Thursday, December 29, 2011

My family's favorite vegan foods.

I know there are a lot of people that are afraid of food that is particularly labeled as vegan, and advertised as vegan. For some reason,  when I was first introduced to some vegan foods, the thoughts that ran through my head before I tasted a particular "advertised vegan"  food would incite my gag reflex. And to be honest, sometimes I would just refuse to try a food that "scared" me.
My husband, already having been vegan, would wonder why some people would act so hypersensitive, some people even juvenile, at the first taste of a food that it seems they already have pre concieved notions about.

I remember being scared about trying meat- like alternatives, cheese- like alternatives, and milk- like alternatives. There were some I did not like the taste of right away, but there were some that I did like.
 I remember being quite surprised that I liked tofu. Before I had tasted tofu, I had this pre concieved notion that tofu which is made of soybean curd was absolutely discusting. Just the words soybean curd and tofu sounded weird, in the least. However, one bite of my husband's grilled blackened tofu sandwhich amazed me, and I have never thought of tofu as weird again. If anyone is curious about this sandwhich, it is topped with shredded carrots, veganaise (vegan mayonaise), tomato, lettuce, and made with spiced blackened tofu. It is made at New Frontiers Grocery & Deli. I believe they have one in Flagstaff, Arizona and Pomona, California, in addition to our local store in San Luis Obispo, California. The consistency of this tofu is the best I have tasted, and in my opinion in a class of its own. The consistency is to that of a very, very firm feta cheese, and I believe it comes fresh from a San Francisco tofu farm. I personally would not recommend any tofu that is sealed and comes packed in water from a typical grocery store, as this type of tofu has a consistency of the whites of a boiled egg. I like this tofu occasionally, but it isn't comparable in taste and consistency to the fresh farmed tofu you can buy at New Frontiers Grocery in fresh water containers.   

There is always the possibility, of course, that someone simply does not like a certain food after have tried many different brands or given it many different tries with room for variation.  But, I think the idea, no matter what a person may like or dislike,  is to dislodge our negative connotations we sometimes have with particular foods we have never tried with an open mind and mouth. My husband once asked me, "What should gross you out about any type of food that is plant based, when there are so many things that should gross you out food made from ground up or cut up animals, ground up bugs?" This started to ware at my mind and I slowly started changing the way I view food.

Also, there are some foods that have given me a surprise. For example, my husband likes curried vegetables and rice. Since he makes it often, I have been given many chances to try it. The smell has always intrigued me, and has always seemed aromatic, as such it was something I enjoyed being around when cooked, yet something I had tasted once long before I met my husband, and decided I hated. I tried it again years later with my husband, and I still hated the taste. And, my husband, of course, continued to make it for himself for years into our marriage, and I continued to love the aroma, now and again mentioning that small fact. So, when my husband made it again one night with curry powder instead of curry paste paired with curried broccoli as one of the vegetables, I tried it and I really liked it. Now, I eat curry when my husband eats curry, and I remind myself it's always good to try things over again when the recipe is changed slightly or simply when the mood strikes.
It might surprise you.

Now is for the part where I disclose that I am not vegan. I'm more of a flexitarian; Flexitarians are what some people like to call themselves when they are almost vegan or almost vegetarian.  I consume no milk, cheese, eggs, or meat at home. I eat out at most once a month and this is usually at a whole foods deli where I order vegetarian food or taco bell where I order a fast bean burrito. This is just how I eat. Some of my diet has been molded by my husband who is vegan, though some of my diet is a reflection of a choice I make now that I'm aware of what the word vegan even means. At one point, I did not even know what being vegan was, and now that I do, I can see the possibility of a future with less animal suffering, less diseased food, less diseased people, helping by taking part now with a flexitarian diet.  I still like some of my favorite non vegan foods that I might eat once in a blue moon but  there is a possibility 500 years from now people's ideas of eating may evolve more towards a flexitarian diet. 1,000 years from now, it's possible everyone might be vegan. Or, it's an equal possibility the world's cultural eating habits will stay about the same. I feel if I'm taking a 99.9% positive change to my diet I feel like I'm practically doing the 100% anyways.  On a whole, though, this may just reflect my character in general. I have never been a 100 % skewed left/right person unless I see a 100 % reason to do so.

So, on to yummy vegan foods! This is the part I've been wanting to get to.

 My first recommendation is Daiya cheese. This comes in a medium sized bag already grated. But be prepared. It is going to cost you between $5.79 and $6.49. But, it is that good.
It contains no soy or rice. It is made from arroroot flour, pea protein, tumeric as it's main ingedients. Nothing scary there! This cheese reminds me of Velveeta singles with the exception that it stretches and has a little more texture than just gooey velveeta. My family uses this cheese in quesadillas, mac n cheese, tacos, enchiladas, burritos, nachos. It's really that good. I wish I could have it on hand every single day in our house, but with the price I just can't. The calorie content is good though; It has about 90 cals for a serving.

Here is my second recommendation for anyone that loves shrimp. Again, it is really that good. A box of these vegan shrimps will cost you though. This high priced item is between $6.49 and $7.50 for about 25 yummy medium/large sized shrimps. It is low calorie pretty much, same as regular shrimp. The calories are about 100 cals for about 5 shrimps and it comes with a sweet chili sauce glaze that totally complements it perfectly if you are going for a fried rice type of meal which my youngest daughters and I love. Our whole family girls aged 2 yrs, 4 yrs, 10 yrs, my husband and I all give it the yummy stamp of approval.

My third recommendation tonight are these Spicy Black Bean Burgers.  For 4 burgers I think the cost is around $5 or $6. I honestly haven't paid attention the last few times my husband has picked these up at the grocery store the cost though so sorry if I'm off base. But as with the other two foods I've recommended tonight, you can see these are low calories as well and you would not believe how tasty these bean burgers are. I love beans, but my oldest daughter has only recently come to like them when they are in entres such as chili or burritos. Now, even though I like the taste of beans, this burger does not taste like beans, in my honest opinion. The texture is meaty, the taste medium spicy, and it does have corn kernells here and there for everyone's information. My husband usually is one to just like a straight burger without lots of vegetables or anything sticking together as chunks in a patty. He doesn't like the gardenburger for this reason. But he like this burger and I like this burger as well and so do all my 3 girls. We put them in the frying pan with a tablespoon of oil as per the instructions and grill them up and at the last minute put daiya cheese on to transform them into awesome cheeese burger patties, then last we put them on hamburger buns with any toppings we want. They are awesome. I really think the world would be amazed if they could taste these at a drive through. In my personal opinion, I think they are better than a regular hamburger patty.

For my local readers, the above 3 options can be found at New Frontiers Grocery and Deli in San Luis Obispo, Ca and daiya cheese can also be found at Grande Foods in Arroyo Grande, Ca.

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