Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Vegan Short Cuts

Have you ever seen the TV show Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee?
It's not vegetarian or anything but it's an interesting concept. She takes pre-made items from the grocery store and slightly alters or personalizes them to make a "homemade" meal quicker and more easily. She might take pre-made pudding cups and pre-made ladyfingers and put them together to make a homemade trifle dish.

As much as we all love to cook at home from scratch I think this type of cooking is more common. You have to deal in reality to make a lifestyle work. Committing to healthy or plant based meals is the same way. Total homemade may be best but sometimes we need to allow ourselves some short cuts in order to get dinner on the table in time.

Here are five of my favorite vegan short cuts! (in no particular order) .....

1. Wholly Guacamole
Have you ever seen the box of guacamole in the deli section of the grocery store? It's not very pretty. I'm not going to lie to you; it looks like a box of green mush. Hear me out though... Have you ever gone to buy an avocado and they are all rock hard? It's frustrating! Or maybe wanted delicious guacamole but didn't want to dice jalapeno and risk that burning in your fingertips. Wholly Guacamole is a great starter for some awesome vegan guacamole. I like to add chopped tomatoes, fresh corn, maybe some purple onion, even black beans. Stir it up and it will look like you slaved all day over that guacamole and you didn't even pit an avocado!

2. Eat Pastry Cookie Dough
Vegan cookie dough is a million times better than non-vegan, clearly, because you can eat it raw. Think back to your school days when you sneaked cookie batter even though your mom told you not too. You can totally eat this dough raw! You can cook it too, whatever is left after you eat some raw. I like to cook mine less than the package says; cut off maybe 2 minutes. It's so quick because you just spoon the dough and bake. Pull a semi-homemade by making large cookies and turning them into coconut ice cream sandwiches. Your welcome.

3. Gardein Chickun Tenders
Frozen vegan chickun tenders. It's simple, it's delicious, it's nutritious. These are my husband's all time favorite things in the world and they go on sale buy one get one free at our grocery store sometimes. You don't have to eat these guys 3rd grade style with ketchup and frozen french fries (although you can). You can toss them on a salad, stick them in tacos, wrap them in a wrap, bake them into chickun parmesan... you can use your imagination. Toss them in chili powder and cumin, top them with guacamole, put them in a tortilla, and then claim the credit for that homemade taco wrap!

4. Bagged Spinach
Is the spinach wrapped up in a bunch with the dirt clinging to the ends more authentic? Yes. Is it easy to clean? No. Truth be told I probably won't get around to eating that bunch of spinach. I'll probably watch it turn gross in my fridge and then justify throwing it away. Spinach is really hard to clean. It also tastes yuck if it's not cleaned right. I buy the bagged variety.

5. Better Than Bouillon
This brand is an organic vegan bouillon that you keep in your fridge in a jar. I got mine at Cost-co so it's a giant bulk size jar that has something like 75 servings in it. I use it in a lot of things. Boiling potatoes, cooking pasta, making chili, sauteing onions... you just add a tsp or two and bam, instant flavor. I try not to use spice blends in my cooking because you can never be sure what's in them as far as additives but I feel like since this one is organic and needs refrigeration it might be okay. I could be wrong. I like the quick-ness of this product and I like that I get credit for flavors I didn't have to simmer for hours to produce.

What are some of your favorite short cuts? Do you think semi-homemade counts as homemade or are you a guacamole/spinach/cookie dough purist?

Happy Short-Cut Eating!

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