Happy Veganuary, friends! What is Veganuary, you might ask? It’s a new movement aimed at trying to open people’s minds to a plant-based lifestyle and all its benefits. It’s a chance to try something new, or even to celebrate everyday habits. In my opinion, this whole thing is pretty cool. Whether it be for animals, nutrition, environment, or health reasons, a vegan diet may be something to try for a month, or even for one meal a week! Hey, Beyoncé and Jay-Z tried it out!
To celebrate Veganuary, I thought I would show a glimpse of some of my favorite meals and new recipes that I’ve made this month!
This first one is a no-cooking-involved hummus bowl that I probably threw together in 10 minutes (admittedly when I realized that the spinach and kale in my fridge were about to go bad). It’s kind of a take on the Power Hummus Bowl from Panera’s secret menu (which they no longer offer unfortunately) but you can customize it to use basically anything in your fridge at the time. So I ripped up some lettuce, cut up a cucumber, used a peeler to shave a carrot, beet, and celery stalk. Then I squeezed a bit of lemon- I’m convinced that lemons or limes automatically make every meal tastier- and spooned a big ol’ dollop of hummus. VOILA power lunch in a flash. I’ve been wanting to try cauliflower mash for ages! I love mashed potatoes but not how full and gross they make me feel afterward. I found a recipe that I loosely went off of and whipped up my first mash using a whole head of cauliflower. I skipped roasting the garlic and instead threw in a couple cloves while the cauliflower was boiling. I was kind of winging this one (aka throwing in a bunch of spices and a bit of flax milk) but it came out pretty good! Even my sister, who will hardly ever try my concoctions, ate an entire plate! I paired it with asparagus that I sautéed with garlic, lemon, and olive oil. To make this an extra quick meal, I emptied the rest of a bag of Gardein crispy chik’n (one of my FAVE brands and my go-to for all meatless meat) into the pan once the asparagus was done then threw in a bit of spinach and some of this fantastic Stop n Shop brand pineapple coconut tequila sauce… I guess you could call me a top chef.My boyfriend and I decided one weekend to make pumpkin muffins, which I had been craving because there were zero seasonal pumpkin flavored foods in Europe to satisfy my typical white girl autumn cravings. We never did take a photo before scarfing the muffins down but I ended up deciding on another recipe with the extra pumpkin puree I had left over. I had had my eye on this butternut squash slow cooker soup for quite some time and ended up switching it up a bit to include pumpkin as well. It also called for maple roasted chickpeas, which I may or may not have burned a little bit. (Okay, more than a little bit.) This was my first attempt at a slow cooker meal and I’m wondering why we don’t use it ALL THE TIME. It’s like cooking for lazy people! After cutting up the vegetables and letting them cook for a few hours during the day, I threw the stew into the blender to get more of a creamy consistency and it was ready to serve! Note: this recipe was really good but I think I went a little maple syrup happy and added too much, making it a bit too sweet. This soup works great as an appetizer or a soup and salad combo!Last, but not least, is one of my signature dishes: avocado pesto pasta. It has become one of my quick go-to dinners so I never really stick to the recipe exactly but here is the one I’ve based it off of. Basically all you do is cook the pasta, throw all the sauce ingredients into a blender, and then bow to all of your admirers as they taste this avocado-y goodness! Normally I use a whole wheat pasta or some type of funky veggie noodles but my sister is pretty picky so regular “macaroni product” had to do for one night. I usually top it with cherry tomatoes but my boyfriend and I tried out a different version for his family where we added a plethora of sautéed veggies to the mix. I like this one because you can make it your own and it always tastes great! Just don’t add too much garlic or your family will make vampire jokes for the rest of your life- I may or may not be speaking from personal experience….