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

lentil bolognese

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This lentil bolognese turned out so flavorful!  I had some lentils lounging in the fridge that needed to be used, so as usual, I planned my meal around them.  I always like to cook a legume on the weekend to have in the fridge to build meals easily- lentils go so well in grain salads, green salads, soups and more.  They are perfect little gems: gorgeous, easy to digest and packed with protein and iron.  Plus they have a nice hearty texture and can hold their own in this sauce.  Crimini mushrooms and tamari add a little umami, and plenty of aromatics make everything pop.  YUMMM let’s get to it.

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lentil bolognese (serves 4)

INGREDIENTS:

olive oil for sautéing

1/4 cup minced shallot or onion

1/4 cup minced carrot

1/4 cup minced celery

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

4 cloves chopped garlic

2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning OR 1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

3 cups tomatoes- you can use chopped fresh or canned

1 tablespoon tamari

1.5 cups cooked lentils- I used French green; you can use any EXCEPT red lentils which will turn to mush

1/4 cup chopped basil or parsley + more for garnishing

METHOD:

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven.  Add in the shallot, celery, carrot, and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened- about 7 minutes.  Add in the garlic, dried herbs, and chili flakes and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.  Add in tomatoes and tamari, stir, and simmer 20 minutes or until sauce has reduced and thickened.  At this point I pureed half of it before returning it to the pot; my kids prefer a smoother sauce.  You can do that too or leave as is; up to you!  Add in the lentils and basil and let cook minute or two to heat through.  Toss with pasta or zoodles or spaghetti squash, plate, and sprinkle with more chopped herbs and a generous sprinkle of my crumbly vegan parm .  Yum!  Keeps well in the fridge too.  Hope you guys enjoy it as much as we did!  If you make it, I’d love to see!  Tag me on instagram @mamaeatsplants .  Have a lovely weekend friends! xx A.

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butternut squash raviolis

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Continuing with the fall theme, tonight I made butternut squash raviolis- from scratch and vegan.  I had a small squash I was roasting and a little light bulb went on in my head while I was cooking it, remembering a butternut ravioli recipe on Trash is for Tossers that I read years ago and had filed in the back of my head.  Even though I wanted to make dinner soon (it was already 6 pm) I still wanted the raviolis.  I googled “vegan ravioli dough” since the recipe in Lauren’s post uses eggs, et voila, this recipe popped up and I was on my way to dinner in no time.  I poured a glass of wine and put on some Frank Sinatra and got down to business.  They were quite easy and fun to make even though I’ve never made them before, and we were eating by 7 pm, with a fresh salad to go with (the flexible fall salad from my previous post, with avocado and romaine added).  Here’s the recipes from the two sites, compiled and with added tweaks, notes, and pictures from me.

INGREDIENTS:

for the filling (adapted from trash is for tossers, link above)

1 small butternut squash- mine was about 1.25 pounds / 3 cups

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon gingerbread spice blend or 1/4 teaspoon each powdered cinnamon and ginger +1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons of cashews (optional but delicious)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 cloves garlic

1-2 tablespoons maple syrup

for the pasta dough (from keyingredient.com, linked above)

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2-3/4 cup of water

2 pinches salt

fresh thyme or sage or parsley, minced, for serving

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Peel squash and scoop out seeds (roast them too for a snack!) and cube the flesh.  Toss with the 2 teaspoons olive oil and roast until soft, about 20-30 minutes.  While the squash is cooking, first put all the other filling ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Then get started on your pasta dough.  Add the flour and salt to a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly.  Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the olive oil and 1/2 cup of the water.  Use your hands to incorporate the dry into the wet, starting from the outside in, little by little.  Add in the rest of the 1/4 cup water in increments if the dough feels tight and dry.  Continue to knead the dough for 5-8 minutes until it forms a nice and smooth elastic ball.  Wrap it loosely in a kitchen towel and let rest for 15 minutes (I made the salad and the filling during this time).  Your squash should be done about now, place it in the blender that has the seasonings in it and blend it up.  I did a rough puree so that there was still a bit of texture.

Now, back to the dough.  Divide the dough in half equally.  On a lightly floured flat surface, roll out one of the two pieces as thinly as possible- you don’t want it to tear, but you also want it to be thin because it will get a lot thicker as it cooks.  Fold the dough in half and in half again.  Unfold it and cut it into strips along the creases.

Dollop your filling on the strips, leaving an inch or so in between for room to cut and seal it.

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Wet the edges of the bottom sheet of pasta with water- this will help the top sheet to seal.  Place a sheet of pasta on top, press the edges to seal, stretching gently as you go to help them match up.  Cut in between the filling to make them into squares and press with a fork to crimp and seal the edges of each one.

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As you finish them, lay them on a baking sheet lightly dusted with flour.  Continue this process with the second half of the dough.  Cook them in salted, boiling water for 3-4 minutes, gently remove from the water with a strainer or slotted spoon to a serving plate.

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Drizzle with olive oil, chopped herbs, and cracked black pepper.  Serve immediately.

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