Quick meals and convenience food

I don’t make it a habit of buying pre-made processed food, but let’s face it, we all have those days when we just cannot muster up the energy to do much of anything, let alone get in the kitchen and slave over a cutting board and stove for an hour.  For that very reason, I do like to keep some things stocked in the freezer that I can easily throw on a cookie sheet and toss into the oven.  Today was one of those days.  I did manage enough energy to make an easy Tomato-Rice Soup with Zucchini and Basil, but more on that later.  When it came time to think about feeding the kids dinner, I just couldn’t get excited about it.  On the menu plan was a Lentil Oat Loaf from My Beef With Meat. That would have taken some time, plus it needs to set a bit after cooking so it holds together better before slicing.  I just wasn’t up for it today, so I opened my freezer and lovingly staring back at me was a bag of Gardein Crispy Tenders.  Voila! I bought these on a whim at Target a few weeks ago because I was amazed that Target even sold them.  Well played, Target, well played!  My 5 year old son is usually not fooled by fake meat products.  Don’t get me wrong, he LOVES a good black bean burger, but he actually prefers to know it’s made from beans.  I’ve tried homemade versions of chicken strips before and they didn’t go over that great with him.   When I set these in front of him he immediately said, “Are these the ones I like.”  I said, “Try one and you tell me.”  He tried one and said, “Oh yeah, these are the ones I like.”  SCORE!  I tried one myself and they were delicious!  I am telling you, your meat eating family will not know the difference.  Again, they are processed, so clearly not the most nutritious thing you could put in your mouth, but who cares?!  If you are going for a convenience item, this one is not all bad.  The sodium is a bit high per serving, but there is plenty of protein and obviously no cholesterol.  They also use non GMO soy and wheat…another bonus!  My youngest (18 months) is a non-verbally self proclaimed vegetarian (except for hot dogs).  She literally throws all meat products put on her tray onto the floor or scoots them over to her cup holder to get them out of her way.  Even at restaurants (where they are loaded up with oil, butter, salt, you name it) she has shunned hamburgers, roast beef, chicken tenders, grilled chicken and breakfast sausage links.  But, lo and behold, she ate THREE of these tenders and was begging for more.  Even she knows the vegan version is better!!  🙂  So, check out the Gardein Crispy Tenders and other Gardein products…you and your family will thank me.  *I served them up with corn on the cob and edamame, by the way.

On to the soup.  Like I said, I did manage the energy to make myself some soup for dinner.  You might ask why I didn’t just feed the soup to the kids.  Well, M claims he doesn’t like zucchini and if you’ve ever tried to feed soup to an 18 month old, then you know why I didn’t give it to them.  They would have loved it, I’m sure!  But, seeing as I wasn’t in the mood for cleaning up an entire kitchen mess after our meal, I opted to give them the finger food instead.  This soup was super easy and took no time at all.  The hardest part was chopping the zucchini which took all of about 20 seconds.  I used Minute Brown Rice, but if you have leftover rice, all the better!  It’s also a good way to use up some of your garden crop of zucchini and basil.

Quick Tomato-Rice Soup with Zucchini and Basil

(from Supermarket Vegan by Donna Klein)

  • 1 tbsp EVOO (I used Earth Balance spread instead)
  • 2 tbsp AP flour (I used whole wheat flour, cause that’s what I always use)
  • 4 cups no salt added canned tomato sauce (or use homemade if you have it)
  • 2 cups veggie broth or water
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar (I left this out)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (or white would work too)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (I’m sure I used more than this)

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat.  Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly  browned, 3-5 minutes.  Gradually whisk in the tomato sauce, broth, sugar, onion powder, salt and pepper.  Add the zucchini and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.  Add the rice and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 3 minutes, adding additional broth or water if a thinner consistency is desired.  Stir in the basil and serve hot.



I finally got new running shoes!  Yay!  The ones I have been using are at least 4 years old and were with me through training for and running a half marathon.  It was high time for new ones.  I got the Saucony Hurricane…very similar to my old ones, but updated.  I tried them out just walking today and they seem great.  I’m going to try to get in a run tomorrow.

Day 2 of the 30 Day Plank Challenge.  20 second plank.  So far, not a challenge.  But I think by day 12 it’s going to get more challenging and, quite possibly, impossible.  We shall see!


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