One of the questions I get asked about veganism quite frequently, is “what do you eat?”. This is, out of all of them, the question I feel is one of the most worrisome for people, and also one of the most authentic. When faced with someone living such a different lifestyle, people really want to know what it is that you fill your plate with. I remember having this question before I went vegan, and it might be the most important one, right after the motivation and reasons to go vegan. We all want to make a difference in this world when we hear the truth about farming practices and the cruelty animals face daily due to our choices, but we just don’t know how. We’re seriously worried about how we will fill our plates and have the joyful experience we’ve always had with food. All of this is possible of course, and we’ve talked about it with tons of yummies in our Going Veggie posts and especially in our What’s For Dinner posts, in which I show you everything I eat for one week, but today I’m taking you on a little trip inside our simple daily grub.
My friends sometimes call me the veganizer, stating that if I see any dish on this planet, I’m immediately on a mission to make it vegan and I don’t stop until I do. I’ve made vegan versions of burgers, hot dogs, comforting holiday meals, chillies, barbecues, pies, cakes, cupcakes, muffins, pancakes, french toast, traditional American, Venezuelan, Spanish, Mexican, Italian, Russian and even Swiss cuisine, sushi platters, German platters with sauerkraut, potato salad, veggie sausages, you name it, I’ve done it! The truth is there hasn’t been a single recipe or dish I haven’t been able to recreate in some way, and this means that you still get to have all your favorite comfort foods as a vegan. However, the question is, do I make an elaborate vegan dish at every single meal, every single day? What happens, on weekdays, when I’m rushing or when I don’t have time to go to the store and get the special ingredients I need for a recipe? The answer to this question is almost always, a veggie bowl.
A veggie bowl, and the sky is the limit when it comes to what to fill them with, is a bowl (or a dish), with every component we need to be really healthy, but with the flexibility of mixing and matching. Once you get the type of ingredients down, and take a look at all of the possibilities, you can build your veggie bowls with whatever you have on hand in the kitchen. Today I’m sharing my favorites with you. These are not recipes, and that’s what’s good about them, they are more like assembling ideas for you to mix and match, reach, grab, add, and eat! The other wonderful thing about these bowls is how they are based on whole foods, they are as down to earth as it gets! You can of course still have your yummy veggie meats and naughty treats (I always do), but I love to eat simply too and that’s how these beautiful and hearty bowls came to be. I was tempted to separate these into separate posts for each category, but I think it’s easier to have all these ideas in one single page for you to return to again and again and get some delicious ideas for your own meals. Let’s go!
Big ol’ Cereal Bowl
My breakfast almost every day of the week!
– All natural cereals (you can find these at health food stores, or find commercial varieties without too much added sugar): bran sticks, bran flakes, oats, granola, puffed quinoa, puffed amaranth, puffed millet, there are so many to choose from! Mix as many as you have or like or keep it simple with just two or three.
– Omega 3 source: Ground flax seeds or chia seeds.
– Fruit: my favorites are berries and bananas, but the sky is the limit here: cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, mango, kiwi, apple, banana, dried fruit such as chopped dates, figs, apricots, raisins or cranberries.
– Nuts: my favorites are chopped walnuts, but there are plenty to choose from: macadamia nuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios, etc.
– Your favorite plant-based milk (preferably calcium fortified): My favorite for cereal is calcium fortified rice milk, but there are so many!: soy, almond, hemp, sesame, macadamia nut, quinoa, oat, coconut, and more.
Hip Brown Rice Bowl
A warmer option for the cold months and great for using up brown rice leftovers!
– Leftover cooked whole grains (heat them up for a bit): brown rice is my favorite, but also: quinoa, millet, amaranth, bulgur, etc.
– Fruit: Berries, and bananas are my go to, but add whatever your heart desires.
– Chopped dates (a must!).
– Chopped walnuts or your nut of choice.
– An omega 3 source: ground flax seeds, chia seeds or walnuts as stated above.
– Topping: your favorite warmed up plant-based milk (preferably calcium fortified). You will use much less than with cereal, a little bit will do.
– Sweetener: drizzle agave, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, molasses, or brown sugar on top, and finish it off with a dash of cinnamon if you’d like.
Health Nut Yogurt Bowl
My go to breakfast after my traditional weekend 5K runs!
– Your favorite plant-based yogurt: yogurt made with coconut milk, soy milk, almond milk, etc., and in your favorite flavor. Mine is usually a lemon soy yogurt, sometimes blueberry.
– Your favorite granola (just a tiny bit for added crunch).
– Lots of fruit: my favorites are all the berries, pomegranate seeds, cherries and chopped banana.
– Omega 3 source: ground flax seeds, chia seeds or chopped walnuts.
(Optional: a drizzle of agave if using plain unflavored yogurt).
Classic Oatmeal Bowl
A quick warm breakfast in a pinch!
– Cooked oats (I cook mine in water and add a bit of plant-based milk at the end).
– Your favorite fruit.
– Nuts and dried fruit: chopped walnuts, sliced almonds, chopped pecans, chopped dates, golden raisins, dried cranberries, you name it!
– Omega 3 source: ground flax seeds or chia seeds.
– Sweetener: A drizzle of agave, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, some brown sugar, and I love topping mine with cinnamon at the very end.
– A drizzle of your favorite calcium fortified plant-based milk.
Down to Earth Buddha
My favorite, and a very basic veggie bowl with nourishing food for the soul!
– Your favorite cooked whole grain: brown rice (short grain, long grain or basmati), black rice, red rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, whole wheat couscous, bulgur, etc.
– Cooked beans or lentils: red lentils, puy lentils, brown lentils, green lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, white beans, black-eyed peas, azuki beans, canelinni beans, there are hundreds of varieties. I cook mine from scratch with onions, herbs, peppers, chillies, tomatoes and spices making a big batch to last me a week and even freeze some. You can follow our tutorial for cooking beans, or if you don’t want to cook beans from scratch, you can absolutely use canned beans. Simply drain and rinse them and sauté them with some onions, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, spices and whatever you like, to add flavor and texture.
– Cooked greens or another high calcium vegetable: my usual suspects are kale (the most nutritious veggie on the planet), bok choy (also super high in nutrients), collard greens and broccoli, but there are so many others to choose from including mustard greens, turnip greens, arugula, okra. The always easy to find greens like spinach and swiss chard are also wonderful greens, but they are high in oxalates which can impede calcium absorption, so simply alternate them with other greens, however these are high in many other minerals so feel free to include them! I always rotate my greens to increase the nutrients I’m getting.
– A small amount of a natural fat source such as avocado, guacamole, olive tapenade or a drizzle of tahini (sesame seed paste) to top your grains. Our carrot – ginger sauce is also incredible on this bowl.
Mix it Up Buddha (a.k.a. Leftover Buddha)
When I have little odds and ends in the fridge, they come together in this pretty bowl.
– Leftover whole grains or whole grain pilaf (see ideas in the previous bowl).
– Leftover beans or bean stew (see ideas in the previous bowl).
– A raw green salad with all the leftover veggies I have in the fridge and a simple dressing.
– A small amount of a natural fat source like avocado, guacamole, a drizzle of tahini, some pesto or olive tapenade.
My homage to the wonder that is Indian cuisine.
– Whole grain basmati rice, white basmati, or your favorite kind of rice.
– A curry stew made with a veggie protein source like tempeh, tofu, seitan or even whole beans, cooked with onions and other veggies, curry powder or paste, and coconut milk. Enjoy our step by step recipe for a tempeh curry here and for a whole bean curry here! Try to include some greens or broccoli inside the stew or as a side.
– My personal addition to all curries, thanks to the way my mamma made it: plantains! Either roasted in the oven or pan-fried, but this is of course optional in this bowl.
My husband’s favorite!
– A cooked whole grain: my favorite for this one is millet, but choose any you like: brown rice, black rice, red rice, quinoa, whole wheat couscous, bulgur, amaranth, etc.
– Black beans, pinto beans or another bean of your choice. Enjoy our tutorial for cooking beans here, or simply drain and rinse a can of beans and quickly sauté them with some onion, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, cumin and other spices.
– Salsa or pico de gallo. Store bought (buy one with whole food ingredients, there are so many all natural brands out there), or make our famous party salsa!
– Guacamole or chopped avocado. Here’s the recipe for my famous and quick guacamole.
– Optional: some fresh chopped cilantro sprinkled on top.
(No panda included! Only Asian inspired! Ha!)
This one always makes me think of my beautiful sister in law, Gaby. She loves it!
– Cooked brown rice, sushi rice, whole wheat basmati or white basmati (or any other grain you like).
– A veggie protein like tofu, tempeh or seitan (or even your favorite veggie meat), cooked until golden brown in a pan and then drizzled with soy sauce, maple syrup or agave and some liquid smoke if you have some. Cooked until caramelized and sweet and smoky.
– Steamed broccoli.
– Optional sauces and toppings: a sauce of your choosing. My favorite is making a quick peanut sauce with an all natural peanut butter, some soy sauce, ginger, rice vinegar, agave nectar and some water. You can also make our scrumptious ginger carrot sauce, or serve some simple soy sauce on the side. Scallions and sesame seeds make this bowl look like it came from your favorite take out place, and give everything a wonderful crunch and flavor!
Crisp n’ Sweet
A fancy pants twist on the bowl above. A bit more elaborate but perfect when you have guests coming over!
– Cooked brown rice, sushi rice, whole wheat basmati or white basmati (or any other grain you like).
– Tofu or tempeh (if using tempeh remember you always have to steam it for 5 to 10 minutes before you do anything else), marinated for 30 minutes in a mixture of agave nectar or brown rice syrup, some salt and pepper, lemon or lime juice (or rice vinegar) and a tiny bit of vegetable oil. Then coated in ground cashews or almonds and cooked until golden brown in a pan.
– Broccoli and/or other veggies stir fried or steamed.
– A sweet and sour sauce or a sweet chili sauce for dipping your tofu or tempeh. Try getting an all natural brand, or make your own combining some vegetable oil, agave nectar, salt, pepper and sriracha or sweet chili sauce.
– Optional but yummy toppings: chopped scallions and black sesame seeds.
Oodles of Noodles
The ultimate couch sitting, movie watching comfort food.
– Your favorite noodles: rice noodles, sweet potato noodles, buckwheat noodles, whole wheat noodles, quinoa noodles, pumpkin noodles, even green tea noodles!
– Stir fried veggies: make it with what you have on hand… onions, ginger, garlic, bell peppers, scallions, broccoli, broccolini, snow peas, edamame, zucchini, cabbage, kale, carrots, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, tiny corn spears, the sky is the limit!
– A veggie protein source cooked until golden brown or stir fried with the veggies: tofu, tempeh, seitan, or simple steamed and shelled edamame!
– Optional sauce: a sauce of your choosing: a quick peanut sauce with an all natural peanut butter, some soy sauce, ginger, rice vinegar, agave nectar and some water. A sweet dressing made with miso paste, rice vinegar, agave or brown rice syrup, some soy sauce and water. You can also make our scrumptious ginger carrot sauce, or serve some simple soy sauce on the side.
– Optional toppings: Scallions, sesame seeds, chopped roasted peanuts or cashews, chopped cilantro and/or a wedge of lemon or lime.
We’ll have a whole post on salads and dressings soon, but here are some simple ideas to add some heartiness and fun to your everyday salads and make them a full meal on their own!
Hearty – Chunky
My favorite when I’m pressed for time!
– Tons and tons of your favorite greens!: spinach, arugula, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, rocket, dandelion greens, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, mache, escarole, swiss chard, and so many more!
– Other crunchy vegetables: shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, bell peppers, etc.
– Hearty vegetables (the superstars of this salad bowl): grilled mushrooms, artichoke hearts, roasted beets, roasted potatoes and /or roasted sweet potatoes.
– Your favorite dressing, or a simple drizzle of olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice and salt and pepper.
A wonderful tangy mess in a bowl!
– A base of your favorite greens (ideas in the previous bowl but my favorite for this one is simple, crunchy romaine lettuce).
– A Mexican inspired mix of leftover grains (brown rice in particular!), beans, corn and fresh herbs all tossed in salsa and some lime juice or lemon juice.
– Guacamole on top.
It’s all about the toppings!
– A base of your favorite greens: spinach, arugula, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, rocket, dandelion greens, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, mache, escarole, swiss chard, and so many more!
– A vegan mayonnaise based dressing (mix some vegan mayo with spices, lemon juice, water or plant-based milk to thin it out, some mustard, salt and pepper, garlic powder and onion powder). Toss this with your greens before assembling the salad.
– Toppings: The sky is the limit here and you can go from traditional cobb to wackadoodle! Simply place them in separate little piles and don’t toss them, it’s the beauty of the cobb: smoky tofu or tempeh bacon, chopped tomatoes, chopped avocado, shredded vegan cheese, chopped scallions, shredded carrots, fresh crumbled or chopped tofu, crispy seitan cutlets, chopped cucumbers, chopped olives, croutons, go crazy!
Kale to the Fall!
Kale rocks, that’s all I have to say about that!
– Your favorite kind of kale. My favorite for salads is curly kale, stems removed and torn with my hands.
– Your favorite dressing, mashed avocado or a simple dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Use this to massage your kale with your fingers until it wilts down a bit.
– Your favorite fruits and veggies: For this one I like using, carrots, sweet potatoes, grilled mushrooms and slice pear or apples.
– Nuts and dried fruit: Toasted pecans, cashews, walnuts or almonds, dried cranberries, dates and / or raisins.
Tropical – Citrus
An homage to my home country of Venezuela, where people leave bags of mangoes from their trees out on the streets for you to take, due to the mango overload of our precious trees. Ahhh I can smell them from here!
– Your favorite greens: My favorites for these salads are mache, red leaf lettuce, baby spinach and arugula.
– Cut up tropical fruits: mango, papaya, pineapple, coconut, lichee, sweet melon, kiwi, or your favorites. Even grapes!
– Tempeh or tofu bacon. Simply fry up tofu or tempeh (previously steamed in this case) with some soy sauce, liquid smoke (optional but great), and maple syrup until crispy and caramelized.
– Toppings: A drizzle of olive oil, lemon or lime juice and salt and pepper, and optional toppings such as pickled onions, sun-dried tomatoes, capers or nuts.
(Here’s the step by step recipe for this beautiful tempeh, mango and pickle onion salad above).
Veggie Burger Crashed the Party!
Heartiness in a pinch!
– Your favorite greens.
– Your favorite veggies and fruits.
– Your favorite dressing or a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar, salt and pepper.
– A crumbled up or chopped veggie burger to top your beautiful salad! You won’t believe you hadn’t thought of this sooner!
Long live the veggie bowl! … and all this glorious vegan food nature provides…