Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Amy's Tamale Verde - Plant Based Product Review! (Gluten Free!)


Hello everyone! It's time for another plant based product review. I had no idea there were so many options out there. As I have mentioned before I am new to this diet and one of my struggles has been meal planning. I am getting better at it but still struggle a bit. One of my problems is that I just get bored eating the same thing twice in a week. I am always in a time crunch it seems, like the majority of us. It is nice to know that there are healthier fast choices we can make. My fear was that they would be bland and tasteless. Come to find out this is far from the truth!

We have all been there. Getting home from a long day at work and not having the energy or at times the pantry is running bare. As I was talking to a friend at work they mentioned Amy's frozen dinners had some good plant based dinners I should try. So one Saturday night after working a double shift I went to a local market and picked one up.


I chose to try the Tamale Verde. When I got home I poured a glass of wine and popped it in the microwave. It does not look like the meal on the package which is typical. I instantly almost thought I made the wrong choice. As it cooked I began to change my mind. It smelled wonderful. I sat down to eat it and boy was I surprised!


This little meas was actually wonderful! The texture of the masa was perfect. It looked soggy but was not as water logged as it appeared. The chili verde was zesty and had a hint of spice. The problem I have had in the past with frozen meals and rice being dried out was not the case here. The rice cooked perfectly and had a punch of flavor that left me wanting more. As you can see in the picture the filling was not as plentiful as the on the box, but it was just the right amount. One of the issues with even homemade tamales is to much masa. That was not a problem here. I really enjoyed this meal for what it was. My only complaint is the price. These meals while a bit smaller than other frozen meals are about a dollar more. This confuses me. I have been saving money on my grocery bill and these meals cost more? It must be that it is considered a specialty item and maybe they don't sell as many so they need to charge more. If you have an insight as to why they cost more please leave a comment below.


In summary I would recommend Amy's Tamale Verde if your felling lazy or just don't have the time to cook. While slightly better for you than the typical frozen dinner it is of course packed with sodium and other preservatives. The flavor is amazing and the texture of the meal over all was very pleasant. Again I would not make it a habit to eat like this for your health. But I have to admit I have two more in my freezer along with a couple more dinners I want to try.

Remember cooking is only as complicated as you make it! That is if you have the time to cook!

Love food, live life!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Shan's Aloo Bhaji - Plant Based Product Review! (Spicy Curry Potato Soup)




I love trying new foods. One of my problems is that I can get bored rather quickly eating the same thing even a couple times a month. I am sure I am not the only one right? That is one of the reasons I enjoy doing the blog so much. It gives me a reason to cook and try new recipes on a regular basis. I can rotate my favorites in and out and along the way I can swap in new favorites and allow more time before going back to an older one. 

One of my favorite cuisines is Indian, unfortunately there are not many options here in Wichita Falls. I could only find two, and I have tried them both. They are really good actually and now that I am plant based I will have to go back and see what options they offer. Indian food is known for its use of veggies so it should not be unthinkable these restaurants would have a few menu items I will not have to change to fit my new dietary needs.
Okay so enough of all that it is time to get to the point of this post. We have a very cool International Grocers here in Wichita Falls. It is on the corner of Southwest Parkway and Fairway right next to the Little Caesar's. It has tons of raw grains, legumes, beans, spices, and meal mixes. This place is great if you're looking for something different or a decent price on bulk beans, rice, and legumes. It had been some time since I last visited this little shop so I headed back there to see what I could find. This was only my second week of being plant based so I was on the hunt for new flavors.

I browsed the store for a while and decided I would buy some of the Shan Recipe Mixes. This would save me some time since I was still struggling with cooking two to three meals a day and let me try some new and exciting flavors. The first one I decided to try was the Aloo Bhaji, a spicy potato curry soup. I decided to add some more veggies to the recipe which called for tomato, cilantro and chillie peppers. I grabbed some corn, carrots, and chick peas and got to cooking. This recipe was so easy and fast!

All you do is use 8 cups of water and add the veggies with the spice mix and bring to a boil. I was not really in the mood for a soup. I had some leftover rice so I poured some of the Aloo Bahji on top of the rice and garnished with some green onion. Over all I loved this meal. The only complaint I have is that there were Fengu Greek Seeds, these seeds are bitter and I had never had them before. It almost ruined the dish for me. Keep in mind this is just my personal take on these seeds. They really do balance out the rich flavor of the sauce, they are just not my thing.

I would recommend trying trying some of these mixes. If you are in a time crunch these are perfect. If you have always wanted to try new flavors but lack confidence in your cooking skills these recipe mixes are perfect. From what I can tell they are all minimal in the other ingredients you need and have very easy to follow instructions. If you try one let me know about it in the comments below. Let me know your favorite if you have tried them before as well. Remember cooking is only as difficult as you make it! 

(Note that this recipe says it does have traces of Gluten, but if you are not celiac you should have no problem)
View my food journey on Zomato!
Love food, live life!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Fried Buffalo Tofu Bites & Garlic Rosemary Fries! Plant Based & Gluten Free!

 Hello again! Time for another plant based recipe. One of the things I have been craving since I changed my diet is buffalo chicken. I loved buffalo chicken nuggets, I never really cared for blue cheese or ranch dressing though. I just enjoyed the spicy tangy flavor of the buffalo sauce. So as I was browsing Pintrest for recipe ideas I stumbled across buffalo tofu nuggets. I also started watching The Vegan Zombie on YouTube and he did a version of this recipe too. So with all this inspiration I made my way to Market Street and got everything I needed to make this happen.

I have a gluten intolerance and I have been eating too much bread lately and I can feel the bad side affects starting to kick in. My stomach is upset and I am starting to get that pesky rash. In light of this I picked up some Bob's Red Mill Organic Corn Flour. Of course I got some tofu, and I picked up some frozen french fries. I was lazy and in a time crunch so the frozen fries were perfect. I really like them too, they cook well and get nice and crispy. Making real crispy homemade french fries is somewhat of a process to do it right.
Here is What You'll Need:
Serving size is for one!

Your favorite frying oil, the size of your pan will dictate how much you need
1/2 Block Tofu (pressed to expel extra liquid)
1 cup of Corn Flour (or other gluten free flour)
Garlic Salt
Black Pepper
Rosemary (fresh is best!)
French Fries
Your Favorite Dipping Sauce

Cooking Instructions:
  1. Make sure your tofu is pressed. Tear it into bite sized chunks. You can cube it if you prefer.
  2. Season tofu with garlic salt and pepper.
  3. Pour some of the Red Hot sauce onto the tofu and let it marinate for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Add oil to a pan and bring up to frying temperature. 
  5. While the oil is reaching temp add corn flour to a mixing bowl. You can add some seasoning to the flour for a richer flavor.
  6. Add tofu to flour and coat. You may need to add a bit more sauce as this is our drenching liquid. I double coated mine, I like a thick crispy crust. To do this when you are done with the first coating just repeat the coating process.
  7. Add breaded tofu to the pan. Be careful of splash back.
  8. If your pan is big enough feel free to add the fries to the same pan. There is no harm in doing this and is what I did.
  9. When your tofu is done add it to a mixing bowl and coat with more Red Hot.
  10. When your fries are ready season them with pepper, garlic salt and rosemary.
That's it! Quick and easy!  I really enjoyed this recipe. The tofu nuggets even look like chicken when you tear them open. It really reminded me of the real thing. Giving your tofu time to absorb the flavors helps a lot. This is the first time I have used the corn flour and found it delightful. It is more fine than a traditional flour and not using eggs to coat the tofu dose not give the same fluffy yet crispy breading. But that was fine for me. With the double bread coating I had just the right amount of breading for my taste. The garlic rosemary fries are a recipe I make a lot and one of my favorite sides for meals like this.

This would be a great party snack too at your next party! As always play with the recipe and make it your own, that's exactly what I did. It is certainly not the healthy meal but sometimes you just need to eat some plant based junk food. It hit the spot for me and helped me curb those cravings during my transition period. I am so glad I made this change, I am having so much fun getting back in my kitchen and trying all these new recipes. If you try this one out please leave a comment below and let me know what you think. Always remember cooking is only as hard as you make it!

Love food, live life!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Pho Viet - Pho Chay! - Plant Based Options In Wichita Falls Pt. 2


I continue my quest to find plant based menu options in Wichita Falls! My goal is to find and compile a list of menu options to make life a bit easier for all of us who are going on a plant based diet. I am sure you can go to almost any restaurant and customize a menu item to fit your needs, but for now I am looking for restaurants that offer items we do not need to customize. I will dabble in menu customization as well at some point.

My second recommendation is Pho Viet, a small restaurant off Callfield and Reha Rd. They are a Vietnamese restaurant with a small dining room and a full menu. They have 3 vegetarian entrees and one vegetarian appetizer, but if you look close these are plant based and contain no animal products. This is one of those places you could easily customize several of the other menu items to find more options. The staff is very friendly and they offer to go service as well.

Let's get to the meal and my experience! I went there at around 4:00 p.m. and there were only a few other people there which was sad. The wait staff was very friendly and the food was amazing. In this modern age of corporate restaurants it can be challenging to find an affordable fresh hand made dining experience. This is changing as diners are growing more food savvy and are seeking out more family owned restaurants. We are lucky here in Wichita Falls too, there are plenty of these restaurants here. This is why it was sad to see the place somewhat empty.

I was able to chose my own table which was very nice. I like to sit by the window so I can view the outside world. It is also good lighting for taking pictures of the food! I was handed a menu and given plenty of time to look it over. I am not fond of a server making several trips back to the table asking if I am ready to order. I already knew what I wanted when I walked in but wanted to browse the rest of the menu. When I was ready I set the menu off to the side and the server promptly came to the table and took my order. I wanted to try the Pho Chay, a tofu and rice noodle bowl of pho with mushrooms, carrots, and Napa cabbage. It also comes with a plate of bean sprouts, lime, jalapeno, and basil. It is also gluten free! You should tell them if you are celiac to help avoid cross contamination during preparation.

The broth is light and refreshing. There are plenty of rice noodles too so this dish should hit the spot if you are very hungry. I do not care much for cooked mushrooms but these were a delight. They absorbed the flavor of the broth and the earthy flavor of the mushroom was not overpowering. The cabbage and carrots did the same and were not over cooked to mush and had a great texture.  Once you add the bean sprouts this dish is full of fresh vegetables and if you know how to use chopsticks you will have no problem using them. The tofu was spongy, I am new to tofu but I get the feeling this is just how it is. They fry the tofu before adding it to the pho and I think this plays into its texture.

You can enjoy the pho just like this, but if you are like me you want some heat! The table is set with two types of hot sauce and a chili paste. I like this setup because you can add the perfect amount of heat. One hot sauce was a more traditional taco sauce. The other sauce was a chili sauce with plenty of pepper flakes. The chili paste looks scary and adds more heat than flavor. There was also a plum sauce which I did not try.

Overall I was very happy with the Pho Chay. I will be going back for this for sure and I am looking forward to trying the other plant based dishes they have on the menu. I highly recommend this place if you have not been there before. If you have never tried pho you need to treat yourself to this healthy and hearty version of the classic Vietnamese dish.

I give this a 4 out of five apples! It is a must try. Now get out there and support local restaurants and great healthy menu options!

Love food, live life!


Pho Viet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Gluten Free Spaghetti & Tofurkey Italian Sausage(Sausage is not GF) - Plant Based!

I love pasta! This has been quite an uphill battle since I have developed a gluten intolerance. Finding a good gluten free pasta has not been easy. I think I found a winner though! Heartland Gluten Free pasta is actually really good. The other gluten free pastas I tried were very starchy and did not hold together well. Heartland is a corn and rice based pasta and holds up when being cooked with a nice flavor too.

I had been on my plant based diet for a week and the craving for meat I have to say was getting to me. I almost caved a couple times. One night I was shopping at Wal-Mart looking for inspiration for dinner when I saw Tofurky Italian sausage links. Prior to the my only tofu experience was at a friends house for dinner and he served tofu sausage links. It was not until we were done that he let us know that it was actually tofu. I knew the texture was off but the flavor was really good. With this memory in mind I found my inspiration!

I grabbed some veggies found the gluten free pasta bought some pasta sauce and headed home. I would normally make a sauce but it was getting late and I was tired so I cheated. I found a good sauce though, Newman's Own. Newman's has a wide variety and it is a non-profit company so I did not feel as bad for cheating. So enough of my short story, lets get cooking!


Here is what you'll need:
Gluten free pasta
1/2 zucchini diced
1/4 red bell pepper cut into strips
1/4 green bell pepper cut into strips
1 small carrot cut into rounds
1/2 sweet onion cut into strips
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
1 Tofurkey Italian sausage link
2 cups of your favorite pasta sauce
 a few leaves of basil chopped with some reserved for garnish

Cooking Instructions:
  1. Bring about 6 cups of water to boil in a pot
  2. While waiting for water to boil add olive oil to a pan and saute all of your veggies. You can cook the sausage link in the same pan at the same time. Add the garlic and basil towards the end of the cooking process. Be sure not to over cook the veggies.
  3. By now you should be adding the pasta to the water. 
  4. Reduce heat on your pan of veggies and add your sauce. Heating the sauce with the veggies and sausage will allow all the flavors to combine. Cover with a lid and bring up to a simmer.
  5. When the pasta is done drain and toss into your vegetable sauce. Plate and serve!
There you go! A quick easy and healthy plant based meal. If  your in a rush this is the perfect meal.
It may have been my craving for meat but the Tofurkey sausage really hit the spot. The Heartland pasta was a refreshing change to the other horrible gluten free pastas I have tried. If you cook this up for yourself let me know how it turns out. As always feel free to let your creativity flow by adding what ever veggies you like. Thanks for dropping by the blog and I hope you will come back soon and see what else I have cooking up! 



Love food, live life!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Gyros & Kabobs Falafel! Plant Based Options in Wichita Falls Pt. 1


I really miss restaurant reviews. One of my favorite things to do in the past was to go to a restaurant and give my opinions and feed back of my experience visiting one. Now that I am going plant based (for the most part) I have been searching for vegan restaurant options online in Wichita Falls. There are none. There are plenty of vegetarian options of course, any place that serves a salad is considered having vegetarian choices from what I can see.

I think I must make the distinction now that I am not vegan. I am not concerned so much with the cruelty to animals and the use of animal products as I am concerned with my health. If you follow the blog you will know I made the choice of going plant based to see if my health improves; and not out of a moral decision. I think I should make this clear here and now. My family goes out to dinner on Monday nights and I made the decision that on these nights I would choose to eat vegetarian over vegan. There is no way I will not join my family on these nights out. Going plant based is my burden and not the burden of my family or the restaurant. In this day and age it is just silly to think you can get a totally plant based option in an American restaurant. By this I mean the cooking equipment will come into contact with animal products. I choose the label of "Plant Based" because it gives me some wiggle room. Vegan on the other hand is to restrictive. Maybe one day vegan will be simple, but for now it is not. If you have a problem with this line of thinking then this blog is not for you and I am sorry.

Okay so as I was saying before I went off into a tangent; I could not find a vegan option in Wichita Falls. I was looking for vegan because I was curious and I was dining alone. As I mentioned before I love to dine out, and one of my fears of this dietary change was setting in. How many choices do I have here in this small city? I had already chosen to go the vegetarian route when out with my family but could I stay plant based while eating out on my own? Well the answer is yes, but options are limited. I am also not clear if to be vegan the restaurant must be completely meat free. If you have an opinion or answer on this please leave a comment below. I for now am going with the definition plant based. This is of course as I mentioned to give me some wiggle room while dining out.

Let's get to the point of the blog post now! My first attempt to stay plant based led me to one of my favorite restaurants in Wichita Falls again. I was craving a falafel. I grew up in the back country of San Diego and lived in downtown San Diego for a short time. During this time had a friend who's family owned a small Lebanese restaurant, and he introduced me to the falafel. I always had a hard time believing this was a vegetarian meal. I loved this on the go almost burrito like meal. So I had to search for a place to get a falafel in Wichita Falls. Gyros & Kebobs popped up in Zomato so I had to get a taste of my past and I was off!



The falafel offered here has lettuce, tomato, black olive, onion, and of course falafel balls. It comes with taztikki sauce and fetta cheese so you need to order it without them to stay plant based. They do have humus as well so I imagine you could ask to substitute the taztikki with humus. I chose to go with the taztikki, I was on my second week with not dairy or meat so I treated myself. The only thing I have a complaint about was the actual falafel was dry. It looked like it was quartered and then fried which of course would lead to the falafel being dried out while cooking. The price was great at around $6. The service was very friendly and speedy. I would recommend this for sure for a quick bite. 

I give it a 3 out of five apples for a rating. It would have been a four if the falafel was not dried out. I reserve the 5 apple rating for a must try so it ranks decently. If your wanting something different or something quick this is a great pick. Let me know if you know of a place I can get another falafel in Wichita Falls. If you go to Gyros & Kebobs and order one I would love to hear what you think.

Thanks for reading! Please let me know in the comments below where your favorite plant based meals can be found. I would love to go try them.


Love food, live life!
     Gyros & Kebobs Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Southwest Tofu Scramble - Plant Based Breakfast!


Hello all! So here we go, my first plant based recipe. I have to admit that the thing I already miss most, since I am only on my second week of going plant based, is breakfast foods. Breakfast has for a long time been my favorite meal. I loved eggs and breakfast meats so much. When I was training in MMA I would always start the day with a breakfast scramble. In those days it would be loaded with sausage or bacon and of course eggs. I liked it for several reasons, the main reason being it was a one pan meal with quick and easy clean up.

Since I have made the change to plant based I have left out the meat, of course you could use some flavored tofu replacement if you wanted. The big drawback to that is using meat replacements can be quite expensive. I am on a tight budget so I am skipping that route. On that note I had always heard that going plant based or vegetarian was expensive. I am finding out this is a myth. I am saving more money now because vegetables are actually very affordable and usually sold in bunches that last me the whole week. It has been easier to cook for one too.

One of the things I have enjoyed the most about plant based cooking is the fact you can taste as you cook the whole way through. There is no worry of consuming under cooked meats or cross contamination. The one thing I have not so much enjoyed is that when you cook the veggies and add spices a lot of the time the bright colors fade and all the veggies take on the the same color. This could be that I am over cooking the veggies, maybe I  need to use lower heat as well. I do like a little crunch in my veggies so I will need to try this and get back to you on that.

Enough about all that, let's get cooking!

Here is what you'll need:
serving size is for one!

Your preferred frying oil
One medium potato
1/4 pound firm tofu crushed to resemble scrambled eggs
1/4 red onion
1/4 white or yellow onion
2 brussle sprouts
1/4 medium yellow bell pepper
1/4 green bell pepper
1 habanero pepper
cilantro to taste and for garnish if you like
1 clove garlic
1/2 avocado
clilantro, about 1/4 of a bunch or to taste
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
salt and black pepper to taste 
your favorite hot sauce to taste

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Press your tofu. If you are not sure how to press your tofu here is a link to some helpful tips. This will take about 20 minutes or more so keep that in mind: How to Press Tofu
  2. Begin to heat your oil in a deep pan. Keep in mind that we are not deep frying, you want the oil to cover the bottom third of your diced potato. :
  3. While heating oil dice your potato. Peel the whole leaves from the burssle sprouts to help save time as well.
  4. Add potato to oil.
  5. Prep the rest of veggies. Dice both onions, both bell peppers and 2/3 of the habanero pepper. If you choose to have the habanero flavor and less heat discard seeds, this is where most of the heat will come from. Slice avocado in strips, or cube if you prefer. Chop the cliantro and reserve some whole leaves for garnish.
  6. When potatoes are starting to brown drain any excess oil. It can be hard to gauge sometimes. Be sure to take caution as the oil will be very hot.
  7. Add tofu, onions, bell peppers, habanero, brussle sprout leaves, garlic, cumin, and paprika. Saute until desired texture. 
  8. As you finish the cooking process you can add the clilantro, salt, and pepper. Adding the cliantro at this point will aid in holding its color. 
  9. Plate and garnish with avocado, cliantro, paprika, and your favorite hot sauce.



I loved this recipe and will be eating it often I am sure. While not exactly what I was used to the tofu was a great egg supplement. It looks just like scrambled eggs and takes on the flavor of whatever you choose to season it with. Don't be afraid to use your favorite vegetables and seasonings. That to me is the beauty of cooking over baking. Baking is a science, one wrong measurement and you can fail. This recipe is wide open for you to play around with. It would be great with some black beans and corn thrown into the mix! I love brussle sprouts and had some left over from a previous recipe so I tossed them in. That turned out to be a great addition for me, it is slightly bitter and balanced out the heat from the habanero. 

So go now and cook some for yourself or family! Please let me know in the comments below if you enjoyed it. I would love to hear your own twist on this recipe too. Remember cooking is only as hard as you make it...

Love food, live life!