Sunday, December 13, 2009

Protein Bars (Save 50%)

Protein bars are expensive in the store. Even bulk order Cliff Bars are more than a $1.00 a piece. These have more protien, less carbs, and none of the nasty chemicals you'll find in a store-bought protein bar. They aren't shelf stable, so eat them within a week, but they are very tasty. And at $0.52 a piece they save you 50%!


This recipe is a cheaper, vegan version of Alton Brown's protein bars. This version has no eggs or dairy, and is a lot cheaper.

Amount Ingredient Cost
4 oz Rice Protein Powder $1.75
2 1/4 oz Oat Bran $0.42
2 3/4 oz Whole Wheat Flour $0.17
3/4 oz Wheat Germ $0.17
1/2 tsp Salt $0.00
11 oz Raisins $1.87
1 box (12 oz) Silken Tofu $1.17
1/2 cup Apple Juice (unfiltered, or similar) $0.42
4 oz Dark Brown Sugar $0.63
2/3 cups Peanut Butter (ingredients: Peanuts) $0.28
4 Tbsp Water $0.00
2 Tbsp Peanut Oil (or any oil) $0.22
2 Tsp Corn Starch $0.20
Total: $7.30

Line a 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish with a Silpat and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Chop the raisins (the goal is to cut each raisin in half, but it's not worth the effort to set up a miniature guillotine. )

In a stand mixer, whisk the tofu until smooth, then add all of the wet ingredients in. Add the brown sugar and the peanut butter. Switch over to the mixing attachment and dump in the dry ingredients. Turn the mixer down to the lowest setting and stir in the raisins for about ten seconds.

Spread the mixture on the silpat and bake it for 45 minutes. If you don't cook this all the way through you won't be at risk of salmonella, but the bars will taste mealy.

Let it cool, cut it down the middle and then divide by 7 into bars (for a total of 14 bars each about 4.5" by 2").

Nutritional information
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 bar(?g) Servings Per Batch 14
Amount Per Serving
Calories 265 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 10g 16%
Saturated Fat 1.3g 6.5%
Cholesterol 0g 0%
Sodium 142mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 12%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 23g
Protein 12.6g 25%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Seitan (save 83%)

We've been making Vegan Dad's Veggie Lunch Meat Seitan for a while now. A few months ago, however, our local stores stopped carrying vital wheat gluten in bulk and at $3.33 a pound, the online options are twice as expensive as our previous supply. So I decided to make a round, do a little substitution, and find out how much my seitan was costing us.


1/3 cup dried pintos
1/2 a bay leaf
1 clove garlic
1 tsp fennel
1/4 tsp peppercorns
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp tumeric
1 tsp sage
1 tsp Braggs or soy sauce
2 cups vital wheat gluten
2/3 cups high gluten wheat flour

To begin, you'll want a cup of cooked beans. I think this recipe is great with pinto beans, black bean in a pinch, but stay away from the white beans Vegan Dad recommends--they're too bland and make the finished product taste processed.

  • Soak 1/3 of a cup of dried beans overnight, then bring them to boil in two cups of water with half a bay leaf.
  • Reduce to a simmer and cook for 90 minutes

Save the bean juice

now, bring a steamer up to steam.

  • Put the garlic in your food processor and chop it until it's fine.
  • Grind the fennel and the pepper in a spice grinder, then add to the food processor.
  • Add in the oil, salt, paprika, onion powder, tumeric, sage, braggs, and cooked beans (but not the bean juice) and blend.
  • Measure the bean juice and add water until you have 2 cups. Add that into the bowl
  • Put 1/2 the gluten and all of the flour into a mixing bowl, then pour the food processor on top of the flour. Add the rest of the gluten on top.
  • Use your hands to mix all of the ingredients together until all of the liquid is absorbed.
  • Lay out a 12 inch by 24 inch piece of aluminum foil and shape the wet proto-seitan into a 10-inch log. Roll the log into the foil and twist off the ends.
  • Set your over for 350 degrees
  • Steam the seitan log for 45 minutes
  • Bake the seitan log for 45 minutes

This gives a loaf that's a little lighter and a bit less spicy than Vegan Dad's recipe. There's not really anything on the market that compares in taste, but a spicy version of LightLife's Steak style Smart Strips might be equivalent

1/3 cupdried pintos$0.20
1/2 a leafbay leaf$0.10
1 clovegarlic$0.15
1 tspfennel$0.05
1/4 tsppeppercorns$0.03
1/4 cupolive oil$0.35
2 tspsalt$0.00
2 tsppaprika$0.20
2 tsponion powder$0.35
1/4 tsptumeric$0.02
1 tspsage$0.30
1 tspbraggs$0.04
2 cupsvital wheat gluten$1.67
2/3 cupshigh gluten wheat flour$0.33
3 sqftaluminum foil$0.12

for a total of $3.91. I got a 30 oz log, for a cost of $0.13 per oz. Compared to those LightLife Smart Strips, I saved 83%!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Alton Brown's Granola

We're driving to California in three days and I just spent the afternoon baking snacks for the road trip. Cooling now are granola bars from Good Eats' "Power Trip" episode. Next time I'm going to see if I can make this less expensive (and drop the butter for margarine to make it vegan) but I wanted to do the math to see how expensive my endeavor was. (And I'll comment on the taste later... once I've had a chance to taste a bar.)

8 ozrolled oats$0.25
1.5 ozraw sunflower seeds$0.26
3 ozsliced almonds$1.83
1.5 ozwheat germ$0.83
6 ozhoney$1.25
1.75 ozdark brown sugar$0.22
1.25 ozunsalted butter$0.15
2 tspvanilla extract$0.60
1/2 tspsalt$0.00
6.5 ozdried fruit*$3.25

For a total of $8.64
*I used half apricot, a quarter cherries, and a quarter blueberries.

The best I can do in describing the taste of these granola bars is "a better tasting Quaker Chewey Granola bars and without the chemical aftertaste." So I'll use that as my comparison:

The recipe yielded 29 oz of granola bars, the equivalent of 34 and a half Quaker Chewey Granola Bars, which would clock in at $8.11 over at Amazon. So... not thrifty today. I saved -6.5%.

On my next pass I'll try replacing the dried fruit with rasins, which should bring me close to the taste of Quaker's bars while also saving me $2.08 for the batch. That would be 19% savings, putting it into the "thrifty" category.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Refried Beans

Refried Beans aren't exactly an expensive food. You can find Amy's Organics for $2.25 a 1 lb can. And this recipe takes a lot of work and a long time. But the difference in taste between the canned and the homemade is enormous, and you will save $1.62 per pound (70%) This recipe strays a bit from my first source: "Twice-Cooked (Refried) Beans" recipe in Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. There aren't that many flavors here, which is part of what makes it work. Recipe: 1 Large Onion, Chopped 2 Tablespoons Cumin Ground (I toast it whole and rough grind it in a mortar and pestle) 1 lb Bag Dried Pintos 1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil 2 tsp Salt pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • Soak the beans overnight, at least 8 hours, in enough water to cover them by a good inch or two.
  • Drain the beans, then cover them in water by an inch or two.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for at least two hours. (Sorry, I'm at 4,000 ft so it took me close to three hours. Cooking times may vary.)
  • Drain the beans, reserving the liquid. (We'll just use a little, I used the rest to stretch a soup stock out.)
  • Put enough oil in a large skillet (cast iron is great here) just to cover the bottom, then bring it up to medium heat.
  • Drop in the pepper for ten seconds.
  • Add the onion, stir it once, then add half of the salt.
  • Cook until the onion starts to brown, about ten minutes.
  • Add the cumin (it will be a lot) and cook for one minute.
  • Add the remaining oil and raise the heat to high until the oil comes to temperature.
  • Add the beans and remaining salt, turn off the heat, and use a potato masher (or a fork, if you're a masochist) to mash the beans to the consistency you want. Add in the reserved liquid as necessary for consistency, one tablespoon at a time.
You'll have about three pounds of refried beans--they reheat easily and should store well in the fridge. Cost: Onion: $.25 Cumin: $.10 Pintos: $1.25 Oil: $.25 Total: $1.85, about 3 lbs. Prices above are from my local supermarket, except the cumin. Grocery store cumin costs about $.50 a tablespoon, and depending on your neighborhood it will likely have been sitting there for a long time. But if you live in an area with any Asian or Mexican population you should be able to find a an Indian or Chinese grocer or a bodega that sells big bags of cumin very inexpensively. And you can bet it turns over quickly, so despite the low price you don't have to worry about it having sat on the shelf for a year or two as it may have in a supermarket.