But What Do You Eat?!! (or: The One With the Awesome Vegan Menu)

But What Do You Eat?!

Art via Daydreams & Nightschemes |

 

Ohhh, baby. This is a biggie.

Vegan food is everyday food, it is normal food. It is exciting, luscious and tasty. Light, rich, savoury, sweet, tangy creamy; anything dairy, meat & eggs can do, plant-based ingredients can do better.

Better taste, way healthier and, after learning a few tricks, easy as hell. Combinations of fruit & vegetables, wholegrains, herbs & spices, nuts & seeds, oils & vinegars spawn endless possibilities for delicious meals, snacks, sweets & nibbly things.

As everyone’s favourite vegan tag-team put it:

“The beauty of this culinary whippersnapper (vegan cuisine) is that it draws influences from every part of the world to create an entirely new way to eat.” – Isa Moskowitz & Terry Romero, Veganomicon

Fuck yes. My belly has never been happier.

What follows is a snapshot of my recent kitchen hustle. I wanted to give an example of the possibilities, to show that this shit isn’t boring and, most important of all, that change can happen.

 

Lissa’s sample week of eats

 

Breakfast

♥ Big raspberry smoothie
♥ Smashed avo on wholegrain toast
♥ Blueberry, date & almond or walnut oatmeal (with a lil pure maple syrup drizzled on top; mmm)
♥ Big-ass Black Forest Super Smoothie
♥ Sliced tomatoes on wholegrain toast

Right now I am on the breakfast smoothie train; most mornings for the past few months, I have been making a quick raspberry, rice milk and flaxseed smoothie. 1 1/2 cups of rice milk, 1 cup frozen raspberries and 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed; blend it up for 30 seconds. Boom. It’s a yummy, superfast kick-start.

Four years ago breakfast looked like: Two cups of strong-ass coffee.

 

Lunch

♥ Leftover cannellini-pumpkin lasagne with a simple green salad
Three-Way Chickpea Carrot Salad with Fresh Lemon-Herb Dressing
♥ Wholemeal pita pizzas (hummus, red onion, sliced tomato, kalamata olives & basil pesto) with roasted potatoes and toasted-seed sprinkled green salad
♥ A burrito stuffed full of leftover Sarah’s Delicious Chili, a little seasoned sliced avo and garlic hummus
♥ Pasties made with leftover puff pastry and stewed lentils, along with a little Chickpea Gravy
♥ Baked potato with a homemade aioli swirl and maple-balsamic portobellos and garlic-tomato sauce on the side
Single Serve Vermicelli, Carrot & Mint Salad with Sesame-Soy Dressing

Throwing a quick and tasty plant-based lunch together on the daily is all about fast-prep salads, the wonder of leftovers and/or awesome condiments. Homemade vegan condiments are a whole other world that has to be experienced to be believed: DIY mayo, sauces, dressings, salsa, pesto. Get on it!

Four years ago lunch looked like this: fries on the run, a St Pierre’s sushi snack pack or a salad & cheddar filled baguette from Simply Paris; I was on the beat for Cosmic back then, so just grabbed whatever was close. I have never been a bring-a-prepared-lunch kind of girl and I am gonna have to be when I get back to working and studying in town, so that will be an interesting time. I am even less of a morning person than I am a prepared lunch person so I will have to make sure there is something ready to go the night before. It can be done. Right? Right???

 

Dinner

Deluxe Roast Vege Rice Bake with Rich Tomato-Onion Sauce
♥ Pita open sandwich with chutney spiced lentil patties and a Moroccan chickpea salad*
♥ Cannellini-pumpkin lasagne with a toasted-seed sprinkled garden greens salad
♥ Vege-cashew curry with Curried Tofu and brown basmati rice
Creamy Pumpkin Coconut Rice Bake with a big side of steamed broccoli
♥ Cajun-spiced bean burritos with herb-roasted potatoes and garden greens salad
♥ Lentil, herb and vege filled pastry parcels with Dijon Scalloped Potatoes and Lemon-Garlic Green Beans on the side

More greens than ever! My body knows and is showing its’ appreciation in the form of not getting season-change sick like so many people have been lately. It is the time of year for colds and flus and viruses and all I have had is a little sniffle – I used to get sick at the *hint* of winter coming, but not last winter and not this one either. It’s all about keepin’ it fresh in the kitchen.

Four years ago my dinner looked like: Fusilli or ravioli with homemade sauce and lotsa grated cheese on top, Hell Pizza, mini-samosas & a curry vege roll from Aro Fish (will always love those guys ♥), bean and cheese lasagne, canned soup & buttered bread, tomato & cheese toasted sandwiches, the occasional stir fry.

 

Snacks

♥ Favourite in-season fruit; large doses of mandarins at the moment (YUUUM)
♥ Tamari almonds
Lime Soy Tempeh Strips
♥ Homemade vegan mozzerella, sliced tomato & basil toasted sandwiches
♥ Superdark chocolate
♥ Hummus & seasoned sliced tomato on wholegrain toast
♥ Experimental cupcakes
Big Shot Chocolate Almond Fudge Brownies
♥ Cinnamon fruit toast (forever&always)
♥ Mango baby food
Beer Battered Tofu Nuggets

Snacks used to be my biggest healthfail. The awesome thing is, I barely even crave anything on the old list anymore, because now that my taste buds have experienced so much freshness, they rebel against the artificial flavours. It has all become fundamentally bland and unappealing, in that “wtf, how could I ever…?” kind of way that I now look back upon my late-90s embracing of clogs as acceptable footwear.

The force of the change still seems crazy to me sometimes because I used to love that shit. Seriously. Loved it. You could pry my packets of instant noodles from my cold dead hands. That kinda loved it.

Four years ago my snacks looked like: Multi-flavoured potato chips, hypersweet rainbow coloured candy in however many sizes, shapes and configurations you can think of, milk chocolate, Tulsi vege curry pies, a mountain of instant mi goreng.

 

Beverages

♥ Fresh DIY juice (apples, carrots, a giant beetroot, ginger, lemon)
♥ Water!
♥ Kombucha (new obsession; omgsogood)
♥ McCoy OJ
♥ Earl gray, lots of it
♥ Green tea with lemon
♥ the occasional gin cocktail
♥ … & a smooth, strong coffee**

 

There you have it! Plant-based, super tasty and not a sprout in sight.

From the old school side of the fence, it can seem unbelievable that delicious, nourishing meals don’t need a foundation of meat, dairy or eggs. I totally understand. I used to think there was no life beyond cheese, and found it hard to wrap my head around the idea of amazing vegan meals and thriving plant-based people.

But now I have been adventuring in my kitchen for long enough to know that the Old Way is crazy restrictive. Any vegan food lover dedicated to DIY will tell you that they eat tastier, more varied, more creative meals than ever.

Writing this post it hit me again just how much my way of eating has changed. Ninety percent of the meals I eat are cooked at home from scratch now! Woop! A few years ago, the figure was a third of that. I really think that one of the best things anyone can do for their health/general awesomeness is learn how to cook; not the rip-open-a-bag-and-microwave-it kind of cooking, but the cooking from scratch soul-fired style of cooking.

It rules in so many ways. Take the plunge and you are in for an eye-opening – and mouth-watering – ride.

 

* The salad was from the Revive café cookbook, which I can never stop raving about. It is so rad.

** Havana X-blend at the moment; a lazy cup in bed each morning. Mmm. Coffee is my bacon; no matter evidence to the contrary, I remain convinced that it does me a world of good.

 

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3 thoughts on “But What Do You Eat?!! (or: The One With the Awesome Vegan Menu)

  1. Hehe, love your note about snacks, and actually this whole post. I’m still not totally vegan yet, but am enjoying eating more vegan, especially re-discovering the awesomeness of lentils that cook quickly. I’m curious – what was it that made you finally come around to real food?

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    • Thanks! 🙂

      Lentils are awesome, so underrated! Is there anything you have enjoyed way more than you thought you would? Silken tofu has been my biggest “omg!” so far… I love how much it can lend to desserts; yum.

      What finally brought me around to real food was wanting to take control of my health during a prolonged post-surgery recovery. I think my health stumbling blocks as a blessing now because they got me thinking about nutrition and how I could help myself heal. The documentaries Forks Over Knives and Fresh were definitely an influence too 🙂

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      • Hmm, definitely miso, but I’m always nervous about trying other types (eg. red) even though I’m sure they’re also delicious. Toasted slivered almonds are my new favourite thing to add to just about everything. Rolled oats and just using water, partially blitzing and letting soak overnight for insta oat-milk brekkie with whatever else (no straining required!). I haven’t found a brand of silken tofu I like yet though, but I usually just make tofu ricotta and stuff with regular wobbly stuff and that works fine. Any particular brands you’re loyal to? Maybe I’ll be able to find them in Sydney but generally tofu seems like a fairly local/at-most-national thing?

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