Tag Archives: Vegan Shopping

Kimchi

I can’t seem to get enough of the new kimchi from Trader Joe’s.  Unlike the stuff I’ve seen in jars at the Asian market, it’s vegan, all natural (no preservatives or MSG), and it’s only $1.99 for a zipper bag that supposedly contains 11 servings.  For me it ends up being 2 or 3 servings.  It’s not super spicy, but it is fresh and flavorful and makes a good meal with some ramen or rice and tofu.

PS: Kimchi is a spicy pickled cabbage, a staple of Korean cuisine.  Some people love it; some people hate it, but if you haven’t tried it, you should.

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Product Review: Amy’s Vegan Margherita Pizza

When Daiya brand vegan cheese hit US markets a couple of years ago, it rocked the vegan world.  It’s a cheese sub that melts reasonably well!  Ever since then, my local awesome pizza place, Waldo Pizza, has started carrying it, and it has appeared in several frozen products such as Tofurkey’s vegan frozen pizzas.  Amy’s recently released a new vegan frozen pizza featuring Daiya, and since it was on sale at my local co-op, I decided to give it a whirl.

This was the perfect thing when I came home from work exhausted on Friday night and wanted to watch a movie.  It only took about 9 minutes to cook after pre-heating the oven.  It only dirtied one dish: the pizza cutter.  I was all for this.

It tasted really good too!  The Daiya did not disappoint (at least for a mostly vegan who hasn’t had mozzarella in several years), the tomato sauce was nice and chunky, and there was LOTS of good basil (making it a good, solid Margherita in my opinion, not just a glorified cheese pizza). I’m hesitant to admit this, but I actually ate the whole thing in one sitting!

Since it was on sale for $6.99, this was a pretty good deal.  It was cheaper than a comparable pizza from Waldo (about $9 + tip) and a LOT faster.  It was also cheaper than a Tofurkey brand vegan frozen pizza (usually about $8.99 but available in Pepperoni or supreme).  It would probably be cheaper to make this at home, sure, but that would be a lot of work.  I’m not opposed to making pizza from scratch, but having some fast, easy foods like this around the house actually saves me money on occasion.  I would have gotten take-out on Friday if I hadn’t had this in the freezer.  However, if I buy this again I will wait for it to go on sale again because it normally runs $8.69.  For that price, I would just as soon order Waldo Pizza.

Ramen: All Fancy and Grown Up!

When I was a freshman in college I spent Thanksgiving break with my Uncle Mike and Aunt Julie.  I jokingly told them that I was hoping to get a case of ramen noodles for Christmas.  They laughed, but lo and behold: Julie came back from Costco the next day with TWO big multi-packs of ramen for me: one chicken and one beef!  I was set for weeks!

However, if Julie had shown up to my graduation with a gift of ramen, I would have been less thrilled.  In fact, if she had told me at that point that I would one day be eating ramen again voluntarily, I would not have believed her.  I’d had too much of a good thing.

Now time has passed, and as an adult I realize that ramen can be much better than the crap I nuked in my dorm room way back when.  Recently having a really good bowl of ramen at Sapporo in New York has inspired me to experiment with the possibilities again.

Ramen means noodle soup.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be instant.  That said, my local Asian market has a whole aisle of instant ramen noodles, many much tastier than the Maruchan or Nissin brands you can buy at the grocery store.  Be careful: some of them are SUPER spicy!  Recently I went in after work and looked for varieties marked “vegetarian.”  I found several and chose one from Taiwan that was “Steam Mushroom Flavor.”

It was $2.59 for 4 servings.  I also picked up a pound of tofu for $1.29 (the cheapest in town).  When I got home, I prepared my ramen in the microwave and then added:

  • about 1/8 pound of tofu: $0.16
  • about 1/4 can of corn: $0.15
  • about 1/4 cup frozen spinach: $0.07
  • a handful of sliced mushrooms: $0.33

Then I microwaved the bowl for another minute or so, until the veggies were lightly steamed.  Then I added

  • a dollop of chili sauce: $0.02

=$1.38/serving

Granted, that is a lot more than the $0.25 or whatever for the plain ramen straight from the grocery store.  However, the benefit far outweighs the cost here, because I actually got some protein and vitamins with my ramen, plus extra flavor and textural variety.  And that’s still pretty darn cheap for a meal: cheaper than eating out anywhere.

If you try this at home, use whatever veggies happen to be taking up space in your produce drawer.  Just about anything would be good.

Then pop in your favorite movie from college…

OR may I recommend Tampopo?  It’s a Japanese “ramen western” with different vignettes: all related to food and all hilarious.  It’s one of my all-time favorites.

I’m glad to have ramen back in my life.  What’s your favorite way to eat ramen?  Leave me a comment.

Tofu, Mushroom, and Pea Shoot Stir Fry

Here’s a creation that I meant to blog before leaving for California:

If you remember my post from my first trip to California this summer, then you can imagine how excited I was to find pea shoots at Trader Joe’s here in town.

First I thought of stir-frying them with some sliced garlic, like they do at Ton Kiang in San Francisco, but then I decided to make a whole one-dish meal out of them by stir frying them with some tofu and mushrooms, also inspired by a dish at Ton Kiang.

I started by sauteing in a large wok:

  • 1 tablespoon fresh, minced ginger and
  • 3 cloves sliced garlic in
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Then I added:

  • 1/2 pound cubed firm tofu

and stir fried it over medium-low heat until browned, about 20 minutes.  Then I threw in

  • 1/2 pound sliced shiitake mushrooms:

and stir fried until tender, about 5 more minutes. Finally, I added:

  • 4 ounces pea shoots
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

…and cooked it for another few minutes, until the pea shoots were just wilted.  I served this over brown rice with a nice, hot cup of green tea.

This was a super simple but satisfying combination of flavors.

  • 1 tablespoon fresh, minced ginger: $0.25
  • 3 cloves sliced garlic: $0.15
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil: $0.13
  • 1/2 pound cubed firm tofu: $0.90
  • 1/2 pound sliced shiitake mushrooms: $2.69
  • 4 ounces pea shoots: $2.49
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce: $0.18
  • 1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar: $0.04
  • Brown rice: $0.65

= $7.48/4 servings

=$1.87/serving

Try getting take-out for that price!

Beet Me Up!

Best-Ever Beetroot Soup

I got a box from Door-to-Door Organics!  It was the Groupon deal of the day recently, so I got a box for half price, only $13!  It was so nice, I might actually subscribe.

My box included a bunch of beets, so I decided to make a recipe I’ve been meaning to try for a while: Best-Ever Beetroot Soup from the You Are What You Eat Cookbook by Dr. Gillian McKeith.  It was Wednesday wine, dinner, and Scrabble night with my BFF, and she just happens to be a beet fiend!  My Dad and a couple of vegan friends joined us as well.  It was way too much fun for a Wednesday night.

Anyway, Dr. McKeith says that this recipe is perfect if you are tired/anemic, since beets are a good source of iron and other minerals.  I didn’t know that; I just knew that they’re delicious!  I did modify the recipe by putting everything in the slow cooker for 6 hours instead of making it on the stove.

Best-Ever Beetroot Soup

1 tbsp olive oil (I omitted this)

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped

2 celery stalks, trimmed and sliced

1 large parsnip, trimmed, peeled and grated

6 small beetroot, trimmed, peeled and grated

1 wheat-free vegetable stock cube and 1 tsp wheat-free vegetable bouillon powder (I omitted these and used 4 cups of my homemade veggie broth, plus enough water to just cover the veggies)

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced (I used a garnet yam)

I also added 2 shredded carrots

1/3 of a cucumber, peeled and diced

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill

1.  Place the oil, onion, garlic, and celery in a large saucepan with 3 tablespoons of water.  Cook over a moderate to low heat, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes, until soft but not coloured.  *I skipped this step and just threw everything in the Crock pot raw.  Check out these great colors:

2.  Add the parsnip, beetroot, stock cube and bouillon powder to the pan with 1.25 litres cold water.  Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes *(or just throw it all in a slow cooker, along with the sweet potato, and cook on low for about 6 hours).

3.  Stir in the vinegar and sweet potato and continue to simmer for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife.

4.  Ladle into warmed soup bowls and serve garnished with the diced cucumber mixed with the dill.

This was light and fresh tasting and easy to make (especially since I used my food processor for all of that shredding).  It made about 10 servings, and the leftovers kept well for lunches throughout the week.

1 onion: $0.75

1 garlic clove: $0.10

2 celery stalks: $0.50

1 large parsnip: $0.36

6 small beetroot: $1.00

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar: $0.08

1 sweet potato: $0.86

2 carrots: $0.17

1/3 of a cucumber: $0.33

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill: $0.50

= $4.65

/10 servings

=$0.47/serving!  WOW!

CSA Bargain!

Cheap Organic Produce

Today’s Groupon deal is 1/2 off a box of organic produce from Door to Door Organics:

http://www.groupon.com/kansas-city/

http://www.doortodoororganics.com/

I can’t wait to get my box!  Hopefully, it will tide me over until the local produce starts showing up at the farmer’s market.