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How to make vegan comfort food

Is 2014 the year you eat less meat in general or become completely vegan? Today, we’re interviewing Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman, authors of Home-Cooked Vegan Comfort Food and sharing some tips and ideas on how to make the transition easier.

Vegan orange chipotle wings recipe

Some of us decide to meditate more in the new year. Others decide that it’s the year to go gluten-free. But others decide to give up all animal products and go vegan. Home-Cooked Vegan Comfort Food sounds too good to be true right? But authors Celine and Joni Marie are making it not only deliciously simple, but also achievable.

SheKnows: What’s the biggest misconception about cooking vegan food?

Joni and Celine’s favorite food blogs: Post Punk Kitchen, VegWeb, and Vegansaurus.

Joni and Celine: People hear “vegan” and immediately start thinking of all the things we can’t eat but forget about all of the things we can. Since going vegan, we have tried and enjoyed so many new foods that we would have never probably experienced as nonvegans. Before even going vegetarian, we were in a cooking rut, eating a handful of the same things over and over. Looking back it was shameful. We were ignoring about 90 percent of the foods out there. So much beautiful and delicious food that was never even looked at! Since going vegan, we have become much better cooks, learning flavor profiles and how different tastes and textures work together.

SK: For people wanting to “test out” going vegan in the new year, what’s your best advice?

J&C: The internet! There are so many vegan blogs and sites out there with fantastic recipes and tips on how to make going vegan a smooth experience. The support is amazing: in fact it’s how we met! It’s important to find support and other people that share your enthusiasm, and the internet can easily provide that. There is most likely a vegan meet-up group in your town, or a town nearby. Get out there and meet some of those folks and learn from them. And of course, there are also awesome books to help folks transition into eating vegan, like The Complete Guide To Vegan Food Substitutions, and Joni’s upcoming Going Vegan, with Gerrie Adams.

SK: Any tips on eating out in restaurants as a vegan?

J&C: You can make a great vegan meal at just about any restaurant. If you can, call ahead and find out what’s already made as a vegan option. Ethnic restaurants usually have awesome options. In a Mexican restaurant, just make sure the rice and beans are made without lard or animal-based stocks. Chinese food? There are lots of options for tofu and veggie stir-fries. Sushi? Cucumber Avocado rolls, or California Rolls without the crab make great options. And many dishes can easily be made vegan by asking the staff to leave out the cheese, or other ingredients.

If that’s not an option, make your own meal! Scan the menu and put together your own dish based on ingredients used in other dishes. A baked potato or plate of pasta topped with sauteed vegetables and salsa or marinara can make an awesome meal and is almost always available. If you are really adventurous, you can ask the chef to get creative. Simply tell your waitress that you cannot consume eggs, dairy or any animal products, and that you’d like the chef to prepare you a dish of his choice.

Vegan orange chipotle wings recipe

Not that you need any special occasion to prepare this easy and delicious finger food, but these wings will be especially welcome during football season.

Yields 8 wings


  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon blended chipotle and adobo sauce
  • 2 teaspoons granulated onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 8 ounces tempeh, cut lengthwise into 8 pieces
  • Scant 1/2 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup panko or other breadcrumbs, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons nondairy butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons dried cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar


  1. In a shallow dish, combine the orange zest, juice, chipotle sauce, onion, garlic and salt. Place the tempeh pieces in the dish and marinate for 10 minutes, flipping them over occasionally.
  2. In the meantime, place the arrowroot powder in another shallow dish. Place the breadcrumbs in yet another shallow dish.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  5. Dredge a piece of tempeh in the arrowroot powder, making sure every side is covered and shaking off the excess powder. Dip back into the marinade on each side. Dredge in the breadcrumbs, making sure every side is covered.
  6. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 7 tempeh slices. There will be leftover marinade; don’t worry if some of the arrowroot powder or breadcrumbs are left in there.
  7. Coat each tempeh piece with cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes, flip over, and bake for 15 minutes longer. As the tempeh bakes, whisk together the remaining marinade, melted butter, cilantro, and sugar. Remove the wings from the oven and cover them with the sauce. Serve immediately.


If you usually find tempeh to have a slightly bitter taste to it, simmer it in 2 cups vegetable broth, along with a dried bay leaf, for 20 minutes. Drain well and use in any recipe.

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