I live in this part extrovert, part introvert world. If you asked Dr. Myers-Briggs, I fall right down the middle between the two. For me that means trying to find the balance between enjoying being around people and getting my alone time as well. Since I work from home, the introvert in me usually gets that needed alone time. So, I appease the extroverted side of my psyche by going out to lunch with friends. Not all my friends are vegan or even vegetarian, so sometimes I find myself at restaurants without a lot of options. But you know what? I never mind because I love getting together with friends and most restaurants have a salad. And usually I can add some steamed veggies on the side. Rather than feeling limited by my choices I like to imagine I’m on a mission. I step into Walter Mitty’s world and pretend I’m on a quest: watching what other people order and then figuring out how I can make a vegan version at home. My latest test subject? The almighty, powerful Loaded Baked Potato.
It may have tripped up a famous politician or two in the spelling category, but the potato is really a simple thing to eat. And that’s good news, because I really like eating them. Maybe it’s the Irish in me rearing it’s red-tinged hair.
I don’t have red-tinged hair, but maybe I should look into that.
I’m like Forrest Gump when it comes to potatoes. I can eat them fried, boiled, baked, scalloped, twice baked, and many other ways.
But loaded with all these great ingredients? This has to be my absolute favorite…at least for the moment.
So if we’re out to eat together one of these days, don’t be distracted by that far-off look on my face. I’m simply imagining creating a vegan version of what you’re eating. Either that or I’m pondering the recently discovered largest prime number. But odds are I’m probably working on the former; and you can tell because if I start to smile a little that shows that I’m happy knowing it’s so easy to be vegan and have all the great foods you love…in a much healthier package!
Loaded Vegan Baked Potatoes
- 4 large russet potatoes
- 1 can vegetarian chili
- 1/2 cup – 1 cup vegetable broth (optional, but preferred)
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup of your favorite vegan shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup vegan sour cream
- Bacon Bits (optional) (Just look on the back of the Bacon Bits in your store for ones made without animal products)
- Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. I mean, prepare your potatoes. My microwave has a “baked potato” option so I’m happy using that. Simply wash and dry those potatoes, put your frustrations to good use by piercing them each with a fork a couple of times, and then place them in the microwave. Cook the potatoes for 10 minutes and then use a fork to see if the center is tender enough. If not, cook in two-to-three-minute increments until done. However, if you have the time and you want the slow-baked method, then heat your oven to 350F, place the prepared potatoes in the oven and bake for one to one and a half hours, until the potatoes are tender.
- Pour the can of vegetarian chili in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for a minute or two until the ingredients are good and warm.
- Once the potatoes are done, and have cooled enough for you to handle them without burning yourself, cut them down the middle and pull them open just a bit.
- Pour a little bit of the vegetable broth on the cut potato and use a fork to mash the broth into the potato. I like to use this step instead of using margarine to make the potatoes a little fluffier and moist. Feel free to skip this step if you don’t like a fluffier baked potato…or you don’t have any vegetable broth on hand.
- Top each potato with the vegetarian chili, green onion, and shredded vegan cheese. If you’d like the cheese to be melted, you might want to put them back in the microwave for a minute or so to help that process along.
- Finish by topping with vegan sour cream and, if desired, vegetarian bacon bits.