Andy (truck tour operator) and I (Amanda, tour assistant) love finding vegan meals in restaurants everywhere we go with the 10 Billion Lives tour. And while there really are vegan options everywhere, most of the time we cook our own meals. Though we lack a full kitchen as we’re touring the country, we’re able to whip up some gourmet meals with limited equipment. Since we talk to a lot of people who themselves have limited (or no) kitchen space, are short on time, and are cooking on a budget, we wanted to share some of our favorite meals we make while on the road that use affordable ingredients that can be found in any supermarket, can be made in a rice cooker, and don’t require much prep work.
The base of most of our meals is dark leafy greens, usually kale or collards. Sometimes we buy them in bunches, but to save even more time, we pick up bags of already cut and washed greens. Cooked greens also make a great side dish. Here’s how I typically prepare greens:
1. Fill the rice cooker pot with (washed, cut) greens.
2. Add about a quarter of an inch of vegetable broth. I also add a splash of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, liquid smoke, and garlic powder. (For our Southern-style meals, I may add a little Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning. For a dish with peanut sauce, I may add a little sesame oil with the greens. Feel free to add whatever seasonings you love!)
3. For our rice cooker, I cook the greens on the “white rice” setting, but the greens are usually done in about 20 minutes.
Andy’s specialty dish is a Southern-style meal with cooked greens, mashed cinnamon sweet potato, and BBQ tofu/cauliflower/Beyond Meat, etc. When we cook the greens, we chop the sweet potato into small chunks and cook it in the steamer basket, which came included with the rice cooker and fits right into the pot. Once the sweet potato chunks are easily pierced with a fork, they’re ready to be mashed in a separate bowl. They’re delicious just simply steamed, but if you want to punch it up a bit, add some cinnamon and natural maple syrup or agave to taste. For the “BBQ” component of the dish, once we empty the rice cooker pot and set the greens and potatoes aside, we toss in chickpeas, tofu, steamed cauliflower, or Beyond Meat with our favorite BBQ sauce and heat it up to our desired level of doneness (which is usually to the point of crispy edges). Just keep an eye on it while it cooks.
My specialty is peanut sauce, which is something I end up making at least 1-2 times a week. Again, greens are the base, and we’ll toss some veggies in the steamer basket (cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and/or red pepper are common choices). We prefer to pick up some marinated tofu to dice up and throw into the mix, as well.
I don’t have a recipe for the peanut sauce; it’s really just a combination of several ingredients all blended together. Amounts here are rough estimates for a meal for two.
About ½ cup of natural peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
About 1/3 cup of vegetable broth (enough to thin out the PB to your liking, so stream the broth in)
Dashes of the following, to taste: Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce or tamari); liquid smoke; sesame oil; garlic powder and/or Tony’s Creole seasoning.
(If you happen to have some coconut milk on hand, a dash of this will up the creaminess of the sauce.)
If your peanut butter was kept in the fridge, heat it up (stovetop or microwave) to make it easier to mix, then whisk in the other ingredients with a fork. If you find that the sauce is too thick, add more vegetable broth or coconut milk to thin it out. If it’s too thin, add more peanut butter. Pretty soon you’ll find your preferred ratios.
Those are our favorite dishes to make while traveling, but we’ve also whipped up tacos, chili, curry, beans and rice, and doctored up canned soups to our liking. Brown rice goes really well with most of these meals and adding it can bulk up your dish cheaply and nutritiously. Whether you’re short on time, cash, or kitchen space, there are plenty of simple vegan meals you can whip up in no time.
What are some of your favorite quick & easy vegan meals while traveling?