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Fatshion, Food & Frivolities – Life in Las Vegas & Singapore


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10 Things In Our Vegetarian Pantry

I’m often asked about the restrictions in my vegetarian diet but as I’ve proven in my varied meatless recipes, I eat a lot of different things even if I am by a far measure considered anywhere near being a good cook!

This post is inspired by my recent obsession with trying to bring our savings up to at least 50% per grocery run (extreme couponing is difficult when you tend to be brand loyal). I have a small pantry and we’re only a 2-person household, so stockpiling hundreds of boxes of the same thing is rather ridiculous for me as I don’t want to worry about expiry dates, keeping things dust-free and clutter around the house.

Here are a list of 10 things I stock up on and keep an eye out for coupons or sales. I try not to stock up more than 3 to 6 months of ANYTHING (including loo roll and toiletries) because I don’t want to so many things lying around collecting dust. Also I have better things to do than clean them, rotate them, keep an inventory. HAH!

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1. SILK Soy and Almond Milk

I would be happy to drink regular milk – anything that’s $2.99 per gallon or less. But T prefers the taste of Soy Milk, especially this brand. At our regular grocery store, this usually goes for about $3.60 – $3.90 for a half gallon carton so I don’t buy it that often. Recently though, I chanced upon another grocery store selling it at $2.99 AND I also had coupons for them. And since they last longer than regular milk, I bought up enough to last us for the next 2 months! However, because this other grocery store is further than the regular one we go to, I’m not sure if I’ll make the trip there just to buy soy milk unless I’m in the area or there are extreme savings to be had. (The Chocolate Almond Milk is mine btw. I’ll drink them when they’re cheap, if not it’s back to regular dairy for me.)

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2. TRUVIA

Truvia is a sugar substitute and supposedly much better than other alternative sweeteners because it’s stevia-based. I use them to sweeten hot drinks from time to time but mostly bake with them. They’re definitely a lot pricier than regular sugar so I bought a bunch of them when I found coupons and when they went on sale. As a diabetic, I do what I can even if I can’t keep my sweet tooth at bay. So far, we haven’t been able to tell the difference. I’ve baked for T, my neighbours as well as my in-laws! So yeah, it works!

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3. RAGU Pasta Sauce

I’m not brand loyal to pasta sauce but T is and this is his favourite. That is to say, if we do ever run out of pasta sauce and there’s something cheaper, I won’t buy RAGU but when possible, I will stock up so we won’t be in that uncomfortable situation where I want to stoically stick to my budget and T has to eat something he doesn’t like. I do make extra effort to buy as many bottles as I can (without being a hoarder) when they are about $1 each – clipping coupons, looking out for promotions etc. These keep well and I make pasta at least once every 7 to 10 days. There are many different flavours that are vegetarian-friendly, so that helps!

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4. BARILLA Whole Grain Pasta

I began the switch to whole grain pasta only several months ago and I wasn’t brand loyal at all. T has had bad experiences with other whole grain, brown rice and quinoa-based pasta so he wasn’t too keen on the switch till we tried Barilla. Unlike the other brands we’ve tried, this cooks well and doesn’t taste any different from regular pasta. I managed to stock up about 3 months’ worth of their whole grain pasta through couponing and crazy checking of sales. This is what’s left of it. The cheapest I’ve ever gotten them for is about 67c per box, which I think is rather decent especially when coupons don’t double here in Las Vegas and I don’t deliberately hunt for coupons other than the ones I get in my mail.

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5. MORNINGSTAR FARMS Veggie Meat Products

I try to keep at least a few varieties of soy meat in the freezer so we can have different sources of protein. They keep longer than tofu and they do help keep those junk food/meat cravings at bay. We always have the Grillers Recipe Crumbles (they’re like minced pork/beef) because T loves them in his pasta sauce (I make a vegetarian bolognese thing with it) AND my favourite are the Bacon strips even though there are so many things in their range that I really like. These things can get really pricey so I only ever buy them when it’s at a price point I want, therefore sales and coupons come into play again. If not, we can go months without touching them and only eat tofu and eggs for protein.

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6. BOCA Burgers

I’m married to an American man/child. How can we go without burgers (or pizza)? I find BOCA burgers on sale more often than I do other brands of veggie protein and burgers are so easy to deal with so I always have 2 to 3 boxes around. Just the other day, I came back from yoga and before I went to shower, I greased up a pan, popped a few patties into the oven while I refreshed myself. Then when I was done, I went back to the kitchen to grab some multigrain burger rolls, melt a slice of 2% American cheese on the freshly grilled patties, add some fresh veggies between the buns and that’s it. Lunch was ready in 30 minutes! Depending on what veggies are on sale that week, sometimes we have it with a slice of tomato, sometimes cucumber, sometimes lettuce and if we get lucky, we get to have an entire side salad AND steamed corn on the cob!

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7. GARDEIN

I love Gardein (garden +  protein – so clever right?) but they never last very long in our house – this is the last of my stash until it costs about $3 a pack again. I’ve used them for grilled satay (marinated in the teriyaki sauce), they’re easy to throw into a stir-fry (beefless tips and broccoli)  and I’ve done creamy “roast chicken” pastas as well as a “battered chicken” pot pie. So easy, so delicious! I wish I could afford them for every meal!

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8. Frozen Vegetables

We’re vegetarians, of course we eat vegetables at every meal. Unfortunately we live in Nevada, so even when we go to the farmers’ market, the fresh produce isn’t very fresh by the time we get them. Also, there are seldom coupons for fresh fruit and veggies, so I buy frozen ones most of the time. I’m not brand loyal but I do have a certain price point that I’ll work with. I’ve read that fresh vegetables aren’t necessarily always better because produce is flash frozen at the point when they are at their freshest and most nutritious. No shame in buying frozen vegetables – especially if you’ve been basically living off your savings for the last 10 months without a job in sight. I don’t spend more than $5 on fresh produce for both of us each week because while I think it’s necessary to get your vitamins from the source, I try to make-do with whatever is in season thus cheap.

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9. YOPLAIT Light Yoghurt

This actually started with my sister. Before that, I would buy whatever yoghurt was cheapest and always stick to plain vanilla (it’s also my go-to flavour for ice cream). When my family came to visit last December, my sisters went crazy when the Yoplait at our regular supermarket went on sale for 50c each. They stocked up on the WHIPS range and once I tried it, I liked it. I’ve been buying 10-20 each time it goes on sale because T loves the Banana Cream Pie and Boston Cream Pie flavours (which he says are really close to the real thing).

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10. KELLOGG’S Special K

Actually it’s between this and Cheerios – which are healthier. We used to always buy Captain Crunch because T loves the peanut butter flavour but ever since I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, I’ve been looking for alternatives. I stock up on General Mill’s heart-healthy Cheerios when they’re at a good price point but I buy Kellogg’s products whenever I can because I take part in their rewards programme (MorningStar Farms products also earns you Kellogg’s points for redeeming products, vouchers, coupons and partaking in sweepstakes). So if Cheerios and Special K are the same price – always Special K.

My meatless pantry is quite decent, right?


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Meatless Monday: Braised Tofu & Eggs

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Hello! I hope some of you have tried my recipes! Please tell me if you do and if you have ways of improving them.

This is a modified recipe that I used a long time ago to make braised pork belly in Soy Sauce (Tau Yew Bak). I no longer eat pork but still crave that slightly caramelly taste of this sauce. Today’s recipe is essentially Vegetarian Tau Yew Bak or Tau Yew Bak no Bak. Heehee… *Tau Yew is soy sauce. Bak refers to flesh or meat (in this instance, pork).

This braising method is easy and fuss free. I’m using dark soy sauce because it produces a darker sauce though milder in taste (less salty) compared to light soy. But otherwise it’s about the same as regular soy sauce. If you don’t have dark soy, regular soy will do too. Add a total of 5 tablespoons of light soy instead. It’ll be equally salty but lighter in colour.

What I like about this modified recipe is that, it’s fast and easy to make, yet still satisfies my craving. I love braise sauces over plain steamed rice – my kind of comfort food.IMG_2531

Braised Tofu & Eggs (Vegetarian Tau Yew Bak)

Serves 2 -4. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 45 minutes.

3 cups water

4 hard boiled eggs

4 garlic cloves (smashed with the back of a knife to release flavour)

4 tbsp dark soy sauce

3 tbsp light soy sauce

3 tbsp brown sugar

Salt & pepper to taste

1/2 block of tofu (cut into small rectangular pieces)

1 stick of cinnamon

2 star anise

3 cloves

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Method:

1. Heat up a pot with 3 cups of water and bring to boil then lower heat.

2. Add tofu, garlic, soy sauces, brown sugar, soy sauce, cinnamon, cloves and star anise. Then stir  gently to mix everything.

3. Bring to a boil then add peeled hard boiled eggs.

4. Lower the heat to medium and braise for 15 minutes.

5. Turn the heat to lowest for another 25 – 30 minutes.

6. Serve with steamed rice.

And there you have it – vegetarian tau yew bak aka braised tofu and eggs!


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Meatless Monday: Homemade Veggie Steaks

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First of all – DO YOU LIKE MY NEW DINNERWARE?!?! Special thanks to my cousin Megan for my birthday presents and Amazon for building relationships across the globe with their delivery service! This is the Corelle Living Ware 16-pc dinnerware set, a service for 4 which includes dinner plates, side plates, soup bowls and 4 blue mugs. I love it! I think the white plates show off the food better. T bought those green stoneware because he liked that they were unusual. The colour and shape didn’t quite work for what I was trying to do with taking picture of my food though… We do still use them on a daily basis. This Corelle set is, for now, just for show. Heehee…

Back to today’s recipe – Homemade Veggie Steaks. They were modified from several meatloaf recipes, then I was inspired by T’s Aunt K who made us these yummy veggie burgers while we were in New York. Aunt K said that she used to follow a recipe and the base is essentially beans but she now dumps whatever leftovers in the hand-shaped patties and they’re delish! So because I didn’t have a meatloaf pan or any kind of baking pan, I hand shaped them. Also, I had extra ingredients in the refrigerator which I incorporated into this dish (I’ve listed them as optional below but feel free to add your own extras for your own flavour).

You will never feel left out when your friends and family are tucking into their juicy steaks again. While I do love salads, I think there’s no challenge in being vegetarian when you’re always eating salads (does that make sense?). Do enjoy my Meatless Meatloaf Veggie Patty in a Hurry Homemade Veggie Steaks!

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Homemade Veggie Steaks

Serves 4 (or 2 famished souls. Prep time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 45 minutes.

2 eggs

1/2 cup flour

1/2 medium onion diced

1 cup shredded mozzarella (any shredded cheese will do just as well)

2 slices of toasted bread ends (crushed to make bread crumbs)

1 cup finely chopped mushrooms

2 large potatoes – peeled, boiled and mashed to chunky pieces

1 cup mashed silken tofu (optional)

1/2 cup carrots (optional)

Finely sliced spring onions (optional)

1 tablespoon of butter

1 teaspoon olive oil (or some butter to grease the baking pan)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoon mustard

4 tablespoon tomato past/pasta sauce/ketchup

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350degF

2. Mix all ingredients together except sugar, mustard & tomato paste (this is more textured and flavourful compared to ketchup).

3. Split the mixture into 4 equal parts

4. Roll each part into a ball and press down on a lightly greased pan to form a patty. (Just rub some butter or drizzle olive oil to grease the pan.)

5. Slide into the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes then flip over and bake for another 15 minutes. (Mine fell apart at the sides but it doesn’t have to be perfect).

6. Mix tomato paste, mustard and brown sugar in a separate bowl while waiting. (Microwave for 1 min to heat sauce just before serving.)

7. Remove patties from oven and pour some sauce over each patty upon serving.

I think if you make the patties smaller, they can be considered a side dish rather than eating it like a steak. I’m trying to figure out how to modify this recipe further so that they can be grilled for burgers! Any ideas? Please share!


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Meatless Monday: Tofu Omelette

This is a power protein dish – to me.

20130918-092443.jpgIt’s not everyday that I feed T so much for breakfast – we usually have soy milk, cereal and yoghurt. But because I was giving him less for lunch on this particular day, I thought I should help him load up a little bit more. Also, we had a conversation a few days ago about vegetarians getting enough protein fuel through different foods. He’s a big guy and he thinks he hasn’t been eating enough protein for his weight.

So anyway, if you don’t eat meat, what are your sources of vegetarian protein? Not all protein need to be from animal flesh. Did you know that whole grains like quinoa, whole grain bread and brown rice are great for protein. Also, beans, nuts, soy, nuts and eggs!

This high protein recipe for tofu omelette is quick and easy to make. I served it with a side of steamed spinach and a grilled cheese sandwich for a power-packed breakfast! You can eat it any time of the day too!

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Tofu Omelette

Serves 1. Prep Time: 2 minutes. Cooking time: 5 minutes.

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons worth of chopped spring onions

1 tablespoon of vegetarian oyster sauce (mushroom flavoured)

1 cup of mashed silken tofu (about half a normal brick and mashed crudely with a fork)

1 tablespoon of cooking oil (or a small pat of butter)

Method:

1. Mix oyster sauce, 2 tablespoons of chopped spring onions and 2 large eggs in a bowl.

2. Heat up cooking oil in pan.

3. Pour egg mixture into pan and turn heat up on high.

4. Spread the mashed tofu over the egg mixture immediately.

5. Take a lid and cover your pan. Then turn heat down to medium for 30 seconds.

6. When the edges cook and become firm (you can test by trying to lift the omelette), fold the omelette in half (some of the tofu will spill but it doesn’t matter).

7. Turn off the heat and cover your pan with a lid for 1 minute.

8. Serve hot with a sprinkle of the remaining chopped spring onions.

TAH DAH!!! Easy peasy!!!

If you only eat egg whites (that’s where most of the protein come from anyway), then instead of 2 large eggs, use 3 egg whites. Feel free to add pepper to taste but I don’t think salt is necessary as the oyster sauce is quite salty as it is.