Saturday, January 21, 2012

Awesome Vegan Food Products I Like

Do you remember the first pair of sneakers you bought that molded to your feet and hardly felt like shoes at all?  You wore them long past the time you should have thrown them away.  Or maybe instead you have a favorite book, one that you return to over and over, simply because it speaks to you like no other book does.

When you find something you love, it's hard not to keep coming back to it.  I hope you finally found the will to toss the sneakers, but chances are you'll never pitch the book.  That's the way I feel about foods I've grown to love.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I'd much rather eat whole foods that I've prepared myself, but I'm also realistic.  Some days I just don't have time to prepare an entire meal from scratch.  Or maybe I can, but I don't want to also bake a loaf of bread from scratch every time I put together dinner.  There's something to be said for the age of convenience.

That doesn't mean, though, that all convenience foods are equal (you know exactly what I mean).  When I buy those types of foods today, I'm looking for products that are healthy, preferably organic, and vegan (of course!).  Here is a list of some of my favorite brands:

Alvarado Street Bakery breads:  Not all of their breads are vegan (some contain honey), but many are.  My local grocery store right now only carries their breads, but I hope they begin carrying some of their other products soon (like bagels and tortillas).  What I really like about their products is that many of their breads are made from sprouted seeds (like sprouted rye or sprouted wheat).  When you eat sprouted seeds rather than flour, your body digests it more easily.  They also don't use GMO (genetically modified) foods, and that is a huge plus for me.  Most of their products contain no dairy or eggs, so most of their goods are vegan.  YAY!  If you're curious, you can check out Alvarado St. yourself!

Amy's Kitchen products:  Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will find this entry as no surprise.  Not all of Amy's products are vegan, but a good many are.  More than that, though, Amy's prides itself for using natural and organic ingredients, and none of their ingredients are genetically modified.  Amy's makes frozen foods, canned foods (like soups), and other products.  Those products of Amy's that are not vegan are vegetarian.  Some of my favorite Amy's products include the Bean and Rice Non-dairy Burrito (I will never grow tired of these!), the Black Bean Vegetable Enchilada entree, and the No Chicken Noodle Soup.  And what would I do without their Roasted Vegetable Pizza?  They label their vegan products so you can find what you need without wondering.  Want to see their website yourself?  Amy's Kitchen.

Kashi:  Not all of their products are vegan, but like Amy's, they label the ones that are.  I have to admit it:  I love several of their frozen vegan entrees.  On nights where I feel like I just can't do another thing, it's nice to be able to pop one of their entrees in the microwave.  My faves include Black Bean Mango (so unusual but really good!), Mayan Harvest Bake (again, strange, but in a good way), and the Tuscan Veggie Bake (more traditional if your taste buds just want good old-fashioned comfort food).  You can check them out here:  Kashi.

Galaxy Nutritional Foods Rice Vegan American Flavor "Cheese" Slices:  Most vegans I know worship at the alter of Daiya.  Daiya's not bad, but it doesn't taste like cheese to me.  I don't know how to describe it, but my taste buds are not fooled for one second.  I still use their cheddar and mozzarella shreds, but I just can't embrace them as the vegan cheese.  I've tried lots of vegan cheeses, and few have satisfied that occasional craving I get.  That is, except one.  When I use Galaxy's rice vegan American slices in a sandwich, I can believe I'm eating a good ol' slice of American cheese.  I can't just have a grilled cheese sandwich, but if I have a veggie sandwich with a slice of rice vegan (or make a plate of nachos with refried beans, salsa, and rice vegan), I am happy!  I have to go out of town to buy this cheese, so I'm glad I don't eat it a lot, but I'm looking forward to the day when my local health food store carries Galaxy products.

Boca: I'd almost bet there isn't a vegetarian out there who hasn't heard of Boca (well, American veggies, at any rate).  I don't like all Boca products, but they do have a few I like.  If you buy Boca, you'll notice that they package their non-GMO soy products differently, and those are the ones I buy.  They are in brown packages, whereas their regular products are in red.  Sometimes, dang it, I want a burger and fries, and I don't care how unhealthy they are, but my burger still has to be vegan.  Some Boca products I love (all the non-GMO soy versions):  Vegan Meatless Burger, Original Chik'n Patties, Original Chik'n Nuggets, Spicy Chik'n Patties, and Ground Crumbles.  I don't know what I'd do if they didn't have non-GMO versions!  I used to love Morningstar Veggie Patties, but they use egg products (and probably GMO products as well), so I hope someday Morningstar jumps on the vegan, non-GMO soy bandwagon...but I'm not holding my breath.  Thank goodness Boca did!

505 Southwestern:  I'm a sucker for a good salsa.  Heck, I'm a salsa junkie.  There.  I admitted it, and I feel better now.  505 products aren't targeted toward vegan audiences, so I guess they're what PETA would call "accidentally vegan."  My favorite products are both of their medium salsas, regular and chunky.  I use them in and on so many foods.  Their products are all natural, and any products that has just a few ingredients is better than a food that has dozens!  For instance, that medium salsa I told you about?  Seven ingredients, and one of them is water!  So it's not an entire meal...but it can make any blah meal awesome!  Check out 505 yourself and see what you think.

As I complete this list, I realize I've left off some products that aren't registering with me right off the bat.  I think this list will give you a good idea, though, so next time you're too tired to whip up an entire meal from scratch, consider one of these products!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Slight Diversion

Happy holidays!  Some of you might know I am a published author elsewhere (poetry, fiction, and articles).  Anyway, I recently had a poem published in a print journal (The Final Note, Volume 3), and a couple of my friends asked to see it.  So here it is.  If you're not here for poetry, please feel free to skip this post.  :)  Also, just a quick disclaimer--I am a notorious rewriter, and this version is slightly altered from the published version (but I like this one much better!)

Cindy Jones-Shoeman

I have two bags.

One is full of regrets, like
the time I chided my mother, telling
her the email she sent me was
racist, or that time in high school when
that cute boy I had a crush
on put his arm around
me and I just stood there

The other is a lot bigger.  It’s
full of guilt, guilt for not sitting on
the floor longer with my daughter, playing
that boring building game; for not
visiting my grandma more often that last
summer, newborn in tow or not; for things said
and unsaid, done and not done, for glares and
sighs, for coldness and anger.

At various mile markers, I stop and
look through the bags, pulling out a few
items while realizing they’re fuller than last
time.  They get heavy.  Once in a while, I
set them by the side of the road, done with
them once and for all, but just a few yards
away, I run back for them.

I guess I’ll never know who I could
be without my luggage.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Soup Recipes

This weekend I couldn't help myself.  I went to the store and bought more vegetables than usual.  But the broccoli and the butternut squash just looked sooo good.  I couldn't help myself.  And fall is in full swing too, so I thought I'd go ahead and try perfecting some soup recipes.  Well, this time I was able to do it!  Here are two soup recipes I'm proud to share with you.  I hope you enjoy them.  The flavors really come through, and there's nothing wimpy about them!

Butternut Squash Soup

2 medium butternut squash, peeled and seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 Tbsp Earth Balance margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste


Melt Earth Balance in large pot.  Add onion and cook until translucent.  Add vegetable broth and squash.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.  Remove squash with a slotted spoon and place in food processor.  Puree until squash is smooth.  Add back to pot of broth and stir until blended well.  Add salt and pepper.

All three of my sons really liked this one and even came back for seconds and thirds:

Cream of Broccoli Soup

6 Tbsp Earth Balance margarine, divided
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
2 large bunches of broccoli, chopped into florets
3 Tbsp white whole wheat flour
1 pint Silk creamer

Melt half the Earth Balance in large pot.  Saute onion and celery until tender.  Add broccoli and broth.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.  Pour the soup into a food processor.  Blend the mixture until it is smooth.  Then in the original pot melt the remaining margarine.  Once it’s melted, stir in the flour, then add the creamer.  Stir until it gets thick, and then add the blended soup and stir until blended well.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Huge Inspiration! over the last few weeks, many of us vegheads have watched Forks over Knives (which I recommend).  It's inspired many of my old friends (no, they're not old--I've just known them a long time!!) to convert to veganism or close.  That is AWESOME!  So, in spite of computer problems throughout the summer and then lack of inspiration, I'm inspired again.  I'll finish my 52-week project; it'll just be a little delayed.  :)  I know I still have some readers out there who haven't given up on me.  Thanks!

Update on the garden:  It's been okay, but I'm still building up the soil to be self-sustaining.  I now have two humongous compost piles, and they'll be part of the garden next year.  So my fingers are crossed.

So stick around.  I'm back!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Vegan Menu for Week Thirty-Two

Again, I'm delayed and I'm so sorry.  Still dealing with the consequences of some massive viruses on our computer.  My resourceful hubby cleared up the problem, though, so we're finally back in business and I can start writing again.

  • Vegan "cream cheese" enchiladas (made with tofu cream cheese)
  • Spanish rice
  • Refried beans
  • Wilted greens and grains (all the rage lately, and they're GOOD!  Think romaine and rice, spinach and quinoa--the possibilities are almost endless and totally delicious!)
  • Canned pears
  • Seitan stew (think beef stew but with seitan and veggie broth instead)
  • Cornbread
  • Mock meatloaf (check out this recipe from Compassion Over Killing)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Green beans
  • Garden salad
  • Vegan pot stickers
  • Brown rice
  • Jamaican red bean stew
  • Sliced pineapple
  • Couscous (with margarine and herbs)
  • Green salad
  • Sliced tomatoes
Snack of the Week
  • Multigrain Chips (by Food Should Taste Good)
Dessert of the Week
  • Vegan pumpkin pie

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

One of Those Things That Really Ticks Me Off!

Okay, I need to rant.  I went shopping on Saturday (that's not enough to irritate me, although some days, it comes close).  I still buy meat-based foods for the family when I shop.  I don't like it, but I can't force them to eat the way I want.  I'm leading by example and I can at least be happy that, when I cook and they eat it, it's vegan!

Anyway, one of the things on my list was pot pies.  I grabbed the pot pies they asked for and brought them home.  Yesterday, the pies got cooked, and when I looked more closely at the box, I thought, "Oh, that's nice."  I'm not going to name the company here, but suffice it to say, it's a big one.  Anyway, the box said that, by buying the box of food, money would be donated to a particular (also nameless) homeless charity.  That's why I thought that was nice.  By buying the pot pie, the company was going to contribute money to people in need.

Ah, if it were only that simple.  But, no.  When I read the fine print, I realized that we needed to type in a code online.  Only then would the company contribute money to feed the homeless people.

So what's wrong with this picture?  Plenty of things.  First of all, the company (and they make plenty of money) really isn't doing anything out of the kindness of their heart.  They want us, the consumer, to take the time to read the fine print and then do what they've asked us to do.  Otherwise, no money will be donated to this cause.  So some people, I'm sure, will buy these pot pies, feeling all warm and fuzzy that their purchase is feeding not only their family but also other hungry people across the country.  Some of these people think that and don't bother reading the fine print.  Other people will read the fine print and take their precious time to type in the codes.  Still others (like myself) will get really angry and then type in the codes anyway, knowing that--if they don't--they will suffer horrible guilt.

But that's not right.

If the company were truly charitable, they would contribute money directly to the organization.  But, instead, they have to make a big show of it and also force their customers to buy their food in order to feed other people.  I don't buy their show.  Until they decide to simply give money to this organization without the games they feel the need to play, I don't buy it.  And I won't buy their crappy products ever again.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Vegan Menu for Week Thirty-One

My most sincere apologies...our computer has been ailing from some dreadful viruses, and I wasn't able to touch the computer this weekend while it was being worked on.  It's still not perfect, but we're getting there.  It's frustrating!!!  So, if any of you actually try to follow along with every suggestion I post, I hope you were able to make do yesterday!  Anyway, without further ado, here is the belated weekly menu:

  • Chef Chloe's Panang Curry
  • Chef Chloe's Pad Thai noodles (recipe on same page)
  • FatFree Vegan's Collards Stuffed with Red Beans and Rice
  • Garlic bread
  • Green salad
Breakfast of the Week
Dessert  of the Week