Every January, a UK-based non-governmental organization (NGO) challenges people to go vegan for the whole month. With the combination of the two words – vegan and January – we set ourselves the challenge “Veganuary”. As someone who’s tried it, I have to say it’s definitely not an easy feat. I love my cheeses too much, so I have mad respect for those who can go fully vegan.
I’ve talked about how Turkish cuisine is more vegan than you might think and I stand by that assessment as many desserts use vegetable oil compared to heavy buttery Western pastries.
So here are some recipes to support people who are doing Veganuary halfway through!
No-Bake Vegan Brownie
I always like to have something sweet, so having something healthier can’t hurt. I always have way too many dates at home, so this is a fun way to use those as well. Adding more nuts or dried berries or the like is encouraged! This is only a suggestion, make the recipe yourself!
- 300 grams of dates
- 100 grams of almonds
- 100 grams of pistachios
- 200 grams of goji berries
- 1 teaspoon of molasses
- 1 tablespoon carob powder/flour
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons of water (optional)
Let the dates and goji berries sit in lukewarm water for at least 30 minutes to soften them. You can also do this the day before, but it is not necessary to overdo it. Remove their seeds and blend the dates in your trusty food processor. Do not throw away this water right away. It’s quite sweet and can be used to improve the consistency of the brownie (hence the optional part). Also add the almonds to the machine and blend until smooth. If it’s too dry, add a tablespoon or two of water. Also add the goji berries, cocoa, carob powder and molasses and blend until just incorporated. Slightly crush the pistachios and add them to the mixture. Line the bottom of a baking sheet with cling film and pour the mixture over it. Flatten it with a wet spoon and cover it with cling film. Leave to rest in the refrigerator for a few hours. Cut into desired pieces and enjoy!
Although this recipe is designed to mimic a brownie, you can of course keep it a bit drier and form it into small balls and cool them that way. To reduce the stickiness of these, you can roll them in cocoa powder.
Pumpkin salad with potatoes
Sometimes keeping it simple is the best choice. I love pumpkin all over the place, 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 it as a whole dish. But of course, that’s up to you. I have simple tastes.
- 500 grams of potatoes
- 300 grams of pumpkin
- 1 bunch of green onions
- half a bunch of parsley
- half a bunch of dill
- juice of a lemon
- 1 teaspoon of salt
Boil the potatoes until tender. Peel them and cut them into 2 centimeter cubes. For the pumpkin, first cut them roughly the same size as the potatoes and boil them. Once softened, strain the water and add them to the potatoes. Finely chop the parsley, green onions and dill and squeeze the lemon juice to add to the salad. Mix it well to distribute everything and enjoy!
As usual, more can’t hurt. Personally, I like the sweet and sour taste of nar ekşisi (pomegranate syrup). A little olive oil is definitely something you might want to add too, if you feel like it. Adding nuts or seeds is also an option. Personally, I like to lightly toast sesame seeds and then add them to salad dressings. Another thing I like to add to these kinds of salads are red peppers. They have this slightly sweet taste and are quite meaty, so they stand out so much.
Falafel but different
The chickpeas are great and all but I could never get over the falafel being so dry. I know, add sauce or similar to make it less dry, but why not try something different? These are made with lentils and taste pretty good!
- 350 grams of lentils
- 1 onion
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- half a bunch of parsley
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 3 tablespoons oil
Let the lentils sit in the water for at least 2 hours until they begin to soften. Put all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor (blender) and blend it until you can form it into balls (and they keep their shape). Take walnut-sized pieces of the mixture and shape them into balls, but use pressure to make them dense. Place the balls on a baking sheet and press them lightly. Brush them with oil and bake them at 180 degrees Celsius (360 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 20 minutes.
Once cooked, enjoy the crispy and healthy falafel balls hot or cold.