Favorite recipes to make for non-vegans


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Mar 21, 2018
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  1. Vegan
Healthy vegan food done right is inherently delicious. But the average non-vegan's palate has been skewed toward food high in salt, sugar, oil/saturated fat/caloric density, and low in fiber. As a result a lot of vegan recipes taste bland to them. This seems to be a big reason many can't see themselves going vegan. I've also noticed multiple threads in the Transitioning and Relationships forums where cooking with non-vegans comes up as a point of conflict. So I thought it could be a good resource if we shared some of our recipes that go over particularly well with our non-vegan friends and family.

I'm thinking more the indulgent recipes that you shouldn't eat too often if you're after the health benefits of a whole food plant based/vegan diet...but any recipe that proves a hit with non-vegans would be appropriate here.

I just eyeball my ingredient amounts and make adjustments to taste, so my measurements are only estimations.

Peanut sauce:
melt 4tbsp coconut oil in small pot
add 2+ cups of peanut butter and mix
add water until it is a little thinner than you want
sugar...too much sugar! I use peanut butter that is already pretty sugary and then add roughly 2tbsp.
crushed red pepper to make the non-vegans suffer....err, to taste
a splash of white wine vinegar...rice vinegar would work too
soy sauce...I find this causes the sauce to thicken, so make sure your sauce is still a little too thin before adding
salt...soy sauce is pretty salty, even the low sodium stuff, but non-vegans are almost always used to higher sodium diets. If you have a low-sodium diet add enough that it tastes a bit too salty, or maybe have your non-vegan taste test.

I like to pour it over white rice and stir fried veggies (red/orange bell pepper, jalepeno, broccoli, zucchini et al). Garlic, cilantro, and plenty of lime juice on top.

pour a 28oz can of whole San Marzano tomatoes into a mixing bowl. pick up the tomatoes one by one and break them up into small chunks with your fingers, being sure to nip the longitudinal fibers so your chunks aren't stringy.
mince 6-7 medium size garlic gloves. I like to crush the garlic with the side of my knife after mincing to bring out a little more flavor.
heat 1/3 cup olive oil (!) in your sauce pan
add one diced onion. as the onion approaches translucence add the garlic. when you think the garlic is about to start browning, add the mixing bowl of crushed tomato.
add lots of fresh basil and a small amount of fresh oregano. I usually roll up stacks of basil leaves and slice them into thin strips, and lightly chop the oregano leaves after stripping from stem.
crushed red pepper
red wine...how much are you willing to NOT drink? add that much.
simmer 15-20mins

Pour it over pasta (not the whole-grain stuff) with wilted chard and sauteed zucchini. If parmesan cheese is available, make it not-available. I don't offer nutritional yeast as a substitute because non-vegans think it's weird...a drizzle of truffle oil should compensate.

Thai Coconut soup:
Pour two 12oz cans of coconut milk into pot. Fill both empty cans with water and add to pot. While bringing to a simmer add diced onion, sweet potato, carrot, kaffir lime leaf. Let simmer for 15 mins then add diced eggplant, tofu and maitaki mushroom. fresh lemon grass, sliced razor thin then ground to paste in a mortar and pestle. Minced ginger, crushed red pepper, salt and sugar (coconut sugar if you have it). Simmer until carrot and sweet potato are soft, top serving bowls with fresh basil or cilantro and lime zest.

Everyone likes hummus. Whichever your favorite recipe is, perhaps a little extra oil and salt. Skinning the beans makes it smoother and dressing it up with a little paprika, oil, parsley and pine nuts on top is a nice touch. But you probably make killer hummus already.

Peanut butter cups. Nuff said.

Cooking together and sharing a meal peacefully is a really fundamental aspect of human bonding IMO. It predates civilization by a long shot, and maybe even language. Not doing that with our non-vegan friends and family is just silly...but it seems most of the work to bridge that gap falls on the vegans. So what works? What recipes do you find go over well with non-vegans? I would be especially interested in grilling recipes as it's BBQ season in the US midwest.
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I like making burritos for non-vegans. I also echo the hummus idea!

Also, noodle dishes are great, such as spaghetti or pad thai. My family is not vegan (or even vegetarian), so I try to make things that they will like that don't "seem" vegan. Although I tend to not use tofu with non-veggies, I have made a nice sweet and sour tofu for my family in the past that they have liked.

Bean chili is good. I have a recipe (from a cookbook, but I don't recall which one) for sweet potato and black bean chili. It's really good. That can be served with freshly baked bread and a salad.
It's surprising how well Mexican food can be veganized. Mexican food tends to be heavy in meat and cheese.

I think it may be partially because Mexican foods have so many spices in the meat, you taste the spices more than anything.

In my experience, on of the best vegan foods for non-vegans is tacos. Tacos are easy and inexpensive, and non-vegans barely notice the vegan meat, and cheese, substitutes.
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I just want to say kudos on the Mexican food. I often spice up my rice and beans with some Mexi seasonings, like chili powder, cumin, oregano, and something for heat. Usually some cayenne or chipotle pepper, or both, and some hot sauce too. To that mix I add a can of diced organic tomatoes, some corn niblets, and viola, lunch/dinner. This rice and bean mixture works nicely in stuffed peppers too.

East Indian and Thai recipes work well veganized. I love most anything curried, and spicy.

I just love cooking. I'm usually ambitious when I cook for others. I'll try things I don't usually cook, and cross my fingers, and hope it comes out. I have a nasty habit of making things too hot :O
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