A lot of people have been asking me for vegan recipes on Instagram, so I thought I’d do a post about it here. Disclaimer: I’m not an expert on vegan cooking or eating, and I’m also kind of a kitchen klutz. So this is really a post for lazy girls like me, who want to try going vegan.
I don’t cook, but I did have to learn how to whip up a few things in order to keep myself fed. Here are my essentials for vegan eating:
AVOCADOS. I was never into avocados until going vegan, but now I’m obsessed with them! I prefer using Haas avocados, they’re just so creamy and delicious. For an easy breakfast or snack, simply spread some Vegenaise on toast, top with mashed avocados, and sprinkle with sea salt. Soooo good!
Avocados are also great for making dips. Just mash and season to taste (try Vegenaise or evoo, sea salt, and chili flakes), and serve with nachos or baked cut-up tortillas.
VEGAN PESTO. This is one of two things I taught myself how to make. I use organic basil, pine nuts or walnuts, a bit of garlic, and nutritional yeast to replace Parmesan cheese. I always have a big batch on hand and use the pesto to make sandwiches, wraps, and pasta!
HUMMUS. This is the other thing I taught myself how to make, and I’m so glad I did, because I looooove hummus! I don’t like to follow recipes or measurements, so I just did a quick google search and followed the ingredients listed on this BBC food recipe, with a bit of improvisation. Instead of canned chickpeas, I use the dried organic kind, which requires a bit more work as you have to soak them overnight, then boil until they soften. But they’re so much healthier which makes it worth it.
I use my hummus as a dip or a spread for all kinds of sandwiches and wraps. Even my husband loves my homemade hummus, so I make a big batch every few days.
VEGETABLES FOR ‘ROASTING’ + AIRFRYER. Did you know that airfried vegetables are great for sandwiches and wraps? I’ve always loved vegetable sandwiches, even when I was a meat-eater. My favorite one was the Panini Verdure at Cibo; too bad their pesto is made with cheese. I usually use a combination of zucchini, red, yellow, and green bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Just slice them up, massage with olive oil and sea salt, put them in the airfryer, and you’re done.
I also use my airfryer to make sweet potato and carrot fries, which make a lovely side dish for a sandwich or wrap, and I alternate between making them sweet and savory.
HOMEGROWN VEGETABLES. Lucky for me, I love a good bowl of monggo or mung bean stew! I don’t know how to make it, but our cook whips up a big batch for me about once a week, and I enjoy it piping hot with organic brown rice.
Being Chinese, we have fresh lumpia made quite often. I enjoy it because I love wrapping food and eating with my hands, I just have to ask for it to be made without pork or shrimp in it.
I also enjoy our dirt-cheap kangkong, simply sauteed with garlic and tomatoes. Kangkong is particularly delicious when cooked with gata or coconut cream, but I don’t really cook it that way anymore, since coconut cream is high in fat. And just recently, I discovered alugbati, which my friend Ross told me is a considered a Pinoy superfood! Rich in vitamin A, calcium, potassium, and folic acid, alugbati also reduces your risk of osteoporosis, anemia, cardiovascular diseases, and colon cancer.
SNACKS. I’ve pretty much given up on chips, even vegan or supposedly health ones (they’re still processed). But I always have trail mix on hand. You can make your own using your favorite nuts, and my favorite store-bought one is a mix of dry roasted almonds, sunflower kernels, pepitas, raisins, spanish peanuts, and cashew nuts by a brand called Health Best, available at Healthy Options. I snack on my trail mix straight from the bag, or sprinkle a bit over my oatmeal in the morning, or on my salad or my wraps for a nice crunch.
Another thing that we often snack on at home are baked kale chips. We used to buy kale from the Legaspi market, but now it’s widely available in local supermarkets. Kale chips are so good that even my 5-year-old loves them!
SALAD. A lot of people think vegans and vegetarians graze on salads all day, but the funny thing is, I hardly ever have salads anymore since going vegan. And to think I used to crave salads all the time as a meat-eater! (I think it has something to do with not being allowed cheese and eggs, two of my favorite salad ingredients.)
But another thing I’ve taught myself is to make my own salad dressing. It’s the easiest thing ever, so much better for your body and cheaper than the store-bought kind! So yeah, some nights, I’ll have a salad as a side dish, and my favorite vegan-approved things to put in it now are mixed greens, arugula, cherry tomatoes, red or yellow bell peppers, mangoes, nuts, and croutons.
GRAINS. I find it impossible to go carb-free when following a vegan diet, I’d always be hungry! So I always have organic Philippine-grown brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pitas and tortillas, and pasta (just the regular kind since I don’t like the taste of wholegrain varieties) on hand. Some have said that wheat causes the stomach to bloat, and I’ve found this to be true in my case, but I still have bread all the time. Can’t help it!
Of course, now there are things like wheat-free, gluten free, sugar-free, and dairy-free bread, but not only are they hard to find here in Manila, the ones I’ve tried haven’t tasted like bread at all. The search continues, but my goal is to someday bake my own bread at home.
I was on a strictly vegan diet for awhile, but for personal health reasons, right now I’m what you would call a weekday vegan. On weekends I allow myself one or two meals max with fish in it (usually sushi or sashimi).
If you’re contemplating going vegan or vegetarian, I hope this post has been helpful to you! Vegan eating can be easy and enjoyable if you teach yourself how. If you have any easy vegan recipes to share, I’d love to try them too!