If you eat gluten free and vegetarian or vegan and don't have much time to cook-or simply want more meal and snack ideas-consider paying a little more for whole-food, organic products that are both convenient and nutrient-dense.
So while you're out shopping, look for these instant (or almost-instant) organic, gluten-free, vegan options. You might even find some of them on sale: During September (Organic Harvest Month), natural food stores sometimes offer special promotions on organic goods.
- Asherah's Gourmet 100% Organic Vegan Burgers. These unique burgers are made with the South American gluten-free super-"grain" quinoa (which technically is a seed, not a grain), plus sweet potatoes, carrots, other vegetables, and flaxseeds. Available in Original and Chipotle flavors, these easy-to-fix burgers are free of the most common food allergens and packed with vitamin A, B6, iron, magnesium, and fiber.
- Living Intentions sprouted seeds, nuts, trail mixes, and cereals. The process of sprouting makes nuts and seeds more digestible and their nutrients more absorbable. Choose from something simple such as Living Intentions Super Seed Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds, or go for an exotic snack treat from their signature Gone Nuts! line of raw and sprouted nut blends (such as Spinach Pesto Walnuts, Almonds & Pumpkin Seeds, and Raw Cacao Brazil Nuts & Mulberries). And be sure to start your day off strong with Living Intentions Super Cereal (in three delicious flavors, including Açai Blueberry).
- Just Pure Foods organic snacks. With varieties that include Cheesy Kale Chips, Sesame Dijon Zucchini Chips, and Crispy Onion Rings, these vegetable-based snacks are made from organic whole foods that are low-temperature dried and sprouted to maximize enzyme and nutrient availability.
- Lydia's Organics. This is a line of raw, dehydrated foods based on seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Some of our favorites: Green Crackers (made with sprouted sunflower seeds), Grainless Apple Cereal, Raspberry Bars, Savory Trail Mix, and new Rawkin' Spicy Beet Chips.
- NuttZo. This tasty organic Seven Nut & Seed Butter is made with flax seeds, cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, and sea salt. Available with or without peanuts in creamy or crunchy varieties, NuttZo contains 6-7 grams of protein per serving and is packed with nutrients, including omega-3 fats and fiber.
- Organic Sunshine Burgers. These convenient, soy-free vegan burgers are made with organic cooked brown rice, organic ground sunflower seeds, and other organic ingredients to create seven different flavors, including Garden Herb, Shiitake Mushroom, and Falafel.
- Lotus Foods Heat & Eat Rice Bowls.If you don't have 20-30 minutes to make Lotus Foods exotic heirloom rice from scratch, try these ready-to-eat bowls, which microwave in just 90 seconds. Add nuts, vegetables, and/or chopped avocado to create super-quick meals. Available in three varieties: Forbidden Rice, Organic Brown Jasmine Rice, and Organic Volcano Rice.
Organic Mexican Quinoa Bowl*
You can easily turn this colorful vegan dish, infused with bright Mexican flavors, into an on-the-spot meal by cooking the quinoa ahead of time and refrigerating it.
1 cup organic red or white quinoa
2 cups water
2 medium green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
2 medium-large avocados, pitted, peeled and chopped
¼ organic red pepper, chopped
3 Tbs. chopped fresh organic cilantro leaves
Juice of 2 limes
2 tsp. organic extra virgin olive oil, optional
¼ tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. unrefined sea salt
Ground black pepper to taste
6 Tbs. organic gluten-free salsa
- Bring quinoa and water to a boil in saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender and water has been absorbed, 15-20 minutes. Pour into mixing bowl, and refrigerate until cold.
- Gently stir in green onion, avocado, red pepper, and cilantro. Mix together lime juice, olive oil (if using), coriander, cumin, salt, and pepper in bowl, and stir into quinoa mixture until distributed. Mix 2 Tbs. of salsa into quinoa mixture. Divide quinoa salad among four bowls, and top each with 1 Tbs. salsa.
PER SERVING: 361 cal; 9g pro; 20g total fat (3g sat fat); 42g carb; 0mg chol; 425mg sod; 12g fiber; 3g sugars
*Recipe courtesy of The Tasteful Kitchen restaurant in Tucson, Ariz (thetastefulkitchen.com).
Melissa Diane Smith, a nationally known writer and holistic nutritionist who specializes in personalizing the gluten-free diet, offers long-distance telephone counseling and coaching services to clients across the country. She is the author of Going Against the Grain and Gluten Free Throughout the Year: A Two-Year, Month-to- Month Guide for Healthy Eating. To learn about her books, long-distance consultations, nutrition coaching programs, or speaking, visit her websites: melissadianesmith.com and againstthegrainnutrition.com.