A New York lawyer's adventures with animal-free eating
So, I finally made it over to the co-op to pick up some more Larabars.
Today I tried the Peanut Butter & Jelly Larabar. While I didn’t love it as much at the Coconut Cream Larabar, it was still pretty solid. It tasted a bit like a peanut butter cookie, which is always a good thing, trust… I wasn’t a huge fan of the jelly flavor (it’s actually cherries), but again, it certainly wasn’t bad (and I’m a strawberry jam kinda girl). This bar is made from dates, peanuts, and unsweetened cherries. Fiber, protein, gluten free and vegan!!
These bars seem to be light years ahead of other bars!!
Verdict: Really liked it. I need to get over to the co-op soon, because I’m running out of these bars!!! I especially love that they are gluten free and vegan, which makes things oh so easy for me. These bars are perfect for when I’m going out but have no idea if there will be anything I can eat… which happens kinda often, really.
I’ve used these to make everything from nachos to butter curry “chicken” to “chicken” parm, etc. Basically anything that you would use chicken for, you can use this for with great results. I LOVE Gardein’s Chick’n Scallopini. Like most similar fake meat products, these little chicken breasts soak up sauces very well for some truly fabulous flavorful dishes. Even non-veg people agree that the taste and texture is quite similar to actual meat.
Verdict: I use these all the time and will continue to do so. I recommend these to others regularly.
I’m constantly on the lookout for vegan frozen lunches, just because they’re so much more convenient (and usually cheaper) than other options. I recently tried Tabatchnick Barley & Mushroom Soup and was a big fan.
The package has 2 frozen pouches in it, but I found that I needed to eat both to get a decent meal. When combined with some bread, it was great! Good flavor, pretty hearty… what’s not to like?
Verdict: I’ll definitely get this again.
So, you may know that I have many (questionable) talents… But did you know I make vegan sushi? And by vegan sushi, I mean diaper sushi. It’s an uber-cute, pregnant-lady-friendly form of sushi! This is actually a pretty easy, quick project, and it’s a big hit at showers.
When it’s really cold out and you’ve been shoveling several feet of snow out of your driveway (I live in New York and I’m from Maine), there’s nothing better to come inside to than steaming hot cocoa. Unfortunately, for vegans, hot cocoa can mean a drawn out process. But I don’t like to wait. So, here is an instant hot cocoa mix that you can make in any amount you want or need and take with you to work or camping or just back outside with you, because you know the plow just went by and ruined all of your hard work…
Instant Hot Cocoa Mix
2 parts powdered soymilk
1 part cocoa powder
1 part granulated sugar
Mix ingredients thoroughly and store in a tightly lidded container.
To prepare, add 8-10 oz hot water to 3-4 tbsp. mix, and stir to combine. If you like more vanilla flavor, add 1/8 tsp. vanilla extract.
So this is what happens when you try to use something for the first time on Christmas… I didn’t bother getting more lasagna noodles for our Christmas lasagna because I already had a package of Tinkyada gluten free lasagna noodles at home. Mistake. At approximately 10:30 pm on Christmas Eve, all of those noodles spontaneously shredded themselves when I drained them. I’m sure I screwed them up somehow, because Tinkyada gluten free noodles are the best I’ve had (and I’ve had lots).
Anyway, not having had the foresight to buy extra packages of lasagna noodles, I was stuck with what was in my pantry, since the stores had closed 5 hours prior… So I decided to just go ahead with it anyway, using penne instead of the lasagna noodles, and calling it a casserole.
Vegan Lasagna Casserole
1 medium onion, diced
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 bag beefy crumbles (I use Boca brand)
1 22 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
3 tbsp chopped basil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 package penne pasta (or your preferred pasta)
2 packages firm silken tofu
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tbsp fresh basil
3 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp nutritional yeast (or to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 1/2 blocks of vegan mozzarella cheese (I use a combo of Rice Vegan and Vegan Gourmet)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
In a large saucepan, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add the beefy crumbles and cook until lightly browned and warmed through.
Add the tomatoes, paste, basil, parsley, salt and pepper to the saucepan. Stir well, turn the heat to low and simmer for up to an hour. While the sauce is cooking, boil the pasta, then drain and rinse.
For the ricotta mixture, mash the tofu blocks in a large bowl. Add the garlic, basil, parsley, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, and combine.
To assemble the casserole – Spread some sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch casserole pan (or 2 9×9 inch brownie pans). Arrange a layer of pasta.
Spoon some of the tofu mixture over the noodles, then sprinkle a layer of cheese.
Repeat the assembly instructions, ending with spreading the sauce over everything and topping it with cheese.
Cover the pan with foil and bake the lasagna for approx. 45 minutes. You can remove the foil for 5-10 minutes at the end if you’d like to melt/brown the cheese more.
Sometimes you just want to eat something that reminds you of being a kid. Gardein’s Crispy Tenders are perfect for those times.
These little guys are pretty good. Not fabulous, but solidly good. Much like their meat counterparts, you’re like “I wonder what’s in these…” But because Gardein products are vegan, you don’t have to worry much. These are super easy to prepare – just pop them in the oven or toaster oven for a bit, then they’re ready to go. They’re excellent for dipping into prepared sauces, or for covering with buffalo sauce and using in a sandwich… whatever you like.
Verdict: I get these pretty regularly.
I ran across Aunt Trudy’s Vegan Mushroom & Leek Fillo Pocket a couple of weeks ago at my local Hannaford. It’s always exciting to me when I find something vegan for lunches, so I picked up several of them.
I must admit, I was excited to try this sandwich for dinner – I love leeks and mushrooms, and the picture on the package made it look fabulous. Unfortunately, that was not at all how it turned out… It pretty much looked like a big sloppy mess. The fillo dough practically disintegrated, and the inside was dark green/brown mush.
It was unappetizing enough that I almost didn’t eat it after all. But I decided to at least try it. Which was a mistake. It was not good. It wasn’t horrible, but it was barely acceptable. And I have really low standards for food. I eat everything! Needless to say, I had a few bites, then stopped.
All was not lost, however. I had some fabulous Haagen Daaz mango sorbet in the freezer, so I had that for dinner.
Verdict: Meh. I wouldn’t try this variety again.
As you may know, I❤ Indian food, especially Aloo Mutter. I may (aka, definitely did) have referred to the eating experience as orgasmic. Yum.
Anyway, anytime I see a vegan Indian product I haven’t seen before, I grab it. Recently, I tried Kohinoor Awadhi Aloo Mutter and Pillsbury Ready to Puff Roti – the Roti I found at an Indian market in Ozone Park, Queens.
The Aloo Mutter was really good. A touch hot, excellent spices. I could’ve used a little more sauce, but this was an excellent (and super fast) dish.
As for the Roti… Apparently there are a lot of reviews for Pillsbury Roti online, saying that they only puff up partially. Well, I didn’t know that, and I thought I was just being dumb. Oh well.
All of those reviews were right – the roti only puffed up a little bit. It was fun to do it, though, and the flavor was pretty good!
Verdict: I would definitely get the Aloo Mutter again. The Roti was fun for the novelty factor, but I’ll make my own…
Who doesn’t love a s’more? For me, they bring back memories of Girl Scout camp. And Barbie doll roasts in the backyard. That was my brother, not me. If you’ve never seen a Barbie roast, it’s a sight to behold. Because she’s so top-heavy, once her abdomen gets too thin, she just topples over and kisses her feet as she burns. And when my brother and his friends ran out of Barbies, they started on our My Little Ponys. Bastards.
Anyway. Sweet & Sara sent me some of their products to try recently, for which I am very grateful! I’ll be addressing the different kinds of (wonderful) marshmallows they have another day. But today, I want to talk about their s’more.
The s’more is good sized – about the size of my palm. It’s covered with a fairly thin dark chocolate shell. There’s a sizeable chunk of really excellent vanilla flavored marshmallow. Then the base of the s’more is a graham cracker like cookie. Overall, I liked the s’more. My only problem with it was that the cookie was a little too thick – it was kinda hard to bite through. The flavor of the cookie was alright, if somewhat bland. I’m not a huge graham cracker person anyway, though, so it’s probably just me…
Verdict: I would get these again!
Sorry I’ve been gone for the last couple of weeks! My husband’s brother has been here from Panama, and with the holiday and everything, things just got away from me. So I was definitely a Vegan MoFo fail. Oh well. Must get back on track now.
It’s officially fricking freezing out in New York. We’ve had our first snow, and Ed and I just decorated for Christmas. We even decorated outside, which we didn’t bother to do last year (our first year in the house). And when it’s this cold out, I just want things like chili, stew, and shepherd’s pie. Thus, this:
Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
6-8 medium potatoes
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 package burger crumbles (or cut up hamburgers)
Gravy packet (or broth)
2 cups mixed vegetables (I use the frozen kind with peas, green beans, corn, carrots, etc)
1/2 tsp. herbs de provence
1/4 cup milk (I use soy creamer – unflavored)
1/4 cup cream cheese or sour cream (I like Tofutti)
Chives to taste
Paprika to taste
Cayenne to taste
Cut up the potatoes, then boil until you can pierce them with a fork. Drain and set aside.
Saute the minced garlic and diced onions in olive oil. Add in the beefy stuff and brown it/cook it until it’s not frozen anymore. There are 2 options for the gravy part – you can put in a can of “beef” broth or vegan french onion soup, then add about a cup of water. Or, you can use one of those gravy packets (I use Road’s End Organic Shitake Mushroom gravy) and follow the directions, then add another cup of water. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Then add the mixed veggies and bring back to a simmer.
Add the herbs de provence. If you used the gravy packet, the mixture should be thick enough. If you went the broth/soup route, mix 2 tbsp cornstarch with 1/4 water in a small container and shake it up. Then add that mixture to the meat/broth/veggie mixture. Once it’s thickened, pour the mixture into a 9×9 or 9×13 pan.
Put the potatoes in a mixer (or use a hand mixer) with the milk/creamer, cream cheese/sour cream, and chives, and mix until creamy. Then, spread the potato mixture over the meat/veggie mixture with a spatula. Sprinkle paprika over the top – not a ton, just to give it some color. If you like a little heat, shake some cayenne on top too. Put a couple of small pieces of vegan butter on top of the potatoes. Bake at 350 for about 25 mins.
As you know, I loves me some yogurt. Mmmm. Anyway, I saw that my regular grocery store had some So Delicious yogurt, so I grabbed some.
It was alright. It was really really thin, which is weird for a yogurt, but not super unusual for a vegan yogurt. However, it’s much thinner than the Soy Live! yogurt I tried a couple of weeks ago. The taste was fine. It was vanilla. Not my favorite, but that’s what was in stock. I didn’t really taste any coconut flavor coming through like you can with this brand’s fabulous ice creams.
Verdict: I might get it again, if I was in a yogurt mood and the store I was in didn’t have any other kind (aka, my regular grocery store).
I LOVE pulled pork. Like Aloo Mutter, this is one of my orgasmic foods. I used to go to BBQ competitions solely to taste as much pulled pork as I could. Ahem. That doesn’t really happen anymore. At all. Yes, I was a very active meat eater previously. I am ashamed. Let’s move on.
I got this basic recipe here, then embellished it to suit my own tastes. You can find jackfruit at almost any Asian food store. And yes, it does feel like meat. I actually checked a few times while I was shredding because the texture was close to meat. You know, just in case they accidentally threw some meat in there with the fruit…
Vegan Pulled Pork
4 cans of young/green jackfruit
3 tsp. minced garlic (approximately 3 cloves)
2 green onions, chopped
1 cup white wine (whatever brand you prefer)
1/2 bottle barbecue sauce (whatever brand/type you prefer – I used Hannaford Sweet and Zesty)
crushed red pepper, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
This is jackfruit. In cans.
This is jackfruit. Not in a can. Rinse the jackfruit to remove the salty brine, then let drain. Jackfruit is weird looking. And weird feeling. And just generally weird. It has these balls in it (seeds?) that are meaty-like as well, so you can squish them up, but when they are wet, they are slippery little bastards. Just sayin’. #thesesuckerswereallovermykitchen (Also, yes, that is a Disney Princesses plate in the background. No, we do not have children. Sookie likes to eat in style.)
Anyway, shred the jackfruit however you like. I just used my hands, but some people use a potato masher or whatever. Don’t go crazy — it’s supposed to look like pulled pork, not pudding.
Put the jackfruit in your crockpot, then add the garlic, green onions, wine, barbecue sauce and seasonings.
Cook on high for 4 hours (or low for 8 hours).
Serve with barbecue-type things like vegetarian baked beans and vegan coleslaw. I totally ate it on a roll. And by “on a roll,” I mean in traditional pulled pork style, with it falling down your chin onto your shirt. Sigh.
This makes quite a bit and stores and freezes well. The texture is not quite like meat, but it’s kinda close. And the flavor is really good. Yay!
I love cabbage. Pretty much any incarnation of cabbage is good for me (except stuffed cabbage, blech), but I really like it raw. Accordingly, I love coleslaw. I can make this shizz into a meal (literally, I have). And for whatever reason, a couple of years ago, I started putting caraway seed into my coleslaw. I love rye bread too. Maybe I just wanted to combine some of my (random, unrelated) loves? No idea.
1 bag of pre-shredded cabbage (or 1 head of cabbage, cut into small pieces)
1/2 cup Vegenaise (or any vegan mayo)
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. milk
1 tbsp. caraway seed
1 shake celery salt (don’t go crazy, this stuff is really salty)
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all of the non-cabbage ingredients together, then pour the mixture on top of the cabbage and stir to combine.
Then serve with wonderful other things, like vegan pulled pork!
Okay, I know I’m weird, but I have a confession to make. I don’t really like tofu. Meh. It’s not so much for me.
Don’t get me wrong, it certainly has its place in my life — I use silken tofu in a lot of baking, cheesecakes, etc. And baked tofu is okay sometimes, in very small quantities. But I don’t love tofu. Far from it. Sadly, this makes me think I am a bad vegan. Tofu is one of the first things people think of when you say vegetarian or vegan, and I kinda feel like I’m letting them down when I point out that I don’t really eat tofu… ah well. They can just suck it. They were probably just going to mock me about tofu anyway.
His name is Ed. Dukes, if you are one of his old drinking buddies. Honeybun, if you are me.
He is the most wonderful man I’ve ever met. Literally. I’m not just saying that because he’s mine. He is interesting and intelligent. He takes such good care of our (fur) babies. He almost never complains, though he ends up doing most of the housework because I am a lazy slug and a horrible housewife. He singlehandedly made me more liberal than I already was (which I love). He comes up with ridiculously awesome ideas for a (secret) blog I work for, much to the delight of my fellow bloggers. He eats my tofu and tolerates (and supports) my sudden passions for knitting, or pianos, or Twitter, or blogging, or running…
I certainly don’t deserve him. He is a better person than me by far.
We’ve been together for going on 10 years. And we’ve been married for 3 years today.
He complements me well. I’m so full of passion and rage and righteous indignation and ridiculousness, wanting to do anything and everything all at once and RIGHT NOW. Ed is my calm. He brings me back to earth.
“What I need to survive is not Gale’s fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that.” — Suzanne Collins
I LOVE me some Aloo Matar. It’s one of those foods that I refer to as ORGASMIC. And it’s usually made with just a bit of cream in the sauce though, so it needs to be veganized. Here, I took the easy way out and bought a jar of Patak’s Mild Curry Paste, which is awesome. It cut my prep time and ingredient list drastically, which I love. Actually, I love pretty much anything by Patak’s… They’re awesome.
1/2 onion, sliced
2 large potatoes, chopped into cubes and boiled
1 1/2 cup peas (I used frozen)
4 tbsp. Patak’s Mild Curry Paste with Cilantro and Cumin (or similar)
3/4 cup water
1 can diced tomatoes with liquid
salt and pepper
Saute the onions in some olive oil until tender. Add the potatoes and peas.
Mix the Patak’s paste with the water, then add this mixture to the pan. Cover the pan and cook until the peas are tender, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then enjoy!
When it’s cold and rainy like it is today, I just want soup with some nice crusty bread. This is a soup that I found here and adapted to my tastes. I actually made only a half size of this, which worked out just fine, since my husband doesn’t eat kale.
Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup
2 tbsp. olive oil
6 tsp. minced garlic (approximately 6 cloves)
2 tsp. oregano
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 quarts vegetable stock or water
1 bunch kale, ribs removed, chopped
Salt and pepper
Saute the garlic and oregano in the olive oil for approximately a minute. Add the tomato paste and vinegar, and cook for another minute. Add the beans and vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Add the kale and simmer, partially covered, for approximately 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.