Quick and Easy Vegan Red Lentil Bolognese

Vegan Red Lentil Bolognese PinAfter my first attempt to make a Vegan Red Lentil Bolognese, Amelia improved upon it. While my version (featured in our Vegan What We Eat In A Day video on our VegansAbroad YouTube Channel) was a little easier and a one-pot bolognese, Amelia’s was more flavorful and closer to a conventional bolognese.

Some people recommend cooking the lentils in the same pot as the sauce, but we weren’t happy with how they turned out. We simmered the sauce with the lentils for about 45 minutes and felt like they still could have cooked longer. So in Amelia’s version, we cooked the lentils in a separate pot for about 30 minutes and that worked much better. We’re at high altitude here in Cuenca, Ecuador, so things take longer to cook here. Red lentils at sea level will probably cook in much less time.

We served our bolognese over regular linguine pasta, but it’s better if you use whole wheat pasta. Whole wheat vegan products can be difficult to find here, so sometimes we’re stuck with the regular pasta.

This recipe pairs well with our Easy Garden Salad.

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.

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Kid-Friendly Tofu Fingers

Kid Friendly Tofu Fingers PinWhile we were visiting Amelia’s family in Atlanta, Amelia’s 9 year old niece  challenged us to make more kid-friendly vegan recipes and this Tofu Fingers recipe one of them. She really liked them, as did the whole family. She’s a VERY picky eater, so anything other than “I hate it” means she loved it. She dipped hers in ketchup, but her grandpa and I preferred BBQ sauce.

If you’re concerned about feeding organic soy to your children, rest assured it’s not only safe, but highly nutritious. Most of the myths about soy were created by the dairy industry when soy milk started eating away at their profits. The unbiased, legitimate science shows soy is actually protective against the very ailments that, ironically, dairy has been shown to cause.

One of the main concerns about soy is the phytoestrogen content that the myths claim can interfere with human hormones. Phytoestrogens are a type of plant estrogen that behaves much differently in the human body compared to mammal estrogen found in cow’s milk, which looks just like human estrogen inside our bodies.

In fact, one study found that soy was protective against early puberty in girls, whereas consumption of meat was strongly associated with early puberty in both girls and boys.

We strongly encourage you to buy only organic soy products, though. The unbiased science is far from settled on the health effects of GMO, but putting that aside, there are plenty of non-health reasons to avoid GMO products. GMO’s encourage monocrops, which are destroying the soil. They are leading to superbugs and superweeds that are resistant to even the strongest pesticides. They lead to more fertilizer and pesticide use, which contaminates water supplies. And they give corporations too much control of our food system. Please consider watching GMO OMG for an overview of the GMO industry.

Back to the recipe at hand… These Tofu Fingers are very tasty dipped in your favorite dipping sauce like ketchup, BBQ sauce, Vegan Ranch Dressing, salsa, Grandpa’s Vegan Dipping Hot Sauce, etc. They make a great afternoon snack or appetizer, or as a side dish with soup and salad.

Tofu Fingers 2

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.

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Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

Vegan Butternut Squash Soup PinThis Vegan Butternut Squash Soup recipe is perfect for cold fall days. It’s has a nice savory/sweet flavor and it’s easy to make. A bowl of this hot soup will warm you right up!

Living in Ecuador, we have a very limited selection of squash so when we return to the states for a visit with the family, we load up on butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash when we go to the store.

We were going to make our Healthy Butternut Squash recipe, but Amelia’s mom spotted a butternut squash soup recipe in a magazine and suggested we use the squash we bought for that, instead. It was a great idea because this soup was delicious! The unseasonably cold fall weather here in Atlanta made it even better!

We paired this soup with a large Easy Garden Salad and a bowl of fruit for dessert. It was a flavorful, filling and nutritious lunch.

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.

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Quick and Easy Black Bean Soup

Easy Black Bean Soup PinThis Quick and Easy Black Bean Soup is just what it says, quick and easy. Amelia’s mom, Jane, got this recipe from the AARP Magazine and gave it to us. Amelia’s dad told us he LOVED it! We were just as impressed!

After we went vegan and started eating a whole-food plant-based (WFPB) diet, Jane was legitimately concerned. Like most American’s and western dieters, she was raised to believe that we need meat, dairy and eggs to be healthy. She voiced her concern about our dietary changes, but trusted that her daughter had done the research and knew what she was talking about.

Rather than becoming judgmental and insisting that we were wrong and she was right, Jane decided to educate herself by first reading How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Greger. Then she watched What The Health on Netflix and started looking at more information from the WFPB doctors and scientists.

It took her a little while to come to terms with the unhealthy food marketing myths that we were all raised to believe, but now she often tells us how right we are. She even bought Dr. Greger’s How Not To Die Cookbook and cooked several of his recipes for us!

I have immense respect for anyone who will look at new information with an open mind, and be willing to change their stance when presented with new, credible information. It was certainly difficult for me to change my mind and I sometimes still think to myself, “It’s been over 2 years and I still haven’t died yet!” In reality, I’m far healthier, my cholesterol is down and I’ve lost nearly 30 pounds without trying.

Back to the recipe at hand… This Quick and Easy Black Bean Soup recipe couldn’t be much easier. It literally took a couple of minutes to prepare and less than 10 minutes to cook. You just add two cans of black beans to a pot with a cup of salsa and a teaspoon of cumin. Stir it up and heat it until it simmers.

The original AARP recipe didn’t call for salt, but we thought it needed some so Amelia added 1/2 tsp and that seemed to bring out the flavors more. We also used our Grandpa’s Vegan Dipping Hot Sauce as the salsa, but you can use store-bought to save time. Just make sure it doesn’t have added oils.

It would also be delicious with some sautéed chopped peppers, jalapeños, garlic and/or onions. You can sauté them first with some veggie broth or water in the same pot (covered) for about 5 minutes. This is called steam frying. Then pour the other ingredients in on top and stir. Continue heating it until it’s bubbly.

You can serve this Quick and Easy Black Bean Soup plain in a bowl, or serve it over brown rice, yellow potatoes or sweet potatoes. Yum!

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.

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Chunky Tomato Sauce w/ Vegetables Over Pasta

Chunky Tomato Sauce w/ Vegetables PinThis Chunky Tomato Sauce w/ Vegetables is an Amelia special. She threw a bunch of vegetables we had on-hand in a skillet and sautéed them with a little vegetable broth. Then we served them over some whole grain pasta. Delicious and easy!

We used 2 pounds of fresh tomatoes (6 medium sized) that we got at the mercado for the “chunky tomato sauce” part. I cored them and cut X’s on the bottom, then brought them to a boil and let them simmer for about 5 minutes. Then I drained them, added cold water to the pot and let them sit for a few minutes to cool. This makes the peels come right off. Then I chopped them up and handed them off to Amelia.

You can also used canned diced tomatoes to save time and effort, but we really like using fresh ingredients and it only takes an extra 10 to 15 minutes.

We used whole wheat spaghetti for our recipe, but you can use your favorite pasta, including gluten free if that’s your thing. Just try to use a whole grain variety.

This is a great one-dish meal or would pair well with a side salad and some fruit for dessert.

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.

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Lazy Girl Easy Vegan Enchiladas

Easy Vegan Enchiladas PinThis Easy Vegan Enchiladas recipe is fast and easy to make. Why spend time trying to wrap and bake tricky enchiladas when you can do them open-faced?

I love our Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas recipe, but we never have it because it’s such a pain to make. When we first made them for the website, it took us 3 tries to get them to come out good enough to be photographed. And we haven’t made them since!

So I asked Amelia if we could do them a different way that would be easier. After all, it’s the ingredients that taste good; not the shape. I suggested we sauté the filling in our cast iron skillet and then bake it covered in our Vegan Enchilada Sauce, but Amelia’s way was even easier. We served them open-faced on corn tortillas and poured the enchilada sauce over them. Then we topped them with some baked corn tortilla strips.

These “lazy girl” enchiladas, as Amelia calls them, are by far the easiest and fastest way to make delicious enchiladas.

Easy Vegan Enchiladas

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.

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Vegan Curry Vegetables

Vegan Curry Vegetables PinThis Vegan Curry Vegetables recipe was inspired by a recipe in “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. After I found out my cholesterol was still high after eating a plant-based diet for more than 2 years, I realized vegans can still get heart disease. Dr. Esselstyn’s book had a lot of great advice backed by legitimate research, as well as lots of delicious sounding recipes.

Amelia put me in charge of this one since I found it. I made it the first time following the recipe in the book pretty much exactly, but I thought it lacked some depth of flavor so I modified it the second time around.

Most of Dr. Esselstyn’s study patients were suffering from severe heart disease, so most of the recipes in the book don’t use any salt. Amelia and I both have low blood pressure, so we’re not afraid to use a little salt in our recipes. You can skip the salt if that’s a concern for you.

In addition to salt, I added black pepper and tomato sauce. We eat at an Indian restaurant here in Cuenca, Ecuador called Namaste India and they use tomato in a lot of their curry dishes. It gives it a rich, tangy flavor that we really like.

The jarred tomato sauce we get here in Ecuador is very thick. It’s closer in consistency to tomato paste so you may need to adjust the amount of tomato sauce depending on how thick it is and your taste preference.

We used broccoli and cauliflower in our recipe, but it would be great with some yellow potatoes, too. Some fresh spinach would also be great either blended up in the sauce or added to the skillet during cooking.

This is a great one-dish recipe, but you could also eat it with some naan bread or a side salad.

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.

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Easy Vegan Lasagna (Overnight)

Easy Vegan Lasagna Overnight PinThis overnight Easy Vegan Lasagna was inspired by our other overnight Vegan Gluten Free Lasagna recipe, but with a few changes to make things easier and cheaper. However, you can mix and match the main ingredients depending on your taste preferences and the amount of work you want to put into it.

Lentil Ground “Beef”

Let’s start with the “meat” mixture. Our original recipe uses Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles as the meat substitute. This meat sub is tasty, but it’s not available everywhere and it’s also a processed food with added canola and sunflower oil. If you’re an oil-free eater, this won’t do.

Amelia made us a delicious Vegan Lentil Loaf awhile back, so that gave me the idea to use lentils as the ground beef substitute. And they work great! I cook them in our pressure cooker, but you can also boil them on the stove.

Our pressure cooker instructions say to cook them for 9 minutes, but we’re at high altitude so I cook them for 12 minutes. They need to be slightly overcooked and a little mushy so you can mash them into a ground beef texture. Then I stir fry them without oil or liquid in a large skillet to smash them up more and dry them out a bit to give them more of a ground beef look.

Our pressure cooker instructions also call for 1 tbsp of vegetable oil to keep the lentils from frothing too much and clogging the steam vent, but we never do this and haven’t had any issues. To keep this recipe oil-free, we recommend skipping the oil. You just may need to clean your pressure cooker steam vent more often.

Tofu Ricotta

Now for the Tofu Ricotta. Our original recipe uses Cashew Ricotta made from our Vegan Cashew Cream recipe. While this is less processed than tofu, cashews are also a lot more expensive. You can buy a package of organic tofu for less than $2, but it’ll cost you about $8 to buy enough cashews for this recipe. If you’re soy-free, you can swap the Tofu Ricotta with the Cashew Ricotta.

This recipe has quite a bit of salt so if you have heart disease or high blood pressure, please omit the salt. Salt substitutes are also best to be avoided if you have these health issues or kidney disease.

Tomato Sauce

Now for the sauce. Our original lasagna recipe uses our homemade spaghetti sauce for the lasagna sauce. This sauce is delicious, but it also takes quite a bit of extra ingredients and time to prepare. To keep things cheap and easy, we’re using jarred of spaghetti sauce in this new recipe. We recommend using a fat-free variety like Prego’s Lower Calorie Light Smart Traditional sauce. But you can always make your own sauce from scratch if you want to.

The Easy Vegan Lasagna Part

Finally, we made our original recipe gluten-free by using rice lasagna noodles, but we just used regular wheat noodles for this recipe. We prefer a whole-grain noodle, but those options are limited here in Ecuador. To make it gluten-free, just swap the noodles for your favorite gluten-free variety.

Since this recipe doesn’t use vegan cheese (which is mostly oil), it has more than 100 fewer calories per serving than our original recipe. It’s also oil-free since we’re using lentils instead of the beefy crumbles.

Easy Vegan Lasagna

Like our original recipe, this one is also “overnight” so you don’t have to cook the noodles. It only takes about 15 to 20 minutes of actual work to prepare this Easy Vegan Lasagna, which is nothing compared to a conventional, non-overnight lasagna. It makes 8 servings so you’ll have lots of leftovers (unless you’re feeding the whole family).

It’s also a great option to take to a friend’s house since you prepare it the day before and just pop it in the oven for about an hour before you’re ready to eat.

Enjoy with a simple side salad and some Vegan Garlic Bread. Save some sauce and heat it up on the stove to pour over the lasagna just before you serve it. We didn’t do that this time, but we will the next time we make it.

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.

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Easy Garden Salad

Easy Garden Salad PinI make this Easy Garden Salad every 3 to 4 days. It makes enough for 6 to 8 large salads so it saves a lot of time in salad prep. It’s also highly nutritious and checks off several of Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen boxes.

We used to make our salads individually, but we found that life often got in the way and we didn’t have time to make them. That’s when I came up with the idea to make a giant salad when I did have time, and store the ingredients in the fridge so they were ready when we wanted to eat them.

Save the scraps in a sealable container that you can keep in the freezer to make your Easy Vegetable Broth from Scraps. We have found that making our own veggie broth not only tastes better than store bought, it doesn’t contain oil or other preservatives, saves the packaging and makes great use of the scraps we were throwing away. We were using at least one veggie broth container per week so it saves us about $20/month.

Until recently, I put the greens and the toppings in the same container, but I found that all the tasty parts migrated to the bottom of the container making it difficult to dish out. To fix that issue, I now store the greens in a separate container from the colorful toppings.

When we’re ready to eat this delicious garden salad, we put a bunch of greens (spinach, kale, swiss chard, mustard greens, arugula, mixed greens, lettuce, etc.) in a large bowl and then scoop out a cup of the rainbow and put that on top of the greens.

Our rainbow usually consists of carrots, cucumber, peppers, corn, beets, red cabbage, artichoke hearts (in water), hearts of palm, garbanzo beans, red onion and tomatoes. We also like Golden Berries (Uvillas or Peruvian Ground Cherries) that we get here in Ecuador. They’re a little yellow cherry tomato sized fruit with a citrus flavor.

Easy Garden Salad

Then we top the salad with nuts, seeds, olives and/or avocado for some healthy fats to help us get at all those fat soluble nutrients in the salad. You can also top your salad with some Tahini Salad Dressing or other nut or avocado based homemade salad dressings, but it’s best to avoid oil-based salad dressings because oil isn’t a whole food; it’s a processed refined fat.

We usually eat our salads with lime juice and some form of vinegar (rice wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, white balsamic vinegar). Sometimes we use soy sauce, tamari or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.

Then we sprinkle our Easy Garden Salad with a generous amount of oregano and sometimes red pepper flakes and/or fennel seeds to get even more antioxidants.

Try different dark leafy greens, veggies and dressings in your salad to keep things interesting. According to Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Greger, Dr. Barnard, Dr. Kahn, Dr. Fuhrman and other plant-based doctors, we should all eat at least one large dark leafy green salad — every — single — day. So find things you like and try new things, too.

This recipe pairs well with any of our soups or sandwiches.

Easy Garden Salad Cooking Video on Vegans Abroad

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.

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Vegan Mexican Stir Fry

Vegan Mexican Stir Fry PinThis Vegan Mexican Stir Fry is a great weeknight meal since it’s quick to make and amazingly delicious. Since this recipe only has about 89 calories per serving, you really need to eat it with something else. You can prepare some brown rice and refried beans ahead of time and heat them up to save time.

It takes only a few minutes to chop up some peppers and onions, and since most of the flavor comes from the salsa, you can easily have this ready to eat in under 10 minutes.

We make ours with my Grandpa’s Vegan Dipping Hot Sauce and Amelia’s Vegan Refried Beans, but you can just as easily use store-bought refried beans and salsa. Just make sure they’re oil-free and lard-free. A lot of canned refried beans have lard. Yuck!

This is one of our go-to recipes. We eat this one almost every week, especially on nights when Amelia has her belly dancing class at The Tribal Fusion House here in Cuenca, Ecuador. If you’d like to see her belly dancing, here’s a video. She’s in front on the right.

If you make this recipe, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And please share with your friends to help spread the word about healthy plant-based eating.

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