Tag Archives: healthy comfort food

These Vegan Sloppy Joe Sliders Are Your Answer to Healthy Entertaining

This unconventional take on the sloppy Joe is inspired by the popular chickpea-filled Trinidadian street food, doubles. Like sloppy Joes, doubles are a deliciously messy, sweet and savoury snack. They’re typically made of channa (a curried chickpea filling) sandwiched between two pieces of fried dough with tamarind sauce, chutneys and pepper sauce.

For this Can You Vegan It? sloppy Joe recipe, the fried dough is replaced with mini sesame-seed buns. The savoury curried chickpea filling is topped with a spicy and crunchy cucumber chutney, as well as a tangy pineapple jam rather than tamarind sauce. It’s an unlikely combination, but if you enjoy sweet, savoury and spicy flavours, this recipe is calling your name. It’s perfect for pleasing picky kids or entertaining guests. Plus they’re veg-friendly for everyone to enjoy!

Vegan Sloppy Joe Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 70 minutes
Servings: 12 sliders

Ingredients:

Channa (Chickpea Filling)
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves
3 stalks green onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp turmeric
2 Tbsp geera (ground roasted cumin)
2 Tbsp curry powder
1 can drained chickpeas (28 oz)
4 tsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 scotch bonnet pepper
Salt, to taste

Spicy Cucumber Chutney
½ large field cucumber
⅓ scotch bonnet pepper
1 lime, juiced
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

Additional
Pineapple jam or guava jam (you can find this in the Caribbean section of the grocery store or at a Caribbean grocery store)
12 sesame buns (or any type of slider buns you prefer)

Directions:

1. Finely chop the onion, garlic cloves and green onion. Add a few spoons of oil to a large pot at medium heat. Then saute the onion, garlic and green onion.

2. Once the onions become translucent, add the turmeric, geera and curry powder and stir — add a bit of water if necessary to keep the ingredients from sticking to the pot.

3. Add the drained chickpeas and chopped cilantro and stir. Then pour enough water to cover the chickpeas and add in the scotch bonnet pepper (do not cut the pepper). Let the ingredients simmer on medium heat until soft, adding more water when necessary to keep the mixture from burning or sticking to the pan.

4. Once the chickpeas have softened and the mixture has a thick consistency, take it off the heat and let cool.

Related: Our Most Popular Vegan Recipes Ever

5. Use a grater to shred half the field cucumber and place in a bowl.

6. Finely chop the ⅓ scotch bonnet pepper, removing most of the seeds (this pepper is incredibly spicy, so be careful when handling) before adding to the bowl of grated cucumber.

7. Add the lime juice and chopped cilantro to the bowl. Mix the ingredients together and place in a mason jar.

8. Lightly toast the sesame buns and spread a generous portion of pineapple jam to the bottom of the bun, then add a few spoonfuls of the chickpea channa mix, top with a bit of the spicy cucumber chutney — and enjoy!

Like Eden’s vegan sloppy Joes? Try her sweet potato blondies or cardamom teff apple muffins.

Published June 11, 2018, Updated December 13, 2020

This Beef and Bean Chili Contains an Unsuspecting Secret Ingredient

Chili is the perfect comfort food: it’s delicious in cold weather (or any time), it feeds a crowd, it’s festive during sporting events, it’s spicy and stew-y, and now, it’s chocolatey too! We believe most chilis are missing this key, secret ingredient. Pairing cocoa with an already rich chili only deepens the flavours, adding more sweetness and bitterness, while creating a velvety texture.  

Hearty Beef and Bean Chili with Dark Chocolate

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp oregano
1 ½ tsp paprika
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp sea salt
Few cracks of pepper
1 lb ground beef
1 red or yellow potato, diced into 1 inch cubes
1 sweet potato, diced into 1 inch cubes
1 cup broth
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 ounces (75g) dark chocolate (70% or higher)
⅓ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Directions:

1. Place a large pot or dutch oven on the stove, heat to medium, toss in the oil and then sauté the onion until translucent, about 3 minutes.

2. Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Toss in the spices and mix around so they get nice and toasted.

3. Add the ground beef, breaking it up with your spoon, so it’s in smaller pieces that can brown. Mix it around so it gets coated in the spices. There’s no need to fully cook it yet, since the beef will cook further when it simmers in a few steps.

4. Toss in the potatoes, broth, diced tomatoes, kidney beans and dark chocolate, and give the whole pot a big stir. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 35 minutes. Re-season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with fresh cilantro on top.

For more comforting recipes, this winter greens mac & cheese and these slow-cooker ribs with a red wine sauce will save you on the coldest winter days. You can also try these slow-cooker curry recipes.

Veganism Made Easy: Lauren Toyota’s Fail-Safe Tips for Eating Plant-Based (And Loving It)

The idea of noshing on a juicy burger or devouring a bacon mac and cheese skillet (okay fine – and a slice of buttercream cake for dessert) is the stuff of comfort food dreams. It’s also the stuff vegan foodie Lauren Toyota, of famed blog and YouTube channel Hot for Food (part of Kin Community), cooks up on a regular basis. “I’m trying to dispel the misconception that, as a vegan, you have to eat raw food, salad or green smoothies all the time,” she says. That’s also the theme behind her just-released cookbook Vegan Comfort Classics, featuring over 100 plant-based recipes that are unapologetically indulgent and drool-worthy. We caught up with the Canadian star to ask about everything from her humble beginnings to her top tips for entry-level vegans.

Photo courtesy of Vanessa Heins

What inspired you to take such an inventive approach to veganism?

When I first became vegan, I thought I had to uphold some idea of health. I thought I couldn’t enjoy the foods I used to eat when I was an omnivore. But I quickly got out of that trap once I realized, if I don’t change what I’m doing, I’m not going to stick to this whole vegan thing. I don’t want to eat cold food all the time.

Comfort food is just a generic umbrella term because it can be anything to anybody. Whatever is comforting to you might not be comforting to me, because it plays off your childhood, your experiences and your senses. I’m always trying to get my recipes to appeal to as many senses as possible.

Was there a learning curve? What did you eat before becoming vegan?

Before becoming vegan, I had just travelled through the U.S. with a family member, driving through states like Florida and Georgia. We were eating a lot of terrible omnivore food, from po’ boys to Cuban sandwiches. I had gone from eating all of this southern comfort food, which plays into what I make now as a vegan, but then not feeling good. And I went on that trip thinking, this is it. I’m just going to go all out and then come back and get healthy. Whatever that meant.

Once I became vegan I eventually started asking myself things like: How can I make salads more satisfying? I think I probably started there, adding creamier dressings and heavier toppings and then thought, well wait, now I want to experiment more: How do I make cheese as a vegan? How do I make bacon as a vegan?

Oyster Mushroom Po’ Boy (Featured in Lauren’s Cookbook, Vegan Comfort Classics)

What are your top tips for beginner vegans?

Stick to What You Know: Which foods do you like? Try to substitute a few non-vegan ingredients for vegan ones, but don’t try to cook something you don’t even know how to make or know if you like – start with your favourite meal or something you eat all the time and recreate it without your default ground beef or Parmesan cheese. Make tiny adjustments without reinventing your entire diet.

Start Cooking: You have to start cooking something, even if it’s a very basic pasta with jarred sauce. Get used to cooking, because I think if you’re going vegan, or mostly vegan, it’s so empowering and something everyone can learn.

Don’t Overhaul Your Fridge and Pantry:  It can be a slow transition, integrating one thing at a time, or using up that jar of regular mayonnaise before swapping it for a vegan version. Take the same approach when replacing cheese, and so on.

Shake up Your Grocery Store Routine: Walk through different aisles and start reading labels. Educate yourself and get out of your habitual patterns – if you’re not reading labels, you likely don’t realize that much of what you’re buying probably is vegan. So figure out what you’re already buying that’s vegan, and what you should add to your cart.

Tofu Benny with Hollandaise (Featured in Lauren’s Cookbook, Vegan Comfort Classics)

Pantry staples you can’t live (or cook) without?

Raw Cashews: They’re neutral in flavour and don’t taste nutty because they’re not roasted. Vegans like to soak and blend cashews to make thick creams or milk. There’s substance and viscosity to it, and it provides the same texture as whipped or heavy cream in a sauce. I also make Parmesan by grinding cashews into a coarse meal with nutritional yeast.

Nutritional Yeast: I use this ingredient a lot in the cookbook – it’s one of those things people may not know about, but it’s been around forever. There’s nothing weird or processed about it. It has B12 and protein and fibre. I incorporate it into everything because it adds depth, like a cheesiness or nuttiness.

Thickeners (like Cornstarch or Arrowroot): Thickeners are great for soups and sauces. You should always keep one in your pantry because it will never spoil.

Spices: These are important for beginners too because you’re basically trying to season food with spices to taste like meat or other dishes you’re used to eating. Stock up on smoked paprika, cumin, turmeric and onion and garlic powder. Spices are also inexpensive and pretty much last forever, as long as you’re storing them in a dry place.

There seems to be growing interest in plant-based eating, specifically vegan comfort foods. Why now?

At the beginning [in Toronto and elsewhere] we saw more juice and salad bars. Now, in contrast, we’re seeing a second movement: the indulgent side. I think it’s helping people get on board with veganism so they don’t fall into that trap of thinking they have to eat one way. It’s great because you can access both types of food, no matter your diet. I think everyone who’s on the same mission as me in the community realizes this is just how we get people interested and through the door.

Crispy Crabless Cakes (Featured in Lauren’s Cookbook, Vegan Comfort Classics)

Where do you see veganism heading? Where will it be five to ten years from now?

In five years, I think we’re going to be at a place where it’s much more normalized. Every restaurant will have more than one plant-based option on the menu, or if not, an isolated vegan menu, which you’re seeing places do now. I hope it’s not so much of a thing to harp on, that it’s just regular food that happens to be made with plants. At the end of the day, the movement is not a trend. It’s really a way to get people adjusted to the fact that this is the future of what you’re going to be eating.

Want more of Lauren’s decadent recipes? Try her Cauliflower Buffalo Wings, Perfect Vegan Lasagna and Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake Bites.

3 Healthy Baked Veggie Fries

Homemade vegetable fries, baked right in the oven, are a healthier way to get your fry fix. Just like potatoes, sturdy vegetables such as rutabaga, carrot, parsnip and zucchini, can withstand the heat of the oven needed for a crispy, golden-brown exterior and tender interior. These nutrient-rich frites offer great flavours and texture, in a healthy-carb package that was made for dipping.

Here are three simple variations of oven-baked French fries, along with a few tips on how to get them crisp, plus tasty dip ideas.

Italian-Zucchini-Fries-2

Veggie Fry Baking Tips
– After slicing, pat vegetables dry with a cloth or paper towel to remove excess moisture.
– Coat veggies in cornmeal or panko bread crumbs to add another layer of crunch to the exterior.
– Use the convection setting on your oven if you have it; baking at a higher heat (400ºF to 425ºF) for slightly less time. Circulating air means a crispier exterior.
– Use a high-temperature cooking oil, such as grapeseed, avocado, camelina or olive oil (not extra-virgin) to avoid smoke in the hot oven.
– Enjoy the fries as fresh as possible – like their deep-fried counterparts, these will soften as they cool.
– Make sure your parchment paper brand can withstand heat up to 425ºF.

Dip Ideas
Classic ketchup
Curry mayonnaise
Tzatziki
Greek yogurt with chipotle and lime
Garlicky honey mustard
Marinara sauce
Homemade cheese sauce

Rutabaga-Fries-1-1

Rutabaga Herb Oven Fries

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1 large rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch matchsticks
2 Tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 tsp herbs de Provence or dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
Ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Add all ingredients to prepared baking sheet and toss to combine; spread into a single layer.
3. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, or until tender and golden brown on the underside. Serve.

Italian-Zucchini-Fries-3

Italian Zucchini Panko Wedge Fries

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp Italian seasoning or dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
2 zucchini, halved crosswise and lengthwise, cut into thick sticks
1 Tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine panko, Italian seasoning or dried oregano and salt on a plate. Coat zucchini in oil. Press zucchini into breadcrumbs and line up on prepared baking sheet.
3. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until zucchini is tender and golden brown on the underside. Serve.

Sesame-Carrot-Fries-1

Sesame Carrot Shoestring Fries

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
4 carrots, peeled, halved crosswise and cut into thin matchsticks
1 Tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp black or white sesame seeds
1/4 tsp salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, toss carrots with olive oil, sesame oil, tamari and sesame seeds. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and spread into a single layer.
3. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, or until carrots are crisp and beginning to caramelize. Serve.

For more healthy alternatives, check out these 13 baked versions of your favourite fried foods.