Monday, October 16, 2017

Vegan Family Meals

My husband thinks meat is a food group...I'm not so sure. I used to do a lot of vegan cooking, but I found lately our dinners always centered around a meat protein and our weekend breakfasts always centered around eggs. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that! But I was interested in varying our selection and finding some new vegan recipes.

My main source these past few weeks was Oh She Glows and the Oh She Glows Cookbook. I've had good success! Her recipes are pretty easy to make, although most involve a lot more prep work than I am used to. 

Here's what we've sampled so far...along with my toddler's reviews...but keep in mind he's a toddler and each toddler has food peculiarities totally unique to themselves...


The first recipe I made was the main post on her blog recently: 8-Minute Pantry Dal Two Ways. I followed the recipe except I used some chopped onion instead of the powdered because I had an onion on hand. For my veggies, I used fresh cauliflower and frozen peas. It took a little longer to cook because of the cauliflower, but turned out great!

Toddler Review: After he had picked out the cauliflower to eat on his own (he loves cauliflower), he requested help and I was able to get the lentils into him mixed with the rice (he also likes rice). He refused any bite with a bright green pea or a chunk of tomato on it. 

The second recipe I tried was Luxurious Tomato Basil Pasta (Oh She Glows Cookbook). Here's a similar recipe on the blog: Easy Tomato Basil Cream Pasta.

This "creamy" pasta recipe used cashew cream. Cashew cream was something I had been wanting to try and I'm pleased to report complete success! I bought organic, raw cashews and put them to soak during the course of the day. The recipe cooked up great and was delicious, but I was heavy handed with the spices. Cashew cream does not impart much flavor on its own. 

Cashew cream is a favorite of vegans for all sorts of things. Check out this fabulous post from Wholefully. I was intrigued because my husband is lactose intolerant and I sometimes miss things like creamy pastas and creamy soups. 

Toddler review: My son loved this pasta! He picked around the tomato chunks which is pretty normal for him, but did eat the spinach. As a mom, I loved the extra boost of protein from the cashews which he didn't even know were in the sauce!

The riskiest recipe I tried was these Jumbo Stuffed Shells which utilize tofu instead of ricotta cheese (lactose intolerant husband!). My main problem with this recipe was trying to get the right amounts of all the components. I doubled the tofu stuffing recipe because comments on the post indicated it was not enough to fill the shells. Then I filled more shells, not double(!) but the rest of the box of shells which I had cooked up. I used a jar of organic pre-made spaghetti sauce and I think at least another 1/2 jar would have been nice to make them a little more saucey. 

This is the only meal I am unlikely to make again simply because the prep work was intense and the final product not worth it in my opinion. It took me at least an hour on a weeknight and then I popped the pan in the fridge and baked it for dinner the next day.

Toddler Review: His meal was mostly deconstructed because I cut up the pasta shells for him. He loved the shells because they are, well, pasta ;-).  He avoided the tofu clumps until we told him they were tofu, then he was all "Okay!" and ate the tofu filling. I've heard some surprise over my toddler liking tofu, but it's really just a blank canvass for other flavors and I think it is a great texture for a toddler. This was definitely a finger-food meal for my son.

I also made a recipe from Love & LemonsCreamy Vegan Pumpkin Penne. This time of year it's easy to find sugar pumpkins in the grocery store. I roasted one and used half for the pasta. (The other half I used to bake some pumpkin muffins.)

This recipe cooked up great and was super easy. I used a whole bulb of roasted garlic, substituted 2 tsp dried sage since I didn't have any fresh on hand, and added just a pinch of cayenne pepper because it was a little bland initially. I also used shells instead of penne because they are more toddler-friendly in size.

It needed a side dish though... My go-to way to cook broccoli is to add a tablespoon of olive oil and a drizzle of sesame oil to a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the broccoli and sprinkle generously with granulated garlic. Cover loosely and cook 6-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. I dump the condensation from the lid into the skillet when I stir. Not adding any other additional water keeps the broccoli from getting soggy. Make sure the pan does not get too hot or the broccoli will burn. 

Toddler Review: He ate the pasta but was not thrilled with it, which says something as it was pasta. He really didn't want to eat it at all as leftovers the following night. He devoured a ton of broccoli though. Personally, I thought the pasta was really tasty both fresh and as leftovers. 


Baked oatmeal may be my new favorite weekend breakfast! I think it's going to be a huge hit all winter! To speed up the process in the morning, I mixed all the dry ingredients in a bowl the night before and combined the wet ingredients along with the fruit or veggies in a Batter Bowl and placed it in the fridge. In the morning, I just stirred it all together in the pan and baked it.

I made Maple-Cinnamon Apple & Pear Baked Oatmeal (Oh She Glows Cookbook). And also a similar recipe on the blog: Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

For the Apple & Pear combo, I didn't have any pears, so I just used apples. 

Toddler Review: My son is used to eating oatmeal with no sweetener except some fruit puree so this was quite the treat for him and he loved it!

For the Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal, I added a chopped apple, used dried cranberries instead of raisins, and omitted the nuts (just because of what was in my pantry). 

Toddler Review: My son is picky when he sees carrots in things...even though he likes the taste of carrots! So I used the second smaller shredder on my box grater to get a finer shred on the carrots and he gobbled it up! I'm not even sure he realized the carrots were in there. As a mom I know carrots are a great source of vitamin A and fiber :-)

My final recipe was Cinnamon Zucchini Muffins from Clean Eating Magazine. This was an interesting recipe because it contained a lot of items I had never used before. I had made a (very infrequent for me) trip to Whole Foods so I picked up their store brand of whole-wheat pastry flour and Bob's Red Mill brand blanched almond flour. I did have some flaxseeds on hand which I ground in my nutribullet. 

These were pretty tasty and I loved using the shredded zucchini. However, using maple syrup as the only sweetener is not exactly budget-friendly. You have to be careful exchanging liquid sweeteners for solid sweeteners (like sugar) so I did follow the recipe. I usually keep maple syrup on hand, but it actually pained me to dump out 1/2 a cup into the batter ;-)

Toddler Review: Delicious! He loves muffins of all types.

Tempeh and white bean gravy are great breakfast staples for vegan cooking! Check out my post Family Breakfast ~ Vegan Style!

My tips for trying out vegan cooking...

Remember, any time you try a new style of cooking there is a learning curve!

Don't be afraid of unfamiliar ingredients, a quick online search is your best friend! ~ But also seek out recipes where you already have many ingredients on hand.

Keep an eye on prep times!

Don't attempt too many new recipes in one's easy to get burned out on trying new recipes and new recipes should be FUN!

Trust your gut! Unless you are a novice cook, if something looks like it's not going to work out, trust your instinct and improvise...use a bigger pan, lower the cooking temperature, etc.

Happy Cooking! Have you tried a new style of cooking recently? Please share any favorite recipes you have!


  1. I love this! I'm not vegetarian / vegan, but we usually only cook 1-2 meat-based meals a week (for both health and budget reasons), so I'm always looking for new recipes. I love OSG too, but I agree, some of her recipes are really time consuming. If you don't have it already, I definitely recommend the Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook. It has some less time consuming recipes that are still really good. Haha, I am the same way with maple syrup - I see a recipe with 1 Cup maple and 1 Cup almond butter and I just can't do it - that's like a $20 recipe lol!

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! I saw that cookbook, but decided to buy her first one. I will add it to my Amazon wish list and hopefully someone in my family will buy it for me for the holidays :-)