quick + healthy meals

Hey everyone!  SO many of you reached out to me asking for really quick meals for when you’ve had a long day, a tough day, you have kids screaming at your feet, you just don’t want to cook, and/or you’re just not feeling it.

So here goes.  I’ve compiled a little list of easy + fast meals for just that!  I haven’t added a shopping list this week because some of the meals are very flexible- ie use what you have, what’s accessible, and what’s in season/local/on sale as far as veggies.

Also, there’s no shame in canned food- Eden Foods and Amy’s both make outstanding canned vegan chili with great healthy ingredients.  I always keep a can or two on hand for emergency days- then just heat up and top with cilantro, maybe some avocado if you have it, lime and hot sauce and you’re good to go.

If you keep a freezer stash it can help a lot too- I usually double recipes for soups, chili, beans and freeze the other half in mason jars for quick meals.

Vegan zero waste groceries california

creamy lemon garlic hummus pasta: this baby comes together in about 15-20, mostly the time waiting for the water to boil for pasta water.  Super easy + it makes extra hummus so you’ll have some for lunches the next day!  Inspired by Madeleine Olivia- she has great easy recipes- I’ve embedded her video on cheap vegan dinners below.

Hummus pasta fast vegan easy friendly free

magical marinarathis is an absolute STANDBY in our house thanks to my friend Juli from Pure Kitchen.  She’s an amazing vegan mama of three and has been developing plant based recipes for over 15 years (she used to make Kookie Karma if you guys remember those!).  This sauce is NO COOK, just blend it smooth and pour over freshly cooked pasta (I like to use Jovial GF).  Add on a little side salad or throw some veggies in in the last minute or two of cooking time with the pasta.

Magical marinara vegan blender sauce

quinoa and tahini bowl:  one of my favorite meals to make, get a pot of quinoa going (1 cup quinoa, 1.5 cups water, add a clove of minced garlic or two if you’re feeling it, bring to a boil, then reduce to low, cover, and let cook for 12 minutes).

Meanwhile, sauté up a bunch of veggies- any kind or combo you have is good.  Sometimes I like to add in a scoop (or can) of cooked chickpeas too.  While veg and quinoa cooks, mix up the sauce.  You can add any sauce or dressing you like, but my two faves are 1) citrus tahini sauce and 2) nut butter, soy, and lime.

For the tahini sauce I whisk together a few tablespoons of tahini, juice and zest of lemon and or orange, clove of garlic, salt, and enough water to thin out as desired.  For the nut butter sauce I thin out a scoop of nut butter (almond, cashew, and peanut are all nice) with lime juice and zest, tamari or aminos, splash maple syrup (optional) and a touch of water as needed.  Maybe some chili flakes or garlic too.  This “dragon bowl” sauce is delicious on it too.

Tahini bowl quinoa gluten free

kale soup with giant beans

Saute onion and sliced shiitakes together on high heat with some oil until they’re caramelized- in the meantime chop up some celery and carrot.  If you have any herbs like rosemary or thyme add some of those too or a few cloves sliced garlic.  Add that to the pot along with some hot water ~5 cups (I use my kettle) and some veggie bouillon to taste (or sub broth).  Bring that to a boil and wilt in 1 bunch of chopped kale, a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast and serve with chili flakes + lemon wedges or add avocado too.

Vegan soup kale

tofu and kimchi stew

this is one that I’ve come back to again and again when I have very little time.  I use the Mother in Law brand gochujang which has clean ingredients and my own homemade kimchi.  I like to add in shiitake mushrooms and some rice or rice noodles in this too.

vegan kimchi stew

pan fried giant beans with kale on toast

this is a great meal of beans and greens that is really tasty and easy.  If you don’t eat bread or can’t find GF bread, you can use sweet potato “toast” instead and it tastes delicious that way.  Or eat it in a tortilla!

Toast beans kale

peanut noodles

these noodles are super easy and taste great- tangy, creamy, and vibrant.  They taste amazing as leftovers too!  I imagine you could do almond or cashew instead of peanut with good results.

Peanut noodles vegan gluten free

creamy lemon garlic hummus pasta

Hummus pasta fast vegan easy friendly free

Here’s a quick and easy meal you can whip up after a long or hard day.  Hummus seems weird to put in pasta, I know, but its really creamy and packed with protein, minerals, and flavor.  You could use jarred roasted red bell peppers if you wanted…also few red onion chunks would be good thrown in with the red bell to broil.  I used parsley but I think this would have been even better with arugula (my bulk arugula looked terrible this day so I didn’t buy).  It would also be great with some olives thrown on top.

Red bell pepper broiled pasta

You could use store hummus instead but you have to wait for the pasta to boil anyway and it tastes so good + you’ll have some hummus leftover for lunch or snack tomorrow, so win-win.

Hummus vegan easy fast zero waste

creamy lemon garlic hummus pasta with broiled red pepper, chili flake, and parsley

4 servings dry pasta (I used bulk GF brown rice pasta but use whatever you want)

1 large red bell pepper

1 can chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved (equivalent of ~1.5 cups freshly cooked)

1/3 cup creamy tahini

1 lemon, juiced and zested

2 or more cloves garlic

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons olive oil (or sub chickpea liquid)

big handful parsley, leaves removed and stems saved for stock or composted (i think this would be even more relish with arugula but I didn’t have any)

to serve: chili flakes, flaky sea salt, lemon wedges, and optional nooch or vegan parm (I didn’t use but would be good)

method:

Start a pot of water boiling.  If you have an electric kettle, I’ve been using that to boil the water first and it cuts the time so much.

While you’re waiting, slice the bell pepper into 1/4 inch thickish strips and toss with a touch of olive oil.  Put it on a baking sheet and put under the broiler, let it run about 5-10 minutes, depending on how close the sheet is to the broiler, be careful not to let it char too far.

Your water should be boiling, dump in the pasta, stir and set a timer for how long it states on the box or bin.

Next, start on the hummus: dump in the can of chickpeas, lemon zest + juice (approx 3 tablespoons), garlic, salt, tahini.  Let the processor run to get it mostly smooth, then add in the olive oil or chickpea liquid with the machine running.  I found I needed to add in an extra tablespoon of water/liquid, but this will depend on your beans.  Eyeball it and don’t worry.

Check on the red peppers, toss if necessary, and drain the pasta.  Toss the pasta with enough hummus to coat it (use more or less as you see fit) and then top with the bell peppers, chili flakes, parsley, chili flakes, and lemon wedges.

Serve and eat!  Store any leftover hummus for about 5 days in a sealed container in the fridge (like a jar or snaplock) although I doubt it will last that long.

pasta vegan gluten free hummus

package free: hummus

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I thought it would be fun to start a series sharing recipes for products generally sold in packages.  I made this beet hummus recently and packed it in one of my daughter’s snacks.  She came home and told me that a teacher had seen her eating it and asked for the recipe.  Apparently she used to love Trader Joe’s beet hummus, but they have discontinued it.  Google told me that this product enjoyed a sort of cult following, and was packed in a small plastic tub.  So I sent the teacher some of mine in a mason jar, along with the recipe, which she really enjoyed.  It got me thinking about packaged foods.  Sometimes we buy them out of convenience, and sometimes we buy them because they taste amazing, or because it seems difficult to make.

Unfortunately, packaged foods create literal tons of waste.  Sometimes packaging is recyclable, but less than 14% of packaging actually IS recycled.  Most of it goes straight into landfill or is littered, eventually ending up in the ocean.  Single use plastic packaging is responsible for am estimated 269,000 TONS of plastic pollution currently floating around in our beautiful oceans.  Even if it does get recycled, plastic can (usually) only be recycled once before it’s waste.  Glass and metal can be recycled indefinitely.  With this in mind, I’d like to offer some alternatives to popular packaged foods in this series.  First up, hummus.

Hummus is super easy and cheap to make.  It’s full of fiber and protein and goes great on sandwiches, salads, veggies, and more.  Many years ago, I would buy it at the grocery store in a small plastic tub.  I started making my own with canned chickpeas after reading about it in a book and I couldn’t believe how much better it tasted!  A few years later, I became obsessed with Yoham Ottolenghi and his beautiful vegetable centric dishes.  I tried his recipe for hummus, which uses chickpeas cooked from scratch, and I almost died.  Fluffy, creamy, pillowy clouds of garlicky, lemony hummus.  I’ve never looked back since then.  It does take some more work than opening a can, so if you’re strapped for time, you can definitely sub canned.  But I highly reccomend that you set aside some time to try this recipe at least once so your wildest hummus dreams can be realized.

basic hummus (recipe adapted slightly from this recipe)

1.25 cups dried chickpeas (or sub 2 cans and skip the cooking with baking soda step)

1 teaspoon baking soda

6.5 cups water

.75 cup light roast tahini- use a runny one that isn’t super dark or bitter

4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 cloves garlic, crushed

6.5 tablespoons cold ice water

1.5 teaspoons salt

optional toppings: olive oil, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, minced parsley or cilantro, chili flakes, flaky sea salt, smokes paprika, za’atar spice or harissa, really whatever you like

METHOD:

The night before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water at least twice their volume. Leave to soak overnight. The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the drained chickpeas and baking soda. Cook for about three minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas will need to cook for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy. Drain the chickpeas. You should have roughly 3 2/3 cups now.  Reserve a few tablespoons of whole chickpeas for garnishing.

Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. Then, with the machine still running, add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Finally, slowly drizzle in the ice water and allow it to mix for about five minutes, until you get a very smooth and creamy paste. Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

If not using straightaway, refrigerate until needed. Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving. To serve, top with a layer of good quality olive oil, toasted pine nuts, herbs, and reserved chickpeas.  Sprinkle some flaky sea salt to  finish. This hummus will keep in the refrigerator for four days.

beet variation shown above:

Right after you add the ice water, add in a few chunks of steamed beet to the processor while it runs.  Add in as much or as little as you like to get a lighter or deeper color and flavor.  In the picture, I’ve used about 1/2 a smaller beet.  I’ve heard that TJ’s used beet juice in addition to steamed beet in order to obtain a very beety taste/color- so if that’s what you are after, you could try that.  You could also try icing the beet water leftover from steaming in place of the ice water.

I’ve served it here with garlic flatbread (I omitted the rosemary and subbed some cardamom) that I cut into slices, brushed lightly with olive oil and sprinkled with s+p.  Bake in 400 degree oven till crisp, about 15 minutes or more.

I hope you enjoy!  If there’s a product you’d like me to attempt to re-create package free, let me know in the comments or on my Instagram @mamaeatsplants !