- When I decided to become a vegetarian at age sixteen, I had no idea how to make healthy choices. In the beginning I ate white breads, pasta and refined sugars followed by low-carb vegetarian diets.
- Over the years, I have learned not only how to fuel my body properly, but to also enjoy the meals in which I create. When I first tried to go vegan I tasted some really gross substitutes which almost made me want to give up altogether. This is why I would like to share some of my insight into vegan/vegetarian food options.
*Be careful when buying substitutes. Dairy-like products often contain dairy (like whey) even when they claim to be milk free. Veggie burgers are known to contain eggs which help hold the other ingredients together. Also, be aware of gluten... an animal bi-product used as a thickener in many products like Jellos, puddings and vitamins.
The only 100% VEGAN cheese substitute I can handle! I actually enjoy the cream cheese more than the real stuff. They also have American & Mozzerella "cheese" slices as well as regular and sugar-free Ice Cream.
Morning Star Farms (Some Vegan):
My favorite products from this company:
- Veggie Dogs
- Mini Corn Dogs
- Hot & Spicy Veggie Sausage Patties
- Garden Veggie Patties
- Grillers Prime (also come in vegan!)
- Black Bean Veggie Burgers
- Tomato & Basil Pizza Burgers
- Buffalo Wings (if you like spicy, these are great)
- Chik'n Veggie Patties
- MealStarters: Crumbles - makes excellent taco salads!
*I reccommend steering clear of veggie bacon in general... it's pretty gross. I also didn't care for Morningstar's Turkey Burgers, or Riblets (I found the sauce to be quite sugary)
Best store bought cookies I've ever had! They're also free of almost any alergen you can imagine-- including gluten. The brand offers soft-baked cookies, crunchy cookies, granola, chewy bars, chocolate bars and a variety of chocolate chips for baking!
Amy's (Some Vegan):
- Be careful if you're watching your weight. Although Amy's food is delicious, some of it is rather high in calories. I have yet to try the new line of Light & Lean meals they offer but those may be a better option if you're keeping track of calories.
A few of my favorites:
- Spicy Chili: Light in Sodium (Amy's has THE best vegan chili you can buy)
- Refried Black Beans: Light in Sodium
- Bowls: Brown Rice, Tofu and Vegetables
- Tofu Scramble Breakfast Wrap
- Southwestern Burrito
- Macaroni & Cheese (MY FAVORITE: VEGAN Version)
- Spinach Pizza Pocket
- Cheese Pizza Snacks
- California Veggie Burger (tastes a lot like grains-if you like that)
- Toaster Pastries (Pop-Tarts contain gluten! Eek!)
Late July Organic (Vegan):
*I'm a big fan of the peanut butter sandwich crackers! They also have Mini Whole Grain Sandwich Cookies.
Tofurky (Some Vegan):
- Jurky (unfortunately, I believe they stopped selling this product in stores so you have to purchase it from their website--however, it's the only vegan jurky I've ever enjoyed)
- Peppered Turkey Deli Slices
Road's End Organics (Vegan):
- I reccommend this brand's Dairy Free: Macaroni and Chreese
Soymilk has a different taste than most milk drinkers are used to. Maybe it's just soy in general that has a unique taste. In the begginning, it was hard for me to make the switch but now, I can't make myself drink dairy milk. I suggest starting with a more flavored soymilk at first if you don't enjoy the taste. Pretty soon you'll be drinking Light Original like me! If not, there are other alternatives like rice, coconut and almond milk.
- Silk Light Chocolate
- Silk Light Original
- Orignal Creamer
- Almond Milk: Dark Chocolate
Hummus, a mediterranian dip consisting of chick peas, olive oil, tahini, and cumin, comes in all different tastes and textures. Don't be afraid to experiment with creating your own perfect version. There are a few good store versions out there if you're too lazy to hit the kitchen:
- Sabra (Roasted Pine Nut & Supremely Spicy are my favorites)
- Trader Joe's (I really like their Edamame Hummus--soybean)
*Don't forget to stock up on a lot of delicious fruits and vegetables! Dole makes fruit cups with 100% juice and no added sugar which are wonderful for lunch packing. If you have farmers markets nearby, make use of them.
*I also suggest familiarizing yourself with lots of spices. Adding these to your recipes helps keep your tastebuds interested without adding calories or fat. Crushed red pepper, black pepper, cumin, cloves, oregano and anise seeds are common ones that I use!
*Have fun! Go grocery shopping during non-peak hours if you can. This way you are able to explore your options and educate yourself on the products your store offers. It also gives you a chance to READ THE INGREDIENTS!--Very important if you are going to live a Vegetarian/Vegan life.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.