So, who doesn't love a good veggie burger? Am I right?
Morningstar Farms makes a wide range of vegetarian "meatless meat" products, most of them soy based. I think of these products as a kind of vegetarian fast food. It's quick and easy, but also pretty processed. This burger was a new addition to their lineup, and I decided to give it a whirl.
Here's what I think their concept was: Some vegetarians don't actually want to eat a veggie burger that tastes like meat. Some of their meatless substitutes are eerily close in flavor to actual meat. Here, I think Morningstar wanted to create a burger that tasted more like grains and veggies. Which is a great idea.
There are also a number of vegetarians who, for a lot of reasons, are trying to avoid soy products. Some don't digest them well. Others believe that too much soy leads to certain health problems, which is a debate you can read about if you care to Google it. Morningstar products are heavily soy-based, and I think they created this burger partially so it wouldn't seem like a patty o' soy.
BUT. This product contains a lot of soy protein. Second on the ingredients list is organic textured soy protein. So, in a way I feel like this product is misleading, pretending to be a quinoa burger when in reality it has a lot of soy.
Otherwise, nutritionally, it's pretty good. It has 130 calories, 7 grams of protein, and 8 grams of fat.
Now, on to the taste test. Here is my serving suggestion:
Yes, that bottom layer is an Ezekiel English muffin. Just love that Ezekiel stuff. Then I put tomato, veggie burger, and avocado on top.
The flavor was pretty decent; I could taste both the quinoa and the garlic, and there wasn't a "fake meat" feel to it. There was also a strong lentil flavor, which I liked, but I was surprised that nothing on the front of the package mentioned lentils. It had a mild "Southwest" taste to it. Next time, I'd add some Jack cheese or salsa on top, I think.
Flavor: 8 out of 10
Nutrition: 7 out of 10 (for hidden soy ingredients)
The bottom line: Good for a quick meal, but I wouldn't want to live off of them. Probably still better for you than McDonald's! Those avoiding soy will want to avoid this one.
Let me know if you try these!
Sometimes, you have simple tools and you use them the same way every time. Then, one day you wake up and think, "What if I used that ... to do something different"? Well, that's how it was with me and parchment paper. I'd been using it to make cookies for a long time. It's great for that purpose, by the way. Keeps the cookies from sticking or spreading, adds that nice crisp texture, and makes cleanup a snap.
But this summer, I started experimenting with parchment paper to cook, well, everything. I pretty much became a parchment paper fanatic. I started out with this one:
And it works great! But then I discovered this:
And these guys rocked my cooking world. Basically, it's like a Kleenex box with sheets of parchment that are exactly the size of a cookie sheet. Now, you may be thinking, how lazy is this lady? She can't even tear off a sheet of paper from a roll! But let me tell you, something about having those individual sheets made me reach for them again and again.
It was so easy! So convenient! And did I mention cleanup is a snap?
But that's not the whole reason I love parchment so much. I think I mentioned that it makes the edges of the cookies I bake on it crispy and golden brown. Well, I discovered .... IT DOES THAT TO OTHER THINGS TOO.
Like, it makes potatoes crispy and golden brown. Roasted vegetables caramelized and full of flavor. Fish tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside. And it allows you to do this using very little added fat.
As I experimented with roasting vegetables, I found I needed at most one or two tablespoons of oil to coat an entire sheet pan of food! So this cooking method is healthy, delicious, and adds the most wonderful flavor to roasted foods.
Here are some of my experiments! I tried potatoes, naturally. I added olive oil, seasoning salt, and garlic. Baked at 425 for around 20 minutes. And this:
Yummy! I tried zucchini a number of times. I found I needed to leave it in pretty large pieces so the pieces didn't get overcooked in the oven. Before:
See all that caramel-y goodness? I also tried this:
Unfortunately, it got eaten so quickly after coming out of the oven that there is no "after" picture. But it was dee-licious.
This is my next frontier! I want to try cooking whole meals all on the same sheet pan, and somehow get the size of the veggies and the meat right, so it all cooks to perfection at the same time. So far, I've used separate sheet pans so I can cook the meat longer than the veggies, or vice versa. But I love the idea of literally throwing all your ingredients on a sheet and baking them together.
Let me know if you've tried parchment paper and how your experiments came out! Happy eating!
This is my favorite thing right now. I know I'm not the first person to do this, nor will I be the last. But it's new to ME, and I have been eating this breakfast non-stop. Here it is:
Okay, lemme explain what I've done here. It's almost too simple for an actual recipe. I use Ezekiel Bread. Which I should write a whole separate post on someday. For now, I'll just say ... it's awesome. But you could easily substitute another kind of bread here: gluten free, regular, whatever floats your boat. I pop that bread into the toaster for 3 minutes. Then, I assemble all this stuff:
I use light olive oil, nutritional yeast, half an avocado, half a tomato, and salt and peppa. After my bread is toasted, I drizzle it with about 2 T. of olive oil. I sprinkle with nutritional yeast. (Check out my article about nutritional yeast here!) Then I add slices of avocado. I sprinkle it with salt and pepper. And lastly, I put slices of tomato on top.
Side note on my avocado slicing technique: I slice the avocado in half lengthwise. Using a paring knife, I make vertical slices to the fruit while it's still in the shell. (Husk? Peel?). Then I use a spoon to scoop out the pre-sliced pieces. Pretty nifty, huh?
Now, I just want to take a moment to say: Yum!
Nutritionally, this meal has everything I want in a breakfast: high quality protein, healthy fats, and fresh fruits. (Yes, tomatoes and avocados are both fruits.) And it has none of the stuff I'm trying to avoid: processed grains and sugar. I'm not a vegetarian, but having been vegetarian for 14 years in the past definitely sways my preferences. Plant based meals are still a staple in my house! I feel better and have long-lasting energy when I eat them.
Try this out sometime soon! And let me know what you think!
This is one of the recipes we used in our Wellness Notebook project (see previous post). I created this recipe when I discovered, shocked, that only one of my students had eaten hummus before. Well, either that or everyone was not paying attention enough to raise their hands. Actually, that second one sounds more likely. At any rate, I determined we were going to eat hummus. And spinach. And we were going to like it.
4 large spinach tortillas
2 c. baby spinach leaves, washed
2 roma tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
1 1/3 c. plain hummus (I used Sabra brand)
salt and pepper
1. Lay out 4 tortillas on a flat work surface. Using a butter knife, spread 1/3 c. of hummus on each tortilla.
2. Over the hummus, lay a layer of spinach leaves. Use enough leaves to cover the surface of the tortilla.
3. Lay 3 or 4 tomato slices down the center of each tortilla. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Roll the tortillas up tightly, like a burrito. Slice each tortilla on the diagonal, creating 5 or 6 slices , about 1 1/2 inches thick.
5. Serve the slices on a plate.
This turned out to be one of the favorite recipes of the semester! It received the highest compliment one can get from a teenager: "This tastes kinda like Taco Bell!" Yesssss.
Share, comment, and let me know if you try this recipe out! I kept it simple for teenage tastes, but you can add any veggies you like in there!
Okay, so I lived through my first year of teaching high school. I lived, and I signed on for another. And then immediately began planning and dreaming about how next year, oh next year was going to be so much different.
One goal I have is to increase awareness of healthy snack options for my students. I came up with this project on the fly last year and ran with it. It needs some refining, but we're doing it again this year.
I told my students, we're going to make recipes that have three criteria:
1. They are cheaper than fast food.
2. They take 5 minutes to make.
3. They are healthier versions of snacks you already like to eat.
4. (Bonus point) You will get to eat these snacks in class.
This upcoming year, I'd like to give the students the option to research what recipes to try, giving them more control over the project. I'd also like to have them analyze nutritional content for each recipe this time around. Anyway, here's the basic plan:
Objective: Students will taste one healthy recipe per week. Students will analyze the recipe and make suggestions for modifications.
Materials needed: 3 x 5 index cards, construction paper, ingredients for recipes
1. Once a week, at the start of class, I demonstrated the entire procedure for making a healthy recipe. Students took notes on what ingredients I used, amounts, and procedures on the index card. They would tape the index card to a blank piece of construction paper.
2. Students each tasted the final result of the recipe. On a second index card, they answered the following questions: Describe the taste of this recipe. Did you like it? Why or why not? Would you make it at home? What changes to this recipe would you make if you were making it for yourself? They then added this "recipe review" card to their sheet of construction paper.
3. Students added one recipe page per week to their notebooks. At the end of the semester, they completed a Wellness Notebook introduction page, in which they reviewed all of their recipes and summarized the results. The entire project was turned in at semester's end.
Now, I want to say: my first year of teaching was all about survival. This means I didn't take any photos of this fantastic project. I promise to take more photos of future projects! I will include one or two of the recipes we used in a future post.
Let me know if you have recipe ideas for us! I'd like to hear your feedback!
I'm a school librarian, cookbook author, and longtime fan of food and literature. Welcome to my blog!