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Vegan Comfort Foods

Feeling a little under the weather tonight, though not necessarily looking for traditional "under the weather" foods. What do you eat (make) when you just want comfort? Have a recipe that's a keeper? Please do share, as I am at a loss...

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  1. Macaroni & cheese (I like Chloe Coscarelli's recipe but the super fiddly one in VegNews is good too.)

    Sometimes I just make bean burritos, using the flour tortilla recipe passed down to me by my mom for maximum comforty goodness.

    A really good soup with a cheese toast as well.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Peaches to Poutine

      You can make your own vegan cheeses, they're very easy get "The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook" by Jo Stepaniak (amazon) it's great

      My fave comfort foods are chickpea a la king and loaves with mashed potatoes and cashew gravy; 7th Day Adventist cookbooks are amazing at veganizing American comfort foods.. I recommend Newstart. Heres a link
      (and I'm a buddhist btw;-)

      1. re: Rory

        Yes to the 7th Day Adventists! There was a 7thDA restaurant in my hometown when I went veg in college and that was "the" only veg restaurant around and the food was great! No nouveau Asian fusion, etc. but very solid veg versions of American home cooking, with delicious mushroom gravy over loafy/croquette things, etc.. OMG, and desserts made with fresh dates. Thank you for reminding me of this - I have to see if mom still has the cookbook we bought in the restaurant's attached health food store.

    2. Grilled cheese (almond cheese) and tomato soup is one of my favorite comfort foods.

      1. Correct me if I'm wrong but I was under the impression that a "Vegan" eats no animal products such as cheese as opposed to a "Lacto Vegetarian" that can consume cheese, eggs but no meat??

        3 Replies
        1. re: malibumike

          Hi there,

          There are vegan cheeses that contain no dairy products.

          1. re: malibumike

            There are both soy and almond cheese available in a variety of flavors and styles. Both are dairy free.

            In my experience, almond cheese does melt a bit better than the soy versions though.

            1. re: FutureChefAdam

              Daiya is my go-to for pizza, but their wedges melt really nicely for sammiches too!

          2. Thanks all, for your replies. I haven't found almond cheese where I'm from - Toronto, Canada. But, I'm planning on making a trip to Michigan sometime in March. Any suggestions on where to buy said almond cheese?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Full tummy

              surely in a city as worldly as Toronto it can be found. hard to imagine it would be easier to find in our fine state of Michigan.

            2. I hope you're feeling better today! Very yummy suggestions. Since the melted-cheese category seems well filled, I thought I would list some other random things that I find comforting.

              * Butternut squash soup with veggie broth and a touch of thyme, five spice or curry powder (depending on which flavor profile you like)
              * Potato leek soup
              * Veggie chili
              * Mashed potatoes or whipped cauliflower with veggie gravy
              * Miso soup (with vegetarian broth) and lots of tofu
              * Steelcut oatmeal with dried fruits and cinnamon
              * O-chazuke (rice with hot tea)
              * Baked ziti (pasta + red sauce + olives & bake until edges are golden)
              * Toast with earth balance & cinnamon sugar
              * "Cheesy" black bean dip (seasoned vegan black beans with nutritional yeast) and tortilla chips

              I don't know where you'd find almond cheese in Michigan, but I know there are recipes online on how to make your own if you want to give it a shot. Though maybe not when you're feeling under the weather :)

              1 Reply
              1. re: greymalkin

                Thanks!! Great suggestions greymalkin.

              2. Late, but

                rice and lentils with caramelized onions

                I don't have a perfect recipe, but I started with Claudia Roden's. The rice is better if it's cooked in oil a bit before adding water.

                The cookbook Vegan Diner has a soup that sounds just like the Campbell's broth-y soups my mom fed me as a kid. I haven't tried it, though.

                20 Replies
                1. re: plantsvsme

                  Pretty much anything in Vegan Diner will fill the comfort food bill! It's my husband's favorite of my cookbooks.

                  Um, let's see, I know Panagea closed, so is there any other vegan or natural foods store you could find alterna-cheeses? I live in small town Quebec near the US border, so I usually end up buying alterna-cheeses that aren't Daiya from natural food stores in Vermont or ordering them from Vegan Essentials to my US dropbox.

                  1. re: Peaches to Poutine

                    has Whole Foods or Trader Joe's expanded into Canada yet? that sounds like a product either would carry.

                    1. re: hill food

                      Upaya sells raw cashew cheeses but I haven't tried them. To be honest, I haven't really looked but I haven't seen almond cheese in Toronto. Daiya can be found at regular grocers, though. If I had to guess where to look, I'd try Essence of Life, Ambrosia, Sweet Potato, The Big Carrot or Noah's, though.

                      1. re: blinknoodle

                        I have Daiya, but haven't seen cashew or almond cheese. Will make a concerted effort, though, and also on my trip to Michigan.

                      2. re: hill food

                        Whole Foods yes into Toronto and Vancouver. Trader Joe's has no such plans to expand into Canada (believe me, we've emailed them A LOT.)

                        1. re: Peaches to Poutine

                          those bastards, it took FOREVER for TJ's to come to SF and DC (one would think they'd be no brainers). the silly fools love the profits they're turning now, just didn't believe there would be a customer base for so many years. but I'll reserve further comment for the "Chains" board.

                          1. re: hill food

                            For reals! I'm from Atlanta and totally got spoiled by TJ's. I miss them so hard up in Quebec! :)

                            1. re: Peaches to Poutine

                              ahh - hence your user name! I'd bet the Quebecois and Montreal folks would dig it. heck, places like Winnipeg for that matter.

                              1. re: hill food

                                Actually, the Quebecois and Montreal folks most definitely would NOT like it. There's sometimes discussions about those stores branching out here and it's like an insult to their food identity or something. To be fair, Montreal does have amazing food markets, but aside from the fruit and veg, it's all geared towards omnis!

                      3. re: Peaches to Poutine

                        Thanks!!! And I do have that cookbook. Will take a look.
                        And re. Trader Joe's, I asked when I was in the States about a year ago, and the staff member almost laughed at me as if it was the furthest thing from a possibility that we should have Canadian Trader Joe's!!! Bah!

                        1. re: Full tummy

                          I think it's also because it's the law here to have bilingual labels on everything and they simply may not want the hassle of dealing with that or with import taxes.

                          1. re: Peaches to Poutine

                            import taxes make more sense, as many labels these days are already in English, French and Spanish.

                            1. re: hill food

                              True! But the only time I've ever seen a food label here that was in a third language other than the two official ones, was usually a specialty foods store. And often they have French translation stickers on them!

                          2. re: Full tummy

                            There's a place in Vancouver that sells all TJ's products that they buy across the border. It's called Pirate Joe's and it's on W. 4th in Kits. But they don't have much of the perishable stuff, mostly just pantry items and snacks. Still, it's a start!

                            1. re: piccola

                              Wow! Maybe if enough places do this, TJ's will consider a Canadian expansion?

                                1. re: Full tummy

                                  I wish! Bust something tells me they'll probably just shut it down.

                          3. re: plantsvsme

                            Thanks, will check out the Vegan Diner recipe. I have the cookbook!!

                            1. re: Full tummy

                              If you try it, I'd love to know what you think of the soup. I think it's called Homestyle Noodle Soup.

                              1. re: plantsvsme

                                Followup: I recently made Vegan Diner's Home-style Veggie Noodle Soup. My verdict: excellent soup for the sick, but very low-cal.

                                The soup did indeed taste as I remember the Campbell's soups of my youth. I liked it better than Amy's No Chicken Noodle even. However, the recipe makes a LOT of soup - maybe 3 quarts, maybe more. I will halve it in the future. And, I was starving about two hours after eating a bowl. It was perfect for my sick husband, though.

                          4. Buffalo style tempeh with mashed potatoes and butter. Mix red hot sauce and earth balance with some nutritional yeast until it is a wonderful neon orange color that is not found in nature and thick enough to coat the tempeh. I slice the tempeh into thin squares then bake.

                            Pizza is another one. I don't make that to much since I am gluten free. Lasagna is another real treat.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: adventuresinbaking

                              Mashed potatoes, yes. Seem to appear a lot. And my soy milk/almond milk mash actually are pretty decent. Thanks! And will have to give your sauce a try.

                            2. I guess I keep recommending this, but it's so stupidly easy and quick, even when you are under the weather. Red lentil sloppy Joes (though I just plop the lentils in a bowl and have a slice of toast with it).

                              1 cup lentils
                              1 large or 2 small ribs celery diced
                              1 small onion or 1/2 a large onion diced
                              1/2 red pepper or any color diced
                              2 cups water
                              1 small can tomato paste
                              1 tablesppon chili powder
                              salt (I use a 1/2 tsp but you'll probably want more)
                              1/2 tsp pepper
                              any other seasonings you wish
                              ketchup to taste 1/4 cup to ???
                              sriracha to taste

                              Cook the lentils in water with celery and onion (and the red pepper if you prefer it cooked) for 15 - 20 minutes. Take it off the heat right before the lentils lose their shape.

                              After lentils are cooked add everything else and warm it it through.

                              Yields at least 8 sloppy Joes.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: MplsM ary

                                Thanks! Will definitely give this one a try. Looks yummy AND healthy.

                                1. re: MplsM ary

                                  Now I know what to do with the red lentils in my pantry! Thanks!

                                2. When I am under the weather, I make soups. I have a few favorites I rotate through: french onion soup, butternut squash soup, mushroom soup, and kale soup.

                                  1. Sesame peanut noodles (Smitten Kitchen's version). I have a jar of the sauce frozen in the fridge right now for "emergencies". (http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/0...


                                    Coconut curry sauced carbs.

                                    Peanut "chicken" but with chickpeas. It's the African peanut tomato sauce and just replace the chicken with chick peas. We originally saw the recipe on the GoodHousekeeping site but it's gone now. So easy and good. This version at SimplyRecipes.com looks good too, but has more work: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/.... I've made fried tofu to replace the chicken but chickpeas are so much easier and really, it's all about the sauce. :-


                                    Chocolate "mousse" pie, the one that's all over the internet with just good chocolate, tofu, and optionally a sweetener like honey or agave.

                                    Refried black bean & hummus "quesadillas" (I just skip the cheese altogether because good hummus is really good). I prefer corn tortillas. Pan fried until a bit browned. If you're feeling lazy, tortilla chips with that mix is even easier.

                                    Now I'm hungry. :-)

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: 1MunchieMonster

                                      what do they sub in for the fish sauce in the peanut sauce?

                                      love peanut sauce noodles. that is comfort food indeed, warm or cold.

                                      1. re: hill food

                                        Soy sauce. I didn't even miss the fish sauce. Maybe this version is more of a Chinese dish and the peanut sauce with fish sauce is more Thai or Vietnamese. Any which way though, yum.

                                        1. re: 1MunchieMonster

                                          makes sense to me, I could see miso as well. I bought commercial once and it was too darn sweet, as an omnivore I do use fish sauce in my homemade but I always look for vegan tips if guests are coming.

                                          1. re: hill food

                                            Depending on the recipe, I sometimes use fermented black-bean garlic sauce in place of fish sauce, which isn't really anything like fish sauce (as far as my nose can tell; while I'm sure I've accidentally eaten fish sauce in restaurant food, I'm a lifelong vegetarian and have never tasted it by itself intentionally). But it's fermented and kind of funky.

                                            1. re: antimony

                                              I used to have a jar of that stuff, it was interesting, I never saw the need to refrigerate it as it just sort of seemed the funkier and weirder the better. I have tasted both intentionally and can confirm you're right, it's nothing like fish sauce, except for that salty, rank 'tastes better than it smells' factor.

                                      2. re: 1MunchieMonster

                                        Great ideas! Thank you!! Peanut sauces are so comforting. Especially for those of us who grew up on peanut butter sandwiches!!!

                                        And yes to the coconut milk idea, too!

                                      3. Red lentil dal with roasted carrots. I realize that the latter aren't particularly traditional, but it's such a hearty and comforting combo.

                                        2 Replies
                                          1. re: GilaB

                                            mmm, reminds me of split pea soup with carrots. very comforting.

                                            1. Someone else mentioned a taco recipe from their mom, well I don't know if it's also because it's my parents recipe but I think it's absolutely delicious and comforting:
                                              chopped red onions cooked in plenty of sunflower oil until soft
                                              chopped green pepper cooked until tender
                                              add 1 can of rinsed black eyed peas and cook on fairly high heat.
                                              when beans are hot, add a good amount of ketchup (maybe 2 tablespoons? and a small amount of low sodium tamari -1 tsp. mix well and continue cooking on high heat until it becomes sort of sticky and caramelized.
                                              cook corn tortillas your favorite way (i like frying them in shallow oil on high heat) and serve with avocado slices and lime,and hot sauce.
                                              i'm guessing that a good vegan taco recipe is not a new thing for this board but my daughter and I absolutely love these. I eat at least 3 every time.

                                              1. Depending on my mood and the season, I go for split pea soup, soft polenta or grits with greens, or a bastardized version of Korean tofu stew. Or sometimes just avocado toast.

                                                1. Brown a package of Quorn tenders in a skillet, add a can of Amy's semi-condensed mushroom soup, serve over jasmine rice. Does the trick whenever I'm sick.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: azveggieguy

                                                    Not sure Quorn is vegan since it has egg-whites? The combo sounds good though and I'm sure you could find another "chicken-free" tender to include.


                                                    I enjoy refried beans (either home made or canned), salsa, and either chips or tortilla, and assorted veggies. The southwestern US comfort food. :)

                                                    1. re: azveggieguy

                                                      Amy's mushroom soup? I will have to look for that in my local stores. Sounds good.

                                                      1. re: Full tummy

                                                        The Imagine brand also makes a good one

                                                    2. one word, baby

                                                      (not that I'm at all a vegetarian)

                                                      1. My favorite comfort food is pav bhaji, a Mumbai snack food/one dish meal. I make it with butter, but you can easily substitute olive or canola oil. With oil instead of butter, it is vegan (assuming the bread - see below - is vegan).

                                                        Anyway, the "pav" is a soft white bread, similar in consistency, taste, and look to a hot dog bun (and what we often use. But any soft white bread will do). We butter it and toast it, but spreading olive oil and then toasting it would work just as well.

                                                        The bhaji is a vegetable stew that is served on the bread, open faced sandwich style. It is thick, about the consistency of mashed potatoes. And potatoes are a must in it, other than that you can sort of make it up as you go...a great way to use up leftover cooked veggies. The bhaji is flavored with pav bhaji spice mix, which can be found in any Indian food store. There is usually a recipe on the back, follow it with your own vegan improvisations. Cooked potatoes, peas, carrots, onions, cauliflower, and/or eggplant always make it into my mix. Chopped tomatoes and cilantro as well. Saute up all the vegetables along with a chopped garlic clove and the Pav Bhaji spice mix (It is best to pre-boil the longer-cooking vegetables, or just use leftovers that are already cooked). Add chopped tomatoes and cilantro and a squeeze of lime; mash the potatoes a bit in the pot and add water until you have the desired consistency (like lumpy mashed potatoes).. Serve on the toasted bread garnished with chopped red onion and cilantro. Sorry I am not giving amounts, but it always varies depending on the crowd I'm cooking for. The beauty of pav bhaji is that it is forgiving, and lends itself to experimentation with the veggie combinations. But it is ALWAYS comforting!

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: janetofreno

                                                          I want to make this! I have heard of pav bhaji but have never eaten it.

                                                          1. re: Full tummy

                                                            me too! thanks for posting this.

                                                          2. re: janetofreno

                                                            made pav bhaji tonight as a matter of fact...it was kind of rainy and cool, and it seemed like comfort food was in order. As I cooked it I realized several notes I forgot to add: 1) if you want it at all spicy, add all or part of a chopped jalapeno, and 2) I find that I like about twice as much of the pav bhaji spice as the recipe on the box calls for, and 3) a little grated fresh ginger is a nice addition as well. Enjoy!

                                                            1. re: janetofreno

                                                              are fresh jalapeno and fresh ginger EVER wrong?

                                                              they're like driving gloves. or thank you notes.

                                                              1. re: janetofreno

                                                                Pav Bhaji is a great favorite.

                                                                Also a must is wedges of lime (or lemon) for squeezing on top, and maybe some finely diced raw onion to sprinkle on top along with the green chilli and grated ginger.

                                                                Street food at its best.

                                                                Soft and squishy small size hamburger buns are more the traditional pao shape than hot dog buns.

                                                                Have masala chai, or masala nimbupani (spiced fresh lime soda), to drink.

                                                                1. re: Rasam

                                                                  You are absolutely right about the lime...just forgot to mention it! And you're right about the hamburger buns too - its just that my SIL taught me the recipe, and she uses hot dog buns so I do too:-)

                                                            2. Fresh raspberries with an "Enjoy Life" chocolate mega-chunk stuck inside the raspberry. It's hardly a recipe but the best summer dessert ever... especially if you make a whole bunch then you can stick them in the freezer and have one whenever you need some chocolate during the day.