(WellnessNova.com) - They’re called comfort foods for a reason: they nourish your soul with their ooey, gooey, creamy, steamy and deliciously tasting ingredients, but many childhood favorites, restaurant staples, classic dishes and scrumptious desserts aren’t the best for your waistline, which is why they’re best reserved to be eaten on occasion. And if you’re following a strictly plant-based diet, you likely long for some of these incredibly delightful-smelling meals, but wish you could make it herbivore-friendly without risking flavor or depth.
Well, good news vegans and comfort-food loving enthusiasts: there’s a plethora of amazing options for you to consider. From vegan pancakes to vegan pizza and even vegan cheesecake, you can indulge in unique versions of your favorite comfort foods that not only eliminate animal products, but introduce you to healthier alternatives boasting an array of nutritional benefits and fun flavors to boot.
Here are 13 dishes you likely never thought could be just as amazingly comforting in vegan form:
1. Basic Vegan French Toast
When a lazy weekend morning calls for something more than a smoothie, this vegan French toast recipe will do just the trick. Chia seeds work as a thickening agent in this eggless breakfast classic while also providing you with a boost of protein, calcium, fiber and omega-3s. Top your toast with berries, coconut whipped cream or almond butter.
2. Chickpea Flour Omelette With Spinach, Onion, Tomato, and Bell Peppers
Eggs are known to pack an energy punch with their protein content, but this folate-rich and gluten-free chickpea flour works wonders to provide you with the benefits of a classic breakfast staple with a subtle nuttiness and savory bite you’ll enjoy. You can pack your omelette with whatever veggies you have on hand.
3. Vegan Quiche
A typical quiche is complete with eggs, milk or cream and cheese, making it a far cry away from anything vegan. But this recipe makes it possible for the plant-based lovers out there by using alternatives that don’t sacrifice the creamy texture and delectable taste of the breakfast classic. Rather than using pastry for the crust, tortillas are utilized, while the custard comes in the form of pureed tofu.
4. Vegan Gingerbread “Buttermilk” Pancakes
Pancakes always sound like a good idea — but not the heavy feeling they leave you with after you gulp down a stack of the heavy stuff. This version uses a vegan egg that’s made with flax meal and water, and provides a delicious gingerbread flavor made from cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Bonus: each pancake has only 77 calories!
5. Amazing Vegan “BLT”
BLTs are a childhood staple that even adults can’t say no to. But it’s becoming common knowledge that processed meat is incredibly detrimental to your health, including bacon. But this meat-free “BLT” is a wonderful alternative, utilizing thinly sliced and marinated tofu that’s still high in protein. The rest is up to you: from the bread to your choice of lettuce and tomato variety, you can have fun keeping it simple or trying out new twists.
6. (It Can’t Be!) Vegan Caesar Salad
Salad as comfort food? When it comes to the creaminess of a classic caesar salad, of course it makes the cut! But a typical caesar salad is high in calories and doesn’t quite offer the nutritional benefits of many other salads out there, which is why this one could really use a healthier version to please your palate without adding to your waistline. This version uses Kalamata olives instead of anchovies and blended cashews over egg yolks. And just like the name inquires, it’s vegan-friendly.
7. Italian Bean Balls and Spaghetti Squash Noodles
A staple in many families’ homes, spaghetti and meatballs is a savory sensation that’s hard to resist, but this healthier and vegan option will truly surprise you with its amazing taste. Rather than typical meat balls, this recipe uses kidney beans, oats and flax to create fiber-full balls and opts for spaghetti squash pasta instead of the carb-filled version you’re used to.
8. Loaded Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joes
9. Vegan Slow Cooker Thai Seitan Noodle Soup
10. Raw Cheezy Spaghetti
11. Whole Wheat Vegan Pizza With Caramelized Onions, Figs, and Arugula
Pizza is a crowd-pleaser no one can seem to resist, but if you’re vegan you might feel left out when there’s a pizza party. Next time you have friends over, surprise them with a new take on the typical cheesy classic by making this gourmet recipe that utilizes a mixture of sweet and savory ingredients everyone will love.
12. No Bake Cinnamon Swirl Cheesecake
Can cheesecake really be vegan? It sure can, and you don’t even need to utilize unrecognizable filling ingredients that might harm your health in the process. This no-bake recipe is a melt-in-your-mouth treat that offers the velvety texture of typical cheesecake without the cream, dairy, gluten, soy and eggs you’re used to. Instead, you’ll find an array of healthy and tasty ingredients, like dates, almonds, cinnamon, apple sauce and cashews, in this version.
13. Vegan Oatmeal Cream Pies
This throwback treat to childhood is reinvented using vegan “butter” and powdered sugar to create a creamy texture that’s sandwiched between two chewy oatmeal cookies made from whole-wheat flour and flaxseeds. The recipe tastes just like the originals, so introduce it to your friends and family and see if they even notice!