Vegan Filipino Pastel and the Plight of Having Thick Hair [RECIPE]

Good Morning Everyone!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend. It’s finally cold here. Like… cold, cold. That said, I have an advantage that many people don’t have. I have a built in cap on my head. Yes, my whole life I’ve had extremely thick hair. Now I know most people roll their eyes or they see my hair and say, “oh you have nice volume to your hair” but they don’t really believe that it’s that thick. My hair is like a ninja with its thickness. In fact, it’s so thick that one time I went into the hairdresser to get a routine thinning… (yes, that’s a thing for us thick-haired people), and the hairdresser actually broke her thinning shears in my hair! (It was a tad longer back then… so it was super thick!).

Needless to say that was an embarrassing moment and I felt like Cousin It from the Addams Family. Today I wanted to ramble about hair because I did something drastic: I cut off all of my hair. Well, not all of it… but I buzzed it. For a while I pondered what people would think. Hair is one of those funny things that either people care a lot about… or they could care less. When you look at someone, naturally you look at their face. And with that comes looking at the top of their head. We judge people based upon the little things. What do they look like? Do they have crazy tattoos? Piercings? Is their hair a wacky color? All of these things come into play. But if I’m being totally honest…. I’m not exactly sure why.

For me, the thing that propelled me to clip off the vast majority of my hair was pain. Having thick hair has also meant getting many, many headaches. I bought expensive thinning shears and routinely thinned my own hair. I would let it hang loose around my face because ponytails were hot, and heavy on the back of my head. But still, I would get massive headaches that disrupted my day. Then I watched a wonderful TED talk by a female Buddhist monk. In it she spoke about happiness and her own journey from having a “normal” life to joining the monks in Thailand. And she had no hair! Nothing! She was bald. Now I’m sure most people wouldn’t bat an eye at her because she also wore monks robes. So they’d look at her and think, “Oh she’s a monk. Monks are bald. Okay, no big deal”. But if I were to go bald…. what would people think? Would they think I have cancer? Or worse, that I’m a skinhead or something?

So I buzzed my hair, and then I went out shopping. I walked around a very crowded department store and tried to notice if anyone was eyeballing my new ‘do. And you know what? No one cared! In fact, I was able to just be myself (sans headaches) and feel the literal wind on my face! It was really nice. People would walk past me and do the polite “excuse me” as we made eye contact for .2 seconds. I didn’t see any awkward “oh my gosh it’s a girl with a boy’s haircut” look on their faces… or in their eyes. In the end, it was just me and my hair… and that was pretty awesome. I know today was rambly, and completely “out of the box” but here is my point: be yourself. Take pride in what makes YOU feel good. Cut your hair! Dye it whatever color you want. Dress in a way that feels good. And then march out into the world. Because chances are… everyone is probably so busy with their own lives that they could care less. πŸ™‚

And now let’s jump into today’s recipe.

Filipino Pastel traditionally has chicken. Think of it like Chicken Pot Pie filling. Well I’m Vegan so chicken isn’t happening, but that doesn’t mean I can’t turn this Filipino dish into an amazing Vegan one! πŸ™‚ Over the weekend I had my annual early family Thanksgiving. I wanted to bring a few comfort food dishes to share with everyone, and this one was an absolute hit. In fact, even the meat-lovers adored this dish because it’s creamy, soothing, so flavorful, and filling. Pair this stew with some hot rice and you’ve got a meal fit for a king! The best part? It makes a huge batch, so be prepared for leftovers… or “elevensies”… or 4th meals… I won’t judge πŸ˜‰ Enjoy this recipe everyone. Have a wonderful rest of the day and as always, keep on cooking! ❀


Vegan Filipino Pastel

Serves: 8


  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 3 Russet potatoes, diced
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen bell peppers chopped, OR 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 pack sliced button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • A dash of dried sage, rosemary, and thyme.

For the sauce:Β 

  • 2 tablespoons soy Earth Balance butter
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable broth powder OR 1/2 cup vegetable broth liquid
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans coconut milk


  1. Heat a skillet with 3 tablespoons of oil on medium-high and drop in the potatoes. Cook until golden on all sides, (about 10 minutes). Then add in the bell peppers. Continue sauteing for 5 more minutes or until bell peppers are tender.
  2. Next add in the carrot and celery and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Finally add the mushrooms, peas, onion and cook until tender. Once all of the vegetables are tender add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute. Reduce your heat to low. Now it’s time to make the sauce!
  4. In a saucepan make a roux with the Earth Balance butter and flour. When it forms a paste, (over medium heat), add in the vegetable broth powder. Mix to combine well.
  5. Next add in the coconut milk and stir well to mix the roux through thoroughly. Here’s the trick to great, thick gravy: it’s a dance with the heat. Increase your heat as you stir constantly and continue mixing until you see the gravy just beginning to thicken. Then decrease your heat down to low as you mix, mix, mix! The gravy will continue to thicken and remain smooth. Add in the bay leaves, salt, and black pepper. Add a dash of dried sage, rosemary, and thyme and mix through. Let the gravy stand with the heat off for 5 minutes to finish thickening.
  6. Pluck out the bay leaves and pour the gravy into the vegetables. Stir to combine and coat everything in your thick gravy. Pour into a serving dish and serve hot with a bowl of rice! Enjoy! πŸ™‚



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