Convenience Foods to Save the Day

Especially when you’re just starting out in your foray into a plant-based diet, it can be tough to cut the cord on meat (umbilical cord? gross) and other animal-based foods you’re used to.

Over the years I’ve tried out nearly every meat and cheese alternative on the market. Some are disgusting and some are quite tasty. Here’s a little guide to help you get started…

Field Roast Brand

  • Celebration Roast
  • Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute (my fav for the holidays)
  • Sausages
  • Breakfast sausages
  • Chao Slices (sliced cheese alternative, I think “creamy original” is the best, but it does come in “tomato cayenne” and “coconut herb” as well)

Reminder – stay away from seitan if you have a wheat allergy. Seitan is made from wheat protein.

All products by Hampton Creek, especially the Just Mayo line (regular,sriracha, chipotle, ranch, variety pack, truffle, garlic)

Ice Cream

  • Mr. Dewey’s
  • So Delicious – Cashew Milk
  • Steve’s – limited vegan variety but the coffee flavor is bomb

Chicken Strips – Gardein

Earth Balance Brand

BTW, Oreos are vegan – BOOM

Light Life Brand

  • Gimme Lean – breakfast sausage

Tofurky Brand

  • Deli Slices
  • Sausages

Arbonne  – protein shake items

Arbonne – sport line

Arbonne – snacks/travel

Lots of other options:

A balanced protein shake is a fast and easy breakfast, snack or meal in general. It’s nice to get everything you need crammed into one cup. Plus, it sets you up to have a nutritionally successful day.

Definitions

Before you get too far down the rabbit hole, I’d like to propose a few definitions to set a baseline for context.

Vegan – a lifestyle based on the commitment not to use any animal products or by-products in anything used in daily life (i.e. food, clothing, cleaning products, personal care products, etc.). It is the single most impactful choice one can make to reduce their carbon footprint.

On this site, I do use vegan to refer to processed foods that are plant-based. It’s an easy way to identify a plant-based food, given that all manufacturers don’t use “plant-based” in their labeling and stuck with vegan or vegan certified.

Plant-Based – this refers solely to the ingredients with which something is made (i.e. the product contains no animal products or by-products). Also, if one observes a plant-based diet, they only consume plant-based products and actual produce. It does not imply they also avoid animal products or by-products in other areas of life. This is not the environmental statement made by choosing to be vegan.

For the purposes of this information,I will tend towards using “plant-based” more than “vegan”, especially when referring to cleaning eating, health, and food in general.

Being vegan is phenomenal and I support it 100%, and for those who are not ready for that plunge, I also support you 100% in exploring a plant-based diet and see where that takes you.

Bioavailability – the proportion of a drug or other substance that enters the circulation when introduced into the body and so is able to have an active effect. That means when you eat something, all the nutrients contained in that food can immediately be absorbed and used by your body to do good stuff. They get to pass go and collect $200, no holdups or side trips.

Diet – what a species eats naturally on a regular basis. I do not believe in diets like South Beach, Atkins, Paleo, etc. When I say “diet” I mean what you should be eating all the time as a lifestyle, not what you should be eating temporarily for a short term outcome.

Ramen Noodle Bowls

This is the product of a family dinner where the theme was ramen. Competing next to my meat-eating family, I knew the trick would be in the broth.

I think this is an easy recipe that doesn’t require a ton of prep.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • vegetable broth (2 boxes)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (cut in half)
  • 2 tablespoons crushed/chopped ginger
  • 1 jalapeno (sliced, remove seeds if you want to limit heat level)
  • 2 lime leaves (if you can’t find that, squeeze in lime juice to taste)
  • healthy dash of soy sauce, or salt to taste
  • sesame oil
  • 4 baby bok choy (sliced)
  • 2 boxes shiitake mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 bag bean sprouts
  • 2 generous handfuls snow peas (trimmed of the stringy spine)
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced white onion OR chopped scallions/green onion
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup cubed tofu (you can leave plain or marinate and saute)

Hardware

  • Large stainless steel or enamel cast iron soup pot
  • Slotted spoon
  • Wooden spoon
  • Pasta spoon/fork
  • Large bowl
  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • Small bowls for soup toppers

Method

  1. In your pot drizzle the sesame oil to coat the bottom. Put over medium-high heat and saute the bok choy and mushrooms.
  2. Once bok choy and mushrooms are cooked through, turn off heat and remove the veggies with your slotted spoon and set aside in the large bowl.
  3. Drizzle a touch more oil in your pot and return to medium-high heat.
  4. Bash the lemongrass pieces with the back of your knife to break it up a bit. This will help all the yummy smells and flavors some out.
  5. Saute the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and lime leaves until your kitchen smells like heaven.
  6. Crank up the heat to high and add all the liquid (broth plus water) and a few slices of jalapeno. The more you add the spicier your broth will be so feel free to go crazy or be wimpy like me. You can dash in a bit of soy sauce or salt at this point. Don’t go crazy since the flavors will intensify as the broth reduces while simmering.
  7. Bring this puppy to a boil (feel free to cover to expedite this process). Once you hit a boil, turn the heat down to medium low and let it simmer for at least 10 minutes. If you can go longer, please do, it’ll help bring out flavors and make your brother super tasty.
  8. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, get your toppings prepped in little serving bowls to create a toppings buffet. If you didn’t use much, or any, jalapeno, this is a good time to have it available for those who want to “kick it up a notch”. Shout-out Emeril. If you want to fry or saute your tofu, now’s the time.
  9. After the simmer is done, toss back in the bok choy and mushrooms and add your ramen noodles.
  10. Once noodles are done, serve up in bowls and go down your toppings line and add all the yummy crunchy things you want.

Pro Tips

  • Use bottled or tubed garlic and ginger – huge time saver
  • Use the noodles from store-bought ramen packets in the soup aisle. You know, that stuff you lived on in college. Toss the flavor packet in the trash (that sh*t is full of nastiness). Bonus – they are stupid cheap.
  • Use pre-shredded carrots. Seriously, who has time to shred carrots?