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In the Kitchen: Try these vegan recipes

So this past Wednesday, my column was all about the vegan diet. Remember vegans don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs. While that might sound impossible, there are a lot of ways you can modify some of your favorite recipes to fit the bill. 

As I wrote in my column, beware of processed vegan-friendly foods — most are loaded with a lot of additives and unsavory ingredients. As with any healthy eating plan, it’s always best to stick with unprocessed, real food. 

Black bean chili

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cans (15-ounce) fire roasted tomatoes

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 can (15-ounce) black beans, drained, rinsed

2 stalks celery, chopped

3/4 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

Big handful of kale, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, minced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 cups water, more as needed

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add fire roasted tomatoes, bell pepper and onion, cooking until onion is softened, about eight minutes. Add garlic, oregano and cumin, cooking another minute. Puree in a blender or use an immersion blender to puree right in the pot. Add black beans, celery, corn, kale, cilantro, lemon, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Add more water if mixture is too thick. Taste for seasoning. 

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Since dairy is not an everyday ingredient in most Asian dishes, they naturally lend themselves to a vegan diet. These cold peanut noodles are always delicious. If you are eating the vegan way, pair them with some grilled or roasted tofu. If you are not on the vegan plan, they are delicious with grilled chicken or fish. 

Cold noodles with peanut sauce

1 pound thin spaghetti noodles, or Asian noodles such as Soba

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil


2/3 cup natural peanut butter, creamy or chunky

1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce

1/4 cup dry sherry

2 tablespoons warm water

1 ½ tablespoon rice vinegar

3 tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 large carrot, grated

1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced

2 green onions, chopped

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Cook noodles according to package directions. As soon as they are done, drain in colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water until the noodles are cold. Shake the colander well to remove all excess water. Pour noodles into a large bowl and toss with the tablespoon of sesame oil. 

For sauce, whisk together peanut butter, tamari, sherry, warm water, rice vinegar, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, adding a little more warm water to get a smooth consistency. Toss noodles with the sauce and then top with grated carrots, cucumber, green onions, cilantro and toasted sesame seeds. 

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Spinach salad with grapefruit, avocado

1 pink grapefruit

1 ripe avocado, sliced

1/3 cup vinaigrette (recipe follows)

8 cups baby spinach

1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced

Cut off top and bottom of grapefruit. Stand upright. Slice off the peeling from top to bottom, slicing between membranes to remove individual grapefruit sections. Toss spinach and red onion with vinaigrette. Divide into bowls or on salad plates and top with some grapefruit sections and avocado slices. 

Classic vinaigrette 

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small jar and shake to combine. 

Other ideas for eating vegan 

• Make wraps with hummus, black olives, lettuce and tomatoes.

• Stock up on plant-based yogurt and mix with fresh fruit for a refreshing breakfast, snack or dessert.

• Top granola with almond milk.

• An easy way to serve up a vegan dinner is with a stir fry — just saute a lot of veggies, add some grated ginger, garlic and soy sauce and serve over rice or noodles.

• Experiment with grains you might not be used to — spelt, barley, rye, quinoa, etc. They are loaded with protein and help “bulk up” soups and stews.

• Try a plant-based protein powder to make smoothies for breakfast or a snack.