Cheeseburger casserole (V, GF)

Recipe & Photos by Megan Stulberg

I created this cheeseburger casserole low key by accident, shhh. I was invited to a vegan potluck hosted by a friend and when I was asked what to bring, they said “burgers or something”. Being the plant-based Celiac disaster that I am, there was NO way I was going to get like, 30 gluten-free buns. So I found an alternative with a similar taste that’d be easier to divide amongst guests.

casserole 1casserole 4Ingredients:

  • 2 standard-sized boxes/approx 2 cups uncooked gluten-free pasta of your choice (I used rotini)
  • 2 bags Beyond Meat beefy crumble
  • 1 bag Daiya Cheddar style shreds 
  • 2 tomatoes, coarsely diced
  • 2 cups raw kale
  • 1/4 cup dill pickles, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and set a large pot of water to boil on stovetop.
  2. Cook pasta in boiling water until done al dente style (pasta should be a bit harder than usual, since it will be cooking more in the oven soon). Rinse with cold water and drain well.
  3. In large skillet, heat 1 tbsp EVOO over medium heat. Add the beefy crumble, then add the garlic, salt and pepper. Saute until cooked through and dark brown in color. Add kale and tomatoes, and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Stir in mustard, then remove from heat.
  4. Toss beefy crumble mixture with pasta in large bowl. Mix in handful of cheddar style shreds and diced pickles. I also added some extra mustard here for a more cheeseburgery flavor, but it’s up to you.
  5. Use 1 tbsp EVOO to coat bottom and sides of standard baking/casserole dish (roughly 9×13 inches) to prevent sticking. Spread pasta into prepared dish and top with the remaining cheddar style shreds.
  6. Cook in oven about 15 minutes or until cheddar shreds have melted.
  7. Sprinkle the rest of the diced pickles on top, and you’re ready to serve!

Serve hot. Makes approximately 6 meal sized servings or 12 side dish servings.

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Aubergine Ricotta Rolls

Guest post by Amily Blanch 

Valentine’s Day seems like it was just yesterday. The streets were flooded with energized romantics, toy hearts and chocolates of all shapes and sizes. At this time of the year, especially, we are all craving to surprise our loved ones with a delicious dinner. Who says you can’t do a belated version in March? 

In the vegan community it is quite difficult to find recipes that would truly make even a non-vegan fall in love, so I wanted to share a few tricks I have up my sleeve, as well as tell you how to prepare a healthy, heavenly starter.

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The dish itself is called Aubergine Ricotta Rolls and its overall making will take around 30 minutes and serve 4 people. This means, it’s perfect for a double date with your best friend and their significant other as well. 

INGREDIENTS…

What you will need for the vegan ricotta cheese: 

  • 7oz firm tofu
  • 1 1/2 cups of raw cashews, that previously had been soaked in water overnight
  • 1/4 cup of soy (or any other non-dairy) milk
  • Juice of one third of a lemon (around 2/3 tablespoons) 
  • Some salt and ground black pepper

What you will need for the rolls: 

  • 2 aubergines (also known as eggplants)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS…

  1. Start by making the ricotta cheese. Firstly place the (drained) cashews into a food processor along with the tofu. It is important to soak the nuts in water overnight because that helps break down the phytic acid, water stops the acid from being absorbed into our bodies, and therefore reducing a feeling of heaviness after the meal. Soaking nuts also neutralizes their enzymes, allowing proper digestion to take place.
  2. Add half of the non-dairy milk that you have prepared, blend, and then the second half.
  3. After it turns into a smooth paste, add the rest of the ingredients: lemon juice, salt and pepper (for which the proportions may vary depending on how flavorful you want the “cheese” to be).
  4. Once that is done, you can start preparing the aubergines by cutting them lengthwise into very thin, wide pieces.
  5. While the pan is heating add 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. For extra flavour and a more intricate taste, chop up one small clove of garlic and let it sit in the olive oil for some time, this will infuse it with slight pungency. It is up to you whether you want to keep the small pieces of garlic in the oil or remove them before adding the oil to the pan. Remember to not add TOO much oil, or else the aubergines will not be cooked properly and that will affect the taste.
  6. After the oil is hot, place the aubergines on the pan and wait for the pieces to turn a beautiful shade of brown, and then flip.
  7. Afterwards, place the aubergines on a cutting board and start spreading a thin layer of ricotta on each of them. Roll them up, however if you find that they do not stay in a roll, you can use a toothpick to stabilize them. (Make sure to take them out before serving the dish though.
  8. Different ingredients can be sprinkled on top of the ricotta in the process like some chopped chives or a drizzle of lemon zest, if you want to put your own personal spin of this dish.

After the preparation and decoration of this beautiful starter, you can make the main dish. There are millions of recipes that involve servings like vegan ratatouille pasta or quinoa dishes that would blow your significant others’ minds. To finish off the lovely evening, share an appetizing raw cake made out of bananas, cocoa powder, walnuts, dates and agave syrup.

Anyone, no matter vegan or not, will be ecstatic after tasting this aubergine dish, so make sure you try it as well! The best thing about a complete, vegan Valentine’s dinner is that it contains all the vitamins and proteins that we need to be our best selves and feel good in our bodies, as well as, leaves us feeling energized, satisfied and not bloated at all.

Nuts provide protein and the vegetables are overflowing with vitamins like A, D and C, so instead of feeling guilty after having a chocolate cake for dessert, you will be focused on your date and celebrating love.

About Amily Blanch: A longtime vegan, red wine advocate, and health ambassador. Member of a team of freelance writers from New York publishing recipes for the Secrets of Vegan Baking blog and product reviews for the Consumerion site.

Interested in submitting a guest recipe post for our blog? Hit us up at vegangirlfriend@gmail.com, and we can chat.

Baked Mac & Cheese Cups

Post by Megan Stulberg 

Another dish I whipped up for American Thanksgiving last week! These were a big crowdpleaser — and by that, I mean everybody ooh’d and ahh’d over them but I ended up eating most of the batch myself. Can you blame me, though? These cups are so good, both as a side dish or an appetizer. These baked mac and cheese cups are gluten-free and vegan, FYI.

And oh look, we made another video! Watch below and then subscribe for more on YouTube.

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Ingredients…

  • 1 box standard gluten-free macaroni
  • 1/2 bag cheddar style shreds (I used Daiya)
  • 1 cup almond milk, roughly
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 tbsp corn meal
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Directions….

  1. Bring large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Dump that box of pasta on in. Cook accordingly, then drain.
  3. While pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Put almond milk in smaller pot and heat on medium. Add cheddar style shreds, stirring regularly until pieces melt. Add nutritional yeast, sea salt, thyme, red pepper and garlic powder. Once thoroughly combined and slightly bubbling, remove from heat.
  4. Drain pasta, then slowly add sauce to larger pot. You’ll probably have some leftover sauce, but add a bit extra as you’ll want extra moisture for baking.
  5. Add flour and cornmeal to pot, then mix to coat pasta evenly with sauce.
  6. Prevent oven to 350F.
  7. Coat muffin tray in coconut oil. Scoop mac and cheese by the spoonful into each cup.
  8. Sprinkle additional cornmeal for crunch, nutritional yeast and thyme on top.
  9. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until slightly browned on top. Ensure that all liquid has evaporated when you remove them from the oven — this is crucial or else the cups won’t stay together.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool.

Serve warm, with dip or sauce of your choice. Makes 12 cups.

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Blueberry Nice Cream and Chia Pudding Parfait

Post by Megan Stulberg

Breakfast! Break that frickin’ fast! But seriously, breakfast is important and people should make it a priority to eat it every day. If you don’t have a hearty appetite in the morning — try this blueberry nice cream and chia pudding parfait that I whipped up. It’s light and refreshing, but filling enough to keep you going until lunch. This recipe is vegan, gluten-free and raw.

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Ingredients…

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 2 cups light coconut milk (approx. 1 can)
  • 1 cup fresh whole blueberries
  • 1/4 cup 100% maple syrup
  • 6 tbsp white chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract

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    Directions…

    1. Chop bananas. Place in plastic bag, then leave in freezer overnight.
    2. Whisk together coconut milk, maple syrup and vanilla in large bowl or plastic storage container.
    3. Add chia seeds by the tbsp, stirring vigorously with spoon to prevent unwanted clumping.
    4. Cover bowl with cling wrap and leave in fridge overnight.
    5. Next morning, stir chia pudding then place back in fridge for 1-2 additional hours to help it further thicken.
    6. Next, make the nice cream. Remove frozen banana chunks from freezer. Using a food processor or blender, combine with 1/2 cup blueberries until smooth and creamy. Be careful not to over blend or else you’ll get a smoothie — which is also good, but not quite the goal here.
    7. When ready to serve, scoop chia pudding into mason jars or clear bowls by the spoonful. Layer with the blueberry nice cream, or top with remaining blueberries.

    Serve chilled. Makes 2 meal servings or 4 snack servings. Enjoy!

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Crunchy “Chicken”, Avocado and Cucumber Sushi Roll (Recipe + Video)

Post by Megan Stulberg 

Back in high school, one of my favourite things to do with friends was get all-you-can-eat sushi. I always felt like I was going to barf after, but in the best way possible. I still love eating it — all sushi places will have at least a few vegan options, and making it at home is super easy once you get the hang of it. I’ve made sushi tons of times before but this roll is by FAR my favourite one yet. The fried “chicken” pieces make it taste like a crunchy roll, making me barely miss tempura. This recipe is obviously vegan and also gluten-free.

Also, this is my first time making a video 100% by myself! Filmed it, made the food, and even edited it. Go me. Watch the video (and subscribe plz n’ thx) on YouTube at:

Photos & recipe below:

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sticky sushi rice, organic if possible
  • 4 nori seaweed sheets
  • 1 255g bag Beyond Meat chicken strips  or alternative fake meat of your choice
  • 1 medium avocado, halved and sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut into long thin strips
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Gluten-free soy sauce, for dipping
  • Other supplies you’ll need: One standard bamboo rolling mat, large knife, water, plastic wrap, cutting board and chopsticks.

 

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Directions:

  1. Wash rice in cold water thoroughly until it runs clear. Bring hot water to a boil with the rice already in the pot. Cook covered for 20 minutes until water has been entirely absorbed and rice is sticky in consistency, stirring occasionally. If the rice is too hard, add water by the teaspoon and continue cooking. Fluff cooked rice with fork and set aside to let cool.
  2. In medium saucepan, heat EVOO until it sizzles. Add all “chicken” strips  and pan fry until crispy, adding additional olive oil while flipping. Set aside.
  3. Line your bamboo rolling mat with plastic wrap, then place on a larger cutting board or clean flat surface.
  4. Lay the rolling mat flat, and place a sheet of nori on top. Add a couple spoonfuls of rice onto the middle of the sheet. Wet fingers (or use a spoon if this grosses you out) and pat rice lightly down into a thin even layer. The rice doesn’t have to go right to the edges — basically, try to create a rectangular section of rice within the rectangular piece of seaweed 1/4 inch from the edge.
  5. Align the chicken strips, avocado and cucumber into a very thin horizontal line at the bottom of the rice on the seaweed sheet. Be careful not to overfill or else your roll will likely fall apart.
  6.  Tightly roll the seaweed sheet from the bottom, using the mat to press it together. Keep going, squeezing the roll to prevent it from falling apart. Dab a bit of water on the edge of the seaweed to seal it.
  7. Use a sharp knife to slice the rolled roll (lol) into bite-size pieces. Wet the knife between cuts to keep it clean. Having trouble doing this right? Use this easy guide here to help.
  8. Repeat steps 4-7 with the remaining sheets, rice and fillings.

Serve with gluten-free soy sauce and eat with chopsticks.

Makes approximately 4 rolls (2 servings).

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No-Bake Peanut Butter Cups

Post by Megan Stulberg

Peanut butter and chocolate has been my favourite taste combination for *literally* (read this in a Chris Traeger voice) as long as I can remember. Seriously! I always got my mum to buy them in bulk around Halloween so I could eat all the extra ones after trick-or-treaters came and went. Now that I’m a fully functioning adult member of society, however, I’ve come up with a healthier version out of necessity.

Get cho’ fix! These babies are gluten-free, vegan and no-bake. You can easily make them raw, too, by switching peanut butter to almond butter.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter, melted or room temperature
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 tsp Himalayan salt

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Line muffin tray with paper baking cups.
  2. Use a high-speed food processor or blender to combine 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup pure maple syrup and 1/2 cup raw cacao powder together until a liquid consistency is reached. If you don’t have a food processor or a blender, use a microwave instead: stop to whisk together every 30 minutes to prevent burning, then keep melting.
  3. Spoon 1 heaping tbsp chocolate batter into bottom of muffin cups so they’re approximately 1/4 of the way full. You should have about half of the mixture left.
  4. Set muffin tray aside in freezer for time being.
  5. In medium mixing bowl, “whip” the peanut butter together with 2 tbsp coconut oil and a touch of salt until as smooth as possible. If you have to…you can pop this in the microwave as well. Shhhh.
  6. Once the chocolate layer is frozen solid (or at least firm), Place a dollop of peanut butter on top of each. It will spread out to the edges, flatten then put baking tray bake in freezer.
  7. Wait for peanut butter layer to set. This should take about 30 minutes.
  8. Pour all remaining liquid chocolate on top of the peanut butter layer to finish off the cups.
  9. Let set in freezer overnight to set.Makes approximately 6 servings. Serve directly from freezer – they should be chilled when serving as they melt easily and you can still bite into them when they’re cold.
    Enjoy!

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Banana French Toast (V, GF)

Post by Megan Stulberg

French toast makes me think of the happy, sleepy Saturday mornings from my childhood. Whisking eggs myself to impress my mum, reading the comic strips in the newspaper, and inevitably taking a nap in front of the TV as the result of a sugar coma.

I figured this was something that’d be hard to veganize, but it was actually really easy! The hardest part was getting the gluten-free bread to stay together, TBH. Banana makes an excellent egg replacement and adds some extra flavour.

Watch the video to accompany this recipe filmed and edited by Zachary Risinger below, then get cooking.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 slices gluten-free bread (I used Food For Life)
  • 3 small/medium bananas, mashed
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup organic maple syrup + additional for topping
  • 2 heaping tbsp organic vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp black chia seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Coconut oil, for cooking
  • Fresh fruit of your choice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In medium mixing bowl, mash banana.
  2. Add almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Whisk together until 100% liquid in consistency. You may need to keep mashing to get rid of all the banana chunks.
  3. Taste test batter at this point — you might want to add a splash of extra vanilla for a more prominent taste.
  4. Add two pieces of bread to bowl. Soak in batter approximately 2 minutes, then flip over and let soak again. If you can wait longer then do so — you really want the bread to soak up the batter as much as possible.
  5. Heat a splash of coconut oil in frying pan at high heat. Once it sizzles, lower heat a tad.
  6. Add both pieces of soaked bread to pan. Let cook in coconut oil. While bread is frying, let two more pieces soak. Flip bread every minute or so to ensure both sides are evenly browned and to prevent burning. Remove cooked pieces from pan, set aside, add additional coconut oil to pan and add next set of soaked bread slices to bowl. Repeat with remaining slices.
  7. Stack french toast evenly between two plates. Top with maple syrup, fresh fruit (I chose bananas and strawberries) and chia seeds — and any other toppings of your choice! Chocolate chips and coconut-based whipped cream would also be great with this.

Serve warm. Makes 2 servings.

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