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lazy vegetarians are everywhere. this is a collection of easy recipes and tips for dining out for vegetarians with little time or effort.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Herbivore Vs. health food enthusiast

I hear it a lot from various sources and in various ways.
Sometimes it it questions on how I can have a 200+ pound stature when all I eat is carrots and lettuce.
Usually it is more along the lines of people mistakenly telling me that I'm going to live a long life because I eat so healthy.
Now that I have been sharing my recipes, it's become more people questioning why my vegetarian recipes include margarine and cheese and sugar when I'm supposed to be cooking so healthy.
I'd love to dispel that myth that all vegetarians are health food enthusiasts.
At a recent mostly vegetarian gathering at my house, the thing that got the most excited response was that we figured out a vegan batter to make deep-fried Oreos.
Yes, because there is no meat in our diet, vegetarians tend to have more healthy options than omnivores because of the high  fat content in a lot of meat, and especially in fast food.
So by default, herbivores do eat a bit more healthy than average people, but that isn't the reason why most of us do it.
A true vegetarian lifestyle is more about avoiding the death of animals than it is about eating the most nutritious meals possible.
There are a lot of vegetarians that are also really in to health foods, but healthy and vegetarian are not one and the same.

Brown rice patties

A little while back, a reader wrote in and asked for a recipe that made good use of brown rice, since it has more flavor and more nutrients than plain old white rice.

I was first shocked that anyone was reading my ramblings, but then tried to find a dish that really made use of brown rice in a way that was more substantial than just a base for which to serve a stir-fry over.

Grabbing some extra veggies and mixing in a couple of cups of cooked rice, I made these rice patties that can be great as a side dish for any meal, or made smaller, can be just a snack on their own.

The first step is to saute the veggies, about a half an onion and half a bell pepper make a nice base, but you can use pretty much anything you want.

Mash up about 2 cups of cooked brown rice in a large bowl using the back of a wooden spoon. Don’t obliterate it, just make it kind of chunky so you will be able to form it into patties.

This is a good way to make use of extra rice if you have the habit that I do of cooking way too much rice every time I make rice with dinner.

In a separate bowl, mix together the tomato sauce, vegetable broth, and spices.

Mix this liquid mixture into the mashed rice and make sure it is all mixed through.

Add in the bread crumbs, half of a cup first, then judge by the consistency whether or not you need the rest.

The mixture should be solid enough to form into shapes, but not crumble as you form them.

Heat up enough oil to coat the bottom of a frying pan.

Form the patties depending on what purpose you want to use them for. A side dish with eggs for breakfast or some faux chicken strips for lunch or dinner will work best if the patties are about four inches around and about 3/4 of an inch thick.

For a snack, go for more bite-sized pieces.

Place the freshly made patties into the oil and cook them until they start to brown, then flip them and brown the other side.

Serve soon after cooking so they are still crunchy.


2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 bell pepper diced
1/2 onion diced
1/2 to 1 cup of bread crumbs
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

The Lazy Herbivore is a weekly vegetarian recipe column designed for vegetarians with little time on their hands, or little effort to put into cooking.

To ask questions, suggest recipes, talk about vegetarian stuff, or just belittle his writing abilities, email John at or call 610.272.2500 x204.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Veggie Stroganoff

This simple casserole is a vegetarian approximation of classic beef stroganoff but obviously without the beef and is simple to make into a vegan dish with a few easy substitutions.

Start by boiling the noodles and preparing them like normal, draining and setting aside.

I use the same pot from the noodles for the rest of the prep just to make cleanup easier and use less water to be environmentally friendly, too.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat the olive oil for a few minutes over a medium heat.

Add the diced onions and cook until the start to become a bit tender.

Add the mushrooms. I like the baby portabellas because they have a richer flavor and a denser consistency than button or cremini mushrooms, but are still fairly inexpensive and easy to find.

Once the mushrooms start to soften, add the soup. If you’re using the classic condensed soup, add the water called for in the standard preparation instructions, usually one can.

Stir in the veggie crumbles once the soup is mixed.

If you’re not familiar with veggie crumbles, they are in the freezer section of your local grocery store with the veggie burgers. I am partial to Morningstar Farms, but Boca ones are really good as well. Since I am such a big fan of these, I tend to put more than is necessary in recipes, so I make this with 1 1/2 bags instead of just one.

Once this mixture is blended, add the sour cream, then the wine.

Let this simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to combine, but stir occasionally to keep from burning on the bottom of the pan. Add the salt, pepper and paprika while this cooks.

Bring back the noodles and stir them in to get them all coated evenly by the sauce.

Spray a 9-by-13 casserole dish with non-stick spray, then even spread the noodles and sauce throughout.

Mix together the cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle evenly over the top, use more than one cup of cheese if you’re feeling adventurous or unhealthy.

Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese starts to brown.

The way to make this vegan is simple, use a vegan soup, vegan sour cream (Tofutti makes Sour Supreme that mixes into recipes just like regular sour cream), and either replace the cheese on top with a vegan version or just increase the breadcrumbs and spread a few tablespoons or dairy-free margarine evenly across the top before baking.

Since I work a lot, this is a great dish to make on the weekend and have as leftovers throughout the week because it re-heats nicely.


1 to 11/2 packages Veggie Crumbles (ground meat substitute)

1 Vidalia onion, diced

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 bag egg noodles (or equivalent)

1 can cream of mushroom soup (plus water if condensed)

2 tbsp white cooking wine

1 tub sour cream (8 oz)

1 to 2 cups cheddar cheese (shredded)

½ cup bread crumbs

2 tbs olive oil

1/2 tsp. paprika

Salt and pepper to taste