Sunday, December 7, 2008

Vegan Cranberry Cabbage Coleslaw

This is a really simple, highly nutritious side dish or snack.

It takes about 15 minutes to make and just about anyone could make it. You can chop the veggies by hand or with a food processor, whatever you prefer.

By the way, WH Foods says this about cabbage:

Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C. It is also a very good source of fiber, manganese, folate, vitamin B6, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Cabbage is also a good source of thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, and protein.

Cabbage also contains phytochemicals called indoles and sulforaphane, the breakdown products of compounds called glucosinolates.

For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Cabbage.


  • 1/2 head of cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 head of red cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 cup Vegenaise or other vegan mayo
  • 3 tablespoons cranberry sauce

Directions: Mix everything together in a bowl. Serve cold.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A challenge!

Here's the deal:

1. Take $10
2. Go to a convenience store of your choosing.
3. Purchase food.
4. From what you purchase at the store for your $10, create a vegan meal for one or more persons.

Respond here with details of what you chose and how you prepared it. Pictures are welcome - although you may need to host them elsewhere.

All of the ingredients must come from the convenience store, with these exceptions:
* any spices or herbs you have in your kitchen
* water

Bonus points to those meals that require little preparation or cooking equipment, especially to those that require only a microwave oven.

DEADLINE: December 31, 2008

Everyone is a winner, but I will choose one person to receive the winner's choice of a vegan cookbook from the vegan soapbox:

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A month of vegan meals

I have started a wiki for anyone who wants to record a full month of vegan meals. The butternut squash soup at the left is part of a meal I had yesterday.

I started it because I think it's a good way to let others know "what vegans eat" - including the wide variety one can find by just looking at different vegans' months - as well as to take a closer look at what I eat myself (and try to improve it).

If you'd like to participate in the wiki go to:

Veggie soup in the microwave

Yes, Virginia, a delicious healthy soup can be had at home or in a motel room (one that's equipped with a microwave and a fridge). You'll need

1 microwave-safe bowl
vegetable broth
frozen vegetable mix (peas, carrots, beans, for example)

Pour broth into the bowl to about 1/2 or 2/3 of the bowl size. Toss in a small handful of frozen vegetables. Microwave for three minutes. Eat.

It seems like a no-brainer yet I did not think of this until just recently. I usually make a larger amount of soup in a pan on the stove. But yesterday I was in a mad hurry to eat and get on the road, because I was meeting a friend.

Throw in some cooked noodles or rice or a bit of ramen.
Add baked tofu (available already cooked in supermarkets), cut into chunks
Vary the broth (try a chicken-style, for example, or miso) and vary the veg mix
Crumble a veggie burger into it

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sweet potato and cannellini bean hummus

For me, one of the harder parts of veganism is in the sandwich department. How often can we eat hummus (well, actually, maybe every day would be fine for me)? How can we add some variety that will also appeal to more skeptical (usually omnivorous) friends and family? I am finding more and more recipes for spreads that appeal on every level.

The other day I made this dip from sweet potato and canned white beans. The recipe is from Vive le Vegan, a nice vegan cookbook with a special section on food for babies (as well as larger sections on breakfast and baked goods than I usually find in vegan cookbooks).

It has a slightly sweet taste, is good as a dip or a spread. It is very easy to make with a blender or food processor. It is going into my list of spreads I will make again.

In case you want to run out and get the ingredients before you get the cookbook, it contains cannellini beans, cooked yam, lemon or lime juice, garlic, olive oil, hot sauce, salt, pepper, toasted pine nuts, fresh cilantro (optional garnish).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Super Simple Soup

In one episode of Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares (or it might be the American version, Kitchen Nightmares), Gordon Ramsey is faced with a chef who likes to overcomplicate dishes. He challenges him to a taste test: both he and the chef will create a broccoli soup, using whatever ingredients they want (in addition to the broccoli). Others will then do blind taste tests and let them know which they prefer.

The chef created a cream of broccoli soup with something like fifteen ingredients (I'm not kidding). Gordon, on the other hand, used fresh broccoli, water, and salt. I think it was water but it may have been broth. Pretty sure it was water. You can guess it: Ramsey's simple soup won the contest, hands down.

I decided to go for it myself. I used frozen broccoli (a no-no for Gordon, which I do understand, but this is all about convenience and in this case I do not think it sacrifices flavor) and a quart of vegetable stock from the shelf. I brought the broth to a boil, tossed in about a third of a bag of broccoli (the smaller bag), cooked until the broccoli was done, then put it all in the blender. I sprinkled some cajun seasoning on top. Pepper would have been good, too, or paprika. It really was delicious and so very easy to make.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Simple Soft Tacos

Here's a simple, tasty taco recipe.

Taco Meat:
  • 12 oz can of pinto beans
  • 8 oz jar of salsa
  • 8 oz water
  • 1 cup TVP dry crumbles
  • packet of taco seasoning
Everything Else (all are optional):
  • Hot sauce
  • 4 green onions
  • 1/2 cup shredded soy cheese
  • 1/4 cup soy sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • guacamole or avocados
  • package of tortillas

  1. Heat a large skillet on the stove-top.
  2. Add everything listed for taco meat above into the skillet and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and stir frequently until liquid reduces to your liking.
  4. Warm tortillas in microwave.
  5. Make your own taco and enjoy!
You can serve this with a side salad, corn, rice, or whatever you like.

(The recipe doesn't come from Vegan Planet, shown in the photo, though I do highly recommend that cookbook.)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Get dressed quickly but carefully

I had lunch at a restaurant today. The salad was made of lettuce still glistening with water, along with shredded carrots and a few cucumber slices. The weak dressing was on the side. As I bit into this concoction it occurred to me that many people don't care for salads because this is what they think they are. Yet even in a restaurant, even with average cooks with little time, they can be much more.

"God is in the details", they say. I think cooking is in the details. Small details, just a matter of paying attention.

My mother first told me about salads. She told me to use a wooden salad bowl and olive oil, because olive oil does not get rancid, whereas other vegetable oils do. Actually, olive oil does go rancid. The various so-called experts seem to disagree on whether the use of olive oil to "season" a wooden salad bowl is good practice. I think the best bet is to use food-grade mineral oil for seasoning an unfinished bowl but go ahead and use olive oil in your salads. Do a quick wash and dry after eating up the salad and let the bowl air dry. Never put wooden bowls (or utensils) in the dishwasher.

My stepmother took me farther into the salad creation world, showing me how to create a classic dressing. She made this salad every day that I knew her and I doubt anyone eating it ever tired of it.

If you have a wooden bowl you can use this method for making a simple classic salad (scroll down farther for the quicker version, though; this is vegan convenient, after all):

Smash a clove of garlic with a large chef's knife (or with some kind of garlic crusher). Place it in the wooden salad bowl. Use a wooden spoon to smash it up more in there. Add salt - 1/2 to 1 tsp, more if you like - and use it as a grinder to grind the garlic more.

Add about a teaspoon or more of dry mustard, grind that together a bit, then pour in olive oil. The standard formula calls for three parts oil to one part vinegar; let your own taste be your guide (you can adjust later). So start with about 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil. Smash the garlic and mustard, salt, and oil around the bowl until it is an opaque blend. There can be bits of garlic lying around. If you want to take out some of those bits go ahead. Depends on your love of garlic.

Whisk in 1/8 c red wine vinegar, or less. Taste, add pepper, adjust seasonings.

To make the salad:

Use prewashed baby spinach, romaine, or other good quality greens. Iceberg lettuce is useless for nutrition and has no flavor. If these greens are wet for some reason dry them with a clean dish towel. This is one of those steps that really do matter. Wet salad greens do not a great salad make. Tear the greens into the bowl. Add any other ingredients you like, but if you use tomatoes or other similarly watery vegetables, remove the watery seeds first so you don't dilute the taste.

Take wooden salad forks and toss, coating the ingredients with the dressing from the bottom of the bowl.


Put 1 clove garlic, 1 tsp dry mustard, 1/3 c red wine vinegar, 2/3 c extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper in blender. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Tear fresh dry greens into bowl. Add as much dressing as you prefer, and toss together. Serve.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dipping: not just hummus any more.

I made this white bean dip this morning. It contains roasted garlic (five cloves), rosemary, cannelini beans, lemon zest and juice, a bit of olive oil and red wine vinegar. Oh yeah, and some salt and cayenne pepper. It was easy to make (using a food processor) and tastes really good.

The recipe is in the 125 Best Vegan Recipes cookbook. I recommend this book to anyone just starting out as a vegan - it is nonthreatening, the recipes are clear and easy to make, and so far they have all been delicious. Well, I recommend it to any vegan really. Or nonvegan.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Convenient Vegan Camping

Being a vegan camper might seem a little daunting if it's your first time doing either. Being vegan is hard enough. Camping is hard enough, so vegan camping must be really hard, right?


It's really pretty simple to stay vegan while camping or stay camping while vegan. Here are just a few resources to get you started. After this, use your imagination (or just use your favorite search engine):

  • TVP (textured vegetable protein) is your friend. Lightweight, high protein, just add hot water and spices. It's great for camping: make tacos, stews, sloppy joes...

  • Peanut butter and __! Bring your PB and jelly, bananas, agave nectar, apples, carrots, celery, or whatever else you like with peanut butter.

  • Oatmeal is lightweight, healthy, and cooks up with just hot water.

  • REI has a vegetarian section in the camp food department. Check it out >>

  • TastyBite makes vegetarian and vegan meals that don't need refrigeration.

  • Fantastic Foods is another brand that offers boxed meals.

  • If you bring a cooler you have more options like veggie burgers and veggie dogs.

  • If you're not packing light you have more options too, like tons of fresh fruit and veggies as well as canned foods or the heavier dried foods like beans.

  • Whatever you can cook over a gas flame you should be able to cook on a barbecue or a camp stove.

  • Whatever you can cook in an electric or gas oven you should be able to cook in a solar oven.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Another variation of the pot pie

A healthier pot pie can be made with just one crust. In the case pictured at the left, I mixed together one package of Hain's vegetarian brown gravy mix with 1 cup of water and heated, stirring occasionally, until thickened (just a few minutes). I dumped one package of "tuscan vegetables" (a bag of broccoli, mushrooms, red peppers, and onions) into a large pie place, added a half-bag of "stew vegetables" (carrots, potatoes, onions, celery) on top, and poured the brown gravy over it all.

I then inverted a still-frozen pie shell over the top and gently eased it out. Once out I pushed it down a bit so the edge would contact the pie plate.

I cooked the pie at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. When I scooped out the first serving I noticed that there was a layer of liquid spread at the bottom. After a little while, though, the liquid stabilized. My advice, then, is to let the pie sit about five minutes after you take it from the oven to let the juices thicken a bit and stay with the veggies rather than leak out.

Obviously, if you use a smaller pie pan you might prefer to use just one bag of frozen veggies rather than 1-1/2 bags. The broccoli stayed green in this case, so that tuscan mix was a good choice. Another option is to add drained canned potatoes to the mix, roughly chopped, instead of stew veggies.


1 frozen pie crust - white or whole wheat
1 to 1/2 bags of frozen vegetable mix (there are many varieties available)
1 packet of vegetarian brown gravy mix (the type that calls for one cup of water)

Add canned potatoes, roughly chopped

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chains & Fast Food for Convenient Vegan Food

These are the old standbys for when there’s nothing else available at that time or day, at that price point, or in that quick time-frame. Being vegan doesn't mean you have to eat healthy, home-cooked, unprocessed meals all the time. Though a whole foods diet is best for your health and the environment, chain restaurants and fast food have a place in modern society. Here are just a few places where you can find convenient vegan options:

For vegetarians, order the veggie sub. For vegans, get the veggie sub minus cheese on Italian bread (other Subway breads have animal products like cheese or egg in them).

Carl’s Jr.
Most Carl’s Jr. locations offer a salad bar, baked potatoes, and a few other vegan meals. If you’re on a budget or in a rush, this might be a good choice.

Del Taco
Just like Carl’s Jr., this is a good option if you’re budget is tight or if you’re in a hurry. Get a plain bean burrito without cheese or customize another menu item to omit the meat and dairy.

Taco Bell
Same as Del Taco - get it without cheese, meat, sour cream, etc.

For baked potatoes or salads.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Comfort food: veggie pot pie

A veggie pot pie can really be easy as pie. Made from items in your freezer and cupboard. And so delicious. Of course, put an old shoe in between two pieces of flaky crust and someone is bound to rave over it. Admittedly, the crust is not the healthiest food on the market, but there are some ways to reduce its effects.

For this veggie pot pie, start with the ingredients in the picture:

- bag of frozen "stew vegetables". Might be nice to get some that are not in huge chunks like these are but these do work.
- two frozen pie shells - vegan, of course (usually they are but not always) - you might want to choose whole wheat crusts if your grocer's freezer has them, for additional flavor and greater healthfulness.
- onion - or not, depends on your preferences - could also use frozen chopped onion
- mushroom or brown gravy mix, vegan. I didn't see any at my store, so I grabbed a can of sliced button mushrooms and some veggie broth instead, along with superfine flour (rice flour or regular wheat flour can substitute)
- soy-based vegan margarine

Not shown here: veggie seasoning. There are so many varieties of seasoning mixes out there. Go for flavors you love. I chose Spice Hunter's veggie grilling spice.

The steps:

Take the pie shells out of the freezer and separate. Let thaw a bit while you prepare the filling.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt 1-2 Tbsp of margarine in a saute pan. Chop the onion (if using) and add to pan, cook over medium heat, stirring, until it starts to get translucent. Add in drained can of mushrooms (if using). Stir and cook about a minute.

Add 1 - 2 Tbsp of flour (fine flour or rice flour is nice for gravies). I used 2 Tbsp here. Mix together, cook for about 30 seconds. Add vegetable broth, about two cups, a little at a time, stirring until mixed and thickened each time.

Alternatively, make up a batch of brown or mushroom vegan gravy from a packet.

Dump in the bag of frozen vegetables. Stir to coat and mix together. Add a generous dollop of vegetable seasoning (shake it on) and mix it up.

Pour into one of the frozen pie shells. Invert the second shell over the first. If it is mostly thawed you should be able to pat it down gently over the mixture and seal the edges by crimping them. Poke some holes in the top with a sharp knife.

Bake for about an hour. Check after about 20 minutes. If the crust is already browned you can tear some aluminum foil and wrap it around the edges to keep the crust from burning. Look for signs of bubbling filling. After 30 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees.

It's so yummy you'll want others around to share it.


* Use different mixes of vegetables. Add peas, corn, beans. If you use smaller pieces you can fit more in there and thus the ratio of good to bad (where "bad" is the oil in the crust) will increase. Add in fresh or frozen chopped bell peppers.
* Try a one-crust version. Pour the mixture into a pie pan and put a crust on top only.
* Use puff pastry - either as a full pie or smaller pockets.
* Use "chicken" vegan gravy.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wrap parties aren't just for movie makers

Consider having a wrap party after the next football game. Or protest. Or whatever. Or just offer the materials for lunch or dinner.

Displayed here are several ingredients that can be made into wraps: avocados, salsa, sliced bell peppers, sliced tomatoes, sliced baked tofu, hummus, vegan mayo, veggie pate, little greens, and soy chorizo.

The soy chorizo can be cooked up in a few minutes in a saute pan and can be hot or cold. You might like to add refried beans and offer the option of making hot burritos.

This type party lends itself well to a group event, where each person brings one or two ingredients.

To make it even more fun and enjoyable consider taping a list of suggested groupings on the wall near the ingredients. For example, note that these ingredients go well together: hummus, soy chorizo, sliced tomatoes, avocados. For a great list of possibilites with catchy names, take a look at Vegan Express, by Nava Atlas.

Oh, one more advantage: leftovers. These kinds of ingredients move readily into other dishes later.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Vegan Fire and Spice: Just What the Tastebuds Ordered

Robin Robertson’s new cookbook, Vegan Fire and Spice, is garnering rave reviews from all over. And with good reason. The dishes are easy to make, use commonly-available fresh ingredients, and offer a splendid array of tastes.

Many of us who have been vegetarian or vegan for a while reach a point when we want to do more than order Indian take-out. We want to make Indian take-out. Not to mention African, Caribbean, South American, and more. We want to shake up our own kitchens by bringing in different techniques and flavors. This book promises to give us the means. The book is a reworking of Robertson’s Some Like it Hot, with all recipes veganized and 25 additional recipes added. It is also the first to be published by Robertson’s new enterprise, Vegan Heritage Press. I recently tested several of the recipes from different parts of the book and all were successful. Some made it to a coveted place on my sure-to-make-again list because they are simply too good.

The cookbook is divided into sections, each section a geographical region that is known for spicy and hot dishes. When you open to that section there is a list of recipes, categorized by “appetizers”, “soups”, and so on. The recipes, then, are not listed in their entirety in one place. The index is complete, however, so if you are looking for a specific recipe and don’t remember where it comes from you will find it there. It makes sense to look within a region for a menu of dishes rather than take a chance on mixing cultures, picking one from Italy and another from China, for example. For this reason I find the arrangement agreeable.

Each recipe is on its own page. No sharing. I prefer this standard, as it’s easier to find the recipe and to follow it.

There are no pictures, other than on the cover. I love pictures but I appreciate the economies of leaving them out. It adds to the adventure, too.

The recipes are easy to make. I admit to being an occasionally ambitious cook, happy at times to create complex dishes that take specialized skills. Most of the time, though, I prefer to put together meals quickly and easily and know they will turn out right even when some parts go wrong or I have to substitute some ingredients. Forgivable recipes, I call them, that’s what I look for.

From my experiments with Fire and Spice, I believe that’s what we have here: forgivable recipes. When I made the Senegalese soup (p. 119) the first time I got distracted and burned the mix of onions and celery. I didn’t want to start over so I scraped out the less-burned parts and dumped them in another pan and continued on. I suspect the soup would have been better if I’d had the full contingent of onion and celery and none of it was burned but it was nonetheless delicious. When I made the vegetable pakoras I didn’t chop the cauliflower enough, and I made the mistake of throwing in the cauliflower before I had the flour and water mixed. But I soldiered on and although the pakoras were not beautiful they were tasty indeed. Way too tasty, considering I made a full batch and there was only the one of me in the house.

Some of the mistakes I made came about because the recipes are not always as specific as they could be. One recipe calls for two Granny Smith Apples, another for a head of cauliflower, another for one or two yams or sweet potatoes. Not all of these recipes specify the size of these vegetables or an alternative measure, like weight or number of cups. In my experience some vegetables and fruits can vary dramatically in size. Sometimes the directions lack a little: the pakora recipe says to mix enough water into the flour mix to “make a batter”. But how thick?

And sometimes the timing is off. When I made the Chickpea and Green Bean Curry (p. 158) I had to make my dinner guest wait because it took much longer for the green beans to cook than estimated. My beans were fresh and cut according to directions and I think they were typical of what you would find in a grocery vegetable section, so I’d suspect my experience would be typical. Most of the time I did find the time estimates within the recipes to be accurate, however. What I would have appreciated, though, would have been estimates of time to make the entire dish.

Minor gripes. Most of the recipes do list ingredients by weight or cups and most of the directions are clear and unmistakable in intent.

The recipes call for fresh vegetables and fruits most of the time. Occasionally they require canned diced tomatoes or canned beans, but most of the ingredients are fresh, as they would be in their native countries. This means you do need to do a little preparation. The good news is that most of this preparation can be done ahead of time, as it would be in a restaurant if you were the sous chef (according to Wikipedia the more correct term may be commis chef, one who prepares vegetables unaided). The better news is that this is basic prep, nothing fancy, nothing beyond you.

Should you be new to kitchen equipment or preparation, though, there is a helpful section at the beginning of the book that tells you all you will need to know. There is also a section on the nature of spices, chiles, and other “exotic” ingredients. I inserted the quotation marks because seitan is about as exotic as they get here, meaning you should be able to find most of the ingredients, or reasonable substitutions, in any well-stocked grocery store, and the few remaining can be obtained at a natural foods store or even online.

Using fresh ingredients means the dishes will taste as good as they should. It’s worth using the freshest you can find because you’ll notice the difference.

Even though I see this book as the guide to an adventure the seasoned vegan is going to want to take, a brand new vegan cook can confidently prepare these delicious dishes and be proud.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

On equipping the kitchen

On Vegan Convenient we focus on the easy ways to get the food to the table without sacrificing taste or nutrition. We do need some equipment, though.

With What do I Cook?
An overview of cooking equipment

Although many of us like trying many different types of foods to find new tastes and uses for plant-based foods, when we cook such foods ourselves we rarely need any kind of specialized equipment. The basic vegan kitchen is really a simple kitchen.

The Basics
The basics will get you through most recipes. You can chop vegetables with a knife and cutting board, saute in frying pans, boil water and make soup or cereal in the large or small saucepan, mix simple cookies or salads or casserole mixtures in the large bowl.


It's possible to get by with one knife, a chef's knife, but we believe in three types:

Chef's knife
Bread knife (serrated blade)
Paring knife

It's helpful at times to have more than one paring knife, possibly different sizes, but one will do. You'll want a knife sharpener as well. Whatever is recommended for the type knives you purchase. It isn't necessary to get the very best knives, as lovely as they are. A decent medium-quality brand should give you many years of good service.

If you are serious about cooking, learn how to use that chef's knife to its full advantage. When you have the skills, throwing together many fresh ingredients won't throw you.


Frying pans: cast iron is great for adding iron to your diet and for cooking foods that require high heat, and to boot these pans are not expensive. It's nice to have the chef's pans, the expensive ones, but really you can do very nicely with a set of two or three reasonably-priced pans, whether cast-iron or stainless steel or some other material. You'll probably want to avoid aluminum and teflon because of their potential effects on your health.

Sauce pans: Another set of three, varying sizes. Good to have a set with heavy bottoms, again not aluminum or teflon. With lids.

Baking pans: Useful to have a cookie sheet or two. Cookie sheets can be used for components of many main dishes as well as for cookies.

Bowls and cups:

Two mixing bowls, one large and one small, should do you.
1 liquid measuring cup
1 dry measuring cup set


Pancake turner (aka spatula; depends on what country you're in)
Large mixing spoon
A set or two of measuring spoons

Cutting boards:

It's handy to have more than one. Wood is safer than plastic (bacteria survive on plastic longer than on wood).

Beyond the basics: making it easier:

If you find you have a real yen for this cooking thing, so much so that you want to branch out into sauces and smoothies and dips and many many chopped things and even some fancy baked stuff, you'll find that this equipment makes it easy and so much fun:


Regular blender. Find a good one. Don't just get the one on sale. Check the resources page at the end of this book for websites that offer unbiased reviews of kitchen equipment.

High-performance blender. A Vita-mix or equivalent high-performance blender can do things ordinary blenders can't, like make almond butter and whole fruit juices.

Immersion blender. Great for pea soup and similar mixtures. Just stick in the pot at an angle and whir away. Easier than processing batches of hot liquid in a regular blender.

Food processor. Again, don't go for the cheapest. You should be able to find a decent medium-size processor for not much more than the cheaper models and the first time you chop vegetables you'll be happy you did. Check reviews. Don't be fooled by advertising and don't compare on the basis of options. If you think you'd like to make bread with your food processor, you'll need to step up to a higher-quality one.

Plastic chopper. There are many of these out there, the small choppers with handles you turn. They are inexpensive, can replace a food processor for many foods (like onions), and usually are easy to clean.

Rice cooker. Rice cookers are simple beasts that do a great job on all kinds of rice. You can cook a whole pot full or less, and freeze what's left over in portion-size baggies.

Miscellaneous appliances. Grillers are great for grilled vegetables and sandwiches. Waffle irons make terrific vegan waffles. A stand mixer makes many mixing chores much easier and if it is heavy-duty enough it can make bread dough too. Crock pots continue to give us a way to get a meal started that can cook itself while we are away; especially handy for chile, soup, stew.

For most home cooks, a minimum of equipment is necessary to create a wide variety of delicious vegan meals. We recommend starting with the basics and adding as needed, as your interest expands. It can be a lot of fun to try dozens of recipes from the many excellent vegan cookbooks out there.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Easy roasted vegetables

left: unbaked vegetables ready to go into oven

One type of convenient product I have come to love is the spice or herb blend. I have a "greek seasoning" blend and a "creole seasoning" blend that can be used on almost anything. One example is this easy roasted veggie dish. These are general directions because the dish will vary with what you have on hand, what you like, how much you want to make.

Use fresh vegetables from your refrigerator. Or you could use the stew-type frozen vegetable mixes available in grocery markets for an even easier version. Root vegetables, like potatoes and turnips and onions, make fine roasting fodder. Bell peppers of any color, leeks, squash, all are good. The cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage and broccoli, may not fare as well but could work if the dish is covered long enough to get them steamed. Corn could make a great addition (frozen or fresh).

Estimate how many veggies you'll need based on how many will be eating and how big a pan you'll be using. You'll want the veggies to make a layer that is not too thick so they will all cook evenly. Wash and cut the vegetables into bite-size chunks. Leave skins on potatoes.

left: roasted vegetables ready to eat

Pile the vegetables into a shallow roasting dish or casserole. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons (or more, depending on how many there are, you want a very light coating) of olive oil on top, and a generous amount of greek seasoning mix on top of that (or try another seasoning mix that goes well with vegetables, like Italian). Mix lightly and cover the pan (with a lid or with foil). Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, stirring two or three times. Remove lid or foil and let cook 5 - 10 minutes uncovered.

Monday, June 2, 2008

7 Vegan Convenience Foods

There are more vegan convenience foods than some omnivores imagine. You just have to know where and how to find them. That's where this blog comes in. We help you make veganism convenient through quick and easy cooking as well as vegan convenient foods.

Erik at listed a few vegan convenience foods in his last podcast. We thought we'd share that great resource.

Here are the vegan convenience foods Erik recommends:
  1. Clif, Luna, Lara, and Probar Energy Bars
  2. Kettle Chips
  3. Tings
  4. Late July Crackers
  5. Almond Butter Balls
  6. Primal Strips
  7. Annie’s Goddess Dressing
Personally, I enjoy Lara bars and Luna bars the most. I don't much care for Probars, but we're all different and you might like them a lot. Energy bars are an excellent emergency food to keep in your purse or backback for those times when you're stuck with omnivores who refuse to accommodate your eating preferences. Or, obviously, they're great on hikes or bike rides, too :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fantastic Foods

Fantastic Foods makes convenient boxed meals that can be prepared on a stovetop, a plug-in burner, a microwave, or a campfire. Talk about convenient!

They make vegan chili, burgers, taco filling, scramble, soups, dips and more.

Here's a complete list of their vegan foods >>

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Convenient: Web Recipe Search

So, let's say you've got some vegetable - don't ask why - and you're not sure how to cook it. You look it up in some of your cookbooks but none of the recipes look appealing. Or, the recipes that look tasty require additional ingredients you haven't got in your cupboard. So what do you do?

Why, you get online and search the web, that's what.

Check these websites out. They offer custom recipe searches that can help you find the perfect recipe:
  • Vegan Recipe Search - searches a set of specific vegan recipe blogs and websites to find vegan recipes for you
  • Vegan Food - searches a database of recipes from
  • Veg Cooking - PETA's veg*n recipe database
Well, that's enough to get you started. More to come in the future :)

Convenient Vegan Cookbooks

It can be difficult being vegan. Especially when you're a new vegan and you don't know all the "ins and outs" of vegan shopping and cooking. Sometimes you can feel like being vegan is so hard that you might just think about dropping your new vegan habit.


Please don't give up on veganism. Giving up on being vegan is giving up on yourself. You're not giving yourself enough credit. You CAN do this! You can!

Here is a list of some cookbooks that can help. These books make vegan cooking simple, easy, convenient, and cheap:

Specifically about vegan convenience and ease:
Specifically for quick vegan meals:
Specifically for cheap vegan meals:
Specifically for single vegans:

And here are some great beginner books for the newly vegan:

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Convenient: CousCous

Here's one of the most convenient vegan foods available: couscous.

Couscous is a wheat product that cooks in only 5 minutes. You can eat it where ever you'd eat pasta or rice. So you can eat it with stir-fried veggies, baked tofu, or beans. Or you can eat it alone with some spices. No matter how you eat it, couscous sure is convenient.

Wikipedia says this about couscous,
"The couscous available to buy in most Western supermarkets has been pre-steamed and dried, the package directions usually instruct to add it to a little boiling water in a pot and covering for 5 minutes to make it ready for consumption. Another quick and easy method is to prepare it by placing the couscous in a bowl and pouring the boiling water or stock over the couscous, then covering the bowl tightly. The couscous swells and within a few minutes is ready to fluff with a fork and serve. Pre-steamed couscous takes less time to prepare than dried pasta or grains such as rice."

You can even cook couscous in the microwave. Just boil the water in the microwave and add the couscous, let it sit for a few minutes and then fluff it up and eat it.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Please pass the mustard

What have we here? Two packages of convenience food if I ever saw any. Smart Dogs and crescent rolls.

Combined, they make

Pigs in blankets! Vegan version. And they aren't as bad for you as the other kind. These are not going to be to everybody's taste but we figure there is a wide range of veganism in this world, and some of us crave things like this from time to time.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

On Veganism and Convenience

The last post was about making veganism more convenient. These links are to articles about how easy veganism is or why the convenience issue doesn't matter at all. Take a look:
  • Convenience/Inconvenience Myth - "if one is concerned with the "convenience" of their diet, they necessarily sacrifice their health, which does nothing to improve the force of their argument - nor does it disprove the argument that a similarly [un]healthy vegan diet can be equally convenient; if, however, one is interested in eating a diet that is in their health interests or welfare, one will do well to put the necessary thought and effort into their food selection and avoid the downfalls of mere convenience."
  • Isn't Being Vegan Difficult? - "It's profoundly more difficult to make excuses for inflicting avoidable violence on innocent beings, or to deny it, or to try and not think about the consequences of your actions, or to fend off your conscience. That wears on you, one way or another."
  • Isn't Being Vegan Inconvenient? - "I don't feel inconvenienced when restaurants become exercises in patience, or when I've read the whole ingredients list only to realize that it said it had dairy in it in bold print at the bottom. I don't feel inconvenienced when by best-friend gets in a fussy mood and calls me a rabbit-food eating hippy or when I have to bring my own lunch to school every day. Those small and acceptable consequences are the trade-offs that I hardly notice for looking at the pay-out."
  • Isn't being vegan really inconvenient? - "At first, not having so many options when it comes to being a consumer might seem a bit daunting, but once you know your stuff and get a little organised, it's really quite incredibly easy!"

PS - Here's a convenient vegan meal: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Making Veganism More Convenient

Here are two resources with suggestions to make veganism more convenient for you:
  • Veganism and (in)convenience - "Don't give up on the whole thing because you mess up a couple of times. You won't be struck down if you forget to check for whey powder until you've eaten half the packet of crisps. But it doesn't mean you might as well go back to your old eating habits! A new vegan who makes a few mistakes is still on track to do a whole lot more good than someone who doesn't even try. Just remember to check the label next time, huh?"
  • 10 Helpful Techniques For Vegans Dealing With NonVegans - "The mistakes nonvegans often make are numerous, too many to list here, but some common misunderstandings are these:
    a) many people still assume fish and poultry is vegetarian, remind them it’s not,
    b) lots of people don’t understand what “dairy” really means and they think butter or yogurt (especially if it’s fatfree) is vegan, remind them that dairy means milk and all milk products,
    c) many people forget about broth, oil/lard, and those other little details, if you think something might contain those items, ask."
PS - Here's a convenient vegan food: a bean and rice burrito.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Quick and Easy

Need something really quick and really easy? Think frozen foods.

Here is a snack or side dish:

Just take some frozen veggies, any package will do, and empty it into a ceramic or glass dish. Add some water, about half a cup, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave it for about 3-5 minutes. Then drain the veggies and put them on a plate or in a bowl. Season them with Mrs. Dash, Tony Chachere's, or your favorite spice blend.

Now eat.

I didn't say it was going to be the best meal of your life. But it's quick, easy, and relatively healthy :)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Win the "Vegan Express" Cookbook!

Win a vegan cookbook at Vegan Soapbox!

Vegan Soapbox is giving away a vegan cookbook and one of the options is Vegan Express, a cookbook practically designed for readers of Vegan Convenient.

Head on over there and enter the contest if you'd like to win a free vegan cookbook!

Click here to win a vegan cookbook at Vegan Soapbox!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Convenient: Frozen Oatmeal

This is a pretty funny story from Bitter Sweet:

"Convenience foods are undeniably attractive options when compared with traditional, time-consuming dishes, and so I can see how easy it is to get lured in by the seductive notion of easy eating. Just heat and go! [...] Homemade is always infinitely better, but unless you do nothing but cook all day long, it isn’t always a realistic possibility.

"On the other end of the spectrum are those pointless conveniences that are made for the laziest and most reluctant cooks, and stumbling upon a box of frozen, steel-cut oatmeal at Trader Joe’s I thought for sure I had another one to add to the list. Seriously, frozen oatmeal? How busy/cooking-incompetent/mentally impaired would you have to be to need pre-cooked, frozen oatmeal?"

She buys the oatmeal and ends up eating her words. She loves it.

Some convenience foods seem like a ridiculous waste of money and cardboard packaging. But some, well some are just tasty :)

On the other hand, oatmeal is a pretty convenient food, regardless of what kind you buy. Even the regular stuff that's not quick-cook is simple and convenient. Just add water and heat up!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Convenient: Microwaves

When we first imagined this blog, Vegan Convenient, we were traveling. We stayed in motels with mini-fridges and microwaves. Aside from eating out and eating raw, all of our vegan meals were prepared in the microwave.

Microwaves are one of the most convenient methods of preparing vegan meals. They cook food up fast and they require very little space.

You can cook frozen, fresh, or canned foods in the microwave, but did you know you can also cook up rice in the microwave?

Look! It's a microwavable rice cooker.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Childhood Favorite Soup

When I was very young my siblings and I wanted Lipton's chicken noodle soup all the time. My mother decided to make it every day until we got sick of it. And sick of it I did indeed get. Still, the thought of such homey soups makes me a wee bit nostalgic for the days when I didn't have to worry about much beyond what I had for lunch.

It's comfort food. So it's natural that there would come a time when I would want to bring that memory alive again, without the real chicken, excess salt, or pitiful broth. And so I put together this vegan version.

I had some "veat" left over from the "chicken" salad I made recently, reported here. I sliced that up while I heated some vegetable broth. In this case I used vegetable broth cubes in boiling water because that's what I had. To the boiling broth I added the veat "breast" slices, some chopped red pepper, and frozen peas. When it started to boil again I tossed in a chunk of cappellini that I had broken into pieces. In a few minutes it was done, ready for salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Honest. It's a lot better than Lipton's.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Saying no to Veggie Brothers

Today I decided to place an order with Veggie Brothers. I noticed that all of the entrees and appetizers are varieties of fake meats. Several were on the order of "hot and spicy chicken wings", however, and I remembered just how tasty such concoctions can be. Not too long ago I ordered some from a vegan Thai restaurant on Melrose in Los Angeles (yes, vegan Thai, and no, I do not know why spicy chicken wings in a Thai restaurant).

The other items for sale include "home cooking" items like mashed potatoes, pasta, veggie chicken noodle soup. What is nice about the Veggie Brothers offerings is that you can order a single serving, a family-size package, or even a "food service" pack. Because I had not tried their food before I chose several single serving items and one family pack (yes, southern fried "chicken"). I looked at the shipping information and did not see any cost information at this point so I went ahead filling out the order.

My total was about $50, which seems a good amount for a trial of this sort. The items are frozen so I knew there would be some expense involved in the shipping, as there is at the other two vegan food delivery services I have tried (Hungry Vegan and BuyKind).

I knew shipping would be more than amazon but I wasn't expecting to be socked with a $50 "special handling" charge on top of the shipping charge. I looked into it and learned that deliveries west of the Mississippi must go by air, which requires the use of dry ice, which is what the extra charge is for.

So curses. I just couldn't justify it for my order. And I don't want to order a huge amount in case I don't like any of it. So I won't be ordering from veggie brothers until they open a plant closer to home.

Now it's up to you! If you live east of the Mississippi and have tried veggie bros or want to, please do! And let us know about your experience.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Tale of Two Salads

The other day I happened to catch an episode of "semi-homemade" on the food channel. In this episode, Sandra Lee created a cashew chicken salad using deli coleslaw, cooked chicken strips, mandarin oranges, and cashews (a bit of olive oil optional). I thought this might be a good candidate for veganizing. So here's how I went about trying that:

First I made a vegan coleslaw because I couldn't find one at my local deli. I made the one I described in this post. Easy to make, tasty. Can keep in fridge a day or so.

Second, I took a package of Veat vegetarian chicken breast from the freezer. It looks like this:

When I took it out of the package it looked like this:

I didn't really want to eat that. Doesn't look so good. But I thought maybe I could make it more appetizing by cooking it in a teriyaki sauce. For this purpose, I chose Trader Joe's Soyaki sauce. I cut the baby out of its little plastic package and cooked it on the stove in a small frying pan, turning it now and then to get it warm and covered with the sauce. When I could put a fork in it I took it out and sliced it. It looked like this:

So that did help. At least aesthetically. I cut these slices into two pieces, bite-sized. Then I was ready to put it all together. Coleslaw, chicken, mandarin oranges, cashews. Here's what it looked like:

It looks okay, huh? Well, it was okay but it was far from great. In fact, I'd say maybe not ready for prime time. But it wasn't as bad as some of the reviewers of the original dish said. Comments on the original chicken salad, using a mayo coleslaw and real chicken, included these gems:

I thought this would make a quick and easy lunch but my husband just stared at me. I tried a couple of bites and threw the rest out. Nothing could save this dish.

terrible. I used a good cole slaw (Rudolph's) and it still turned out to be pretty disgusting. My husband absolutely hated the mandarin oranges in it.


I served this for lunch and my husband just laughed at me. He wouldn't even try it. I ate a bit but I have to admit it was a bad idea. The mayonnaise in the slaw just serves to slime everything else up and the taste isn't that great.

To be fair, not all of the comments were bad. But these are representative of those that were, and they seem to have some elements in common: husbands, for example.

I'm not recommending the vegan version as I made it. I wonder if one made with a vegan mayo might be better. Or another type of faux chicken. I'm open to suggestion!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

BuyKind experience

I learned a few things by buying food through In a nutshell:

* Buykind is a fledgling vegan food delivery service. Buykind contracts with vegan restaurants that have won awards for their food, and arranges for items from their menus to be made available for shipping all over the country. So far there are only six restaurants in the group, but obviously this kind of business should be able to expand fairly easily. The kind of attention that the owner gives to the business just might translate into success. Read her story on the website.

* Vegan foods are making their way into the wider marketplace. All of the wraps I purchased actually came from Nature's Express, based in Yuma, Arizona. These amazing plant-based deli foods, including many raw foods, are infiltrating their way into Whole Foods markets and other locations, including the restaurant from which I placed my order.

My experience.

I decided that I wanted to order completely online, through the order form, rather than by email or by telephone. I also decided to save shipping costs by choosing a restaurant on the west coast. Only two restaurants on the list are on the west coast, and one doesn't yet offer online orders (but you can place your order by email or phone). So I chose the other, Good Karma in Venice Beach, California.

And that's why I ended up ordering wraps and spreads. It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to order this kind of deli food by mail, but I wanted to try out the service. Fresh vegetable wraps, particularly featuring raw foods, don't tend to freeze well, so they need to be eaten soon after delivery. The other items on Good Karma's menu don't travel well and so are not offered, but believe me, the next time I am in Venice I'm hunting this place down (sweet potato fries!).

I placed my order Saturday night. I took a chance on the shipping costs because they are not included in the initial order but added later. I hope that it will be possible to spell out shipping costs more specifically on the website soon.

Jody, the buykind proprieter, called me almost immediately. She told me I could add additional items for the same shipping cost and told me what that cost would be. She said the order would be shipped out on Monday for delivery Tuesday, by ground. The order would be packed with ice packs and insulated materials so should be cold when I got it. I decided, then, to add to the order and chose additional wraps and spreads. I sent this information to Jody by email, who recalculated the total and sent me the paypal invoice.

On Tuesday Jody called me again. Somewhere along the way my order did not get processed. Good Karma had not packed it up and sent it along its way. Jody was tracking orders through her delivery service, KHL, and found that somehow my order was not on the truck. She asked if it would be okay to ship it Wednesday for delivery Thursday. I said sure. It's all a part of the experience. She said she would send me a gift certificate for $10 for my inconvenience, to be used on my next order.

The order arrived late in the day Thursday, as promised. Individual plastic containers held the wraps and the usual plastic bowls with lids contained the spreads. These were packed with ice packs and surrounded by strips of insulating material, which Jody notes is biodegradable. I am not sure about this part or I may have misunderstood her. The strips are like padded envelope material, except that they have a shiny (aluminum?) sheet on one side.

This is what the items looked like. This is where I saw Nature's Express and got curious, given that the address on the label is in San Diego, not Venice Beach. If you look closely at the label you can see that the ingredients are excellent. So too was this interesting Kale wrap:

Everything was fresh and inviting to look at. I will admit that I am not a big fan of the sliced meat substitutes, so the wrap I ate that had a kind of sliced chicken in it didn't overwhelm me. I was more impressed by the hummus in the kale wrap (not to mention the kale itself). The hummus is raw, made from cashews and something else I have forgotten, and it is creamy and delicious. I also had a barbecue tempeh, tofu pesto, and veg "chicken" tequila lime wraps. I haven't yet tried the spreads, which are made by Good Karma.

Overall, the experience and the food was good. I will use the $10 certificate to try something from another restaurant, something not a wrap. Although these wraps were good I really didn't want to work my way through five of them in a couple of days (although they make fine breakfasts).

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Coleslaw, according to wikipedia, is a salad consisting primarily, and minimally, of shredded, raw cabbage, although it often also includes shredded carrots. There are many variations of the recipe which include the addition of other ingredients, such as red cabbage, pineapple, or apple. It is usually mixed with a dressing which traditionally consists of, or is based on, vegetable oil and vinegar or a vinaigrette. In the U.S. coleslaw often contains mayonnaise (or its substitutes); although many regional variations exist, and recipes incorporating prepared mustard are also common. A variety of seasonings may be added. The dressing is usually allowed to settle on the blended ingredients for several hours before being served. The cabbage may come in finely minced pieces, shredded strips, or small squares. (see

Coleslaw is also another reward for picking up that head of cabbage, an inexpensive and versatile vegetable.

Hats off for this recipe to Rebecca at vegan food:

1/3 c. oil
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
3 T sugar (or brown rice syrup or apple juice concentrate)
2 t salt
2 t mustard seeds
1/2 t celery seed

small cabbage, shredded
onion, thinly sliced
red bell pepper, thinly sliced
carrot, coarsely grated

Boil dressing ingredients for about a minute. Pour over salad ingredients. Mix. Let sit for a couple of hours. (I put it in the fridge.)

When I made this recipe I used the Mark Bittman method for the salad ingredients: I put the ingredients in a colandar, ground coarse salt over them, mixed it up. I let that sit for a couple of hours to drain the excess water from them. Because I had used salt in this step I didn't add any to the dressing.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Vegan Valentine's Day Chocolates

My mother-in-law (who is not vegan) sent these terrific vegan chocolates to me and my husband for Valentine's Day!

The chocolates are from Rose City Chocolates and their description of the chocolates says:

"Go Vegan! The Best Vegan Chocolates Will Amaze Your Valentine. This splendid selection of vegan specialties has been made without any animal products of any kind, with no sacrifice in flavor or to our commitment to all natural and fresh ingredients. Additionally, all of the sugar used in making these chocolates is processed from the sugar beet - there are no animal products used in processing or filtering the sugar. The chocolates in the selection are shown below. Each Box is beautifully wrapped in a hand-tied ribbon."
We didn't wait for Valentine's Day to come. We opened the box and tasted a piece. They are fabulous!

So, if you're looking to get some vegan chocolates for yourself or a special someone, consider these from from Rose City Chocolates!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Ordering in again

I just made my second order from a vegan food delivery site. This time it was This site offers various meal items from several restaurants in different parts of the country. By going through the restaurants and placing an order, I learned this much:

1. There are a total of six restaurants so far. One of the restaurants does not yet offer online ordering; you have to order by phone or email. I decided against that option simply because I want to stick with getting it all done online.

2. You have to complete an order at one restaurant before going to another. They are separate orders.

3. Delivery information is incomplete and seems to vary from restaurant to restaurant but I may have that wrong. To be safe, I ordered from a restaurant in Venice, California because it's relatively close to me (about 200 miles). And imagine my surprise when no shipping charge was made at all! But then I got a call from Jody at buykind saying they calculate shipping after the order is placed, and they offer a flat rate per box which is quite reasonable for me. She said I could add up to five more items for the same rate, so I am going back to choose a few more items.

4. The website could use some work. As a web designer myself I tend to be sympathetic. It can be hellish getting it the way you want. Also, this is a brand new business.

5. Because I ordered Saturday the order will be prepared and shipped on Monday and will arrive Tuesday. Sounds good to me.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

cabbage and potato soup

I like to make soups from what I have on hand. This one is substantial, earthy, inexpensive and I think delicious. It also freezes well. It isn't a quick meal but it's easy to put together if you are okay with chopping vegetables, and if you freeze portions they will be ready when you are.

Cabbage and potato soup

Makes about 8 servings (adjust to your needs; nothing is sacred!)

2 Tablespoons +/- oil
2 large potatoes
1 large onion
1 large carrot
1 clove garlic
1/2 head cabbage
1 - 2 quarts vegetable broth or water
1 - 2 tsp ground red pepper
paprika, black pepper, salt to taste

Peel potatoes and carrot. Chop onion. Heat oil in large soup pot, add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is a bit soft. Chop garlic clove and add to pot, stir. Chop carrot, add to pot. Chop cabbage and stir into pot, cook a bit, then add broth or water. Cook until potatoes and cabbage are soft, about 20 minutes. Season with red pepper. Serve sprinkled with paprika and pepper and pass the salt.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A simple cabbage salad

I admit openly: I stole this from Mark Bittman. The recipe. He made a video showing how to make this salad, which I watched, and then I made the salad that you see here. Mark Bittman is a video columnist for the New York Times, his vlog (?) is called The Minimalist. A good name, and when I saw the headline - "shredded cabbage" - I thought I might simply link to the video here. Unfortunately, The Minimalist titles feature pictures of animal products being made into food, including sea animals, so I figured it wasn't really appropriate for this blog. BUT the cabbage recipe? Perfect.

Warning: it actually takes a bit over two hours to make this. So don't drag out the head of cabbage right before dinner.

Shred cabbage into a colander. Any kind of cabbage, any way of shredding. I simply sliced it thinly, then quick-chopped those "slices". Took a minute maybe. Add in other hard veggies like carrots if you like.

Sprinkle about three tablespoons of coarse salt on the mix and toss it together.

Let it sit for about two hours, draining into the colander. After two hours, squeeze the mix to let go of additional water.

The mix has shrunk a good bit by now. Put the mix into a bowl. Add some pepper (freshly ground, of course), sprinkle with a bit of olive oil, follow with a light (sherry or rice, for example) vinegar, toss together. And that's it.

This would go well with a veggie burger or other sandwich or some soup and bread. Or any time you just need a little crunch.

Hungry Vegan review

I have had only one experience with the Hungry Vegan. If any of you have ordered from there and would like to share your experiences here, I hope that you do so. We have heard from lmf about her experience, which made me conscious of how different it can be for different people.

Timeliness: My order arrived on time. Everything was cold and safe to eat. So I was able to eat all of it, and with one exception I did.

Leaky packages: Both soups leaked. lmf said some of her bags leaked as well. In my case, they only started to dribble when I took them out of the box so it was not a big deal. However, I would be concerned if I were the owner of this company.

Product appearance: Some types of dishes travel and present well even when packaged in bags like these. Some do not. I had some trouble with appearance:

This one was like a brick of mush. It tasted all right but its appearance really put me off and I ended up tossing most of it (this is the one dish I didn't finish).

This was a piece of pie. I'm big on sweets so I ate it all but I don't think I would have offered that to anyone else.

Nice appearance to this tofu dish. It also tasted good, was perhaps my favorite.

There was a lot of variety: a bean dish, rice dishes, tofu slice dish, pasta, different types of soups, more.

Cooking quality: Most of the cooking seemed to be done correctly. The seasonings were appropriate, the ingredients cooked properly (nice pie crust) - except one. The bean dish was undercooked. I cook a lot of dried beans and I know when I taste that bit of roughness that the beans are not quite done. They were soft but not all the way there.

Taste: Here's where I simply debated with myself. The dishes all tasted okay. I can't say any were standouts. I kept asking myself, what makes this dish special? And I didn't have an answer. Of course this is my personal opinion. To me, these dishes were similar to what I tend to have in my freezer, left over from major cooking efforts on my part. Decent enough to eat but rarely really really good. Actually, I do think some of my soups and bean dishes surpass what I ate from the Hungry Vegan.

Like many of you, I don't want to dis any effort to offer vegan foods conveniently. My experience was not terrible, even if it was not outstanding. I can see room for improvement and I fully expect this fledgling operation to improve where it needs to (especially in bag sealing and appearance, in my opinion) and I am very interested in the experiences of others.

In the meantime I will be ordering from the two other sources mentioned by others here: veggiebrothers, which offers a lot of choices, frozen, and buykind, which arranges to ship meals from vegan restaurants. Thank you to peacebro and jory for these finds. I will, of course, share these experiences too.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Vegan Blogs Part 2

More vegan blogs for your enjoyment!
  • Vegans of Color - this blog is a group blog that tackles the issues of overlap between veganism and race. An excellent blog that can be eye opening for vegans and nonvegans alike.
  • Veganize Me! - Amy takes nonvegan recipes and converts them into vegan ones.
  • Vegani - your basic vegan food blog. Pictures, recipes, reviews. Great for omnis going vegan or vegans looking to add variety.
  • Vegan*Core - focuses on diet.
Want more vegan blogs? Check out the last vegan blog post or look in the sidebar for the blogroll here at Vegan Convenient.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Quick meals from books

There are different ways to get food on the table quickly and easily. One way is to use convenience food, one focus of this blog. A good cookbook for this approach is Conveniently Vegan (see link at right). This book offers many meals that require only a few easily-found ingredients, many of which can be from the cupboard or freezer.

Another approach, also frequently used in this blog, is to put together fresh ingredients or foods that you have made yourself previously when you had a few minutes. A cookbook that uses this approach is 20 Minutes to Dinner (see also the link on the right, just added today). This book is aimed more at people who like to cook, at least some of the time. It offers directions to cook or prepare many "components" of dishes, like dried beans or "breast of tofu" or vegetarian "sausage", so that you have, in essence, your own "convenience foods". Throughout the book are some lovely alternatives to everyday items that you can usually throw together very quickly, too - like the banana milk I made today to put on my cereal (banana, cold water, vanilla and a blender). Obviously, the advantage to making your own is that you know exactly what is in it. These foods may also save money.

20 Minutes also offers a food prep and nutrition chapter, with information on what equipment you need (very little) and on getting the most nutritional bang for the buck.

Some folks have posted complaints on that it often takes longer than 20 minutes to get dinner on the table, using this book. From what I have sampled and read, I'd say this is probably true. However, the more skilled you are with your equipment the sooner you will get that meal out there. It's probably a good idea to assume it will take a half-hour most of the time, and sometimes you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Breakfast potatoes variation

I never get tired of potato variations. This one features soyrizo - which I note keeps better than the meat version and, as I have noted before, tastes every bit as good - and fresh baby spinach. These directions make plenty for two.

1-2 Tablespoons olive or neutral oil
1/4 large onion (or 1 small onion)
1 large baking potato (can also use new potatoes)
1/3 package of soyrizo (soy version of chorizo)
1/4 pound mushrooms
handful of fresh spinach leaves
parsley, salt, pepper

Chop up the onion, saute at medium heat until a bit soft. Add the chorizo, smash around the pan, fry until it starts to crisp up. Chop up the mushrooms roughly, toss into the mix and keep turning to get them cooked a bit. While the mix is cooking, slice the potato thinly, then add. Turn over several times to mix, then cover for a few minutes to let the potato get nearly cooked through. Take off the cover, turn as needed to get to the doneness and crispiness that you desire. Near the end, throw in the spinach leaves, cover again to steam a bit. Take off the cover, cook to desired doneness. Serve sprinkled with parsley, offer salt and pepper.

As usual with this type meal the ingredients and amounts are totally in your power. You might prefer to make it with leftover potatoes, already cooked, or put the sliced potatoes in the microwave for a few minutes to cook before adding. If they are sliced thinly enough they do cook fairly quickly in the pan, so it's up to you.

Picture of soyrizo stolen from the urban granola -

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Hungry Vegan: first impressions

My Hungry Vegan order showed up today, right on time. The box was sitting on my front porch when I arrived home after a day away.

I opened it and found a styrofoam cooler with sealed bags inside, along with two ice packs, which were still mostly frozen.

On top of the bags was a letter listing the food items enclosed and some notes about the food.

I lay all the items out on the table so i could look at them.

There were two soups (lentil and carrot bisque), eight meal items (including a quick bread), and two desserts. The carrot bisque soup bag was not sealed all the way and therefore when I took it out it dripped a few drops. The pie was pretty smashed - I wonder why they thought that would travel well! I went ahead and heated the bisque, along with a potato-rosemary-olive-sun-dried tomato mix, for dinner:

The food was good. What I ate actually reminded me of meals I make myself when I am paying a bit of attention and even actually following a recipe. And it was filling enough. I think two people could have had the soup. I haven't tried anything else yet.

My first impression is that there could be better quality control. That soup should not have leaked. All seals should be tested - surely there is a way to do that. And the pie might have done better packed differently, or left out altogether. I do think this is a good option to have available, especially if you do not want to cook (or can't) and don't live near good delivery places. The shipping cost is rather high outside the regional area, so it also makes more sense for people inside that area than for people like me, but the cost of the food is quite reasonable and sometimes we can justify the shipping expense.