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back roads and mason jars

live country. eat plants. be happy.

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broccoli

We are Southern after all.

Grits.

Possibly my family’s favorite carb dish.  As Southerners, grits can be considered it’s own food group for the most part.  You can sugar them if you like the sweeter side of life or season with salt and butter for a savory flavor which is right up my alley.  Some even like cheese melted on top hot off the stove top.  Whatever you like, they can easily be made vegan with little altering.  We can eat them with the whole breakfast buffet spread or simply with grilled shrimp (in a previous life, of course).  I still associate grits with meat even more than two years later after giving up meat, but why I love grits so much is that I NEVER had to give them up when I stopped eating animals.  I just had to make some easy substitutions which I’ll explain later.

Whenever I find a new meat substitute, my first thought is “Does it go with grits?”  Even at my rural, small town grocery chain, I was actually able to find two new varieties of products on my last shopping excursion.  Unfortunately, they are only vegetarian, but with a $3.00 coupon – it was hard to pass up.  The product we tried this week was Quorn’s Meat-free Sausages (Chicken & Apple style).  I used to eat the chicken version frequently for breakfast with grits actually so I immediately thought it would be perfect for a savory dinner.   For the health side of things, each sausage has 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, less than 5 mg of cholesterol (there are egg whites in this product), 10 grams of carbs, 5 grams of fiber and 9 grams of protein.

Quorn Meat-Free Sausages

We decided to cook ours in a skillet on the stove top with a tiny bit of coconut oil and they were done in about 10 minutes.  I served them along side grits, of course, that I seasoned with vegan butter, salt and pepper.  Grist really are the perfect accompaniment for anything.  I love caramelized onions with mushrooms and they added so much flavor to dish.  No meal is complete without a green so our classic go-to is always broccoli.

Now about the taste, we have tried a competitor (Field Roast) that really holds the market on meat products like this as well as one of two of the best vegan cheeses that I have tried (Chao).  I preferred the texture of the Field Roast sausages over the Quorn.  It didn’t have a lot of that fake smoke flavoring that everyone else is so fond of, but it did hit a lot of savory notes.  My husband thought it had the perfect texture while I thought it was a bit on the squishy side, but the sausages didn’t leave a weird aftertaste or gritty feel in our mouths.  These are attributes that I didn’t really question when I was a meat eater, but now when I recognize them it makes me get a little creeped out by the realism behind the product like when we tried the Beyond Burger.  Overall, it was a good product that we will probably purchase again.

Omnivore Rating: 8/10 ~ Wannabe Vegan Rating: 6/10

Bye y’all!

what i ate on a wednesday

I have spent less than ten single meals in 2016 as an omnivore.  Every other meal has been vegetarian at least.  I don’t know exactly what day that I stopped eating meat.  I viewed this as a process – a transition that would take some time to adjust in an effort to put less pressure on myself.  I viewed each meal as a choice to pick vegetarian choices for my plate.  As 2016 is coming to a close in the next few months, I am viewing the transition to veganism in the same mindset.  Each meal and grocery store purchase is a choice.

In this series, I will photo all the things I eat in a single day.  I will also try to get a range of days like whether or not I’m at home all day or I’m out of town.  Something that remains the same each day is that I drink at least 100 oz of water a day in addition to unsweetened iced tea almost daily.

wiaw-watermark

BREAKFAST

I always start my day with a glass of water and some juice, iced coffee or tea.  I chose the Califia Farms Pumpkin Spice latte that was reviewed on my page last week – check it out here!  I was busy doing things around the house today and forgot to eat a more substantial meal for breakfast that just coffee and water.  I tend to have a lot of liquids in the morning and eat a breakfast during the late morning hours.

 

 

LUNCH

Today for lunch, I just wanted something warm to throw in the oven with little effort on my part.  I gardein-wiaiad-watermarkchose a little Gardein BBQ porkless pocket and a few baked craft beer fries from the freezer.  Nothing easier than that!  This BBQ pocket was one of the first vegan items I tried and I have been in love with them since!  It is so unreal how much it actually tastes like BBQ in flavor and texture.  I would challenge any carnivore to try this and see if they could actually tell that it wasn’t pork.

 

wiaiad-dinner-watermarkDINNER

Sometimes you just get too involved with work and life that you really have no ambition to be creative in the kitchen.  While I usually plan my weekly menu plan, there are times that we go off schedule.  This dinner was one of those times.  I just wanted something easy and flavorful.  I boiled some frozen broccoli, drained and added vegan butter and salt.  For the pasta, I boiled a box of tri-colored rotini, drained it and added vegan butter and nutritional yeast.  Super easy and tasty dinner.  This was also a really cheap dinner with lots of leftovers for lunch for those on a budget like me.

Bye y’all!

Chinese food can be vegan?

When I decided to go vegetarian with dreams of being vegan, I was missing Chinese food.  My favorite choice was always beef and broccoli and one of my husband’s favorites was sweet and sour pork.  I was never much of a fan because I don’t like a lot of heavily deep fried foods.  When we lived in the city, there were tons of Chinese restaurants that offered tofu options instead of meat, but in my little small town it’s a little harder to come by.

Insert the frozen aisle of most grocery stores even in my small town.

gardein-watermark

 

Gardein Sweet & Sour Pork!  It’s not beef and broccoli, but it’s a great Chinese alternative without all the grease and heavy feeling.  It’s super easy to make and you can easily customize it however you like.  The hardest part of this recipe is waiting on the rice cooker to cook your rice!

 

Follow these simple steps to make your Chinese at home my way.

  1. Place 1 cup of Basmati rice and 2 cups of water in your rice cooker.  I also love this product with Jasmine rice, but my husband doesn’t care for it so I just save it for meals when I’m the only one eating rice.  Remember to wash your rice thoroughly before cooking.
  2. I always serve broccoli on the side with my Chinese food no matter what variation I’m making.  Start boiling fresh or frozen broccoli on the stove top with some water.  Once completed cooking, drain the excess water and add a little bit of sea salt and vegan butter.  I prefer Smart Balance because the price point is usually a little cheaper.
  3. While everything is moving along, put 1/2 a tablespoon of coconut oil in a skillet and let that warm up.  Once heated and completely melted, add the porkless chunks.  Saute until all sides are crispy.  It takes about 6-8 minutes when stirring frequently.
  4. Once they are fully cooked, add the sauce packet that comes in the Gardein bag.  At this point, you can add whatever you want in addition to the Gardein pork.  My favorite addition is chopped canned pineapple.  Other options we have added were snap peas, sugar snap peas, sweet onion, bell pepper strips, mushrooms and broccoli.  If you are using these fresh veggie additions, I prefer to saute them before adding, but the pineapple just needs to be heated and mingle with the sauce.
  5. Once plated, I always sprinkle sesame seeds on top.  Occasionally I will use a low sodium soy sauce, but not always.

watermark

My favorite aspects of this product are that it is made with Non-GMO soy, it is certified vegan and labeled for easy reading and it’s nutrition content.  For one third of the bag, there are 120 calories, 3 grams of fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 9 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber and 13 grams of protein!  My husband and I usually eat two thirds of the meal the night of and I usually get about a third the next day for leftovers.  It heats up well in both the microwave or stove top the next day.

Wannabe Vegan Rating: 10/10

Omnivore Rating: 9.5/10

Bye y’all!

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