I realized something about myself recently when that ol' light bulb of an aha moment suddenly flashed in my head. It happened when I was  exploring countless recipes on vegan Thai type dishes. 

First, I have never been an obedient student when it comes to following recipes as written.  Instead, I find and review lots of recipes for a particular dish to get a variety of cooking ideas. This helps me to also see the thread or pattern of most commonly used ingredients for a particular dish.  

Then -- using my multi-recipe research as my foundation, I create my own, customized concoctions. In other words, my light bulb moment was that I almost never strictly follow recipes I discover. So, I've apparently always been fairly fearless -- or perhaps a bit too bold - especially when my "beat to my own drummer" cooking style experimentation doesn't quite pan out too well - no pun intended.  Overall, however, when it comes to experimenting with creating recipes that are customized to our tastes, it's been freeing, fun and satisfying.  I do feel a bit more emboldened, however, now since my aha moment and a re-recogniznition of my "just do it" cooking style.

This is NOT to say following many recipes to the tee is not a good idea - of course it is and there are some I would not dare change one iota (e.g. check out "My Favorite Vegan Meals So Far" such as the decadent chocolate cake -- a favorites list that I really need to update soon).  However, adding our own bold and customized touches to a recipe can also make it truly our own and definitely more suited to our particular tastes.

Bottom Line (I hear you cheering btw?) - the perfect recipe is the one that suits our tastes, our budgets and our best health goals. The important thing is to make the time to do your homework/research well, incorporate your family's preferences, keep it healthy (most of the time that is) and then be fearless when it comes to trying out your customized, personalized recipes.

And boy was I ever fearless with one of my latest concoctions which I've shared below.  And (thankfully!) we LOVED it!  Hope you do too and please let me know in the comment section below (along with your favorite plant based recipes please) and as always, thanks so much for dropping by!

So listed below are all of the ingredients I included. Or, at least I think it is a complete list - I created this dish as I went and should have, but didn't write it down at the time:

  • -Red onion (1/2 - 1 whole medium size) or spring onions
  • -Garlic Powder (Lots!)
  • -Mushrooms (12+ounces) (your favorite)
  • -Tofu (15 ounces)
  • -Eggplant (1 1/2 to 2 large)
  • -Fresh green pepper (1)
  • -Carrot (shavings or chopped from 1 large)
  • -Organic Panko Japanese bread crumbs (most or all of 10 ounce container)
  • -Raw unsalted cashews (as many as you'd like)
  • -Raw spinach (10 ounces) (Thawed, drained frozen spinach would work too)
  • -Organic basil 
  • -Soy sauce or gluten free Tamari Sauce

  1. First I sliced up the eggplants (check out this helpful veecoco.com video by clicking here on how to slice them correctly); put them in a bowl, generously salted them with sea salt and set aside to sweat out their water for a few hours (btw:  I learned how to properly slice and dehydrate eggplants from the Veecoco video (link above) there's no need to rinse once their sweat time is up)
  2. Once the eggplant slices were done dehydrating, I sauteed the red onion and garlic powder in olive oil then added mushrooms and cooked all of it together for a few minutes (then removed from skillet and set aside)
  3. Drained and sliced up 15 oz. of extra firm tofu then seasoned the tofu cubes with garlic powder and sauteed in olive oil and some soy sauce along with a hefty sprinkling of Panko bread crumbs. Removed from skillet and set aside,
  4. Sauteed the eggplant in olive oil, garlic powder and a heftty sprinkling of Panko bread crumbs.
  5. Dumped the already sauteed chopped up onions and mushrooms back into the skillet with fresh olive oil and garlic, added a chopped green pepper, one large shredded carrot along with a generous sprinkling (very generous!) of basil, more garlic (yes, we like garlic) and then finally the raw cashews (as many as you'd like) and approximately 10 ounces of raw spinach.  
  6. After completing step #5 above, I added the sauteed eggplant and tofu and then mixed in more basil seasoning and a good amount of Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel Seasoning (this is great seasoning to keep on hand, but can concoct your own verson as well with sesame seed, garlic, etc. as you'll see from its list of ingredients).
  7. Served over brown rice along with soy sauce to taste and it was wonderful!


  • ?  Pictures above are not of my finished meal because I forgot to take one, but it's pretty close to what mine looked like (wished I had had some spring onions for mine although the red onion was delicious)?
  • ?Next time, I will be air frying the tofu and the eggplant after seasoning and sprinkling generously with the Panko bread crumbs (about 8-15 min or whenever it's browned and crusty enough for your taste).  Might also add nutritional yeast to the seasonings as I use this wonderful deactivated yeast in everything including popcorn, vegan lasagna, just egg dishes, pizzas, rice cakes with almond or peanut butter, in plant-based burgers, etc!)
  • ? I also plan to start chopping several days' worth of veggies, etc. and other prep work to reduce my time in the kitchen on a daily basis. I want to evolve into one of those cooks who plans ahead so efficiently.....but I'm not quite there yet as my expressed intentions have not yet matched my actions. Love that old Ben Franklin quip: "Well done is better than well said."  Amen to that!
  • ? May try doing this with asian rice noodles next time, however, we really liked  it with the brown rice. I would think any of your favorite noodles or rice would work great with this concoction which all started because I wanted to create a thai-like vegan meal for us.
  • ? Remember to check out the video link above (see Step #1) regarding the proper way to slice and to sweat out your eggplants. And, if you for whatever reason you haven't tried cooking eggplant yet, it is a must do. There are so many ways we can cook eggplant from eggplant parmesean to stuffed eggplants to my tofu/eggplant dish covered in this and a zillion other recipes in between. Plus, eggplant offers us lots of good nutrition.
  • ?Remember when customizing to your taste you may want to add other spices often used in Thai cooking such as corinader, cilantro, cumin, etc. (just go for it...you'll know from the aroma being created and, of course, from your own preferences from prior meals what will work best for your tastes)
  • ?The amounts I mentioned and used in this recipe made enough for two to have a great meal plus leftovers for two or more mights. I made fresh rice each for each meal and reheated my thai-ish fun to make concoction, added soy sauce and a salad and dinner was served. 
  • ?Keep it easy and fun, be bold and daring and please share your vegan ideas, recipes and creations with nbjconsulting.com. Your visit and input is always welcome and greatly appreciated!

About the author 

Nancy Byerly Jones

Nancy Byerly Jones and her husband reside on their mountainside ranch (“Little Hee Haw Farm”) with an energetic “family” of horses, donkeys (large and miniature), dogs and cats. Their favorite pastime is sharing the joy and fun of their animals and ranch life with their family, friends and clients.

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