Kristin Prentiss Ott, M.D.

Vegetarian Tips & Two Funny Stories

  • Fair Warning:  This post contains graphic references to passing gas.  If you are uncomfortable with the word “fart,” please stop reading.  (Mom, since you wouldn’t even let me say that word growing up, this includes you.)

If you read my “So You’re a Vegetarian” blog, you know my reasons are not “health-related.”  I can barely even brush my teeth twice a day for “health reasons.”  So, for me, being a vegetarian isn’t about “deprivation.”  It’s a bonus that most vegetarian options are lower in fat/calories, but the key for me is that their flesh content is zero.

When I became a vegetarian, my father said, “We’ll see how long this lasts!”

It’s been over 15 years.

People said, “You’ll crave meat when you’re pregnant!” 

I didn’t.

I do feel like there is a growing stigma around people with specialized dietary choices.  Skinny women with long lists of “I will eat this, but not that” have been parodied widely.  I don’t want anyone to have to work to accommodate my choice.  My mantra is:

My choice, my problem!

When I made the decision to become a vegetarian, you could only buy quinoa in health food stores – now it’s on almost all grocery shelves and there are entire sections of meat-alternative products.

After years of vegetarian cooking, I have a few product recommendations and tips to pass on.

Morningstar Farms Grillers Crumbles 

burgercrumbles

If you have never tried a vegetarian substitution product, this is a great introduction.  I use them to make spaghetti sauce, tacos, chili, meatloaf, meatballs, even Manwiches and Hamburger Helper!

  • TIP:  Cook them in a skillet with a little oil until crispy brown bits develop.  This gives them great texture and makes them an excellent ground beef substitute.
  • Fair warning: these cause more “gas” than any other food I’ve ever eaten. Like, for real.  It’s almost funny, but if you’re really uncomfortable having “the toots,” don’t even bother trying them.  Or do – and tell me about it so I can laugh.

Two funny fart stories that have nothing to do with vegetarianism:

***There’s a scene in the little known movie “Boys & Girls” that is the most fartastic thing I’ve ever seen.  In it, Jason Biggs is in a large dressing room when multiple lingerie models enter the same dressing room and begin flirting.  Then one of them farts.  There are giggles – but they talk about how it’s sexy.  They say, “More farts, more farts…” in alluring accents.  He has a little success and they keep encouraging him.  Finally he produces an incredibly long series of impressive fart sounds after which they are all disgusted and run out.  It’s all a dream, but so laugh-worthy.  Farts are funny.  They just are.

***When Mickey was in medical school he did a radiology rotation where he sat in a dark room with a radiology attending for long hours looking at films.  The guy kept farting.  Loudly.  They started out little, but they got bigger, longer.  He just kept staring at the screen and acting like it wasn’t him, but they were the only ones there!

Okay – on to products less likely to produce gas…

Quorn Chick’n Tenders

 quornchicken

The best part about Quorn products is that they’re not soy based!  They’re made from “mycoprotein.”  This is not a must try product for non-vegetarians, but for vegetarians, it’s a good find.

  • TIP:  If there are white parts on the pieces, they won’t taste right.  The white parts are basically permanently dry and funky tasting.  Quorn chik’n should have a uniform tan color.

Morningstar Farms Bacon

 veggiebacon

BACON!  Bacon is like crack for some people.  I’m not one of them, but I have tried every brand of veggie bacon out there and after an Ott family taste test, have thrown my support to Morningstar.  My kids love this stuff!  They call them bacon chips.

  • TIP:  These actually taste best microwaved because they crisp nicely.  Do not try this product in recipes because it gets soggy.

Tofurky Peppered Deli Slices

 tofurky

These make great sandwiches.  It’s my replacement for corned beef in a Reuben.  I also eat them wrapped around pickles or sticks of cheese.  These elicit the most, “What are you eating?” questions because they look kind of gray – not super appetizing, but if you can get over the appearance, they’re good!

Gardein 

tofurkyveggieburgermardarinorangeck

This line has put out a lot of new products and I can recommend many of them.

Their “ultimate beefless burgers” get my vote for most “burger-like” veggie burger.

Their mandarin orange crispy chick’n (cooked until CRISPY) is really good (and even better if you add some mandarin oranges and fresh green onion).

I have used their “Beef Tips” in crock pot style pot roast with good results.

Their stuffed turk’y cutlets have replaced Tofurky for me at Thanksgiving.  My non-vegetarian husband gives his stamp of approval on these.  They’re good!

Plated 

plated2

This meal delivery service that has taught me so much!  I have learned how to “sweat” eggplant and do tofu right.  I’ve gotten to try new things like “seared Haloumi.”  It’s not cheap ($12/plate), but it’s been like a cooking class for me.

  • Fair warning:  The recipes are good, but followed exactly may not perfectly suit your tastes.  I like bold flavors so I always have to add more seasoning than they supply (if they include a spice mix of coriander/cumin/curry – I add more of those spices).

Even with necessary tweaks, the price is still totally worth it because whatever is in the box, it’s always an amazing start to delectable new flavors. I was surprised to love shashouka (pictured below).  A box to make okonomiyaki comes tomorrow.  I had never even heard of these dishes.  That box is an education.

Shakshuka-Side-View-2-640x480

Happy animal-friendly cooking!

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Kristin Prentiss Ott, M.D.

Author of the viral post: 10 Things to Know Before Your Next Visit to the Emergency Department. Board certified emergency medicine physician, wife, mother, aspiring novelist.
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3 Comments

  1. carol prentiss

    Kristin, this is “tootin’ hilarious” and informative! Thank you for these food ideas which will help make dinner entertaining for vegetarians (and all of us) more diverse and delicious!

  2. Annmarie Mudge Buckley

    What is your favorite soy free substitution? Is there a good seafood substitute ?

    1. Kristin (Post author)

      Great question! All of the Quorn products are soy free. Quorn cranberry & goat cheese chik’n cutlets are really good and a great first product to try!
      Yves Veggie Shrimp are awesome AND SOY FREE! But they’re hard to find in stores.
      And here’s a recipe for a chick pea spread that will remind you of tuna salad: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/vegetarian-chickpea-sandwich-filling/

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