please help balance & broaden my veggie teen's diet
May 23, 2011 6:41 AM   Subscribe

VegetarianDietFilter: Please help me stock my fridge with pre-cooked and/or raw meals and meal components for a vegetarian trying to kick processed/junk foods ... and who doesn't like tofu, seitan, or hummus.

My 15-year-old son B wants to eat healthy and build strength/endurance for running/lifting etc. He is healthy & slim by nature but has been a beige-itarian since he was small and wants to kick the bread/sugar habit.

He doesn't care for the standard non-meat protein staples but does eat eggs & dairy so I keep the following in the fridge:

hard-boiled eggs
cheese sticks
plain yogurt
the makings of cheese quesadillas

There are other staples in the fridge for his omnivore brother but B's options are very dairy-focused and I'd like to add some pre-cooked things for him to reheat after school or nibble on as snacks. We don't have big family dinners during the week; I try to make lots of things on Sunday for reheating & serving w/a green salad mid-week. That said, I'd like to avoid one-pot meals like chilis and lentil mushes, as they all end up looking like grey gruel. Raw ideas/recipes would be great, esp. as we are headed into summer here.

He knows he needs to develop a taste for tofu/seitan/hummus but in the meantime I'm searching for recipes that don't include those. I am experimenting with:

black bean cakes
variations of hummus that use other beans etc. for dipping

I've looked through the archives and gotten some ideas from these threads:

share your grainless recipes
Mr Lunch
cheap high-protein recipes
(this thread in particular has been helpful with bean salad ideas but a lot of suggestions are "proteinX on bread" and bread is his kryptonite so any non-bready suggestions would be welcome)

tl;dr: vegetarian, reheatable, not soup/stews, not sandwiches, not tofu/seitan-based. Yes, my peanut is a very special snowflake indeed.
posted by headnsouth to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 71 users marked this as a favorite
Peanut butter.
posted by amro at 6:46 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

By the way, I caution him to be careful with the cheese sticks, quesadillas, etc... I was a vegetarian for many years, and when I first started with it I actually gained weight because of all the cheese I was eating.
posted by amro at 6:48 AM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

cooked beans - if you want to avoid stew-like stuff, then maybe a 3 bean salad or something similar?
posted by aimedwander at 6:50 AM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Nuts are his friends. Get unsalted nuts and nut butters, also try out different veggie burgers. I'm not a vegetarian but I eat a lot of Amy's frozen meals at work. They probably don't have enough calories for him though.
posted by mareli at 6:53 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding bean salads. This quinoa and black bean salad is great, and has tons of protein. Another summer staple in my house is a simple black bean/tomato/corn/cilantro salsa, eaten with tortilla chips or just on its own.
posted by something something at 6:56 AM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also, have you tried making homemade seitan? I don't like the storebought kind too much but homemade is really great.
posted by something something at 6:56 AM on May 23, 2011

Roasted chickpeas
posted by punchtothehead at 6:57 AM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Mung bean + pumpkin + spring onion/shallots + ginger salad.

Grated carrot and quinoa salad.
posted by Year of meteors at 6:58 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Meh, I've never eaten meat and never found it necessary or desirable to eat tofu or seitan or similar...

Anyway, quiche. Tabouli. "Mexican"-type dips with refried beans (+ salsa, cream cheese, corn, whatever). Tzatziki. Previously: cold grain salad tips. Mujadara.
posted by kmennie at 7:10 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

This butternut squash and tahini salad is delicious.

Also, lentils turn into grey mush, but chili doesn't.

Finally, you might consider protein powder to make shakes with. A physically active 15 year old boy probably needs more protein that he's going to get from cheese sticks and yoghurt.
posted by kestrel251 at 7:11 AM on May 23, 2011

Almond butter is way better for protein than peanut butter. Macadamias are great for snacking but kind of expensive.
posted by carlh at 7:12 AM on May 23, 2011

Response by poster: kestrel251: Finally, you might consider protein powder to make shakes with. A physically active 15 year old boy probably needs more protein that he's going to get from cheese sticks and yoghurt.

Oh yes, I meant to mention that, sorry. He's been making smoothies with regular whey protein for breakfast & frozen milkshakey things with chocolate whey protein for treats.
posted by headnsouth at 7:17 AM on May 23, 2011

Make a big pan of veggie lasagna using thin slices of zucchini or butternut squash or eggplant instead of noodles, and then segment and freeze in meal-size servings.

Same goes for burritos or other wraps- black beans, veggies, some cheese, guacamole, and even breakfast burritos with scrambled eggs and peppers can be refrigerated or frozen.

Edamame is a fun snack if you can get him into it, and you can get that frozen as well so he can microwave it.
posted by rmless at 7:24 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Couple of Quorn recipes if you can get it where you are.

Quorn chili. Make your regular chili con carne recipe but replace the mince beef with Quorn mince. Keeps for a week or so in the fridge. Good with/without rice/cheese.

Quorn green curry. Heat 200g green curry paste in oil, dump in Quorn "chicken" pieces and diced chilis to taste. Stir and let fry together for a couple of minutes, then add a can of coconut milk, and veggies to taste (I like broccoli and bamboo shoots). Simmer for maybe 30 mins so it thickens a little. Good with/without rice.

If you can find smoked tofu (very chewy, dry, sometimes with nuts/seeds mixed in) then that's quite a different flavour to normal tofu; worth a shot! I make a sort of dry casserole of this by dicing it, frying it with spring onions and maybe a couple of chillis, then adding a can of chick peas (minus liquid) and lots of diced fresh tomato.

posted by caek at 7:30 AM on May 23, 2011

Here is an excellent egg salad recipe with onions and mushrooms that I will eat straight. No bread needed.

Black bean tacos with slaw are quite excellent.

You could also do a white bean puree or some other white bean dip to eat plain or with pita chips.
posted by ephemerista at 7:38 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Homemade if possible (fresh basil/nettles/sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, parmesan) or a great big jar from a deli.

Put it on grains, paste it on roast veg, great with any cheese, i freaking love the stuff. My fridge longs for it when we run out.
posted by greenish at 7:41 AM on May 23, 2011

posted by Trivia Newton John at 7:49 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Peanut (or other nut) sauce. Thicker, I use it as a veggie dip. Thinner, I use it as a noodle sauce.

Has he tried non-seitan faux lunch meat? I chop that up and put it on a salad all the time.

Tempeh is another thing to try--marinated and baked, it's pretty chickeny and can be put in a wrap, on a salad, etc.
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:58 AM on May 23, 2011

I know you said no tofu, but if you haven't tried baked tofu, you should. It is absolutely nothing like tofu in taste or texture -- oily, dense, chewy and salty -- not beige, watery and sloppy.

Slice, dry with a paper towel, marinade in soy, honey, lots of oil, plus maybe a little garlic or little peanut butter. Bake for at least an hour. You can cook the shit out of it and it will go charred and rubbery like delicious ethical jerky.
posted by dontjumplarry at 8:04 AM on May 23, 2011 [6 favorites]

1. Tempeh. Use cooked tempeh in a salad the way you'd put chicken in a salad. The tempeh should be very thoroughly cooked. First, either cut it into small strips or use two forks to crumble it up. Saute it in olive oil and seasonings (examples: garlic, paprika, soy sauce, vegan Worcestershire sauce). Then, add some water (or vegetable stock) and simmer it down. Once the water's gone, you can keep cooking it a little longer -- as I said, cooking it very well is key. More tempeh ideas.

2. Quinoa. Put anything in cooked quinoa -- there's your meal! Rice can be replaced with quinoa in any recipe to increase the protein and other nutrients. First, wash the quinoa and drain in a sieve. Bring 1 cup water (or vegetable stock) to a boil, then throw in 1/2 cup quinoa and simmer for 15 minutes or till the water is fully absorbed. Meanwhile, saute or roast vegetables. (Example: saute onions, mushrooms, and spinach in olive oil. Another idea: slice carrots and parsnips into french-fry shapes and roast them in a pan with olive oil, garlic, honey, and rosemary. The possibilities are endless! Yet another idea: follow a recipe for "pasta primavera" except use quinoa instead of pasta, like so.) You can top this off at the end with parmesan cheese -- or, if you want to go easy on the cheese, supplement or replace it with nutritional yeast (fortified with vitamin B12). More quinoa ideas.

Note: He does not need to eat tofu, ever. Tofu is not the ultimate in high-protein vegetarian food. Tempeh is higher in protein.
posted by John Cohen at 8:21 AM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I recommend beans and nuts - if you look at vegetarian Indian diets as opposed to East Asian ones, there's no tofu or seitan or tempeh required, but lentils and beans and nuts are more common. Try falafel, try beans or beans-and-rice a few different ways, and keep a jar of whatever nuts he likes on hand so he can grab a handful as a quick snack.
posted by Lady Li at 9:10 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

His diet sounds high in fat and carbs and low in protein. If he is going to be lifting he needs to fix that.

I keep fat free cottage cheese, peanut butter, and either berries or low-sugar jam in the fridge.
posted by munchingzombie at 9:24 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Addicted to Veggies which is a raw vegan food blog (and therefore comes up with things even veggies wouldn't think of) has some interesting cheese replacements. The Mac n Mustard Cheeze and Caraway cottage cheeze are great, tasty dips or spreads, and as they have a nut-base they're high in protein. There's probably a lot more under the 'quick & easy' tag that might work for you.
posted by AFII at 10:13 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fruit, spinach salads, homemade black bean burgers (if he's trying to avoid bread he can eat them plain, or you could keep whole-wheat buns around), omelets, guacamole for healthy fats. Also, here's a bean dip that is nothing like hummus. Everyone at my house was crazy about it. You could reduce the oil if you want, but an active teenager could probably use the calories.

Green and White Bean Dip

1 15.5-ounce can cannelini beans, drained
3 tablespoons canola oil (or other neutral tasting oil)
3 tablespoons lime juice (from 2-3 limes)
3 tablespoons diced green chilies from a can, hot or mild
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 cup cilantro, packed, stems okay

Whiz everything together in a food processor until creamy. Serve with tortilla chips.
posted by zinfandel at 11:33 AM on May 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

Baked beans from a can. They taste good on toast, too. or cold with a little vinegar. Various canned beans with brown rice, and various condiments - experiment to find a good combination.

Rice, with some kimchi. Not high protein, but adolescent males burn a lot of carbs, or, at least, mine did.

Rice noodles and peanut sauce. Bottled peanut sauce is pretty decent.

You can make a bunch of breakfast burritos in the freezer.

Similarly, you could make a home-made version of hot pockets with cheese, tomato sauce, broccoli, mushrooms, etc. Anything that might go on a pizza can be included. Bake them beforehand, freeze them; he can nuke them.

Potatoes au gratin.

Roasted sweet potatoes, white potatoes, brussel sprouts, squash, asparagus, etc. Roasted veggies are so tasty, they taste like they could be bad for you.

Baked potato and toppings. Baked sweet potato with a little butter or sour cream.

The sooner he learns to make the basics tastier with condiments, the happier he'll be.

I'm not a serious tofu fan, but baked or fried tofu is delish.
posted by theora55 at 12:47 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Lentils, split peas, white beans, and mung beans (aka moong dal) also make great burgers with a little binder. (For split peas, use extra binder and let the split peas cool a bit before you try to do anything with them, since they get pretty goopy when hot.) I use cooked oatmeal and ground sunflower seeds to thicken the batter since I'm often cooking for at least a few vegans but egg is arguably even better, and adds more protein to boot.

For breakfast, I sometimes like to do a DIY muesli that is basically rolled oats with raw nuts, seeds, and a little dry fruit, soaked overnight in milk. It's an easy way to get good calories because the overnight soaking makes everything very tender. Also, you don't have to do anything in the morning except chow down (I admit this sometimes keeps me from attempting eggs first thing after getting up).

Also, what spices are you using with lentils? In my experience turmeric and chili powder really help keep them from turning gray and improve the taste, but of course you may well be doing that already.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:40 PM on May 23, 2011

I love the soy vegetarian snacks (and breakfast items) made by Morningstar Farms, especially the Buffalo Wings and Chik'n Nuggets. It seems like you're looking for more homemade meals, but as a lifelong-vegetarian I've found these are great options to have in the freezer.
posted by lrrosa at 4:01 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Dark chocolate and roasted almonds make a great snack.

Grab an indian food cookbook. They're a culture based around spices in food, not around a central meat dish.
posted by talldean at 1:07 PM on May 24, 2011

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