Quick Vegan, Zero Waste, Gluten Free Weeknight Meals


We all know I'm a horrible food stylist / photographer and I don't use recipes. Still, I know how hard it is coming up with vegan, gluten free, zero waste meals you can whip together after work. Normally we eat lots of stews, stir-fries, salads, hummus, and curries. To mix it up, we're trying these one-pot meals. If you don't have access to fresh chick peas (which cook in 5-10 minutes boiled, steamed, or sautéed), preparing a big pot of dried lentils, quinoa, or beans on weekends helps. You could even bake a few sweet potatoes, to quickly add to dishes midweek. Cooking times and measurements may vary, because I never measure. Recipes serve one me and 2-3 normal people.

Note: I try to avoid rice and quinoa because of their carbon footprint. Also, I hate them (mostly I hate them). They may or may not bother my digestive system. However, my husband loves rice, and I'd rather not exclude anything else from an already restricted diet, so they make appearances here. All the produce is grown in France, purchased from Webster at Marché Raspail or Joel Thiebault, who transfer their fruits and vegetables in crates and sell everything loose, without berry containers or plastic. Certain items aren't native or naturalized to France, which may mean a higher carbon footprint than produce flown from elsewhere.

One Pot Vegan, Gluten Free Meals

Vegan Pad Thai

Spiralize 250 grams each zucchini (skin on) and butternut squash. Sauté in a pan with the oil of your choice (I use olive oil, but there's enough liquid in the veggies to make this oil-free) and crushed garlic to taste. Add a handful of pea shoots, a handful of bean sprouts, a handful of roughly chopped cabbage, one sliced red onion, and one sliced red pepper. Top with peanuts, coriander, and drizzle hot sauce on top with a fork (You can make hot sauce by soaking chili in vinegar or oil. Updated to say that Heinz vinegar is not vegan, and reflect the fact that this hot sauce was actually made by soaking chili in oil). For more traditional pad thai, add two tablespoons sweet radish / tamarind paste or a squeeze of lime per one tablespoon of the sweetener of your choice (vegan cane sugar yields the best results).

Matcha Smoothie (sort of)

Pulverize tencha leaves in a blender. Grind with mortar and pestle if too coarse. Return tencha to blender with the flesh of 1/2 lime, 1 cup almond or coconut milk, half a cucumber, a handful of spinach leaves, a handful of mint leaves, one apple, and one vanilla bean pod. I know you're not supposed to put the whole pod in there, and it's very noisy and could possibly break other blenders, but it tastes delicious (just scrape the vanilla out of the pod if you don't want to risk it). Top with berries and pomegranate seeds. Steep the pomegranate peel and berry stems and leaves in hot water for tea later. This is not meant to be a meal replacement, but a palette cleanser before more substantial dessert.


Lentil Salad

The next few dishes, I don't have real names for. Cook one cup lentils in three cups water for 15 minutes with 1/4 teaspoon salt, a few basil leaves, one chopped chili, and two cloves of garlic. Add a handful of green beans, half a chopped zucchini, and half a roughly chopped sweet potato (skin on). Cook an additional 10-15 minutes. Serve on a bed of roughly chopped cabbage with a handful of parsley and sprinkling of sesame seeds. Drizzle with olive oil, lime juice, and a sprinkling of finishing salt. Grate raw carrot on top, if desired.

Quinoa Salad

Cook one cup quinoa in two cups water with two garlic cloves for fifteen minutes. Transfer to plate. Sauté one roughly chopped sweet potato (skin on), one tomato (or sun-dried tomatoes), and a handful each fresh chickpeas (or already cooked chickpeas, from dry), pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds in olive oil, using the residual heat, an additional 10-15 minutes. Combine with quinoa and two handfuls arugula. Sprinkle with grated carrot (if desired) and finishing salt to taste. Drizzle with lime juice and olive oil.


Cauliflower mash with beet and kale

Boil one small head (florets only) or cauliflower with two small potatoes. Drain. Saute roughly chopped carrot, eggplant, and beets (skin on) in the same pan with two cloves garlic and olive oil until tender. Add a few kale spines and mint leaves in the last few minutes of cooking. Transfer to plate. Return cauliflower and potatoes to pan and mash with a little almond or coconut milk, if desired. Serve with the beet and kale sauté.

Lentil and courgette stir fry

Cook one cup lentils in two and a half cups water, 15 minutes. Add 1/2 cup fresh peas and cook an additional 5-10 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Transfer to plate. Sauté 1/2 courgette, 1/2 a small eggplant, a few broccoli or cauliflower florets, and some basil leaves in the same pan using residual heat, until tender. If desired, add some cooked chick peas and grated carrot. Mix with lentils and sprinkle with sesame seeds, olive oil, salt, and a squeeze of lime. Serve atop butter lettuce.


Saffron rice and lentils

Grind two saffron threads with mortar and pestle. Combine with 60 ml warm water. Let rest. Meanwhile, cover 1 cup lentils with water. Add crushed garlic cloves to taste and a few leaves of basil. Bring to boil and cook 15 minutes. Add 1 cup rice (I used riz de Camargue) with 1 1/4 tsp salt, saffron mixture, and a tablespoon of olive oil (cook separately for more photogenic results). Bring back to boil, then stir, cover pot, reduce heat to low, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer to plate. Sauté 1/2 roughly chopped sweet potato with a handful of bean sprouts in olive oil using the residual heat. Chop one tomato, some red cabbage, and serve with sesame seeds, coriander, and chopped or grated carrot on top. For a quicker rice dish, skip the saffron and flavor with turmeric. Alternately, chop spring onions and garlic and add to rice during cooking. Or cook with shredded coconut / in coconut milk.

Quinoa cabbage bowl

Cook one cup quinoa in 2 1/4 cups water with two garlic cloves. Add a handful of fresh peas and continue to cook until tender. Transfer to bowl. Add sliced or grated carrot, one sliced chili, fresh basil leaves, and roughly chopped cabbage and onions. Drizzle with lime juice and olive oil. Add a few tablespoons tahini or Tamari, if desired.


Mango tapioca (or chia) pudding

I'm sure everyone knows how to make chia pudding, plus it's not really "quick" so I probably shouldn't bother writing this. It is something nice to make before going to bed though. Soak chia seeds in 2 cups almond milk, 1/4 cup agave / date syrup, and 1 cup coconut milk overnight, then drizzle over chopped mango with a cluster of chopped almonds. For the tapioca pudding, soak tapioca in 1 cup almond milk overnight, bring to boil with an additional cup of almond milk, then add 1 cup coconut milk and 1/4 cup agave or date syrup. Serve with fresh mango.

Spring rolls

This doesn't count as zero waste because the rice paper rolls came in a recyclable container, but it's a delicious treat sometimes, and a simple appetizer at parties. Roughly chop one carrot, two peppers, one red onion, spring onions, and cabbage. Roll with a handful of spring onions, peanuts, and coriander or pea shoots. Serve with hot sauce or drizzle inside before rolling. Substitute lettuce for rice paper rolls, if desired.


This is what we have most of the time. Sauté veggies and drizzle with hot sauce. If desired, serve with sesame seeds and homemade kimchi.

Other things I ate before taking pictures: Gnocchi made from leftover mashed potatoes, topped with chopped and sautéed tomatoes, garlic, basil, eggplant, and zucchini. Quinoa and lentil patties with guacamole and baked tomatoes on a bed of bean sprouts, onions, lettuce, carrots and mushrooms (smush leftover quinoa together with leftover lentils and form perfect patties using the edge of a round glass). Spiralized zucchini cooked in the same tomato mixture. Spiralized sweet potatoes sauteéd in onions, peas, garlic, and olive oil, served in soaked and blended cashews with lime juice and garlic, garnished with coriander (I actually took a picture of this- it looked gross). Cold pea soup with vegan cheese (from a restaurant, but easy to make at home: onions, coconut milk, cooked peas, garlic, and desired spices in an immersion blender).

Paris to Go


  1. I now you recently traveled to the Middle East, and as a Palestinian American, I was so glad you had a good trip that was (relatively) friendly to Celiacs. Some other good ideas for quick vegan/gluten free and maybe zero waste meals (if you have access to bulk beans) Middle Eastern meals: Mujadara http://allrecipes.com/recipe/214780/mujaddara-arabic-lentil-rice/). If you add a salad with a lemony/cumin/oilive oil dressing you will love it. Definitely take the time to caramelize onions for the top of lentil and rice. If you eat yogurt it tastes good with it too.

    Have you had hummus (garbanzo bean) and ful (fave bean) stew? http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/01/ful-mudammas-egyptian-breakfast-fava-beans.html
    You can eat it for any meal of the day. In my family, in one big pot we add cooked garbanzo beans and cooked fava beans plus garlic, olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, chopped fresh cilantro, tomato, onion. We let it stew and let the flavors marinate.

    Finally, my favorite soup is an orange lentil soup that comes out tasting so creamy despite being dairy free! http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/orange-lentil-soup-shorabat-adas-233064
    This recipe encourages you to make croutons or pita chips for toppings but you don't need to do that, I just squeeze a fresh lemon into the bowl.

    I am excited to try your pad thai idea!

    1. Nadya, these are so great! When we got back from Doha I was adding cucumber and eggplant to everything, and it helped us rediscover our love of garbanzo beans and lentils, everything was so delicious. Can't wait to try these recipes, especially the orange lentil soup! Thank you so much for sharing. I eat coconut yogurt and it seems like it would go great with the lentil and rice, especially with a lemony dressing.

  2. PS- the orange lentil soup says to add chicken broth but a rich veggie broth would work too.

  3. Heaven. Thank you for adding some inspiration/variation, you certainly eat the good stuff. My food looks like this to, but for my man I add some meat or fish. Great to see some new combinations flowing by. And thank you, I finally realised a spiraliser would be a good investment. Any types you can recommand? xxx

    1. My spiralizer was a gift from my uncle, I'm not sure what kind it is! I am done cooking meat for my husband :) You are more patient than me. It's just too much for me to make two meals and shop for two different kinds of groceries. Plus he gets offended when we eat different things lol, so now we eat the same!

  4. What is the carbon footprint of rice? I had no idea!

    1. Hi Susanna! Actually to be accurate I'm more concerned with the methane emissions of rice:
      There are steps being taken to reduce those emissions though. The research on quinoa's carbon footprint and the footprint of many foods is actually controversial, so I don't preclude anything from my diet- for instance, if I want an avocado, I'll eat one (and actually you can get some grown locally in France) but I try to stick to plant based foods and as many local and seasonal foods as possible :)

  5. Hi Ariana,
    You may want to try this rice sometime (I am in no way affiliated with this company):

    I am allergic to all grains except fresh or frozen organic corn and this rice. When we were trying to carefully test-add grains back to my diet to see what my body could tolerate, my conventionally-trained-holistic doc told me to try only this kind of rice: only organic rice, only white rice, and only Jasmine or Basmati, only rice imported from Asian countries, and I must rinse it until the water runs clear before cooking it.

    Also, on the back of the package of this rice, Lotus Foods writes: "Our producers use System of Rice Intensification (SRI) practices, which require a lot less water and seeds to produce more crop per drop. And drained fields emit little or no methane."

    1. Awesome! Thank you so much Glenda! I have to rinse rice otherwise there's no hope of digesting it. How great that they're taking these steps to reduce their impact.

  6. Hi Ariana, Does your husband still eat meat when you eat out?
    About a month ago I wanted to go vegetarian but my husband said he enjoyed going out and sharing meals with me (apparently that's a part of our relationship that he loves haha - I had no idea!). Anyway, I compromised and allow myself to eat meat one meal a week, when we eat out. I don't cook meat or fish at home anyway as it's harder to clean up after and buy without packaging.
    I'm hoping over time he will get used to me eating vegetarian most of the time and won't object.
    Thanks for your recipes, I have found them incredibly helpful in my transition!

    1. Hi Laura, I am so sorry I'm replying so late! So, yes he does. We try to go to restaurants that offer vegan GF options as well as meat so we can share together. Sometimes he does occasionally go to vegan places with me, but, he doesn't enjoy them. A lot of restaurants in France do not have vegan options; in those cases I call ahead and talk to the chef. Sounds like you have a good solution worked out with your husband, I hope he gets used to the idea too :)

  7. What do you usually make for Breakfast?

  8. I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any helpful hints for newbie blog writers?