Saturday, November 3, 2012

Transition Foods

In each workshop I've led I've always been asked by someone in the group what I think of fake meats and highly processed Vegan fare, what many of us like to call "transition foods."  They are called this for the logical reason that they tend to be most used by people transitioning away from animal products.  This purpose is great!  It helps people get the texture and taste (mostly) that they might be craving or have a habit of eating while still avoiding the actual product.  As people become more familiar with a whole foods way of eating and thinking, they will naturally begin to drop some of the processed food and move on to eating plants as they are.

A lot of non-vegans enjoy arguing that eating the processed stuff is terrible for your health and therefore a silly notion.  This is relevant if you are vegan for health reasons.  I know many a vegan who could care less about what they put into their body from a healthy perspective.  They are more concerned about the animals than learning how to cook from scratch, so the above argument doesn't apply to them. I always point that out to initial arguer.  I'm not much for arguing.

I am a promoter of wellness, and health applies to that, so I always try to focus on whole foods, from the source, made from scratch, and enjoy some of the processed choices as a treat or exception.  While I do teach that being busy is not an excuse to NEVER prepare wholesome meals, I also teach that being stressed and uptight is going knock your well-being down.  So, what's a busy stressed out person who is so adamant about preparing wholesome meals-gosh-darn-it to do?  First breathe deeply, stretch out your neck, one more breath, now weigh things out.  If you find that washing that lettuce and chopping it up is more of a drain and maybe even preventing you from eating greens, then relax and grab a bag of pre-washed greens to easily throw into a bowl.  Just need a break for a day or so, then grab a veggie burger, maybe some Candle Cafe Frozen dinners or an Amy's pizza, and enjoy every bite of it, never feeling guilty.

We all need a break occasionally and that is what these transition foods are also for.  Convenience is nice to have in the produce aisle too for those really busy times.  Keep cool, grab the best option, relish it, and get back into your rhythm.  Food and eating is meant to be enjoyable and nourishing, both for the body and the soul.  An all-or-nothing approach does not, in my opinion, promote balance and peace of mind; it promotes guilt and control issues.  My personal opinion.

So, on that lovely note, here are my top choices for transition foods:

For pizza it's definitely Follow Your Heart Mozzarella.  It has a great texture and flavor.  I find that Daiya just doesn't do it for me for pizza.  It's great for pasta and Mexican foods though.

For BBQ's and a Hotdog craving (I've never been a Hamburger person) I love Smart Dogs from Lightlife

And for Tofu Scramble or any Germanic dish I LOVE Field Roast's Italian Flavored Sausage.  I HATED traditional sausage as an omni, but I really love this stuff.

I'll end with a frozen meal for those really really busy tired days.  I'll even feature two because they are just that yummy to me!

First up is Amy's Pizza.  This one has a light rice crust and Vegan cheese.  I can't get into the no-cheese pizzas.  I gotta at least make some cashew parm if I'm making pizza at home, or a nut based goat cheese.  So, this is my top pick for a lazy day.

Second choice is for comfort and taste, Candle Cafe Frozen Meals.  I'm keen on their Mac & Cheese for nostalgia, but the ravioli is out of this world.  I also ADORE the restaurant Candle 79 in NYC.  It was the first Vegan restaurant I ever went to in the city and has become a regular visit whenever I go back home to see my lovely parents.

Be moderate with your indulgences.  Use them as weapons against stress and as a tool for transition.  Enjoy them, love them, respect them!  Then, get a bunch of greens and get back into your groove.

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