Like many working parents with young children, Vancouver lawyer Anna Pippus found weekday meal-planning a chore. As someone who had always found joy in feeding her young family, it bothered her a great deal that meal-planning had become drudgery.
So she sat down one night after putting her two young boys to bed and came up with a simple strategy to take the guess work out of meal planning – choosing themes for each day of the week.
“Our family is vegan so Mondays are pasta, Tuesdays are bowls, Wednesdays are one-pot meals, and Thursdays are stir-frys,” says Pippus, a former animal welfare lawyer who is now doing a master’s degree in psychology. “It’s something that smart cooks have done for years, with Sundays set aside for roast beef and Fridays for family pizza night. The only difference is my version is plant-based. I’m happy to say it eliminated my mealtime dread.”
Five years ago, Pippus, who inherited a love of cooking from her parents, started sharing her daily meals on Instagram (@easyanimalfree) in the hopes of showing people that a plant-based diet can be nutritionally balanced, delicious and not too time-consuming. “I thought it would be useful to provide an example of how one family of four managed the daily weekly rhythms of animal-free eating,” she says.
Her postings struck a chord with vegans, vegetarians and those who liked meat but wanted to start incorporating more plants into their diet. Her followers (she has 40,000) liked her short ingredient lists and streamlined preparations.
This fall, Pippus released her first cookbook, The Vegan Family Cookbook: Simple, Balanced Cooking for Real Life, which includes 100 recipes that are simple to follow, inexpensive to make and take little time to prepare.
“This book is a collection of my family’s favourite foods,” says Pippus, who says the Peanut Butter Banana Waffles, Brown Rice Nori Rolls and Mac and Cheesy with Broccoli are among her kids’ top picks. “My hope with this book is that it helps make it easier for people to eat more delicious plants. But more than that, I hope it helps them find their own sense of joy and ease in the kitchen.”
Hearty Lentil-Walnut Spaghetti
Ingredients (serves 4 to 6)
- 1 lb (454 grams) spaghetti
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion
- 2 to 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium carrot, scrubbed and chopped into 1-inch to 2-inch (2.5-cm to 5-cm) chunks
- 6 ounces (170 grams) cremini mushrooms
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1½ cups cooked brown or green lentils, drained and rinsed if canned (see tip)
- 1 can (28 oz/796 ml) diced or crushed tomatoes
- 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
- Salt and pepper
Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and return to the pot.
Put the garlic cloves in a food processor and pulse to mince them. Add the onion and pulse until finely chopped.
Heat a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Drizzle the oil into the skillet and add the onion mixture to sauté, stirring occasionally.
Pulse the carrot in the food processor until a coarse meal forms. Add to the skillet, stirring to combine.
Pulse the mushrooms in the food processor until finely chopped. When the onion mixture looks soft, add the mushrooms to the skillet and cook until the mushrooms have released some moisture – you will see the bottom of the pan become slightly wet.
Pulse the walnuts in the food processor until a coarse meal forms. Add the walnuts, lentils, tomatoes and oregano to the skillet, and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, for five to 10 minutes to soften the tomatoes and meld the flavours. If the sauce is too thick, add a splash of water; if it’s too thin, keep simmering, uncovered, until it reduces.
Pour the sauce onto the cooked pasta and toss to coat. Alternatively, dish up the pasta and top it with the sauce.
Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 to 3 days. Reheat in a saucepan over medium heat with 1 to 2 tablespoons water to smooth out the sauce.
Tip: To cook the lentils from dried, add ½ cup rinsed dried lentils to a small saucepan with 1½ cups water. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.
Excerpted from The Vegan Family Cookbook by Anna Pippus. Copyright © 2021 Anna Pippus. Photography ©2021 Anna Pippus. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
Plan your weekend with our Good Taste newsletter, offering wine advice and reviews, recipes, restaurant news and more. Sign up today.