Vegan for a day (almost)

We finally finished the soup from the other day, but we still had some of the beans and quinoa that didn’t make it in. I decided to make some veggie patties to use up the ingredients. As long as you use “hamburger” in the name Alfonso will be excited about it. So, officially, I made “bean hamburgers”.

I looked at all the ingredients that I planned on using for the patties and realized that it could be a vegan meal if I just eliminated the egg. I looked online to see how other people hold their vegan veggie burgers together and the consensus was that they don’t. Most people just know that they won’t be as firm as a regular veggie burger.

I decided to go for it and eliminate the egg! If you put it on a bed of steamed kale and some (non-vegan) sauce on top, you can just enjoy it with a fork. But, feel free to add the egg if you want to grill it or eat it on a bun with your hands.

Cooked patties
Cooked patties

The sauce is the same sauce Alfonso makes for patatas bravas. Make a little extra and add it to some fried potato bites and you have yourself an authentic Spanish tapa. The sauce is obviously not vegan, but sub in ketchup or mustard if you want it totally vegan.

Flageolet Bean and Red Quinoa Patties with Brava Sauce

Flageolet Bean and Red Quinoa Patty with Brava Sauce

1 cup cooked flageolet beans, mashed almost completely

1.5 cups cooked red quinoa

1 onion, minced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1 t salt

1 t pepper

1 t cumin

1 t chili powder

3 T olive oil, divided

1 egg (optional)

1/2 bunch kale, steamed

For the brava sauce

2/3 cup mayo (or vegan mayo)

1/2 ketchup

1/2 onion, minced

1 garlic glove, minced

1/2 T olive oil

1/2 t mustard powder

1 t dijon mustard

1 t salt

1/2 t pepper

juice of 1/2 lemon

sprinkle of mushroom salt

Heat 1 T of olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes and then add the garlic and stir around for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. Mix together the beans, quinoa, pine nuts, salt, pepper, and spices. Add the onion mixture and egg (if using). Mix well. Refrigerate for 10-15 for a firmer mixture.

Heat the remaining oil in a cast iron skillet over medium to medium/high heat. Cook the patties for 3-4 minutes in each side, until golden and crispy. Place a patty on top of a portion of steamed kale and serve with brava sauce.

To make brava sauce: Heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes until tender and slightly golden. Set aside to cool slightly. Mix the rest of the sauce ingredients together, adding the onion mixture when it has cooled. Sprinkle on the mushroom salt.

The day that the patties ran out Alfonso and I looked at the legume basket and decided to dive back in! And since legumes lend themselves so well to hearty vegan dishes we decided to try another. I remembered a dish that I ate every now and again as a child- creamy black beans and yellow (saffron) rice. We decided to do a take on that dish, but with cranberry beans. This legume reyes magos present is really inspiring some dishes around here- more than you would think a bean is able to inspire.

I had never heard of cranberry beans before I bought them, but it turns out that they cook and taste similar to pinto beans. They are a beautiful red and white speckled color before they are cooked and super creamy afterward. I never really paid attention to the difference between canned and dried beans before these recipes, but I am now a dried bean convert- especially if they are the main ingredient. They have a better texture and more pronounced flavor, and I personally think that they keep longer in the fridge.

See some of the red and white speckles
See some of the red and white speckles
Cooked beans
Cooked beans

For the super meat eaters trying vegan for a day (or longer) this beans and rice recipe is a must. Seriously. It is hearty, satisfying, and super flavorful. This meal would have been 100% vegan if I hadn’t have put a dollop of organic sour cream on top. Oops.

Cranberry Beans and Saffron Rice


For the beans:

2 cups dried cranberry beans, soaked overnight

2 T olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups vegetable or mushroom stock stock (preferably homemade)

3 cups water

1 large, dried bay leaf

1 T Tony’s Creole Seasoning

1 t cumin

3/4 t dried oregano

1 t pepper

salt to taste

For the rice:

2 cups jasmine or basmati rice

1 small onion, small diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 cups vegetable stock

1.5 cups water

1.5 t saffron threads

2 t salt

1 t pepper

1.5 T olive oil

minced cilantro for garnish

To make the beans: Heat the oil in a heavy, deep pot over medium heat and sauté the onion for 7-8 minutes, until tender and slightly golden. Add the garlic and mix in for another minute. Lower the heat slightly and add the drained beans. Mix in. Add the creole seasoning, cumin, oregano, and pepper and mix in well. Some spices may start sticking to the bottom, but as long as they don’t burn it’s ok. Add the broth and water and scrape up any bits that have stuck to the bottom. Cover, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1-1.5 hours, until the beans have absorbed most of the water, but there is still a good “sauce”. The beans should be fork tender.

To make the rice: Grind the saffron threads (you can use the back of a wooden spoon in a tuperware dish with a little elbow grease if you don’t have a mortar and pestle) and add 1/4 cup of really hot water to the grounds. Let sit for 10-15. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium pot over medium/medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for 7-8 minutes until tender and slightly golden. Add the garlic and stir around  for about 1 minute. Add the dry rice and toast for a couple of minutes as you mix with the onions. Add the saffron water and add the threads. Mix well. The rice and onions will be bright yellow. Add the salt, pepper, and stock. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to very low. Cover and cook for about 25-35 minutes until the rice is cooked and has absorbed all the broth.

Serve a helping of beans over a helping of rice and sprinkle over the cilantro.

Now that we have two vegan recipes for our “vegan for a day” plan, we need a breakfast. To be honest most days Alfonso and I make a giant smoothie in our Ninja and split it for breakfast, and except for the yogurt it is already vegan. I wanted a something solid (and vegan) to add to the mix, so I went looking for a breakfast bar and found my new favorite cookie!

Gluten Free/Vegan Breakfast Cookie by The Minimalist Baker
Gluten Free/Vegan Breakfast Cookie by The Minimalist Baker

If you are in to vegan cooking at all, especially baking, go visit The Minimalist Baker– she has so many delicious looking recipes. We made the Gluten Free Vegan Breakfast Cookies. Just so you know, it is also a snack cookie. I can tell you from experience. Honestly, this may replace my go-to chocolate chip recipe. You can’t beat 3 T added sugar (we used 100% real maple syrup)!

Breakfast cookies and a breakfast smoothie
Breakfast cookies and a breakfast smoothie

See the smoothie recipe below and visit The Minimalist Baker to start your vegan day right!

Breakfast Smoothie


2 cups spinach

1 cup frozen organic mixed berries

1 banana

1/2 cup organic whole milk yogurt (leave out if doing vegan)

2 T chia seeds

1 T flax seeds

1 t cinnamon

1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk

1 scoop of vegan protein powder (add if this is the only thing you are having for breakfast)

Add all ingredients to a high power blender and blend until smooth.

My thoughts on our 24 hours of veganism:

You need beans. They are your best friends. Even if you aren’t vegan.

We will probably never be 100% vegan, but I do believe in the benefits of a largely plant-based diet. I didn’t miss any animal products especially while we were doing it, but I feel like I would after a longer amount of time. Not necessarily meat, but cheese and especially eggs are a big part of how we cook. I would definitely miss them. I think the final consensus is that we will aim for 1-2 vegan-for-a-day days per week and see where that goes. But, whether it’s a vegan day or not, we will be eating lots more legumes.