The VGN Way is a vegan and gluten-free blog packed with comfort and vegan soul food recipes. Run by the Atlanta-based duo Nija and Shad, this site is beautiful and one you should definitely check out!
After recently stumbling across this gorgeous JUST Egg quiche recipe on The VGN Way, I spent some time scrolling through this site and looking at all of the amazing vegan comfort and soul food recipes. This self-taught, Atlanta-based duo is doing it right, with recipes like vegan deviled eggs, gluten-free French toast, spicy kale wrap, and vegan Jiffy cornbread.
The VGN Way takes classic soul food, removes the meat, dairy, and gluten, and excels at making it look and taste amazing with plant-based ingredients. With each dish, they keep their southern roots alive but also expand beyond the Southeastern US with their recipe development.
Their love of travel has inspired other international recipes on their site like mushroom pho and spicy vegan lettuce wraps. If you love travel as well, be sure to check out their vegan-friendly guides for Atlanta, Las Vegas, San Francisco, NYC, Los Angeles, and Savannah.
Let’s get into the interview to learn a bit more about The VGN Way!
When did you start to cook and what about the process itself kept you interested in it?
I actually didn’t start cooking until after college. My father wanted me to focus on school as my number one goal. I ate a lot of junk food and carbs in college. After gaining the Freshman 15, I decided I needed to start to cook for myself and stop eating out.
After I got the hang of simple meals, I really got into cooking. I liked being able to control my flavors and making small tweaks for healthier meals. Really simple stuff like mixing brown rice/white rice to get more fiber in, baby steps.
Describe your process of recipe development. How do you come up with fresh and new ideas on a regular basis?
Easy question! We are never at a lost for new ideas. The rub is: will our friends and followers like it? We do a lot of testing with our meat-eater friends and family. If we can get them, then we know our vegan audience will definitely enjoy.
We love visiting our local international markets and trying new fruits, vegetables, and new-to-us products like fonio. We have a lot of inspiration all around us. Our kitchen is overflowing with spices, herbs, oils, and vinegars.
Define your style of cooking.
Describe the best dish you’ve ever made.
Hmm, that’s a hard one. Definitely depends on the time of year and what’s in season. This time of year, we love our Black-Eyed Pea Hummus and Stuffed Bell Peppers. In the summer we enjoy a good watermelon, feta, and mint salad and for fall (aka soup season) we love our Mushroom Pho and Black-Eyed Pea Soup recipes.
Do you have any culinary heroes?
When I was just starting to cook a lot, Martha Stewart and Ina Garten really helped me to learn the cooking basics through their TV shows, books, and the Martha Stewart Living magazines. Now we look at folks like Chef Daniel Humm and the work he is doing at Eleven Madison Park.
If you could choose anyone to cook with in the kitchen, who would it be?
We are home cook with no formal training, but we love food, and we respect those in the profession tremendously. It’s a tough job feeding people. We wouldn’t want to cook with them, too much pressure lol. But to be in their kitchen and talk and learn from them would be fantastic.
We love Chef Mashama Bailey from The Grey in Savannah, GA and vegan chef Isa Chandra Moskowitz of Modern Love. Chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park in New York is another one we admire. He transformed a Michelin-rated restaurant’s meat-based menu into a completely plant-based one.
If you could throw a party, who would be there and what would the menu look like?
Wow, that’s a great question. Loved ones, friends and family. And if we are dreaming, the location is Ms. Oprah Winfrey’s Hawaii estate lol. It’s a beautiful location and Oprah’s garden looks beautiful with a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
We would start with a bountiful charcuterie board provided by Miyoko Schinner. Chef Daniel Humm, Chef Mashama Bailey from The Grey, and Chef Tal Ronnen from Crossroads Kitchen would create signature vegan dishes and also recreate some of our favorite dishes from our travels.
Desserts would include sesame pretzel croissants from Just What I Kneaded, treats from Sugar Bloom Bakery and local Atlanta Bakery Hell Yell Gluten Free (HYGF) and, of course, we would pepper in a few of our favorite dishes.
And what’s a gathering without our famous Black-eyed pea hummus and vegan fried shrimp?
What’s one ingredient and kitchen gadget you can’t live without?
We love JUST Egg and cashews, and all the things we can make with these two ingredients, which includes all types of sauces, ice cream, and baking. Our fave kitchen gadget is our coffee grinder—we use it for grinding everything like coffee, flaxseed, and spices.
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