October 20, 2013

24-Hour Vegan: Simple Meal Ideas for the Novice Vegan.

One of the hardest things about going vegan is getting started.

It’s a whole new world, and just getting from breakfast to lunch without animal products can be a challenge. Here are some very straight forward ways to begin a lifelong-adjustment to veganism.



When it’s time for breakfast smoothies are the best. They come together in minutes, are fool-proof, filling and chock-full of nutrients. I recommend investing in a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, but if you can’t manage that, use a regular blender with softer ingredients. Avoid tough, fibrous food like dates or kale and choose things like baby spinach and honey instead.

Basic Smoothie

  • 1 cup liquid; almond, soy or coconut milk, coconut water, juice, or plain water all work.
  • 1 banana
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 1 cup any kind of fruit, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup any kind of greens roughly chopped; kale, spinach, bok choy, and romaine are all delicious.
  • 1 tbl honey or maple syrup, 2 tsp sugar, 3 dates or 1 packet of stevia
  • nuts or seeds; try 2 tbl chia seeds, flax seeds, or 2 tbl nut butter, 11 almonds, 22 pistachios, or 6 walnuts.
  • handful of mint or basil leaves.

Blend and enjoy.

If you are in a pinch and you want something even faster and easier, try whole grain cereal (Kashi Autumn Wheat is yummy) or granola with fresh fruit and almond milk or toast with peanut, cashew or sunflower seed butter and bananas. You can also eat last night’s left overs, a few recipes for which I’ve listed a bit further on.



Sandwiches have been lunches go-to food for time immemorial, and they can be for you too. Instead of cheese or meat you will use hummus, avocados, nut butters, oil and vinegar, mustard, roasted veggies, raw veggies, mashed beans, veggie patties, grilled portobello mushrooms, tofu and much, much more. Vegan sandwiches are endless in their variety and ability to delight.

Here are two of my favorites.

Spicy Sammy

  • Two slices good bread
  • 2 tbl nut butter, any kind
  • 1 radish, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 romaine leaves
  • 1/4 cup bean or broccoli sprouts
  • Sriracha hot chili sauce to taste

Toast bread and assemble. You may also wrap these ingredients in lettuce leaves for a lower carb version.

Roasted Vegetable Sandwich

For roasted veggies:

(Prep veggies in a big batch and you can eat this all week)

  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tbl good olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary or oregano
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tbl balsamic vinegar

Place veggies on baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle on olive oil and massage into veggies. Sprinkle on seasonings. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 20- 25 minutes. Add vinegar and mix gently. You can use these veggies hot, room temp or cold.

For the sandwich you’ll need:

Two slices of good bread and 1/2 avocado if desired. Toast bread and assemble. This sandwich can be a little messy, so a pita pocket is also a great idea.



A vegan friend of mine once insightfully observed that vegans can make complete meals out of what others would consider sides. This is a simple approach to getting dinner on the table. Following are some good ideas for “sides” that come together to make hearty meals. Pick any two or three from any category and you’ll be all set. You want to make sure there is some kind of protein in your meal, so always have raw walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts and prepared tofu on hand and toss them in wherever you think they’ll taste good if there is no other protein source. (*note, store all nuts and seeds in the fridge or they will go rancid).

All following recipes serve four, so if you’re just feeding yourself adjust accordingly.

Cold sides

Avocado, Pea and Mint Salad

  • 2 ripe avocados, pits removed, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cups sugar snap peas, strings removed
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, sliced
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
  • For dressing you’ll need
  • 2 tbl apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbl olive oil
  • 1 tbl honey
  • salt and pepper

Place all dressing ingredients in a small container and shake well. Assemble salad, putting all ingredients over a bed of romaine. Drizzle on dressing. (For protein, walnuts would taste great here.)

Edamame and Corn Salad with Cilantro

  • 1/2 bag frozen edamame
  • 1/2 bag frozen corn (or fresh cooked corn cut off the cob. To cook corn, bring a pot of water with a pinch of salt and a t/l of honey to a boil, put in corn cobs, cook on medium for 15 minutes. Run under cold water and cut off kernels with a sharp knife.)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 serrano chili, minced
  • 2 tbl apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook edamame and corn according to directions (they can go in the same pot). Drain and rinse with cold water when done until veggies are cool. Put all ingredients in a big bowl and mix well. Chill for at least an hour. This salad will keep well for many days, and has the benefit of soy beans for your protein source.

Hot Sides

Roasted Acorn Squash with Nutmeg, Apples and Walnuts

  • 2 acorn squash, split in half, seeds removed
  • 1 tsp nutmeg (or cinnamon)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 apples, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbl honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

Roast squash face down in an inch of water in a 4oo degree oven for 45 minutes, or until shell is slightly soft when you push your thumb into it. When finished cooking, remove and place squash in small bowls– this will help them keep their shape. Stuff with apples and walnuts, top with nutmeg, salt, pepper and honey. To eat, mix well. These can keep up to five days if refrigerated.

Warm Beets and Fennel

  • 2 lbs fresh beets
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 1 tbl olive oil
  • 1 tbl balsamic vingear
  • 1 tbl maple syrup
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Remove tops and bottoms of beets. (Reserve leaves for sautéing or putting in smoothies.) Place beets in boiling water and cook until fork tender, 30-45 minutes depending on their size. Drain and slip off skins using your fingers. If skins are stubborn, just use a knife. Cut into bite sized pieces. Mix with all other ingredients in a large bowl. Serve immediately.



Quinoa with Mushrooms and Garlic

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or water)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tbl olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lb any kind of mushrooms. I like oyster mushrooms here, but anything will do and you can try mixing different varieties.
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper

Prepare quinoa. Place 1 tbl olive oil, broth, wine, salt, pepper and bay leaf in a saucepan, Bring to boil. Cook 15 to 20 minutes stirring occasionally, until quinoa has a white rim around each grain. Add more water if necessary. Allow to sit, covered after cooking at least ten minutes.

Meanwhile, sauté garlic in hot oil for 1 minute, add mushrooms and a pinch of salt and continue to sauté, stirring frequently until mushroom release their juices, 5-7 minutes. Remove bay leaf from quinoa and stir in mushroom mixture. For protein, hazelnuts would be a nice addition here.

Wild Rice with Lemon and Dill

  • 1 1/2 cups wild rice (alternately, use jasmine rice for a totally different and elegant flavor)
  • 2 3/4 cups vegetable broth (or water)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • two 1 inch pieces of lemon rind
  • bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tbl olive oil
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper

Place rice, liquid, bay leaf, lemon rind, and olive oil in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook covered, stirring frequently for 20-30 minutes, or until rice is soft and water is absorbed. You can add more liquid if necessary. Allow rice to sit for at least 10 minutes after cooking and up to half an hour. Remove bay leaf and lemon rind and mix in lemon juice and fresh dill. Sunflower seeds would a delicious addition to this.


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Ed: Sara Crolick

{image: via taste.com}

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