I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian.  I love my meat and eggs and cheese.  But I am a realist and I know I can’t eat those things at every meal.  So whenever I can find a vegan meal that doesn’t taste like styrofoam packing material (and don’t ask me how I know this), then I like to give it a go.    So you could say that in terms of eating, I am a “flexitarian.”    Meat, no meat, as long as it tastes good and is healthy.

A couple of vegan relatives of mine came to town last week and offered to cook dinner.   Given that I’m a culinary Indiana Jones, I did not pass up the chance to explore the wonders of authentic vegan cooking cooked by an authentic vegan.

I halfway expected to have some sort of sprouted whole grain type of thing with blue algae and sea vegetables.   Instead, my relative prepared spaghetti bolognese — that is,  old fashioned ‘sketty and meat sauce.   However, instead of the meat, she used textured vegetable protein, otherwise known as “TVP”.  

Now before you go “ewwwww” or “yuck” and say “that must taste like styrofoam packing material,” let me assure you that this time it did not.    I’ve tried TVP before and I must say that that perception has been accurate, but this time, not so.  It tasted just like meat… actually better than real meat. 

So when my chef-relative wasn’t looking, I went digging through the trash bin to see what brand of TVP she used.  I found the wrapper for Yves Ground Round.   No fat, no cholesterol, low calorie, high protein.  Wow!  (Okay, it’s a little high in sodium but one can compensate by using low sodium tomato sauce.)

So a couple days later, I went to Whole Foods Market and bought a 12 ounce pack.  When I got home, I saute some chopped onion and cremini mushrooms in olive oil and garlic, added a “galugg” of red wine, a can of chopped tomatoes, a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste, some of my favorite Italian seasoning and the package of “meat”.   I served it over high fiber pasta (Smart Taste by Ronzoni if you want to know).

Lest you think I am going to turn vegan, I’m not, but I am going to be a little more flexible and open to trying products like Yves. 

Now, if I could only find a good non-meat alternative to Chorizo that doesn’t taste like the stuffing out of my sofa.   (Don’t ask about that either).

Text:  Lori G.  (c)  2010

Image courtesy of Morguefile.com


14 responses »

  1. I love the expression ‘culinary Indiana Jones’. It’s those rice crackers that taste like styrofoam isn’t it? They look like it too. I ask no questions on your furniture tastings – my kids have all licked the flyscreen to see what it tastes like………and they weren’t toddlers either. 🙂 (and more than once apparently???!!!)

  2. WE have vegetarian foods in the cans at the Chinese grocery stores and I like them very much. We used to call them monk food…well at least we call that in my family because the Budhist monks do not eat meat at all. My mother used to take us to the monastry in Hong Kong where we could indulge in them There is a Chinese restaurant in Torrance on PCH that serve fresh vegetarian Chinese foods. WE went there a couple years ago. I do not know if they are still any good but the restaurant is still doing business, I guess they must be doing all right .Chinese New Year is coming and I usually cook a vegetarian dish with mushrooms, fungus, seaweeds, tofu and tofu products, chestnuts,gingo, golden needles, and a vetgetable that looks like fine hair. I think I will go to Whole foods and try that Yves soy grund beef one of these days. Thanks for sharing. Missed you last Sunday!

  3. Lori, you crack me up! I love the term flexitarian and hope you don’t mind if I use it. I, too, have been exploring mean alternatives and have had some sucess (more failure) with tofu. I actually made enchildadas! I’ll have to check out the TVP you mentioned as I’m sure that would work much better! Thanks for the great info! I am on a very low carb diet and looking for good protein sources besides soy. So far I’ve dropped 27 pounds. Only __ more to go!

    • Sally, good job on the weight loss. Feel free to use “flexitarian”; it’s not my word anyway. In fact, there’s an article on it at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flexitarianism

      Can you believe that there are some vegetarians who are upset over the coining of this term? (See the part on “criticism” in the Wiki article). Excuse me, but I can call myself whatever I want, thank you very much….. and, guess what? I’ll say while sucking on a barbequed pork rib!


  4. i say you have exactly the right attitude. have you read barbara kingsolver’s book ‘animal, vegetable, miracle’? it’s a great read and makes you think about your diet in a more practical fashion.

    and speaking and children licking things, my daughter when age 2-5 would eat anything in the yard, all the raw vegetables, peony buds, grass, oxalis, violets. the only thing that was off limits were the rhubarb leaves.

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