Sometimes you just want something easy. If you can combine easy with delicious, better still. If you can mix a little healthy into that equation you’ve really hit the mark. Here are a few products we have discovered that do just that – with the added bonus of being available at regular retail outlets – even in our neck of the backwoods.

1. Evol Burritos come in two varieties that are vegan and several nasty non-vegan varieties. The delicious and wholesome vegan ones even have whole wheat tortillas wrapped around them. Other brands use mostly refined white flour. The Veggie Fajita is a spicy handful of delight and the Tofu and Spinach Saute is pretty tasty too. We’ve found them at Kroger, Drug Emporium and Whole Foods.

2. Next on the list is something that as Texans, we treasure. A healthy, low fat, lard free, tamale made right here in our state. The Texas Tamale Factory in Houston makes a number of other tamales not worth mentioning to vegans, but they have really hit a home run with their Black Bean tamales. Despite their checkered past we still love them. In the early days they used vegetable oil, then they switched to lard (ick!). When veg customers complained long and loud they switched to partially hydrogenated oil. Trans-fat! Needless to say we were still not happy. Eventually, they came to their senses and returned to using regular vegetable oil in their formula. Be sure and check the ingredients when you purchase these, because frozen foods can sit on the shelf for a long time, and some of the old formula could still be out there. We get these at Kroger but many other stores carry them and they can easily be ordered online.

3. How do you dress those burritos and tamales? You can’t just leave them naked! You can actually, and they’re delicious like that, but if you really want to take it to the next level, you need salsa. Another Texas favorite is Hell on The Red. The mild is as hot as most brands spicy, so keep your palate in mind when purchasing. We love spicy food but we always buy the mild as it has kick aplenty. Hell on the Red has no oil, no sugar, and very low sodium for a salsa. Which turned out to be a good thing, because it was Ed’s favorite brand already and we didn’t have to give it up when we began eating healthier. Lucked out on that one!

4. Leaving Texas roots for Italian influence we now travel to the land of eggplant. A food I always hated as a kid, not because I ever tried it, the name just creeped me out. Now that I’m vegan it’s the only “egg” that I eat. Irony abounds.  In the freezer section of many major grocers and also some health food stores you can find Dominex frozen breaded Italian style eggplant cutlets. Don’t be deceived by the grated cheese melted on the box cover. These are vegan deliciousness through and through. Not all of Dominex products are vegan but those that are usually say so on the front of the box. (Thanks Dominex! We vegans appreciate that.) Cook them a little longer and hotter than the instructions say for extra crispness and stack them with a great pasta sauce for a memorable Eggplant Marinara.

5. A luscious acompanyment to those eggplant cutlets is our all time favorite pasta sauce, Mom’s Garlic and Basil Spaghetti Sauce. As sublime as anything cooked at home, with the ease of opening a jar. Whole cloves of tender garlic and savory basil leaves give this sauce something that pureed store brands can never even hope to come close to. It’s available at Randall’s, Kroger, Whole Foods, and many independent heath food and gourmet stores.

Natural whole home prepared foods are the ideal but the reality is that plenty of relatively delicious convenience foods are available to us. A pantry and freezer that include some of these things make our lives simpler and allow us not to compromise our health or palates the way that fast food does. It still feels like I’m cheating a little when I eat this way but I take comfort in the fact that our cheats are healthier than most Americans regular fare.