A vegan dinner I put together on a day I really wanted to sleep a few more hours

I’m tired today, my foot hurts, and I’ve been preoccupied with writing so I’ve not really been in a cooking state of mind. Thankfully, all I had to do for lunch was microwave some leftover baked spaghetti. I still needed to get dinner on the table though. I set my microwave timer to 5:55, pulled a chair up to the counter, and told myself, just work on dinner prep until the timer goes off. So I peeled my mix of sweet potatoes and russets, chopped them, and put them in a bowl. Sometime after the potatoes were chopped, the timer went off, but at that point, I was able to chop an onion and some red mini bell peppers, once I got in the groove. I added cumin, chili powder, saizon seasoning, garlic and onion powders to the potatoes and shook them around in a bowl with a little canola oil and then roasted them in the oven. I like roasting since I don’t have to babysit it. Then I made myself a cup of Trader Joe’s instant cold brew with a splash of Planet Oat coffee cake creamer and relaxed for a while. If you find yourself struggling to get something done, cooking or not, maybe you can give my timer idea a shot. Sometimes all we need is to start and if we can give ourselves permission to stop at a certain point, that’s all we need to really follow through. A lot of times we also overestimate how long something will take and surprisingly we can accomplish a lot in just a few minutes.

When I was ready to complete dinner, I threw the chopped onions and peppers in a pan, sauteed them until soft, added this yummy Morningstar chorizo, sauteed until it was mostly thawed, then added in my potatoes. I finished it off with some Lawry’s seasoning salt. If you’ve never tried Lawry’s, I highly recommend giving it a shot. It’s a mix of paprika, turmeric, garlic, onion, salt, a tiny amount of sugar, and I want to say celery salt. It makes anything good IMO! I had some Chao Mexican blend “cheese” that will probably mold any day now (that’s just how vegan cheese is!) so I threw that on top and put the lid on it for a minute to get it melty. I also had half an avocado left and the ends of some scallions. We had vegan Kite Hill sour cream, avocado salsa (a $1 Grocery Outlet find), and some lime juice to dress it with.

I added the nutrition label to this vegan cheese just to show it’s not really a nutritious food: no protein, not loaded with vitamins and minerals, high in saturated fat. I personally like vegan cheese these days and use it quite a bit, but it’s not even, generally, nutritionally close to dairy cheese as far as macros go. Some, like Daiya, Follow Your Heart, and Violife do add nutrients like calcium and vitamin B12, but Chao doesn’t. But I had a good source of protein in the Morningstar chorizo so I didn’t worry too much. I’m not here to say vegan cheese is “bad,” just want to highlight this is one vegan item that fares worse than its dairy counterpart in nutrition. Some people get really mad when you point that out. It’s okay! There are times when the vegan counterpart is better. A lot of vegan meats have more protein per calorie than the animal counterpart, less saturated fat, no cholesterol, and so forth. I know Lightlife bacon and hot dogs have more protein than animal hot dogs and bacon per calorie by quite a bit, as an example. The Morningstar chorizo has 9 grams of protein, 10% of your iron in only 110 calories. Pork chorizo almost has double the calories at 190, 10 grams of protein, and 9 percent iron. Clearly, Morningstar is the winner when it comes to protein per calorie and even has a bit more iron (pork chorizo would only have 5.5 grams of protein for 110 calories). So it’s okay to admit vegan cheese isn’t as nutritious as dairy. You win some, you lose some. Let’s just stick to the facts, I say.

And some people just don’t like vegan cheese, any of them, not even the ones a lot of us vegans/mostly vegans swear by, like Violife. That’s okay. This meal would have been delicious without the cheese, too. I just needed to use my Chao cheese up, but I would have made this without cheese just the same. It would have been good without the sour cream too. I don’t always have vegan sour cream in my fridge because not every place sells it and a lot of time my local Kroger doesn’t have it in stock (and it’s more costly than the dairy version 🙁 ). I might have added some pico de gallo if I didn’t have these vegan specialty products.

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