Thursday, October 27, 2011

Vegetarian Secrets for Quick, Everyday Meals

Amy's Mattar Paneer, and Mock Salmon
Since I started the whole vegetarian thing I've been asked the question "Isn't it difficult?" plenty of times, and many more questions regarding nutrition, especially "Where do you get your protein?" Well, the answer to the first question is, surprisingly, "not really". I find there's plenty of restaurants in New York city that cater to vegetarians, and there are a lot of possibilities for cooking. Now, it's not always an option to cook a whole meal from scratch, because I do work full-time. So I usually go halfway and just alter whatever quick meals I may have. My secrets (which may just be common sense to some people) for everyday quick meals are the following:
  1. Frozen Entrees (Amy's, Cedar Lane, Morningstar Farms, Tandoori Kitchen)
  2. Spices
  3. Alter, alter, alter until you're perfectly happy
Most frozen entrees will not be as good as freshly cooked meals. Therefore what I do is add some or all of these spices:

1. Garlic powder
2. Onion Powder
3. French's Fried Onions - This may sound terrible, but what I do is just sprinkle a tiny bit on top for the taste and texture
4. Fried Garlic (from Asian grocery store) - Same as above
5. Chili
6. Salt (in moderation)
7. Pepper

Some entrees will need even more adjustments, like I usually add some coriander, cumin, and garam masala to Indian food. Sometimes I sprinkle in some diced, fresh onions or green scallions.

As for the questions regarding nutrition, I try not to take any chances so I take Women's Centrum vitamins every day. For protein I eat a lot of legumes, such as chick peas or garbanzos, which have 15 grams of protein per cup, and I do eat dairy so cheese adds to my protein intake as well. Tofu and other soy products are also a good source. Morningstar Farms makes some great fake meat products that usually consist of vegetable protein and some starch. Their Maple Flavored "Sausage" Patty is one of my favorites. I also recently discovered a pretty great online store for vegetable mock meat called Vegecyber. Their products have saved my butt plenty of times when I'm in the mood for something "meaty". I had their mock salmon with the Amy's meal I had above. Some of my other favorites are their vege. lamb chunks, vege. BBQ ribs and vegan bacon slices. Believe it or not the bacon slices actually taste pretty close to bacon when fried to a crisp (I use Smart Balance cooking oil, to make it somewhat heart-healthy). I was a little concerned about the ingredients in the fake meat, so I looked them up and here's a sample:

Vegan Bacon - Non-GMO Textured Soybean Protein, Non-GMO Soybean Protein (Powder), Wheat Fiber, Wheat Protein Concentrate, White Pepper, Sea Salt, Brown Sugar, Soybean Bean Oil, Natural Vegetarian Seasoning, Monascus Powder.

Definitely not scary-sounding.

To summarize, basically the only reason I can be vegetarian is because I live in New York city, and have access to all these awesome products.


Unapologetically Mundane said...

Wow, those ingredients actually surprised me. I was a vegetarian for about five years from high school into college and ate a ton of fake meat back when I didn't care at all about reading labels. I just kinda figured it was all chemicals.

danztilya said...

Right?? I was a bit afraid to look, but I did anyway since I've been a bit health conscious recently. In fact, the Morningstar Farms stuff have more scary sounding ingredients, but they do put Vitamin B6 and 12 in there as well, probably because they can usually be found in meat, fish and dairy.

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