Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

One Step Closer


While I was in England, I ate incredibly well, and I ate entirely vegetarian. I blame Patrick and Stephanie for both of those things.

I grew up eating meat every day of the week. When I got to college, I stopped eating red meat and pig products… “no mammals.” But I still ate chicken, turkey, and all sorts of seafood, mostly because I’m lazy and it’s easy to find quick versions of those things. I’ve always wanted to knock chicken and turkey off the list, but I’ve never managed to.

Then I spent a week eating amazing Indian food, hummus stacked with red peppers, gorgeous sandwiches, salads, and of course, crumpets. The coup de grace, however, was the absolutely stunning vegan chocolate cake that Patrick baked for Steph’s birthday — complete with homemade chocolate icing. It was, hands down, the best chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten. (All chocolate cakes in the past pale in comparison, as I’m sure will all chocolate cakes I eat in the future.)

So, I’m gonna do it this time. I haven’t eating any poultry since I left for England (except for one ill-advised bite of airplane chicken), and I don’t intend to. I’m finally ready to take one more step on the path towards who I’d like to be.

This is where all of you come in.

I would love some suggestions for recipes, cookbooks, and websites for quick and easy vegetarian snacks, lunches, dinners, etc. I’m going to stress this part again: quick and easy. I don’t cook, and if it’s difficult or time-consuming, I just won’t do it. Dairy products are just fine, at least for now, and I’m particularly interested in meals with good sources of iron.

Some of my favorite “quick and easy” meals right now include:
– Hummus spread on a pita and layered with slices of red pepper
– Open-faced peanut butter sandwich layered with banana slices
– All vegetarian Indian food (I’m currently gorging on stuff from TJ’s)
– Tomato, fresh mozarella, and basil drizzled with balsamic

Please, grant unto me your wisdom, my online friends!

About the author

Jenn Reese


  • Hmmm, you're not going to like my wisdom I'll bet. I was vegetarian for over 10 years and in my experience "I don't cook" + vegetarianism almost never equals a healthy diet. You'll need protein from and generally speaking lentils, beans, and tofu don't cook themselves. You can find fake meat (wheat gluten) substitutes, particularly at Asian markets, that can be ready-to-eat and quite tasty. They can be added to a sandwich or salad pretty easy.

    I'd double check the label of Trader Joe's anything. Vegetarian or no, I find a lot of their stuff are calorie laden gut-busters especially items that contain a lot of sauce type elements.

    I loved Moosewood cookbooks as a vegetarian, and if you can follow directions, you can make anything in those, then have leftovers for the week when you're tired and busy. Some of the "recipes" are just snack ideas more than full-on cooking instructions too.

    So here's my not-really-that-healthy snack idea: raspberry yogurt (1cup), and handful of cashews mixed in (light or no salt), and Trader Joe's organic chocolate syrup (to…ahem…taste). I know, I'm not helping by suggesting desert ideas, sorry. :)

  • Snack, or for part of lunch to go with peanut butter sandwich: take an apple, a paring knife, and a jar of peanut butter; slice off slices of apple; dip them in peanut butter; eat!

    Variations on bread and cheese have always been a staple of my diet. For example, what we used to call "cheese toasties" when I was a kid: slice of bread (or tortilla); grated or sliced cheese on top; put in toaster oven (on tray) on broil setting until cheese is melted and/or bubbly, depending on preference. Optional: put salsa or spaghetti sauce from jar on top.

    Spaghetti (and other pasta) can be very easy. Get spaghetti or ravioli or whatever at store; get jar of sauce as well. Boil water; dump in noodles; stir, boil; microwave sauce in a bowl; drain noodles; pour sauce over noodles. Add cheese. :) Usually I get marinara sauce, but sometimes I get Wildwood pesto, except they seem to have stopped making that.

    I eat a lot of Amy's frozen meals of various sorts, esp. the bowls. Not cheap, but fast and easy and tasty and veggie.

    I also get frozen veggie burgers. Toast them for a few minutes in toaster over, put on bread, cover with cheese, broil in toaster oven. Add ketchup/mustard/whatever to taste.

    Six bagels from the bulk bagel bin, and a container of cream cheese, makes six breakfasts. Alternatively, cold cereal. Or instant hot cereal. Also English muffins, though they're not really like scones, often with butter and/or peanut butter.

    Canned soups or chili–Amy's makes some good ones, for example.

    How do you feel about eggs? They can be pretty quick/easy to fry or scramble, and not too hard to hard-boil (which can lead to egg salad sandwiches), but obviously not vegan.

    There's a pretty tasty prepackaged yakisoba that I've gotten from the store a few times–fresh noodles, sealed in a plastic bag, and you toss them in a frying pan with (say) frozen peas and frozen corn and perhaps some onion, plus the powdered flavor mix that comes with the noodles.

    Oh, I guess I wrote up some of this a while back.

    More later if I think of other stuff.

  • Mike: Thanks for the advice! I may have time to cook once on a weekend, but I'll never have time during the week. I'm just not home enough. I do have easy access to TJ's and Whole Foods, and there are some fresh-food lunch places around work.

    I always always check the label at TJ's. I am not a fan of 900 calories (or worse) for lunch!

    I can't wait to try that raspberry yogurt with chocolate concoction!!!

  • Jed:

    Wow, that's a lot of awesome ideas. Thank you!!! I love Amy's frozen meals and will definitely stock up on those. (She makes some Indian dishes I just love.) And I do love eggs. And the apple + peanut butter thing.

    Hm. It sounds like I wasn't too far off already!

    I'll definitely check out your blog entry for more ideas. Thank you!

  • I am super fond of Shelley's corn casserole. Its REALLY easy to cook, but does bake for an hour. But if you like corn and cheese….its fantabulous.

  • I'm big into wraps right now. Try a small size wrap, whole wheat – spread with mustard (no fat calories! lots of flavor!), then add in strips of red bell pepper, chopped tomatoes, chopped lettuce, toss in some shredded cheddar and you've got a good sandwich for lunch. Make up a bunch and take a few to work.

    To change it up, omit the mustard, add feta and olives to the rest for a greek flavor.

    Edamame is fabulous for a snack or a green veg for a meal. And you can get pre-teriyaki'd tofu slices that make a great sandwich, too, after toasting. Sugar-snap peas are also fabulous for quick on-the-go snacks.

    Or the portobello mushroom, which can be grilled like a steak or a burger – marinate or not, your choice. Yum!

    A handful (small!) of almonds and a few dried cherries are a good hunger-staving snack, too – make sure to drink lots of water.

    Good luck! You have more willpower than I do. I absolutely refuse to give up my steaks and pepperoni pizza. I just can't have them as often as I'd like any more…sigh!

  • Thanks for the suggestions, Christine!

    I must admit, it's not really willpower. I have no desire to eat red meat or pork at all. In my 20s I occasionally craved steak, but 99.9% of the time, I have no desire for any of it, except for the fact that it's convenient.

    So really, the challenge is just overcoming my own laziness when it comes to feeding myself. :)

  • Pick yourself up a copy of "The Gradual Vegetarian." I think it is just what you are looking for.

By Jenn Reese
Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

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