This is the July 2006 issue of the Low Budget Vegetarian newsletter.

This issue includes:

- the simple living network
- ideas for using TVP


(This first section is a personal note.)

Times are changing...

My daughter's wedding was earlier this month. She and her husband are both vegetarian, and it was interesting to watch how they handled the food part of their planning.

For the groom's dinner, they offered the guests a choice of entrees, including your standard steak, chicken and walleye, plus a choice of two different Indian vegetarian entrees, Chana Masala (spicy chickpeas) or Aloo Gobi Muttar (spicy cauliflower and potatoes.)

The dinner after the wedding itself was completely vegetarian, and included a mixture of pasta, and vegetable dishes, with a fair amount of cheese. I didn't see anyone bemoaning the lack of meat.

And, at the evening dinner for opening presents, the main course was a vegetarian wild rice and bean casserole. Hamburgers were available by request and on the side for the few serious meat-eaters in the group.

So, we had an event where the food was tailored mainly for vegetarians, with a bit of meat on the side.

This is a big change from when I first started serious vegetarian cooking back in the 70's. Back then the level of sensitivity to different diet choices was almost nonexistent.


In the past month, I noticed I have been getting some mailing list signups from a site named the Simple Living Network.

Quoting from their main page - "Simple living, (aka voluntary simplicity), has just about as many definitions as there are individuals who practice it. Simple living is not about living in poverty or self-inflicted deprivation. Rather, it is about living an examined life -- one in which you have determined what is important, or "enough," for you, discarding the rest."

I like that approach. For me, it resonates with what I am trying to do with the Low Budget Vegetarian webiste - namely, give people a simple, inexpensive, largely unprocessed way to approach a vegetarian lifestyle. You can live vegetarian, live low on the food and finance chain, and still eat like royalty, if you know what you're doing.

So, to those of you here from the simple living forum, welcome! For those of you who haven't checked out that site, it is worth a look.


Ideas for using TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)

First off - TVP is a highly processed food, no way around it. It is also a lot more expensive to regularly build meals with tvp as your protein source, than using the beans from which the tvp is made.

Having said that, TVP can be a fun, reasonably inexpensive way to add some of the chewy texture of ground meat to a vegetarian diet. It's a nice transition food for meat-eaters.

I prefer using the inexpensive, dry TVP that you can get in bulk at some coops. The already seasoned and prepared forms of TVP that come frozen, take almost no prep, but are much more expensive than the simple, bulk, dried kind.

Before using, TVP needs to be reconstituted - I just cover it with boiling water, let it sit for around 15 minutes, then squeeze out any extra moisture. It is edible at this point, but not very flavorful, and not very chewy.

If I am going for a ground-beef feel, I like to saute the TVP over a very low flame, with some oil (sesame or olive), and some soy sauce and black pepper. I saute it 5 or 10 minutes, long enough to cook off any excess moisture, and to let it firm up a bit. This pre-saute step with oil adds extra flavor and texture.

Since TVP is very bland and absorbs flavors, it also lends itself to being marinated with a spice mixture and a bit of oil. I have been experimenting with the kinds of spices you would use to make sausage.

This recipe is for making a vegetarian form of chorizo, which is a spicy mexican pork sausage, normally used loose rather than in casings.

Like any recipe that uses ground chilis, it is best to make this at least a day before using to get the full flavor.

If you'd like to explore further, this site - - has dozens of ideas for fresh sausage seasonings, and many of them should adapt to use with TVP. If you try any, consider adding some oil to the recipe to enhance the flavor and texture.


And that is all for this month.

Happy and healthy eating to you, and best wishes for the New Year.

Charlie Obert


Low Budget Vegetarian Survival