Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Lean Cuisine, And I Use The Word Loosely

I've been trying to eat vegetarian and organic lately, but not for so long that my innards are all pristine or anything. I mean, I'm sure I still have some carne asada working its way through my gizzards from a few days ago. But basically, you know, meat just isn't part of my day anymore the way it used to be.

This afternoon, though, I came home in a rush and needed some lunch pronto. I checked the freezer and found some Lean Cuisine noodles and Swedish meatballs entrees (like one is enough!?) which I nuked in the microwave and snarfed down. Within a half an hour I was so deadly sick it was like I had been poisoned. Wow! My body knew it did NOT want that stuff in my digestive system.

So that's the end of that kind of fooling around. Tonight it's yellow split peas and and some kind of pesto thing (my garden is lousy with basil). The thing about cooking vegetarian is that you wind up getting pretty creative.

That's all for now. I'm so busy that my hairdresser came in an hour early to accomodate me since I had to cancel my scheduled appointment for the THIRD TIME this month. She took pity on me and my scraggly locks. What a great gal.


Blogger LaReinaCobre said...

I am always suspicious of Swedish meatballs!

Blogger John Plummer said...

PB - It is funny how quickly the body tends to adjust to the absence of animal foods. I just ordered Isa Moskowitz's latest book, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. (I'm enjoying her delicious mole chile from Vegan with a Vengeance, as I type.)

If you feel the need for veg food that is a little more meat-and-potatoes in style, I have gotten a LOT of mileage out of some Seventh Day Adventist cookbooks - especially the Country Life Vegetarian Cookbook ed. by Diana Fleming. Some of my backwoods Tennessee relatives have been quite satisfied by this substantial and comforting food.

Also excellent and recently tried- the Peach Blueberry Crumble on, from the amazing Jennifer McCann of the Vegan Lunch Box.

Blogger PeaceBang said...

Thanks, John! Great tips!
By the way, I tried Morningstar Farms vegetarian barbecue riblets the other night with great trepidation, and they turned out to be totally delicious. Not vegan, though, I'm afraid. Or at least I don't think so.

Blogger LaReinaCobre said...

Morningstar Farms original chik patties are quite tasty, too!

I wonder if Seventh Day Adventist Church still sells the Loma Linda products? I grew up on Loma Linda and Morningstar Farms products, back when saying you were a vegetarian drew bewilderment and blank stares from people. "You mean you're a farmer?"

Blogger John Plummer said...

Lareinacobre, yes, Loma Linda is still around. We have a local 7th Day Adventist book & food store, as well as a food co-op associated with them - both of which have lots of Loma Linda products - and I've even seen a few at Kroger.

Did you ever have products from The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee ( It's one of the last of the great hippie communes of the 1960s. Back before vegetarian eating became trendy, we could rely on them for a steady supply of great products, locally made tofu, cookbooks, etc. (PB, they have a great mail order catalog.)

Blogger Elizabeth said...

I have taken my time getting used to fake meat, however, I have discovered Morningstar Farms Buffalo Wings, which are really like spicy chicken nuggets. Only no chicken. Not vegan, but great for folks who sort of miss/like meat. Very convincing. Also, I suggest How it All Vegan and The Garden of Vegan as very good veggie cookbooks that have normal, easy recipes. I am not a chef so I don't know what to do with the books that want you to let things sit for two days, add sassafras from China, and sprinkle truffle oil in it.

Blogger claire said...

i would guess that the preservatives in the lean cuisine were as much to blame as the meatballs.
when i started eating healthier the very first things to go were non-organic frozen dinners. the crud they put into those things is unreal.

Blogger Paul Wilczynski said...

We get some non-meat meatballs (don't know the brand offhand) at Trader Joes, and they're totally delicious.

Blogger Caroline Divine said...

Amy's California Veggie Burgers. Yum. Organic and vegan. Though if you are not a vegan you can put a little cheese on top for a cheeseburger. Unlike Boca Burgers (whose taste I don't like as much) they have no soy; they do have walnuts and mushrooms and vegetables in them. They come frozen and you just cook 'em in the toaster oven 5 mn on each side. Great for exhausted ministers, teachers, and others, returning home after a long day or popping home for a quick lunch. As a former Californian, I love 'em with a bit of sliced avocado as part of the trimmings, and they also work with dijon mustard, or various other condiments.

I recommend joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture farm) if you can't get to a farmers' market regularly, or even if you can. I miss my California one:

But even here in the South there are a few CSAs, though instead of joining one I have joined a veggie-buying co-op which some of our students run (linking up with one of the state's major organic produce networks) and which several of us faculty have also joined. (I teach at a small liberal arts college.) It's wonderful to eat with the seasons. And simple is good! If the produce is organic and fresh it usually tastes delicious, so even steamed greens on top of brown rice with a tiny bit of olive oil and salt makes a tasty meal. Of course it's great to keep interesting seasonings around -- soy sauce and garlic and ginger for an Asian twist (there's also nice Thai red and green curry paste on the market, various herbs and peppers, etc. (I'm not a vegan, so I do interesting things with yogurt, cheese, et al.) (In fact, I am a fake vegetarian and occasionally have fish. But I have some vegan days.)

Oh -- latest organic whole-grain cracker discoveries: 1) Mary's Gone Crackers, thin and crispy, and 2) Dr. Kracker Seeded Spelt,thicker and more substantial. Good to keep around home or office, very handy, and good for you and tons of fiber if you're into that.

Blogger LaReinaCobre said...

Lots of good food ideas here. As a person who has trouble with something commonly found in whole wheat breads, soy, sesame, and sugar, a totally vegetarian diet is tough. After a month of eating rice, rice and more rice and gaining almost ten pounds, I gave up on that and now I've gone back to eating all of the above. Soy causes me the most trouble, which makes me sad because so many meat-substitute products contain them.

Blogger PeaceBang said...

Paul, if you ever get a gander at the brand, I'd love to know, as I think they have several choices.

Right now on the stove: yellow split pea stew with shallots, garlic, celergy, sage a sweet potato to add some thickness, and mushroom bouillon cubes. Delish!

Hafidha, I adore rice. It is not, however, a low calorie food! Darn it!

Blogger powderblue said...

We discovered Amy’s burgers a few months ago and like them a lot, too. They don’t seem as processed as some of the other brands of burgers and similar products – more like real food. Not all of Amy’s burgers are vegan.

A nice feature of these meat analogs is that they’re so convenient to prepare. However, cookbooks like those mentioned in earlier posts, with easy recipes, are healthier for people and pocketbooks. (I say that realizing that “not being good for you” is what can make things REALLY good, and I loved those chocolate ice cream scenes in the “Little Miss Sunshine” movie that CC recommended.)

For great convenience, it’s hard to beat Amy’s non-dairy beans & rice burritos. Take them out of the freezer at night and put them in the fridge, and by lunchtime the next day they’re ready to unwrap and eat. They pack perfectly in a purse or briefcase for a car or plane trip, too.

PB, that stew sounds great! And if I may offer some advice, don't worry about the calories in rice --it's just too good a food.

Blogger John Plummer said...

Yes, Community Supported Agriculture is a wonderful thing. We have several in middle Tennessee. It's a great way to eat seasonally, support local farmers, and have great, healthy organic food. If the vegetables wind up costing a bit more, it is a donation toward organic, sustainable agriculture.

If you are eating dairy and eggs, or even if you are not, check out the cookbooks of Deborah Madison, esp Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I should bow to her photo every morning. (For us spiritual weird people, Deborah started cooking when a member of the Zen Center of San Francisco, founded by Suzuki Roshi.)

Blogger Earthbound Spirit said...

Two recommendations from a "mostly vegetarian"... (I eat fish, and I'm married to an omnivore).

Nava Atlas has some great cookbooks:
*Vegetarian Express has quick vegetarian meals that can be prepared in 30 min.;
*Vegetarian Soups for all Seasons has some of my favorite soup recipes;
*Vegetarian Celebrations offers no-meat alternatives for holidays - great for those of us who never learned to love tofurkey;
*Vegetariana - not very practical, but fun to read; and,
*The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Cookbook, which has some 'classy dinner type' - but simple - recipes.
If you're going vegan, most of her newer recipes at least have vegan options. I'm not vegan, but one of my kids is lactose intolerant, so I try to use dairy products sparingly.

And in the "fake meat" category...
We love the Quorn brand products. It's not soy, it's some sort of mushroom-like substance. Burgers, "chik" nuggets - breaded or unbreaded, "naked cutlets", I think there's a "roast" too. Cook the naked cutlets as you would boneless, skinless chicken breasts - especially the 'simmer in sauce' recipes. My sis simmers the unbreaded nuggets in her favorite barbecue sauce for great sandwiches.

Also Harvest Burgers crumbles, plain and sausage style, for "meaty" Italian sauces or chili. I also have to say it's nice that Boca makes a vegetarian "bratwurst"... I take a package to summer family gatherings and enjoy the sausage experience without meat!


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