View Full Version : Quick week-night meals that seem to be popular for newbies to try?
Feb 17th, 2011, 01:32 AM
I am currently in the process of transitioning to vegan and/or vegetarian (not fully decided, maybe a mix of both), with an eventual desire to switch to full vegan.
I am currently a meat (and cheese) eater, but I have never cared too much for meat. I tend to eat a few bites and then eat the rest of the meal.
The main reason I am considering veganism is for my health (I am a 2-time open heart patient with valve replacements), and I feel that it is the correct ethical thing to do.
I grew up in Canada and hence was raised with a high regard for the environment, animal rights, and so on. I then moved to the US and have married. Where we live, we tend to value convenience and recycling is not very common. As odd as it sounds, veganism feels "right" because it brings me closer to the values I grew up with. Or maybe that doesn't sound quite so odd!
My husband is a meat eater. He commented that he feels he could go vegetarian if we cooked more curries, but I do think he would occasionally like a steak or something. He doesn't currently eat eggs except in baked goods (meatloaf, cakes, etc) - he HATES the smell and flavor of them, so I won't need to worry about him wanting egg dishes.
Last night I made a recipe from The Post Punk Kitchen (the cashew korma curry). I should have added more curry powders, but I think it was delicious! DH thought it was very good as well. I mentioned that she has a few books, and he seemed interested in considering buying them.
We are the type to cook one large dish once or twice a week. My husband is trying to lose weight, so he is eating mostly frozen dinners where he can count calories. That leaves me with most nights where I can cook something just for me... and he'll likely try it!
I am looking for some advise on what to keep in a vegan pantry, and what others do for basic snacks and lunches during the day. I have access to a fridge, microwave, and toaster at work, but would prefer to bring simpler snacks and lunches (hummus, etc).
Are there standard quick week-night meals that seem to be popular for "newbies" to try?
Many thanks in advance!
Feb 17th, 2011, 03:46 PM
well done for making the changes and welcome to the forum :).
I'm not sure what products are available where you are but there are ideas for sandwich fillings here:
Quick week night meals-
Veggie sausages, mash, veg and gravy
Quick pizza- made on pitta bread, baguette sliced sideways, 2 x tortillas sandwiched together or puff pastry
Baked potato with hummous or beans and salad
Veggie chilli (can just use a jar of sauce for quickness!)
Scrambled tofu on toast (there are loads of different recipes for this)- but maybe this is more breakfast-y :D
I think everyone would keep different products in their pantry but I always tend to have:
cans of tomatoes
marmite (yeast extract)- good for making 'gravy' e.g. in shepherd's pie.
Happy cooking :)
Feb 17th, 2011, 07:25 PM
Have you checked out the 'What did you eat today' thread? It's interesting to see what other people eat, some people have the most delicious sounding dinners! (don't look too closely at mine. I only have to cook for myself and I'm lazy :))
Pantry basics for me would be dried pasta, canned tomatoes and beans, dried beans for when I'm planning ahead, red lentils, olive oil, rapeseed oil (you probably know this as Canola - it's good for essential fatty acids), dried herbs, nuts (particularly almonds), dried fruits like dates, apricots and figs, oatmeal, flour for bread and cake making, sugar for baking, cocoa powder, jam, chocolate :), and a "milk" for making sauces (I have cheapo soy milk), cornflour for thickening soups and stews and making sauces and custards.
Feb 17th, 2011, 07:39 PM
Welcome Lenore. I'm sure you've made the right decision! (I don't think anyone here is going to say any different ;) )
Vegetable soup or stew is a good thing to make because you can cook a big batch and then eat it for several meals - it is very quick to make too and can be filling particularly if you include lentils, beans, barley and so on (not necessarily all of those in the same soup). If you or your husband are concerned about fat and calories you can make it without adding any fat or oil at all. In another thread people were saying that they take a flask of homemade soup to work.
Dried eggless pasta, rice and sometimes other grain-type things such as quinoa and millet, canned tomatoes, canned and dried beans and lentils are the staples I probably use the most often. Plus olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, dried herbs and spices. Vegetables and fruit should arguably form the bulk of one's diet, though. We get a box of vegetables delivered every week and most of what we cook comes from that. If you don't have access to anything like that and don't have time to shop frequently you could stock up your freezer with vegetables - frozen ones are meant to be pretty good from a nutritional point of view I gather.
Feb 17th, 2011, 08:45 PM
I find that if you do it against a wall people will think you're leaning on purpose. :)
Feb 17th, 2011, 10:30 PM
Welcome to the wonderful world of veganism! There are so many good reasons to go vegan it is AMAZING that more people aren't doing it. Anyway, to help you with your question, check out http://www.simpleveganrecipes.co.uk/ They have a whole bunch of Indian recipes your husband is sure to love.
Here is another place for simple recipes: http://www.vegkansascity.com/recipes.html and another: http://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-Vegan-Recipes/
Feb 18th, 2011, 03:35 AM
Thanks so much for everyone's responses! I did find that "What Did You Eat Today" thread, and I've bookmarked it. What a great resource you all are!!
I just LOOOOVE barley (been one of my all-time favs even as a child), so I will need to look into making a soup with that.
Husband has agreed to go mostly vegetarian with me, but refuses to go vegan (he loves his cheese and cream). So I will need to figure out a few meals where it can be both!
Feb 18th, 2011, 08:08 AM
That's good news! In practice you may not need separate meals as I suspect your husband won't miss dairy produce providing the food's tasty. Maybe he just wants to "reserve the right" to eat it, if you know what I mean.
Yes barley is good isn't it?
Feb 18th, 2011, 11:37 PM
I think you've hit is on the head, Harpy. Yes, he doesn't want me messing with "his" diet. Or, rather, he wants to be the one to choose. Which is just fine; I wouldn't want him choosing for me!
I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this. It seems like a dumb question... I know that they recommend a certain number of dairy servings a day. Is there a recommended level for dairy substitutes? I gave the Silk soy milk a try (love it with granola/cereal but not on its own) - it seems to have a little more protein than cow's milk. Should I be having a regular amount of that in my diet?
I guess what I'm really looking for is a... vegan food pyramid? Or something so I know that I am fitting in the right amount of the right things and not neglecting certain nutrients!
Feb 19th, 2011, 04:18 PM
sure, if you google" vegan food pyramid" there are all sorts of charts and info. :)
There are many different milks to choose from- soy, rice, oat, hemp, coconut, etc.
Almond milk is definitely a favorite!
Feb 19th, 2011, 04:20 PM
There is exactly what you've asked for, a vegan food pyramid. In fact there's lots of them. (http://www.google.co.uk/images?q=vegan+food+pyramid&um=1&hl=en&safe=off&sa=X&rls=en&tbs=isch:1)
You don't need to consume any dairy substitutes at all, I don't.
I'd ignore the bit about water at the bottom, you really don't need that much.
Feb 19th, 2011, 04:32 PM
My other half is lacto-veg rather than vegan when he's out but he's quite happy to eat vegan food at home. I never put any pressure on him though, he just decided for himself. I daresay he will go vegan sooner or later but it's up to him.
A few people have had a go at a vegan or vegetarian food pyramid, like this one http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vegetarian-diet/HQ01596 I don't think there's an official one though.
I think these pyramids are fairly blunt (as it were!) instruments though (see discussion here http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/pyramid/) designed to make sure you get enough of various nutrients. As I understand it the dairy recommendation is mainly about calcium and vitamin D, and dairy substitutes aren't necessarily the best sources of these (neither is dairy of course!).
So your best strategy might be to read up on vegan sources of calcium and vitamin D and make sure you eat enough of those foods. There is quite a lot of information online e.g. http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/calcium.htm and http://www.vegansociety.com/lifestyle/nutrition/vitamin-d.aspx though obviously you have to check what you're reading is from a reliable source. If you just eat a wide range of wholefoods though most of the nutritional bases tend to get covered automatically (famous last words!).
Feb 19th, 2011, 04:35 PM
you could also use a nutrition counting website, like www.caloriecount.com, that calculates your daily protein, calcium, iron, etc.
Feb 19th, 2011, 05:56 PM
I know that they recommend a certain number of dairy servings a day. Is there a recommended level for dairy substitutes? I gave the Silk soy milk a try (love it with granola/cereal but not on its own) - it seems to have a little more protein than cow's milk. Should I be having a regular amount of that in my diet?
The requirement isn't so much for dairy as what is inside it, namely Calcium, Vitamin D and maybe a couple of other things. Those are what you need to watch out for. If you follow a balance whole-foods (which includes green leafy veggies) vegan diet, you should be in pretty good shape with calcium. Vitamin D is produced in your body naturally through exposure to the Sun. Dr. Neal Barnard suggest 15-20 mins of direct sunlight on your hand and skin should be plenty. If this is not possible, a vitamin D2 supplement or fortified foods like non-dairy milks will get you what you need.
Feb 19th, 2011, 07:32 PM
When I hear about food + pyramids, I'm reminded of Jerry Seinfeld's old comment about biathlon:
I don't understand the connection to any reality...
Like in the Winter Olympics they have that biathlon.
That combines cross-country skiing with shooting a gun.
How many alpine snipers are into this?
Ski, shoot a gun... ski, bang, bang, bang...
It's like combining swimming and strangle a guy.
Why don't we have that?
That makes absolutely as much sense to me.
Feb 20th, 2011, 07:44 AM
If you like reading there's a book that you might like called Becoming Vegan that I'm reading that goes into all the different nutrients, proteins, fats... how much you need per day and gives all the sources of them. It talks about the vegan food pyramid in there too and goes into how to eat a healthy vegan diet and the vegan replacements for foods. Haven't gotten all the way through the book yet but so far it's very good and lots of information! :)
Feb 20th, 2011, 04:24 PM
Thanks again everyone, for being so supportive and helpful! I feel like I'm stumbling on unfamiliar turf, but you guys are wonderful guides!!
Korn, thanks for the laugh!
I'm doing my first week of vegan menu planning for myself. We'll see how this goes. I'm sure I'll run out of something mid-week, but I'm going to try 4 vegan recipes (a curry recipe with naan brushed with vegan 'butter', a roasted red pepper soup, a lentil soup, and a Mac & Cheez - provided I can find Nutritional Yeast at my grocery store). Need to remember to pick up loads of fruits & veggies for snacks!
Feb 20th, 2011, 08:15 PM
sounds delicious! It will get easier.
Did you find the recipe section of the forum? There's a fairly new thread for quick recipes (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?27849-The-Super-Speedy-Recipe-Thread). Maybe you could even add to it!
Feb 21st, 2011, 12:33 AM
Unfortunately I couldn't find nutritional yeast at my grocery store, so the Mac and Cheez is out. I bought Amy's Rice Macaroni and Cheez (made with Daiya), so I hope to give that a try for lunch this week.
I made a lentil soup with carrots, celery, and potatoes. Was very good! I don't care much for lentils on their own, so I think I'd rather have a brothier soup with less lentils in the future.
Thank you for the link! As a non-vegan, it doesn't look like I can contribute to the threads, but when I have a few weeks of vegan eating until my belt, I'll be brave enough to request access!
Feb 21st, 2011, 09:38 AM
Hi Lenore - probably no use for this week, but you know you can buy stuff like nutritional yeast online e.g. http://veganstore.com/index.html?stocknumber=255
Glad the soup turned out well. I always do veg and lentil as well - if you use red lentils they sort of disappear and just add a bit of substance, if you know what i mean.
Feb 21st, 2011, 11:26 AM
You could also buy yourself a pedegg and make your own nutritional yeast.
Feb 21st, 2011, 01:00 PM
and welcome to the forum also from my side!
As you specifically cite cardio-vascular health concerns in your decision to go vegan or vegetarian, you should definitely check out Doctors Caldwell Esselstyn and Dean Ornish, who have quite a lot of successes to show in reversing heart disease.
Both suggest a low-fat diet as a cornerstone of their programs, which DOES NOT WORK if you still consume dairy products.
Since I have adopted a similar diet myself about 3 months ago, after having read in 'The China Study' about the benefits of the 80/10/10 diet (80 % of calories from carbohydrates, maximum 10 % from fat and max 10 % from protein), I have lost some 20 pounds (190->170 lb at 185 cm of body height) and am now back in the 'normal' Body Mass region for a 40 years old male. I am basically eating lots of fruit, vegetables, some (wholemeal) bread and try not to add any kind of oils/fats and refined sugars to what I eat. (OK, I have the occasional sweet and still use meat analogues a little, but try to avoid them where possible) Works great so far.
Mind you, that was about 1 year after going vegan after 20 years as a vegetarian. However, as I still ate processed foods (meat analogues, spreads etc., white rice, refined flour pasta etc.) going vegan did not change my weight (and health), it was leaving out the fat that did it.
Other good books to look at IMHO are 'The China Study', 'The 80/10/10 diet' by Dr. Doug Graham, and 'The Engine 2 diet' by Rip Esselstyn.
A very good book on vegan health is Brenda Davis'/Vesanto Melina's 'Becoming Vegan', but always bear in mind that this is NOT written for heart patients. Dr. Esselstyn's and Dr. Ornish's books are, so I would refer to those where they disagree with each other ('Becoming Vegan' suggests 70% of energy from carbs as upper level).
Of course, I am neither a registered dietician nor a doctor ... but those people who have written these books are!
Feb 22nd, 2011, 03:00 AM
Thank you very much! I am not overweight and am not really at risk for other other preventable diseases. Mine was a congenital birth defect, for which I will need a replacement pulmonary valve every 12-15 years, for the rest of my life. I also have an implanted defibrillator in case of complications from the surgeries. But I am not on a restricted diet, nor on any meds. But that doesn't mean I want to get lax on feeding my body healthy foods.
Before now I was looking into the Mediterranean "diet", with a high intake of fruits, vegetables, olive oils, etc. That diet does include lean meats 2-3 times a week with red meat no more than once a week, if that, and only something like 1/2 lb max. Since I've never been big on meat anyway, I figure I can do most of that diet, but need to figure out things to do in place of the "meat" meals.
I figured out my calories and other nutrients for the day. I am very pleased to see that I am smack dab at the recommended levels for all my nutrients, except for 9 grams lacking in protein. I'm not going to sweat that too much on my first day!
Feb 22nd, 2011, 08:54 AM
Yes, and protein is pretty easy to find anyway. You could have a handful of unsalted nuts as a snack sometimes. Lots of nutrients and you sound as if the calories aren't too much of a worry, you lucky person :)
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