The Convenient Vegan: My 5 Favorite “Easy” #Vegan Foods

Mofo Graphic_squareBy convenient vegan I do not mean following a plant based diet when it is easy or convenient to do. No, I want to highlight a few of my favorite vegan convenience foods that can actually assist with the transition to a plant based diet, or help those who want to join Meatless Monday, eat a little less meat, or (like my son next week) have family coming for dinner and want to surprise them with your no-meat cooking skills.

Many times in the regular food world, convenience foods are prepared meals that tend to be high in sugar, salt, and have a lot of additives that would not be considered healthy. And it’s true that many of the prepared vegan meals can have some of the same problems. However, the foods that I’m highlighting today are less processed, have fewer ingredients, and are high in overall quality.

While some vegans, especially those who have been following a plant based diet for a long time, tend to eschew meat substitutes altogether, I think that they have merit, not only for transition, but for anyone who is short on time or simply wants the flavor of meat without the killing the animals part.

Gardein

While Gardein in general has a variety of delicious meat substitutes (see my Chick’n Piccata), from beefless beef, to chickenless chicken, and even fishless fish, the highlight tonight is the Chick’n Sliders. After adding some favorite toppings like onion, tomato and avocado, serving with some baked sweet potato fries, you’ve got a great, easy meal that even kids will love.

gardein(The reason you’re seeing the box instead of the actual sliders is that when I went to prepare dinner, I discover that I was out of avocado and mustard. One I could do without, but both? No way. So, leftovers for tonight, sliders, with avocado and mustard, tomorrow.)

Beyond Meat

Beyond Meat is a newer addition to the vegan meat options, and a long awaited one. In addition to being plant based and Non GMO, it is also gluten free, bringing vegan convenience to a wide range of people who avoid gluten. Their Beef-free crumbles are soy free too! The best part is, they are delicious, and easy to add to any meal to give it a little flavor and texture. Check out my Peachy Quinoa Salad made with Beyond Meat! (Click here to save $1 on Beyond Meat!)

Peachy Quinoa 3

Daiya

Confession: When I was at the IDEA World Expo, I spent a lot of time at the Daiya booth. After all they were handing out free (vegan) pizza! As the only vegan option within a few miles of the Anaheim Convention Center, it was only natural that I’d be drawn to the Daiya booth. First known as the company that made great meltable vegan cheese shreds, Daiya now has a variety of prepared and convenience food, from several varieties of pizza, delicious cream “cheese,” and both chunk and spreadable vegan cheeses. Not only are they all dairy free, they are soy and gluten free as well.

Daiya

Sweet Earth Seitan

I love the meaty texture and versatile uses of seitan. While preparing your own seitan is really not too difficult, I have always preferred the taste of some of the pre-made versions available. What I really like about Sweet Earth Seitan is that it contains the same ingredients that I would use if I made it at home: wheat gluten, soy sauce, and seasonings (see the picture below).

Sweet Earth Seitan

Follow Your Heart

I usually make my own salad dressing, but as a former ranch dressing lover sometimes I want a little creamy goodness. Follow Your Heart not only makes the best vegan mayonnaise, Vegenaise, they also make my favorite salad dressing, vegan Creamy Garlic. They have a vegan ranch too, but I’ve never seen it available in my local stores. Other Follow Your Heart products include the new vegan shreds (haven’t tried them yet, but I’m looking forward to it!) and vegan cream “cheese.”  They have a variety of products that are gluten and soy free too, so be sure to check out their website for more information.

Follow your heart

When I first became a vegetarian, over seven years ago, and even four years ago when I went completely vegan, it was a challenge to find some of these products, especially out here in the desert. Now, I’m happy to say, even my local Vons carries Beyond Meat, Daiya, and Gardein, and while I still have to travel a little to find Sweet Earth Seitan or Follow Your Heart, it is a lot easier than it used to be. Go Vegan!

Instagram of the Day: Cross Country Practice in 109 temperatures. Follow me!

Do you have a favorite convenience food, vegan or not? Would you run in 109 temps? Do you prefer exercising in hot or cold weather?

Two Vegan Recipes: Spicy Lime Soup & (another) Tofu Scramble + the #Therafit Winner!

Fun stuff first. I happy to announce that the winner of the Therafit Shoes is…..Tina! Congratulations, Tina. You’re going to love your new shoes. The contest may be over, but you can still read my review and get your discount code here.

Therafit

Finding balance in Therafit.

I (frequently) say that I love a good tofu scramble. I hadn’t made one in a while, I think because in my mind I think of it as a breakfast dish and I rarely have time to spend on breakfast prep of anything more complex than oatmeal or a smoothie (and even that’s pushing it).

But, I was at Clark’s the other day, picking up a few items that are hard to find here in the desert (like seitan, Daiya wedges, and vegan prepared food, just to name a few things), when a package of Soyrizo caught my eye. I had a plan.

On a side note, I got a kick out of the very young lady that checked me out. Gazing at my packages of seitan, Soyrizo, tofu, plus a bunch of kale, a bag of quinoa, and a few other things, she asked if I was vegan. Stifling my inner smart-ass, I said yes. She told me that she was vegan as well and was happy to see more vegans. I think she would have liked to say “older vegans,” but I agreed with her, because I’m happy to see more vegans too, young or old(er).

Tofu Scramble. Vegan

Ingredients

1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
pepper
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1 Serrano chile, seeded and minced
1 med potato, cooked and chopped
1/2 package Soyrizo
1/2 avocado, sliced
1/2 cup vegan cheese (optional)

vegan

Originally posted (with a few changes) here.

Directions

Pat tofu dry. In a medium bowl, use a fork to break up the tofu until it has a texture similar to scrambled eggs. Add turmeric, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.

Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and chiles and cook until soft, about two minutes. Add potatoes and cook until slightly browned. Move vegetables to the outside of the pan and add the Soyrizo and cook until heated through. Add the tofu mixture and stir, blending the tofu, Soyrizo, and vegetables. Cook until heated through.

Serve with vegan cheese, avocado, salsa, and toast or tortillas if you like.

Tofu Scramble2

Last week, while I was training my awesome 82 year old client (she still plays and takes tennis lessons a couple times a week!), she told me that she was making a big pot of soup for dinner. With cooling weather finally here in the desert (in the 70s at least), soup sounded pretty good, so I was inspired to make my own.

If you are looking for a traditional recipe for Yucatan Sopa de Lima, you will not find it here. Sorry. But, this easy vegan soup is still delicious, spicy, and warming, and I think you will enjoy it.

vegan

Spicy Chick’n & Lime Soup. Vegan

Ingredients

6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup lime juice
1 package Gardein chick’n strips
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup salsa
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Serrano chiles, seeded and minced
1 lime
cilantro
avocado
tortillas (corn or flour, your preference)
salsa
vegan cheese (I used Daiya)

vegan

Directions

Combine broth, lime juice, chick’n, potatoes, carrots, cumin, salt and pepper in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer.

Preheat the oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and chiles. Cook until soft, then add to the simmering soup.

Cook soup on low for about 15 minutes, until potatoes and carrots are slightly tender. Add the salsa, beans and the zucchini, and cook for a few minutes more to heat the beans and cook the zucchini.

Garnish with limes, cilantro, avocado, and serve with tortillas, salsa, and vegan cheese.

Well, 11 more days until Christmas. I’ll be spending my weekend with shopping, decorating, cleaning, etc. What will you be up to?

 

#Vegan Product Review: Daiya Havarti

As most vegans know, one of the hardest things for people on the vegan path is to give up cheese. For many people, when they hear that I follow a plant based diet, the second question they ask is, “but how did you give up cheese?” (The first question is always, “where do you get your protein?” Always.)

I understand. I was one of them. I loved cheese. I loved it on pizza, on quesadillas, on potatoes. Hot, melty, delicious cheese. Years ago, when Alan and I visited France, I discovered the joy of freshly baked bread with cheese. I loved cheese with crackers. Cheddar with apples. Nachos.

But, that was then. Now, I have made the choice to abstain from animal products and that obviously includes cheese. I assumed that it meant that I would never again enjoy the creamy smoothness of a good brie, or the buttery, nutty flavor of Havarti again. I was wrong.

Daiya, already well known (at least in my world) as the creators of cheddar, mozzarella, and pepper jack flavors of shredded “cheese” that tastes delicious and melts like the real thing, recently came out with new products designed to satisfy the cheese urges of vegans everywhere. Daiya Wedges come in three flavors, cheddar, papper jack, and jalapeno garlic Havarti. I picked up a package of the Havarti the other day to give it a try.

Daiya cheeses have no whey, casein, or eggs, so they are vegan. They also have no soy, gluten, peanuts or other tree nuts, and they are produced in their own factory to eliminate the risk of cross-contamination with allergens. The shreds melt, stretch and taste just like real cheese. But what about the wedges?

I found the Daiya Havarti at Clark’s. While I was there I also bought some vegan crackers on which to try the cheese. I was a little excited, so in this first picture above, I was in my car, before cross country practice. That tided me over for a couple hours.

When I got home, I sliced a few radishes, sliced a little onion, and tossed in a little parsley and basil leaves. Oh, and I poured a glass of wine (in my Drink Pink glass, which, sadly, has since been broken).

The next night I had a brilliant idea. Dinner was leftover tempeh patties. What better than to melt a little Havarti on top?

My opinion of of Daiya Havarti? Frankly, I loved it. I felt like I was eating a “fancy” cheese for the first time in ages. It was flavorful, slight spicy with the jalepeno and garlic. The texture was creamy and, as you can see in the picture above, it melted beautifully.

My final thoughts? If you are vegan and occasionally have an urge for cheese, Daiya of any variety is a good option. If you are highly addicted to cheese, give this Havarti a try. It might surprise you.  I look forward to trying the other flavors of Daiya wedges.

Disclosure: There is no disclosure. I was not compensated or rewarded in any way for this review. These opinions are entirely my own. I just love Daiya cheese!