Vegan Meatball Soup

In our family, there are a good many soup lovers and initially we were quite uncertain if we could make vegan soups which taste as good as those made with meat. Thankfully, we discovered a great way to make healthy, delicious vegetable stock which we found to be a great starting point for making soups. This simple soup is based on this stock and also features soy chunks as great meatball replacements. Enjoy!

Name Vegan Meatball Soup
Serves 4-6
Dr. Greger Points 5
Costs US$ 25
Cooking time 70 mins (first time)/70 min (repeats)
Difficulty Absolute Beginner

Ingredients

  • 4 carrots, chopped into small pieces
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 3 red chillies
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powser
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of soy chunks
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 small red potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 6 cups of vegetable stock
  • 2-3 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning blend
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 heads of Broccoli, cut into pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups of whole-grain Penne
  • 1 bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of Maggi seasoning
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preparation

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot on low-medium heat
  • Add onion and fry until done
  • Add garlic and chilli and fry until garlic is done
  • Add Cayenne Pepper
  • Add bay leaves
  • Increase to medium heat and add carrots and fry for 2 min
  • Add celery and fry for 2 min
  • Add potatoes and fry for 2 min
  • Add vegetable stock and bring to the boil
  • Add Italian seasoning blend, onion powder, garlic powder and thyme
  • Cover the pot and let it simmer on low-medium heat for 20 minutes
  • While the soup is cooking, start preparing the soy chunks. For this, take a medium sized pot and bring water to the boil. Add the soy chunks once the water is boiling and boil them for around 5 minutes. Take out the soy chunks and wash them with cold water. Once the chunks are cooled down, take each one and squeeze out the water.
  • After the soup has been cooking for 20 minutes, add the soy chunks and a cup or two of water. Increase to medium heat and wait until the soup boils again.
  • Once the soup boils again, add the Penne. Let it cook for around 2 min.
  • Then add the broccoli and cook for another 8 min.
  • Lastly, add the parsley, pepper, salt and Maggi to taste and the soup is ready!!

Overnight Chia Seed Pudding

This is the breakfast that we enjoy every week-day. It’s a healthy, goodness filled breakfast that keeps me going through the day without needing to snack until lunch! It’s filled with awesomeness from chia, peanut butter, and fruits. It’s easy to prepare, and delicious.

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Name Overnight Chia Seed Pudding
Serves 1
Dr. Greger Points 4
Costs US$ 3
Cooking time 30 mins (first time)/10 min (repeats)
Difficulty Absolute Beginner

Ingredients

  • 1/3 to 1/2 ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter (we use the one with only peanuts; no nasties added), plus 1 Tbsp for later
  • 1/2 tsp (or less) honey – optional
  • 1 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1 Tbsp flax seeds – optional
  • 4 almonds, chopped
  • Berries and/or other fruits of your choice as a topping

Preparation

  1. Mash the banana and put it into a mason jar.
  2. Add 2 Tbsp chia seeds, 2 Tbsp peanut butter, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp honey, and 1 cup almond or soy milk to the mason jar. Mix it all together with a fork.
  3. Cover and leave in refrigerator overnight.
  4. The next morning, just before serving, add additional 1 Tbsp peanut butter, 1 Tbsp flax seeds (optional) and chopped almonds or other nuts. Mix well. Top with berries and enjoy!

Korean Spinach (Sigeumchi-namul)

Sometimes, I just want to have an easy dinner. But something that is tasty and healthy. This Korean Spinach recipe just hits the spot and I love having it with avocado, sauteed mushrooms, cucumber, rice, soy sauce and miso soup.

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Name Korean Spinach (Sigeumchi-namul)
Serves 4 to 5 people as a side dish
Dr. Greger Points 2
Costs US$ 5
Cooking time 15 minutes
Difficulty Absolute Beginner

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of spinach, cleaned and washed
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 green onion, light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 – 2.5 tsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 – 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

Preparation

  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil.
  2. Add spinach and let boil for 30 to 60 seconds.
  3. Drain the spinach and run it under cold water.
  4. Squeeze handfuls of spinach into balls to gently squeeze out the water.
  5. Cut each ball into roughly 3 parts.
  6. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
  7. Serve with rice and other toppings such as mushrooms, avocados, cucumber, and some miso soup. Enjoy 🙂

 

Delicious Vegan “Chicken” Curry

One of the very first dishes that I tried to make when I moved out of home was chicken curry. I’m an a BIG chicken curry FAN. Mmmmmm….the smell when it is cooking, the flavours, the gravy, ah, no words can describe or do it justice.

You can imagine, then, how I missed having chicken curry when we became vegan. It was one of the few things I missed. It’s not really the chicken that I missed, but the flavour and texture it lent to the curry itself.

I tried so many different recipes from the internet. First, I tried to make it with soya chunks using recipes that looked ‘authentic’ from old Indian ladies. That was a complete and utter failure. I don’t know what exactly I did wrong but the soya chunks were all soft and squished on the outside but still hard and uncooked inside. It also had the terrible,  strong, smell that soya chunks have (or maybe that’s just me being picky?).

Then, I discovered that there was a buzz about Gardien Chick’n Scallopini and apparently it had the texture of chicken and lent itself well to curries. I stalked the only online store that I found that sold this product in Victoria, Australia. They were out of stock for many weeks (months?). I was ecstatic when, one day, I logged on to see they were in stock! I ordered 2 packs straight away. One is still sitting in my freezer (from before Christmas). I guess that tells you something already. Yeah, it didn’t go so well. The ‘chicken’ was so soft and yet not really. It tasted like nothing. Well, no that’s not true, it tasted like processed food. Not great. This time, I also tried a Fijian Indian recipe from the internet (since the ones from the old Indian ladies hadn’t worked out so well last time). Again, a fail. It was way too spicy (and trust me, I love spicy and add cayenne pepper to all my food!). The masala didn’t come together like it should – I could feel the grainy texture still.

Then, I gave up.

I decided to just cook a curry my way, just like I used to cook real chicken curry, but just substitute the chicken for soya chunks. I decided to give the soya chunks another chance. Mostly because Max really loves them and a few days before I had used them in a tomato based sauce that actually turned out quite good.

So anyway, I made the curry as normal and then put the soya chunks in. I didn’t want the soya chunks to be uncooked again so I boiled it for about 5 minutes in water until it doubled in size then ran it under cold water for a few minutes, then squeezed the water out before putting it in the curry to cook (I got this from this blog post). The exact instructions for the curry are below.

I hope you love it as much as I did. In fact, my whole family (and non-vegan relatives) loved it and wanted to take home leftovers!

PS, I’ve made this dish a few times now with great success, so it’s been tried and tested 🙂

So, without further a-do, here is my Delicious Vegan ‘Chicken’ Curry:

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Name Delicious Vegan “Chicken” Curry
Serves 3 (but you can easily double it to serve 6)
Dr. Greger Points 4
Costs US$ 5
Cooking time 1 – 2 hours
Difficulty Confident Cook

Ingredients

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  • 1 cup soya chunks
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 6 – 8 cloves of garlic and 1 inch of ginger, crushed together
  • fresh chillies (optional, and to taste)
  • 4 small (or 2 medium) potatoes, roughly cut into chunks
  • 1 medium tomato, roughly chopped
  • Oil – about 4 – 6 Tbsp (I used canola oil)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp chicken masala (you can find this in most Indian grocers or just use garam masala instead if you don’t have, or can’t find, chicken masala)
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeks (if you double the recipe, don’t double this part as too much fenugreek makes the curry bitter)
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 stick cinnamon, broken into large pieces
  • 2 cloves (when doubling, I put 3 cloves instead of 4 because I don’t really like the taste of cloves)
  • 1 – 2 sprigs of curry leaves
  • coriander, for garnish
  • Salt and chilli powder to taste
  • When I doubled this recipe, I also added 1 star anise

Preparation

  1. Put the soya chunks into a pot with boiling water (just enough water to cover the soya chunks). Boil it until the soya chunks double in size – about 5 minutes.
  2. Drain the water and run the drained soya chunks under cold water for about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Press the soya chunks with your hands to squeeze the water out. I do this by holding 1 or 2 in my fist and squeezing it (but not too hard). If there are any particularly large soya chunks, you can cut it into smaller pieces. I once had a really giant sized one that I made into 3 smaller ones.
  4. Heat the oil in a pot medium pot.
  5. Add the mustard, cumin, fenugreek seeds, cinnamon, and cloves (and star anise, if using).
  6. Once the spices start sputtering, add the onions and cook until the onions are soft and starting to crisp at the edges.
  7. Add the garlic and ginger paste and the curry leaves. Cook it just for a few seconds, careful not to let the garlic burn.
  8. Add the chicken masala, garam masala, and turmeric. Cook the masalas for a few seconds. It’s necessary to cook it like this so that the curry is not grainy at the end. Again, be careful not to burn the masalas. You’ll know its burnt if it starts smelling burnt!
  9. Add the potatoes and soya chunks. Add salt (I sued around 1 and 1/2 tsp salt). Mix well.
  10. Now, we want to fry this for a bit before we add water and cover it. So, cook it uncovered until you see some oil separating (or just until you think it’s sufficiently fried and come together a bit). Leave it uncovered when you do this because we don’t want it accumulating water (which food tends to do if its covered). I had to stir mine quite frequently because my pot was not non-stick and tended to stick at the bottom if left unattended for a while.
  11. Add about 1 cup of water, cover, and cook (stirring frequently) until the potatoes are half way done.
  12. Add tomatoes, stir well, cover, and cook again until the potatoes are cooked to your liking (I like it when some of the potatoes are melted into the curry to make it thicker). If you find that there is not enough ‘gravy’ then feel free to add more water. I added 1 more cup.
  13. Taste and adjust salt and chilli if needed. Finally, add the coriander and take it off the heat.

Enjoy it with rice or roti 🙂

 

Spicy Baked Beans

When I first arrived in New Zealand 10 years ago, one of the things which startled me was the breakfast. I lived in an all-inclusive student accommodation and for better or worse had to eat whatever was given to me. I quickly settled on a winning combination of white toast and baked beans, neither of which I ate before in my life.

But there was always something which bothered me about baked beans and that is that they are sweet. I don’t particularly like sweet things and sugar is not exactly healthy either. So one day I decided to try to make my own baked beans; and to make them spicy. This experiment turned out surprisingly well and spicy baked beans have become a staple of our breakfast ever since their inception.

Here is the recipe:

Name Spicy Baked Beans
Serves 4
Dr. Greger Points 2
Costs US$ 5
Cooking time 30 min (first time) / 20 min (repeats)
Difficulty Beginner

Ingredients

  • 2 400g cups of butter beans (Fagioli Bianchi Di Spangna)
  • 1/2 740 ml bottle of Mutti Passata
  • 6 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon of dried rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons of Italian Herb Mix (the one we use is composed of Garlic, Dried Tomato, Basil, Onion, Black Pepper, Oregano, Parsley, Marjoram, Red Bell Pepper and Canola Oil)
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

Preparation

  • Heat the 3/4 tablespoon of the oil in a large fry pan on medium to low heat

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  • Add the garlic and fry until it gets brown

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  • Add chilli and turmeric and toast/fry it for 1 minute (Sorry I forgot the turmeric while making the picture)

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  • Reduce heat to low and add the remainder of the olive oil (1/4 tablespoon)
  • Add Italian Herb Mix and fry for 1 minute

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  • Add Mutti Passata (remember you only need half the bottle)
  • Increase to medium heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes

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  • Add butter beans
  • Add rosemary, parsley, and garlic powder to taste

Now you can serve and eat on top of toast, bread or buns or just by itself.

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There is one variation which gives the dish a whole different flavour but which is very easy to do. Just replace the dried rosemary flakes with 1/2 teaspoon of Portuguese seasoning for a more zesty taste.

Vegan Iced Coffee (Kind of Healthy)

The great blue skies brought a pleasant 42 degrees Celsius to Melbourne’s West today and everybody felt kind of … hot! Now my dear wife does not like cooled water, so our only sources of hydration are usually room-temperature warm filtered water or hot beverages. I decided that today we needed a real cold drink: iced coffee!

Now, as you may know, the two main ingredients in iced coffee are … well … coffee and ice cream. The former of which we don’t drink in our quest to avoid caffeine and the latter we avoid since it contains dairy. But I let this not deter me and came up with the following:

Name Vegan Iced Coffe
Serves 4
Dr. Greger Points 0
Costs US$4
Cooking time 3 min (first time) / 3 min (repeats)
Difficulty Absolute Beginner

 

Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoons of Caro Cafe (we use Nature’s Cuppa Rich Roast)
  • 1 1/2 cups of ice cubes, crushed (or whole if you don’t have a way to crush them or just feel lazy)
  • 1 cup of unsweetened soy milk
  • 1 cup of cold tap water
  • 3 teaspoons of sugar (more if you like)

Preparation

  1. Put 1/2 cup of cold tap water and the Caro Cafe into a mug and mix thoroughly
  2. Add crushed ice
  3. Add soy milk
  4. Add sugar
  5. Add remaining water (1/2 cup)
  6. Mix well
  7. Divide into four cups and enjoy

Not too difficult, is it? And, as it turns out, quite delicious!

Easy Tofu Scramble

I used to love scrambled eggs. I had perfected the art of making it.

I wanted to find a replacement that fit into our new, vegan, lifestyle.

Tofu to the rescue!

Tofu is amazing. There are so many different ways in which it can be prepared and each way transforms the taste of it.

This scrambled tofu is simple to make and it tastes divine. You can eat it with toast and avocado or try it with our Red Kidney Beans.

The original recipe is from Minimalist Baker but I adapted it to our own tastes and preferences, as always 🙂

Name Easy Tofu Scramble
Serves 4
Dr. Greger Points 3
Costs US$6
Cooking time 40 min (first time) / 20 min (repeats)
Difficulty Beginner

Ingredients

  • 1 block of extra firm tofu (350g), crumbled (you can just crumble it with your fingers!)
  • 1/4 large onion (or 1/2 small onion), chopped
  • 1/4 tomato, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (or any other oil of your choice)
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Additions: cooked broccoli or a handful of raw baby spinach

Preparation

  1. Heat the oil in a pan. Add 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds and let it sputter for just a few seconds.
  2. Add the onions and cook it until the onions are soft.
  3. Add 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder and continue to fry the onions until the onions are cooked to your liking (for as little as a few seconds to a few minutes). I like my onions well-cooked.
  4. Add the 1/2 tomato, chopped, to the pan. Continue cooking until the tomatoes are very soft and start breaking apart.
  5. Add the tofu and stir to combine well.
  6. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 tsp of turmeric, 1/4 tsp smoked paprika and 1/2 tsp of garlic powder with a little bit of water so that you have a pourable sauce. Pour it over the tofu and mix well. Cook for a minute or so more.
  7. Add salt, pepper, and the cooked broccoli or raw baby spinach, and also the nutritional yeast. Mix well to combine and it’s ready to eat.
  8. Enjoy!

 

Red Kidney Beans Taco

On those days when I feel like eating something fresh, crunchy, but also warm and filling, tacos hit just the spot. They are so easy to prepare and the best thing is that I can put anything that I have in the fridge. If I don’t have a particular vegetable, I can replace it with another. With the exception of beans…..for me, tacos must have beans (probably since we can’t have meat).

When I first thought about making tacos on a vegan diet, I couldn’t think of what to use instead of meat. Then, as I became more familiar with vegan cooking, I found that if you add certain spices to beans they taste more ‘meaty’ and can totally hold their own.

I really love cumin. The smell, the taste….mmmmmmm. Added to these beans, they really transform the beans to something else. And the slightly spiced, warm, tomatoe-y beans are a perfect match to put into the crunchy tacos.

Serves 4 hungry adults

Name Red Kidney Beans Taco
Serves 4 as a full meal
Dr. Greger Points 5 (2 points for the beans and 3 for the other fillings)
Costs US$8
Cooking time 40 min (first time) / 30 min (repeats)
Difficulty Beginner

 

Ingredients

  • Two 400g cans of red kidney beans
  • 2 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp cumin powder (you can buy this in a supermarket but if you can, try to get it from an Indian supermarket, where you can buy it usually for a fraction of the price).
  • 140g tomato paste

Preparation

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a fry pan on medium heat.
  2. Add onions and cook until the edges of the onion start getting a bit brown – approximately 10 minutes.
  3. Add 4 chopped garlic and fry for a few seconds.
  4. Add 1 1/2 to 2 tsp of cumin powder and fry with the garlic and onion for about 20 – 30 seconds.
  5. Mix in the 140g of tomato paste and cook for about 2 1/2 minutes.
  6. Add in the drained beans (keep a bit of the water aside to add in later).
  7. Stir the beans to combine it with the spices. Then, add in 1/2 to 3/4 cups of the bean liquid.
  8. Cook, uncovered, for 6 minutes or until the beans reach your desired consistency (it should not be runny or watery but should still be saucy).
  9. Serve it together with crispy tacos (we had 2 packets of the Old El Paso original taco shells) and other veggies for filling.

Other taco fillings:

I used chopped cucumber and tomatoes with a squeeze of lemon juice, some salt, freshly cracked pepper, and cayenne pepper. My sister also made some guacamole (with just an avocado, salt pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder).

You could also add lettuce, spinach, mushrooms, capsicum, or any other veggies that you want really.

Enjoy!

Super Easy 5 Minute Hummus

 

Since going vegan I have been trying to make a lot of things at home, one of those things being hummus. Out of all the recipes I have found, every single one has had tonnes of tahini in it and the thing is, I really don’t like tahini! But without it the hummus just doesn’t taste right… So one day I had an epiphany, could I use less tahini and still get the same results? YES, you most certainly can. And that’s how this recipe came about; it is pretty much identical to this recipe from Minimalist Baker but with less than half of the tahini.

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas, not drained
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced (~2 tbsp juice)
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Preparation

  1. Add garlic and chickpeas to a large microwave safe container and microwave for 4 minutes. (I usually do it in 1 minute increments otherwise it makes really strange popping sounds)
  2. In a food processor add in all remaining ingredients except the oil and pulse, slowly streaming in the olive oil
  3. Once the mixture is smooth and creamy you can transfer it into a mason jar. At this point the hummus will be somewhat runny, if you prefer thicker hummus you can refrigerate it overnight or drain out some of the liquid before microwaving.

The hummus can be stored for up to a week in the fridge.

 

Home-made Vegetable Stock

Recipes often call for stock, but I found it difficult to find a good vegetable stock without added, unwanted, ingredients such as maltodextrin and sugar. I searched online for healthy, tasty alternatives. I tried each one that I could find, but none was right. I remember one of them tasted like mud!

I also tried making my own stock a few times. And failed. Then, I came across this post on BuzzFeed. I tried it and the result was magnificent. Tasty stock that I could use in any meal that called for stock. It didn’t have any salt or sugar and was very healthy. I didn’t put in any additional seasoning, so the stock was neutral and could be used in any cuisine.

The difficulty with the BuzzFeed article was, though, that it didn’t specify what exactly to put in the stock. I then came across another blog post (I forgot where I saw it now), where the writer mentioned buying a ‘stock vegetable’ pack from her grocer. It included leeks, parsnips and turnips. I went to Coles and bought those vegetables. I then made the most yummy stock ever.

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Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 small red onions (you can use brown onions instead if that is what you have). You can also use the skin but since my onions were not organic I peeled the skin off. Cut it into quarters.
  • 3 small carrots, peeled. Again, you can use them without peeling if they are organic. Roughly cut.
  • 1 turnip, quartered.
  • 3 small parsnips, roughly sliced.
  • 2 leeks (I only had the bottom parts but you can put the dark green parts in too if you have it), roughly chopped.
  • Vegetable scraps – whatever you have. I included a lot of herbs such as rosemary, coriander, thyme. I also included celery, spring onions, and some capsicum scraps. Just don’t put in broccoli, cauliflower, kale, eggplants and things that might make the stock bitter.
  • You can also put in mushrooms but I didn’t have any 😦
  •  8 to 10 cups of water.

 

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Preparation

  1. Put all the vegetables into a large pot.
  2. Add 8 to 10 cups of water.
  3. Cook on high, uncovered, until it starts boiling.
  4. Once boiling, lower the heat to simmer and cook for 30 to 40 minutes. You can cook it covered or uncovered. I left mine uncovered because the pot was very full!
  5. After 30 to 40 minutes, strain using a sift. Keep the stock in a pot or large bowl to cool. Once cooled, you can transfer it to mason jars and keep for 3 – 4 days in the refrigerator. If you want to keep it for longer, you can freeze it for up to 3 months (although mine never lasts that long!). To freeze, I just pour the cooled stock into ziplock bags and put in the freezer.