Plant-Based Valentine’s Day Meal Ideas

Are you making a special plant-based Valentine’s Day meal?

I got an email from a reader who wanted to know what I suggested for a special Valentine’s Day meal. Her husband asked if she could make a plant-based meal, even though he isn’t plant-based. Sounds like a sweetheart!

Veggie Pad Thai

I used to suggest big fancy meals but these days I’m all about keeping it simple. My recommendation was Veggie Pad Thai! I know, it’s not a traditional choice but it’s easy to make, cooks quickly, and is easy to adapt based on what you like.

My husband loves the Veggie Pad Thai. I do a mix of both of our favorite veggies and give him more of the mushrooms while I take more of the peppers. He likes to drizzle Sriracha on top.

Just because it’s Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you need to put yourself out to make a meal. Spending less time in the kitchen so you can spend more time with your family seems like a win to me.

I know that some of you are over the top kind of people. I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean that you love creating big elaborate meals for your family. That is awesome! Go for it!

If Pad Thai isn’t your thing, I’ve got a few other recipes for you. You can check out my post from 5 years ago (yes, I’ve been blogging that long) when my kids were little!

Chickpea Nuggets are vegan, gluten-free, and a fun kid food. They are easy to make and delicious.

More Plant-Based Valentine’s Day Ideas

If I had plenty of time and energy, I’d plan a kid friendly meal of Chickpea Nuggets, Mashed Potatoes, Brown Gravy and veggies. I’d probably have a veggie tray or big salad too.

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Something you may not have heard yet, my Chickpea Nugget recipe is included in Ocean Robbins new book, The 31 Day Food Revolution! I’m so excited to read this book. You should check it out if you are looking for new reading material.

Plant-Based Dessert

Of course, we can’t forget about dessert. If there was any time to have desserts it’s random mid-week holidays, err, I mean Valentine’s Day. HA HA, just kidding. You don’t have to convince me to have dessert.

Banana Muffins with Chocolate Plant-Based Valentine's day

You can tell from my dessert page that I love chocolate. My husband never really liked chocolate but he has come around a bit. He still won’t eat a lot but he enjoys it in small amounts. With that in mind, big desserts are out, but smaller desserts like chocolate covered strawberries made with Enjoy Life Foods chocolate are totally in.

Another option we love is making my Banana Bread into muffins and putting chocolate chips (or chunks) in half of them.

What is your idea of a perfect plant-based Valentine’s Day meal? Do you like simple, elaborate, family friendly or romantic?

Favorite Instant Pot Recipes

You know I love my Instant Pot! I do more cooking in my Instant Pot than my stove and oven combined. It’s such an easy way to cook because it’s mostly hands off. You get it going then walk away.

My Favorite Instant Pot Recipes and they are all plant-based!

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I bought my Instant Pot 3 years ago when I went back to work full time after being a stay at home mom and blogger. I knew that our life was about to get crazy and I would not be able to prep foods throughout the day or simmer a pot of beans all afternoon.

I bought the 6 quart 7 in 1 Instant Pot because it was the only one (at the time) that made yogurt. Now there are a bunch of choices when it comes to choosing an Instant Pot but I’ll cover that a different day.

My Favorite Instant Pot Recipes

I like to cook single ingredients foods a lot, beans, rice, potatoes, are my top three. We have a lot of other favorites too!

Enjoy restaurant style refried beans without sacrificing your health. These oil-free, plant-based refried beans are made in the Instant Pot.

Refried Beans

I’ve been making what I like to call unfried beans for years. Since no one knew what unfried beans were, I call my Instant Pot version Oil-Free Refried Beans. These are perfect on nachos, bean burritos or with your favorite taco recipe. I like Instant Pot Lentil Tacos.

Instant Pot Minestrone Soup may just be the perfect plant-based soup! Veggies, beans, broth and pasta create a hearty and healthy soup!

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup is my favorite soup but it’s also labor intensive. All that chopping! Well, being able to  toss it all in my Instant Pot makes up for it. We love this soup and this version has some short cuts to make it easier. I think you’ll love this Instant Pot Minestrone Soup as much as I do!

Instant Pot Mexican Casserole

Mexican Casserole

I’ve made this recipe for years! First in my oven, then I created a stove top version, then a Crock Pot version. Finally my Instant Pot Mexican Casserole was born. This easy recipe allows you to use uncooked rice and beans. Pay attention to the tips in the recipe, old beans can give you trouble. If you use something other than black beans you’ll need to adjust the cooking time.

Instant Pot Chickpea and Rice Soup

Chickpea and Rice Soup

Even though this recipe provides stove top directions also, the Instant Pot Chickpea and Rice Soup is my favorite version! This recipe gives a nod back to the chicken and rice soup my husband used to love but cleans it up for a plant-based version.

Instant Pot Oatmeal

Steel Cut Oats

Yes, you can cook delicious steel cut oats while you get ready in the morning. Make this easy Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats recipe then add your favoirite toppings. Mine are cinnamon and diced apples but fresh berries are amazing too.  You can also try my Banana Nut version.

Try this Busy Night Pasta recipe! It's simple and fast! Make a pasta dinner tonight in the Instant Pot!

Pasta

Yes, I’ve successfully made pasta in the Instant Pot. It’s a bit trickier and I haven’t had success with gluten-free pasta, only wheat pasta. Short, sturdy noodle shapes are important for getting great pasta, I like spirals, riggitoni, or penne as favorites. Check out my recipe for Instant Pot Pasta.

Do you have a recipe you’d like to see made in the Instant Pot? Let me know and I’ll work on converting it. I’ve got more great Instant Pot recipes and I plan to add more favorite Instant Pot recipes soon!

Farmers Market Shepherd’s Pie

This post is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.

Have you noticed how most of our holidays are food focused? And, it’s not just holidays, during big moments, both good and bad, we gather around food. I still remember sharing meals with my family as a child.

Our older children who are now adults reminisce about their favorite childhood meals. The meals we share with our kids will have a lasting impact on them. I believe creating healthy meals and enjoying them together will make your family stronger, both physically and relationally.

If you are looking for a meal that will bring a family together, look no further than this Farmers Market Shepherd’s Pie. It’s perfect for helpers!

Farmers Market Shepherd's Pie

I bought these beautiful veggies on a recent trip to the farmers market as part of Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Nourishing Arizona campaign. If you want your family to get interested in eating more veggies, a trip to the farmers market is a great start!

I love that this whole meal (except maybe the lentils and spices) are grown locally! My son is slightly obsessed with wanting to become a gardener to grow all our food. We aren’t anywhere close to that but he does a great job of helping pick out fresh produce.

Farmers Market Shepherd's Pie

If your kids want to help and are old enough to use a knife, cutting veggies is an easy way for them to help. If not, they can wait until it’s time to mash the sweet potatoes. Even toddlers can help with the measuring after you do the cutting.

You can cook some parts of this Shepherd’s Pie in the Instant Pot. I cooked the potatoes in the Instant Pot while the other ingredients cooked on the stove. If you don’t have an electric pressure cooker, you can bake or boil your potatoes. If baking, just wash your potatoes first, no need to peel them because you’ll be able to scoop the potato out of the skins. If boiling, peel and cut into manageable pieces.

Farmers Market Shepherd's Pie

Farmers Market Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe is perfect for potlucks, especially if you don’t know if there will be healthy options.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh green beans, ends trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 4 cloves garlic, divided
  • 1 cup onion, diced and divided
  • 4 large sweet potatoes or yams
  • ¼ cup soy milk or other non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup dry lentils + 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons gluten-free baking mix (you may substitute flour if you aren’t gluten-free)
  • 1 ½ cups soy milk

Cooking the Veggies

Put 1 cup of water into a large skillet. Add your cut green beans, sliced carrots, sliced celery, half the garlic and half the onion. Cover with the lid.

Cook the veggies for 10-15 minutes until they are tender-crisp or to your desired crispness.

Pour the veggies into a colander and let the extra liquid drip off until time to assemble. Use the skillet to make the sauce.

Cooking the Lentils

While the veggies are cooking, start cooking your lentils in a medium saucepan.

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, then add 1 cup of dry lentils and the remaining garlic and onion. You may season them with salt, pepper and other spices.

The lentils will need to cook for about 15 minutes. Most or all of the water will be absorbed. If not, carefully drain it off.

Cooking the Sweet Potatoes

I like cooking potatoes in the Instant Pot because it’s fast and easy. If you have an Instant Pot, wash the potatoes and place them on the wire rack with one cup of water below. Then cook them on manual for 15 minutes with natural pressure release.

Once done and cooled enough to handle, remove the potatoes from the pot, carefully remove the skin, then mash them with ¼ cup of soy milk and a sprinkle of salt.

Cooking the Sauce

The sauce requires constant attention, don’t start it until you can focus on it. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, garlic powder, onion powder to a bowl. Then add 2 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast and gluten-free baking mix (or flour if you aren’t gluten-free) and mix them together.

Dump that mixture into your skillet. Add 1 ½ cups soy milk and whisk all together. When the mixture starts to clump, alternate using a silicone spatula to smooth it out and scrape the bottom of the skillet, and a whisk to stir it up. You’ll need to keep stirring and scraping until the sauce is thick.

Assembling the Shepherd’s Pie

In a pie pan or 9×9 casserole dish, pour your cooked lentils. I like to take a fork and press them into the bottom to help them stick together a little.

Then, pour in the veggies that have been draining in the colander. Spread them around so they evenly cover the lentil layer.

Pour the sauce over the veggie layer. Give the casserole dish a little shake so that the sauce settles around the veggies.

Carefully scoop out one spoonful of mashed sweet potatoes at a time and plop it on top of the sauce layer. Repeat this until the whole casserole is covered in mashed sweet potatoes. Then you can use a spoon to smooth out the sweet potato layer.

Pop this in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes while everyone gets washed up for dinner.

Farmers Market Shepherd's Pie


You can adapt this recipe and make it using your favorite veggies too! Take a look at this infographic from Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Nourishing Arizona campaign for more tips on picking fresh produce.

How to Pick Produce

 

Creating healthy meals with your family will make a big impact in their future. Eating healthy meals creates a culture where being healthy is a priority. Using real, whole foods and teaching your kids to prepare them will set them up for healthy eating later in life.

It may not be possible to eat every meal together but making it a part of your family’s routine is worth the effort. Years from now, your kids will tell stories about family traditions and the foods they remember eating, let’s make those good memories!

Eat Within Your Means Meal Plan

Eating healthy and on a budget takes effort; it won’t happen by accident. I try to stick to basic ingredients and use them in different ways to make our budget stretch further.

I met another blogger who shared my passion for creating budget-friendly recipes the whole family would enjoy. Beth from Eat Within Your Means also knows a thing or two about meal planning. When she unveiled her new Plant-Based Comfort Food Meal Plan, I asked if I could share it with you! She said YES!

Eat Within Your Means Meal Plan

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This meal plan is My Plant-Based Family APPROVED! 

The Plant-Based Comfort Food Meal Plan is perfect for this time of year! It features five comforting meals that your family will love! Yes, even the pickiest in your family!

What’s in the Meal Plan?

Your meal plan has:

  • Vegetable Bolognese with Protein-Packed Marinara Sauce
  • Easy Vegan Taquitos with Guacamole
  • Veggie Meatloaf Cups with Protein-Packed Mashed Potatoes
  • Vegan Mac & Cheese
  • Pizza Night with salad

Easy Ingredients and Instructions

Part of what makes this meal plan so easy is that the shopping list is organized for easy shopping. Or in our case, easy online ordering; we order a lot of our groceries online then go pick them up.

I love that Beth uses regular ingredients in this meal plan. She also lays out exactly what to do!

You get step-by-step instructions to prep and cook five dinners. The prep work takes place on a prep day so the meals come together quickly each night. If you can follow a recipe and follow directions you can do this! 

Beth went a step further and gives you two options for the meal plan. The first option gives you everything you need to follow this meal plan in a printer-friendly PDF and mobile-friendly format.

The second option also gives you video for a few dollars more! 

I don’t know about you but I’m most excited about the Taquitos!

A few last notes

This meal plan is designed for a family of four (two adults and two children). Beth estimates it will cost an average of $12 per meal but that will depend on what you already have and prices in your area.

You will need a food processor to make the meals in this meal plan. I’ve had this one for over 5 years and love it!

If you try Beth’s Plant-Based Comfort Food Meal Plan, let me know! I think it’s perfect for families who are new to plant-based eating or who just want a little more guidance while they try new recipes. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Get your Plant-Based Comfort Foods Meal Plan as a PDF and mobile-friendly format HERE!

Or get the PDF, mobile-friendly format and video HERE!

September 25, 2017 Plant-Based Meal Plan

Soups, coffee with banana bread, pumpkin granola…these are all signs of cooler days. This week’s plant-based meal plan is embracing the slightly cooler temperatures and my cravings for fresh baked goods!

Last week I shared my recipe for Pumpkin Granola and I’ve been snacking on it ever since. It’s fueled a new pecan addiction. I never really liked pecans until I made this granola. Too bad too because growing up, I always had access to pecan trees. I plan to add pecans to other favorites like my Banana Bread!

This Plant-Based Meal Plan is full of delicious comfort foods your family will love. Soups, casseroles and freshly baked goods whisper fall is here.

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Fall also has me thinking about Thanksgiving! It’s still a while away for me but my friends in Canada will be celebrating soon! If you are already looking ahead to holiday planning, take a look at my Plant-Based Holiday Meal Plan! It was designed with all my Thanksgiving favorites!

Plant-Based Meal Plan

This weeks meal plan is all about comfort foods! Don’t worry, comfort foods don’t have to be unhealthy! I think you’ll love this week’s collection of soups, casseroles and baked goods!

Monday

Breakfast Cookies with fresh fruit

leftover Taco Soup

Chickpea Noodle Soup and freshly baked bread (I use the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day method, there is a gluten-free version of the book too)

Tuesday

Pumpkin Granola topped oatmeal

Soup and salad with Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus

Tofu and Stir Fried Brown Rice

Wednesday

Instant Pot Oatmeal with diced apples or fresh blueberries

Baked Potatoes

Instant Pot Mexican Casserole

Thursday

Blueberry Muffins or Banana Bread with added pecans

leftover casserole

Potato Broccoli Soup

Friday

Oatmeal with dried cranberries (and pecans)

Soup and baked potato

Enchilada Casserole


Moment of truth! What are your favorite fall flavors? I’ve been thinking of sharing more pumpkin recipes but don’t want to miss other fall favorites!

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