Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   Aug 03

Beyond Meat

I have been saving the most exciting news for you all week long.  Ready?  Hang on to your hats folks, because I vacuumed all of my carpets this week!  Woo-hoo! 

I know that sounds kind of crazy, doesn’t it? However, to me it means that my inner stitches are finally healing!  Whew.  Noticeable progress.  I’ll take it! I still don’t feel like I did prior to surgery, nor do I expect to for a while.  This I have learned to accept.  I’m just grateful for the good days and know that eventually, the bad days will be fewer and further between.  Until then however, be on the lookout for some wicked menopausal posts because I recently had my first hot flash.  Can I just say that it feels strange to be going through menopause at 42?  I know that many of you brave gals had hysterectomies in your twenties and thirties so I’ll try not to complain too awful much about it.  Promise! 

In other news, I am approaching the end of my first week of self-employment.  I have to admit, it feels so good to be useful.  Wonderfully, fantastically good.  I’m finding that I’m putting forth the same nurturing attention into my art that I did while caregiving.  While preparing my wares to be shipped off to the three lovely ladies who made purchases from me this week I packed up a bit of pride, a lot of gratitude and much love.  The same goes out to each of you who have generated traffic for me on Etsy and Facebook.  The simple act of you spreading the word is extremely appreciated. 

  Anyway, here is what I’ve been working on this week:


I’m finding that I need to develop a schedule just like I had when I worked outside of my home. Having my studio so close to the kitchen is NOT a good thing. Allowing blocks of time for exercise, painting, tending to business, blogging and eating will make this transition much easier. This I need to work on.


Speaking of food……


Although I am not a vegetarian, I just don’t find myself eating meat as much as I used to.  Oh, I love me a good, juicy hamburger once in a while.  The sloppier the better, too.  But most days I lean towards eating meat-free products like Boca, Morningstar, Gardenburger;  even tofu if it’s prepared for me.  I don’t have enough experience to know how to make it taste good from home but willingly order it at restaurants.  My husband on the other hand, loves his meat.  If he didn’t have 3 kidney stones taking up space in his body right now he’d probably be on the Atkins Diet for the rest of his life. 

We have a rule at our house – if you didn’t cook it, you don’t complain about it.  Since I’m doing most of the cooking now that I’m home, I thought I’d try something new that I saw at the store: 

These were on sale and I bought three of them.   Gardein has an entire line of meatless foods and you could easily have one every night of the week without eating the same thing twice.  The one you don’t see in the photo is the one I prepared.  It was sautéed beefless tips and I thought I’d prepare them with a big bowl of spinach, various lettuces, tomatoes and cucumber.  Sounds good, right?  Well, it smelled fantastic.  When Craig came home from work I had just finished heating them on the stove and tossed the tips in with the salad.  He hadn’t had lunch and was pretty hungry. 

During dinner we talked about the usual day’s events.  I was grateful to contribute to the conversation for a change without once including words like surgery, pain or swelling and we chatted about this and that without really ever discussing what we were eating.  I didn’t want to say anything about the faux-beef tips, hoping that instead Craig would say, ‘Wow!  These are outstanding!’

But, he didn’t.  Neither did I. 

In all honesty – and no offense to Gardein – but, they were awful. 

But, Craig being the kind of guy he is, ate every bite of his dinner and didn’t mention the ole’ food switcheroo that had taken place.  Finally, I said something.

“So, what did you think of dinner?” 

“Well,” he said.  “It was, um – interesting.” 

We both agreed that it was the texture that we couldn’t get over.  It looked like meat; it smelled heavenly.  But as soon as you bit into it, the texture was very spongy.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the other two packages.  I’m not going to let them go to waste but I’ll definitely be hiding them at the bottom of a bowl with a bunch of other foods piled on top. 

I do have a point to this post, actually.  Craig listens to NPR regularly and heard a news story about a meatless food that actually tastes like meat.   Chicken, specifically.  It’s called  Beyond Meat and has done tremendously well in blind taste tests.  If you go to the webpage and look at the photo, the texture actually looks like chicken and according to those who’ve eaten it, it breaks apart in your mouth the same way chicken does.  That’s the great news.  The less fortunate news (at least for now) is that it’s only available in the Pacific Northwest Whole Foods prepared section of foods.  Check here to see if it’s in your area. 

The stats are pretty impressive.  Three ounces of Beyond Meat is 100 calories.  Here, for those who are interested, is the ingredients list:

Water, Soy Protein Isolate, Pea Protein Isolate, Amaranth, Natural Vegan Chicken Flavor (Maltodextrin, Yeast Extract, Natural Flavoring), Soy Fiber, Carrot Fiber, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Dipotassium Phosphate, Titanium Dioxide, White Vinegar

Has anyone tried or heard of this product?  If so, I’d love to know what you think.  For those of you who haven’t, would you consider trying something like this? 

Have a good weekend, everyone.  Thanks for reading today :)


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  1. debby says:

    Vacuuming is a big deal! So glad to hear you’re up to that.

    I love your artwork.

    Beyond meat… hmmm. I guess I wouldn’t try it because I like the real thing too much. But have to admit I am intrigued by it.

  2. In our house, my husband has gone vegetarian. (He started vegan but gave that up fast!) I tend to eat a fare amount of “meat” because I try to eat less grains and need the protein. But I’ve been working to find things we’ll both eat that meet (no pun intended) both our dietary “needs.” This week I’m going to try a quinoa and black bean salad. I have some great lentil recipes we’ve tried too.

  3. Jenn @ Cooking Aweigh the Pounds says:

    I have a preference for real food over all those ingredients, but I may have to give it a try just so I can report back to you. Not sure if you’ve already tried it or if it’s even available in your area, but Quorn makes an excellent fake chicken product. One of my vegetarian friends had to call in her meat eating husband to verify that it wasn’t really chicken because it tasted so accurate to her. I haven’t heard of a good beef substitute yet.

    Have a good weekend, Ellen!

  4. munchberry says:

    Yay for vacuuming. It IS hard on the abdomen yanking back and forth repetitively. Plus there is a chance you might let your guard down and yank incorrectly.

    About convo not involving surgery. If you were not actively involved in getting your beautiful art shop opened the conversation would OF COURSE be all about the lady parts area. What else would be the center of the Ellen Universe? I know it will be my number one topic until I get sick of me. It will be like this: Mr. Munchberry sez “Oh these zucchinis in the garden are sure swelling out and there is not enough room to accomodate them in the raised box!” And I will be “Oh zucchini shmeeni! You want to see swelling and not fitting? Try toting around this giant fibroid and giant swelling uterus!” Oh wait – that is the CURRENT conversations.

    Never mind.

    Fake meat. Unless it tastes as good, has lower calories or the doctor forbids meat I am not in love with eating it. I like my Boca burgers because I doctor them to the point of fantabulousness, but the rest of the tofurkey world can go jump in a vegan pool. And if you are a vegan for the love of animals I am COMPLETELY stumped as to why they would want to simulate meat. Really. Stumps.

    That said I love the word play on cheatmeat. Tofurkey, fakon, soysage.

    • didi says:

      A lot of fake meat is really really gross. Don’t ever make the mistake of trying veggie ribs- I think that had to be the worst tasting awful gloppy yuck of all time.

      I really like boca chicken patties, or really, just about any of the other brands have pretty good chicken patties. I add a lot of fixin’s like greens, tomatoes, sprouts, hummus, and whatnot, and cook the patties either in the oven or in a pan. I shy away from the microwave because I think that brings out the worst flavors and textures in just about anything. I honestly like boca and morning star’s veggie corn dogs too, but I probably only get a box of them a year.
      Have you ever tried seitan? It is “wheat meat” and if cooked correctly is just to die fore. I have had it seasoned and shaved into slices and it was very similar to gyro meat.. I’d be happy to send you a few recipes if you’d like to try it out- though the ones that I have are intended for a crock pot..

      • Munchberry says:

        Yeh, I have tried seitan. I am not sure what it is in it but every time I have had it It makes me retain water or get puffy. I have a veggie friend who uses it.

        There is a morningstar sausage that is not too bad. All of them seem ridiculous with the sodium though.

  5. Tim says:

    I’ve tried similar products over here in the UK but if I’m honest I’ve yet to find anything that’s made me think “wow! I’d rather this than real meat”. I’m always up for trying new things though.

    Funny you should mention vacuuming, I was meant to do mine 2hrs ago, in fact I’m sat next to the vacuum now and I only stopped to watch 1 Olympic event. Oops!!

  6. Caron says:

    I haven’t tried many meat substitutes because I’ve read we should not eat too much soy. I do like the portabella mushroom Garden Burgers and buy a package every three or four months. They don’t taste like meat, but I like them.

  7. teresa says:

    I hope I don’t seem like I nay-say everything…. but I have to mention that you want to be careful of switching to so many soy based products. For one thing, soy can be produced with a LOT of chemicals and aside from that level, it’s an estrogen thing. Creates too much or something. All of those meatless products are very highly processed.
    Moderation in all things, right?
    Grass fed beef is what we do. And organic chicken that is Air-Chilled.
    ooh, and I got a good tip about preparing tofu the other day. Freeze it first! Then when you cook it, it will have that good chewy texture on the outside and soft inside. That’s what I was told. And squash all the water out before you slice it. I’m going to try it myself because Em is suddenly asking for it.
    I’ll let you know.

  8. Lolly says:

    I’m a vegan and I love Gardein, but not all of them! I didn’t like the beef tips either. I love the Gardein burgers and the faux chicken. But if you go into really any faux meat expecting it to taste like real meat, I would venture to say most folks would be disappointed! :) Love your blog! Congrats on your etsy sales!

  9. YAY for painless vacuuming :-)

    I’ve tried a few Gardein products and liked them, but I don’t think my husband would go for them, so I sometimes have them for lunch. I like to make sure that non-GMO soy is used whenever I buy such a product.

    I’ve been looking around your Etsy shop and am about to buy :-)

  10. Norma says:

    My thoughts on fake meat in general and that ingredient list in particular : wayyyyy too much processed soy. I avoid processed soy — won’t touch soy burgers/dogs, soy milk, soy yogurt, soy protein powder, etc. I’ll only eat it as edamame and once in a while as tofu in a little appetizer we get at the Thai place. Our bigger dog was having some skin problems that the vet suspected was allergies and wanted to put him on a prescription soy dog food…ummmm, no. I switched the dogs to a raw diet (chicken backs and sweet potatoes) and they are lean, healthy, shiny, and happy. They’re carnivores. And as for people (women in particular) I’ve read way too many sketchy things about processed soy. In the health/fitness/diet world, everyone has their “thing” to get wigged out about; processed soy is one of mine. (On the other hand, I don’t worry AT ALL about sun exposure, and that makes no sense to some people.) I rarely eat anything that came from a factory, I guess, is my point — believing that the natural version is safer and nutritionally superior, inherently, to some man-made frankenfood concoction. A processed frozen bean curd ersatz “burger” with artificial smoke flavor and grill-marks drawn on it is not for me. :-) Just my opinion…my thinking is that usually a “healthy” fake version of the real thing is usually not that healthy at all…and usually tastes like crap. 😉

  11. didi says:

    Oh, and just because the sirloin tips were terrible doesn’t necessarily mean that the other two items you purchased will be bad as well. There is a lot of variation in texture from one veggie product to another even if the brand is the same. Those other items might be ok, but don’t get your hopes up too much.
    Another item we used to make at my house when I was a vegetarian back in the day was veggie meat crumble tacos. Either get a bag or tube of the burger crumbles, and then cook it in a skillet with onion, and a tomato, cumin, a bit of garlic, and cilantro if you like. When cooked along with the onions and tomatoes and seasonings, the veggie burger crumbles make very good tacos.

  12. dietmaven says:

    Hi Ellen, it’s been a while since I’ve visited. Congrats on the etsy thing – it can be hard to get started there, so it’s awesome that you’re doing it and successfully! As for the faux meat thing, I used to be a vegan for 8 years so I ate a lot of faux things in the 90s. Many fail – trying to be too much like meat makes it seem unsuccessful. One thing I would recommend, and it’s super easy to use, is TVP. Textured Vegetable Protein. It looks like grape nuts cereal. You can use it like you would ground beef. I used to make sloppy joes with them and they were fabulous. Or put it in chili. And you may find some vegetarian-minded Chinese restaurants – they can have the most amazing faux meats ever (it’s amazing what can be done with tofu skins). Anyway, keep fighting the good fight!

  13. Hanlie says:

    Yay for getting better! I love your summer picture.

    I’m not a fan of “replacing” meat/chicken/cheese because those products are so highly processed. That’s why I will probably never be fully vegetarian – when I want meat, even if it’s just once a week, I eat it. The rest of the time I eat vegetables, legumes, fruit, nuts and some gluten-free grains.

  14. Lynn Bonelli says:

    Hey Ellen! I don’t know if I ever mentioned it to you but I am a vegetarian and have been for about at least 20 years…some of those years I was vegan. I used to use a lot of the ‘fake meat’ products because it seemed easier to prepare meals and to kinda ‘fit in’. In my mind it seemed like meals should include meat, starch and veggies. Over time I started thinking differently, and as I’ve learned more about nutition and cooking I’ve started using ‘whole’ foods over the fake meats. I do have them occasionally though…they can be very convenient…I even cut up the ‘chicken’ and make chicken salad for a change from ‘mock tuna’. I prefer Quorn, which isn’t soy based but it’s so expensive I only buy it on sale. I actually like the beef tips but I suppose it might be different for someone who hasn’t eaten meat for such a long time…it might freak me out if it had the exact texture of meat!! Anyway, regardless of which product you eat, even soy based, I personally feel that it is healthier than eating your average store bought meat. Also, since your surgery I’m not sure you need to worry about soy all that much but your doctor can advise you better.

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