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Top 10 Vegan Comfort Food Ideas

These vegan comfort foods are just as filling and satisfying as your typical meat- and cheese-centered comfort foods.

After a long, busy day, all you want to do is cuddle up with a big bowl of delicious, hot comfort food. If you follow a vegan diet, you don’t have to give up those familiar favorites. Here are some scrumptious, easy, plant-based comfort food ideas that are sure to satisfy you and your carnivorous friends.

Mac & “Cheese”

There is nothing quite as satisfying as diving deep into a warm bowl of rich, gooey, melty macaroni and cheese. Thanks to a magical vegan ingredient called nooch — which makes everything taste oh so cheesy — this version of mac and cheese has a taste and texture so similar to the real deal that you could fool all your omnivorous family and friends.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole-grain elbow macaroni
  • 1/3 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups water, boiling
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons lite (reduced-sodium) soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup nutritional yeast (nooch) flakes

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook macaroni following directions on package. Drain, cover to keep warm and set aside.

2. In a small saucepan, heat margarine on medium-low heat. Add flour, turn heat up to medium, and continue to whisk until mixture becomes smooth.

3. Continue to whisk and add in water, soy sauce, salt, herbs, and spices. After the mixture is thick and starting to bubble, add nooch and oil.

4. In a casserole dish, mix together pasta and about 3/4 of the cheese sauce. Spread remaining sauce over top and bake for about 15 minutes. Switch oven to broil and broil until mixture is golden crispy on top. Serve right away.


Comforting Chili

When I think of a big, filling bowl of comfort, I think of chili. It’s hearty, satisfying, easy to make, and incredibly flavorful. Plus, it makes for great leftovers you can eat all week. What else makes chili such a champion when it comes to comfort foods? You can take comfort in the fact that you don’t really need a recipe, just throw together a few of the basic components and get creative with ingredients that add robust flavor, beautiful color, and a variety of tantalizing textures. Feel free to swap out any of these vegetables for your seasonal favorites.

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, any color, diced
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 16 ounces white button mushrooms, diced
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 Tablespoons cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Optional: TVP or vegan soy crumbles

Directions

1. In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add onion, peppers, carrot, zucchini, and mushrooms. Sauté about 7 minutes or until veggies are soft. Add remaining ingredients.

2. Turn heat to medium. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Serve hot. Can garnish with chopped cilantro, vegan cheese, and vegan sour cream if you’d like.

Mushroom Stroganoff

This dish packs so much scrumptious, umami flavor in every bite, you won’t even notice it’s vegan. Another bonus, aside from the delicious, creamy, melt-in-your mouth taste? This vegan version of stroganoff has significantly less fat and fewer calories than the traditional recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 4 teaspoons reduced-sodium (lite) soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup vegan sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried), chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 12 ounces cooked whole wheat bowtie pasta
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. In large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and sauté about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add mushrooms, cook about 7 minutes until they become soft.

2. Stir in veggie broth and soy sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low, simmer about 10 minutes or until liquid reduces by one-third.

3. Add flour and vegan sour cream, stir. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

4. Pour sauce over cooked pasta, season with salt and pepper, and top with fresh parsley and thyme and serve.

Portobello Pot Roast

Ingredients

  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps, cut into 3/4-inch slices
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 red wine, divided
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons rubbed sage
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • 4 large red potatoes, chopped
  • 4 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a large Dutch oven, heat 1/4 cup wine over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently until brown. Remove from pan, set aside. Add the other 1/4 cup wine to pan. Add garlic and onion and caramelize. Add mushrooms back to a pan.

3. Stir in flour, sage, and basil and cook until liquid thickens. Bring to a boil and turn off heat. Add whatever additional seasonings you’d like.

4. Add rest of veggies, rosemary, thyme, and Worcestershire sauce to the pan. If necessary, add more liquid. Cover with lid and bake 1 hour. Serve hot.

Meatless Meatloaf

You probably ate your fair share of filling, comforting meatloaf as a kid as it is a staple family meal in many homes. This delicious recipe will bring back all those savory flavors from your childhood while remaining 100 percent vegan. This vegan loaf is loaded with fiber and protein thanks to the hearty lentils and sautéed veggies but it is incredibly flavorful and wallet-friendly.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked brown or green lentils (do not use red lentils as these are not firm enough)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced small
  • 2 medium carrots, diced small
  • 1 1/2 cups small diced mushrooms, your favorite variety
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons flax meal
  • 2 teaspoons canola or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs (whole grain, if available)
  • 1 Tablespoon prepared barbeque sauce
  • 1/3 cup prepared ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste, no salt added
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (more if you like heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil and add onions, celery, bell peppers, carrots, and mushrooms. Sauté about 7 minutes. Add garlic, sauté 1 minute more. Transfer veggies to a large bowl.

2. To the bowl of veggies, add cooked lentils, oats, bread crumbs, tomato paste, barbeque sauce, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Mix thoroughly with your hands and mash up a bit (not pureed).

3. Transfer mixture to a loaf pan lined with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove loaf from oven, spread ketchup over top, sprinkle with brown sugar, return to oven, and bake for 10 more minutes. Allow loaf to cool about 10 minutes--it will firm up as it cools.

Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 large red-skinned potatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk, unflavored and unsweetened
  • 2 Tablespoons soy or coconut oil margarine (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Peel potatoes (leave a little bit on if you like the texture and added nutrients) and dice. Add to pot of salted water. Boil under tender, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain water, and set aside.

2. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil and add onion. Sauté until caramelized, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat and add to potatoes.

Veggie Gravy

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 Tablespoons reduced sodium (lite) soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 chopped fresh parsley
  • Optional: any fresh or dried herbs of your choice

Directions

1. In a medium pot over medium heat, heat olive oil. Whisk flour into oil about 30 seconds.

2. While continuing to whisk, slowly add in vegetable broth and soy sauce. Continue stirring and cook until thick. Add black pepper and herbs of your liking. Serve immediately.

Cheesy Tortilla Bake

Ingredients

  • 9 corn tortillas (small), quartered
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 cups sweet corn (thawed from frozen, or drained and rinsed from a can)
  • Cheese Sauce
  • 1 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 3/4 cup plain vegan yogurt (soy or coconut yogurt both work well)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray an 8-inch x 8 inch or 9-inch x 9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Mix all ingredients for the cheese sauce in a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix. Set aside.

3. In bottom of baking dish, spread out 1/3 of cheese sauce. On top of the cheese sauce layer, lay down 6 cut tortillas to make a row, making 3 rows. Top with 1 can of the beans, spread out evenly. Add 1 cup salsa, spread over bean layer. Spread 1 cup of corn over salsa. Spread another layer of cheese sauce. Repeat layering (you’ll just have one layer of salsa in the middle).

4. Cover with foil. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven, remove foil, return to oven and bake an additional 7-10 minutes until cheese starts to firm up and brown. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Feel free to garnish with sliced scallions, hot sauce, and plain vegan yogurt (as a sour cream replacement). Enjoy!

Broccoli “Better Than Cheddar” Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 large heads of broccoli, chopped into small florets (1/2-inch), enough to equal about 5-6 cups chopped florets
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced finely
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 2 cups diced cauliflower
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (nooch)
  • 1/3 cup shelled hemp seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • Directions

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add shallot, onion, smoked paprika, thyme, pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook 6 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add broccoli, carrots, water, and 3 cups veggie broth. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Cut heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until broccoli is tender.

2. Steam cauliflower in microwave until tender, about 6 minutes. In a blender, blend together cooked cauliflower, hemp seeds, remaining veggie broth (1 cup), vinegar, nutritional yeast, and remaining salt (1 teaspoon) about 2 minutes or until creamy.

3. Add contents of blender into the pot and stir to combine. Turn heat up to medium and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly, as soup thickens. After soup thickens, turn of heat, stir in soy sauce and lemon juice. Season with additional pepper, paprika, and salt if necessary.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Of course, you can’t talk about comfort foods without mentioning chocolate! I’ve saved the best — and sweetest — for last. This is a vegan chocolate cupcake recipe that will fool everyone. Nobody will know that these delectable cupcakes are sans eggs and sans butter.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cold water
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Optional add-ins or toppings: vegan chocolate chips, coconut, walnuts, powdered sugar

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray muffins cups with nonstick cooking spray. Alternative: line muffin cups with paper or foil liners.

2. Mix both flours, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water in medium bowl.

4. Add wet ingredients to your dry ingredients. Fold in additional ingredients if desired. Mix until just combined; do not overmix. The batter should be thin.

5. Pour batter into muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle.


[Image via iStock/Getty]

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