Call for Recipes: Parent-Friendly, Vegan Approved

Hello there,

Wow. I had no idea that an apple survey would generate that kind of response. Then again, why am I surprised? Diana and I spent about twenty minutes comparing different brands of Hijiki the other night. Foodies like minutiae.

So it’s 2:24 pm, and somebody’s not at the office. Why? Because from now until Friday, my Mom and I are taking a little “staycation” — that’s code for “we don’t really have travel funds, but we feel like spending some quality down time together.” The great isle of Manhattan will be our playground.

On the agenda so far are two museum exhibits, heated conversations about both of our summer reading so far, a possible visit to the central park zoo (the Bronx zoo was momentarily on the agenda, but unless it cools off I don’t know if I can do that without staying submerged in the sea lion tank all day) a long queue of movies, and, oh yeah, lots of food 🙂

As I’ve mentioned many times before, my mom is my #1 vegan champion. She, like any good mom, was concerned when I first became a vegan about my capacity to eat a well balanced diet, but as soon as she saw the gusto for food and good health that came from my veganism, she embraced it. As far as my mom is concerned, any way of life that not only nourishes me but gives gives me an unadulterated love of food–something I lacked, god knows, for the better part of my young life–is wonderful.

But embracing my veganism hasn’t quite translated into embracing veganism in her own life–not yet, anyway. I give credit where credit is due: Mom eats far more salads, whole grains, vegetarian pasta dishes, and fish than she used to, and much of that is because she loves to talk about nutrition with her very preachy and annoying interested daughter. But she’s still struggling with the mindset that a complete meal revolves around an animal protein, which I understand: that’s a tough mindset to break. So one of my goals for staycation (and it has met with Mom’s approval) is to provide her with two and a half days of vegan meals that are filling, nutritious, and satisfying. I want them to include lots of greens, and I also hope to help mom warm up to some of the vegan soy foods (tofu and tempeh) that she’s been a little scared of so far.

To wit, I’m compiling all of the recipes that I find most appropriate for newcomers to the vegan lifestyle. These are the culinary all stars that helped me transition into veganism–the recipes I relied on with a vengeance as I was getting my feet wet in the kitchen. I’d love to hear what you guys would add to the list!

  • Tofu scramble
  • Vegan blueberry pancakes
  • TLT sandwiches (tempeh, lettuce, tomato)
  • Stuffed peppers
  • A bean or grain burger of some kind (I have a recipe in mind, and with any luck it’ll be a winner)
  • Banana oatmeal with almond butter
  • Smoothies with fresh almond milk
  • Nutrient dense salads
  • Vegetable curry

Other ideas? I’m laying off the raw foods for now; Mom likes some of them, but for the most part she likes a warm plate of grub. But if you have raw ideas that you think would work, I’m all ears.

I’ll be back with dispatches from the front lines of private chefing. Send me your thoughts, and have a good hump day!


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  1. I have had a tempeh dish at Wild Oats Market Deli, which I love. They cook the tempeh and then the last few minutes add BBQ sauce with diced red onions. I think this dish has the same texture and flavor as shredded BBQ meat, but it is so much better for you.

  2. A “sushi bowl” – deconstructed vegetarian sushi roll over brown rice, with avocado, marinated tofu, toasted sesame seeds, and a soy ginger sauce.
    Or just a great bowl of heart veg chili with cornbread.

  3. -sweet potato fries
    -squash/lentil/kale/mushroom/etc curry
    -coconut ice cream or banana fro-yo
    -burritos with beans, corn, quac, sauteed veggies
    -whole wheat spaghetti with marinara and tofu-nut balls. I need to get that recipe from my mom! with a sprinkling of nooch rather than cheese.

  4. West African peanut stew. Vegan, hearty, filling and full of spinach (and sweet potatoes). It’s sooo good.

    The zoo?

  5. This is so funny – I’m actually visiting home right now and have taken over the cooking for the two weeks I’m on vacation 🙂 My mum is very health-minded and impressively open to my food, but she still is a little hesitant to some of my eats.

    Sweet potato fries, green monsters, and banana soft serve have been big hits already. One-bowl dinners have been going over really well too – I made her a couscous/tomato/vegan feta one that she was crazy about, and you can’t go wrong with a Mexican theme of rice, beans, guac, lettuce, olives, and salsa…

    Can’t wait to see how things go with you and your mum!

  6. Raw macaroons!!

    For me, the best way that I got into eating vegan was through indian food. The lentils, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, they’re all soooo filling! I never leave an indian restaurant without feeling stuffed!

    I also love creamy pasta’s made with things like cashew cream. Someone like me, who HATES nuts (usually) that’s a great way to get good fat and protein from a nut source. I made the cashew pesto from Eat, Drink, and Be vegan, and that was a fantastic way to fill up.

  7. P.s.: i wouldnt serve lots of nut pates and stuff like that. sure it is tasty but makes people hungry easely plus it lacks some sort of “bite” – for a lack of better word. i’d stick to legumes, they are filling and easy. plus the leftovers are wonderful to freeze.

  8. Oh that’s really cool what you are doing for your mom. My mom was no longer with us when i went veggie and i often wonder what would she think of it. im sure she would have loved it but well… this pleasure of sharing something so beautiful and personal with the one person we love above all is sadly something i wont ever be able to enjoy. But in my heart i believe she would love everything i’d made.

    My husband is not vegan friendly at all and i cook for the both of us. Sometimes, when its vegan only, its from Veganomicon i get the good stuff that we can share without him feeling deprived.

    My favourite are, for sure:
    – Tamaring Lentils – page 123;
    – Lentils, rice and caramelized onions – pag 177 (ITS SO PERFECT);
    – Snobby Joes – page 98. i serve it with veggies and rice, not as a sandwich. plus, by now you can tell my love for lentils haha;

    From Vegan with a Vengeance i couldnt praise enough the “Seitan Portobello Stroganoff” – page 163. Its divine. My husband loves the sauce but can’t stand the seitan so you see with your mom if she would be willing to eat that.

    And last but not least, falafels. everybody loves a good old middle easter feast. A pita sandwich full with lettuce, tahini or hummus, falafels, grated carrots and little pickle. Side of tahini to dip. its filling, easy and delicios.

    Enjoy your stay with you mom, its a real privilege to be able to share these moments with her ^^

  9. I have a feeling your mama won’t feel too abused. 🙂

    Fried rice is one dish most people can get down with, and it certainly doesn’t need non-vegan ingredients to be awesome. I do it often. As long as there are great veggies and high quality flavors in there (nama shoyu…lime juice…coconut oil…ya know), I don’t think that’s a dish that screams “CRUNCHY HIPPIE VEGAN!” Haha… And as you’ve seen and tried yourself, fried rice needn’t be Asian flavored either. The greens + nuts + raisins is another fave combo with grains for me.


  10. Avocado chocolate pudding!!!

    Processor or Blender:
    1-2 Avocados
    2-3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
    Raw Agave or my fav, Vanilla NuStevia (which you can win right now at – Please spread the word, though I know you are not a huge fan.

    Also… Ice Cream… that was another weakness of mine:
    Processor or Blender:
    Meat 1-2 young thai coconuts
    1/4 cup water
    Blend til smooth…
    Add ice, 1-2 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened) and
    either agave, or vanilla Nustevia…

    I think avocados and young thai coconuts are GREAT for vegans… filling… smooth and creamy… I don’t know… I think I am just a big dessert person but if I could eat avocados on top of everything, I’d be a happy kid.

  11. This menu seems great for newcommers! I am currently thinking about becoming a vegan, and I have tried a few of those recipes on your list. Lets just say that these recipes make me want to become a vegan with no objections. I could live off that! I am trying some recipes on my blog and have used your blog as insipration for some :).
    Enjoy your staycation, those are fun!

  12. That chickpea stew a few comments up looks so good! I’ll add it to my ‘to make’ list.

    I usually do a black bean – barley chili recipe that I found in Cooking Light 3 or 4 years ago. I often make it for bookclubs and potlucks because it’s vegan but doesn’t smack you across the face with it’s vegan-ness. I generally serve it with a topping bar of cheese (not vegan), cilantro, salsa, avocado, chips and sour cream. I also like black beans and quinoa with salsa – familiar flavors, easy and pleasing.

  13. How about black beans and brown rice with salsa on a whole wheat tortilla? Pair with some crunchy chips or crackers and salsa or hummus!

  14. How about foods that are vegan anyway? Like chana masala and other Indian food…also Ethiopian foods! Or some lentil soup or ratatouille! These are delicious meals that do not blare “veganism”

  15. A vegan favourite of mine which seems to be a major crowd pleaser- whether that crowd be carnivorous or vegan, is Chickpea and Butternut stew, which i serve on quinoa/couscous with fresh cilantro.

    Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew

    • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
    • 4 medium garlic cloves, small dice
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
    • 1/2 pound butternut squash (about 1/2 of medium sized squash), large dice
    • 1 large red sweet potato
    • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
    • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices
    • Pinch of saffron threads (optional)
    • Steamed couscous, for serving
    • Toasted slivered almonds, for garnish
    (i add some chilli and cayenne pepper cause i like mine spicy, but this is not cumpulsory. The key to this recipe is the cinnamon)

    1. Heat olive oil in a 3-4 quart dutch over or heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight fitting lid over medium heat. When oil simmers, add onion, garlic, and cinnamon, and season with freshly ground pepper to taste. Cook, stirring oaccasionally, until spices are aromatic and onions are soft and translucent, about 5 mins.
    2. Add squash and potatoes, season with freshly ground pepper, stir to coat, and cook until just tender, about 10-15 mins. Add broth, chickpeas, tomatoes, and their juices, and saffron. bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until squash is fork tender, about 20 mins.
    3. Remove from heat and serve over couscous garnished with toasted almond, hummus etc

  16. Anything with hummus….I ate it daily when I first became a vegetarian and then vegan, and it’s only in recent raw years that I consume it very little.

    It’s not fancy but my fave is:

    Hummus spread thickly on sprouted grain bread with huge fat tomato slices, avocado slices, fresh basil and sea salt and black pepper. Hubba hubba!

    Also ratatouille is divine and light!

    Enjoy your time off with your lovely mum.

    Casey xx

  17. Since your mom likes grub…probably stick to umami-rich ingredients, like mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, miso, nori, tamari, sesame seed oil, GOCHUJANG, nutritional yeast…oh, eggplants are incredibly meaty too, when well-marinated.

    I don’t think you need to make a vegan replica of a traditional non-vegan dish, though. As your mom is willing to give veganism a try, she is probably expecting something unique and different, anyway. I’d go with something low-key so that she can feel like she can make it in her own kitchen, but bursting with fresh flavors, contrasting, interesting textures…that means good crunch, nice chews, a bit of crispy here and there, and some creaminess to round off everything.

    You could even get her to choose her own ingredients, and do a “mix-it-up” bowl with a different base (grains), mix-ins (veggies), and dressing. Sort of like a vegan stir-fry station. Hope you get her to fall in love with this “new” cuisine! 🙂

    Best of luck, Gena!

  18. spiralized zuke pasta with either peanut or raw marinara (if I can get a former chubby, Chicago meat and potatoes husband…to love this type of pasta, then, well anything is possible! He was raised on full fat, full animal, full everything and he’s embraced the high raw vegan lifestyle, 90% of the way, over the past 12 yrs with me as his chef)

    Nut particular I have one I can raw vegan taco nut “meat” and it sorta tastes like spicy sloppy joes meat. I mean, I say “meat” with a grain of salt b/c i hate the way meat tastes, but to a non raw vegan, this is also a very passable dish

    Any of these things can be warmed in a dehyd or gasp, nuked for 30 secs in a microwave, and it will be warmed and they will be happy 🙂

    Tofu recipes, Nut Pates, anything that’s hearty but as Aimee/Bitt said, not trying to be something it’s not..It’s not Un-Chicken Salad. It’s almond pate. I think trying to “fool” ppl does more harm than good, espi if the person may just be turned off and roll their eyes at the sometimes goofy names!

    HAVE FUN with your Mom on the Staycation!!!!!!!

  19. I am tempted to say go with dishes that aren’t “mock” versions of meat, stuff that is already good and mostly vegan anyhow. Like the person above mentioned ratatoille (reminding me I need to make some), indian and/or thai curries, mexican meals.

    That being said some people do prefer tofu and tempeh for meaty texture and it gives them the feeling they are getting the protein they need. My parents are fans of sauteed tofu with veggies and wildwood soy burgers.

    So awesome your mom is open to eating that way! My parents eat mostly vegan when with me, because I make a lot of the food for them. Good vegan cooking beats mediocre SAD cooking any day.

  20. When I was an omnivorous college student studying in France, I most looked forward to the single vegan dish my host mother made weekly: ratatouille. It was the one night that the plate proportions were reversed and the animal protein (usually scrambled eggs) played second-fiddle to the vegetables. I think my host mother was amused by the fact that I loved this vegetable stew more than her richer, meat-laden dishes. I don’t know whether my current vegan ways would explain things or (more likely) leave her further befuddled.

    These days, I love making ratatouille for omnivorous friends and family. It’s simple and yet seems sophisticated, and – bonus! – all the ingredients are in season right now. It can easily be made in the morning and then warmed up or, as I prefer, served cold. Add a grain or some crusty bread and you’re good to go!

    Enjoy your time with your mom!

  21. Coconut ice cream, fruit smoothies, and a veggie stirfry served over rice are always a great option. Have a fabulous staycation, Gena!!!

  22. Soba noodles with almond butter sauce or asian dressing, whole grainpasta with simple seasonal marinara or pesto, hummus with veggies/pita, summer rolls, simple miso soup,

  23. I hate to say it, Gena, but two words: Daiya and Gardein (and specifically the nuggets). I know there are more interesting/nourishing routes, but these sure make the BIG transition easier.

  24. Hi Gena,
    I LOVE Dreena Burton’s cookbooks, and I’ve been a fan and a reader of yours for a while now, so I know that you do too! I have made her recipe for Teriyaki Quinoa for several potlucks and dinners with friends and family to rave reviews! Here is my trick- I stir-fry some veggies while the quinoa is cooking, then when it’s done I add it to the wok and make it a teriyaki fried quinoa dish. Try it! Your mom will love it (mine does, and she is far from vegan-friendly). Have a nice staycation!

  25. Quinoa with dried cranberries and toasted pumpkin seeds! I always make quinoa when I’m nudging someone towards thinking vegan because it’s something a lot of people haven’t tried, but makes nearly all taste buds happy. In fact, I ended up sending my mom home with a 5lb bag of quinoa.
    My mom, dad, and grandma have each (separately) stayed with us to eat vegan for a week. Mom really enjoys chickpea coconut curry and eggless salad. Now when dad comes to stay, he wants me to make vegan pizza, lemon bars, black bean burgers, Gardein chick’n pastas, and things like that. My grandma’s favorite was roasted breaded eggplant and tempeh bacon BLTs. Hope some of this helps! 🙂

  26. It is crazy to me that so many people online LOVE the same exact same foods as I do – beans, raw veggies, fruits, nutritional yeast, green juice/smoothies, tempeh, tahini, etc – and so many “mainstream” people, including my entire family, still turn their noses to fresh, natural, delicious food. My mom’s salads consist of lettuce, cheese, deli meat, croutons (GROSS). My HUSBANDS eats consist SOLEY of red meat, cheese, pork products, fast food, pizza, and chips…ummm GROSS. Every now and then I can get them to taste something of mine, but usually if they are going to eat a veggie or anything like that it must be cooked and drenched in cheese.

    As far as your mom who is at least receptive to trying your vegan foods, I LOVE eat, drink, and be vegan’s Goddess Garbanzos and Supercharge Me Cookies. Bean burritos or veggie burgers are hearty, warm, and filling. Annie’s Goddess dressing tastes great on anything, so a great fresh salad w/ Garbanzos + goddess dressing is always delicious. Hummus is always tasty (is it obvious I love garbanzos). And I second the commenter who suggested roasted veggies.

    Apple slices with raw almond butter…. better yet sprinkle the apple slices w/ cinnamon, sea salt, and agave (trust me it’s phenomenal) then add almond butter.

    Good luck – I know your mom will love what you prepare! Have a great staycation

  27. I haven’t met anyone that doesn’t love Dreena Burton’s tamari roasted chickpeas (EAt, Drink and Be Vegan) or Morrocan Chickpea Patties (Vive le Vegan). mmmmm….. so yummy. I also make her pancake recipes using oat flour (just throw the oats in the blender) instead of wheat flour. The Tamari roasted chickpeas are a great snack or you can throw them on salad. Have fun!

  28. Your mom sounds so much like mine, she wants to embrace raw and veganism, but just can’t get out of the complete meal mindset either.

    Try sauteing butternut squash noodles with a marinara or tomato pesto sauce and tempeh chunks for a hot vegan meal and top with a vegan parm alternative.

  29. mi madre and i are a big fan of this combo when we’re lazy: tofu+veggies of choice (usually frozen)+whole grain pasta. make pasta, stir fry veggies and tofu, mix. dunzo. or today we were extra tired after cleaning like cinderella and we microwaved the veggies and tofu. classy chefs we are! or nix the tofu and get all italian by making your own fancy veggie tomato sauce

    we’re also big fans of vegetarian chili. beans beans they’re good for your heart! split pea soup with barley is also wicked tasty, we just bought yellow split peas!! so pretty!! and anything with sweet potato is a winner

    breakfast foods are def the easiest to veganize, can’t go wrong with oatmeal, pancakes, muffins, carbs in general hahah.

    wish i could frolic through the city with you! i love the Met and all of the ancient egyptian stuff they have 🙂

    • i should also mention that the veggies and tofu also go great with quinoa (especially the red kind) or brown rice

  30. A few vegan meals that my bf eats happily. And he grew up with Velveeta mac+cheese.

    Sweet potato fries with Annie’s (no HFCS) ketchup
    Porcini mushroom soup from Veganimocon (he asks for this constantly)
    Veggie sandwiches (hummus, avocado, tomato, thinly sliced cucumber, balsamic vinegar on wheat bread)
    Veggie stirfry with rice (I add stir-fried tofu)
    Roasted portabello mushroom caps (you could grill them!)
    Roasted brussel sprouts with olive oil and sea salt
    Veggie pasta salad

    Also, I love soba noodles with cabbage, thinly sliced veggie, and an asian sauce.

  31. Many years ago, I went macrobiotic for awhile and lived on “fried noodles” from The Hip Chicks Guide to Macrobiotics. It is still a favorite in our house. Basically- sautee an onion (cut in half moons) and some garlic, toss in a sliced carrot, then some tofu (golden, baked, whatever). Throw some cooked udon noodles on top, then top with sliced greens (kale and collards work great) and a shake or two of tamari or shoyu. Cover and let it get all tasty. I serve it with kimchee and sometimes I stir in a little tahini to make it creamy. Everyone I’ve made this for loves it.

    Sharing healthy vegan food with your family is fun! Enjoy your time with your mom!

  32. I think stir-fry type dishes are always winners! No need to really “fry” anything, so they can be healthy and vegan with lots of veggies and brown rice!
    I agree with the above comment that basic ethnic stuff is great! I just posted some vegan Indian dishes on my last blog post if you’re interested in that kinda thing, too!
    Snobby joes with lentils are great too, and I always love falafel! RhodeyGirlTests has a great falafel recipe!

  33. To jump off of Evan’s comments about asian sauces for tofu, I recently grilled some tempeh burgers for my parents after marinating the tempeh overnight in some asian concoction of my wild imagination the night before. It was delicious and paired with a mango salsa on a bed of greens with some whole grain bread for the burger-cravers. My parents were really blown away by the meatiness of tempeh in that form (I’ve done tacos with it before) and perked up when I mentioned a tempeh meatloaf and TLT sandwiches. Tempeh kabobs would go over really well too!

  34. How fun!! I would love to have a 3 day staycation with my mom 🙂

    You CANNOT go wrong with this recipe for Champagne Risotto with Clamshell Mushrooms, Pine Nuts, and Coconut, which is perhaps my favorite of all time and never ceases to impress omnivores…

    For a quick meal, I would also make a pizza with Daiya cheese.. love that stuff!

  35. Soup! Soup! Soup! Everybody loves lots of chunky veggies in a soup (or just puree everything for those texture-picky eaters), and the saltiness tends to leave omni’s umami desire (say that 10 times fast) satiated.

    I make a kale and roasted vegetable soup with white beans that’s hearty and fantastic: roast some tomatoes, onions, carrots, winter squash and/or sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper; puree the tomatoes and onions together to make a paste; then mix the paste into some veggie broth and simmer together with the remaining vegetables, some chopped kale, and some cooked white beans (Great Northerns are superb). You don’t have to simmer for very long, maybe 15 minutes or so, so the kale stays a little crunchy and and the beans don’t disintegrate – the texture is divine, and roasting the veggies makes them sweet and savory and yummmm.

    Shoot, now I’m hungry…

  36. If the vegan newcomer has a sophisticated palate then you can’t go wrong with traditional ethnic and international dishes that were conceived as vegan dishes. My experience is newbies don’t miss the meat if it was never meant to be there in the first place. Japanese temple cuisine is a winner. Highly recommend Elizabeth Andoh’s Washoku — not an entirely vegan cookbook but filled with wonderful vegan dishes, techniques and flavors nevertheless. Another winner: coconut-milk-based Thai curry with tofu, Asian eggplant, okra, umami-rich shiitake mushrooms and basil. Thai Kitchen brand pastes are vegan, entirely natural, have clean, bright flavors and they’re not at all hot. Rustic and robust Italian peasant dishes based on legumes also go down a treat as does Korean rice dish bibimbap. Best of luck with the catering. If you do go out with your mom, I highly recommend Cho Dang Gol in Korean district. Not a vegan place but their specialty is homemade organic tofu and they do a sensational vegan multigrain bibimbap upon request. Also, An Choi down on Orchard makes a fabulous vegan pho.

  37. There’s a recipe for tofu-ricotta stuffed shells in The Vegan Sourcebood that totally helped me fall in love with tofu when I was starting out.

    As I recall, you mashed steamed tofu with a little nutritional yeast, good olive oil, italian seasoning, salt, & pepper & stuffed it into (cooked) pasta shells, topped with whatever yummy marinara you had. The marinara took the “edge” off of the tofu idea, and who doesn’t love pasta?

    Nowadays, I’d probably stuff marinated portobello mushrooms – more nutritious and yummier!

  38. Listen, if you’re planning a staycation, can you think of a better playground than Manhattan? My mom and I have a museum date set for Friday too. Not the Met or the MoMA, mind you, but it’ll do.

    I’d be very interested in those culinary all-star vegan recipes you’re compiling, if you’d be willing to share them. Please.

    Have FUN you two!

  39. I get my boyfriend to eat tofu by using it as a filling in stuffed pasta dishes. I just give it a whirl in my food processor (most recently with roasted onion/garlic and some sauce), then use it the same way one would use a ricotta/egg/shredded cheese mixture. You basically can’t even tell it’s tofu 🙂

  40. What about a grain-and-veggie bowl topped with some yummy cheese-less pesto or other vegan sauce?

    It’s hot, so gazpachos and salsas always taste good. Bean tacos too! I -love- mushroom and black bean tacos.

    Avocado and tempeh sammiches rock my socks.

    Because people tend to heavily season meat, I think that’s why meat-eaters can find some vegan stuff bland. For that reason, I’d look into Indian and Italian cookbooks for really yummy veggie dishes–they’ll have tons of spices and flavor.

  41. I’ve made many omnis happy with my broccoli-tofu stir fry and with chili.

    This sounds like an amazing stay-cation. Have fun!

  42. My fam loves warm grains, mixed with steamed or sautéed veggies and seared tofu, them smothered in a peanut sauce or a miso gravy. I wish you the best of luck with your staycation dietary conquest, and lots of fun with your mom!

  43. There are TONS of quick ways to make an Asian sauce that you can glaze tofu with.
    Tempeh baked(I like covering it in coconut oil, agave, and coconut shreds)
    Tofu stuffed peppers(mix tofu, ketchup, spices, and nooch and put in a pepper. Baked for 15 minutes)
    Coconut milk tofu curry

    • Evan, I love the tofu stuffed pepper idea! …mostly bc I love organic ketchup 😉