Tag Archives: easy weeknight meals

Easy Weeknight Meals: Curried Chickpea Salad

vegan_curried_chickpea_salad

Chickpeas are most commonly known as the Hummus Bean, but they are so much more versatile than that. I love using chickpeas for everything from breakfast scrambles to tacos, to burgers, to crispy roasted snack alternatives, and in soups. I’ve yet to try them for dessert as Blondies, or a grain free cookie dough dip, though I’ve seen many of those around the internet. More recently, their liquid has even been used as an egg replacer to make meringue.

The versatile legume is high in protein, fiber, iron, folate and manganese. It supports digestion, cardiovascular health and helps regulate blood sugar. Chickpeas are dense and hearty, but at the same time light enough in flavor to absorb whatever seasonings you add to them.

For this Easy Weeknight Meal, I’ve used chickpeas to create a high protein, vegan curried chickpea salad. It is packed with flavor and crunch from fresh vegetables. Lots of color in the chickpea salad means you are eating the rainbow and covering a full scale of antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients.

The vegan chickpea salad can be enjoyed with nothing more than a spoon, or use it to top leafy greens, stuff between slices of sandwich bread or roll in a wrap, lettuce, collard or otherwise. However you eat it, have fun with it!

Curried Chickpea Salad
Makes 3 to 4 servings

Ingredients
1/4 Cup diced red onion (optional, soaked in apple cider vinegar and water)
1 1/2 Cups cooked chickpeas (one can, drained and rinsed)
1/2 Tablespoon fresh lime juice, or more to taste
1 Tablespoon curry powder, or to taste
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons coconut milk, or vegan mayo
1/2 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced small
1/4 Cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Optional: bread, collard wrap, sprouts, lettuce, tomato, or other favorite accompaniments

Directions
1. Optional: In a small bowl, submerge diced red onion in 2 parts apple cider vinegar and 1 part water. Let sit for at least half hour; drain and rinse.
2. Using a food processor fitted with the S-blade, grind chickpeas until flaky. Transfer to a bowl. You may also use a hand masher instead of food processor for chunkier texture.
2. Add remaining ingredients a mix well with a fork to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper.

vegan_curried_chickpea_sandwich

 

What’s your favorite way to eat chickpeas?  Leave a comment below!

Easy Weeknight Meals: Flatbread Pizza

slice-of-pizza

Pizza is one of my favorite foods. Growing up in New York, it was probably one of the first solid foods I ate. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if “pizza” was my first word. Okay, I might be exaggerating here, but I certainly do love pizza. When I first went vegan, it was at the top of my list of foods that I miss eating the most.

Then I realized that all I had to do was redefine a little bit what pizza means to me. It doesn’t have to be a chewy, doughy piece of bread smothered in marinara sauce and cholesterol laden, greasy cheese. In fact, cheese is not really necessary at all to make a pizza delicious. It’s really just about having a good sauce spread over a tasty crust and topped with lots of veggies.

The best part, it doesn’t have to be difficult to make or time consuming. Once I realized that a simple pizza can be incredibly satisfying, it became one of my go to easy weeknight meals.  It’s even something that I teach to clients who want to eat healthy but not feel like they are eating healthy. Recently, I received an email from a client who is transitioning to a vegan diet telling me that he’d recreated the pizza we made during a cooking lesson. I was so proud of him because during our cooking lesson, he made it very clear that he generally does not cook for himself. If my client who doesn’t cook and doesn’t have time to cook can make this pizza, you can too!

Flatbread Pizza

Ingredients

The crust

I recommend flatbread, lavash, pita or wrap size (burrito style) tortillas. Or, if you want to get really unfancy, opt for pizza English Muffins like my mama used to make us as kids!

flatbread

The sauce

Select your favorite marinara, store bought pesto (or make a quick one yourself with basil, garlic, olive oil and walnuts or pine nuts), or, get a little out of the box and use hummus.

crust-with-spinach

The toppings

Following the tips laid out in the first post for my Easy Weeknight Meals series, feel free to utilize your favorite pre-prepped veggies. It’s up to you if you want to add vegan cheese, but if you load up on veggies, it’s really not necessary. If you want a cheesy taste without the added fat and processing of vegan cheese, sprinkle your pizza with nutritional yeast after baking.

flatbread-pizza
Flatbread pizza with cheese

Recommendations

2 whole-wheat tortillas or flatbread

1 small ripe tomato, sliced

1/2 onion,finely sliced

handful sliced mushrooms

small handful spinach leaves, or basil (or both)

2 Tablespoons hummus, pesto or marinara

1 Tablespoon chopped olives

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place tortillas on baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread sauce smoothly over the tortilla and arrange veggies on top. Bake for 10 minutes, or until tortilla is crisp. Top with fresh basil, if using.

Easy Vegan meals
Flatbread pizza without cheese

Upcoming giveaway

In March, Stephanie of veegmama.com will be guest posting and sharing a recipe for one of her favorite easy week night meals. You won’t want to miss that post because I’ll be doing a giveaway of her new ebook, which offers tips for transitioning to a vegan diet and lifestyle, along with lots of yummy recipes. Be sure to subscribe to my blog and newsletter for updates.

Easy Weeknight Meals: Curry Bowl

At lunch the other day, I was having a discussion with Jacques and his coworker about eating vegan and eating healthy.

As he put down his fork, the coworker said very eagerly “if I could eat like this at home all the time, it would be so much easier to maintain a healthy vegan diet.”  We were eating at Native Foods and he had just finished his Bangkok Curry bowl – “Seared tofu steak atop steamed veggies, kale, brown rice, with lemongrass-ginger-infused coconut milk curry. Topped with toasted sesame seeds and cilantro.”

Of course, I jumped immediately into educator mode and assured him “you can eat like this all the time! It’s really easy. All that bowl is when you break it down is steamed vegetables, brown rice and sauce.”

He thought for a second, then admitted that, yes, this was true, but he and his wife are terrible about actually taking the time to pre-plan their meals, or cook in bulk for the week.

Does this sound familiar?

While I am a big fan of recommending that people batch cook, I acknowledge that in reality this may not be possible for most people.  If you don’t LOOOOOVE cooking, the idea of hanging in the kitchen for half a day so that you don’t have to do it every night of the week, may not sound very appealing. Even if you do love cooking, trying to set aside an entire afternoon to do it, often just isn’t going to happen when the rest of life gets in the way.  Something tells me not everyone is as focused as I am on what they are going to eat at their next meal immediately after they just finished their last one.

In an effort to help you discover ways to easily prepare healthy meals at home, I’m beginning a series of posts entitled “Easy Weeknight Meals” where I’ll feature different simple recipes you can throw together in a matter of minutes.

How will you prepare delicious, easy and healthy meals in a matter of minutes you ask?

The answer is to take advantage of all the prep work that has already been done for you.  One of the best resources for prepped veggies is Trader Joe’s, especially since their produce section is ever expanding to offer a wider variety of vegetables, and more organic options as well.  The broccoli and cauliflower are already in florets, the kale is already chopped, the onions are diced, and the carrots are wee babies.  Nothing needs to be washed, de-stemmed or peeled. They even have pre-cooked rice and quinoa, and rice that has been parboiled to cut down cooking time. All the time consuming prep work has already been taken care of so all you have to do is steam and choose a sauce.

I use Trader Joe’s as an example, but just about every grocery store, including Costco, have recognized our growing desire to eat fewer pre-packaged meals and more freshly prepared ones, with the same convenience factor, and are now offering pre-cut vegetables.  You can also find some great “done for you” sauces, or whip up a favorite on your own.

Lately, I have been on a curry making kick, which is probably why I got so excited about coworker enjoying his Bangkok Bowl.  While I do take extra steps when I make my curries, you can just as easily recreate a simple version in 15 minutes on a busy work night. I present to you the first recipe in the Easy Weeknight Meals series.

Quick and Easy Weeknight Curry Bowl

What you Need:

Pre-made curry sauce, or curry paste, soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, and a can of coconut milk (do not shake!)

coconut-milk

Pre-chopped vegetables of choice (I recommend broccoli, carrots, zucchini, kale and cauliflower)

chopped-veggies

Brown rice or quinoa (this can be a frozen package, or something you pre-cooked)

bowl-of-rice

Marinated tofu or seitan, optional

Sesame seeds and cilantro, optional for garnish

What you Do:

Fill a pot with a couple of inches of water. Place your vegetables in a steamer basket and put steamer basket in the pot, making sure the vegetables are not submerged in water. If they are, dump out some of the water. Turn on heat to medium, cover and steam for 5-8 minutes until vegetables have reached your desired tenderness.

steamed-veggies

Cook or re-heat rice or quinoa according to package directions.

Heat or make your sauce.  If you are using curry paste, add a couple tablespoons to a small pot over medium heat and cook for a minute or two, until it is very fragrant.  (I like to sauté a little garlic, ginger and onion with my curry paste, but we’re keeping it simple right now. Save that for a night when you have more time to cook.) Scoop out just the white part of the coconut milk and whisk into the pot, along with a teaspoon of soy sauce/Bragg’s/tamari. Simmer over low heat until it is warm.  Taste and adjust for seasoning, adding more curry paste or soy sauce as needed.

Get out a big bowl. Scoop half cup to a cup of rice/quinoa into the bowl, top with a cup or two of steamed vegetables, pour about a quarter cup of sauce over everything, top with seitan or tofu, if using.  Devour!  Save the leftovers for lunch or dinner tomorrow.

veggie-bowl-with-sauce