This post is mainly for my friend Ana - a frozen food vegan, but it's come up before and I'm sure it will come up again. When you develop a sensitivity or allergy to something like soy or wheat, that way of eating can become really tough to maintain.
So here are some really easy meal ideas (I only hesitatingly call them 'recipes') for people who are cooking-challenged. They don't generally require any more knowledge than being able to boil water, turn on your oven to a specified temperature, or simmer something on the stove.They're also very flexible for whatever your likes or dislikes are. To make gluten-free, simply use gluten-free noodles or breads when those are called for.
If you have other suggestions for soy-free, super-easy meals, please leave them in comments!
Pixie's Spaghetti Bolonese - Boil noodles. Drain and rinse a can of black beans. Either chop beans roughly and add to sauce, or add to sauce and pulse with an immersion blender until roughly the consistency of soy crumbles. Serve with a salad and fresh whole grain bread.
Pesto pasta - Boil & drain noodles. Toss with prepared dairy-free pesto. Add your choice of combination: a drained jar of artichokes, a drained jar of olives, a drained jar of marinated mushrooms, jarred roasted red peppers, or pre-cut from the fresh produce section, a package of diced peppers, onions, and tomatoes. Serve warm or cold.
Mom's Italian pasta salad - Boil and drain noodles. Add any of the veggies listed under 'Pesto' or matchstick carrots, drained and rinsed kidney beans or chickpeas, or chiffonade (thin ribbons) of spinach, kale, or basil leaves. Toss noodles and veggies with Italian salad dressing to coat. Best served chilled.
Lo Mein - Boil rice noodles. Microwave a bag of stir-fry vegetables. Toss with the Asian sauce of your choosing. (If you want to add seitan for extra protein or 'bite', toss strips into the pot with the noodles for the last minute of cooking to heat up.)
Chili - Mix 2 cans of ready to eat chili beans with 1 can black beans, 1 can of diced tomatoes and chilies, and a drained can of corn. Mix in chili powder and cumin to taste, or add half a can of enchilada sauce if you don't have spices on hand. Heat and serve.
Black-eyed peas: Heat a can of black-eyed peas on the stove top. Toss in a teaspoon of minced garlic (sold in jars in the produce section) and 1/4 diced onion (also sold pre-cut in the produce section) and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes. Serve over steam-in-bag microwave brown rice or quinoa, with some steamed broccoli or carrots mixed in. (Birds Eye has a rice mix with those things already in it!)
Wraps & Sandwiches
Mediterranean wrap - On a sundried tomato wrap, spread 2 tbsp of hummus, 1/4 - 1/2 cup of prepared tabbouleh (available in most grocery store deli departments), and a handful of raw spinach or kale. You can also add matchstick carrots, sunflower seeds, and/or olives. Roll and eat.
Hot artichoke sub - Stuff a sub roll with marinated artichokes, canned mushrooms, jarred roasted red peppers, spinach leaves, basil leaves, and olives. Wrap it in tin foil. Turn your oven to 400 degrees and toss it in for 10 minutes to heat up.
Burrito - Spread a large whole wheat tortilla with refried beans or mashed black beans. Add any combination of lettuce, baby kale, spinach, tomato, onion, salsa, black olives, diced cucumber, leftover kernel corn, avocado
Open-face tapenade sandwich - Toast two pieces of rye or pumpernickel bread. Top with prepared dairy-free olive tapenade and spinach leaves.
BBQ seitan - Mix seitan strips with your favorite BBQ sauce and warm on stove or in micro. Serve on a bun.
Mexican pizza - Coat one side of a flat bread, pita, or tortilla with taco sauce. Top generously with pre-cut trio of tomatoes, onions, and peppers (sold in the fresh produce department). Add black olives, leftover corn kernels, or jalepenos. Bake 10 min at 400.
Italian pizza - Coat one side of a flat bread or split, toasted English muffins with marinara sauce. Top with the pizza veggies of your choosing and/or a little Daiya (shredded vegan cheese). Bake 10 min at 400.
Mediterranean pizza - Coat one side of a flat bread or pita with dairy-free Greek dressing (or Italian dressing if you can't find a dairy-free Greek). Top with spinach, tomatoes, onions, olives, artichokes and vegan parmesan-substitute, if you like. Bake 10 min at 400.
Rice (or substitute other steam-in-bag grains)
Mushroom rice and veggies - Mix 1 bag steam-in-bag rice with a can of vegan mushroom gravy and a bag of steamed mixed vegetables.
Microwave stir-fry - Mix 1 bag rice with 1 bag Asian steamed veggies. Top with you favorite soy-free Asian sauce.
Mexican rice and beans - Take 1 bag steam-in-bag Spanish rice or Southwestern rice and mix with one cane of seasoned chili beans or seasoned black beans.
Vegetable soup - toss cut up root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, turnips, etc.) into a pot with a box of vegetable stock. Boil until 10 minutes, then add any other softer veggies you like and simmer for 10 more minutes or until all the veggies are fork tender. Add a little salt or any other spices you like.
Box soup - take any vegan boxed soup (creamy broccoli, carrot almond, roasted red pepper, etc.), warm, and add a bag of steamed vegetables and some salt and pepper. You could also add leftover grains or noodles.
Black bean soup - add 2 cans of seasoned black beans to a box of vegetable stock. Mix in one package of pre-cut tomatoes, peppers, and onions (sold in the fresh produce section). Simmer until the peppers are soft.