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Showing posts from May, 2011

Reinventing Beans and Rice

When you think of beans and rice do you automatically picture the classic red beans and rice dish? If so, it's time to rethink things. Beans and rice is so much more than that one dish. It's one of the easiest, cheapest, tastiest ways to make a vegetarian or vegan meal. There is no particular set of ingredients. There are just a few interchangeable components. Beans, rice and vegetables. That's pretty much it. In about 20 minutes complete meal done. Use canned beans. They only need to be warmed up. Use pre flavored rice. Use frozen vegetables. No slicing. No Cleaning. Just defrost. Some great examples might be: Rice a Roni Spanish, black beans, corn and spinach (Vegan). Knorr Dirty rice, pinto beans, cauliflower and broccoli (Vegetarian). The knorr dirty rice ingredients either changed or I only just noticed it contains chicken fat. Zatarrain's dirty rice is vegan/vegetarian as of Dec 27, 2011. Knorr Teriyaki rice, chick peas, broccoli and carrots (Vegeta

Easy Cheap Rich and Hearty Vegan Chili

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I often cook with hormel vegetarian chili. Because even though the label says vegetarian, it's actually vegan. It's also packed with hearty beans and soy protein. It's good straight out of the can, but if you really want to take it to another level try this simple enhancement that will turn your ordinary store bought chili into something that tastes as though you spent all day on it. For 15-20 minutes of your time and just a few dollars worth of ingredients you can have a vegan chili even a texan would love. Ingredients 1 can hormel vegetarian chili with beans 3 tbls smart balance light buttery spread with olive oil 1/4 cup frozen spinach 6 cloves sliced garlic 2 tsps cumin seeds 1/4 box cooked pasta Cook your pasta according to package directions. Cook it only to al dente or a minute or two more. Set aside. Add chili, cumin and spinach to a large pot and heat covered on medium for 5 minutes. Add garlic and smart balance. Stir to combine and simmer 2 more min

Beef Bourguignon (Vegan)

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When I was a child my mother used to make beef bourguignon. It was full of big chunks of tomato, garlic and lots of red wine. It was a comforting stew that warmed you from the inside out. I hadn't thought about that meal in many years. But then as I was eating my latest vegan concoction it suddenly all came flooding back to me. Cold winters eating warm and hearty stew. The aroma of long simmering wine, garlic tomato permeating the whole house. I hadn't begun cooking with the intent to recreate that long forgotten childhood memory, but apparently my subconscious had grander plans. With just a few bites I was transported back into the cozy bosom of my youth. I began with a package of lightlife smart ground meatless ground beef. Not exactly big chunks of beef, but it really does have that ground beef texture and tastes frighteningly close to the real thing. It's a little more mild than actual beef, but very satisfyingly similar. Ingredients 1 package Lightlife Smart Gr

Vegetarian Staple Foods

People on the Internet often solicit advice on what to eat and what to buy to maintain a vegetarian diet. It's really quite simple. And much less expensive than a typical omnivore diet. Beans. Beans. And still more beans. Beans are a Major source of vegetarian protein. They are super cheap. Come in a rainbow of varieties. And are easy to use. Canned beans offer extreme convenience and still have a very small price tag. About 99 cents a can. Each can contains 3-5 servings. Dried beans are cheaper yet, but require long cooking times. So what you save at the supermarket you may spend on gas or electric. Lentils are the exception. They cook in about 20 minutes and are packed with protein and iron. Leafy greens. There plant tops are tasty and nutritional supreme. Spinach, kale, collards, mustard Greens, turnip greens, watercress. They are all great. They can be purchased in store brand frozen in most any locale. About $1-$2 for a 16 ounce bag. They has calcium, iron, vitamin k, vita

New Vegan/Vegetarian Supermarket Finds

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The best thing ever happened in the supermarket today. Actually two really great things happened. The first was a new discovery. Boxed rice mixes called nueva concina. Latin flavored bean and rice boxes straight from the heart of cuban country (florida). It doesn't get more authentic than that without sneaking over to cuba. Right on the front of the package it said vegetarian. Upon closer inspection of the ingredients I could find no reason that it wasn't also vegan. I also liked that it has a very short, very simple ingredient list and that was a rather large package. 8 ounces. Most rices mixes tend to be smaller than that. It was on sale for $1.49... so had to get it. It believe it's $2.49 regular price. Which, you know, not cheap by any standard, but reasonable when compared with other brands that sell smaller portioned packages. But my general rule is, if the flavored kind isn't on sale, then I'll just use plain rice and flavor it myself. I love the conveni

It Tastes Like Chicken Salad (Vegan)

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Another new taste sensation... Today I tried for the very first time Smart Strips Chick'n. I was very skeptical. Was never a big fan of chicken to begin with. As per the package directions, I added a little olive oil to a small fry pan and let it get hot. When the oil was hot I added the smart strips. It sizzled and seared. One packet just slightly overfilled a small pan. I let it brown and stirred. Trying my darndest to brown it thoroughly. I cooked it for about 5 minutes total. Then dished it into a heat safe storage container. Tasted a couple chick'n strips fresh from the pan totally plain. Was again astonished to discover just how much it tasted like the real deal. I apologize for saying this, but it did in fact, taste like chicken. Actually it was better than real chicken. No ew or ick. More tender. Better texture. It's a little bit salty. I like salty, but even I noticed it. Maybe that's necessary. It wasn't so salty that it was bad, but it's the fi

Yay Lays

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Hooray for Lays! Their salt and vinegar flavor chips no longer contain milk. Very nice. Way to go lays. Working that vegan mojo. Now if only rice a roni would jump on the freight train. Does fried rice flavor really require milk? I think not. It's nice their spanish rice flavor is milk, animal and egg free, but I am certain they can do better. I'm confident flavors other than spanish rice can successfully be made without dairy products. Evenso, I really like the rice a roni brand because they do offer several vegetarian flavors. And that is much appreciated. Many of the international foods I encounter are vegan. There's just a conspiracy going on here in the US. Milk is in all kinda foods it really doesn't belong in. The dairy industry has no business in my rice. This is also a nice reminder that ingredients and recipes change. Foods which once were vegan or vegetarian can suddenly change and not be. And vice versa foods that once were unacceptable can alte

Vegan Sausage Shepherd's Pie

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That tube of vegan sausage I was talking about in other posts really lasted quite a while. I always thought when standing in the supermarket that lightlife's 'ground beef' and 'sausage' were high priced. But I guess it's a lot more servings than it looks like sitting there on the store shelf. It was kind of a struggle to finish the package. There's just a lot more in there than it seems like. So with all this vegan sausage to eat I had to get creative with how to use it. I'd previously stirred it into couscous. I had some it just plain. I even had some on a roll as a sandwich. Still there was more. It was like the never ending tube of meatless sausage. My last application for it is what I would call a vegetarian shepherd's pie. I'm not exactly certain on what shepherd's pie is. Just that it contains meat and potatoes. So using an Idahoan garlic potato pouch, mustard greens, garlic and the sausage I put together a really quick and very

Cheap and Easy Vegetarian Lasagna

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I see veggie lasagna recipes all the time. To my frustration most utilize Parmesan cheese. While some Parmesans are truly veg, many are not. And in my opinion, anything other than fresh grated Parmesan is wasted inside a lasagna. You're not going to taste that bland powdered stuff. Most vegetarian lasagnas also rely wholly on cheese. Mine however, forgoes the Parmesan and uses beans in place of the missing meat. It's heartier, more filling and less expensive. Ricotta cheese is a lot of money. Beans are cheap. So rather than using a ton of ricotta, use beans where the meat would normally go. It's easier too. You can just use the beans straight out of the can rinsed. No extra cooking. No special white sauces to make. It easy, tasty and really fills you up quite well. Ingredients 1 box no boil lasagna noodles 1 jar tomato sauce 1 can petite cut diced tomatoes 1 small container ricotta cheese 1 packet pre-shredded mozzarella cheese 1 can rinsed black beans 1 cup fro

Meidterranean Couscous (Vegetarian/Vegan)

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I got turned onto Near East products because they're often on sale and they are mostly vegan. Not all are, but a lot. I also love that they have a curry flavor. I guess I could buy my own curry powder or curry spices, but it's so much easier just to use their pre-made box. Their mediterranian curry couscous is one of my favorites and as far as I can tell it's both vegetarian and vegan. Best of all it's easy and fast to make. Maybe 10 minutes from start to dinner plate. Of course the trick to eating pre-fab foods such as this is to add some vegetables and beans. Just couscous isn't going to fill you up. But it's still very simple and quick. The other day I made my couscous with broccoli and chick peas. Super easy. Ingredients 1 box Near East Meditteranian Curry Couscous 5 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced in half or quarters depending on size 1/4 cup frozen broccoli 1/2 cup canned rinsed chick peas (garbanzo beans) 1 tsp olive oil To a small pot add the wat

Vegan Burgers Done Right

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I've already eaten and written about the original flavor lightlife veggie burgers. Now I've also tried their veggie veggie burger. A totally different experience taste-wise. Their original burgers really strive for and for my money achieve a literal hamburger substitute. But one look at the veggie flavor tells you it will be a different kinda burger. Personally I really like vegetable style veggie burgers. No, they don't remind you of or recall any flavors of meat, maybe that's exactly why I like them. Meat isn't so very great. Lightlife's veggie burger has a lot of great things going for it. Big pieces of vegetables like carrot, corn and peppers. Whole flax seeds. That really impressed me. The chunks of veg added flavor, texture and crunch. The flax seeds were the perfect addition that many veggie burgers lack. They seemed to complement and enhance all the other flavors that were going on in there. I cooked mine in a hot non-stick frying pan. Didn't

Cheeburger Vegetarian/Vegan Options

I was just at Cheeburger this afternoon. Had the portobello wrap with roasted red peppers, onion and garlic. It was pretty darn good. Had no idea portobellos are so oozy. It was my first time ever eating them. They were dripping everywhere. Really nice flavor and texture though. What I particularly like about Cheeburger is their onion rings don't contain eggs. That's hard to find. And they are addictive. Their salad is also very nice. I like the addition of olives. Nice touch. And the fact that it's mostly romaine with a little bit of some frilly green I don't know the name of. No iceberg in sight. I like iceberg lettuce salads, but romaine is so much heartier. While I was there I inquired about their veggie burger. So many restaurant veggie burgers have eggs in them. Usually I go to the chain website and read the allergen info for their menus. That will tell you if there is milk or eggs in their dishes. But theirs confused me a little. It seemed like the egg was in

Ramen with Chick Peas and Broccoli (Vegan)

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You can't beat ramen noodles priced at 5 for $1 at Shoprite. The blue, oriental flavor package is animal free as per their website. It's great just as it is. But is even better when you add a thing or two. The thing to understand about ramen is that though it's sold and marketted as a soup, it's so much more than that. It's an inexpensive and easy to make asian noodle dish. Don't tell the other asian noodle makers who charge 2 or 3 times the price. The trick is to ignore the package directions. For the best ramen possible do this instead... Ingredients 1 packet oriental flavor ramen noodles 1/4 cup frozen broccoli 1/4 cup canned, rinsed chick peas Fill a small sauce pan half way with cool water. Add ramen flavor packet. Set to high heat on a small burner. Break noodle brick into a few small chunks. Add to pot. Bring to a boil. Once it has come to a boil, lower heat a little and simmer for 2 minutes. Add chick peas. Simmer 1 minute more. Add broccol

Veggie Burger Madness

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Yesterday I ate my very first lightlife original veggie burger. Today I ate the other one from the package. This time I went all out. I toasted a thomas' bagel in the pan first. Then I seared the veggie burger. Then I added a borden cheese single slice to it and let that melt. Topped the whole thing with some pickle slices. Of course, now my very vegan burger was no longer vegan, but it was still very much vegetarian and still had no trace of eggs anywhere to be found. I would like to be vegan someday, but don't feel quite ready yet. But even as a vegetarian I still won't eat eggs. Not unless I'm certain they're cruelty free. So that excludes all eggs in premade foods since their is no way of knowing where they've come from. So the lightlife burgers and most of their products are superior in my mind because 90% of them are egg free. Most vegetarian mass market products seem to contain eggs. Which really irks me. It just seems wrong. I'm glad someone is mak

Lightlife Original Veggie Burgers (Vegan)

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Today I got to try the Lightlife Original Veggie Burger for the VERY FIRST TIME! From what it looked like I expected it to be delicious and I was not disappointed. Now, I've had all sorts of vegetarian burger patties. Morning Star Farms. Boca. GardenBurger. And lots of different flavors of those respective brands. I used to eat them all the time, back before I truly went veg, I didn't think about the egg content. Just liked that it wasn't meat. I don't eat most of them anymore because so many contain eggs. Some of them were pretty decent. If you cooked them in a frying pan and not the microwave. I used to like the Morning Star Farms cheddar infused one. But you still had to dress it up. Ketchup, pickle, onion, tasty bread. They're kinda small and expensive and not all that filling. And in actuality, though they got the job done meal-wise, they're kinda chewy and not big with the taste sensations. So today I popped my Lightlife veggie burger cherry. Just thr

Veg in a Sea of Carnivores

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The hardest part about being vegetarian or vegan is when those around you aren't. The ones we love. The ones with whom we share our meals may not share our food choices. It can be difficult to reconcile. Especially on holiday occasions or when dining out. The natural urge is to want to convince those closest to us that they too should stop eating meat. We love them and want them to eat healthy. But in reality that's probably the worst thing we can do. To push our beliefs on those around us will only sour them on the whole idea. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. Or if you're vegan, the proof is in the soy pudding. Show your friends and dear ones eating vegetarian or vegan tastes great and feels good by preparing delicious meals for them. It doesn't need to be fancy. Just tasty and filling and good for you. Use the recipes you can find here and everywhere else all over the Internet to fix just a few really good veg meals for them once in a while. They may sta

Seared Tofu Sandwich

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As mentioned in my previous post, I've been working with tofu on my own for the first time. I used half a package for my sauteed pasta salad. The other half I reserved in a storage container in the fridge. A few days later I marinated it for about an hour in 4 packets of soy sauce, some garlic powder and black pepper. I then got a small fry pan pretty hot and seared it off in batches that fit into the pan. As each batch was done I used a garlic press to extrude fresh garlic on the hot tofu. I did this with each hot batch. I then covered the container. Let it cool for a while and put my seared tofu back into the fridge to relax overnight. The next day I assembled my seared tofu and garlic sandwich. On a tasty kaiser roll I laid one slice of vegetarian cheese, then a generous portion of my seared tofu, some of the garlic that was in with the touf and then some pickle slices. It kinda looks like a grilled chicken sandwich. Kinda tastes like one too, but more tender. It wa