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!

5 Vegan Recipes for Beginners

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!

Kitchen Treaty's 5 Top Recipes of 2014 - #1: One Pot Creamy Pumpkin Pasta

Craving more?

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.

5 Vegan Recipes for Beginners!

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