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.

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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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Vegan Girlfriend’s Tofu Pad Thai!

Post by Aine Davis, Megan Stulberg and Alexandra Courts

We all live very busy lives (Megan works full-time as a social media specialist, Aine’s a sketch comedian and Alex has her own no-bake dessert company), so it’s a rarity that the 3 of us get to produce content for Vegan Girlfriend as a group. But, lo and behold, we managed to whip up this delicious tofu pad thai together!

We even created a video to accompany the recipe, which you can watch here. A huge thank you to our friend Andrew Olivares for filming and editing this video for us! We’ve also *finally* set up a YouTube account, we’ll have toooons more videos coming your way soon, so subscribe to us here.


INGREDIENTS:

For the sauce…

  • 1 cup organic peanut butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup wheat-free tamari
  • 1/4 cup Sriracha or hot sauce of your choice
  • Juice of 3 limes

For the rest…

  • One package of organic nigari firm tofu, pressed and cubed
  • One package of rice noodles, prepared as per package’s directions.
  • 1 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup bok choy, washed and broken apart
  • 1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Handful cilantro

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Prepare rice noodles by placing on large bowl full of boiling water.
  2. In a hot skillet, heat coconut oil. Add garlic. Sautée until garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add in chopped mushrooms.
  4. Once mushrooms have reduced in size, add in cubed tofu.
  5. Squeeze the juice of one lime over mushrooms and tofu. Cook evenly on all sides, flipping throughout.
  6. To make the sauce… In a pot, boil one cup of water. When the water reaches a rolling boil, whisk in peanut butter, tamari, sriracha and lime juice. Reduce to medium heat.
  7. Once all the ingredients have been combined, pour half of the sauce into skillet with tofu. Sautée the mushrooms and tofu in the sauce until the tofu is slightly crispy.
  8. While mushrooms and tofu saute, heat bok choy in separate skillet on medium heat until slightly wilted.
  9. Serve tofu over warm rice noodles. Use ladle to coat with sauce. Top with cilantro, bok choy, green onions, and lime slices. Voila!

Makes approximately 4 meal-sized servings.

 

Mushroom Gravy Poutine (Vegan, GF)

Post by Megan Stulberg

I’m Canadian. Like, grandparents-are-from-Nova-Scotia Canadian. That being said, I don’t mess with boring poutine! This poutine recipe is a delicious, healthy alternative to the OG dairy version.

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Ingredients…

For the gravy:

  • 2 cups gluten-free vegetable stock
  • 1 cup chopped cremini mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup almond or soy milk
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp ground sage
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter-style spread
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Cold-pressed EVOO, as needed

Other:

  • 3 large potatoes
  • 1/2 bag shredded vegan mozzerella “cheese” of your choice (I used Daiya)
  • Sea salt and black pepper, throughout

DIRECTIONS…

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Scrub and wash potatoes to remove any dirt, then peel. Cut length-wise into long, thin strips. Toss in 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.
  3. Line a baking pan with aluminium foil or parchment paper smothered in olive oil to prevent burning and sticking. Lay fries out in an even layer on baking pan.
  4. Bake in oven for around 35 minutes, flipping every 10 minutes or so.
  5. While the fries are baking, prep the gravy:
  6. Heat EVOO in large skillet over medium-high heat.
  7. Add onion and saute for 3 minutes until browned. Add sage, garlic, mushrooms, almond milk, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are browned, stirring regularly.
  8. Add vegetable stock and vegan butter-style spread, lower heat to simmer. Once most liquid has evaporated, add vegetable stock and brown rice flour. Stir occasionally and cook for an additional few minutes. For thicker gravy, feel free to add additional flour by the tbsp.
  9. Reduce heat to low simmer, stirring occasionally, to keep gravy warm.
  10. Remove fries from oven and wait to slightly cool. Plate the fries, take a handful of vegan “cheese” and sprinkle it on top, then pour the hot gravy over everything.

Serve hot! Makes approximately 2 servings.

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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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Pineapple Cream Dream Bars (raw, gf, v)

Recipe by Megan Stulberg

These treats got me through some hard times. I mean that! I was hired to draw 87 portraits in less than 2 weeks for a client (If you’re into it, check out my illustration work here) and kept taking snack breaks to refuel. I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that I’m still waiting to get paid for the project two months later, or the fact that I’m posting this recipe two months later.

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Ingredients:

For the base…

  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

For the cream…

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 2 hours but preferably overnight
  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple chunks (can substitute for 1/4 cup pure pineapple juice)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp 100% maple syrup or blue agave
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Combine all “base” ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor until finely chopped and thoroughly incorporated.
  2. Line a square pan with long strips of parchment paper that hang over the edges.
  3. Press mixture into bottom of pan, firmly packing down with fingers or a fork to form the base. Set aside in freezer for 30 minutes to set.
  4. Combine the cashews, pineapple, coconut oil, maple syrup, shredded coconut and vanilla extract until creamy in consistency.
  5. Smooth cream overtop of base evenly. Sprinkle additional shredded coconut on top.
  6. Leave in freezer overnight.
  7. Remove pan from freezer and use parchment paper to pop out of dish. Leave on a cutting board for half an hour to thaw, then use a large knife to slice into rectangles.
  8. Top each piece with an additional raw walnut chunk for garnish if desired. Serve immediately or let thaw an additional 30 minutes.

Serve chilled. Makes approximately 9 bars.

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Hearty n’ healthy veggie pita pizza

Recipe by Megan Stulberg

Now I wouldn’t call myself lazy, but I’m all about being able to skip a step or two whenever possible. Prime example: I was going to make personal pizzas the other day, and then stumbled upon gluten-free (!!!) and vegan (obviously) pitas in the grocery store. And boom, pita pizzas happened. No crust, no fuss. You’re welcome in advance.

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Ingredients…

  • 2 standard pitas (I used Aidan’s gluten-free)
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped coarseley
  • 1 cup pure tomato paste
  • 1 cup Daiya mozzarella-style shreds
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup black olives
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic (roughly 2 large cloves)
  • 2 tbsp cold-pressed EVOO

Directions…

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2.  Lie pitas down flat on baking sheet lined with aluminium foil.
  3. Use ice cream scoop to place heaping dollop of tomato paste onto middle of pita. Flip ice cream scoop over, using back of spoon to smooth paste evenly over pita. Leave room at edges to form crust. Repeat for second pita.
  4. Sprinkle daiya, arugula, black olives and pineapple evenly all over pita. Repeat for second pita. Feel free to substitute or add additional toppings if desired.
  5. Place in oven for 20 minutes.
  6. In a medium saucepan on high heat, let garlic sauté in olive oil. Once it has browned, add onion slices. Lower heat and let sauté 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, then cook until everything has browned and olive oil is all gone. Remove from heat.
  7. Remove baking sheet from oven. Add garlic, onion and mushrooms to pitas.
  8. Let cook in oven for an additional 5-10 minutes. Be sure to check on it every few minutes to prevent burning, as every oven is different.

Let cool 15 minutes before slicing. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings (1 individual pizza/approximately 4 slices each).

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