My fiance has been hard at work collecting data and crunching numbers around the idea that it costs more to eat only a plant-based diet. If you're counting that everyone should be eating the recommended fruits, veggies and grains, the only real issue is protein and maybe the calcium associated with dairy?! He's got some pretty interesting results, so you should check it out.
One of the assumptions he's covering in a future blog entry is around vegan processed faux meats vs. more natural proteins (beans, tofu, nuts, etc.). He's done a much better job than I of transitioning away from the faux meats, so we'll see if his analysis will convince me to take the plunge away from the processed faux meats I hold so dear. In the meantime, let me tell you about a new one I've tried.
Introducing Trader Joe's Chickenless Mandarin Orange Morsels. I used to buy the mandarin chicken when I ate meat and I know it wasn't good for you, but it's their most popular frozen item in Minnesota, I think. The chickenless version has a lot of potential, but needs care in preparation and some spicing up.
You need to cook the chickenless morsels in the oven or in a pan with a little oil to help develop a crunch to the breading so they're not soggy in the sauce. I also like to add veggies for at least the appearance of nutrition, so I sauteed onion with green and red bell peppers separate from the morsels. One of the ways to counteract the criticisms of the sauce being too watery is to cook the veggies (if you're adding them) separate from the sauce and cook off our drain their juices before adding the sauce. I ended up letting most of the juice from the peppers and onions cook away (I love high heat) and dropped the cast iron pan down to medium before adding in the sauce and let it bubble away for awhile not letting it burn, but also not overly stirring it onto the veggies so there was sauce for the morsels. I added some chili garlic sauce which honestly transforms the overly sweet trader joe's packet into some pretty tasty stuff. Right before you're ready to serve, add the morsels and ta-da...see picture above...not runny, not overly sweet, pretty darn delicious.