A few weeks ago, I received an email from a reader who told me about her husband’s decision to go vegan. As the primary cook in the family, she was struggling with adapting. She had always taken great pleasure in turning out delicious traditional dishes – especially around the holidays – and was feeling like this change had sucked the joy right out of her time in the kitchen.
She asked for five of my favorite vegan recipes – my go-to plant-based recipes that are simple, straightforward, and don’t have a bunch of unrecognizable ingredients.
I thought this was a perfect idea for a new blog post – a list of 5 Vegan Recipes for Beginners. Essentially, recipes that might just help you – and those around you – dip their toe into vegan waters without having to resort to “foo foo bean sprout tofu,” as my carnivorous guy likes to say.
And most meat-eaters or dairy-and-egg-eating vegetarians should be able to embrace these relatively normal recipes, too. Score!
1. Slow Cooker Quinoa, Sweet Potato, & Black Bean Chili
First off, chili! I’m of the mind that chili is the single most easy way to go vegan without knowing (or possibly even caring, for that matter). With endless possibilities and familiar ingredients, veggie chili is where it’s at for someone easing their way into being vegan.
I especially love quinoa in chilis because it adds heft – both nutritionally and texture-wise. For another quinoa chili, also try this Slow Cooker Quinoa White Chili with Roasted Poblanos. Or, if quinoa isn’t your thing, here are a couple of vegan chilis with even more mainstream ingredients: Slow Cooker Black Bean Pumpkin Chili, My Favorite Vegan Chili with Vegan Sour Cream from Oh She Glows, or Vegan Beer Chili from Minimalist Baker.
2. Vegan Vanilla Cashew Smoothie
If you think you’ll miss milkshakes when you 1) embark upon a weight loss plan, 2) go vegan or 3) both, this is the smoothie for you. It tastes just like a vanilla milkshake!
When you eat vegan, the smoothie options are endless. If the recipe calls for milk, just swap the dairy for almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk.
Another common smoothie ingredient, yogurt, might thicken and add protein – but it’s not usually necessary. You can try store-bought coconut yogurt, or leave the yogurt out altogether and still have a great result.
This vanilla cashew smoothie relies on a surprisingly rich combination of cashews and water, plus a banana, for its creaminess.
So when you’re dipping your toe into veganville, smoothies are a great place to start.
Looking for something a little more green? You can’t go wrong with The Blender Girls’ Tastes Like Ice Cream Kale Smoothie.
3. Super-Moist Vegan Banana Bread Muffins
If you think vegan baked goods are dry and tasteless, think again! Just make a few simple ingredient swaps and you’re good to go.
This recipe relies on flax “eggs” – simply ground flaxseeds and water mixed together – along with mashed bananas and applesauce for a super-moist muffin.
More favorite vegan baked good recipes: Zucchini Applesauce Muffins and Vegan Lemon Coconut Doughnuts. Yum!
4. Black Beans & Quinoa
With protein-rich quinoa, this simple recipe makes for a satisfying – and easy – dinner. If you’re not sure about quinoa, rice will always work in its place. Perfect when served with a side of steamed broccoli! Here’s another simple-yet-luscious vegan legume recipe: Mashed White Beans with Spinach and Lemon.
5. One-Pot Creamy Pumpkin Pasta (the vegan version)
It’s easy for vegans to get in on the one-pot pasta action with this simple version. Others to try: One-Pot Vegan Pasta from Minimalist Baker or Summer Vegetable Paella from Eats Well with Others. Yum!
My favorite vegan cookbooks
The Oh She Glows Cookbook and Oh She Glows Every Day by Angela Liddon – full of approachable, creative recipes that I turn to again and again
Chloe’s Kitchen and Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli – happily packed with delicious, accessible vegan recipes that don’t rely on meat substitutes or obscure ingredients to make it happen
The Homemade Vegan Pantry by Miyoko Schinner – so many wonderful ideas for making homemade staples the vegan way
More on the Web …
Be sure to visit the complete directory of all of my vegan recipes or check out these easy tweaks for living a little more plant-based. I also shared a bit about my experience going dairy-free in my blog post “How I Live I Life Without Cheese.”
And here are some of my favorite vegan blogs:
- Oh She Glows – Angela is just straight-up inspiring – not to mention seriously innovative. She also wrote my favorite cookbook of 2014 (also linked above). Such a great book for newly minted vegans to, um, sink their teeth into.
- Minimalist Baker – Not strictly a vegan blog, but with so many unfussy vegan recipes, I have to include them in this list.
- Connoisseurus Veg – Alissa consistently churns out the most incredibly creative (and seriously delicious) vegan goods.
More wonderful vegan blogs:
Another great resource is Finding Vegan – the website or on Facebook.
Blushing over here! Thank you so much for the kind words. 🙂 I love your blog and this round-up is such a great idea! Everyone needs a few go-to recipes in their pocket. I love bean and quinoa dishes too…15 minute meals and they are packed with protein.
Thanks so much for the shout out! I get quite a few similar questions from readers, so I know vegan cooking can be pretty intimidating for newbies. Putting together a collection of beginner recipes was a great idea!
This is a great list! What a perfect starting point for someone looking to start a plant-based diet. I’ll be sharing this! 🙂
I love all of these ideas! While I am a lacto-ovo-vegetarian, I do eat vegan accidentally a lot of the time. My darling carnivore is addicted to milkshakes, I think I’m going to have to swap his dairy (and calorie) bomb from a not-to-be-named fast food chain for something a little lighter 🙂 as for chilli, that’s always a win!
I love to experiment with different healthy eating systems, but vegan has always been a tough one for me…I mean, no eggs or cheese? Your collection is inspiring me to give it another go!
Yum Yum Yum I made the Vegan Vanilla Cashew smoothie and it’s so delicious. Thanks Karen I’m a sucker for spicy, but this was so delicious.
For a man new to veganism, Thug Kitchen, the cookbook, might be a good resource. I’ve tried most of the recipes and they are very, very good! There’s a bit of colorful language in it, however.
Indeed these are great recipes for beginners. One can never go wrong with a great smoothie. However, I think the super moist vegan banana bread muffin tops them all – delicious. Nice selection!
Thanks so much, Frank!