Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sprouts Vegan Burgers - A Review

No matter what I do to this photo it will not let me rotate... grrr
 For those of you lucky enough to live next to a Sprouts Farmers Market, you may just have a new best friend. Seeking to expand their store brand, they are rapidly offering many well made products. One of the latest to catch my eye was their vegetarian burgers. I was pleasantly surprised to find that all three flavors- original, southwest and quinoa are actually vegan. I bought two, original and southwest, to give a try.

First, these have the ‘typical texture’ of many of these patties but I am used to that. They have a pleasant smokiness even when prepared in a skillet on the stove that I found quite appealing. The overall flavor, appeal and presentation of the burgers was amazing, and they had a great amount of protein and fiber. Best of all these lacked the slightly chemical aftertaste that I normally find in Boca burgers.

Won't let me rotate this either... double grrrr
The price is not bad, $3.99 a box when not on sale, and you get 4 in a box. I personally paired these with Rudi’s whole wheat buns, making each hamburger about 240 calories before toppings. Be careful and aware! Not all Rudi's products are vegan, so check labels! For wanting something slightly similar to a ‘fast food’ burger, these are an excellent choice.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tortillaless Burrito Soup with Recipe, an escape from Cthulthu madness

If you read my other blog you know that I am trying to reduce the size of my booty, and most other things on me, too. Ok, never mind. I would like to keep my big booty, big chest and big hair, but the rest of me can shrink a bit, thank you. Because I have been keeping track of calories, nutrition, etc, I have been eating more beans than normal, and normally I eat a lot of beans.

Right now, the bean vehicle of choice is a black bean burrito in a low carb tortilla with onion. It doesn’t sound great, but it tastes pretty wonderful. However, horror and damnation stuck two days ago when I went to make my precious bean burrito and I was out of tortillas!! The horror! The insanity! The wailing and gnashing of teeth! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!!!

Instead of giving into the gibbering horrors creeping upon me I decided to create a new dish. This one was tasty, filling, and used things I had around the house. Try this the next time you are without tortillas. :>

Tortillaless Burrito Soup
Makes 3 cups

1 can of black beans (15 oz), drained
1 jar of picante style salsa, mild (I used Trader Joes Garden Salsa)
1 can of diced green chilies, 4 oz
1 medium tomato
½ a small red onion
¼ a cup of Daiya vegan cheese shreds  

Combine the black beans, salsa and green chilies in a small pot.
Dice the tomatoes and onion, then add. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes so the onion and tomato are slightly cooked.
Remove and stir in the Daiya cheese. Divide into three bowls, about 1 cup each.


Each cup is

193 calories
2g of fat
34g carbs
8 g fiber
11g protein
5 Weight Waters points

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A review! Dr. McDougall's Vegan Chicken Ramen

 I was working away on finishing my sandwiches for pictures in the kitchen and it hit me – the most intense and wicked craving for ramen – EVER! This was not completely out of the blue. Last night Jason and I were talking about ramen and other horrible things we used to eat, so the seed was planted in my brain. I went into our pantry, which is the best stocked vegan grocery store in the area. There, I found a cup of Dr. McDougall’s Vegan Chicken Ramen that I purchased on an earlier travel adventure. These cups are a healthier version of the traditional cup of noodles that got many of us through high school and college. Based on previous experience with this line, I also grabbed the salt shaker. Dr. McDougall is a champion of good health and would probably frown with me over salting is soup, but if you are having a junk food craving, you’re having a junk food craving.

I waited with some great anticipation. After all, this was either going to be really good or really bad. In the meantime, I calculated the WW Points per cup (4 points if anyone else cares) and waited for my noodles to cook once I added the boiling water.

After adding a pinch of salt, the result was magical. This tasted exactly like chicken – so much so that I think it would fool people who still were meat eaters, and made my own vegan self check the label again with a ‘is this vegan?’ moment. The bright intense flavor and the starch of the noodles was magical. I ate it all and my craving for ramen went away, filed under ‘satisfied’. 

In this, there are 200 calories, 8 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. My biggest gripe is that the label says there are two servings inside. Who are they fooling? This cup is about 1 ½ cups, but not enough to share. I have noticed that some people, especially some of the vegan doctors prescribe bird size portions of food that would not satisfy a kiddo as a way of keeping calorie and fat count low. Maybe it’s just me, but this cup was perfect. Half would not have made me feel full or happy.

That being said, I love the portability of this product. After the “Great New York Starvation” I always travel with two of these McDougall soup cups. Because they are dry inside and light, they are perfect for carryon luggage. If you are on a long flight you can get hot water for tea and pour it inside – instant meal!

So with a little salt and the understanding that you are going to eat the whole thing, I love this product. This is something I will seek out and buy in the future.

Highly recommended, and 5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, June 28, 2013

A girl and her blender. A blog about aging, travel, and eating well

This year, with some great deal of fuss and trauma I turned 35. This meant I was officially in my MID-THIRTIES!! We have several fur babies at home but a human baby has not shown up yet. I bit my nails, was cranky, and dreaded May 27th even though it was the 4th anniversary of my first date with Jason. Luckily, my husband and family rallied to support me, and on the 27th, I was still alive, still myself, and did not turn into an instant mummy like the archeologist that chose poorly at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
He's making a poor choice!
Partially because I have a lot of stuff, and partially because I was a depressed mess in that week leading up to THE DAY my mother-in-law, Patti offered to take me shopping and let me pick out what I wanted. She usually does this, and I was prepared. I racked my brain coming up with what I might want. I decided that with all the traveling I do I could really use a small blender. After doing some research (I earned my nickname of Hermione) I decided on the Hamilton Beach blender. We went to Target and she smiled, then told me to pick out some more. After that, we headed to the makeup aisle. :>
What I thought would happen when I turned 35. It didn't.

This last weekend  I went to Lincoln, NE for business. With a desire to make sure I ate SOMETHING for breakfast I went to the store and picked up soymilk and cherries. I was lucky that this hotel had a fridge. That allowed me to defrost these and keep them cold.

 The blender works like a dream. It is light and traveled well. I wrapped it up in my clothes to bring it there and back, and checked it. In the room, I reassembled it, gave it a rinse, and off it went. The quiet motor did not disturb the rooms next to me and the size of the container makes the perfect smoothie for my 5’ 1” hobbit self. I loved making this so much that I ended up using this personal blender instead of my VitaMix. I love Mr. Vitamix, but because the canister is so large I often make smoothies big enough for Andre the Giant, then I drink them out of guilt. This leads to having WAY more calories than I really should. This gives me the perfect amount of breakfast calories.
The Hamilton Beach mini blender in my go-to colors

If you decide that you can’t live without your own personal blender, I have the link below. Of course, mine is black since that is my ‘go-to’ color, but these come in all colors, including purple. If there are two of you that will be using this, there is a white Hamilton Beach that has two blender tops that is only about $24 on

I will say this is now a must have for trips, and drinking smoothies out of this will make 35 a healthy year.

Blender image from

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Confessions and Salads, with TWO RECIPES!!

So  I have a confession to make. I am a chef, culinary educator, vegan, and I have horrible migraines. This is not something that I talk a lot about. I feel there is a mystique around being vegan, that it is a panacea that cures all ills. It cures most ills. Even my migraines are not as bad as the other women in my family and I can control them with more mild medication than they take. Still, migraines are a pretty embarrassing affliction in many ways. I try to cover it, but when mine hit my brain stops working quite right. I mix up my words, sentences are harder to form, and I have problems with my balance. Basically, I look and sound drunk. Talk about bad for business. :<

 I decided it is time to do everything I can to help this. I am by no means super thin, so I am cutting back on some of the awesome vegan treats and really building in all the fresh fruit and vegetables to help take off a few pounds. The only hitch in this awesome plan? I have a horrible ulcer from my misspent youth that hates raw veggies. I mean, really, really hates them at times. But there are other things I can eat and drink, like smoothies.

I am sharing this not because I want sympathy, but I feel like I need to let everyone else know that you can be vegan and still have stuff in your system go haywire. But, as vegans we have better tools to cope, and a better support network of other people who are eating healthy and leading active lifestyles.

Plus, in sharing this I want to let you guys know I am taking my blog in a more personal direction. I want to share reviews, recipes, and even just some random things I am loving. I opened up a new blog that will be like an open journal, so if you want to know what is going on with me, I will try to be open and honest there about everything, the ups and downs.

In the meantime, I have this wonderful recipe for a great, easy salad dressing and salad. I have really been craving the spicy and sweet combination lately, so here is a great and easy salad that fits those flavors. When I made this I ate half and packed the other half. Later I took it to Starbucks for a nice refreshing meal while I drank unsweetened green tea and worked away. It traveled well, but the dressing made the juice of the tomatoes come out a bit so make sure your lid fits well before you take it with you.


Sweet and Spicy Dressing/Marinade

Makes 1/3 cup

2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons agave
2 teaspoons ancho powder
2 teaspoons mild chili powder
½ tsp salt

Combine all ingredients and stir to combine.
Allow to rest at least 15 minutes for the flavors to meld.
Use as a salad dressing or marinade.

Sweet and Spicy Lunch Salad
Makes 2 servings, or enough for 1 really hungry Madelyn

 2 medium heirloom tomatoes
½ cup of loose cilantro leaves
4-5 green onions
½ cup of black beans
½ cup of cubed, marinated tofu (I used Trader Joes savory
½ batch of the sweet and spicy dressing

Cube the heirloom tomatoes.
Wash and mince the cilantro.
Slice the green onions.
Discard the roots.
Rinse and drain the black beans.
Cube the tofu.
Use ½ batch of the Sweet and Spicy Salad dressing (about 2-3 tablespoons for this size batch).


Friday, June 7, 2013

Cooling Off - Coconut Chai with a recipe!

Well, here it is hotter than the sun in Phoenix, Arizona. Once the weather is hotter than 110 degrees I become a little preoccupied with finding ways to stay cool. After all, when it is so hot it hurts to run errands, that is a little scary.

One thing I noticed was that with the spike in heat, it becomes dangerous to do things outside between about noon to 5pm. Jason and I have been spending a lot of time going to Starbucks to write recipes. There is nothing wrong with this at all. I love going a few times a week, but I suck down the green teas. Each one I get with 4 pumps of sweetener, so two is 200 calories of just sugar. Kind of scary, depending on how many times you do this. Also, cost can be a factor. Yes, I am a gold card member (many times over) but my green tea is about $3.89 with tax. Not the most expensive drink at Starbucks, but with trying to cut back and save more money, not something I want to do every day.

I looked in the pantry and we have a lot of tea. And when I say we have a lot of tea, I mean we have a LOT of tea. A while back, Sprouts was clearing out their better teas and we were getting Zhena’s Gypsy Tea for .99 to 1.99 per container. We bought them all. Then we stopped drinking tea at night shortly after. They just were in our pantry, wanting to be used.

Looking at the pantry one day, I realized I could solve multiple problems, so I started making various dressed up teas, and keeping them in the refrigerator. Now, Jason and I reach for these, and I do not find myself wanting to go out as much.

Other than whipping up teas for easy summer entertaining, even if I am just entertaining myself, I have been working on recipes for the next issue of the Vegan Culinary Experience, teaching some classes, and working on 2 cookbooks at the same time, because I am like that.

I will try to post pictures soon of all the tasty things being made over here both on the blog, facebook, and my new twitter account. I am on Twitter under Madelyn Pryor is anyone is interested.

Hugs to everyone and stay cool!



This recipe is for coconut chai. The original flavor is Coconut Chai with Black Tea . I made this with a whole tea kettle full of water (about 8 cups) and 6 teabags. I boiled the tea and stepped the bags for five minutes. Then, I added to sticks of Mexican cinnamon and 1 can of light coconut milk. At Trader Joes these are only $.99.  Then I added ¼ cup of real maple syrup, grade B. This is a sugar, but also is unrefined and has its trace minerals. I place all this in the refrigerator to chill, then we can drink it when we choose.



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Birthdays and Spicy Tofu Scramble (with recipe!)

Yesterday, I had one of those milestone birthdays. Milestone. More like millstone around my check. Somehow, I thought that my last night on earth would be Sunday night and the next day when I reached the venerable age of 3something, the world would just swallow me. It didn’t. I woke up Monday with my beautiful husband, my kitties, and a knowledge that I needed to start taking better care of myself.

Wakeup calls come in many forms. For some of us, it is hitting a certain birthday or age. “Now that I am X, I need to be more careful.” Yeah, I had that along with another wakeup call. Recently, my friend landed in the hospital with some scary problems. I knew that could be me. After all, I had been taking care of myself, but not perfect care to be sure. Some days I don’t get enough beans, most days I don’t eat enough greens. But seeing her laying there and knowing how close we are in age made me realize that shizznit needs to come to a close. I need to handle my life with more authority and grace.

One huge help has been my review copy of Vegan for Her, Virginia Messina’s new book. I have dropped all my other reading to plow through his book and take notes. If you can’t wait to get your hands on a great book on vegan nutrition or if you are a guy, check out Vegan for Life by Messina and Jack Norris which is a great work as well. With these you can see if you are eating as well as you think you have been and check out any places to improve.

I knew that I needed to improve the way I approach breakfast. Since I hate the first meal of the day I ignore it exists until my body starts getting very cranky with me. By then, I am usually messed up and super hungry! I overeat and then feel like crap. Not the best way for me to start the day.

Today I made myself a simple, spicy scramble. At just around 200 calories and 12 grams of protein, this was a great choice for me to get myself going. The spice in the scramble also made me feel awake and significantly more bright eyed.  If you need a little something to help you get out of bed, then read on.

Spicy Tofu Scramble

Makes 1 serving

½ tsp of oil
½ a poblano pepper or ½ a jalapeno, depending on taste
¼ tsp turmeric
1 pinch of black salt (use regular salt if you can’t find black salt)
½ package of firm, aspic packed tofu
1 can (4 oz) of mild diced green chilies
2 tbsp daiya cheddar ‘cheese’ or other vegan cheese
A vinegar based hot sauce such as Tabasco or Cholula

Heat a skillet or wok over medium heat.
Dice the pepper, removing stem and seeds.
Add the oil to the pan and the pepper.
Cook the pepper until slightly tender.
Add the tofu by crumbling it slightly and the turmeric and salt.
Stir and add the green chilies.
Cook for about 5-10 minutes.
Remove from heat and add the ‘cheese’.
Place on a plate and add the hot sauce.