We’re so pleased to share a guest post this week! The incredibly empowering story of Sara Binde, San Francisco nutritionist at Carob Cherub, will make this Valentine’s Day even sweeter! 70 pound lighter (read her impressive transformation on the pages of her blog) Sara now is passionate about showing the world how to lose weight and live healthfully eating whole, plant-based foods. So without further ado, we pass the torch to Sara ready for a light yet incredibly indulging Valentine’s Dinner menu just for Annaborgia’s readers.
This Is the Dinner You Should Make Your Vegan Valentine
If you’re lucky enough to have a vegan valentine this Valentine’s Day, you want to treat them right. You could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to show them how much you care. Hopefully your vegan valentine is searching for a little something more.
If you’re vegan valentine’s is like me, they want to be pampered with your love, not your money. Sure, dining out can be a special treat. Yet the money spent is unnecessary when you realize what your bunny truly wants: your time.
I admit, flowers are beautiful gifts. Though a dozen roses can’t compare to a dinner my partner cooked. Knowing they took the time to cook a special meal is more thoughtful than any amount of money spent. Taking ten minutes to buy a diamond necklace isn’t thoughtful. Taking an hour to prepare dinner is. Spoil your vegan valentine with the following gluten-free and vegan dinner menu. The menu includes three vegan dinner date recipes: a starter, a main dish and a dessert.
Vegan Valentine Starter: Creamy Mushroom and Zucchini Soup
I first made this recipe when I was traveling to Prague. It was the night before I left and I still had leftover ingredients. Zucchini, mushrooms, milk, a banana pepper and nori sheets were among the remaining items.
Quickly thinking, I made them into a soup and didn’t expect much. When I tasted the soup, I was overwhelmed by how the umami flavor of the mushrooms paired the nori. It was perfect in that moment and it’s also the perfect starter for a romantic vegetarian dinner. The concept of combining mushrooms, zucchini and nori together seems 5-stars. The execution is easy:
Creamy Mushroom and Zucchini Soup Ingredients
- 2 cups chopped mushrooms (brown, shiitake or Portobello work well)
- 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 1 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp basil, dry
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1-2 tbsp soy sauce (depends on how salty you like it)
- 1 nori sheet, sliced or ripped into small strips
- 1 fresh banana pepper
Creamy Mushroom and Zucchini Soup Preparation
In a blender, combine all the ingredients except the nori and banana pepper. Blend until smooth. Place the soup in a saucepan and warm until hot. Cover until it’s time to serve. Garnish the soup with the nori and sliced banana pepper before serving.
Vegan Valentine Main Course: Marinated Tempeh and Avocado Sushi
Your vegan valentine will be astonished when they discover you’re secretly a sushi master. Sushi seems tricky to roll, though you quickly get the hang of it when you’re prepared and have the right tools. You’ll want a sushi mat, a sharp knife, a cutting board and a large glass of water before you start rolling. Set up your ingredients and tools before you start rolling and keep them accessible. It will be much less overwhelming. I originally made this sushi with marinated zucchini instead of tempeh. The tempeh and avocado add indulgence for Valentine’s Day.
You’ll want to marinate the tempeh for at least 8 hours. Marinating for a few days is best. Your Valentine vegetarian dinner will be a 10/10 if you allow enough time for marinating.
Marinated Tempeh and Avocado Sushi Ingredients
- 1 tsp dry ginger
- 1 tbsp molasses
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 8-oz package tempeh
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- 4 cups cooked short-grain brown rice, room temperature (2 cups of dry rice)
- 5-7 nori sheets
- Soy sauce (optional)
- Wasabi (optional)
Marinated Tempeh and Avocado Sushi Preparation
Add the ginger, molasses, garlic, vinegar and water into a bowl. Mix thoroughly, ensuring the molasses has dissolved into the liquid. Set aside. Slice the tempeh width-wise into strips between 1/4 and 1/2 of an inch thick. Add the tempeh to the marinate and toss. Transfer to an airtight container. Marinate for at least 8 hours, up to 3 days.
When it’s the night, prepare your workstation. You want a sharp knife, glass of water, sushi mat, cutting board, your ingredients and an empty tray for completed sushi.
Begin your sushi by laying a sheet of nori paper shiny side down on the sushi mat. Apply a layer of brown rice to the nori sheet. Make the layer 1/4 of an inch thick and cover 2/3 of the nori the side closest to you. Line up the tempeh on the brown rice 1-2 inches away from the side closest to you. Line up the avocado on top of the tempeh. Dip your fingers into the water and use them to dampen the nori furthest away from you, the side without the rice. Use your fingers to keep the filling in place while you roll the sushi onto itself. Secure the sushi roll and allow the sushi to rest for a minute before slicing. This allows the nori to stick together and keep the sushi together. Dip your sharp knife into the glass of water before slicing your sushi into pieces. 8 is traditional while 6 is more manageable for sushi-making newbies. Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients. Enjoy with soy sauce, wasabi or the leftover marinade if desired.
Vegan Valentine Dessert: Carrot Cake Bowl for Two
Finally it’s time for dessert. You love cake, but it seems pointless to bake an entire cake for just the two of you, right? That’s why I’m obsessed with microwave cakes. They’re indulgent, delicious, versatile and can be made in less than 10 minutes.
The carrot cake bowl is just the right combination of dense, moist cake and warming flavors. And there’s even a secret ingredient: white beans. The white beans replace the oil or vegan butters cakes normally call for. Dont’ worry, you can’t even taste them. This wholesome cake rivals the best unhealthy vegan valentines treats.
I recommend making this right before dinner. The cake becomes extremely hot in the microwave. Leaving it to cool while you eat your soup and sushi will leave you with a pleasantly warm cake when it’s time for dessert.
Carrot Cake Bowl Ingredients
- 1/2 cup oats (rolled or quick)
- 1/2 cup white beans
- 1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
- 4 madjool dates, soaked and pitted
- 1 banana, divided
- 4 tbsp water, divided
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1/8 tsp cardamom
- 1/8 tsp cloves
- 1/8 nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 1/8 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 1 tbsp peanut butter or cashew butter
Carrot Cake Bowl Preparation
Begin by adding the rolled oats to a food processor. Blend until they’re broken up, though they don’t have to be finely ground. Add the beans, carrot, dates, 2 tablespoons of water and half of the banana to the food processor. Process the mixture until it’s smooth, 2-4 minutes. There may still be small bits of oats. You want to avoid large pieces of oats, banana or carrot. Add the spices, baking powder, baking soda and vinegar to the food processor. Blend to distribute the spices throughout the batter. Transfer the batter to a large, single-serve microwavable bowl. Be sure to allow 1-2 inches of room for expanding and rising. Microwave the cake for 4 minutes on high. If the middle still seems a bit raw, add time in 30-second increments. Cook up to 5 minutes. For the frosting, combine the nut butter, the other half of the banana and the remaining 2 tablespoons of water in the food processor. Blend until smooth. When the cake is done, top with the frosting and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before enjoying.
Do you want to transform your diet, lose weight and feel beautiful?
Sara Binde runs a 12-week course to help you transition from your unhealthy diet to a healthy, plant-based diet. Sara makes it easy to know what you need to eat (and not eat!) to lose weight and get your vitality back!