We are at the midpoint of January, but it is not tad too late to try something different, particularly with the ‘Veganuary’ challenge, which you might have heard of. It could be intriguingly great to cap off the month by going vegan
Every January, a United Kingdom-based nongovernmental organization (NGO) challenges people to go vegan for the whole month. With the combination of the two words – vegan and January – we got ourselves the “Veganuary” challenge. As someone who tried it out, I must say it is definitely not an easy feat. I love my cheeses way too much, so I have mad respect for those who can go full vegan.
I talked about how the Turkish cuisine is more vegan than you think and I stand by that assessment as many desserts use vegetable oil compared to the butter-heavy western pastries.
So here are a couple of recipes to support the people doing Veganuary at the midpoint!
No-bake vegan brownie
I always like to have something sweet, so having something on the healthier side can’t hurt. I always have way too many dates at home, so that is a fun way to use those as well. Adding more nuts or dried berries or alike is encouraged! This is just a suggestion, make the recipe your own!
- 300 grams dates
- 100 grams almonds
- 100 grams pistachios
- 200 grams goji berries
- 1 teaspoon molasses
- 1 tablespoon carob powder/flour
- 2 tablespoons cacao powder
- 2 tablespoons water (optional)
Let the dates and goji berries rest in warm water for at least 30 minutes to soften them up. You can do this the night before as well but overdoing it is not necessary. Remove their seeds and toss the dates into your trusty kitchen machine. Do not throw away that water just yet. It is rather sweet and can be used to improve the consistency of the brownie (hence the optional part). Add the almonds into the machine as well and pulse until you get a smooth consistency. If it is too dry, add a tablespoon or two of the water. Add the goji berries, cacao, carob powder and molasses into it as well and pulse it until it is just incorporated. Crush the pistachios lightly and fold them into the mix. Line the bottom of a baking tray with cling film and pour the mixture onto it. Flatten it with the help of a wet spoon and cover it with more cling film. Let it rest in the fridge for a couple of hours. Cut into desired pieces and enjoy!
Though this recipe is designed to imitate a brownie, you can, of course, keep it a bit drier and form it into small balls and cool them down in that manner. To reduce the stickiness of those you can roll them in cacao powder.
Potato pumpkin salad
Sometimes keeping it simple is the best choice. I absolutely love pumpkin pretty much everywhere so making a simple potato salad with it is a no-brainer. The sweetness of the pumpkin paired with the lemon juice gives it a nice balance and yes: You can (and honestly should) eat this as a whole dish. But of course, it is up to you. I have simple tastes.
- 500 grams potatoes
- 300 grams pumpkin
- 1 bundle green onions
- half a bundle parsley
- half a bundle dill
- juice of one lemon
- 1 teaspoon salt
Boil the potatoes until they have softened. Peel and cut them into 2-centimeter cubes. For the pumpkin, you first cut them into about the same size as the potatoes and cook them in water. After they have softened, strain the water and add them to the potatoes. Chop the parsley, green onions and dill finely and squeeze out the lemon juice to add to the salad. Toss it to distribute it all evenly and enjoy!
As usual, adding more can’t hurt. I personally like the sour-sweet taste of nar ekşisi (pomegranate syrup). A tad of olive oil is most definitely something you might want to add as well, if you feel like it that is. Adding nuts or seeds is an option as well. Personally, I like to toast sesame seeds lightly and then add them to dressings. Another thing that I like adding to these kinds of salads is red peppers. They have that slightly sweet taste and are quite meaty, so they stand out as much.
Falafel but different
Chickpeas are great and all but I could never get over the fact that falafels are so dry. I know, add sauce or alike to make it less dry but why not try something different? These are made with lentils and taste quite good!
- 350 grams lentils
- 1 onion
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- half a bundle parsley
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons oil
Let the lentils rest in the water for at least 2 hours until they start to soften. Put all the ingredients except the olive oil into a kitchen machine (blender) and pulse it until you can form it into balls (and they keep their shape). Take bits of the mixture about the size of walnuts and form them into balls but use pressure to make them dense. Put the balls onto a baking tray and slightly press them down. Brush on the oil over all of them and bake them at 180 degrees Celsius (360 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 20 minutes.
Once they are done, enjoy the crispy healthy falafel balls, either warm or cold.