By Lee Musho
It’s simple. Making a meal for someone, and having them noticeably like it, makes me happy. It’s my way of giving back and showing someone I care.
However, having a vegan roommate has proved to be a little tough. It’s made me think about what food I make on a regular basis that I can share with her.
The first night I moved into my new house, I didn’t know anyone. I was the only new girl. I wanted some comfort food after the move and made a quick pasta sauce recipe my father would throw together as I was growing up. I smashed the canned peeled tomatoes with my hands (don’t worry, I washed them first), added so much garlic I could feel it in my throat (about 6 cloves per pound of pasta), crushed red pepper, and olive oil.
I offered some to the entire house, and as we sat around the table, I began to feel at home. But one my roommates, Griff, said she couldn’t eat pasta. It wasn’t vegan. We looked at the ingredients on the back of the blue box. It contained semolina flour and water. No eggs and no milk. She could have “normal” wheat spaghetti with the rest of us instead of dipping into her cupboard full of pasta made from beans or chickpeas. I was able to share the first meal I ate in my new home with everyone there, and that was pretty damn special.
Since then, we’ve been figuring out what we can make together. It’s all about balance, finding a way to break bread and share that time without feeling like you’re sacrificing. When I think of vegan food, powders and nut-based concoctions come to mind. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are vegan meals healthier than pasta which also fill me up, like homemade burrito bowls. Beans, Rice, Red Pepper, Corn, Tomatoes, Lime, Cilantro… they’re all vegan. I top mine off with some guacamole and, don’t tell anyone, but I don’t even miss the meat.
This recipe is bright from the citrus and isn’t weighed down by garlic or other heavy spices. Griff and I fought one night over the bowl, chips going into battle over the last of the green goo as we stood over the kitchen counter.
1 medium red onion, thinly diced
2 limes, juiced
a handful of cilantro, chopped
In a medium bowl, smash avocados into lime juice. Once at the preferred consistency, fold in red onion and cilantro. Salt to taste. Serve with corn tortilla chips.
When the Superbowl came around, we ordered pizza and wings as a house. But Griff couldn’t eat any of it. Instead, she made cauliflower buffalo bites, covered in our Superbowl article, Have a Healthy Superbowl. And they’re pretty addicting, with acid from the lemon juice, and heat from Frank’s hot sauce.
But more problems arose. If we’re watching a movie, what snacks can we share? A ton of candy includes gelatin, which is made from animal bones and tendons, and don’t forget the dairy in milk chocolate. Butter popcorn, my go-to, also isn’t an option. However, most salted popcorn is. Just make sure to read the back of the box.
Here are a few vegan options for movie night:
Potato chips like Ruffles, Kettle Brand, and Lays in the classic and BBQ flavors
Pringles in the classic and BBQ flavors
Sour Patch Kids
Doritos Spicy-Sweet Chili Flavor
If your sweet tooth isn’t satisfied from the candy, it’s time to make some vegan ice cream. I won’t get behind it because its vegan, but I’ve come to appreciate it because I can eat bowls of it while telling myself I’m still being healthy. As Griff says, “it may not be ice cream as we know it from a cow udder, but it’s definitely something grand-spanking good.”
Griff’s Ice Cream
1 cup cashews
1 1/2 cups water
1 can full-fat coconut milk (put in the fridge for at least an hour which separates the cream from the liquid)
3/4 cup cane sugar
Blend the cashews and water to make cashew cream. Then add the separated coconut cream from the coconut milk with the sugar and blend. Freeze until chilled, then churn in an ice cream maker. You can mimic churning by whisking the mixture every 15-20 minutes as it’s chilling.
It’s an ice cream base. From here, you can add vanilla extract for a classic vanilla flavor, or cocoa powder for chocolate… even Oreos, to create your own flavor.
I’ve always been pro-meat. Pro-eggs in the morning. I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon. I may not be converted, but I’m willing to eat vegan here and there so I can share a meal with a friend. Spending that time together is worth the cheesy sacrifice.
Photo by Chef Steps