Thursday, March 08, 2007

Spaghetti with Vegan Meat Sauce

In case you haven't noticed from some of my older blog posts, I absolutely love Spaghetti. I like it with Marinara Sauce, I like it with Vegan Meatballs and I like it the way that I brought it today, with a Vegan Meat Sauce. Of course, there's not really any meat in it, but it sure does look and taste like it. Normally, there really wouldn't be that much to say about another spaghetti lunch, but since I'm trying to lose some weight, I did do something a little bit different. Plus, the story of how this whole lunch came about is a story in itself. So let me tell you about it.

This lunch actually started when I had Sloppy Joes a couple of nights ago for dinner. To make the Sloppy Joes, we used the Fantastic Foods Vegetarian Sloppy Joe Mix. It's basically just TVP and all of the necessary flavorings & spices. All you have to do is boil some water, dump the package of stuff in it and POOF! You've got Sloppy Joes (they also make my favorite Taco Filling mix). Anyway, you can just prepare the stuff as is, by mixing it with water, or there is a recipe there on the back of the box for Mama's Sloppy Joes (or something like that) that involves making the mix and then jazzing it up with a few more ingredients. I thought I might like it better if it were jazzed up a little bit, so that's what we did. We added some chopped onion, some diced tomato, some Basil and some Chili Powder, along with a few other things. Anyway, it ended up not tasting too much like Sloppy Joes to me. I ate it anyway, as a Sloppy Joe, that night. But there was just something about the taste that I couldn't put my finger on. As I put all of the leftovers into some plastic containers, wondering what in the world I was gonna' do with all this stuff, it finally hit me. It tasted more like Spaghetti Sauce. So I figured it would probably be really good if I just took some jarred Spaghetti Sauce and poured all of this into it, turning it into a "meaty" Spaghetti Sauce. So that's what I did, and that's what is in the lunchbox today. It turned out AWESOME! In fact, I think I'll probably even start putting this Sloppy Joe mix into my Spaghetti Sauce from now on. It really sweetens it up and gives it a lot of extra flavor, in addition to making it "meaty". It was a cool accidental discovery.

To go along with my Spaghetti I just brought a simple salad made with some Baby Spinach and some small Tomatoes. For dressing, in the topmost little blue container, I just mixed together some Olive Oil, some Balsamic Vinegar and a few drops of Sesame Oil to smoke it up just a little bit.

The lunchbox container helped me control my portion size on my Spaghetti because, believe me, I could eat a bucket full of this. For my Garlic Toast, however, I had to be careful and not go overboard with the fat & calories like I normally do when I fix bread. I think that most times in the past, when I've brought spaghetti for lunch, I've brought 3 or 4 pieces of Garlic Toast, each of which is a half of a slice of bread. I used to use just plain old bread, which was 80 calories or so a slice, so I had something like 120 calories just in the bread. This time though, I was a little more careful and used a Light Hot Dog Bun instead of multiple slices of regular bread. The bun is only 60 calories, plus I cut off the rounded ends (which I ate with my dinner last night), so that probably removed another 25% of the calories. So instead of having 120+ calories invested in my bread, I think I've got something more like 45 calories. Of course, there's Earth Balance on there too, but I also went a little bit easier with that than I used to. So overall, I think I cut out quite a few calories from the bread side of the lunchbox.

And then finally, in that little blue container at the bottom of the lunchbox, I've got something that I've been meaning to try for quite some time. Previously, whenever I have needed Vegan Parmesan Cheese, I have used some storebought stuff that I got at the health food store. It's okay. It's made from soy though and obviously highly processed, and tastes just a little bit too chemically to me. It's okay, but it's not great. I have read, multiple times, on various vegan message boards about making your own Vegan Parmesan sprinkles. I just never have done it. I think there's even a recipe for it in one or more of the cookbooks that I've got. Well, I was about to sit down to a plate of this spaghetti last night when I just thought, "Dang it. Let me make some of that right quick to throw on here." So I did.

I didn't follow any recipe. I just used my little Cuisinart, the one that's really tiny, like for grinding coffee beans or something, and I threw in a few Walnuts, sprinkled in some Nutritional Yeast and then just added a little salt. I gave the whole thing a whirl and the next thing you know, I've got stuff that looks like Parmesan Cheese. It smells cheesy to and tastes really good. I put some on my spaghetti and I really liked it. I would much rather use this than some highly processed product full of chemicals, so I guess I'll be making this from now on whenever I've got an item that I would like to sprinkle something cheesy on.

So there's lunch for Thursday. Not super-duper diet food by any means, but certainly not as bad as it could be. By paying attention to the bread thing, and cutting calories there, and letting the lunchbox control my pasta portion, I think I did okay. Coupled with a good walk today, everything should be on track for losing a few more pounds this week. It's finally starting to warm up here now and it looks like it's gonna' be a beautiful day for a walk, so I am DEFINITELY getting that in today.

So thanks for stopping by and I'll see everybody on Friday!


NightOwl said...

I looove spaghetti! But then, who doesn't? It's so good. I make a mean vegan meat sauce. I use Morningstar sausage-style crumbles, and also crumbles some vegan meatballs in it. Even my Dad, who will forever love meat and is suspicious of anything vegan, absolutely loves it. And it's so easy to make.
Keep up the great work Ken! BTW, I found out today that I have lost 10lbs of body fat and gained 11 lbs of muscle!! I am so happy and excited! All those workouts are paying off!

Sheila said...

Thanks for the parmesean "cheeze"
recipe...I had spagetti in my lunch today also and while it was super good I was thinking some "cheeze" sprinkled on top would be good...But the nearest Whole foods is over an hour away and we don't have any health food stores ...I am going to mix up a batch of this when I done on the puter...Thanks again:.)

Sheila xx

Anonymous said...

Hey Ken, I'm trying to cut the calories and dislike the thought of packaged parmesan, too. I had my own version of tvp sauce and pasta for lunch but I ground a bit of grated lemon rind and salt with a mortar and pestle and had that instead of a parmesan alternative. I really liked the tang and saltiness of a good, aged parmesan, this is nothing like that but a tiny bit gives pasta a lift. Tina

Melanie said...

walnuts?! hmm, that sounds interesting. i've used toasted sesame seeds the same way, but if walnuts work (i would have expected them to be too oily and make the stuff turn into a paste in the grinder) then maybe pecans would work as well! or hazelnuts, which i actually have a bowl of right now.

....goes to try the hazelnuts....

they worked! so i guess that, the next time i want cheesy sprinkle for something, pretty much whatever nuts or seeds i have on hand can be mixed with the yeast and it will be ok.

i also have roasted sunflower nuts, i bet that would be nice. a MIXTURE of nuts might also give a really rounded, complex flavor.

i love your blog! you really get me thinking about things creatively.

Melanie said...

oh, i like 'anonymous's idea of using a bit of lemon rind in there, too. i will have to experiment with that. right now i only have limes, and they seem to make everything bitter.

kennyboy said...

Hmmmm... you get me thinking too Melanie. :o)

Now that you've mentioned Sunflower Seeds, I bet they would be good ground up with some nooch & salt for "cheese" too.

Or, like you said, probably any nut would work.

I'm definitely trying Sunflower Seeds though, because I've got a ton of them.

kennyboy said...



Keep it up. We're all gonna be so HAWT this Summer.