Vegan Food Hacks

Vegan Butterscotch Blondies

Vegan Butterscotch Blondies

Butterscotch blondies, a childhood favorite, turned out to be one of the most difficult recipes for me to master. Really, it should have been a breeze to figure out this seemingly foolproof idea, and yet my first trial pan of raw batter literally exploded all over the oven. I wish I were exaggerating, but in all honesty, drippy streaks of sugar and margarine plastered the glass window from which I watched in horror.

Thankfully, though it took a while to perfect my approach, the following 5 or 6 attempts only resulted in a trash can full of unsatisfactory baked goods rather than more kitchen disasters. Now, I am happy to share my easy method for creating this sweet treat that I remember fondly from my pre-vegan days. It doesn’t require you to blow anything up, either. Recipe and photos by Hannah Kaminsky. more→

No-Chop Power Greens Salad

No-chop power greens salad

Is this you: Are you someone who vows to eat more salad? Are you always promising yourself that you’ll do better at eating some fresh raw foods with lunch or dinner? Making a simple salad isn’t a big deal most of the time, but there are times when chopping a bunch of veggies can be less than appealing — whether you’re hurrying to pack your lunch or coming home tired after a long day. Our no-chop power greens salad comes to the rescue. There’s nothing to it other than layering a few veggies (and seeds) that need no prep at all. And it’s easy on the eyes, too.

With this salad, there’s also no need to measure. Use as much as you need to make one salad or two, or more.  more→

Instant Lentil and Kidney Bean Curry

Lentil and Kidney Bean curry

Lentil and Kidney Bean Curry is a traditional Indian dish that combines two tasty and high-protein legumes. And while it usually doesn’t need to be veganized, in our minds, it needs to be simplified, as the typical recipe has 15 to 20 ingredients — a great percentage of them spices. Lots and lots of spices.

We couldn’t have been more thrilled when an array of full-bodied Indian simmer sauces burst on the market — you can have your pick whether at a natural foods store or in the supermarket’s international aisle. From mild coconut-based blends to hot jalfrezi sauces, many are also vegan (at least an equal number contain dairy, so check labels. more→

Easiest Buffalo Tofu Bites Ever

Buffalo Tofu bites

I’m not sure who invented that Buffalo wings combo that contrasts spicy BBQ flavors with celery and creamy dressing. It’s kind of weird, but obviously there’s something about it that people love, because there are hundreds of vegan variations, let alone thousands of the non-vegan variety. In plant-based versions, cauliflower or tofu stand in for “wings.” However, even in the ones labeled “simple” or “easy” there are usually between 15 and 20 ingredients.

In ours, the easiest Buffalo tofu bites ever, we use Nasoya’s chipotle flavored baked tofu. It has a great flavor and texture for this so-called recipe. Full-fledged lazy and full flavor become perfect partners. You can even find precut celery (or celery and carrot) sticks in the produce section of your supermarket. They cater to slackers like us these days. more→

Breakfast Peanut Butter Pizza with Jam and Fruit

Breakfast peanut butter and jam pizza

Peanut butter pizza is a fun and easy way to start the day — even an busy school or work day morning. Pizza crust spread with peanut butter and then covered with bananas and other fruit and spoonfuls of jam make a filling breakfast treat in one fell swoop, rather than making a separate breakfast for everyone. It’s also a nice after-school treat.

Make sure to use an all-fruit jam, and use peanut butter that’s nice and spreadable rather than clumpy. You can also consider using small pizza crusts to make personal-size portions. more→

Shortcut Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Shortcut Vegan Shepherd's Pie

A vegan shepherd’s pie is a wonderful choice as a holiday centerpiece — especially Thanksgiving and Christmas — or as a dish to take to a potluck. To prove the point, our Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie is one of our most popular recipes. And though it isn’t at all difficult, judging by how many people have made it and served it, it’s admittedly a bit of a project. For holidays and special occasions, that’s fine — we like to pull out all the stops and put our best foot forward.

But these days, we’d like to cater to the extremely time-crunched (and okay, the very lazy) who’d like to make and share such satisfying dishes, so here’s a brilliant shortcut vegan shepherd’s pie, which cuts out the most time-consuming step — peeling, dicing, cooking, and mashing the traditional potato topping. Instead, we’ll use frozen cauliflower and just whip it up in a food processor or blender. Using lentil soup instead of plain canned lentils adds more flavor. more→

Cauliflower Rice Sushi Bowls

Cauliflower rice sushi bowl

This almost-instant cauliflower rice sushi bowl features a typical trio used in veggie sushi — carrots, cucumber, and avocado. You get all the flavor of sushi with the lightened-up base of frozen riced cauliflower. Serve as a light dinner with a simple tofu dish, or pack in a container for a change-of-pace lunch. more→

Quick Gnocchi with Beans and Greens

Gnocchi with beans and greens

Gnocchi, in case you haven’t discovered them, are an Italian specialty that are mainly made of  potato flour, with a little wheat flour. In other words, a bit of starchy comfort heaven. You use them the same way you’d use a chunky pasta; they’re especially good enveloped in marinara sauce. We like gnocchi with beans and greens — all adding up to a classic Italian trio.

Some cooks like to make their own gnocchi, but no thanks, not us. The project takes a good hour or two and makes a floury mess of the kitchen. There are a number of vegan brands, one of which we depict below, and being the food hackers that we are, we’d prefer just opening the package and letting that be the beginning and end of it. more→

Pesto or Hummus Flatbreads & Black Bean Salad Dinner

Not long ago, we presented super-easy and extremely tasty Pesto or Hummus Flatbreads in a make-as-many-as-you-need version. We enjoy these so much, especially during the warmer months, that we were inspired to present a full meal paired with a tasty black bean salad.

For the flatbreads, choose something that’s 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Flatbreads are pre-baked, so all they need is a quick warm-up on a dry skillet to get the bottom nice and golden and crispy. Pre-baked mini pizza crusts work very well too, as do sturdy Indian breads (make sure there’s no dairy in them).

Most breads come in packages of at least 4, but you can make as few or as many as you need. If you’re eating solo or serving two, just make those, and you can make them again the next day, as they’re best fresh and take almost no time to prepare. more→

Cold Shirataki Noodles with Lettuce and Chili Sauce

Cold shirataki noodle salad

This dish featuring cold shirataki noodles will remind you of Asian summer rolls — without all the soaking, rolling and fuss. Combined with crisp lettuce and bottled sweet chili sauce, this is a 5-minute salad that pleases both the palate and the eye.

First of all, what are shirataki noodles? If you haven’t discovered them yet, you’ll be pleased to know that they come ready to eat (no cooking!), and they have zero calories. If you’re gluten-free, you can check that box off, too, Shirataki noodles are made with a yam-like tuber called devil’s tongue, and have a firm, pleasing texture. Sometimes tofu is added to them (hence: tofu shiratake), but you can get them soy-free, too. more→

Easy Skillet Blueberry Crumble

Easy skillet blueberry cobbler

If you love the idea of a homemade fruit dessert but aren’t much of a baker, you’ll appreciate this incredibly easy skillet blueberry crumble. No fruit to pit and cut, no crust to labor over — just a few key ingredients and you’ve got a blissful summer dessert. It’s especially delicious served over nondairy ice cream. We chose a pecan praline for these photos, and it was a perfect fit!

This is also a nice choice when you have company coming for a meal and worry that you might not have the time or patience to make dessert after all other preparations — so no worries, this quick dessert requires neither time nor patience, but still impresses. more→

Delicious and Easy Salad Bar at Home

Salad bar at home

Salad bars are often an appealing option for healthy food fans at restaurants, so why not serve one in your own kitchen? Here’s how to put together a delicious and easy salad bar at home. It’s a fantastic way to put together a last-minute company meal or for building a dinner around fresh raw veggies when you’re too rushed or tired to do a lot of cutting.

For a larger meal, consider a soup (or chili) and salad dinner. Classic Veggie Chili is a crowd-pleasing choice for cooler months; a cold soup like Gazpacho for summer (and if you want to take the hack a bit further, try our Brilliant 4-Ingredient Gazpacho).

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