Words by Marléna Ahearn
Photos by Julia Merrell
Eating plant-based is beneficial to your health, the environment, and reduces harm to animals. Knowing this, perhaps you started the year with Veganuary, or vowed to eat less meat in 2020, and you're looking to go vegan. Veganism is more than a diet or an ethical stance—it's also delicious!
If you’ve ever considered going more plant-based, or are just looking from some new meal inspiration, check out the favorite go-to meals of four Rochester plant-based enthusiasts.
Ali Lawrence, owner of Spirit and Abundance
For breakfast, I love a green smoothie with very little fruit with a small bowl of granola or fruit with plant based yogurt. In the colder months, I gravitate towards tofu scramble with veggies, oatmeal, or if I’m in the mood for a treat, waffles or pancakes!
- 4 oz firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Pinch of black salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. Press the tofu by wrapping it in a cloth or towel and place on a plate and cover with another plate. On top of that plate place a can of beans, tomatoes or other heavy item and leave for around 20 minutes.
2. When the tofu is pressed, heat the pan on medium heat, lightly oil, and crumble the tofu into the pan.
3. While the tofu heats up, mix all the spices together in a small bowl and add just enough water to make a runny sauce
4. Pour the sauce into the pan and stir to coat the tofu. Cook until the tofu is heated through and the sauce has thickened.
5. Serve or keep pan on low while finishing up pancakes or other dishes.
Andrea Parros, owner of The Red Fern
I tend to eat light at lunch so that I can keep moving! Rice paper wraps are a perfect light lunch. Some of my favorite fillings are: caesar salad, marinated kale or steamed beets and cashew macadamia cheese, and shredded cabbage, cucumber, carrot cilantro, and peanut sauce. If I'm cooking at home, my dogs Booger & Wormie are always at my feet, waiting for scraps!
Rice Paper Wraps
- Spring roll rice paper wrappers
- Fillings of your choice. I like: Avocado, cucumber, carrot, cabbage (red or green), sprouts, lettuce, mango, kale, pickled daikon radish, and red bell pepper
- Fresh herbs like basil, mint, or cilantro
- Peanut Sauce:
- ½ cup salted peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, you pick!)
- 2 tablespoons agave
- 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
- 1 teaspoon plum vinegar or rice vinegar
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ginger powder
- ½ lime, juiced
- ¼ cup hot water to thin
1. Whisk together peanut sauce ingredients, and set aside.
2. Prepare all your fillings. Shred carrots and cabbage, pickle radish, slice avocado, peel and cut cucumber into thin strips.
3. Dip one rice paper wrapper in water. Put damp wrapper on a work surface such as a cutting board, counter or plate. Arrange herbs and fillings in a 4" strip in the middle of the roll.
4. Once wrapper becomes pliable, wrap it up like a burrito — fold edges in, then roll from the bottom. Cut rolls in half, if desired.
5. Serve with peanut dipping sauce.
Keri Barone and Elizabeth O’Conner, owners of Whole Abundance
For some more meal inspiration, Keri Barone and Elizabeth O’Conner, owners of Whole Abundance, share one of their favorite vegan dinner recipes. At Whole Abundance, they focus on whole-food, plant-based, no oil, no added sugar recipes that are simple and delicious!
- 1-2 cups brown rice
- 1 large onion
- 4-6 cups fresh spinach
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2-inch piece ginger, grated
- 1/4 small poblano pepper, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed (Save liquid (aquafaba) for sautéing all ingredients.)
- 1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
- 1⁄2-1 cup aquafaba
- 1⁄2 lemon
- 1⁄4 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
1. Prepare rice according to package instructions.
2. Heat medium-sized pot to medium-high heat. Add onion until translucent. Add splashes of water, vegetable broth, or liquid from the garbanzo beans to prevent sticking.
3. Add garlic, ginger, and poblano pepper. Cook over medium heat about 3-4 minutes.
4. Add garam masala, turmeric, salt, and pepper and continue to cook in additional bean liquid (aquafaba) for 1-2 minutes.
5. Add tomatoes (undrained), chickpeas. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
6. Reduce heat to low and mix in lemon juice, spinach, and cilantro. Cook over low heat 1-2 minutes.
7. Serve over brown basmati rice.
Still curious about veganism, food, and recipes? Check out our vegan classes at Rochester Brainery.