Sunday Spaghetti Dinner |
When was the last time you sat down for a meal?  I mean a real meal where phones are off or away, food is being passed around, wine and laughs are being had, and you are living in the present moment?  When was the last time you had a good conversation over dinner or made new friends while breaking bread?

After reading Friday Night Meatballs: How To Change Your Life With Pasta, it made me realize all the above is exactly what I want more of and need in my life!

You must read the article in its entirety but here is the gist: Sarah Grey started hosting weekly Friday Night Dinners AKA Friday Night Meatballs in her Philly rowhouse with her husband and daughter.  The guest list rotates between a mix of friends, clients, neighbors, social media acquaintances, and anyone in between plus as many kids as they can keep an eye on!  Once 10 chairs are filled the RSVP closes and these folks gather around the Grey’s dining table on Friday with delicious bowls of spaghetti and meatballs in front of them.  New friends have been made, jobs been offered, and relationships blossomed over pasta at these weekly dinners!  The post also shares tips on how to be the hostess with the most-ess and not stress out (don’t worry about having a perfect pristine home, use tools available on the internet to help with the guest list and RSVP, figure out what works best for you to make, etc.)– it should be an enjoyable experience all around for guests and the host!

I can’t tell you how much I LOVE this new tradition Sarah has started in her home and it has completely inspired me to follow in her footsteps!

Getting together is not the easiest thing these days– everyone is juggling crazy schedules and time divided between family, friends, careers, hobbies, and everything else that life throws at us.  It can also get expensive going out and is not convenient for those with little ones.  I love the idea of having weekly dinners with a rotating guest list where everyone is welcome– FNM is the answer!

I decided to start with monthly dinners and a smaller circle of friends and acquaintances with a different theme each month.  Every meal will feature vegan friendly fare and in honor of Sarah’s FNM, my first dinner this month was Sunday Spaghetti Supper!

October's Sunday Spaghetti Supper | Spaghetti and meatballs is a very easy dish to make vegan-friendly! You can make vegan meatballs from scratch or use frozen ones (which is what I did) and you can find vegan Marinara sauce and pastas (most pastas do not use eggs or dairy) at any grocery store– be sure to scan ingredients list to be sure. Our meal also included bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and my guests brought wine and salads.  A simple yet very delicious and filling meal!

Sunday Spaghetti Dinner | It was so much fun introducing Bao’s little one, Elijah, to the dogs– he is a big animal lover!

October's Sunday Spaghetti Supper | Ellie and Eli, posing the same :)

October's Sunday Spaghetti Supper | This photo is one of my favorites from the evening- I feel like it captures what these dinners are all about!

PS: Friday Night Meatballs has a website in the works and don’ forget to follow them on social media!

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Vegan Bread Pudding by Vegan Chow Down

Although this past week has still been a warm one, I feel like it’s time to start cooking and eating like it’s fall regardless of how hot it is ie: turn as many things as possible pumpkin flavored, sprinkle cinnamon on just about everything, and make cozy and comforting dishes!

After the last few posts which are pretty healthy and light eats, I also decided it’s time to make something for the (major) sweet tooth in me!

Vegan bread pudding popped into my head because it’s easy to whip up, almost all of the ingredients are pantry staples, and the pumpkin vanilla sauce gives it the perfect touch of fall.  It reminds me a lot of a pumpkin flavored cinnamon bun…which sounds amazing and might be next on my to make list!

Bread pudding works best with stale day old bread so it can soak up all the liquid. If you don’t have stale bread on hand, just cut some bread up and leave it out overnight and you will be ready to go the next morning.  You can use this recipe as a base and experiment with different flavor profiles and ingredients with both the bread pudding itself and the pumpkin vanilla sauce.  There are endless possibilities and you can use the season, upcoming holidays, or your favorite foods as your inspiration!

Whatever flavor this vegan bread pudding becomes, I highly recommend eating it with a big ol’ scoop of vanilla soy ice cream- SO good!

Vegan Bread Pudding by Vegan Chow Down
Vegan Bread Pudding with Pumpkin Syrup by Vegan Chow Down


Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes



  • 4 cups of stale bread, cubed
  • 3 egg replacers, I use Ener-G Egg Replacers
  • 2 cups non-dairy milk  
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 stick vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy vanilla creamer
  • 1/3 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 TBS vanilla


  1. If you don't have any stale bread and need to make some: cut bread slices into large cubes and let it sit out overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees.
  3. Grease a 9×13 pan with a slice of vegan butter and set aside.
  4. Make your egg replacers in a medium bowl as instructed on the package.
  5. To the egg replacers add the non-dairy milk, melted vegan butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and vanilla. Stir well to combine.
  6. Add bread cubes to the bowl. Stir to coat each piece of bread with the liquid mixture. Let the mixture sit for 3 minutes, then stir so the drier pieces on top are now at the bottom of the bowl. Let it sit for another 3 minutes.
  7. Pour into greased pan and bake, for about 50-55 minutes, uncovered. When it is done, the bread should look puffy from absorbing the liquid and toasty brown on top.
  8. While the bread is baking, make the sauce.
  9. Combine all sauce ingredients except vanilla in a small saucepan. Heat until melted, stirring to incorporate. Cook until it comes to a rolling boil, then remove from heat. Add the vanilla and stir well. Let the sauce cool down.
  10. When the bread is done baking, remove from oven. Spoon onto plate, add a big scoop of non-dairy ice cream (optional, but recommended for optimal deliciousness) and drizzle the sauce on top.


This recipe was adapted from

Vegan Bread Pudding with Pumpkin Vanilla Sauce by Vegan Chow Down
Vegan Bread Pudding with Pumpkin Vanilla Sauce by Vegan Chow Down

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Vegan Banh Mi Sandwich by Vegan Chow Down Vegan Banh Mi Sandwich by Vegan Chow Down

Sandwiches are one of my favorite foods.  Why?  Because who doesn’t like awesome fillings between two slices of perfectly toasted bread, tangy sourdough, or a chewy ciabatta? There’s even such a thing as cookie sandwiches!  Not only is it inexpensive to make, you only need your hands to eat it and literally anyone can create one– you don’t need any crazy kitchen skills or fancy equipment.  One of my favorite favorites is a vegan banh mi sandwich.

This Vietnamese sandwich is full of flavor and texture thanks to the humble yet delicious ingredients it is packed with.  The bread gives it a nice chewiness, jalapenos gives it a kick, the mayo makes it creamy, and the picked daikon and carrots give it a sour and sweet note.

Vegan Banh Mi Sandwich by Vegan Chow Down

Banh mi is a Vietnamese term for all kinds of bread.  A single serving baguette, which was introduced the French during its colonial period, is the most commonly found type of bread in Vietnam so the term banh mi has become synonymous with it.  Traditionally, banh mi sandwiches are filled with different types of meat but tofu can be easily substituted to make a vegan banh mi sandwich.  Give it a try whirl and let me know what you think!

This recipe includes directions on how to make quick pickled carrots and daikon.  You can make this 30 minutes – 1 hour beforehand or the night before.   

Vegan Banh Mi Sandwich by Vegan Chow Down Vegan Banh Mi Sandwich by Vegan Chow Down Vegan Banh Mi Sandwich by Vegan Chow Down


Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4- 6" sandwiches



  • 1 Baguette (or your favorite type of bread / loaf will work too!)
  • 1 package of Trader Joe's organic baked tofu (these are seasoned either savory or teriyaki-- if you want unseasoned baked tofu you can find it at 99 Ranch Market or a local Asian grocery store), thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 6" piece of daikon radish (about 2" in diameter- available at 99 Ranch Markets and local Asian grocery stores)
  • 1/2 cup of rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 package of Trader Joe's organic cilantro (or a few generous handfuls), leaves only
  • 1 or 2 cucumbers (Persian and Japanese are recommended because they have fewer seeds), thinly sliced at a diagonal
  • 1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced
  • Vegan mayo, for spreading on the baguette
  • Japapeno slices (optional- add if you want to spice up your sandwich!)


  1. PICKLED DAIKON & CARROTS: You can make this the night before you are making your sandwiches or 30 min - 1 hour beforehand. Wash and peel the carrots and daikon then cut them into small strips. You can julienne them or use a thick grater depending on how you like the consistency. In a small bowl, place the daikon, carrots, rice vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Stir well, cover with plastic wrap, then let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for desired time.
  2. Put your baguette in the oven to toast or finish baking as instructed on the package if it is par-baked.
  3. Prep your vegetables / tofu / fillings.
  4. When all the ingredients are ready, begin assembling your sandwich. Cut the baguette into 4 equal sections about 6" long. Split each section in half and leave the inside part facing up so you can assemble the sandwich.
  5. Start with a generous layer of vegan mayo on both sides of the bread then layer the fillings starting from the bottom with: tofu, cucumbers, red onions, the pickled carrots and daikon (drained), and finishing with the cilantro leaves. Close the sandwich and serve.

Vegan Banh Mi Sandwich by Vegan Chow Down

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Healthy Ramen Noodle Salad by Vegan Chow Down

I know what you are thinking– “healthy” and “ramen” in the same sentence? That can’t be right.  But it’s true!

I first heard about / saw such a thing when I went to a vegan restaurant that served it.  I tried it because they were telling me how nutritious it was and it looked like ramen which I love.  The verdict?  A healthy ramen noodle option and is a great canvas for delicious sauces, seasonings, and dressings.

I was picking up a few things from Whole Foods the other day including ramen and saw the same green noodles I had at the restaurant!  There were GreeNoodle packages next to the ones I usually get.  I didn’t realize they sold this stuff in stores and decided to try making them myself.  There was a recipe on the back of the package– a healthy ramen noodle salad?  I’m sold!  It sounded very refreshing for this 100 degree weather we are still having in Southern California! (If you don’t have a Whole Foods by you, you can get sampler packs and an assortment of flavors on

Healthy Ramen Noodle Salad by Vegan Chow Down

I have never heard of Moroheiya until discovering these noodles.  What exactly IS it? After some research, here’s what I found:

Moroheiya also known as mulukhiya or mallow leaf has been cultivated in Egypt since ancient times (it reminds me of mint leaves, here’s a pic). Its fibers are spun into jute while its young shoots and leaves are harvested as a vegetable and used in traditional Egyptian dishes and stews.  Moroheiya contains a ton of goodies including potassium, calcium, beta carotene, and a variety of vitamins and minerals.  It is also a great source of dietary fiber.  You can find a Moroheiya nutrition chart here comparing it to spinach, carrot, and broccoli.

How did Moroheiya become a healthy ramen noodle option?  It’s thanks to a man named Mr. Sho Oga, who is the creator of GreeNoodle.  When Mr. Oga learned of how healthy this plant was but was rarely eaten in Japan and throughout the world, he thought about how he could make this appealing to adults and kids and the answer was: noodles!  He quit his job working for a company that made health supplements to start an organic agriculture business that would offer safe foods to people while protecting and taking care of the environment.  Mr. Oga put his heart and soul into perfecting these noodles:

I wanted to make sure my noodles had the best combination of chewiness and smoothness. After years of frustrating trials and errors, I am finally rewarded with the invention of my dreams.”

Healthy Ramen Noodle Salad by Vegan Chow Down

I love his clever use of Moroheiya (making healthy foods appealing and accessible can be difficult!) and anyone who has ever tried to turn an idea they had into a reality can appreciate and applaud his journey.

I am a huge ramen fan and could literally eat it all day everyday and probably overdose on sodium so I think I’ll be eating GreeNoodles instead from now on! It’s available at Whole Foods for $1.99 per package.  It doesn’t come with any seasonings but I think that’s good because who knows what the heck is in those little packages of powders and oils that usually come with dried noodles.  You can add your own soy sauce, oils, herbs, and spices instead.

Healthy Ramen Noodle Salad by Vegan Chow Down
Healthy Ramen Noodle Salad by Vegan Chow Down

Below is the healthy ramen noodle salad recipe from the back of the GreeNoodle package I tried.  The only thing I ended up changing was substituting the honey with agave nectar.  It’s easy to put together and makes for the perfect light lunch or salad on hot days!

This recipe is vegan, dairy-free, and egg-free.  It can be made without nuts.  It does contain wheat.


Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 generous portions or 4 moderate portions



  • 2 packages of GreeNoodle
  • 1-2 cups of romaine lettuce (I used about half a package of already washed and cut romaine)
  • 1 small or 1/2 a medium cucumber, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 handful of cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of peanuts, roughly chopped (optional, you can omit or use almonds or walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 TBS sesame oil
  • 1 tsp agave nectar


  1. Wash and cut all the vegetables.
  2. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Cook the noodles: bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes (I actually turned off the heat after a minute and let it sit in the covered pot for 2 minutes.)
  4. Drain and cool under cold water.
  5. If putting everything into one bowl: Place noodles, peanuts, and vegetables in a large bowl and mix, using tongs makes this job a lot easier! Add the dressing if you'd like and mix again or serve on the side.
  6. If plating: Start with a layer of lettuce. Using tongs, grab some noodles and twist and place onto the plate to create a neat round pile. Top with the vegetables and sprinkle with the nuts. You can drizzle the dressing on top or serve it on the side. I personally find this method easier (mostly easier to handle the noodles this way) and prettier too.

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I recently came across this adorable teddy bear toast via and loved the idea of making meal time a little bit more fun by turning food into cute characters!  It’s a fun surprise for kids as an afternoon snack when they return from school and I think it’s just as fun for adults too! :)

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and in my opinion it’s never too early to start thinking of costumes or festivities!  So I started thinking about Halloween food ideas and decided to turn the ever-so- popular avocado toast into…

Halloween Food Ideas: Vegan Frankenstein Toast by Vegan Chow Down


Even though avocado can sometimes be a little hard to work with since it will start turning brown if left out too long, this doesn’t take too long to make and even if it does start browning, it actually kind of works for Frankie here!

A few notes on the ingredients/components in this recipe:

You can find dry toasted seaweed which I used for the hair at any Chinese, Japanese, or Korean grocery store such as 99 Ranch, Marukai, Nijiya, Mitsuwa, etc.  My favorite seaweed is Korean seaweed- it has a great taste, I could eat piece after piece by itself or with plain rice!

For the olive eyes, I picked out the ones that were solid in the middle (the end pieces) which gives the Frankensteins more of a cute cartoon-y look.  You can try using the ones that look like “O”s and also fill the centers with vegan cheese or nuts to give your Frankenstein a different look.

Halloween Food Ideas: Vegan Frankenstein Toast by Vegan Chow Down Halloween Food Ideas: Vegan Frankenstein Avocado Toast by Vegan Chow Down

I don’t mind that my Frankenstein toast doesn’t have perfectly smooth green skin– it has some little lumps and bumps because I just smushed my avocado with the back of a spoon quickly and spread it on…I think that’s the beauty of Frankenstein, he doesn’t have to be perfect!  (Keep smushing and smashing if you want a smoother consistency.)

Who knew toast was such a perfect blank canvas?  There are so many fun possibilities and endless spread and topping combinations just waiting to be turned into some delicious and cute food.  I hope you like this snack and I will be thinking of more Halloween food ideas to share with you the rest of this month!

This recipe is vegan, vegetarian, nut-free, fun, dairy-free, and egg-free (depending on what type of bread you use).


Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 pieces

Serving Size: 1 piece



  • 2 pieces of bread, of your choice
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 large sheet of toasted dried seaweed or 2 -4 small sheets
  • 1 small vine ripened tomato
  • 4 black olive slices
  • 5-6 pretzel sticks for bolts at neck and nose
  • 4 small cubes of vegan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. To keep the toasts nice and green, we are going to prep everything first and work with the avocado last. Get started by toasting your bread. While the bread is toasting...
  2. Cut the seaweed to look like Frankenstein's hair- zig zag on one side and straight on the other. You can also add eyebrows if you'd like!  If so, cut a few short strips of seaweed for that.
  3. Slice the tomato then cut 1 round slice in half.
  4. Cut or break the pretzel sticks as needed so they are the correct lengths.
  5. Have all your components close by and ready for you to use then begin on the avocado. Scoop out the flesh of the avocado and put it in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste and smash it with a fork or back of a spoon. Smash it until you reach the desired consistency / smoothness.
  6. It's time to assemble Frankenstein! Take your toast and trim edges if needed to make a rough rectangle.  I try not to cut away too much and also make sure to eat that so it doesn't go to waste!
  7. Cut two shallow and small slits on both sides of the bottom edge, this is where the bolts aka pretzel sticks will go.
  8. Spread your avocado mixture onto your toast. Add the seaweed hair, seaweed eyebrows (if using), olive eyes, pretzel nose, and tomato mouth.
  9. Stick a pretzel into a cheese cube to create a bolt. Then insert it into the pre-cut slit.
  10. That's how you make Frankenstein avocado toast!  Serve immediately so the seaweed doesn't wilt and stays crunchy.

Posted in Halloween, Holidays | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments


Welcome to Vegan Chow Down!

Vegan Chow Down is a place where you can find delicious recipes for a compassionate lifestyle!

All the recipes shown here are plant-based and do not use any item that is derived from an animal.  This means no meat, fish, seafood, dairy products, eggs, or honey are used. Instead the recipes feature colorful veggies and fruits, filling grains, protein packed legumes, and so much more to create satisfying meals, snacks, drinks, and desserts to fuel your body, mind, and heart.

The recipes here are ones I have tried and loved and I hope you will love them as well.  I am not a nutritionist, dietitian, or doctor– just an animal lover who loves to eat and wants to share a way of cooking and life that reflects that.

Let’s cook something vibrant, enticing, and compassionate together!

Thank you for stopping by!

heart  an animal and food lover,

Meeting Buttercup At The Gentle Barn Meeting Buttercup at The Gentle Barn!

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