I feel like my meatless meals have come full circle — sort of. When my sons were young, and their father traveled for work frequently, I made meatless meals without my boys even realizing it. I was perfectly content eating veggies, fruits and healthy grains or potatoes for dinner night after night, and the kids didn't miss the meat.
When they were in their early- to mid-teens, and their father and I separated, dinners became a time for meat-heavy comfort food. Meatloaf and chicken pot pie were the foods that kept my young men coming to the table for dinner after divorce.
Now, my sons are practically men. They still live at home, but all of us gather together around the dinner table infrequently. Their part-time jobs mean they work evenings. So I find myself easily going back to my meatless meals of over a decade ago. But now, I try to go a step further. I'm working on adding vegan meals to what I cook for myself. I'm not becoming a vegan, but I'm certainly open to adding many more plant-based, healthy, better-for-the-planet meals to my diet.
I happily accepted a media copy of Liv Biermann's "Liv B's Vegan on a Budget." It's the budget part, plus that promise that these recipes are "effortless," that really caught my attention. Inexpensive, effortless cooking for one is definitely appealing at the moment.
'Liv B's Vegan on a Budget'
The book contains 112 recipes that take you from breakfast to after-dinner dessert. YouTube culinary personality Liv B (Olivia Biermann) who has more than 630,000 subscribers to her channel, has created a vegan cookbook that's very approachable for someone who isn't familiar with vegan cooking.
The recipes are simple and don't take hours in the kitchen to create. Best of all, she uses ingredients that can be found in most grocery stores, and while there are plenty of recipes that call for tofu, vegan cheese or vegan butter, there are also many recipes that are, for lack of a better term, naturally vegan — no vegan substitutes necessary. They use ingredients that are not only found in the store, but are ones that non-vegans may already have on hand.
One recipe that stands out for me is the Savory Breakfast Bowls filled with quinoa and veggies and mushrooms, topped with avocado and cherry tomatoes, and drizzled with a homemade tahini sauce that includes maple syrup. I suppose it's the maple syrup that makes this a breakfast item, but it's perfect for a quick, healthy lunch or dinner, too. The Lentil Chili, full of fresh vegetables and canned tomatoes, is another recipe that has simple ingredients.
As a non-vegan, I'm starting with these recipes and who knows, I may eventually choose to dive a little deeper, buying tofu for the first time and trying recipe like Biermann's pita pockets stuffed with tofu in barbecue sauce.
BBQ Tofu-Stuffed Pita Pockets
Time: 20 minutes
In the cookbook, Biermann says that this recipe was born out of a "clean-out-the-fridge moment." My experience is that sometimes, those moments lead to surprisingly delicious meals. Biermann found this thrown-together meal to be so good, she included it in the book.
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) olive oil
- 1/2 cup (125 milliliters) chopped white onion
- 12 ounces (375 grams) firm tofu, pressed and cubed
- 1/2 cup (125 milliliters) vegan barbecue sauce
- 2 medium pita pockets, halved
- 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) vegan mayonnaise
- 2 cups (500 milliliters) shredded romaine lettuce
- 1 large carrot, shredded
- 1 cup (250 milliliters) alfalfa sprouts or micro greens
1. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the oil and onion and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until translucent. Add the tofu cubes and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown.
2. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the vegan barbecue sauce and stir to combine. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the tofu is coated and the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from the heat.
3. Evenly divide the vegan mayonnaise, lettuce, carrot, sprouts and tofu among the four pita halves. Serve immediately.
The tofu in its sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. Reheat it in the microwave just before serving. Store the other ingredients separately and assemble the pitas just before serving.