For Valentine's Day, my boyfriend showed up at my place with bags full of groceries saying, "Instead of just taking you out for a fancy meal, I wanted to show you my labor of love by cooking for you." All day, all vegan, of course. He sure knows how to put a smile on my face ... and belly!
Brunch Starters: The Anti-Ailment Juice
He started brunch off with a juice recipe he found on Healthy Holistic Living: a fresh pineapple, cucumber, lemon, turmeric and ginger juice. It's a powerful concoction against inflammation and the common cold. The overpowering smell of turmeric and ginger scared me a bit, but just one sip of this vibrant yellow and refreshing juice won me over, fast.
My lower back has been hurting lately so my boyfriend thought this drink could only help. Its ingredients like turmeric and ginger are known for their very powerful healing and anti-inflammatory properties. Regardless of whether or not this will help with my back pain, I give it two thumbs on looks and taste. Plus, the spice from the ginger makes you feel like it's working because you could feel a slight burn as it makes its way down to your stomach. It's like that satisfying pain you feel after a good workout.
Ingredients for 1 serving of this pineapple ginger juice:
- 2 cups ripe pineapple
- 1 large cucumber
- 3 inches of fresh turmeric root
- 2 inches of fresh ginger root
- 1 lemon, peeled
Brunch Entrees: Vegan Blueberry Almond Pancakes and Scrambled Tofu
I was really excited about these dishes because we finally got to use the recipes from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, which I highly recommend. This book is bad-a$$, and not just because of the book cover and title. The recipes are legit, and I bet that any non-vegan would actually enjoy them--maybe even crave them--after tasting some of these dishes. The recipes range from breakfast items like Banana-Pecan Pancakes and Sunny Blueberry-Corn Muffins, to pastas like BLT Mac and Cheeze and entrees like Mushroom and Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto. Hungry yet? 'Cause I am just writing this.
First, let's talk about the pancakes. I'm a fan of light, thin pancakes as well as thick and fluffy. If you like the former, you'll like this recipe because these turned out light and slightly crispy--almost a hybrid of a crepe and pancake, which I love! It's the best of both worlds because I've been missing crepes ever since I became vegan. The great thing about these pancakes is that you can easily put down two or more of them since they're so light.
We added fresh blueberries and almond slices to the pancakes because you really can't go wrong with that combination. Plus, they add amazing texture and color. While the pancakes may not have turned out to be perfect circles, they at least had character since each one had its own unique shape.
These pancakes turned out so good I ended up making them for breakfast the following day. Same verdict: deeelicious!
Ingredients used for this pancake recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance:
- 1 1/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1 cup unsweetened organic almond milk
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted (plus oil for the pan)
- 1 tsp pure bourbon vanilla extract
I have been wanting to make scrambled tofu ever since I tried LA Vegan's version, which uses curry to give it that egg-y color. So my boyfriend served up this savory scrambled tofu using the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. Instead of curry, this recipe uses ground turmeric and nutritional yeast to give it that yellow, egg-like color. (Side note: Thanks to this recipe, I have discovered the holy grail of vitamin B12 sources for vegans and vegetarians. Behold, nutritional yeast. I will dedicate a whole blog post to it later because it truly is a wondrous ingredient.)
This recipe called for 2 cups of sliced cremini mushrooms, but you can easily substitute it with any other veggie and it would turn out just as delicious. The only thing it lacked was some crunch. My boyfriend and I agreed that next time we make it, we're going to add bell peppers to give it some texture variety.
Ingredients used for this scrambled tofu recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance:
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cups cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 15.5 oz. Trader Joe's Organic Sprouted Tofu, Extra Firm (1 package)
- 1/4 cup Bragg Premium Nutritional Yeast Seasoning
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 peeled carrot, grated (used as a garnish)
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt
Lunch: Vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Who doesn't love a good old grilled cheese sandwich? If you're a new vegan, you can rest assured knowing that you don't have to give up this popular comfort food. Field Roast makes amazing vegan cheese (and vegan Italian sausage as well!). I've tried several vegan cheese brands and none of them are as legit as Field Roast Vegan Chao Slices. I would bet my money that a non-vegan may actually taste this and think they're eating real cheese. From its creamy (not rubbery) texture and the way it melts in your mouth, to its delicate blend of natural flavors, this vegan artisan cheese is sure to satisfy your craving for regular cheese.
What sets this vegan cheese apart from other cheese alternatives is that it's coconut based and features fermented tofu called 'Chao'.
Ingredients for grilled cheese sandwich:
- 2 slices of Field Roast Vegan Chao Slices in Coconut Herb with Black Pepper
- 3-4 slices of fresh tomato
- MELT® Organic Butter 2.0 featuring Virgin Coconut Oil
- 2 slices of Hemptation Hemp Bread™ by Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery
I am normally a slow eater but I actually inhaled this sandwich faster than my boyfriend, who usually finishes his meal an hour before I do. Aside from its deliciousness, you can also feel good about eating this vegan grilled cheese because it's packed with nutrients: 2 slices of Hemptation Hemp Bread™ gives you 12 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber, 80% manganese, 40% selenium, 40% niacin and 130 mg of potassium. Plus, when you slather it with MELT® Organic Butter 2.0, you're getting the perfect balance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 ALA. So don't feel guilty about having seconds!
Dinner: Vegan Stroganoff with Seitan and Mushrooms
My boyfriend has a real aversion to mushrooms. He can't stand the taste and texture. So he really showed his love for me with this meal that called for 2 cups of cremini mushrooms and 2 whole portobella mushroom caps (and let's not forget the mushrooms in the scrambled tofu). It reminded me of our second date when I was unaware of his extreme dislike for mushrooms, and I asked him if we could get a mushroom pizza. Without even blinking an eye or cringing, he happily agreed to it.
This vegan stroganoff recipe turned out to be the grand finale of my very vegan Valentine's Day. I mean, just WOW. This dish blew my mind. I was treated to a fancy meal in the comfort of my own home where I could scarf it down wearing my stretchy lounge clothes. Needless to say, I was a happy girl.
Ingredients for this vegan stroganoff recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance:
- 2 tbsp organic cornstarch
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 8 oz. Upton Natural's Traditional Seitan (1 package)
- 4 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 cups thinly sliced shallots
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups thinly sliced cremini mushrooms
- 2 portabella mushroom caps, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 lb fettucini
- 2 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 cup Bragg Premium Nutritional Yeast Seasoning
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- Fresh organic parsley, chopped (use as a garnish)
Guys, if you're reading this, next time you want to impress your girl, offer to make home-cooked meals for her for an entire day. It says "I LOVE YOU" much louder than treating her to a single meal at a fancy restaurant. And for more bonus points, cook meals that use ingredients you don't typically like to eat.