This past weekend I was involved in The Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge in St. Paul. Since we were working around the clock all weekend trying to bang out some amazing sites for some even more amazing Minnesota non-profits, many area businesses donated some awesome food throughout the day and night.
Around midnight our first round of pizza from Pizza Luce arrived, and I was thrilled because I’d heard that there would be vegan pizza. Since I can’t eat cheese and don’t eat meat, the vegan pizza was perfect for me. Little did I know how amazing it was going to be.
You can make just about any of their pizzas vegan by substituting the mozzarella cheese with soy cheese, which puts them super high in my book right away. I had several slices of the vegan version of The Rustler, and I must tell you it was absolutely to die for.
The mock duck, pineapple, banana peppers, and sorta-spicy barbecue sauce make this pizza unique and delicious. Since it was made with soy cheese I didn’t get the super icky feeling I get these days after consuming cheese, and the fact that it tasted great totally made my night.
If you’re ever in Minnesota be sure to check out Pizza Luce (they have stuff for just vegetarians as well and they have Gluten free offerings too).
Last night I made the tempeh I bought at Trader Joe’s and it exceeded my expectations. This recipe is super simple and it takes very little time to prepare/cook. The trick with the tempeh is to boil it first so that it softens up a bit and can better absorb the marinade. Since it is marinated, be sure to start the recipe at least 1 1/2 hours before you want to eat.
8 oz package of Tempeh
3/4 cup of Vegetable Broth
2 tbsp. Soy Sauce
2 tbsp. Spicy Brown Mustard (Dijon mustard can be used instead)
1 tsp. Sriracha (Asian hot sauce)
2 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. Olive Oil (for the grill)
1) Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
2) Whisk all of the marinade ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl.
3) Cut the tempeh in half, width-wise, and then cut the 2 squares diagonally to create 4 triangles.
4) When the water comes to a boil, add in the tempeh and then reduce the heat to simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.
5) Place the tempeh directly into the marinade. Coat both sides of the tempeh and cover the bowl. Let marinate for 1 hour, turning occasionally.
6) Heat a grill pan on the stove on medium heat (you can also use an indoor electric grill or outdoor grill) and brush or spray the olive oil onto the grill to keep the tempeh from sticking.
7) Place the tempeh onto the grill and cook for 5 minutes on each side. When the second side is nearly done, drizzle some of the marinade over the top of each piece and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Serve warm!
This recipe makes two servings (240 calories per serving) and goes great with any rice or pasta side dish. Add some veggies to your plate for a well-rounded meal that will leave you feeling full!
Last weekend I was in the Twin Cities and I stopped by a Trader Joe’s for the first time. My mom had told me lots of great things about it and I was not disappointed. Trader Joe’s had some great deals and they have a ton of options, especially for vegetarians and vegans. I came across some tempeh, which is something I’d seen in my vegan cookbook but had never seen in the store.
Intrigued, I bought an 8 oz package (for under $3) and I am excited to try out a recipe with it. I am making some marinated, grilled tempeh for dinner tonight, and if they recipe turns out I will definitely post it here. So, in the meantime if you have been looking for some more vegetarian/vegan options, check out Trader Joe’s for some not-so-common grocery store foods at super low prices.
Since I’ve become a vegetarian I’ve noticed that my craving for sweets has increased. Granted, it didn’t take much for it to increase as I’ve never really been a sweet eater; I never get dessert, never keep sweets in the house, and my house is the only one in America that can have Girl Scout Cookies around all year without them being eaten.
Now that I’ve cut out meat though, I definitely find myself wanting sweets more and more often. As I am also watching my calories, indulging on all the sweets I crave is just not an option, and I don’t think it’s really a viable option for anyone. With that in mind, I’ve come up with a few tips for things that have helped me curb my craving for sweets.
1) Drink Tea – This is one of the stranger things I’ve found to keep me away from the sweets, but drinking tea really does keep the cravings away. At night when I’m craving something sweet, instead of eating candy or cookies I make myself a cup of peppermint tea. The tea has just the right amount of sweetness to fulfill my craving and it doesn’t cost me any calories. This is also a great option if you are craving a soda. Keep flavored teas around the house to drink instead.
2) Eat Energy Bars – Sometimes I just need some chocolate and energy bars are one the best ways for me to get the chocolate flavor I crave while also getting some much needed protein. While you won’t really save on the calories here – most of the energy bars I buy (Larabars, Luna) range in calories from 180 – 290 – you will get some good vitamins and essential nutrients without having a sugar crash later in the day. These are perfect at breakfast or lunch time.
3) Keep Fruit in the House – Fruit is a great source of vitamins and most fruits are also fairly low in calories. A medium orange has about 90 calories and a pear has around 100 calories. Apples also have around 90 to 100 calories per fruit and so do bananas. Fruit is sweet enough to curb your cravings and can provide your body with essential nutrients. Fruit is also fairly inexpensive so you can afford to always have it around the house.
These are just a few ways I’ve found to keep away from the sweets over the last few weeks. Let me know if there are any methods you use to keep your sugar consumption down without going crazy!
I adapted this spicy, yet (mostly) good for you recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook. This recipe is fairly simple to prepare and doesn’t take more than an hour. You can adjust the heat by adding more or less sriracha sauce. Please be aware that a small amount of sriracha can add a lot of heat, so be careful.
1 package (14 oz) Extra Firm Tofu, drained and pressed
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 medium Onion, chopped
1/3 cup Crunchy Peanut Butter
1/4 cup Sriracha Sauce (this can be found in the Asian foods isle of your grocery store)
3/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 cup Water
1/4 cup Salted Peanuts
Instant Rice (optional)
1) Slice the tofu into four triangular sections and then split each one in half, lengthwise, so you have eight relatively thin pieces. Season the tofu with the salt and pepper.
2) Heat the olive oil and soy sauce in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook the tofu for approximately ten minutes on each side, or until it is slightly browned. Remove the tofu from the skillet.
3) Cook the onion in the remaining oil until they are tender; reduce heat. Stir in the peanut butter and sriracha sauce. Gradually stir in the water, stirring constantly, until peanut butter is melted.
4) Add the tofu back to the pan and spoon the sauce over it. Let it simmer, uncovered, for five minutes while continuing to spoon the sauce over the tofu, until the sauce is slightly thickened.
5) Serve the tofu and sauce over rice for a complete meal. Add extra peanuts over the top for added crunch.
Yields 4 servings
424 calories (with rice) per serving.
After two months (and a week or so) of being a vegetarian, there are a few things I’ve learned. Firstly, I’ve learned how to balance my diet and not just replace meat with sugar or carbs. While this was probably the hardest part about the first month or so of being a vegetarian, I’ve found that just by broadening my culinary horizons I can have just as balanced of a diet as any omnivore.
Secondly, I learned that people will always be a little apprehensive when I tell them about my lifestyle change. For people that I don’t know, telling them I’m a vegetarian doesn’t give any reason for a pause. However, for people that I’ve known for a long time, telling them I don’t eat meat anymore is almost like a personal insult. Mind you, not everyone reacts the same, but many people question the change and automatically say, “So you gave up all meat? But you still eat fish right?” This is one of my favorite lines. No, I don’t eat fish, because fish is a meat and I don’t eat meat.
It shouldn’t be a foreign concept in this day and age, but many people that I know still think it’s a bit strange. I did get a great piece of feedback today though from someone I don’t know who said that those who think my eating habits are strange are probably just self-conscious about their own. I don’t think that notion always holds true, but I think it probably resonates with people who are particularly defensive when I tell them.
Lastly, I learned that the more time goes by when I don’t eat meat, the more conscious I am about what I put in my body and about the lasting imprint my lifestyle has on the world. What I mean by that, mostly, is that the more time that goes by without meat in my life, the more conscious I am about animal rights and the environment. I can definitely see how a vegetarian lifestyle can lead to a vegan one, and I’m not altogether opposed to the idea – in the future, that is.
Overall, it’s been a great couple of months and I feel better than I have in years. I am happier and my digestive problems have all but subsided (unless I go a little crazy with the dairy). While I don’t think vegetarianism is for everyone, I’m glad it’s a choice that I’ve made for myself.
I love cooking and coming up with new recipes, but just like most of the people in the world, I have a busy lifestyle. Sometimes all I need is a quick option for dinner, but it’s not as easy for a vegetarian to whip up a quick meal as it is for an omnivore. When I was eating meat I could simply throw some chicken in a pan or a steak on the grill, but I’ve found that protein options aren’t as cut and dry for me now.
Lately I’ve been shopping for quick and easy vegetarian meals/proteins and here I will list a few of my favorites:
Quorn Chik’ N Cutlets – I reviewed this product at length in a previous post, but basically you should just know that they are a quick and delicious chicken substitute.
Morningstar Farms Black Bean Burgers – Morningstar Farms makes a variety of different frozen black bean and veggie burgers that are tasty, low-cal, and quick. The best part about these burgers is that you can throw them on a grill during the summer for a vegetarian-friendly grill-out.
Morningstar Farms Bacon – This bacon substitute is quick and easy and it makes a great breakfast protein. You can also chop this bacon up and throw it in a variety of other dishes. Although this “bacon” doesn’t really resemble any bacon that I’ve ever seen, it definitely has the taste and (almost) the texture of the real thing.
Dominex Eggplant Cutlets – These eggplant cutlets caught my eye in the store the other day. These are frozen eggplant cutlets that are coated in breadcrumbs, making them perfect for eggplant Parmesan. You can pair these cutlets with just about anything, which is perfect for quick dinners.
I will continue to post some of my favorite easy meals as I come across them, but these foods are a great place to start if you are looking for quick and easy vegetarian meal options.