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.

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.

Raw Chocolate Avocado Mousse Tarts 

Post by Megan Stulberg, Alexandra Courts and Aine Davis

We’re back! With another video, you lucky dogs you.

Remember when we made that pad Thai? And those mimosas? Well we made raw chocolate avocado mousse tarts afterwards, and filmed that too. These are the perfect “something sweet” to enjoy after an afternoon of food and fun with your best gal (or guy, or non-binary) pals.

These tarts are raw, gluten-free, vegan, soy-free and artificial sugar-free. They’re SO easy to make too! All you need is some handy ingredients, a blender, a muffin tray and a freezer. Being fuelled by mimosas is also beneficial, but not a requirement.

Watch the video, then follow our recipe! Enjoy.

 
 INGREDIENTS:

For the Tart Bases…

  • 2 cups pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • Pinch of pink Himalayan salt

For the Mousse…

  • Flesh (lol gross) of 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup 100% maple syrup or blue agave
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of pink Himalayan salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Line a muffin/cupcake tray with plastic wrap or strips of wax paper, as shown in the video.
  2. Blend the dates, raw almonds, shredded coconut, raw cacao powder, and pink Himalayan salt until mixture is fine in texture and thoroughly combined.
  3. Press the tart mixture into the base of each muffin base. 1/4 inch of the way full is ideal. Set aside tray with tart bases in freezer for time being.
  4. Blend all ingredients for the mousse together until smooth and creamy in consistency.
  5. Spoon the filling overtop of each tart base until each muffin cup is full. Pat down mousse with back of spoon for a flat look.
  6. Allow the tarts to freeze for 1-2 hours before serving.
  7. Garnish with your toppings of your choice. We chose frozen raspberries and raw pecans.

Serve chilled. Makes approximately 8-10 servings.

Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread

Post by Megan Stulberg

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You ever get a really bad craving and just roll with it? That’s me, all the time. That being said, I just HAD to whip up some banana bread this weekend! Or else I’d die! No, but it certainly felt like that in the 48 hours leading up to it.

The recipe is gluten-free and vegan, and can be made both nut-free and refined sugar-free very easily.

You can get the recipe on my personal site, meganstulberg.com, here: http://meganstulberg.com/2016/08/24/chocolate-chip-walnut-banana-bread.

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Rice Bowl with Tofu in a Thai Peanut Sauce

Post by Megan Stulberg

My boyfriends works at PETA, which is basically a Vegan Girlfriend’s dream. He’s pretty great, for many reasons, but a bonus is that he used to do cooking videos for PETA2. I’m not going to link to it because he’d probably kill me, but there’s a super cute one he did about peanut butter a few years back and this sauce is in it. We made it together last month, and then I further modified it for this dish.

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INGREDIENTS: 

For the sauce…

  • 3/4 – 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup organic smooth peanut butter
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • Black pepper and sea salt, to taste

For the rest of it…

  • 1 block extra-firm tofu (non-GMO if possible)
  • 1 cup texmati rice
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Lime slices, for garnish
  • 2 tbsp cold-pressed EVOO

IMG_8569DIRECTIONS:

  1. Prepare tofu by pressing tofu in paper towel to remove excess moisture.
  2. Bring a pot of water (1 3/4 cup) to boil. Add rice, lower heat, then leave covered to cook for approximately 15 minutes. Every few minutes, stir rice with wooden spoon to prevent sticking. Remove from heat once all water has evaporated and set aside to cool.
  3. While rice is cooking, slice tofu into bite-size cubes. In large saucepan on high heat, add olive oil and wait for it to sizzle. Reduce to low heat, then add tofu to pan. Let tofu fry, flipping occasionally.
  4. Begin the sauce! Add coconut milk to another saucepan on medium heat, then lime juice, garlic powder, salt, pepper and soy sauce. Stir peanut butter like CRAZY before adding it — seriously, this is important or else it’ll be a pain to combine! Also, make sure the peanut butter is room temperature, or even pop it in the microwave for a few to melt it a bit. Anyways, add peanut butter by the tbsp, stirring as you go. The end result should be a creamy, pourable sauce.
  5. If tofu isn’t browned yet, raise to high heat for a minute or so. Add tofu to the other saucepan and thoroughly coat tofu in the peanut sauce.
  6. Serve tofu on a bed of rice, topped with fresh cilantro and lime slices for garnish.

Yum! Makes 4 lunch servings or 2 big dinner servings.

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Vanilla Chia Pudding Parfaits (gf/v/raw)

Post by Megan Stulberg, Photos by Jenn McNaughton

These parfaits were perfect! I’m good friends with Jenn McNaughton, fashion blogger extraordinaire. Seriously though, check out her work at ethcsofstyl.com. Jenn recently interviewed me for the Ryersonian, and we discussed how the Human Rights Commission of Ontario has legally recognized veganism as an ideology with protection against discrimination. I headed over to Jenn’s apartment last Saturday, equipped with groceries and a hearty appetite, to whip up these treats for Jenn to photograph to accompany the article.

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Ingredients…

  • 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries,chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh whole blueberries
  • 1/4 cup 100% maple syrup
  • 9 tbsp (0.56 cups) white chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakesIMG_6221IMG_6232Directions…
    1. Whisk together almond milk, maple syrup and vanilla in large bowl or plastic storage container.
    2. Add chia seeds by the tbsp, stirring vigorously with spoon to prevent unwanted clumping.
    3. Cover bowl with cling wrap and leave in fridge overnight.
    4. Next morning, stir chia pudding then place back in fridge for 1-2 additional hours to help it further thicken.
    5. When ready to serve, scoop chia pudding into mason jars by the tbsp. Layer with fresh fruit and coconut flakes, or simply add after as toppings.

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

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