5 Best Meals for Absolute Beginner Vegans
By Dani Taylor
Deciding to live a vegan lifestyle can be a bit intimidating. There is so much to learn about which ingredients to choose and how to prepare new recipes. Experimenting is part of the fun! Starting with a few basic staples can ease you into your new lifestyle and give you the confidence to continue to try new recipes in the future. You will likely discover new favorites like these that will reinforce your decision to go plant-based for life.
Sheet Pan Stir-Fry
A delicious stir-fry is one staple that every vegan should know how to prepare. Since tofu is so versatile, it makes a great protein to use in this dish. You will start by pressing and marinating a block of tofu using a simple homemade marinade or a store-bought version of your choice. After letting the tofu marinate for at least an hour, cut into inch cubes and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, and then add chopped fresh vegetables (peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, etc.) coated in a bit of oil for an additional 10 minutes. Serve over rice or noodles with extra sauce if desired, and enjoy!
Black Bean Burrito
There are times when nothing hits the spot like a burrito! Making a vegan version of your favorite Mexican dish is easy and delicious. When gathering items needed for this dish, you may want to double-check the ingredient list as some authentic-style tortillas contain lard. Warm a can of black beans on the stove and add seasonings of your choice. While beans are warming, cook rice (or make the microwave version to save time). Once the beans are heated, add the desired amount of beans and rice to a warmed tortilla and add toppings of your choice, including vegan cheese, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, and salsa. Wrap it up and dig in!
Easy Vegan Mac and Cheez
As far as comfort foods go, macaroni and cheese usually tops the list. Making a vegan version satisfies the craving and lets you enjoy it guilt-free! Start by soaking a cup of cashews in hot water for at least 30 minutes. If you have a powerful food processor, your may skip this step. While the cashews soak, prepare your choice of pasta according to the package directions. While the pasta cooks, prepare your “cheez” sauce. In your food processor, mix the soaked cashews, nutritional yeast, vegetable broth, salt and pepper, and a bit of dijon mustard and blend until smooth. Stir cheez sauce into drained pasta and season as needed.
Chickpea Salad Sandwich
A great sandwich recipe is vital for every vegan! Smashed chickpeas, vegan mayo, mustard, diced red bell pepper and pickles come together to make an easy, delicious lunch. Drain a can of chickpeas and dry with a paper towel. In a bowl, mash the chickpeas with a fork until they are a chunky consistency. Add a dollop of vegan mayo or smashed avocado and a teaspoon of mustard. Diced red bell pepper and pickle give a nice crunch so add as desired. Season with salt, pepper, and a little garlic powder, and mix it together. Enjoy in a pita or on bread as a sandwich.
Versatility is key in vegan cooking, and the buddha bowl gives you so many options! Start with your greens such as spinach, kale, romaine, or a mixture. Add a starch like rice, quinoa, or sweet potatoes. Next comes your veggie options, including broccoli, peppers, carrot, etc. Protein like edamame, tofu, or beans is your next addition. A bit of fat satisfies your stomach and adds flavor, so consider using avocado, hummus, or your favorite nuts. Lastly, add your favorite spice or sauce as a topping, such as sriracha.
These simple dishes are a great place to start gaining experience cooking vegan meals. You can always adjust to your taste and seek different versions of your new favorite recipes.