Vegetarian Sloppy Joes with Buttermilk Ranch Slaw

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Before you take a look at this recipe, think back to elementary school and lunchtime in the cafeteria. Remember sloppy joe day? I remember how it smelled (not so fantastic) and those soggy “wheat” buns with the runny, ketchup-y, gristly ground mystery meat (yeah, so our school district didn’t have the best lunch program in the early 80s). I can literally see the line of styrofoam trays with the little compartments being filled, assembly-line style, by the cafeteria staff. Lunch cost $.50. Remember those sloppy joes? Well these are nothing like that.

I’ve always had an aversion to sloppy joes—that sad, soggy cafeteria sandwich being my only exposure to this sandwich. We didn’t eat them at home, and I wasn’t about to eat them at school— so I just abstained altogether. You can buy the filling sauce in a can (which I hear is actually pretty tasty, if sloppy joes fall into the “nostalgia” category for you). Please don”t hold it against me, but I”ve never had a Manwich (and the visual I get when I say it out loud isn”t quite as wholesome as the company probably intended). I figured my window of opportunity to try a sloppy joe closed about 7 years ago, when I stopped eating most meat, but then I was introduced to Gardein’s All American Sloppy Joes.

Gardein has a huge line of refrigerated and frozen meatless products, but this meatless sloppy joe mix spoke to me—it called to me. The photo on the front of the box looked too good to be true—all that saucy meatless meat just spilling out of that hamburger bun: I can finally try a sloppy joe. So I did. I finally got to try a sloppy joe. SO GOOD! Since I can’t leave well enough alone, I fancied up the sloppy joe mix and came up with these cute little Gardein All American Sloppy Joe sliders with buttermilk ranch slaw and pickles.

Gardein Vegetarian Sloppy Joe Sliders with Buttermilk Ranch Slaw and Pickles

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The New Granola Bar: Golden Raisin Oatmeal Squares

I have nothing against prepackaged granola bars. In fact, I rather like them. But they’re usually kinda dry…and have strange things in them…plus they’re really small and always leave me ripping into another shiny wrapper to get a second one. Most of them are more candy bar than granola bar. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, but maybe not the best choice for a healthy snack. Remember Kudos?! I managed to convince myself that chocolate-covered granola bars studded with candy and caramel was a healthy snack. It’s got GRANOLA, right?

So when the lovely people over at SunMaid sent me some of their golden raisins, I decided to try my hand at a healthy granola bar. I wanted something kind of cakey and dense, chewy, sweet, and soft. They had to be soft. So I came up with these oatmeal squares, and I think they’re pretty darn good. Each bar has 160 calories and 3 grams of protein, so these are a great snack for a lunchbox or even as a quick breakfast.

Golden Raisin Oatmeal Squares

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Really Good But Even Better Low-Fat Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I love cookies. L.O.V.E.  Since I like to eat them frequently (as in multiple times a day), I’m always attempting to make healthier versions of old favorites like chocolate chip or oatmeal. So I was stoked when I saw this Sun Maid recipe for Really Good Low-Fat Raisin Oatmeal Cookies in honor of Heart Health Month (which was February, but shouldn’t we always promote heart health?) I tried them — and they are really good. But since I can’t leave well enough alone, I made a few little tweaks to the recipe and now I think they’re even better.

So here you have it: Really Good but Even Better Low-Fat Raisin Oatmeal Cookies. And even with my tweaks they still come out to about 60 calories per cookie, so I don’t feel too guilty about the fact that I ate like 5 of them out of the oven and about 5 cookies worth of dough as I was making them.

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Jell-O Goes Naughty

Jell-O has a new product – and apparently it’s R-rated. Jell-O Temptations. As Kraft (who own Jell-O) describes on their website, “Enjoy the naughty taste of new TEMPTATIONS by JELL-O with 150 well-behaved calories or less.” Damn! This Jell-O is so naughty it needs a spanking.

But how can Jell-O protect the innocence of children but still market their saucy, naughty little product to adults? Kraft’s new marketing tool, a vending machine that dispenses product samples to adults only, addresses this issue. Free Jell-O Temptations for adults ONLY!!!

So how does the machine differentiate between children and adults? They use a simultaneously creepy and cool feature developed by Kraft and Intel that uses a facial recognition sensor on the machine to determine the age of the user. A camera scans your face and measures the distance between your facial features to determine age.

I don’t have anything against children — in fact sometimes I even like them — but why should they always get the free cookie? I think Jell-O’s new marketing campaign is brilliant, and I’ll tell you why. I previously had absolutely no interest whatsoever in trying a Jell-O Temptations pudding mousse — in fact I detest Jell-O in every form (the food wiggles and MOVES ON ITS OWN – so wrong) — but here I am talking about it, extolling the virtues of a vending machine that yells at children. A vending machine that yells at children?! YES! Well it doesn’t exactly yell, but it beeps loudly and flashes this screen:

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Gizzards, Kidneys and Balls…For Vegans

I’m not entirely vegetarian. I still eat seafood regularly and poultry occasionally. And I’m not one of those judgmental asshats that sits at a table with carnivores and silently judges them or does the whole, “Do you even know what you’re eating?!” thing. If you’re vegan, good for you. If you’re a carnivore, go for it. I get it. Bacon is delicious. What I find puzzling is the whole fake-meat-disguised-as-meat phenomenon. It’s like fat free butter or fake fur – it just feels weird. Why would anyone who has omitted animals from their diet have any desire to consume tofu shaped into an animal?

OK, I’ll be entirely honest — the realistic turkey — I have a compulsion to buy one the next time I’m home (it’s from a restaurant/tofu manufacturer in LA called Vinh Loi), just out of morbid curiosity. So I started poking around and came across a whole world of fake meat that I never even knew existed. Vegetarian offal:

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2001: A Space Sandwich Odyssey

Most couples have a romantic “I knew (s)he was the one” moment. The moment is usually arbitrary, but romantic nonetheless. Well my husband and I had a simultaneous, “(S)he’s the one!” moment while watching 2001: A Space Odyssey, sitting on a futon in his dinky grad school student housing apartment almost 8 years ago. But it wasn’t just our “moment” – it was also the inception of the space sandwich.

So you know that scene in 2001 where they’re on the moon, in the Moonbus? And Dr. Bill Michaels offers Dr. Heywood Floyd a sandwich? And after looking at the sandwich, Dr. Heywood Floyd says, “They look pretty good.”

This was my first time ever watching the movie (it’s one of future husband’s favorites) and I was really enjoying it, but I couldn’t help but notice the sandwiches. Those sandwiches – they looked really good.

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