My Favorite Vegan Meals to Make

I love a good plant based meal. I am not vegan but I have been eating less meat in general and looking to eliminate dairy (which is in everything!). There are many reasons I have chosen to do this, but my biggest reason is health. Animal protein, and specifically dairy, can be hard on the liver. There’s also a big misconception of how much protein we actually need. I won’t get into all of that though because that’s a whole post in itself! So, in the meantime, here are a few favorites that are in our meal rotation. They’re even hubby approved!

Maple Miso Roasted Veggies and Quinoa Bowl: This is probably our most made veggie based meal lately. It’s easy and delicious. I use Red Miso Paste instead of white because I feel like it has a bit more flavor. The link above will take you to my Plan To Eat page (my referral link here). Unfortunately I cannot find the original recipe for this. I have it credited to http://www.Sobremesa-blog.com but I can’t find it. However, check out their Soba Noodle dish. It’s another awesome one!


They don’t look like much, but these veggies are delicious once roasted!

Chili Garlic Cauliflower Risotto Bowls: The sauce on this bowl is AMAZING! Seriously, make a double batch of it. You won’t be sorry. I added some Sriracha Tofu and am really sad that my local Sprouts only has the tofu occasionally .

Crowd Pleasing Caesar Salad: This salad is delicious! I added some Sun-Dried Tomatoes (the ones in a bag, not packed in oil). I’ve also used her recipe for crunchy chickpeas on other salads as well, just change up the spices.

One Pot Zucchini Pasta: This is probably the quickest meal of the list. It’s really easy to make, especially if you buy pre-spiralized zucchini noodles, which you can find at most grocery stores. It’s a staple in our house.

Mexican Lasagna: I make this for every new mom. It’s healthy, delicious, filling, and everyone always asks me for the recipe. The recipe uses regular cheese but of course you can sub in vegan cheese.

Veggie Tortilla Soup: I know it’s getting warm out but in the winter, I make this all the time. This recipe is actually a compilation of a few soups and I unfortunately am not sure where the originals were since I’ve edited my saved version as I’ve worked on making it. Bear with me as I kind of wing it each time I make it!

–INGREDIENTS–

SOUP
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large bell pepper, diced (I typically get red bell peppers)
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 large jalapeño pepper, finely diced (exclude the seeds)
2 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes in juice
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup uncooked quinoa

TORTILLA STRIPS
2 tbs olive oil
4 corn tortillas
Kosher salt

GARNISH
chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 avocado, sliced or diced

–DIRECTIONS–

SOUP: In a large pot, heat the oil. Add in the onion, bell pepper, carrot, and jalapeño. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and the vegetables have just a bit of golden color to them (about 10 minutes). Add in the spices and stir for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Add in the broth, tomatoes, beans and quinoa. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the quinoa is cooked through and the veggies are soft. It’s about 30-40 minutes.

TORTILLA STRIPS: Pre-heat your oven to 375. Slice the tortillas into strips, as thick or as thin as you like. I use a pizza cutter to make it quick and easy. Place them on a cookie sheet and make sure they do not overlap. Drizzle with olive oil and bake to preferred doneness. Usually about 15 minutes. Add salt if you like.

Divide into bowls and garnish with cilantro, avocado, and tortilla strips.

I love Plan To Eat for my meal planning. I’ve talked about it before and it has been such a great tool for making the process quick and easy. After inputting your recipes (and theres an “easy button” for adding online recipes), you drag and drop them into the planning calendar then your shopping list is automatically made! Meal planning was always such a chore but now it’s much faster.

I hope these recipes give you some new additions to your meal rotations! I’ve made these multiple times so I promise they’re good. ENJOY!

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Cravings 

Buy this book!   

No, this is not a paid post, but I got this cookbook a few weeks ago ($15.99 on iBooks) and both Phil and I have loved the meals we’ve made from it!!

I knew of Chrissy Teigen as John Legend’s model wife and I have a friend who could be her Japanese doppelgänger. When I saw a few minutes of her as co-host of an awards show (MTV maybe??) last year I was really unsure how to take her personality. My first impression was loud, kind of vulgar, and in your face. Somehow, a few months ago I ended up following her Instagram feed. I don’t remember if I stumbled across it because of the upcoming cookbook or the fact that she’s also pregnant with a little girl and due not long before I am. Either way, I have come to respect and love her unapologetic responses to critics, her humor, love of life, and the adorable pictures she posts of her pups.

Without further ado, check out my thoughts on 4 recipes we’ve made.  I won’t post the full recipes, because copywrite laws and what not, but I promise the book is worth it!

1.  Crab Cakes Benedict

I have avoided Eggs Benedict because of the undercooked eggs while pregnant so I did vary this recipe a bit. It was still delicious and the fake hollandaise (not pictured-I got a little camera happy and took pictures too early!) has so many uses outside of this dish.  I added the sourdough English muffin and I fried my eggs instead of poaching them. I attempted a poached egg. It wasn’t pretty. Everything else was ready to go so frying up the eggs was the fastest way to get this in my belly while the crab cakes were still warm.

2. Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Grapes and Almonds  I’m a big fan of Brussels sprouts even though I’m pretty sure I hated them as a kid.  They’re high in vitamins C and K along with being a good source of B vitamins.  I added an apple to the mix and it’s a great side or afternoon snack. If you were to add some protein, it’d be a great meal.  This is perfect as the weather warms up. It’s light, citrusy with a lemon dressing and full of flavor even with minimal ingredients.

3. Prosciutto-Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breasts Even with my recent meat aversion this was good enough to finish off a small chicken breast. It’s full of gooey cheeses and has great flavor. The recipe called for bacon, which I left out because I made this on a week night and was looking for a way to cut down on prep time.  I also purchased thin cut breast filets instead of pounding regular chicken flat although even the thin cut could have been thinner in some areas. The tomatoes are a part of the recipe and they are so yummy with the cheese that melts out of the chicken. I don’t have any cast iron which is what she uses in the book, so I put it all in a Pampered Chef stoneware dish, added some asparagus and about 30 minutes later we dug in.

4.  Spicy Italian Sausage Meatloaf Again with the picture…this time I dished up our plates before remembering to grab my camera.  Meatloaf is one of those things you either love or hate. Until I had a roommate make it for me quite a few years ago after dental surgery I hated it. Hers was a good, classic style of meatloaf. This, is its spicier cousin. It has both beef and ground sausage and it’s delicious!  If you know me and know how my eating habits have evolved over the past few years this one probably shocks you. And who would have guessed that I wish I would have doubled up in the ketchup glaze?!  I’m not sure I even know myself to anymore. I blame the baby! 😉 I pretty much followed the recipe with the only real change being the dish it was cooked in because apparently we don’t own a loaf pan. It ended up working out though because the package of ground beef I had was a little over a pound, and this Le Creuset dish is a little shallower allowing the meat to cook faster.  I added cauliflower mash as the side to at least pretend we were trying to be on the healthier side.

Overall this has quickly become a favorite for new recipes. Skimming through, many of the recipes take a little longer than I like to spend on cooking on a weeknight after work but if you have a bit of extra time or are great at prep work this could easily work into a weekly meal routine.

Do you already have this book?  What’s your favorite recipe?!

We’re going going, back back….

…to Cali Cali.  Did I just date myself with those lyrics?!  We are moving!  We are going back to California.  The last 15 months or so have been amazing.  There are so many things that I am going to miss about Hawaii and a few I could do without ever dealing with again (7 inch centipedes!).

  
The spirit of Aloha: the word Aloha translated means “the presence of breath” or “breath of life.”  In action, it’s much more of a feeling, a sense of oneness. On my second day at my current job, we had a regional meeting and our managing partner came out from Missouri. It was a big deal. I walk in and know no one, another admin from another office walks up introduces herself with a hug and a kiss on the cheek (hugs and air/cheek kisses are very common greetings). Then she introduced me to other people that were there. It was such a welcoming experience! Its such a big family, truly. Anyone we’ve met here has been very welcoming. When the cashier at the grocery store asks how your day is going, they really want to know! It’s very different from what I’ve known in California where people tend to be on auto pilot within their own bubbles. This genuine hospitality will be one of the things I miss the most!  

One of our favorite pastimes is eating!  There’s so much good food here!  The seafood doesn’t get much more fresh and I’ve fallen in love with real Japanese ramen (not in a cup or package)!  Here are a few favorite places to eat:
Ocean House:  The food is great, it’s right on the water, the perfect place to take family or friends.
12th Avenue Grill:  This wasn’t rated the best restaurant in Honolulu for nothing!  The food is outstanding, the service is wonderful and the atmosphere is perfect for date night.
Buho: contemporary Mexican food in Waikiki. Ah-mazing!  Plus, it’s a rooftop bar with a good view of the fireworks every Friday night. 
Leonard’s:  Malasadas. They’re Portugese donuts, can come filled with a variet of flavored custards. Delicious!
Kyoto Ramen Yotteko-Ya:  ramen. The broth is so rich, simmered for over 10 hours. I could just drink the broth, it’s that good. 
The Veranda at the Kahala Resort:  overlooks the pools, dolphin area and beach. We do a lot of life planning and dreaming here with a Cafe Kahala. Is so relaxing. 

  
 

Up until our move, I had lived in the same city all my life.  I was itching to get out and only after I was gone, did I have an appreciation for Northern California. Hawaii will always hold a special place in my heart, and I look forward to visiting in the future but family is where it’s really at, and for us, family is in California. 

Here are some photos from the past year!  

   
                                   

Mahalo Nui Loa Hawaii for welcoming us with open arms! 

  

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