As you know, after watching the Netflix documentary, “The Game Changers,” I challenged myself to go completely plant-based for 6 weeks. Which meant no meats, seafood, yogurt, eggs, cheese, gelatin-laced foods—the whole nine yards. And I had no idea what to expect. But as someone who generally eats healthy, I didn’t think it would be such an adjustment, right?!
And of course, I was fine and made it out alive. But I also became a lot more thoughtful (and creative!) about my food choices and what my typical dinners/lunches looked like. Instead of throwing in a fried egg or cheese, on top of dinners, I switched over to tofu, avocados, and roasted jackfruit.
I turned to seasonal, local produce and plant-powered staples to create these approachable and not overly complicated, yet overwhelmingly gorgeous and satisfying meals. When eating plant-based, it doesn’t need to be just a pile of carrot and celery sticks.
Thanks to powerful plant-based recipes—including these below—I learned ways to make vegan meals/plant-based meals flavorful and filling, and what I realized was it wasn’t that hard you just had to still have foods that tasted good and that you enjoyed eating. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy!
Avocado Kale Caesar with Sweet Potato Fries
What’s better than salad + fries?! It’s totally a power-combo. Honestly, give me some flavor-loaded fresh veggies with a fistful of hot and crispy fried potatoes to carb it up and wash it down? Let’s freaking do it. I know you may think “EW KALE!!!” but I am telling you I promise it’s delicious when soaked in a creamy caesar dressing and tossed around with chunks of avocado and handfuls of crunchy nuts. Are you sold?
Let’s start off with cooking the fries because those take about 15-25 minutes.
Sweet Potato Fries
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F with the pan in the oven so it gets hot. Cut 4 sweet potatoes into fry-shape (or circle fries). The thinner they are, the more crispy they’ll get. Toss with a teaspoon or two of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and garlic powder (or pro tip: EBB). Remove the hot pan from the oven, arrange fries evenly, and bake for 20 minutes. Shake them up and bake for another 10 minutes or so until crispy.
Tips for the dressing:
Use (majority) avocado instead of a whole ton of mayo.
Butttttttt let’s still use a little dab (vegan) mayo, because of the creaminess.
Exactly zero anchovies. I know it’s the true way of Caesar dressings, but pay attention to who you’re talking to…this whole recipe rule-following is too much work.
Dijon, salt, garlic, lemon, mwah. It’s honestly a magical combination.
Avocado Caesar Dressing Ingredients:
- 1 avocado, divided (or double up on the avo)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (optional – see above)
- 2 small cloves garlic, minced (not going to lie – 99.9% of the time I use this from a can)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Kale Salad Ingredients:
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed, chopped (5–6 cups)
- Cut the avocado in half. Reserve one half for the salad. Blend the other half with the water, mayo, garlic, lemon juice, Dijon, and salt. Taste and adjust!
Toss the chopped kale with the dressing. Toss it all around. Finish the salad with the remaining half of the avocado, cut into cubes. WALA!
Tofu Poke Bowls
One of my weaknesses is poke bowls – yes of course the fish, but also the whole combination of sweet ginger to spicy sriracha. I couldn’t let those go when I started this plant-based lifestyle. This “vegan” and “plant-based” poke bowl uses cubed and air fried teriyaki tofu in place of the fish, and we still add in avocado, edamame, seaweed, cucumber, cabbage + more to make it a protein-rich and nutrient-packed meal.
The great thing about buddha bowls or these tofu poke bowls is that you can always mix and match ingredients to suit your own taste buds.
Tofu Poke Bowl Ingredients:
- 1 batch teriyaki tofu
- 1 tbsp soy sauce/tamari
- 1 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 3/4 cup teriyaki sauce
- Top with sesame seeds
- 1 cup rice (white, brown, or cauliflower) You can be GF if you want to sub out for just salad too
- 1 cup romaine
- 1 cucumber, chopped or sliced
- 2 large carrots, sliced
- 1 cup edamame (I love the frozen bag of edamame from Trader Joe’s)
- 1 cup chopped purple cabbage
- 1 avocado
- A few sheets of seaweed
- 3 green onions (scallions)
- Soy sauce/Poke Sauce/Ginger Miso dressing for topping
- Pickled ginger
- Trader Joe’s Nori Komi Furikake Japanese Multi-Purpose Seasoning
- Fresh Jalapenos
**I typically will eat these poke bowls warm, but they are just as good cold! This is perfect if you are going to use this recipe for meal prep and take some on the go for lunch.**
Let’s get cooking!!
First I always prepare the Tofu because it takes the longest. I start off by cutting the block into thirds, from there little bite-sized pieces or about 1 inch, then I add the ingredients for the teriyaki sauce in a medium-sized bowl and dump the tofu in and mix it around. I’ll typically mix with my hands because the tofu will tear easily.
And let me tell you, it’s so good I recommend doubling this to have on hand for a snack!
While the tofu cooks, I prepare everything else. I like to steam edamame in the microwave and use all raw veggies, aka this recipe is so easy. I use cauliflower rice for the most part, but cook whatever rice you want to use!
Chop the cabbage, thinly slice carrots, cube, or slice some cucumber, and cut up the seaweed sheet, avocado, and scallions.
Now for the fun part, assembling the bowl! (this is 100% NOT mandatory, and the bowl will taste the exact same). I start with lettuce/salad on the bottom layer, then add rice on top, then I make little areas and place everything on top in their little area!
If you are talented, you can enjoy these vegan tofu poke bowls with chopsticks, or if you are just impatient and want to devour this – use a fork!
Sweet Potato Nachos
If you want a hearty plate of nachos, without using deep-fried chips, this recipe is for you. Slices of roasted sweet potatoes are topped with all of your favorite nacho toppings, Pile on the black beans, corn, avocado, cilantro, salsa, and whatever other toppings you love for the most EPIC plate of sweet potato nachos.
These are also great for sharing, but I doubt you’ll want to do that.
On any given day, you can find me eating something Mexican-inspired, Asian-inspired, or Thai-inspired. But when it comes down to it, my heart belongs to beans & rice, guac, and salsa. Can I get a FREAKING amen?
I plan on eating these sweet potato nachos MINIMUM once a week because dang, they’re good. Don’t even try to stop me.
Sweet Potato Plant-Based Nacho Ingredients:
- olive oil, for greasing the pan
- 1 large sweet potato cut into circles
- salt & pepper to taste on the potato
- 1 cup black beans
- green onions, chopped
- 1/4 cup corn
- 1 jalapeno, sliced (optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup salsa
- Hot sauce (optional)
- 1 avocado, chopped
- Topped with vegan/non-dairy cheese (or you can use your typical dairy cheese)
- You can also top with either vegan sour cream or again, your typical dairy sour cream.
Now why I love these, they’re THIS easy:
Preheat the oven to degrees 400F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Arrange the sweet potato rounds in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned and crispy.
While the sweet potatoes are cooking, prepare/chop your toppings.
I like to eat these straight off the baking sheet, so I will typically then put the cooked sweet potatoes on a smaller baking sheet with a new piece of parchment paper. If you are bringing this to a gathering or someplace where you want them to look Instagramable, then put them on an oven-safe plate. Arrange the sweet potatoes on either the plate or new baking sheet and top with black beans, corn, jalapeno, and cheese. Put back in the oven for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and add the cilantro, salsa, avocado, hot sauce, and green onions.
Roasted Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Tacos
As I just mentioned, give me all the Mexican-inspired foods aka tacos. Not only are these d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s but they’re completely good-for-you & every single bite is completely loaded with flavor.
These tacos rely on 3 major components:
- The “meat”: roasted sweet potatoes, roasted cauliflower, & black beans.
- The essential: smashed avocado.
- The toppings: vegan cheese + sauce
Roasted Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Taco Ingredients:
- 1 sweet potato, chopped
- 1 head of cauliflower, chopped
- 1 cup of black beans, drained
- 1 bunch of cilantro chopped
- 1 avocado, smooshed
- Hot sauce/salsa to taste
- Vegan (or not) shredded cheese
First up, the “meat” aka the taco filling! These tacos are filled with roasted sweet potatoes, roasted cauliflower & black beans. I throw all these in a bowl with EVOO and lime juice, add in the taco seasoning packet from Trader Joe’s and mix it all together. So much flavor & texture with absolutely zero effort! I then put the sweet potatoes in the oven for about 10 minutes, then throw on the cauliflower for another 10 minutes. THEN just before everything is done roasting, add some drained black beans to the pan, & pop it back into the oven for a few minutes to warm up.
This recipe is great because you can make as little or as much as you want. It’s even great to make a few extras for lunch the next day.
To prepare: I love to roast up some uncooked tortillas, then smash the avocado on the bottom layer, layer with the “meat”, and top with vegan (or again, your typical dairy) cheese. To top, I always pick out whatever salsa I’m in the mood for + hot sauce. I do love to add on cilantro as well!
Creamy Vegan Mushroom Wild Rice Soup with Grilled Cheese
I think soup and grilled cheese is the ultimate comfort food of all comfort foods if you ask me. This is why I needed a creamy soup, that you wouldn’t guess it is completely dairy-free & made with no cream! If you are on the hunt for a delicious vegan soup recipe that is filling, this hearty & gluten-free mushroom wild rice soup that can be made in one pot is here for you. It’s very filling on its own too, no need for grilled cheese if you want to keep this low carb.
PLUS this soup requires only one pot. YAY to no dishes.
Creamy Vegan Mushroom Wild Rice Soup Ingredients:
- ¾ cup wild rice blend
- 4 cups mushrooms, diced (I used a mix of white button, Crimini, & Shitake)
- 1 cup white onion, diced
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp vegan butter (or oil)
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 5-6 cups vegetable broth (I start with 5 and add up to 6 for a slightly thinner soup)
- 14 oz. can coconut milk
- salt & pepper to taste
I throw the wild rice in the rice cooker because #life and #simplicity but you can cook your rice however you like or is easiest for you!
While the rice is cooking, chop & prep the vegetables. Slice the mushrooms thinly and finely dice the onion. Next, add the butter/oil to a large soup pot and turn on the heat, high. Once the butter has melted or the oil is hot, add in the onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Sauté for 10-15 minutes until the onions & mushrooms are beginning to crisp up and brown. Make sure to stir consistently to evenly cook the mushrooms and onions.
Once the vegetables are cooked, add in the parsley and any salt/pepper you’d like. Then, add the vegetable broth, wild rice, and coconut milk to the pot with the vegetables. Stir it all up. Bring the pot to a boil.
Then, reduce the heat to a simmer (all the way down) and cook covered for 20 minutes. This is when I make grilled cheese, I don’t think you need any help with this, but if you are following plant-based, then I find that either Miyoko’s cheese or Daiya cheese melts the best. I will also use sliced with shredded to help the cheese melt.
Remove the soup from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes to thicken. This recipe, though easy, does take patience which is not something I do well with cooking. But I will say, it’s SO worth it!
What are your favorite plant-based recipes? I am ALWAYS looking for new and delicious ones!
Let me know if you make any of these recipes, and be sure to tag me on Instagram so I can see how tasty and delicious your meals look! Feel free to share with friends and family who are looking to eat more veggies/healthier. Curious why I went planted based and what happened? Read my blog on both topics here!!
~ XOXO, the plant-based chef, Amanda // Blonde out of Water