Monday, November 7, 2011

Tips for Going Plant Based - Convenience Foods

I try and eat mostly whole and non-processed foods but there are a few things I do eat that can be considered 'processed'. Some processed foods aren't that bad and they can be convenient for times when you're traveling, in a hurry or are simply stuck with no other alternative. If you can try and keep your consumption of processed food to less than 20% of your diet, you should be fine. There are lots of vegan junk foods but there are also a group of products that may seem junky but they aren't too horrible if you're paying attention to ingredients. I tend to stick to those.

Please check the links I've given you as almost all of the websites have coupons you can print out to use on your next purchase!

Here are my favorite processed foods:


Tofurky is a what gluten and organic tofu lunchmeat alternative. It is made without Hexane-extracted soy protein isolates, it is certified vegan  and it contains no nitrates or MSG. All the ingredients are normal and nothing weird is added. This may seem junky but in my opinion, it really isn't.

5 slices has 13 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of fat.

I tried these deli slices a number of years ago when I first went vegetarian and I didn't like them but now I am addicted. I guess maybe my tastebuds have changed and I can truly appreciate them! I picked up a Tofurky Roast for Thanksgiving this year and I thought I should give the deli slices another chance since the slices are just the roast, sliced thin. I love to eat 3 slices on a whole wheat bun with Vegenaise, dijon mustard and sliced campari tomatoes. You can get 5 sandwiches out of a package if you do it that way. My carnivore husband even eats these. My fave is the naturally smoked hickory but the oven roasted is good too. I am going to try the other flavors soon. They also have other things like sausages, pepperoni, tempeh and frozen pizza.

Zatarain's Beans & Rice

Sure, this can be made from scratch but this is a great alternative if you want to eat rice and beans fast! These are also a great side dish to take with you if you need to bring a dish to pass or if you need to take your food along. We like to mix in the Field Roast Chipotle Sausage for a complete meal!


How can you not love a Triscuit? They are baked and the original/plain has just three ingredients - wheat, oil and salt. In a one ounce serving you get 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein! I like to use them with nut butters, my homemade cashew 'cheese' and for any of the various dips I make.

Field Roast Sausages

I have these a few times a year when I make the hour trek to Whole Foods. These are sausages made out of vital wheat gluten. No weird ingredients. In fact, this is actually a product you could make in your kitchen. The sausages come in three flavors: Italian Sausage, Smoked Apple Sage and Chipotle. The chipotle are my favorite but they are spicy! I usually cut it in half and in half again for a serving and pan fry it so it gets kinda crispy. One whole sausage has 23 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber and 12 grams of fat but only 1 gram is saturated. We love them mixed into the red beans and rice or as the star in a traditional English breakfast. They are also delicious with baked beans!

Upton's Naturals Seitan

Upton's Seitan is another wheat gluten product. Again, made with just a few non-weird ingredients and something you can make at home. There are 4 flavors  - italian sausage, chorizo, ground beef and traditional. I've tried the italian sausage. I like to pan fry it in a little oil and then use it to top my pizza! A 2 oz serving has 15 grams of protein and 1.5 grams of fat.

Fritos (or any brand corn chip)

Fritos are my junk food. They only have three ingredients - corn, oil and salt but they are fried so that is why they are truly a junk food for me. We buy the 1 oz individual bags because they stay fresh.  Any plain corn chip will only have those three ingredients. Stay away from Doritos and the like as those are coated with chemicals.

Energy Bars

Energy bars have saved my life on several occasions and have probably saved the life of others on many more occasions! I get sorta mean if I am allowed to get hungry. These are perfect to toss in my bag when I'm going to be away from home. I try and eat every few hours so I have to have something appropriate on me in case I end up starving. These should not be something you have every single day but a couple of these a week aren't going to cause much trouble. Use them strategically. There are many brands that are a good choice and you may need to try a few to find ones you like. Just pay attention to the ingredients and look for something with decent protein and fiber numbers.

One tip to remember is that the higher the protein, the chewier the bar will be. Also.. these bars are found away from the cereal and granola bar aisle.. if it's in the vicinity of the Pop-Tarts and Lucky Charms, you are not in the right area! Those are not energy bars.

My faves are Luna bars. Crunch bars and Mojo bars, all made by Clif.

Luna Bars have about 9 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. Those numbers can vary slightly according to flavor. They come in a large variety of flavors, taste like a candy bar and are usually 1/4 dipped in a chocolate type coating.. which is never a bad thing. They have 23 added vitamins and minerals and they do have a higher sugar count than I'd like but these are not something I eat every day. They even have mini sizes of these which are really great to carry in your bag!

Mojo Bars have 9 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber and 70% organic. Like the Luna bars, they have more sugar than I like to eat in a single product but a couple times a week for bars is fine. The Mojo bars do have honey in them so they aren't vegan but I don't eat them that often so I'm willing to bend my rules.

Crunch bars are perfect for anyone that likes the Nature Valley crunchy granola bars. These are a more traditional type of crispy oat bar.

Vegenaise is a vegan, gluten free, and dairy free mayonaise alternative. The ingredients in the original are Non-GMO Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Filtered Water, Brown Rice Syrup, Apple Cider Vinegar, Non-GMO Soy Protein, Sea Salt, Mustard Flour, Lemon Juice Concentrate.

In my opinion, Vegenaise is the best but they do have other brands on the market so you may need to try a few to find the one you prefer. I use it mainly on sandwiches and in a couple recipes like dips and salad dressings but because it's oil, it should be used sparingly.

Veggie Burgers

I make my own veggie burgers because they taste better, there are no unnecessary ingredients and they are a whole lot cheaper but I do realize that sometimes buying a box of burgers is easier for some people. Unfortunately, many big brands of burgers do have unnecessary ingredeints but using these as needed and not on a daily basis may be helpful. Personally, the only reason I'd buy them is if I am out of town and staying with someone and was unable to make my own but I'd have to stick with the vegan varieties.

There are many varieties of veggie burgers (grain based, soy protein based, bean based or vegetable based) so you'll need to taste test some but these were my favorites before I went vegan and started making my own but most aren't vegan so I couldn't eat them now anyway!

Morningstar Farms Spicy Black Bean Burgers

Morningstar Farms Garden Veggie Patties

Amy's Kitchen California Burger - just a note about Amy's. That company has some incredible convenience foods so check them out! They have frozen and canned.

Walnut Burger (these have cheese so I can't eat them anymore but they are super good... but fattening... and expensive ... but so worth it!)

Again, I usually make cookies from scratch but I do buy a box here and there so I can use them when I pack a lunch to go someplace. These cookie brands are made with simple, whole ingredients, mostly organic and are free from artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors and they are usually made with non-hydrogenated oils.

You can find versions of your fave non-healthy types of cookies like Thin Mints, Oreos, Fudge Stripes, Nilla Wafers, and even Teddy Grahams!

These are the brands I buy, but there are several others that are good as well:

Back to Nature
Late July Organic Snacks
Newman's Own Organics

Just a note.. these companies make more than just cookies! They have crackers and tons of other products so poke around their websites.

Sorbet & Non-Dairy Ice Cream

I am not an ice cream person by any means. I could go forever without it and it wouldn't bother me a bit. However, a few times a year it looks good to me so I'll buy a container. Non-dairy ice cream is wonderful because there is no cholesterol! However, they do still contain lots of sugar so they should be a once in awhile treat.

Almond Dream Bites - these are yummy almond milk ice cream bites covered in smooth dark chocolate. They have one gram of sugar per bite and I like that I can have just one because that is usually all I want anyway.

Ciao Bella Sorbet (their website never works for me) - I like their sorbet.

There are other bands on non-dairy ice creams like So Delicious made with coconut milk or soy milk, Tofutti made with soy, and a few others. Coconut Bliss uses coconut milk and agave nectar. Try a couple to find the ones you like! You can even find bars and ice cream sandwiches!

Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Blend

This is my one true indulgence. This is a vegan sort-of version of Nutella. I make my own chocolate almond butter but the cost of hazelnuts and the fact that they need to be roasted and dealt with prevent me from making that homemade. It's pretty much the same price if I make it or Justin makes it so have at it, Justin!

Just a side note regarding palm oils ....  this product contains palm fruit oil, it is not the same as palm kernel oil.

I got this info from Smart Balance regarding the difference: Palm fruit oil comes from the fleshy, orange part of the fruit, and is rich in monounsaturates or “good” fats. Palm kernel oil, on the other hand, comes from the innermost kernel, or nut-like core, of the plant. The kernel contains highly saturated fats that can clog arteries.


Yes, I eat processed cereals BUT I eat the healthy kind. I like Grape-Nuts and Shredded Wheat, which are just.. um.. wheat and whole grains and salt. The junkiest ones you'll find me eating once in awhile are Barbara's Shredded Multigrain Spoonfuls, which is a healthy version of Life cereal and I love to munch on that as a snack and Full Circle Organic Frosted Flakes for when I want to go back to that sugar-bomb cereal fix... but these are made with evaporated cane juice instead of HFCS! I also eat oatmeal, of course and in the dead of winter I'll go for a hot bowl of Malt -O- Meal or Cream of Wheat!

Tofutti Cream Cheese and Sour Cream

Great when you need these types of products but want to stay away from dairy! These are oil so use them sparingly as you would the real thing.

Pirate Brands Original Tings

Hip, vegan Cheetos! Cornmeal, oil, salt and nutritional yeast.. yes, these are seriously junky but sometimes a girl needs something hollow and almost devoid of nutrition and these fit the bill.


  1. I am totally laughing because your ist is SO similar to mine. For instance, I love me some triscuits with hummus, I had grape nuts with fresh blueberries for breakfast today, LOVE veganaise, love zatarains, love field roast...etc.! I think there is totally room in a really clean diet for some fun stuff for sure! Oh, love almond dream bites, see, we think alike! I would add to that list that I love the Wayfare brand Hickory Cheddar dairy free oateal based cheese spread, on triscuits, on celery, mmmm..