I <3 Food

My First Vegan Family Dinner

As you guys know if you’ve been here awhile, my Huntsville Family gathers for Sunday dinner every week, rotating between houses. Both of Donnie’s siblings live here as do his parents so we usually host once every 3-4 weeks depending on schedules. Last night it was our turn to host because I wanted to be in charge of cooking the meal where we celebrated my birthday! And I wanted to do the entire thing vegan.

Now. I’ve been doing this for over 45 days now, but only for me. And while I’ve found several staples I love, none of it was really easy to do to accommodate 12 people unless we did Mexican food. And I didn’t want to do that because my brother-in-law cooks the best Mexican food in all the land and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. Last week I decided to do a trial run of two main things: Vegan Sloppy Joes and Vegan Cake. Then, last night I did my final versions of those recipes and then cooked roasted corn and sweet potato fries as well. I bought them buns and ate my food on English Muffins, if I was cooking for vegans I obviously would have fed everyone English muffins. I also gave them vanilla ice cream as an option instead of just sorbet. But for the most part? It was an entirely vegan meal.

I started with this recipe for the vegan sloppy joes but modified it quite a bit on that first trial run because I’m really trying to keep things simple so that I’ll actually keep them in my arsenal of recipes. It was a little tomato-y for my taste, I felt like all I tasted was the tomato paste. So, for the 12-people version I did even more modifications and it went GREAT. Now, this is NOT A RECIPE BLOG. I do not measure everything with precisions nor do I make note of every addition throughout the process nor do I photograph or anything. Most measurements are in teaspoons because I kept adding until I was satisfied, you could convert it easily to TB measurements too. This is basically just me documenting a successful attempt.

Zoot’s Vegan Sloppy Joes



  • 5 cans of Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 3 cans of fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons onion powder
  • 4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha Sauce>
  • 1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
  • 5 teaspoons cumin
  • 3 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 3 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 3 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Basically I dumped it all in a large skillet and cooked on Med-High for awhile, constantly smashing it to crunch up the chickpeas. I probably did that for 30 minutes. Then I lowered it to medium and came back every 5 minutes or so to smoosh. Once it got broken up enough to almost start to look like sloppy joes, I left it on low/simmer and just stirred/smooshed once in awhile, letting it soften and cook and soak up the flavor for about 3 hours. That wasn’t intentional, that’s just how my day worked. You probably could simmer it for an hour an be fine. I did have to add a little bit of water eventually because it was getting too thick, but depending on how long you cook that may not be necessary.

Vegan Strawberry Cake

photo 3I had learned a long time ago that some cake mixes and icings are “accidentally vegan” (Good info here and here. Now, if I was cooking for vegans I would double-check ingredients still passed the test because things can change.) so I did my trial runs using this as guidance but nothing really looked/tasted like birthday cake. I was going for something fruity and it all turned out more like cobbler. Delicious cobble, but cobble none-the-less. Then I found this recipe and I used a strawberry cake mix and strawberry icing from the “vegan” lists and it was PERFECT. We did not tell anyone the “secret” ingredient was chickpea until after they were eating it and they didn’t believe us. It was ALMOST solid enough to have cooked in the circle pans and stacked like a “real” cake but not quite. But it tasted like birthday cake and looked like birthday cake and it went fantabulous with the raspberry and peach sorbet’s I bought.

photo 4

This was the pan before we went to bed last night. There wasn’t much left when the family left, so Donnie, Wes and I sat around and finished it off. Donnie even swore he thought it was better than “real” birthday cake.

All in all? It was a hit.

Like I said – I don’t know if that would work for a dinner of Vegans because I didn’t triple check the ingredients on everything, I just trusted older articles. And I’ve learned there are “hidden” animal products in things that are processed. In my day-to-day life I mainly avoid processed stuff that hasn’t been “certified vegan” for that reason, but cooking for 11 omnivores I just did the best I could. If anything I’ve referenced is actually not vegan, don’t stress. Let me know but don’t panic thinking I’m cooking this same meal for militant vegans. I’ve actually decided to avoid militant vegans in my life because, so far, they’ve been the worst part of this experience. But, if you know something I did, used isn’t vegan, let me know (politely, please) for my own personal reference.

In the end it worked for me and it gave my family a good feel for how I’ve been eating for 45 days. Win/Win!

7 thoughts on “My First Vegan Family Dinner”

  1. Sounds awesome! Wish I could have some of the cake.

    For a while we had chickpeas in our pantry. (I think I thought I was going to make hummus. HA!) Well my husband will sometimes just eat a can of veggies from the cabinet and he kept pulling out the chickpeas thinking they were corn and wouldn’t discover his mistake until after he opened the can. He still ate them, so we have no chickpeas now.

  2. That strawberry cake looks so awesome, I’m going to try to make it soon! (And our family is pretty much the opposite of vegan.)

    I can’t remember if I told you about Chocolate covered Katie’s blog. Her vegan desserts are amazing and everyone loves them. Her chocolate frosting shots are insanely good!

  3. Have you noticed a connection between your diet coke and insomnia? I have noticed the older I get, the more caffeine sensitive I get. I can’t have any caffeine after 2pm or it messes with my sleep. (Getting old blows! But it is better than the alternative…)

  4. Well, I’m cutting back (down to one a day now) so I would have thought I would be more affected by it. BUT – I woke up with stomach issues the other night and carbonation always helps and all I had was diet coke so I opened one up at 2am and drank about 8 ounces and it didn’t keep me awake at all 🙂 I think I’m still immune to it’s effects! HA!

  5. What brand of English muffins do you use? I have looked for some of those that are dairy free and can’t find them. My son is allergic to dairy so I look for vegan stuff a lot since it doesn’t have dairy in it. We eat WhiteWheat hamburger buns and hot dog buns; they don’t have dairy but I don’t know if they are vegan. Thanks for those links! I am always looking for new ideas.

  6. These were the Ezekial brand but they’re expensive so I opted to provide the cheaper buns for the family. They may have been vegan too, but I didn’t fret too much. That Peta link above “Accidentally Vegan” I think also lists a Weight Watchers brand for English Muffins but I haven’t found those in our local groceries!

  7. Are you still having insomnia issues? I have those too and by documenting what I eat for dinner I’ve discovered a few things make me really restless at night so I now avoid them 5 or so hours before bedtime. Culprits: Soya sauce, raw garlic, sugar (particularly HFCS and any form of processed syrup), red wine &beer (funnily white wine is fine), and pretty much all preservatives and highly processed stuff (Snickers bars are the very worst), so I stick to natural and healthy vegan dinners nowadays and it seems to work. I also try to do a 10 min meditation every day in the evening to get my peanut gallery-mind a bit more under control! Those things have really helped with my insomnia!

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