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the best vegetarian food "products"

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What are the best vegetarian/vegan brands and products? I'm looking for things that taste good, not necessarily like something non-vegan, as someone pointed out in another thread- something that tastes good in its own right.
The point of these products would be convenience. I've recently lost the taste for meat (not cheese or eggs though) and I would like to know which products - frozen meals, hot dogs, chicken, are good when I don't have time or don't feel like cooking. Thanks!

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  1. I like a lot of Amy's brand products, both the frozen stuff and the canned stews and soups.

    Also, Bob's Red Mill.

    Love Zen Bakery products, especially the muffins (Apple Bran and Peach Bran--no cranberries) and the cinnamon rolls.

    I know you don't want meat subs, but Boca Burgers don't taste like meat, but do taste good IMO.

    I'm also currently on a major kelp noodle kick. http://www.kelpnoodles.com Stirfry em with

    Van's Waffles--breakfast for dinner when ya feel lazy or Mintz's Blintzes

    I like a lot of the Morningstar Farms products... the pizza burger, the corn dogs, veggie bites (broccoli cheddar and mushroom mozzarella).

    Yves Chili, Lasagna, and Mac'n'Cheese.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Emme

      Yves Hot Dogs are my favs as well as Morningstar Bacon strips (Trader Joes has it for best price). Crumbled into scrambled eggs or as part of a FBLT.
      Yves also makes a good ground beef substitute. I make chile with it. I have not found a good meatless chicken yet... Trader Joes has really good veggie meatballs.
      Celentano makes a good frozen stuffed shells with broccoli. The eggplant parmesan is really good but has too many fat grams for me to maintain denial long enough to buy it and eat it...
      There is a brand of vacuum packed Indian foods that I like. Forgot the name-comes in cardboard box roughly the size of a DVD case. The channa masala is great and I like the dal. I usually eat it as a soup. Can be found at Trader Joes too.
      I eat black beans and rice a couple of times a month. I use vegetable stock in the rice instead of water. I sautee garlic and then toast the rice before adding the stock. Really satisfying and takes no time to cook. \
      Hope this helps...

      1. re: Emme

        ick, i will be a dissenter on the van's waffles. they are so ick, i think. boo to frozen waffles in general, i suppose. but van's are even worse than the typical grocery store brands. waste of calories.

        the meals in the box, are they tastybite? i enjoy those a lot. great veg options.

        1. re: tinymango

          I tried the Van's gluten free/vegan (or whatever they were) blueberry waffles and thought they were amazing. Then I accidentally bought normal wheat/non-vegan Van's waffle's and they were awful. Go figure.

        2. re: Emme

          Morningstar Farms proucts are delicious, but they're also packed with all of the additives, preservatives and icky chemicals of major processed food. They're a subsidiary of Kellogs, no? At any rate, if you're expecting the feel good, back to the land approach, avoid MSF like the devil. Or keep 'em as a treat, anyway.

          1. re: GilloD

            Well...that's why they taste good, GilloD! Morningstar Farms' hot dogs are they only ones I bother with. Grilled and smothered with all the usual toppings and stuffed in a grilled bun, they're HOT DOGS. They're just not floor sweepings, pig parts, flies & eyeballs, so they work for this pesca-vegetarian.

            The way I see it, pretty much any packaged food has some degree of 'icky' in it. And 'icky' is OK in moderation.

        3. I like Morningstar Farms Grillers (burger substitutes). They make a great sandwich with whole grain toast, mayo, mustard, tomatoes, roasted red pepper, purple onions and romaine. Since you eat cheese and eggs, omelets would be an option.

          Trader Joe's is a good source of ingredients for quick and easy meals. The yellow or green curry sauces work well with baked tofu and frozen veggies for a quick tasty stir fry. TJs also carries veggie Indian foods that are ready to heat and serve (beware, they are spicey). Veggie chili and "Smart Dogs" over toast with some melted cheese is a quick meal.

          Many of these prepared foods are full of preservatives, fat and salt, so, of course, its healthier to take the time to plan and prepare from scratch. But if I don't have the time, this is usually what I eat.

          Good luck!

          5 Replies
          1. re: Samsaunt

            The products "field Roast" makes are amazing. They do a main entree called the celebration roast and their vegan sausage things are fantastic. Flavor, texture, ingredients - they do it right.

            1. re: meatn3

              second the rec for field roast, although depending on where you live the products can be impossible to find.

              i'm also a big fan of quorn.

                1. re: meatn3

                  the only problem with this link is that it lists every store to which ANY field roast product has been distributed at some time.

                  for example, the san diego & some los angeles whole foods stores only carry the 'stuffed celebration field roast,' and even that's only available as a special item during the holidays/thanksgiving.

                  one or two whole foods locations also offer a 'smoked tomato field roast' salad as an occasional prepared foods item, and it's made with the smoked tomato flavor field roast crumbles [i.e. veggie ground round] which are great. unfortunately, whole foods frequently has a tendency to drown their salads in mayonnaise-based dressings, and this one is no exception. so i spoke to the managers at these locations and asked if i could purchase some of the plain crumbles from them. you'd think i was asking them to hand over their first-born children! what a production. in the end they relented, but insisted on charging me a king's ransom for it - i had to pay the prepared salad price [per pound] instead of just what the single ingredient would cost. ridiculous.

                  oh, and if you want them to special-order it for you, they require you to commit to buying the entire case.

                  not gonna happen, my friend.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    I have not had that problem in the south-east. Have used the site 1/2 dozen times when I've been in new areas & had good luck. This posting got me in the mood so I went to WF (new city for me) they had 2 varieties sausage & celebration roast. Was in a hurry so didn't inquire about special orders. I need to find out - this stuff is really good!

          2. I like Tofurkey's products particularly the beer brats and the hickory smoked turkey slices. Tofurkey doesn't use gmo soy or soy protein isolate which I also appreciate.

            For "cheese" I prefer Vegan Gourmet's Monterey Jack taste wise and VeganRella's Mozerella for its texture. A mix of the two works awesome for pizza/calzones.

            Trader Joes is a great resource for frozen meals/prepared meals although I tend to prepare everything I eat from scratch. Some products I do use however are their meatless meatballs, jalepeno hummus, and occasionally their rustico marinara sauce. The vegetable gyozas are above average as well.

            1. Other posters recommend TJ's, as do I, but don't neglect ethnic markets. Indian markets in particular have a lot of chickpea and lentil preparations, including frozen dinners, that I like to have on hand.

              Also, my favorite non-meat sandwich is a felafel. Middle Eastern markets sometimes carry frozen ones, but you can always find the box mix which is easy and tastes good. The brand I buy is "Fantastic", which I see in regular grocery stores as well as Whole Foods and health food type stores.

              TJ's management, if you're reading--how about frozen felafel at your stores??

              2 Replies
              1. re: coney with everything

                TJ used to carry frozen falafel that came in a tray. It was great, and then one day it disappeared.

                1. re: marmite

                  We don't have TJ's here but my local health food store carries the frozen falafel in a tray. Brand is Olive Valley. They are really delicious...much better than the powdered mixes...but also very expensive.

              2. In general Morningstar products are reliable.

                I like Smart Dogs by Lightlife, especially the "deli style" which stay firmer. Lightlife also makes a good ground "sausage" product.

                There is also an excellent "chorizo"-style sausage, packaged in a long tube, (but I can't recall brand name) which is great mixed in omelets, etc.

                9 Replies
                1. re: HDinCentralME

                  I was going through each post to see if anyone had tried the "chorizo"-style sausage, and BINGO! You were the one!

                  Soyrizo is the product that you're talking about. I'm in LA where chorizo is so common that it can be found in the meat department of just about any supermarket. Local taquerias serve it up as one of the regular meat options for tacos, burritos, sopes, etc. As delicious as this Mexican staple is, it can be quite salty, inpale deep jabs on one's cholesterol levels, and is full of pig parts that one wouldn't want to think about eating otherwise.

                  When this product first hit the store shelves (I'm guessing about) 10 years ago, I was very reluctant about it viability to replace its much revered original. We picked up a pack and took it home, cooked it up according to instructions, mixed in some cheese and eggs, sat down and dug in. I have to say that although it wasn't like the real thing, it wasn't like the real thing in a good way. Not as salty, no cholesterol, and no unmentionable parts. The texture is similar - not the same - but the flavor is outstanding and if you use it more as a seasoning, it is perfect. Like most dishes I've tried in Mexican cuisine, it is used in this way - to eat it as a sausage like a brat or chicken w/ apple, this would be tastebud overload.

                  The once guilty pleasure that I would only dare eat once every few monthes can now be enjoyed much more often!

                    1. re: Densible

                      It can be amazingly easy to find in some parts of towns or stores, or completely nonexistant in others.

                      Trader Joe's used to offer it - that's where we first got it but they don't carry it anymore. I've picked it up at Ralph's, Gelson's, some Von's, and some Latino markets as well.

                      Depending on the store, it can be in the meat section by the other sausages, or in the vegetarian section with the meat substitutes if the store has such a section. I've even seen it in the produce section on the cold racks with some of the other specialty items as well.

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        Thanks-I was just in Von's and looked for it in vege section. No luck. I will keep looking though and am sure I'll find it.

                        1. re: Densible

                          I have found Soyrizo at Whole Foods in the refrigerated section with tofu and other soy products. Not quite the experience of real chorizo but also no guilt. Suggest scrambling into eggs and serving with a nice green salsa and warm flour tortillas. Enjoy!

                          1. re: blueberrygirl

                            I like adding cheese and some jalepenos as well - just about any cheese that you like will work. Of course the "guiltless" factor starts to fall back some but it is well worth it...

                    2. re: bulavinaka

                      I tried Soyrizo once and only once. It looked so much like poo when I squeezed it out of the plastic tube it comes in, that I pretty much lost my appetite. I did try frying it up, but it just sat there in the pan and never got firm or anything. Was I doing something wrong?

                      1. re: AmyH

                        I think you've been sharing notes with my son - he said it looked like poo as well... To get it "cooked," spread it out in the skillet as much as possible, let it brown a bit, then flip it or stir it and repeat the process until a fair amount of moisture cooks off and the "poo" starts to gain some more browning and becomes less like mud and more in the direction of sauteed chorizo. The consistancy and texture is up to you since you don't have to cook it through - it's not meat.

                        1. re: bulavinaka

                          Thank you for the advice. Maybe I'll give it another try. The suggestion to scramble eggs with it, along with cheese and jalapenos, sounds tasty.