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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Moroccan Soup

Makes about 6 cups
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 (5.5 ounce) cans V-8 vegetable juice
  • 1 pound package frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans undrained diced tomatoes
  • 15 to 19 ounce can rinsed garbanzo beans
  • 2 tsp each:  basil, tumeric and paprika
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1/2 cup uncooked wheat rotini pasta
  • 1/4 cup fine TVP (textured vegetable protein)
  1. Heat oil in pan on medium-high.  Stir in onion & garlic.  Cook 4 minutes.  Add water, vegetables, seasonings and ketchup.
  2. Bring to boil.  Reduce heat.  Simmer 9 minutes.  Add pasta.  Simmer an additional 15 minutes.

Per cup (excludes TVP):  148 calories, 6 g protein, 3 g fat, 0.3 g sat fat, 27 g carb, 0 chol, 350 mg sodium, 7 g fiber 

Note:  Original recipe does not call for TVP.  In addition, I added some fresh ground pepper and ground sea salt into my bowl.  Yummy!

06NOV2010 Update:  We've made our 2nd batch of this soup.  Although the first batch was delicious enough to warrant making the second batch, we found an enhancement.  Instead of 3 cups of water we substituted 2 cups of water plus 2 (5.5 ounce) cans of V-8.  For the second batch I used no salt or ground pepper.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Calling All Kids! Calling All Kids!


Give Tiffany and I a challenge.  Give us a few days to brainstorm.  And we'll engineer a most magnificent solution.  Remember our quandary with what to do with all of that pre-Tofuber meat in our freezer?  I believe the guiding principle was "Love thy neighbor and feed thy family."?

Well my fine friend, we've one-upped the plan.  Tiffany and I would like to call our new plan, "Operation Happy Halloween!"  As it turns out, perhaps by sheer coincidence, the last day of Tofuber happens to be October 31st which happens to be Halloween!  Talk about dumb luck, huh?

You see where we're about to go with this plan?  Actually... You're quite right on this one.  In a nutshell, the following represents Operation Happy Halloween plans:

  1. Sunday, October 31st afternoon.  Pull all meat products from the freezers and cupboards.
  2. Arrange by non-vegetarian value.  The complete frozen chicken is like finding the mother load!  Don't even think about it kid!  If you're first and get a frozen chicken plopped into your little plastic pumpkin bucket DON'T you dare ask, "Got anything else Mister?"
  3. Lucky for those little darling kids, the tilapia is individually frozen and sealed.  We'll be plucking them out like Benjamin Franklins.
  4. Steak?  Yes, worth more points than a frozen salmon puck.
  5. You get the ideal.  Each and every item possesses an inherent "non-vegetarian point".  The higher the point, the sooner it gets tossed into some lucky kid's grocery sack!
  6. Once Kid #1 tells Kid #2 what we're passing out and so on and so on, we're gonna look like a McDonald's in front of a Weight Watchers!
  7. I am certain we can empty the freezer of pre-Tofuber meats before the clock strikes nine.
  8. Heaven forbid should we run out of meats!!!  I couldn't deal with having to delve into my pecan smoked tofu as Halloween treats.
So kids.  If you're lucky enough to live in the Orlando, Florida area.  If you're lucky enough to live near Chucky and Tiffany.  If you're lucky enough to ring our doorbell on October 31st.  If you're lucky enough to do so between sundown and 9:00 PM.  And, if you're lucky enough to be the very first.  You might just be the only kid walking the streets of Orlando toting a 6-pound frozen roaster!

Don't worry kid.  You might not be the first to ring the door bell and you might not be lucky enough to claim the chicken.  But, we have lots of meats to pass along!  Frozen chicken, tilapia, steak, sandwich ham, scallops, frozen shrimp, cans of chili (with meat), frozen salmon patties, and just about everything else between.  If it moved, breathed, or mooed before Tofuber 1st; you might just find it inside your little ol' Halloween bucket  tomorrow night!!!

Oh yeah... One more thing... Sorry neighbors!  Kids now have the meats.

Hi-dee hi-dee happy-Halloween kids!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Er... More accurately stated, breakfast with Tiffany at Subway.

I know.  I know what you're thinking.  You think that Chucky and Tiffany shared a Veggie Delite sandwich, don't you?  After all, there are three basic vegan/vegetarian choices on the Subway menu:  Veggie Delite, Veggie Patty, and Egg & Cheese breakfast sandwich.  Okay Technoids... five choices when you break it down to sandwiches and salad option.

Tiffany and I stopped by our local Subway on our way to work this morning.  We each took advantage of the $2.50 Breakfast Combo special.  Any breakfast sandwich and drink for only $2.50.

Tiffany was carrying slices of meatless ham and meatless turkey in her purse.  I walked up to the counter, put my dagger into my back pocket, jumped upon onto the counter, and sneered the resident sandwich artist, "Two breakfast combo specials please."

  • both light wheat English muffins
  • both egg white
  • both provolone cheese
  • one "Western" (onion and bell pepper)
  • both jalapeno slices (after toasting)
  • both tomato slice (after toasting)
  • one slice meatless ham (added after receiving our meal)
  • one slice meatless smoked turkey (added after receiving our meal)

There you have it folks.  Fast food à la vegetarian.  And I might add quite delicious and satisfying. 

Sidebar for readers who travel the "special" little busAs a general rule of thumb, Tiffany doesn't transport meatless ham and turkey in her purse.  This was a planned action.  By no means does this represent an acute change in post-vegetarianism mental behavior.

Hi-dee hi-dee healthy-ho my fine friends!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tiffany's Killer Sandwich

Hi ladies, gents, and those who simply don't know which side of the tracks to tread!

I just finished having a truly delicious sandwich for lunch that I have to rave about.  Tiffany made it fresh this morning.  Or was it last night?  It doesn't matter.  What does matter is that it was truly incredible.  The flavors paired delightfully within the abyss of my plastic jaws!

  • fresh yeast roll
  • block of pecan smoked tofu
  • Vegenaise
  • brown mustard
  • 1/4 slice goat cheese
  • lettuce
  • tomato slice
  • fresh jalapeno slices

    I heated up my sandwiches, tossed on the lettuce, tomato and jalapeno, and bit into a truly fantastic creation!

    Thank you Tiffany!  Your vegetarian skills rock my healthy world!!!

    Hi-dee hi-dee ho to one and all

    Tofu, Tofu, Tofu... Is That All You Eat?

    I can remember back and have slight recall of my initial perception of meat alternatives.  Remember folks... Chucky ain't no Spring chicken.  As a matter of fact, I'm so old that I can clearly remember when water came out of taps!  Plastic bottle?   What's that?  You mean tin can or glass bottle, right?  Sorry... I diverge.

    My understanding of a vegetarian?  Someone who does not eat meat.  But I asked myself, "Besides simply vegetables, what does a vegetarian eat?"  Then a light bulb went off within that plastic head of mine, "TOFU!  That's what else!  Right?"

    Its Tofuber Day #28 and I honestly and unequivocally state, "No!"  Tiffany and I can, without reservation, offer a diversified list of tasty, healthy, and vegetarian meat alternatives.  This is what I hope to share within the confines of this particular post.  So... here 'tis my list in alphabetical order.

    Fruits (apple, pomegranate, grape, etc.)

    Tiffany and I attempt to diversify and rotate our selection of daily consumed fruits.  Because fruits possess many natural sugars, we attempt to restrict the amount consumed on a daily basis as not to escalate blood sugar levels (diabetes).

    Where possible we hope to use organic fruits.  Besides the occasional table grapes and apple per day, we generally consume our fruits as part of a Blendtec blended concoction.   Tiffany and I prefer this method to simply eating raw fruits because the Blendtec blender utilizes the full resource of the fruit, breaks down the fruit to a molecular level, and provides nutrients not otherwise consumed.  As noted on October 27 blog, "What's on the Vegetarian Day #26 Menu?", we include enzyme into our daily smoothie to further take digestive advantage of nutrient absorption. 

    Fungus (mushroom, truffle, etc.)

    Although not a nutritional super food, mushrooms add a most excellent flavor and help bind many dishes (burgers, mushroom loaf, etc.).

    Admit it you meat-eater!  You've tried a portobello burger at your local TGIF's, haven't you?

    Grains (quinou, flax, chia, farro, rice, wheat, etc.)

    Besides the sea of delicious grain choices available in today's super market, there are some outstanding pre-packaged vegan/vegetarian products available.

    Excellent pre-packaged vegan grain-based products?  Try Joe's Oat Patties!  Tiffany have tried both the Maple Breakfast Blend to make breakfast sausage patties and Italian Sausage Blend to make burgers.  Both were delicious and easy to make.  We just finished our last breakfast patty this morning.

    For grains, stick with the wild rices, brown rices, and natural unprocessed versions of all.  Doing so provides more nutrition and the inherently low glycemic index keeps you feeling full throughout the day.  Avoid the overly processed white rices.  Not much nutritional value remaining after the big corporations are through processing out the benefits of the raw food source.

    Tips?  Quinou - rinse before cooking.  Oh yeah, rinse using a super fine sieve or you will rinse it down the drain.  Be careful when pouring quinou into your sieve because it's light, tiny and prefers to float rather than fall. 

    Other (manufactured combination)

    Tiffany and I have just began peeling away at the many choices available to us but have stumbled upon one established product line which has yet to let us down.  It's made by subsidiaries of the Kellogg's corporation, Worthington and Loma Linda.  These grain-tofu-egg based products are available in frozen and canned configurations.

    So far we've tried "Wham" meatless ham, meatless smoked turkey, canned meatless chicken cutlets, and canned vegetarian burger.  I give 5 out of 5 stars for each of the items we have tasted so far.

    Careful where you buy them though.  Sorry Publix but Hoovers beats you by over $2.00/can in pricing!!! 

    Quorn (mycoprotien)

    A most excellent product!!!  Mycoprotien is processed fungi under trade name "Quorn".  You can find them in the frozen foods section of your health stores and some of the nicer Publix supermarkets.

    Tiffany and I have tried many Quorn products and, to date, they all are our favorite non-meat alternative!  Tasty, delicious, convenient, and healthy.  Except for food diversity, what else are you looking for?

    Seitan (wheat gluten)

    I'm unable to comment on this particular product... yet.  I've probably eaten some at one of our most excellent local restaurants, Loving Hut or The Drunken Monkey, but cannot specifically recall seitan being an ingredient of the dishes I have ordered.

    However, I recently purchased some wheat gluten from Hoovers and plan to cook some up.  I'll report on this experiment at a later date.

    Basically, from what I've read it's wheat gluten mixed up and kneaded like pizza dough, pulled into smaller parts, and then boiled in flavored water to cook.  Wanna make some seitan yourself?  Have you ever made it?  If so, opinion?  Tricks?  Tips?  Advice?

    Oh... I almost forgot.  When I originally purchased my wheat gluten I was not aware of the seitan option.  Why did I buy it then?  After on-hand supplies are depleted, Tiffany and I are planning to use the Blendtec blender to make our own flours from scratch.  Whole wheat flour from wheat grain, rice flour from wild rice, soy flour from soy bean, and corn meal from popcorn kernels.  I will be needing wheat gluten because most of my flours will need it for baking.  Without the wheat gluten, I have read that the bread consistency will not be the same as atypical pre-Tofuber store bought flours.  But, this is another blog for the future.  Ahem... Back to today. 

    Tofu (soybean)

    Fermented soybean curd.  At least that's what I call it when eating it for lunch in the office.  Sounds more delightful, doesn't it?

    Such a misunderstood product.  I believe that most people think back to the really old days when all vegetarian food was basically restricted to a bland form of tofu.  Westerners simply did not know what to do with the stuff.

    It obviously cannot be that bad as it's been around for about 2,132 to 2,188 years!

    I'll give you heads-up on one thing that I have learned so far.  It doesn't brown easily.  In my opinion, if attempting to make a taco crumbled tofu meal save yourself some time and use TVP instead.  Tofu makes excellent meatless taco filling but simply doesn't look the part.

    My favorite method to cook tofu?  I might have said "frying" if I fried my foods but I simply don't.  I cook, saute, bake, roast and smoke.  I do fry but only do so using Pam or grape seed/olive oil.  I have found that smoking tofu using my Masterbuilt electric smoker and crushed pecan shell makes T2D4 (tofu 2-die-4)!

    It gives me a texture that closely emulates that of fried tofu without all of the fats and oil!  Besides... anything smoked using pecan shell will rock your culinary world.

    Uses?  Sandwiches (I'm having a tofu sandwich for lunch today), over brown rice or whole wheat pasta smothered in coconut curry peanut sauce, or simply sliced and diced for other meals.  Great in hot & sour soup, salads, etc.  

    TVP ("Textured Vegetable Protein" - soybean derivative)

    Remember Bac-Os bacon flavored bits?  Ha!  That's not bacon!  It's bacon-flavored (not real meat) TVP.  But Bac~Os bits do serve another purpose.  What's that you ask?  To make the Betty Crocker company and its' shareholders rich!  If you price bacon flavored TVP at your local health market and compare it what you had paid for Bac-Os bits, you will certainly attempt to spit out every Bac-Os bit that you had every consumed during your lifetime!

    Okay.  Back to TVP.  In a nutshell, its a soybean by-product.  It's basically what is left after soybeans are converted to soy oil.  For lack of a better description, it's a gooey globulous substance extruded into various dehydrated form.  The end result?  Primarily a high protein substance having both low calorie and low fat.

    Forms of TVP?  Whatever you can do with playdough you could probably do with TVP.  It's usually flavored (beef like, chicken like, bacon like, unflavored, etc.) and then formed into different sizes.  Our local markets have it in a super-fine grade making a most excellent taco meat substitute, to larger Bac-Os sized bits, even larger pea sized nuggets, and all the way up to chicken fillet sized pieces.  It's cheap, versatile, and takes on whatever taste you spice and flavor it with.

    Maybe it's just me but when I have tasted a truly delicious ground beef taco, I did not say to myself "Wow!  What wonderful tasting steak that this has been made with!"  Instead it's more like "Wow!  These people have their spices down-pat!  Delicious!"  Unless I am simply crazy (no comments please), the beef itself is usually nothing more than a "filler" when preparing an abundance of the food dishes the we (carnivore, vegan, and vegetarian) prepare.

    Take some super fine beef flavored TVP, rehydrate for 15-minutes in hot water, drain, mix it with tomato paste, and spice it to perfection.  What do you have?  Depending upon your culinary proficiency, you can have taco filling as good as any served anywhere.

    It's the opinion of Chucky that TVP a true gift for us vegans and vegetarians.  Long live extruded dehydrated processed soybean byproducts!!! 

    Vegetables (kale, spinach, beet, etc.)

    Refer to Grains above.  Why?  Simply because I refuse to re-type it all again.

    However, there is a new line of vegetable based product that Tiffany and I find quite delectable.  It's call Gardein and their product line runs the gamut of choices.  Found in both fresh and frozen varieties.  Tiffany and I have tried their home style beefless tips, marina chick'n good stuff, and BBQ pulled shreds.  Daggers up to all three that we've tried so far!


    Okay, folks.  Have Tiffany and I missed other options?  Opinions?  On queue or full of synthetic stuffing?  I scream for input.  I stab for feedback!

    Hi-dee hi-dee ho my friend

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Tofuber is Coming to an End


    the tenth month of the year, containing 31 days. Abbreviation:  Tof.
    the month in the year 2010 which Chucky and Tiffany elected to live a vegetarian lifestyle. 

    Origin, Concatenation:
    1875–80;  < Japn tōfu  < MChin, equiv. to Chin dòufu  ( dòu  bean +  turn sour, ferment) 
    bef. 1050;  ME, OE < L Octōber  the eighth month of the early Roman year, equiv. to octō- octo-  + -ber,  on the model of September, November, December; see December

    As Tofuber winds to an end, Tiffany and I find ourselves in quite the quandary.  What specific lifestyle changes shall we try?  Eat eggs?  Switch from dairy milk to an alternative such as almond milk?  Go organic?  Go humanely sustained farm products such as free-range chicken eggs?  Locally produced cheeses?

    So many questions and so many choices.  Perhaps we should address each individually as there are so many directions to go in this herringbone maze?  Here is what Tiffany and I are thinking.


    We (er, "Chucky") cannot give up my eggs because there exists absolutely no vegan/vegetarian egg substitute that emulates the a delicious & nutritious over-easy fried egg.  At least we haven't been introduced to any so far.

    However, on the other hand, we have decided to try locally grown "animal friendly" farms for our real eggs.  We used to purchase our eggs from Costco but have since determined the source to be commercial mega-farm.  Our new favorite markets, Hoovers and Eat More Produce, sell local organic eggs.

    We will continue to use Kirkland Egg Starts (Costco) which is real egg.

    We're basically taking a pseudo approach with regard to egg.  Tiffany and I are more concerned regarding the growth hormones and antibiotics fed to the hens who lay the eggs.  Free-range organic appears to be a simple choice.


    We've recently tried almond milk and both like it.  In addition, we feel that we consume enough alternative food sources to account for missing dairy milk calcium (kale, collard greens, nuts, tofu, etc.).

    Almond milk tastes great and we can blend our own.  To date, I can honestly state that I have read no reports of almond farmers injecting their trees with growth hormones or antibiotics.  I have heard tall tales of farmers tossing cow poop throughout their almond orchards!  However, I cannot picture anyone spreading poop around to help grow their crops.  Can you believe the stuff you find on the internet these days?


    Love it!  Dairy cheese, that is.  But Chucky's doctor isn't the biggest fan of him consuming any cholesterol laden food.  "Chucky.  If you keep on that high cholesterol regiment your movies days are numbered, son!" the doc preached.

    Alternatives?  I'm working on it.  It's an experiment just begun.  Alternative cheese #1 isn't the best for simply snacking but appears to be quite acceptable in grilled cheese sandwiches.  The perfect non-dairy snacking cheese?  It's out there.  I've simply have to locate it.

    Meat (pre-Tofuber):
    OMG!!!  And, what about all of that meat in the freezer from pre-Tofuber days???  Hmm... Remember those days?

    It's being discussed but no definitive plans.  Tiffany and I have discussed two approaches to its' eradication, neither of which is "Stab! Stab! Stab!"

      1)  Proclaim Saturdays as "Slaughterdays".    

           Assuming that we can stomach it, dine on left-over freezer meats
           (steak, chicken, pork, fish) until it's either gone or tossed with the
           garbage.  We shall restrict this ritualistic carnivore activity to one day
           per week which shall be proclaimed "Slaughterday".

      2)  Love thy neighbor and feed thy family.
           We are lucky to have a fantastic family of four as neighbors.  For the
           better portion of meats in our freezer, we're considering simply passing
           them along.  They would be appreciated, consumed and result in
           win-win for both neighbor and us.

           Okay.  It's not exactly "Love" to pass along meat to a friend, is it?  But
           we're not changing their personal preference and it's not as if we're
           passing along something we would not have eaten ourselves prior to

    This will prove to be a difficult and interesting predicament indeed.  Can we eat meat after 31 days without?  I highly suspect, "No."  I cannot fathom taking a bite of shrimp or taste of grilled steak and truly enjoying it.  I suspect thoughts of chemicals, additives, and non-natural substances being digested within my stomach may do involuntary things.  Yeah... Exactly!!!  Sorta like having a mini-me (mini-Chucky) inside of me, "Stab! Stab! Stab!"

    Let us know what you'd do!  Help save Tiffany & Chucky from the horrors of their life path choices.

    Hi-dee hi-dee ho my friends!

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    What's on the Vegetarian Day #26 Menu?



    • 1 order Tijuana Flat's "Taco Tuesdaze" special
      • one black bean
      • one refried bean
      • both wheat tortillas
      • both "Power Lite" (lite cheese & lite sour cream)
      • both all-of-the-way (lettuce, tomato, jalapeno, lite cheese, lite sour cream, onion, black olives)
      • diet soda <-- love their crushed ice!
      • seasoned tortilla chips
      • lots and lots of trips to the hot sauce bar!!!
      • darn... ran out of hot sauce... back to the hot sauce bar

    • 2000 mg fish oil
    • 81 mg aspirin  <-- as per doctor's order
    • 5,000 IU D3  <-- as per doctor's order
    • 100 mg grape seed
    • 1000 mg cinnamon
    • 1200 mg red yeast rice  <-- as per doctor's order
    • 20 mg Lutein  <-- as per doctor's order
    • Multi-vitamin  <-- just in case I forgot to account for something today?

    Chucky and Tiffany Become Vegetarian

    It was sometime during the last week of September 2010 when Tiffany informed me of "World Vegetarian Day" about to commence on October 1st.  And, since both Tiffany and I generally eat and dine meatless why not give it a whirl?  Generally speaking, neither she nor I consume much meat.  We aren't really red meat eaters nor do we consume mass quantities of chicken and seafood.  Our general preference while dining has always been tofu when available.

    Our favorite restaurants have historically been Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican, and some of the franchise chains (Moe's, Chipotle, Tijuana Flats, Subway, Firehouse Subs, Cici's Pizza, Carrabba's, Elephant Bar, etc.).  And we have since found out that all of these are "vegetarian friendly" (offering vegetarian menu options).  Probably most important, both wine and beer are vegetarian!  Just kiddin'.

    And, why did Chucky and Tiffany decide to travel the less-traveled vegetarian road?  To get to the other end perhaps?  Well...  Like the majority of my fellow Americans I find myself middle-aged, overweight, having high blood pressure, fighting to control my cholesterol, and a minute plethora of related medical conditions.  And, mind you, not the type of medical conditions favorable to the super-hero or geriatric crowd.

    We have elected the vegetarian path for many reasons.  So far, we have both gone goo-goo gah-gah over the lifestyle change.  We're finding it much easier to adopt than either of us had imagined.  We don't feel that we're sacrificing very much, we have more energy, and we feel good about what we are doing.  I would venture to assess health is the predominant reason for the change.  But, we feel good about the animals too.

    We have discovered some hidden "gem" vegetarian and vegan restaurants and stores in the Orlando, Florida area.  As each day passes and stones turned, Tiffany and I learn a wee bit more of our lifestyle pursuit.

    We begin our blog Day #26 into our lifelong challenge to "test the vegetarian waters".  And, yes... water can be classified vegetarian.  Okay, okay... in most municipalities (some have Sea Monkeys and other critters happily dancing through their tap water).

    Welcome to our blog!  I hope to share opinion, experience, trials, tribulations, and just about everything you probably did not wish to know of a couple recently converted to vegetarianism (lacto-ovo vegetarians, those who still elect to eat eggs and dairy products).  Hey!  Join us if you may?  

    Hi-dee hi-dee ho my friend!