Here are some vegan meal ideas for this wonderful time of year. What I love most about these dishes is that you can customize them so easily and for most people you don't even need a recipe. Easy, kind-of dump the ingredients in kinda meals. This is a busy time of year for a lot of us, so meals like casseroles and one-pot dishes are ideal. I hope these ideas help to give you some inspiration, or at least you get to drool over the pictures, haha!
For breakfasts, I like to keep it simple but also nutritious and comforting. Here is a cheesy "egg"sandwich. I like these on buns, but I used this high protein whole grain seed bread to really add more to this meal. They do say, breakfast is the most important one! It gets the day started! For these breakfast sandwiches, I just fry tofu up in a pan with some vegan butter like Earth Balance, then add something to make it more creamy like Tofutti cream cheese or their ricotta. I also add vegan cheese and seasonings, then anything that will add more of a nutrition benefit, like black salt powder, nutritional yeast, liquid aminos, herbs and spices - don't be afraid to get creative! For more of a restaurant style taste, butter your warmed or toasted bread/ roll before adding on the tofu scramble.
For snack, here's a fun one that I've been making that is warm and comforting on chilly fall days. Above is a tray of nachos. To make them, I pile organic blue corn tortillas on a baking sheet then add anything delicious and healthy on top, like salsa, seitan, beans (whole canned or refried), veggies and cheese, then broil just until the cheese melts, then add cold toppings like guacamole and sour cream. Pictured is Tofutti sour cream, which I find at Whole Foods. Nachos are great because you can really load them up with superfood ingredients and they always taste great. Talk about a power snack! This is also a crowd-pleaser since everyone always loves nachos when I entertain.
Here is a soup that I made yesterday for lunch that was beyond quick and tasted like it had been simmering on the stove for quite a while. I just took vegetable broth, a bunch of frozen veggies, Field Roast "sausage" and tons of herbs and spices like ginger, turmeric, curry, liquid aminos, nutritional yeast, seaweed flakes, fresh black pepper, stuff like that. I just brought it to a boil on medium heat in a pot and reduced the heat to a simmer for about 20 minutes, and I stirred it occasionally. This paired with a nice piece of crusty, whole grain, buttered bread, is a perfectly balanced meal that includes every food group (you can top it with avocado or tomato chunks if you want to add fruit). For fast soups like this, I keep frozen chopped kale and spinach on hand, mixed vegetables, and anything like that you can find in the frozen section of the market, that makes the soup have such a variety of different veggies. I always add about two proteins; like beans and veggie sausage. For lunches, I also do a lot of leftovers from the night before's dinner. I like to make extra at dinner for that purpose.
Here are some delicious and comforting dinner ideas (that I also make for lunches too!). They are classics and traditional, and great for brisk Autumn evenings. Above is stuffed crust pizza. Super easy to make; I used prepared wheat pizza dough and organic jar sauce that has a lot of veggies in it (chunky tomatoes and bell peppers, things like that). For the stuffed crust, I cut a block of Follow Your Heart mozzarella cheese into sticks, placed them around the edges, then rolled them in towards the center - super easy! I topped my pizza with sauce, vegan sausage, Daiya cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. I bake my pizzas at the typical pizza temperature and time; 450 degrees F for 10- 15 minutes, depending on the crust thickness.
I made a skillet pasta "chicken" broccoli and cheese casserole, which was done in a large saute pan. I started it out by sautéing the onions and garlic in olive oil, adding the broccoli and veggie chicken, then liquids like soy milk, then pasta, removed from heat and mixed in cheeses (and any squash or pumpkin purees you are adding in), then topped with breadcrumbs and butter and baked for a little while. Simple, delicious and impressive! I love pairing these kinds of casseroles with a salad and then a little dessert afterwards.
Sloppy Joes are great with a vegetable side dish, like butternut squash. I don't always make my own sloppy joes from scratch; here I used a mix packet from Whole Foods and added in the tomato sauce and veggie meat. You can always add more nutrition by adding in beans, lentils, or veggies if you want to. Also, the bun or bread makes a big difference. Read the labels and use bread that isn't empty calories; be sure it has protein in it. Wheat contains a good amount of protein already and I like to choose buns that contain the most protein and beneficial ingredients; that way every food item that you put into your body is supporting you.
And on lazy nights, when the day has been so very busy and you just want to order in, take-out pizza is great with a side salad. I always have either salad ingredients or a big container of salad that I make for the week, on hand. Here I made my own dressing, but I have lots of store-bought dressings too. The dressing above doesn't photograph too well, but it tasted amazing. It was just hummus, guacamole and liquid aminos all mixed together (that way it wasn't just flavoring for the salad, it was protein and nutrition packed too). I also really love the pre-made dressings from Whole Foods - they make an awesome vegan caesar flavor. The pizza was ordered at Whole Foods too; vegan cheese and vegan protein but they have ALL the toppings so sometimes we get lots of veggies on them too. This makes a good lunch also; basically lunches and dinners are interchangeable.
For on-the-go snacks, Starbucks has really stepped up their vegan game lately. They have even more beverage choices with most locations carrying four vegan milks (soy, almond, coconut and oat) and lots of food items like bagels, cookies and sandwiches. Above: I tried their Almond Butter Cold Brew, which was like a coffee freeze with almond butter and pea protein. Definitely gave me a boost but without adding crazy sugar, because it is sweetened with bananas and dates. You could always add syrups or liquid sugar if you want, but personally I think it was excellent just the way it was. This is for grown-ups, as it does contain caffeine/ coffee.
Not everything autumnal on the Starbucks menu is vegan, but with a little tweaking you can still enjoy those same flavors. Their soy lattes with vegan syrups, cold foam, and certain fall inspired toppings are vegan-friendly! I had to include this pic because I'm loving the new lids! They make a straw unnecessary and I actually think the beverage tasted better without the straw. Where I live, the cups and lids are recyclable, but check yours because I know every Starbucks is different and so are the recycling rules where everyone lives. Just a little note about straws: many years ago, all straws were paper, and I think that was great. So I order my paper straws online and that's what I use instead of plastic. I like how they look in my vintage straw holder, but best of all, it's kinder to the environment.
And for now, the Dirty Vegan is signing off - I hope that these meal ideas inspired you in some way. For 100+ easy and yummy recipes, please check out my book, The Dirty Vegan Cookbook. My book is available everywhere books are sold, in paperback and also for every single electronic device! So you can order the physical book (which is great to bring to the store since I include an A- Z vegan grocery shopping guide for a balanced diet and for making the recipes), or you can order for your kindle, nook, iPhone or android device on the app stores. The e-book versions also contain the shopping guide, that is a chapter right in the front of the book, so I hope that helps anyone who needs that extra support in the supermarket, or gives you ideas that maybe you hadn't thought of before. Cheers!