back roads and mason jars

live country. eat plants. be happy.


field roast

Just Another Sunday in the South

A Tractor’s View of a Job Well Done – Photo Courtesy of Marge Swayne

Sundays in the South are made for relaxing and spending time with family.  We spend a lot of our Sundays, especially holidays, having dinner with my grandparents on their farm, Stillmeadow Farm.  Stillmeadow Farm is a small, hobby farm established in 1981 and tucked down a back road.  It’s a haven for all animals from the hunting dogs that lost their way and became family pets to the deer that spend all fall seeking sanctuary from the hunters while roaming the woods.


Heather Smiles for the Camera – Photo Courtesy of Marge Swayne

Every visit to the farm begins by waving at the dairy goats, Claudette, Claude and Heather, as you drive by the red barn and as you turn the corner of the circle driveway, you’re bound to see a cat or two lounging in the sunshine on a wooden bench in the grass.  We’ll then make our way to the back porch by walking around the chickens as they wander the yard collecting bugs and the rooster proudly crows announcing our arrival to his humans.


Star and Sadie Sunbathing in the Herb Garden – Photo Courtesy of Marge Swayne


Before we get to speak to the humans of the house, we have to play fetch with Star, a loyal German Shepard, while Sadie, a mischievous Alaskan Malamute, plots to steal your attention since she is not a fan of physical activity except when it involves making snow angels.





Sister, Sister? – Photo Courtesy of Marge Swayne

Once we finally make an appearance in the house, Kiki, the oldest and fearless leader of the house cats, greets us at the door while begging you pet her.  Over the years, Sophie, a gray version of Kiki, has gained enough confidence to allow us to pet her as she inquires about dinner from the cook, my grandmother.  Sophie and her two other siblings, Lily and Luna, were rescues that were abandoned in my grandparent’s drive way years ago so there’s been a bit of learning curve earning their trust.  After pulling Grandpa away from a NASCAR race or the grill on the deck, we sit down, say grace and enjoy a dinner made with love.

Field Roast Smoked Tomato Quarter Loaf

For this particular Sunday, I enjoyed a new vegan meat alternative that I have not tried before along side fresh vegetables from my grandparent’s garden.  It was a Field Roast Smoked Tomato Quarter Loaf.  The instructions warned against cooking this product in the oven so I prepared it by sauteing thin slices in a little bit of coconut oil on the stove top.  After they were done cooking for about 8 minutes total, I laid the slices on a few paper towels to absorb some of the excess oil.  Although I don’t rely on these meat alternatives like I did when I went vegetarian, I do enjoy them from time to time or on special occasions.



I thought this product was very flavorful with not as much tomato flavor as I was anticipating.  I ate a few bites alone, but enjoyed it much more in a freshly baked roll.  I re-purposed the leftovers in a sandwich as well.  The texture is very similar to other Field Roast products since they mostly all start with the same main ingredient – vital wheat gluten.  Vital wheat gluten is a the powdered form of the gluten (protein) found in wheat.  It’s a popular ingredient across the board in a lot of vegetarian or vegan meat alternatives.  Unfortunately, if you suffer from gluten sensitivity or allergy, this is an ingredient you need to avoid in your meat alternatives so make sure to check the labels!

Omnivore Rating: 6/10     ~     Vegan Wannabe Rating: 7/10

Bye y’all!

where is the turkey?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving – a day to be thankful.  This year I am thankful for many things – my health, a peaceful home in the woods, moving closer to family this year and having a puppy greet me at the door.  This year there is one big change for me.  This is the first year I will not be eating turkey.  I thought this holiday especially would be a difficult obstacle to overcome, but I haven’t even given it a second thought.  My favorite part of the Thanksgiving feast has always been the sides anyway!  There will be turkey on my family’s Thanksgiving table, but I will be bringing my own vegan option.

There are lots of vegan turkey options available on the market today.  I have purchased the traditional Tofurky Veggie Roast and the Gardein Stuffed Turk’y.  I am not sure which one I will be taking yet – I just can’t decide!  I will review which one I use after our delicious feast.  Below I breakdown just a few of the vegan turkey options available for you and your family to celebrate Thanksgiving cruelty free!

Tofurky Veggie Roast

tofurky-holiday-roast-packageTofurky offers 3 sizes of holiday roasts but they are all the same – a turkey roast with a wild rice stuffing.  Some packages include gravy and even brownies!  In terms of nutrition, it offers a very high protein plant based option if that’s something you care about.  One fifth of the small roast (147 grams) is 300 calories, 8 grams of fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 6 grams of fiber and 40 grams of protein.

Field Roast Celebration Roast

cr-1lb1-e1443025979840Field Roast is a newer company offering many very realistic meat and cheese replacements including one of my favorite cheeses – Chao Slices.  Their Celebration Roast is a one pound feast stuffed with a sausage, butternut squash, and apple stuffing which is stable enough to cut leftovers for that famous Thanksgiving sandwich.  My favorite feature of Field Roast meat alternatives is that they use so many whole fruits and vegetables in their meats instead of only tofu or vital wheat gluten.  A 4 oz serving has 280 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 6 grams of fiber and 31 grams of protein.

Gardein Holiday Roast & Stuffed Turk’y

gardein_frz_a_holidayroast_usrgbsm-225x135 Gardein offers 2 vegan turkey alternatives – the Holiday Roast and Stuffed Turk’y.  The Holiday Roast is great if you have a larger family, but I actually purchased the smaller Stuffed Turk’y option since I am the only vegetarian in my family.  This package comes with 2 gardein_frz_a_stuffedturky_usrgbsm-225x231turkeys and gravy packets too.  These alternatives are a little different from the ones above since they are breaded unlike the traditional roasted turkey and boast a cranberry stuffing.  The nutrition does vary on these items though.  For one Stuffed Turk’y (150 grams), you’ll get 290 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 3 grams of fiber and 23 grams of protein.  One Eighth (90 grams) of the Holiday Roast, you’ll have 150 calories, 4 grams of fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 2 grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein.

Trader Joe’s Turkey-less Stuffed Roast

Trader Joe’s adds this holiday treat to their already coveted vegan product line during the trader-joes-turkeyholiday season.  I was even on a waiting list to get one last year, but I wasn’t able to score one at all!  With a $9.99 price tag for a 2.5 lb roast and gravy, this is the best priced product by far!  No wonder they keep selling out so fast every year!  This is also a breaded roast like Gardein with a stuffing inside.  For one sixth of the roast, it has 200 calories, 6 grams of fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 2 grams of fiber and 17 grams of protein.

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

Field Roast Smoked Apple Sausage


A favorite recipe in our household prior to going vegetarian was grilled sausages with cheesy polenta.  This was a recipe that I had to recreate – vegan style.  I was able to find some similar sausages at Whole Foods and Kroger.  Field Roast has several meat replacement options and the Chao Cheese slices that I have discussed in previous posts.  This is the first Field Roast Meat Replacement that my family has tried and we were blown away!

Here is how I decided to make and serve my Field Roast Smoked Apple Sausage for this review.  fr-watermarkI grilled the Field Roast Sausages in a skillet with a quick spray of non-stick spray and turned them to get marks on all sides as they cooked.  The asparagus was baked on a baking sheet with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes, flipping half way through.   I simply sauteed the cherry tomatoes with a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil until they started to burst open.  The polenta was cooked per the instructions on the package depending on how much you want to make at one time.  Once the polenta was cooked, I added some Smart Balance vegan butter and salt & pepper to taste.  If you want that cheesy flavor, you could add a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast.  Since my husband didn’t want a cheesy polenta, I chose to sprinkle some Go Veggie Grated Parmesan just on top of my polenta.  This meal met all our requirements for a vegan version of our favorite sausage and polenta.

The sausages were very sweet with a great replication of sausage texture without the sketchiness of ground meat – you know what I mean.  They came 4 in a package and required very little work – just cut out of the package and cook on a grill or a skillet on the stove top.  The ingredient list on that package is very interesting as well.  The product uses vital what gluten to bind the vegetable ingredients like Yukon gold potatoes, dried apples and spices.  In terms of calories, they are on the higher side with 240 calories per sausage, but it contains 3 grams of fiber and 26 grams of protein.  One sausage was way too much food for each of us so we had leftovers of the sausage and polenta for a few days!  It reheated in the microwave for work left overs at lunch which is perfect for our family!  In addition to this sweet variation, they are available in Italian Sausage and Mexican Chipotle which we can’t wait to try!

Wannabe Vegan: 8/10     ~     Omnivore: 7/10

Bye y’all!

are you scared? part 6

What’s stopping you from being vegetarian or vegan?

This week is the last post in this mini-series and it’s a doozy!  Check out the previous posts here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.

But cheese! How can I live without cheese?!

As I am writing this post, I am still consuming cheese a few meals a week.  I am limiting my cheese intake and working on eliminating it from my diet completely.  This is usually the one factor that keeps vegetarians from converting to veganism.  It is the one factor stopping me as well.  Even limiting my cheese has been a drastic change.  I was the person that could have only cheese and a few crackers for dinner and be completely satisfied.  I love a cheese plate.  I stopped eating meat relatively painlessly but cheese has been tricky.  There aren’t many products that you can create or purchase that truly replicate cheese 100%.  However, after some extensive research, regrettable purchases and some ah-ha! moments, I have found some not only suitable replacements for cheese, but some amazing cheese!  Below I will talk about the different cheese products available on the market to save you the heartache.

Daiya Cheddar and Jalapeno Havarti

Daiya – Daiya is a Canadian based company that provides vegan cheese products in the form of shreds, blocks, slices, cream cheese, pizza, mac and cheese and even cheesecake!  The shreds are available in Classic, Mozzarella, Cheddar and Pepper Jack – add on top of tacos or pizza.  Slices are sold in flavors like Cheddar, Provolone, and Swiss – great for any sandwich. The cream cheese comes in Plain, Strawberry and Onion and Chive – delicious on toasted bagel.  Cheese blocks are available in Jalapeno Havarti, Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Smoked Gouda – perfect for any cheese plate.  The cream cheese and blocks are my favorite items by Daiya that I have tried.  I am able to find these products in the Natural section of most grocery stores.  Daiya also has several options for frozen pizza, cheesecake, yogurt and mac and cheese.

Tofutti Cream Cheese & Sour Cream/Daiya Strawberry Cream Cheese

Tofutti – Tofutti offers a limited selection of products, but don’t let that fool you!  They do offer Ricotta, cream cheese, sour cream and sliced cheese.  Sour cream was also a frequent condiment that I used so Tofutti saved me with their product.  It is very affordable and I can even find it in my small town.  Cream cheese is available in Plain, Herbs & Chive, French Onion and Garlic & Herb.  Traditional plastic wrapped cheese is available in American and Mozzarella to satisfy that classic grilled cheese fix.

Kite Hill Truffle Dill & Chive

Kite Hill – This is an almond milk based cheese that is cultured in a similar way as traditional cheese.  Kite Hill is a Whole Foods exclusive product as of right now.  I am telling you from experience that it is worth the drive or trip just for their products.  They offer artisinal cheeses, yogurts, cream cheese and ravioli.  Their cheese spreads are flavorful and can rival any traditional cheese spread.  The spreads are available in Original, Truffle Dill  & Chive, Soft Ripened (like Brie) and Ricotta.  They also offer cream cheese in Plain and Chive.  There are two flavor options for ravioli as well – Mushroom Ricotta and Spinach Ricotta.


Chao Creamy Original, Tomato Cayenne and Coconut Herb/Follow Your Heart Provolone and Pepper Jack

Chao by Field Roast – Field Roast is a gold standard in their meat as well as their cheese slices.  In my opinion, they are by far the best cheese slice product that I have tried thus far.  They are currently available in three flavors – Creamy Original, Coconut Herb and Tomato Cayenne.  All three flavors are perfect raw on top of crackers or melted in a grilled cheese and a bowl tomato soup.


Follow Your Heart Shredded Parmesan/Go Veggie Grated Parmesan

Follow Your Heart – Follow Your Heart was formed in 1970 in California as a grocery store and restaurant with an extensive product line including salad dressing, mayonnaise and cheese.  Their slices and blocks are available in Pepper Jack, Smoked Gouda, Garden Herb, Mozzarella, Provolone,  and American.  Shredded cheese is available on Pizzeria, Cheddar, Mozzarella and Fiesta Blend.  The coolest product that they have is Parmesan – available grated and shredded.  This is the perfect accompaniment to pizza, pasta or our house favorite – Mushroom Fries (Sliced mushrooms sprinkled with Parmesan and baked until crispy).

Trader Joe’s Mozzarella Shreds

There are plenty more brands of vegan cheese products on the market including Go Veggie and even store brands like Trader Joe’s.  While vegan cheese products can be quite expensive especially for the really good ones, there are alternatives that are affordable.  While I have been able to find some of these products in stores, you can also order them and have them shipped directly to your door!  I recommend Vegan Essentials since it provides so many vegan products all in one place and affordable pricing.

Bye y’all!

are you scared? part 1

What’s stopping you from being vegetarian or vegan?

Are you scared of tofu and meat alternatives?

Are you scared of being deprived?

Are you worried you’ll never get enough protein for those gains you’re working on?

Are you scared you’ll never have anything to eat?

Is it just too expensive for you?

But I can’t live without cheese!


I’ve been there with you.  I’ve had these hesitations and fears too.  I’m here to tell you that it’s OK.  The biggest advantage you can give yourself is to be open minded.  That changed everything for me.  I also challenge you try eating a few vegetarian or vegan meals each week.  If you do, let me know how you feel – Did you enjoy it? Did you hate it? Did you feel better or worse? What did you try?  Over this Friday mini series, I’ll show you that it is possible and worth it to try more plant based meals in your rotation.

Are you scared of tofu & meat alternatives?

Image result for tofu turkey everybody loves raymondI know what you’re thinking.  Tofu is what TV sitcom nightmares are made of in disguise as a tofu turkey at Thanksgiving dinner.  It can be so good!  My favorite use of tofu is baked crispy in an Asian stir fry, a tofu scramble as an egg replacement or silken tofu added to frozen fruit in a smoothie to add a delightful texture and protein boost.

In addition to tofu, there are LOTS of companies that have spent a ton of time and resources creating delicious replicas of your favorite meals as well.  Some of my favorite companies for meat alternatives are Gardein, Beyond Meat, Boca, Morningstar and Field Roast.  Most of the nutrition is comparable to the meat version or less in terms of calories and packed with protein.
pizza-watermarkGardein provides lots of options like fish, crab cakes, sweet and sour pork and even pizza pockets!  What’s better than cholesterol free pizza?



Beyond Meat is the new standard for beef beyond-watermarkalternatives and they do not disappoint.  Currently they provide a seasoned and original ground beefless product and a variety of chicken alternatives.  These delicious sliders pack 23 grams of protein in a single serving! Not too shabby!



boca-watermarkBoca and Morningstar make vegetarian and vegan options but the products are labeled clearly to distinguish which diet you follow.  My favorite Boca products are their beefless crumbles, chick’n nuggets and they have the BEST spicy chick’n pattie.  Morningstar offers more vegetarian products than vegan options.  The morningstar-watermarkvegetarian options that we enjoy are the wings – buffalo and parmesan garlic flavors, chipotle black bean crumbles and corn dogs.  Our favorite vegan option, hands down, is the hickory BBQ riblets.  Most of these products are found in the frozen food section of a lot of grocery stores.



field-roast-watermarkField Roast provides exact replicas of breakfast sausages, frankfurters and burgers that are worthy of any backyard BBQ.  These are usually found in the natural section of the grocery store.



Bye y’all!

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