight and cooked them on the stove. Then I put them in a skillet with barbecue sauce and cooked them on low heat until they were well-coated and the sauce started to look kind of dry and sticky. While that was going on in the background, I cooked some brown rice on the stove. When it was done, I added some lime and chopped cilantro to it. I also got some leftover salad greens out of the fridge and chopped some green onions. I added all these ingredients, plus some store-bought salsa, to a large flour tortilla** and rolled up a burrito. Then I ate it with my hands!

*Not all sugar is strictly vegan. White sugar is sometimes made white through a process using animal bones. I buy sugar that is unrefined, so I know it is vegan. If you are attempting to be strictly vegan, either buy unrefined sugar or use some other sweetener, like maple syrup or agave nectar.

**I like to put the tortillas on a plate and cover them with a damp towel and then microwave them for about twenty seconds. This makes them softer, stretchier and easier to roll.

Faux Chicken and Dumplings

Ingredients:

For the soup:

2 celery ribs, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced

1 bag of frozen peas

1 tbsp of cooking oil (I used safflower, but you could use vegetable, canola, whatever).

1 tbsp Better than Bullion “No Chicken” concentrate (optional)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

water to cover vegetables

Whatever spices you like in chicken soup. I use salt, pepper, sage and thyme.

For the faux chicken:

1 cup vital wheat gluten flour

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 1/2 cups hot water + 1 tbsp of Better than Bullion “No Chicken” concentrate.

OR substitute a can of chickpeas (rinsed) or a package of store-bought faux chicken.

For the dumplings:

2 cups of Bisquick

1 1/2 cups of soy milk

To make the soup:

Heat the cooking oil over medium heat in a large cooking pot. Add the onion and sauté until it starts to become translucent; about three minutes. Add the carrots and sauté for about two more minutes. Add the celery and sauté about five more minutes. If the vegetables start to stick at any point, add 1 tsp more oil. Finally, add the garlic. You want to add it last because burnt garlic is nasty. Now, once all the veggies are in (except the peas), add in the nutritional yeast and any dry spices and stir. You want to coat all the vegetables with the nutritional yeast. You also want the nutritional yeast to soak up the oil in the pot. If things start to stick, take the pot off the heat while you do this. Once everything is coated, return the pot to the heat and add enough water to fully cover all the veggies. Bring the whole thing to a boil, cover the pot, and turn the heat down to low-medium. Let it simmer about 20 minutes.

To make the faux chicken:

I’m going to tell you how to make faux chicken from scratch. Remember that you don’t have to do this. You can totally just buy faux chicken at the store or use a can of chickpeas.

Bring another pot of water to a simmer on the stove (simmer means you should see small bubbles coming up from the bottom, but no big bubbles on the surface). In a large mixing bowl, combine the vital wheat gluten flour and nutritional yeast. Once it is fully combined, use your hand to mix in the water/bullion mixture. This is going to be weird if you’ve never done it before. It will feel like the toughest bread dough in the world! Don’t wear rings while doing this! Once everything is combined into a serious-looking grayish dough (mmm!), you want to divide the dough into hamburger-sized patties and put it into the simmering (not boiling!!) water. Let each patty simmer until it floats to the top. This should take about 10–15 minutes. When a patty floats to the top, stick a fork in it. How does it feel? Meaty? Take it out! Squishy? Leave it in longer! Once all the patties are done, you can chop them up and add them to the soup. Or, you can skip this entire process and use store bought faux chicken or just a can of chickpeas (rinsed).

To make the dumplings:

Mix Bisquick and soy milk. You should end up with a very thick batter that is too thick for pancakes but not thick enough for biscuits. By now, the soup should be simmering with small bubbles at the top. If it is boiling, turn the heat down a little. Add the peas and wait for it to simmer again. Now start adding the dumplings. With a spoon, drop a spoonful of batter into the simmering soup. When it rises to the top, add another. Repeat this process until all the batter has been dropped into the pot. If the top of the pot becomes too crowded with dumplings, it is fine to push some aside/down to make room for new ones. If your dumplings are falling apart when you push them with a spoon, cover the pot with a lid and wait one minute. This should steam the dumplings and help them hold together. Once all your dumplings are cooked in your soup… You’re finished! The end! Eat it with a spoon!