Creamy Vegan Grits
I have a confession: I’d never made grits before I tried this recipe. Let me tell you more, though! As you know, I live up here in the Pacific Northwest in Seattle, and grits are just not a staple. Quinoa? Yes. Amaranth? Absolutely. Freekeh. Check! We seem to have all the ancient grains available in stores and restaurants, but you won’t see grits on the menu like in other parts of the country. I recently attended Quaker’s event, and the presenters taught the audience a recipe for grits. I was amazed at how easy and delicious they were. Also, they are perfect leftovers, so I use them in my meal prep. Grits are now a staple in my house, and I adapted the recipe they presented to create my own Creamy Vegan Grits. It’s naturally vegan, savory and delicious, and beautiful, too.
All About Grits
An essential staple for Southern cuisine, grits are commonly served at breakfast with eggs or as a savory lunch or dinner with shrimp. They are just hominy or stone-ground corn that’s boiled. Simple.
Grits have various histories. There’s evidence that indigenous people in North America ate mashed corn; specifically, the Muskogee tribe used a hominy-type corn to make this traditional dish. American colonists learned how to make grits from Native American people, so it’s been an essential staple on the continent for a long time and continues to be so now.
Fun fact, grits are an official state food of South Carolina. As I mentioned, they’re less common where I live, and when I recommended them to a client in Canada, she had to special order them. I’m excited to bring grits to areas where they have yet to be used as commonly because they’re a wonderful food.
This Creamy Vegan Grits recipe is an anti-inflammatory dream. The anti-inflammatory veggies: onion, peppers, tomatoes, and greens, get a whole grain boost with the grits base. The real power here is in all the added herbs and spices, so feel free to maximize your turmeric, curry, oregano, thyme, and spicy peppers. All of these have been shown to have health benefits and work together to provide antioxidants that can calm inflammation in the body. My book, Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Prep, has been life-changing to so many people around the country. It’s full of recipes like this one – simple, accessible, and perfect to make in batches to lower stress and work for you!
Making the Creamy Vegan Grits
Like so many other recipes, you’ll create a savory base. Olive oil and onions make the foundation for so many meals, and in this recipe, you’ll also be sautéing bell peppers. I’d encourage you to use any type that you enjoy, or that’s on sale. Yellow or orange match the color of the turmeric but green matches the greens you’ll add. Red or purple are just plain fun, so mix it up depending on what looks good at the store. Other fabulous meal-prep recipes with a savory base like this include my most recent Orzo Soup with Fresh Herbs or my Creamy Vegan White Bean Soup.
The best part of the Creamy Vegan Grits recipe is the spices. I use a teaspoon of turmeric, thyme, and oregano and a dash of cayenne pepper and red chili pepper flakes. If you don’t like spice, you can just reduce or eliminate that last part, but please keep the first three. Turmeric is SO anti-inflammatory, and the other two add a wonderful flavor. If you’re afraid it might be too much, start with half the recommended amount and add as needed.
Once you have your base and spices, add your diced tomatoes and almond, soy, or oat milk. These milks absolutely must be unsweetened to work with this recipe. And no “vanilla” flavor, either. You’re welcome to use regular milk if you want, but just remember, it won’t be vegan.
Non-dairy milks are a great product. They mimic regular milk very well in recipes, and they’re fortified to have the same amount of calcium and other minerals as regular milk. Soy milk has the most protein and most closely resembles regular milk. Almond, coconut, and rice have negligible amounts of protein, so just keep that in mind.
As you stir in the grits, please be sure to keep a close eye on them and stir them frequently. They will get clumpy if you don’t keep stirring, and the dish can get too thick. You’ll be surprised at how fast they cook.
Once the grits are finished, add the chopped greens right on top and put a lid on it to steam the greens. They’ll soften up, and then you can get some of them into the bowl with each serving. I wrote this with kale, but you could easily use collard, beet, or mustard greens.
Please let me know if you try this one – drop the recipe a rating and leave me a comment so I know you were here 🙂
Creamy Vegan Grits
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium bell pepper, diced
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 4 cups unsweetened plain soy, oat or almond milk
- 1 cup grits
- 1 cup chopped lacinato kale
- Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat then add the onions and sauté them for 1-2 minutes until they start to soften.
- Add the bell peppers and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onions are translucent and the peppers have softened.
- Add the turmeric, curry, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper, stirring for 1 minute for the flavors to 'bloom'.
- Add the tomatoes and stir to combine all of the ingredients.
- Add the non-dairy milk and stir to combine, scrapping the sides so all of the vegetables are in the mixture. Cover the pan and bring the liquid to a boil, allowing it to softly boil for 1-2 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to medium and slowly add the grits; stir constantly as they thicken. Cook the mixture for 4-6 minutes until they've thickened and the mixture is gently bubbling.
- Turn the heat off then add the chopped greens, covering the entire surface of the grits. Cover the pot and let the greens soften for 6-10 minutes.
Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO
Thanks for visiting! If you’re like me: obsessed with eating, wine, going out and traveling, you’re in the right place. Champagne Nutrition® LLC is a Registered Dietitian-run concierge virtual practice helping clients look and feel better. On this blog, you’ll ﬁnd cocktails, mocktails, and plant-based recipes that are easy to make quickly at home and pack for leftovers on your adventures.