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Showing posts from April, 2012

Ever Vigilant

It's always curious and sorta irksome to discover the ingredients in certain foods. So many simple items contains way too many ingredients. Things you would never expect to be there and really don't have any business being there in the first place. Foods that should be vegan, but aren't. Breadcrumbs. Most brands contain milk. I've found store brands often do not. Not only that, but the store brands tend to have very few and very wholesome ingredients. Even if you're not vegan, simpler and less ingredients is usually better. Microwave popcorn. Also contains milk. At least most premium brands that I've scouted. What the heck milk is doing in popcorn I'm not sure. It's not like they use real butter. And even if they did, it's in the low fat variety as well. Again the store brand trumps them all with a distinct lack of extraneous ingredients and a nice short, simple list. Unfortunately the store brand 'lite' often isn't very light, with

Good Veggie Prepared and Junk Foods

All prepared and junks food are not necessarily bad. In fact, some are pretty darn good for you. The trick is to know which ones. It's not hard to figure out. Just read the ingredients and nutritional info. Look for short ingredient lists that consist only of things you can pronounce. Look for low sodium and fat contents. And of course looks for flavors you know you'll enjoy and fair prices on the things you want to buy. Favorite healthy convenience foods I've discovered so far in no particular order. Seapoint Farms Edammame. Dry roasted soy beans are the snack that kicks all other snacks to the curb. Full of protein, a complete amino profile and lots of iron. They crunch like nuts, but have very little fat. They satisfy better than chips. They taste great, especially the wasabi flavor if you like heat. The small package is a fooler. A handful at a time is all it takes. There is at least a weeks worth of snacking inside that little pouch. Near East rice and couscous m

Grocery Shopping Veggie Style

Most people assume vegetarian and vegan diets cost more. Not true. They can actually save you a heap of money. There are the obvious savings of not buying meat. That stuff's expensive. What most people don't realize is that they don't need fancy specialty foods to live well on a meat-free lifestyle. Beans are the biggie. They will be your staple food. They are full of protein, iron and other good for you things. A can of beans in the most expensive area: 99 cents. Tofu is also pretty cheap. $2.49-$3.00 for a 14 ounce package. Nearly a pound of tofu. You also don't need to eat as much tofu as you might meat. You can easily get 6 servings out of the one package. Meat-eaters and would-be vegetarians often fear B12 and iron deficiency. While it's true that B12 is not available from any plant sources currently known to man, it is added to many meat-free foods. Soy milk is an obvious choice. You free yourself from a dairy dependency and gain B12 in one simple st

Store Brands Vs Premium From a Veggie Point of View

An unbiased analysis of store brands vs. premium on common vegan and vegetarian foods. My mother is a brand snob. She wants the glass plus to clean her kitchen table. She wants planters nuts and Nabisco's Oreo cookies. In some cases the 'real' brand actually is superior. In others, not so much. Almonds. I've had blue diamond almonds. Raw, roasted, sea salted, almond milk. I've had a and p's America's choice almonds. I've had CVS pharmacy smoked almonds. The blue diamond do have a slightly fresher flavor. The sea salt dry roasted are really great. The CVS smoked are almost as good. The flavor is great. They are very crunchy. The smoke flavor is quite evident and tasty in my opinion. I just wish they came in lightly salted. And was a little annoyed that most of their almond flavors show milk as an ingredient. Even though I still eat milk, it's saddening when something as simple as an almond is perverted with unnecessary animal sourced ingredients.

Vegetarian Chili Mac and Cheese

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I have a great fondness for Hormel canned vegetarian chili. Not only is it actually vegan, it tastes really good. I like to enhance it a bit, but they are all very simple additions. But what's even better than just the enhanced chili is when I combine it with some Annie's vegetarian boxed macaroni and cheese. They are a truly delicious culinary coupling if ever there was one. Annie's Mac and Cheese box is available in most major supermarkets and competitively priced against that other famous not vegetarian brand. If you can't find it there I got a dozen boxes on Amazon for $1.17 per box. Not bad at all. I just make that according to the direction. I like to blanch some frozen broccoli/cauliflower mix in with the cooking pasta for about 30 seconds. Then drain. Make cheese mix and then I add some frozen peas. Mix a little more, cover and let sit for 2 minutes. How I prepare the Hormel canned vegetarian chili is detailed here. I also had some left over Roasted P

Easy Baked Potato Chips (Vegan)

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These crispy potato chips are simple and extra crunchy. They only have one ingredient. Potatoes. I like to put a little salt and pepper on them, but that's optional. This recipe does require a mandolin. Without one you'll never get thin enough and even slices. Even if you could it'd probably take all day. But if you have a mandolin this is a great use for it. Wash potatoes. I like to leave the skin on. It tastes great and is full of nutrition. Spray baking sheets or cookie sheets generously with nonstick spray. Potatoes will stick badly if you're not liberal with the spray. One large potato with fill up one standard sheet pan with one layer of slices. You can go with a two layer approach, but if you do, you'll need to remove the bottom layer after 20 minutes and then continue cooking the upper layer for 10 minutes longer. Alternatively you could work in batches. One layer at a time, but then refill the sheet pan with a new layer and return to the oven. Preheat

The Cookie Confusion

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I was in the A & P this afternoon and came upon a curious thing. There was a box of what looked like really delicious peanut butter cookies and the price sign indicated they were $6.49. They looked really yummy, but not that freaking good. Six and a half dollars for cookies?! That makes gasoline look cheap for goodness sake. Upon further inspection I learned that the box did not actually contain any cookies at all. It was in fact, a cookie mix $6.49 and you still want me to spend more adding an egg (egg substitute in my case) and oil and mixing and plopping and baking. Seriously? Now gas seems like it's almost free by comparison. Perhaps that was the plan all along. To trick us into thinking we're not paying waaay tooo muuuch for gas after we see this undone package of cookie mix for six and a half dollars. If so, kudos, your plan was a complete success. The funniest thing about this overpriced cookie mix was what was on the back. It had a prominent circular graphic th

Baked Ziti - Layered or Mixed?

The other day I was having a discussion with my mother about ways to prepared baked ziti. What I like about the dish is that it's the kind of meal that vegetarians and meat eaters can easily share. Even folks who eat meat love baked ziti without any meat in it. My brother and I both make totally different kinds of baked ziti. He's more old school. With the layering in a long flat pan. First noodles. Then combine with sauce. Then top with ricotta and mozzarella. Very good. Classic application. I'm more progressive. First I like to add a green, like spinach to the ricotta. If I have the time I like to saute the spinach with slice garlic before letting it chill and then mixing it with the ricotta cheese. I like to assemble the ziit in a more square high sides pot. First I stir together the tomato sauce and pasta. Then I stir in the ricotta and spinach mix. All this stirring creates a creamy tomato sauce flecked with garlicly sauteed spinach. Then I add lots of grated mozza

Fruit and Milk Synchronicity

I found out the strangest thing about myself, food wise. It all relates to when I first went vegetarian. I actually started out trying to be vegan. I was good at it for a while. But after a few months I developed this weird ear problem. It would swell up. I didn't know why. But eventually I went back to milk and the problem was fixed. So I figured maybe I was defective and needed milk. I've recently and quite accidentally learned more about the issue. I've been drinking almond milk exclusively for a good solid 3 months now. With the weather starting to get warmer there was cantaloupe on sale and I got one. When I ate that old ear problem from back in the day returned. I was stunned. Hadn't had that problem in so long. I figured I was cured. Not so. The cantaloupe made my ear go crazy. First ringing as it was slowly closing up and then a marked impairment in my hearing. It's really quite annoying. That's when it occur ed to me that along with not having had m

Vegan Smart Dog and Saffron Rice Sandwich

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Here's a bizarre little sandwich both vegans and vegetarians can enjoy. It uses lightlife smart dogs and carolina saffron rice and some sabra hummus. It's a little unusual to say the least, but tastes pretty great. I made this sandwich the next day after I'd made the carolina saffron rice. So it was all nice and chilled. I augmented the rice mix with chopped frozen kale and some colorful bell peppers. I made a lightlife dog in the microwave and then cut it into small slices. On a sesame seed roll I assembled my sandwich. Both sides of the bun lathered with delicious garlicy hummus. Then the dog slices. Then piled high with the chilled rice/pepper/kale mix. The lightlife dogs gave it that meaty texture. The hummus imbued it with that creamy mayonnaise feel. The rice was sweet and spicy. The bell peppers crunchy. The kale chewy. It truly was a well rounded sandwich. It had all the elements a good sandwich requires. Texture. Freshness. Richness. Spice. Crunch. A little s

Tuscan Style Baked Ziti (Vegetarian)

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This a simple and delicious dinner that's sure to be a hit. It's full of gooey cheese and what vegetarian doesn't love warm, ooey, gooey cheese.The addition of spinach and ricotta makes it tuscan style and move filling and nutritious. Ingredients 1 16 ounce box ziti or similar shape pasta 1 24 ounce jar tomato pasta sauce 8 ounces ricotta cheese 8 ounces shredded mozzarella 8 ounces frozen chopped spinach Cook pasta to al dente as per package instructions. Drain and set aside. Preheat your oven 350 degree F. In a large bowl stir to evenly combine the spinach and ricotta. Add cooked pasta to a large/deep baking dish (such as a casserole pot, dutch oven or dispoable foil lasagna pan). Pour tomato sauce over pasta and stir to coat all pasta in the sauce. Add spinach/ricotta mix to pasta pot and stir again gently until everything is evenly combined. Finish by adding your grated mozzarella and stirring again until nicely distributed. Cover and bake for 40 minut

Nutritional Yeast Flakes

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Nutritional yeast flakes are something every vegetarian and vegan need to know about. They are a source of complete protein. They are fortified with the elusive B12 vitamin amongst many other vitamins and minerals that do bodies good. Most vegetarians and vegan are well aware of the power of the yeast flakes. They need to be. Diets that eschew meat and or animals products need nutritional yeast to fill in those gaps. The last time I went to buy some the cashier asked me how I used it. To which I replied that I sprinkle it on top of things like cheese. She was quite enthused with my answer. She agreed that that was how it was meant to be used. Although she noted that she was vegan and did not actually eat cheese. Which made me a little jealous cause I wish to be vegan but am weak when it comes to cheese. Cheese is just so good. She said her friends mix it with water or milk and make shakes which she thought was disgusting and I agreed wholeheartedly. Yuck. I once tried adding my y

Montreal Mashed Potatoes and Chili

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Mashed potatoes and chili are a great combination. This recipe uses instant mashed potato flakes and almond milk along with Hormel vegetarian chili to create an enticing duality. To make the mashed potaotes I bring to a a boil 2 1/2 cups water, 1 tbl margarine and a pinch of salt. This will make about 2 1/2 cups of mashed potatoes. When that boils I remove it from the heat and add 1/2 cup almond milk, 2 teaspons McCormick Montreal Chicken Seasoning (it's just spices, there's no chicken in it), a few turns of fresh ground black pepper and roughly 2 cups potato flakes. I add the potato flakes gradually until I get the consistency I prefer. My chili is just the Hormel vegetarian canned chili slightly modified. First I make 1 cup white rice, augmenting it with 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds. When the rice is done cooking I add the can of chili to it, 1/2 cup frozen broccoli, 1/4 cup white vinegar, and 1 teaspoon more of cumin seed. I let that cook for about 3 minutes and then

Roasted Potatoes & Broccoli with Garlic

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This an easy and healthy side dish that requires very little effort. I absolutely love potatoes. In any form. Roasted potatoes. Baked potatoes. French fried potatoes. Potato chips. Mashed potatoes. I cannot ever get too many potatoes. It must be the 1/4 Irish in me. But roasted potatoes are far and away my most favorite style of potato of all the rest. The trick to great roasted potatoes is to cook them hot and fast. None of that 350 degree bullshit. Set your oven for 425 F and let it come to temp. Ingredients 2 1/2 lbs russet potatoes 8 ounces of frozen broccoli 10 cloves garlic olive oil salt, pepper and rosemary to season Wash potatoes and cut into relatively even 1/2 inch chunks. Leave the skin on. It's the best part. Spray two sheet pans with non-stick cooking spray and arrange cut potatoes even in one layer on them. Add about 1/2 teaspoon olive oil to each sheet pan. Toss potatoes to coat evenly with the oil. Dust with salt, pepper and rosemary. Cook potatoe