July 3, 2015 By This Vegan Girl
I used to think that spring rolls were too intricate for an amateur cook like me to make. It turns out that assumption was false; spring rolls are actually a fancy imposter. A spiffy poser, if you will. A sophisticated con artist.
Despite what the spring roll’s bright colors and flawless presentation lead you to believe, spring rolls are incredibly easy to make. You can assemble 8 spring rolls in about 20 minutes from start to finish if you’re working alone. Although rice paper isn’t raw, the veggies inside will be, making this a mostly raw delight.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 8 spring rolls
- a package of rice paper / spring roll paper (found in the International aisle or Asian section of your grocery store)
- nori sheets (found in the International aisle or sushi-wrapping section of your grocery store)
- 1/2 large cucumber, cut into strips
- 2 carrots, skinned and cut into strips
- 1-2 hass avocados, cut into strips
- 5-10 green onions, cut in half to shorten length
- one bunch of sprouts or frisée
- 8 romaine lettuce or cabbage leaves, cutting out thick ribs
- vegan cream cheese (optional)
- sesame seeds (as garnish)
- 6 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Wasabi powder
Step 1: Prepare the veggies.
For the nori flakes, I take a package of nori sheets, put it in a blender/food processor, and blend until the nori is milled. These flakes make a great seasoning!
Cut your cucumbers, carrots, and avocados into 3-4 inch (7-10 cm) strips. The green onions can stay intact. Cut out the thick ribs from the lettuce; if you leave them in, your roll might look like it has weird bones sticking out of the sides, making it harder to assemble.
Step 2: Assemble the spring rolls.
Have an assembly station ready: rice paper, a large bowl or pie pan filled with warm water, a plate for creating/rolling the wraps, and a plate to place your rolls when they are done.
When ready, place a sheet of rice paper in the warm water for 10 seconds. The paper will start to soften. Next, place the softened rice paper on the assembly plate. In the middle of the paper, spread your cream cheese (optional), sprinkle a pinchful of nori flakes, and place on your cucumbers, carrots, green onion, avocado, and sprouts. As for the lettuce, if you are using romaine, try to compact it on top of your veggies as much as possible to make rolling easier.
Roll your spring roll like a wrap; take a horizontal edge and wrap it around the vegetables, fold the sides in, and continue to wrap until everything is secure. I always thought rice paper would be delicate, but it actually can take a slight beating. Rice paper is clumsy finger approved!
Tip: The rice paper should be wet, yet sticky. If it takes more than a minute to assemble your roll, you’ll find that your rice paper will start to become DRY and sticky, which makes it impossible to wrap. In other words, don’t drag your ass.
You can choose to cut them in half to see the beautiful contents in the middle, or leave them whole for easier eating!
Step 3: Make the dipping sauce.
I find a lot of Asian sauces to be too much, so I make something simple: Wasabi powder, minced garlic, and Tamari (or soy sauce). Whisk together and place in a bowl.
Step 4: Garnish and enjoy!
Sprinkle those sesame seeds on your savory blankets of rainbows and chow the f down.
They see me rollin’. They hatin’.
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January 27, 2015 By This Vegan Girl
I do my best to support local family-owned restaurants. However, most of the restaurants I go to are vegan; therefore, when it comes to eating out with omnivorous family and friends, sometimes the easiest decision is to go to a chain restaurant. I have been impressed the past few times I’ve been to Carrabba’s Italian Grill.
For those of you who have been to Carrabba’s, have you ever had to consciously tell yourself to put down the bread and step away from the dipping oil full of herbs? I swear I could make that dipping oil my entire meal.
This pasta is inspired by the dipping oil at Carrabba’s. I basically made my own dipping oil with tons of herbs, added some tomatoes, olives, spinach, and homemade cream cheese, and mixed in some pasta. It’s so, so good and has lots of health benefits:
- Oregano – has both antibacterial and anti fungal properties that make it effective against some forms of food-borne illnesses and even some antibiotic resistant infections
- Thyme – full of antioxidants, which prevent cellular damage that can boost overall health and help prevent cancer, inflammation, signs of aging and more
- Parsley – contains chlorophyll, myricetin, and vitamin K, which can help prevent cancer and diabetes, as well as improve bone health
- Basil – reduces inflammation and swelling, contains anti-aging properties, and is rich in antioxidants
- Garlic chives – helps prevent prostate, esophageal, and stomach cancer, as well as regulating sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory; folate, found in chives, also helps prevent excess homocysteine, which helps with depression and production of feel-good hormones, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
Carrabba’s Dipping Oil Pasta
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 3-4 servings
For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh garlic chives, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 pound of pasta (I used GF Ancient Harvest quinoa rotelle)
Optional add-ins (all highly recommended!):
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut into thirds
- 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
- 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup Castelvetrano olives, cut into thirds
- 2 tablespoons of 5-minute cream cheese (recipe here)
Step 1: Chop the dressing ingredients.
I picked all the herbs straight from my herb garden. Here in Florida, all these herbs are easy to maintain as long as they are watered a few times per week.
Place all the herbs, and other dressing ingredients, in a large boil with the olive oil, mix, and let it sit and relax in there. The idea is to mildly infuse the flavors into the oil.
Step 2: Start boiling the noodles.
Boil your noodles of choice according to packaged directions. When the pasta is finished boiling and it’s time for straining, I like to spray cold water on the noodles for a lukewarm pasta salad experience.
Step 3: Chop/add optional ingredients.
While the noodles are boiling, chop/add the optional ingredients you would like to add to your dish. This might be the perfect time to make your 5-minute homemade cream cheese. I love adding this stuff to pasta!
Step 4: Mix and serve!
Once all ingredients are in finished, add all ingredients to the large bowl, mix, and serve!
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December 25, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
I love eating raw food! Raw food never drags me down or changes its mind on how it wants to behave that day. Raw is fresh, bold, and gives me a healthy energy boost.
Cucumber noodles are an excellent alternative for anti-pasta people. It’s a lighter choice that packs a ton of that cool, crisp cucumber flavor that you know you love.
I love eating this recipe for dinner, as it doesn’t make me feel like a heavy sack of shit when I’m lying in bed.
You can serve this recipe on top of toast, with corn chips, or simply by itself. It doesn’t matter. It would probably be good if eaten off the sidewalk, for Christ’s sake. Try it for yourself!
Greek Cucumber Noodles
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
For the dressing:
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 large cucumbers, spiraled
- 1 cup Castelvetrano olives, cut into thirds
- 1 cup tomatoes, diced
- 2/3 cup red onions, finely chopped
- 2 avocados, pitted and diced
- 2 cups of spinach, chopped
- 2 tablespoons of Cream Cheese with Chives (click for recipe), optional
Step 1: Spiral your cucumber noodles.
To turn your cucumber into noodles, you will need a device or appliance. I bought the Vegetti, available at Bed Bath and Beyond for a good price. This is one of those items that actually is as easy as it looks. It takes only a minute to transform the cucumber into those healthy, raw noodles. You can also use one of those spiral peelers used for apples or potatoes, too, but you’ll spend more and it’ll take up more space.
Once your noodles are made, take some kitchen scissors and cut the noodles into smaller pieces. You might think it’s cool that they’re long, but trust me, there’s no reason to have a 6ft-long noodle. Place your noodles in a large bowl and set aside.
Step 2: Mix dressing ingredients in a separate bowl.
Start with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice in a separate bowl. Whisk those ingredients together quickly for 30 seconds until contents aren’t separating from each other. (This step can also be done in the food processor.) Add the minced garlic, oregano, and salt to the dressing.
Let the dressing sit for a few minutes, letting all the flavors fuse together. You may want to return to the bowl at least once to whisk the ingredients together.
Step 3: Chop up all veggies.
Do this step while the dressing is sitting. When finished, place all ingredients, including the dressing, in the large bowl with the noodles. Mix and serve!
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Thanks for your love and support. Happy Holidays!
December 14, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
I was out of cream cheese. I realized this when I was already toasting my toast and slicing my avocados. I was making avocado toast, and unless I could come up with cream cheese quickly, our avocado toast would be uncomfortably dry.
I came through, though. I came through like a super hero who treated bad meals like crimes.
With things I already had in my kitchen, I whipped this up in 5 minutes. I saved breakfast that day.
Now, it’s time for me to teach you what I learned that day. I learned that I don’t need processed ingredients that I don’t understand in my store-bought vegan cream cheese. I can have the same great taste in something I can quickly make at home; no fancy kitchen appliances required.
If you’ve been feeling weird about eating processed cream cheese lately as I had, I encourage you to give this a try. I hope you love this as much as I do.
Cream Cheese with Chives
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 2 cups
- 2 cups almond meal
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
Step 1: Mix the milk and apple cider vinegar.
Something science-y happens when you mix these two ingredients. The milk begins to experience its very beginning stages of coagulation. When you don’t mix these two ingredients together aside from the other ingredients, the bound flavor won’t happen the same way. Whisk these two ingredients together for about 30 seconds.
By the way, the apple cider vinegar is the unsung hero in this recipe. Surprisingly, this odd ingredient is the key to achieving that cream cheese flavor.
Step 2: Mix the remainder of the ingredients.
Add the oil, almond meal, salt, and fresh chives to the milk.
Depending on what kind of consistency you’re looking for, you can use different utensils to mix these ingredients together. If you’re after a light and fluffy consistency, use a fork to mix and fluff. If you would rather have a smooth consistency, use a spoon to mix and press the ingredients together.
Step 3: Serve and/or store!
It was great with crackers and salad on top! As mentioned earlier, this was also fantastic on toast. Use it for breakfast or lunch; I don’t care!
If you have any fun ways to use your herby cream cheese, I’d love to see your creations. You can tag me on your cream cheese photo on Instagram @thisvegangirl or use the hashtag #thisvegangirl. You can also add me on Facebook or comment on this pin on Pinterest. Better yet, comment below! It’s so exciting to hear from you guys.
July 7, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
It’s breakfast time, and you’re not quite sure what you’re in the mood for. Never to fear, for The Toast Sampler is here!
The Toast Sampler cures breakfast heartaches and solves all your morning culinary problems, including:
- I don’t know what I’m in the mood for. Each piece of toast caters to a different taste region of your tastebuds, so it’ll combat any/all cravings.
- I don’t want a sugary breakfast. I hear ya. With The Toast Sampler, few strawberries will be the only sugar you’ll consume, and it’ll be the perfect amount of sweetness.
- I need something to-go. Have you ever tried eating cereal and driving? I have, during my stupid teenage years. Not only was it completely idiotic, but extremely difficult. My point is that toast is a lot easier, and more safe, to eat on-the-go.
- I’ll be hungry in an hour. You obviously didn’t have The Toast Sampler for breakfast, then. I pile on the vegetables and fruit, with filling spreads on the bottom.
- It’s not gluten-free. Oh, but it is. I use GF bread and toast them up. The GF bread will also help with problem of staying full.
- I’m not hungry in the morning. The Toast Sampler is so yummy, you’ll want it.
- I don’t have time. You’ll need a bit more time to prepare this than cereal, but definitely not as much time as, say, pancakes.Wake up 10-15 minutes earlier to indulge in this breakfast delight. It’s worth it.
- I don’t cook. … it’s toast.
Are you convinced? If not, maybe the pictures will help. BEHOLD:
Forgive me, as I don’t have exact measurements on spreads and seasoning. Just spread and sprinkle, guys. It’s not that hard.
- Tofutti vegan cream cheese base
- 1/2 avocado, sliced
- lemon juice
- spinach on top (I took a few leaves and tore them with my fingers.)
If you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or someone who loves avocado, you’re probably very good friends with avocado toast. There is my spin on it.
Almond Butter Toast
- almond butter base
- lots of strawberry slices on top
I actually have two almond butters right now. One is a CRUNCHY VARIETY (hardly ever seen), which I adore. The other is a vanilla espresso variety, which I equally adore. I hope that eating the vanilla espresso almond butter gives me a tiny boost in the morning.
- hummus base
- grape tomatoes, thinly sliced
- arugula leaves
- hemp hearts
This one was a spur-of-the-moment toast that I ended up loving! I used a kalamata olive hummus, which was divine.
April 20, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
I have improved this recipe! If you want to see it (trust me, you do), click here!
Vegan cheese is famous for sucking horribly. I wholeheartedly agree with the stereotype vegan cheese has unfortunately made for itself. Known for its texture of rubber and taste of plastic, vegan cheese doesn’t deserve to be called cheese at all. “BUT IT MELTS NOW!” Awesome. You know what else melts? Wax. Which is what vegan cheese tastes like.
In my opinion, the only acceptable vegan cheese is vegan cream cheese. Spot-on texture and accurate taste.
What’s worse is that vegan cheese is being used to make awful renditions of vegan macaroni and cheese. 99% of what you see on Pinterest labeled at Vegan Macaroni and Cheese is pure crap. Trust me, I’ve tried. I’m sorry, but nutritional yeast cannot perform vegan miracles.
I was in a dark vegan macaroni and cheese place. That is, until I finally found what I was looking for. No Daiya. No nutritional yeast. It was a vegan miracle. It was made by Alisa in Alaska. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.
I’ve been making the recipe above for about six months, but the more I ate it, the more I realized that something was missing. It just wasn’t cheesy enough. Maybe it was a little too lemony. Whatever it was, I just needed to tweak it a bit.
It was then that I realized that I bet I could achieve the cheesiness I craved through vegan cream cheese. At that moment, the clouds separated and the sun shone through. I finally achieved the greatness I had chased for over a year.
Here is my rendition of vegan mac and cheese. It’s the best homemade vegan macaroni and cheese out there, guaranteed.
The Best Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 2-4 servings
- 1 8oz box of elbow noodles (I use gluten-free quinoa noodles)
- 1 cup sweet potatoes, chopped (russet potatoes are yummy, too!)
- 1/3 cup onion, chopped
- 1/4 carrots, chopped
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup cashews
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/8 cayenne pepper
- 1/3 tub vegan cream cheese
- 1/2 cup broccoli, chopped (optional)
- gluten free bread crumbs (optional)
STEP 1: Cut up the sweet potatoes, carrots, and onion. Don’t peel your sweet potatoes; keep those nutrients in! Place these items in a pot with the 1 cup of water. Bring items to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
STEP 2: Boil the macaroni noodles. When finished, strain and rinse with cold water.
STEP 3: Mill/process the cashews, garlic cloves, salt, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
STEP 4: When your pot of veggies is done, pour the contents into a food processor (including the water). Grind until pureed. Add the cashew mixture and vegan cheese and continue to puree until fully incorporated.
STEP 5: Get out your favorite macaroni dish, line with cooking oil, and add the noodles, “cheese”, and broccoli. Mix contents with a spoon.
I’ve heard that breadcrumbs on macaroni and cheese is a southern thing. If so, it’s the best southern tradition I know. Sprinkle on your bread crumbs before sending your dish into the oven at 350° for 30 minutes.
Thirty minutes later…
Mmmm, finally. Edible vegan macaroni and cheese.
August 1, 2013 By This Vegan Girl
Orlando has an, uh, unique farmer’s market scene. It seems that the produce stands at Orlando farmer’s markets sell products that aren’t even cultivated in Florida. Huh? Needless to say, I do not support these phony farmers.
Luckily, there was local farmer’s market in our Mississippi town that we were excited to visit. It wasn’t a large one, but there were several produce stands that would fulfill our daily/weekly nutritional needs, amongst other things.
We purchased blueberries from a woman whose teeth implied that she had been dabbling with methamphetamines for quite some time. We also purchased some delicious jams that I’m determined to duplicate when they run out. We also couldn’t resist buying a watermelon the size of both of our heads, along with a small box full of juicy peaches. Mmmmm!
There’s always a small wish I make to myself when I go to a place like this: “Pleeeeease let there be a vegan and/or gluten-free stand!” At the very end of the lot, sure enough, there was a small, discreet stand with an elementary sign that read Gluten-Free Cakes. It was so unnoticeable that Matt walked right by. I pulled him back and said, “What are you doing?! LOOK!”
Long story short, Matt tried a banana cake with cream cheese frosting that he HAD to buy after 1 bite. During his heavenly bite, his eyes rolled back, he started nodded his head, and then looked at me with urgency in his eyes. So now, there’s a massive $35 cake in our fridge. It was quite a splurge, but worth it; how often does this boy get to buy a delicious treat like this? J
Unfortunately, it contained eggs and cream cheese, so I didn’t partake. I was determined to make this cake myself, though, and to veganize it. Here was my best shot at it.
Oh, and it was a damn good shot.
Gluten-Free Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30-60 minutes
Yield: 72 mini cupcakes
- 1 cup sorghum flour
- 1/4 teff flour
- 1/4 millet flour
- 1/4 potato starch
- 1/4 tapioca flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp xanthan gum
- chopped walnuts, optional
- 7 ripe bananas, mashed
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup evaporated cane juice
- 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese
- 1/2 cup Sweet Cinnamon Earth Balance
- Powdered sugar
STEP 1: I used 7 ripe bananas for this recipe. The browner, the better. In fact, you want them NAST. I wish my bananas had been more ripe, but it takes too much patience! Peel them, place them in a bowl, and squish them between your fingers until it’s a liquid form.
After that, place the rest of the wet ingredients in the bowl and whisk it up.
STEP 2: In a different bowl, combine and whisk your dry ingredients together. After that, slowly add your dry ingredients to the wet ingredients bowl, continuing to mix until all of the ingredients are fully blended.
STEP 3: I just bought an adorable mini heart-shaped silicone cupcake mold! Place these in the oven at 350°F for 15-17 minutes.
STEP 4: While the cupcakes are baking, start whipping your icing. In Tallahassee, I found this AMAZING Sweet Cinnamon Earth Balance butter, perfect for baking! If this gem is not in your town, I’d use the original Earth Balance and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.
Mix the cream cheese and butter together in a bowl. Using a mixer, add a little bit of powdered sugar at a time until you have reached your desired taste.
STEP 6: Wait until the cupcakes cool, frost those babies, top with a walnut, and enjoy!
July 12, 2013 By This Vegan Girl
Members of the gluten-free community get the crap end of the stick sometimes.
At Publix in Florida, they sell Goodbye Gluten wraps (not vegan, so I don’t eat them, but he enjoys them.) Here in Mississippi, Matt and I spend quite a good chunk of time searching for gluten-free wraps at our local grocery store. We were really disappointed when we didn’t end up finding what we were looking for.
You know, sometimes, people in the GF community don’t feel like spending hours in the kitchen creating things that “normal” people find 20 varieties of in the grocery store, like GF wraps. If I’m feeling especially lazy that day, shouldn’t I have at least one option that I can just fall back on? It’s very frustrating sometimes.
With this recipe, we ended up settling with Corn Tortillas. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, as I wanted something bigger and with a more flour-y taste, but at least we had something.
Despite the initial dilemma, these ended up tasting amazing. It tasted like sweet, sweet summer! The flavors blended nicely. These would be perfect for a picnic lunch, or perhaps a light dinner.
Gluten-Free Balsamic Veggie Wrap
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5-10 minutes
Yield: 2-4 servings
- 1 package of your favorite tortillas
- 1 avocado
- 1 peach
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 1/4 cup grape tomatos, quartered
- 1/2 cup edamame
- 1 handful of natural almonds, halved
- 1 handful of kale, chopped
- vegan cream cheese (optional)
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 2 tbs balsamic glaze
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp agave nectar
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
STEP 1: Begin by boiling your edamame. No exact measurements here. I just boiled some water and threw a couple handfuls of edamame in there. Boil for 3 minutes, drain, and set aside.
STEP 2: Cut up all your fruits, veggies, and nuts!
STEP 3: Create your balsamic glaze and whisk it up!
STEP 4: If you’re using corn tortillas like I did, start a non-greased skillet on the stove with medium-high heat. Throw on your corn tortilla for 10 seconds on the first side, flip, and 5 seconds on the second side. Don’t get cocky with this or you’re tortilla will get burnt!
But don’t worry, there’s 50 more tortillas in the bag anyway, so play around with it and see what works for you and your stove.
STEP 4: Begin building your masterpiece! If you’re looking for a more wholesome wrap, leave off the cream cheese. However, if you don’t mind splurging a bit, the cream cheese is an lovely addition.
Without cream cheese:
With cream cheese:
If you love the pet pics, here’s one I got while I was making my wraps. This is Nala, my roommates’ Rottweiler puppy. It’s so difficult to get a picture of this fiesty, wiggly girl, but here she is!