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VSG investigates: Typical Brazilian Meals You Can Prepare at Home... Vegan! | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Since there aren't that many vegan restaurants in Rio de Janeiro, and many are far from where I live... we're going to talk about some typical Brazilian meals that you can make at home.

Well... and since Brazilian breakfasts don't usually require any actual cooking, let's start with that. Most of us start the day with some popular Brazilians fruits . Just grab your favorites at the local grocery store or "Feira" (Street Market). Some of more unique but common fruits include:

  • Açaí (Açaí) Organic Açaí Powder is available here
  • Banana do Macaco (Monkey Banana)
  • Caju (Cashew Fruit)
  • Carambola (Starfruit)
  • Coco (Green Coconut)
  • Goiaba (Guava)
  • Maracujá (Passion Fruit)
  • Mamão (Papaya)

Also very popular are "caquis", persimmons (as seen on photo below). Perhaps it's just my taste, but the persimmons I got were super sweet. So be sure to enjoy them in moderation.

 

So my breakfast included "caquis" along with some nuts for protein. Among its many benefits, persimmons are known for:

  • Fighting high blood pressure
  • Controling glycemia
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Preventing cardiovascular disease
  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Protecting the vision

When working on "The Vegan Survival Guide" we wanted included very detailed nutrient charts, and tips about the health benefits of various vegan ingredients. This way you can get the most from each and every meal!

Here are some typical foods in Brazil that we've made vegan. :)

1. "Feijoada", Bean Stew
The most famous Brazilian dish brought to us by Afro-Brazilian culture. Feijoada is a bean stew with vegetables and meats. So just switch the meat for some smoked tofu, any other textured vegan ingredient, shiitake mushroons, seitan and/or a variety of vegetables... and there you have it!

2. "Pastel", Fried Pastries
These are pastries that we often prepare by deep frying leftover meat pieces inside a flour dough shell. The most popular vegan favor in Brazil is "Pastéis de Banana". For a healthier pastry, fry them in coconut oil, or even bake them.

 

3. "Homus de Grão-de-Bico", Hummus
The word Hummus means "chickpea" (grão de bico) in Hebrew. It's actually one of the oldest foods in the world, rich in protein, fiber and iron. In Brazil it's also very popular and most restaurants serve it with some pita bread. It will be easy to find at local restaurants, or even at the mall. Many families prepare it a home since it's a nutritious and low cost family meal!

4. "Bolinha de Espinafre com Queijo", Spinach Cheese Balls
Brazilians don't like to waste food, so these balls are a non-vegan popular mix of frozen spinach, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, chopped onions, butter, eggs, plus salt and pepper to taste.

All you have to do for a vegan version is:

  1. Mix some frozen spinach, breadcrumbs or granola, vegan cheese, onions chopped, coconut oil, and salt and black pepper to taste into 1 inch balls.
  2. Preheat a medium oven.
  3. Bake them for about 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees, until golden brown.
 

5. "Batata Inglesa Salgada", Savory English Potatoes
Simply boil the potatoes in water, slice and salt them to taste.

6. "Farofa Vegana", Vegan Toasted Cassava Flour Mixture
Farofa is particularly popular in Brazil. For a vegan version you can:

  • Toast raw cassava flour with coconut oil, onions, garlic, salt and choose ingredients like tofu, raisins, nuts, finely chopped fruits like apples, bananas or olives until golden brown.
  • You can order some Brazilian cassava flour here at Amazon.com

This is often served with Brazilian barbecue, but we served them with some vegan "Spinach Cheese Balls".

 

7. "Bacalhoada sem Bacalhau", Codfish... without the Fish
Vegans in Brazil started adopting the popular "Bacalhau" Codfish recipe, but with tofu instead! So a typical recipe includes:

  • Tofu, sliced pototes, onions, red peppers, chopped tomatoes, black olives, chopped parsley and chives, chopped garlic cloves, olive oil, plus salt and pepper to taste.

Below is also a lentil rice mix and some baked red peppers:

 

But wait! There's more! lol... Let's walk around Rio de Janeiro and grab some Tea and Cake

My mom and niece took me around "Leblon", a cute little neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro where we enjoyed some tea and cake at Confeitaria Kurt.

There are many tea shops in Rio... but this one has been offering yummy cakes, pies and cookies since 1942!

 

And since being vegan in Rio is still a bit of a challenge, here are a couple improvised recipes:

  • Challenge: Family was having some tomato and cheese pasta for dinner.
  • Solution: So I prepared mine with some broccoli for more nutrition, and some soy milk for protein.
 
  • Challenge: Another time, they cooked some grilled salmon plus rice and avocado.
  • Solution: So we shared the rice and avocado, plus some bean sprouts and tofu from the local grocery store for a nutritious meal. My niece also had some sweet potato chips that we had grabbed earlier at the mall! ;)

There you have it! Most of the time, I really had to improvise while staying in Brazil. Just do your best and balance your meals with what you can find. Here's the basic formula I had in my head: carbs + some veggies + protein.

 

Have you tried any traditional Brazilian meals? What's your favorite Brazilian fruit?

Be sure to share with all of us below!

 

Please share your thoughts and comments

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