Using convenience foods

The longer we eat vegetarian and vegan in this house, the more restaurant food doesn’t taste like we’d expect it to. With a high schooler in our family, we have our share of crazy, over-scheduled nights. Pizza and salad is one rescue meal we turn to, but more and more, we are making it right here at home.

There are a number of delicious frozen pizzas out there. A recent Consumer Reports study showed that DiGiorno was the recommended best buy. However, Amy’s pizza (in this case, the one with the corn meal crust), was also a recommended buy.

Last night, Eric and I tried an Amy’s Rice Crust cheese pizza. It was delicious. Even though we don’t have a gluten intolerance, I will reach for this fresh-tasting, crisp, not too doughy pie again and again.

Amy’s has a really extensive line of delicious convenience foods that can help you stay on your selected eating plan, whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, soy free, lactose free, low sodium, tree nut free, or require Kosher certified foods.

Egg Replacers

Two Eggs N1010e

Originally uploaded by Harris Hui

Any of the following can be used to replace eggs:

- 1 banana for 1 egg (great for cakes, pancakes, etc)

- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot starch for 1 egg

- Ener-G Egg Replacer (or similar product available in health food stores or by mail order)

- 1/4 Cup tofu for 1 egg (blend tofu smooth with the liquid ingredients before they are added to the dry ingredients.)

(Source: The Vegetarian Resource Group)

Let’s hear it for the small (and big) successes

Since Ben and I have been doing the 21 day Vegan Kick Start, we’ve had a ton of fun.  One of those items that has been on our “Oh my gosh, we have to get this right so we are able to LIVE” list is macaroni and cheese.

Today, I modified my traditional Macaroni and Cheese recipe to make a totally vegan creation.  The big test? My omnivore family is coming for dinner.  Will they be able to taste the difference?  I don’t think so!

Mac and cheeze

Vegetable Stock in the making

Vegetable Stock in the making

Originally uploaded by Just Nora

I’m going to make Vegetarian Matzo Ball soup today, so I decided to make homemade vegetable stock.

First time

This is the first time I’ve made homemade vegetable stock, but I’m confident that I can create something tasty. My homemade chicken stock (which I don’t make anymore) had an abundance of vegetables in it to help it taste fab.

Waste not, want not

Making homemade stock is a great way to use up veggies in your fridge. Here’s what I put in my stock today:


Bell peppers
Yellow tomatoes
Red tomatoes
Sweet onion

For seasoning, I added:

Capful garlic powder
Capful Mrs. Dash Lemon Pepper
Capful Onion powder
Capful celery root powder (since I didn’t have fresh celery to throw in the pot)


The secrets to great stock are patience, slow simmering, and doing as little prep to your veggies as possible. Wash all veggies and remove any loose skin from onions and tomatillos. Do NOT peel, cut or anything — put the veggies into your pot whole. Exceptions for me are if the vegetables have a thick, waxy coating on them from the produce department (such as parsnips). If that’s the case, I definitely peel them.

Cover all your veggies with water, bring to a boil, then reduce your heat, cover and simmer all day.

Strain and discard the vegetables from the stock, taste the stock and add salt or other seasoning to your taste. Refrigerate or freeze and enjoy!

PS – looking for a vegan matzo ball recipe? Check this out.

Frittata with tofu?


This morning I’m making a Frittata from the upcoming cookbook, The Happy Herbivore Cookbook: Over 175 Delicious Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes.

I’ve gotten to a point where tofu is grossing me out a bit. I know it’s just a temporary phase. I’ve eaten a certain way for 48 years – change comes slowly. Nonetheless, I know it’s a great protein source and I’m forcing myself to try different methods with the stuff.

The Happy Herbivore Cookbook is set to be released in a week or so. This frittata recipe is one of the ones you can try right now if you click “look inside” at the page for the book.

The frittata is indeed made with a block of crumbled tofu.  The whole thing bakes in 20-25 minutes. Stay tuned for the verdict!


Just out of the oven, here’s my little Nada Frittata.  I put green onion, baby bellas, red bell pepper and dill in mine. It is pretty doggone delicious.  Make again?  You betcha.

Vegan Unbeef Stew for your slow cooker or pressure cooker

This weekend, we tried out Unbeef Stew, from It was pretty good, but I made adjustments to the recipe. I’m posting the original recipe here, with some notes underneath on how I modified it.


(use vegan versions):

Serves: 8

1 pound extra firm regular tofu

1 large onion, chopped

1 quart vegetable broth

5 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon tamari

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4 large carrots, coarsely chopped

4 large potatoes, coarsely chopped

1 tomato, seeded and diced

1 teaspoon each of pepper and basil

3 tablespoons non-hydrogenated vegan margarine

3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with water until smooth


Freeze the tofu and then let it thaw completely.

Drain the water from the tofu, and cut into slices and squeeze more water out.

Then cut the slices into chunks and bake at 200 degrees on an ungreased cookie sheet while chopping the rest of the ingredients (check the tofu about every 10-15 minutes so that it doesn’t get browned – it should just be dried out, not burned).

The tofu should be well dried out, like croutons.

Place all of the prepared ingredients into a crock pot, stir well, and cook on high for at least 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally.


Place all of the prepared ingredients into a pressure cooker, stir well, and cook on high until boiling, then reduce heat to ¾ flame until pressure is reached (45 minutes to an hour).

The stew is ready when it is thick and brown. It makes a lot!

Preparation time: 30-45 min. for preparing ingredients, then 8 hrs. to stew.

Nora’s notes

This tastes better on day 2. If you can make it a day ahead of time and then reheat and serve, that’s great.

I also added:

- 3 finely sliced stalks of celery
- 15 oz can of tomato puree
- a good sprinkling of majoram
- a good sprinkling of thyme
- 1 cup of frozen or canned corn (added in the last 20 minutes)
- 1 cup of frozen or canned peas (added in the last 20 minutes)

Next time I’ll change:

- Add more potatoes
- Cut the tofu pieces smaller

Serving Suggestions

Serve Unbeef Stew over mashed potatoes, steamed rice or polenta, pan-fried in a little olive oil.

Egg Carton Seedlings

Egg Carton Carrots

Originally uploaded by RecycleCindy has a neat suggestion for starting seedlings in your kitchen, either for planting in your garden or perhaps for kitchen herbs:

Save your egg cartons, cut the lids off, fill with soil and plant one seed per egg cup. Place in a sunny window and keep moist — your perfect little seedlings will sprout in no time!

Quick, cheap chana masala

Chana Masala

After reading a recipe for chana masala on VegWeb, I decided to adapt it slightly and create my own.  Here’s my quickie recipe, which turned out pretty deliciously:

  • Two 15-oz cans of chick peas, drained and rinsed, but with 6 tablespoons of the can liquid reserved
  • 7 oz Light Coconut Milk (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 5 oz Tomato paste
  • One medium onion, finely chopped
  • Two cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon margarine
  • 2/3 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2/3 tablespoon Garam Masala

Optional: 1/4 cup chopped parsley for garnish, cubed tofu

Saute the onion and garlic in the margarine over medium high heat, until soft and transparent.  Reduce heat to medium.  Add the curry, coconut milk, garam masala, reserved liquid and tomato paste; stir to gently combine.  Add chick peas, gently stir to combine. Taste & adjust seasonings (Eric doesn’t like really spicy stuff, so you may want to add more curry or garam masala).  Very gently add the tofu, if you are including it. Heat through, then serve over steamed rice and garnish with chopped parsley.  I also served lightly steamed peas as a side dish.

Note — so many iterations of this recipe appear on VegWeb and all over the internet.  Some people talked about adding peas or cubed tofu to the sauce.  This seems like a fairly forgiving sauce that you can adjust to your liking.

What To Do When You’re Craving Unhealthy Foods

5 Actions You Can Take to Beat Food Cravings Now

by Frederic Patenaude

In this article and e-zine, some characters (‘, *) may have been added to some words to avoid triggering anti-sp’am filters. Thank you for your understanding.

Every time I ask my readers what’s the most frustrating thing they experience when trying to eat a very healthy diet, the number one answer that comes up is *cravings* for unhealthy foods.

It seems that even though you may know what’s good for you, the “bad” foods or the foods you’re trying to avoid are still not only tempting, but sometimes temptation is stronger than anything. Like the movie said, “Resistance is futile.”

Now, I know it’s been said that the best way to resist temptation is to yield to it, but today I’m not going to suggest that. Instead, I’m going to give you 5 actions you can take when you’re craving unhealthy foods.

1. Eat More Raw Food

From my experience, the number one reason why people experience cravings on a raw food diet is that they haven’t learned to eat enough fruits and vegetables to be well nourished. They eat a starvation diet that may be good for short-term detox, but it’s not enough to sustain them over the long run.

So the one thing you can do whenever you’re craving unhealthy foods is to eat more raw foods. Make yourself a big banana/blueberry smoothie and don’t consider eating anything else until you’ve finished it.

Then you can learn to gradually increase the amount of raw foods that you eat, to the point that you’re no longer craving unhealthy foods.

2. Wait for True Hunger

In my book The Raw Secrets, I explained the difference between true hunger and false hunger. In true hunger, you will be satisfied by simple foods. With false hunger, you will *crave* complex, spicy, or salty foods, and might not feel at all drawn to eat fruits and vegetables.

One thing you can do when you’re craving unhealthy foods is watch how you feel and identify whether you’re experiencing true hunger or false hunger. (Those signs are listed in the book The Raw Secrets).

If it’s false hunger, commonly referred to as “appetite,” then it won’t hurt to simply wait until you are truly hungry before eating. At that point, you may find that a green smoothie or a fruit salad might be the food that you’re really craving.

3. Break Out of the Pattern

Often, cravings arise when there is a situation that “triggers” the cravings – some mental or emotional association that is “anchored” to the particular foods that you’re craving.

For me, I would always crave all sorts of foods when I visited my mom. The emotional triggers associated with the place where I grew up were strong, and for many people it’s the same.

You can learn to avoid these circumstances as much as possible, and/or break free of the emotional patterns or triggers when the cravings occur.

For example, if a certain situation triggers a craving for you, then you have to understand that your brain has been “conditioned” to react that way.

One thing you can do is simply break the pattern by doing something you wouldn’t normally do in that situation.

That can be go out for a run, go take a walk, jump in a pool, do some jumping jacks, laugh… anything to break the pattern!

4. Identify the Emotion

You can also be craving unhealthy foods when certain emotions arise. The reason is that we often use foods to “numb” ourselves whenever we feel emotions we don’t like.

And it’s not just lonely or fat people who have that problem – everybody does, to some degree. The foods we call “comfort foods” are in fact “numbing foods” that prevent us from experiencing our feelings.

The solution is not to run away from the emotion, not to “express” it, but to simply feel it. Accept the emotion, feel it, and observe what happens inside of you when you’re not running away from the emotion by using “comfort foods” to numb it.

You might discover very interesting things about yourself in the process.

5. Get at the Root of Your Cravings

Ultimately, you want to get at the root of your cravings. If the cravings are of a nutritional nature, you want to learn how to eat a healthy raw-based diet that fulfills your nutritional needs. I recommend as a minimum that you invest some time in learning the basics of this diet by referring to the following resources:

Raw Health Starter Kit
Making Friends With Your Food

But there are also complex chains of emotions attached to our relationship with food, and if you’ve been raised in a Western culture, chances are that you use food for many reasons, not just for nourishment.

In order to eradicate cravings completely, you need to change your *relationship* with food, so that you can do away with cravings and feel confident in facing the inevitable social obstacles that present themselves when applying a raw diet in a predominantly “cooked” society.

Frederic Patenaude, is the author of the best-selling e-book “The Raw Secrets”. He is currently giving away free access to his private library of over 100 exclusive articles along with a subscription to his newsletter Pure Health & Nutrition. Visit while charter subscriptions last.

Container gardening

Window box

Originally uploaded by loisberg12

I’m planning on doing a lot of container gardening on my deck this year — mostly veggies.

Here are a few really interesting tips for container gardening that I’ve run across: