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.

Portobello Mushroom Steaks (GF, V)

Post by Megan Stulberg

I probably shouldn’t remember this part of the evening, but on my boyfriend and I’s first date ever, we went to a vegan restaurant where I ordered a portobello mushroom steak. Considering how much I wouldn’t shut up about how amazing it was, I am truly very very very lucky that he’s stuck around this long. But I recently went back to that restaurant, ordered the same dish, and they brought me a cauliflower steak instead. What?! It still tasted great, but I must admit I was pretty disappointed. So I set off to make a version at home instead, because I make my own dreams come true. I made this for Christmas dinner and it ended up tasting exactly like I hoped it would.

This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.

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INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 large portobello mushroom caps
  • 1/2 cup flourless vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • Splash of red wine (make sure it’s vegan! check barnivore.com)
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat vegan butter in a large pan on medium until it begins melting.
2. Add garlic and onion. Pour half the broth, half the soy sauce and red wine into pan, mixing together.
3. Add mushroom caps to pan. Pour remaining broth and soy sauce directly on top of mushroom caps. Add the basil, thyme, salt and pepper at this point as well.
4. Let cook for 2 minutes, then flip. Continue to do this until both sides have browned, mushrooms are completely coated and there’s no more sauce in the pan. If the sauce evaporates before the mushrooms are fully browned, add a bit more broth and garlic, then keep cooking.
5. Remove from heat. Serve immediately with side dishes — I opted for shepherd’s pie with gravy and Hilary’s gluten-free holiday stuffing.
Serve hot. Makes 2 servings.

RECIPES + TIPS TO BE VEGAN ON A BUDGET

Post by Megan Stulberg

One of the most common things I hear when I tell people I’m vegan is something along the lines of, “I want to go vegan too, but I can’t afford it”. I hate to call people out, but that just doesn’t make any sense! My diet isn’t a luxury, or the sign of a lavish lifestyle. Truth be told (and despite what our Instagram feed looks like) I eat very basic dishes 90% of the time. Meat and cheeses are expensive, tofu and veggies are not. Sure, if you’re buying organic cold-pressed juices and take-out vegan meals every day, then yeah. It’ll be expensive. But it’s not hard to do at all, as long as you do it right. Think of it like skipping a step — instead of feeding cows and pigs what they need to get big enough to be slaughtered and eaten, why not eat what the cows and pigs are eating instead? That way you save energy, water, money, and oh yeah. Lives.

Anyways, what I’m saying is stop making excuses. I went vegan when I was a broke ass university student, and you can too. Here are some staple recipe ideas to get you started that are balanced, cost-efficient and able to be prepared in bulk. 

Still have questions? You can always ask us! Here to help. Hit me up at vegangirlfriend@gmail.com.

SIMPLE PASTA BOLOGNESE:

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Ingredients Needed:

  • Pasta (I use corn-based)
  • Jar marinara sauce
  • Beyond Meat “beef” crumbles
  • Go Veggie vegan parmesan “cheese”
  • Dried herbs and spices like basil, thyme, garlic powder, onion, black pepper

Steps:

  1. Make the pasta.
  2. Heat the sauce, sauté the “beef” crumbles. Combine.
  3. Coat pasta evenly, top with parmesan and serve.

Servings: 2-4

SIMPLE CURRY:

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Ingredients Needed:

  • White rice
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • Frozen veggies (optional)
  • Curry powder, chill powder, garlic, onion, salt, black pepper — whatever spices you like pretty much, the only one you really need here is the curry powder.

Steps:

  1. Make the rice. I am not going to write step-by-step instructions out for you. You should know how to make rice. If you don’t, well…*gestures to door*. 
  2. Heat the coconut milk on stovetop. Add the spices.
  3. Heat the chickpeas, sauté the veggies in olive oil, dump everything together and serve.

Servings: 2-4

SIMPLE SUSHI: 

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Ingredients Needed:

  • Sticky rice
  • Seaweed
  • Cucumber
  • Avocado (optional)
  • Gluten-free or regular soy sauce (optional)

Steps:

Follow our existing recipe here and just omit the meat substitute.

Servings: 2 servings, approximately 4 rolls.

SIMPLE MAC & CHEESE: 

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Ingredients Needed:

  • Pasta (I used corn-based)
  • Daiya cheddar cheese shreds
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Almond, soy or coconut milk
  • Garlic, onion, thyme, salt, pepper

Steps:

  1. Cook pasta.
  2. Heat non-dairy milk on stovetop. Add Daiya shreds and wait for it to start melting, stir until completely combined into pourable sauce. Add nutritional yeast and spices, stir until mixed.
  3. Combine pasta and sauce. Serve with topping of your choice (ketchup, coconut bacon, veggies)

Servings: 2.

SIMPLE EVERYTHING-BUT-THE-KITCHEN-SINK BOWL: 

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Ingredients:

  • A grain or starch (white rice, brown rice, potatoes, quinoa, pasta, whatever you have)
  • A protein (fake meat, lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh)
  • A vegetable (lettuce, peas, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, kale)
  • A sauce/oil (marinara, pesto, olive oil, lemon juice)
  • A seasoning (nutritional yeast, garlic, onion, chill flakes, rosemary, basil, salt)

Steps:

Don’t worry about it! Cook whatever you have, in the way that you think is best. Sometimes it might seem a bit strange, but sometimes you’ll come up with something super amazing that’ll become a staple in your weekly meals. I mean, that’s how I figured out you can make personal pizzas by baking corn tortillas. Keep an open mind and embrace the experimental process.

SNACKS!

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  • Ants On A Log. But modified, because nobody likes celery. Apple slices, peanut butter (I buy organic, sugar-free jars of this at Whole Foods for $2.50 — seriously, such a kitchen staple) and raisins.
  • Smoothies. Seriously! This isn’t a dumb thing to say is a snack! Healthy, filling and cheap. Buy those marked down, bruised bananas on sale in bulk. Chop them up, freeze them, and blend them with frozen spinach, almond milk, and a touch of maple syrup (optional). You can do this to make nana ice cream as well.
  • Popcorn. Buy the actual kernels and not the microwavable bags, it’s a much better deal this way. Add coconut oil and salt, maybe a little nutritional yeast, you can even do something crazy like melt chocolate on there.

OTHER TIPS!

  • Instead of buying fresh garlic, fresh onion, etc. — opt for the powdered versions. They won’t go bad and will basically last forever.
  • Buy frozen produce whenever possible, unless you’re really really really really good at eating everything in your fridge before it goes bad. Which I doubt. Sorry for the lack of trust, but I’m probably right.
  • Stock up on “cheap” proteins. Beans, lentils, tofu and peanut butter make the world go round.
  • Buy nutritional yeast in bulk. It’s super high in B12 and has a great cheesy taste to it. You’ll start putting it on everything, trust me.

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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Vegan Girlfriend’s Online Shop Soft Launch

UPDATE: SHOP IS CLOSED FOR FUTURE NOTICE! We had fun while we did, we just didn’t make any money and it was really time consuming lol. ❤

If you follow us on Instagram then you know that VGF Megan Stulberg  has been designing some vegan-themed goodies. And finally, it’s here! We have just soft launched our Etsy shop. Since we are *just* getting started, everything is in pretty low quality — but let’s stick with marketing it as “limited supply” or ooh! Even better: “limited edition”. More designs will be produced soon as well.

You can get…

  • Tofu enamel pins for $8 USD
  • Kale holiday postcards w/ envelopes 5 pack for $10 USD
  • Blood & pus milk carton sticker for $3 USD
  • Plants heart sticker for $3 each
  • “Hey” donut sticker for $3 eachWe’re don’t really expect to turn a profit or anything with these, we just want to promote veganism and also add more cute to the world. Money from sales will simply go back into making more of ’em. We’re still figuring out shipping and pricing so numbers may bop around a bit in our shop — if anything seems off to you, please don’t hesitate to contact us at vegangirlfriend@gmail.com.

Visit our Etsy shop here, and order soon in time to get cute things before the holidays! We ship to US and Canada. We can potentially ship elsewhere off of Etsy, for international orders please chat to us directly at the same email above. ^

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Improved Pumpkin Pie (GF, V, No-Bake)

Post by Megan Stulberg

I have made many a’ pumpkin pies in my day. There’s this one I posted last year, for instance — which was good, but the consistency just wasn’t quite right and I knew I could do better. I made this dish the other day for American Thanksgiving and god *damn*, was it an improvement! The only problem was that it was all pretty last minute and the store was sold out of non-dairy whipped cream (my own fault), so I had it with vanilla bean ice cream instead. Still real good, though.

This pie is no-bake, raw except for the pumpkin puree, soy-free, gluten-free and vegan.

Watch the video below, click through to subscribe to us on YouTube, and read the following recipe! Enjoy.

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INGREDIENTS…

FOR THE CRUST:

  • 1 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight
  • 1 cup pitted dates, soaked overnight

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 3/4 standard can pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup 100% maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp organic vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger

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DIRECTIONS…

  1. To make crust…Soak dates and almonds in separate bowls overnight.
  2. Drain. Pulse dates and almonds in food processor until crumb-like consistency has been reached.
  3. Line a small 5-inch round pan with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Press mixture into bottom of dish firmly to form an even crust. Leave in freezer to set at least 1 hour.
  4. To make filling…Blend all remaining ingredients until smooth. Spread onto crust and let set in freezer 1-2 hours, or overnight.
  5. Remove from freezer to thaw at room temperature for 1 hour, or in the fridge for 4-5 hours.
  6. Slice pie and serve with coconut whip or vanilla ice cream. Leftovers can be kept in fridge.

Makes 1 standard pie (6-8 slices).

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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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