Sunday, July 13, 2014

Earth Balance Vegan Mac & Cheese

I'm sure most of you grew up on Kraft Mac & Cheese or the generic equivalent. It was super easy to make. Boil the noodles, add butter, milk and the packet of "cheese." It was definitely one of my favorite summer meals when my parents were at work. Well good news! Earth Balance just released two brand new boxed mac & cheeses, Vegan Cheddar Mac & Cheese and Vegan White Cheddar Mac & Cheese. The hype is real and Vegans are EXCITED. I got a couple boxes and I made them with the quickness. Here are the results!

First was the Cheddar. You make it essentially the same way as the Kraft Mac & Cheese. Water to boil the noodles, Earth Balance Buttery Spread, your favorite non-dairy milk and the "cheese" packet. Quick to make and super tasty, I was impressed! The cheddar flavor was amazing. Creamy, zesty, tangy and quite honestly, pretty similar to Kraft. A total home run!

The White Cheddar was similar in the taste department, maybe with less tanginess. Some people have complained that they hate one flavor or the other, but I'm pretty happy with both. I may give the Cheddar a slight edge, but very slight. So all in all, I think Earth Balance has produced an amazing product that a majority of Vegans will enjoy.

My only complaint is that the nutritional info is misleading. It doesn't include the fat or calorie content from the Earth Balance Buttery Spread or the non-dairy milk. Without that data, the Mac & Cheese looks low fat, which is misleading. Hopefully Earth Balance adjusts the data so it makes a fair representative of the fat content. Besides that, it's great!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Saffron Road New Vegan Frozen Entrees

Saffron Road contacted me about their new line of Vegan frozen entrees and offered to send me a few to sample. Uh, heck yeah, send them all! They sent Bibimbop with Tofu & Brown Rice, Thai Basil Chili Tofu with Basmati Rice and Manchurian Dumplings with Basmati Rice. Let's microwave these bad boys and chow.

Bibimbop with Tofu was easily my favorite of the three. The tofu is some of the best I've had in a frozen dinner. The sweet and sour flavor is perfect, not too far one way or the other. I would have liked to have more food in the bowl, but that's a good thing. I'll buy two. If you've never had bibimbob and can't get to a Korean restaurant, this would be a good introduction.

The Thai Basil Chili Tofu was a nice stir-fry meal. Nothing too amazing but it's a solid meal. Love the little baby corns. One thing I'd like to point out is how spicy it is. Or I should really say I'm not a spice fan. If you like a little kick with you food, then this meal is PERFECT.

Manchurian Dumplings was probably my least favorite of the meals. I wasn't really feeling the consistency and taste of the dumplings. A little too mushy and the flavor (ginger?) just wasn't my cup of tea. Hope you have better luck than me.

All in all I'm happy to see these new frozen dinners on the market. The Tofu Bibimbop is a must, the other two are so-so depending on your personal preference. Hope to see them in the store soon!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Gardein Golden Fishless Filet

The first time I had a Gardein Golden Fishless Filet was at Expo West in Anaheim over the Spring. It was my favorite product of the show, and I've been eagerly waiting its arrival in Omaha. Well it's finally here! I found it at my local Natural Grocers of all places. I was delightfully surprised and super excited to relive the delicious experience. So the question is, were they as good as the ones I had at Expo West? The answer is YES, YES, YES!

To me, the filets taste like Long John Silver's fish filets. Tons of batter, a little greasy and very filling. I've had food like this in a Vegan restaurant, but never from the frozen food aisle at the grocery store. It's really game-changing (to me anyway) that you can have a frozen Vegan fish filet that is decadent and better that the real thing. I have a feeling that meat eaters (or fish eaters, whatever) will really take to what Gardein has done here. The filets are not revamped Crispy Tenders, they really look and taste like battered fish!

The batter is divine, nice and crispy. The toaster oven or regular oven is recommended for cooking and I totally agree. Don't even mess with the microwave on this one. The inside is juicy and tangy, it will really take you back. How they got the texture and flavors down, I have no idea, but I'm happy they did!

As you can see, I made up my little version of Vegan Long John Silver's. It's got balsamic vinegar, ketchup, fries and the filets. I died! It was soooo good. Now let's be honest, this isn't low fat food. It's greasy, but that's what makes it so wonderful. Sometimes I wanna' splurge and this is the perfect food to do so.

Gardein has become the king of Veganizing food experiences from my non-Vegan past. Chicken Fingers? Check. Beef Cutlet? Check. Chicken Patties? Check. So far, this is my favorite new product of the year and I don't know what could possible top it, but I'd sure love to see someone try.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Louisville Vegan Jerky Co. Gluten Free Jerky

You may remember a couple years ago when I reviewed some outstanding Vegan Jerky from Morels. It was easily the best jerky I've ever had. Well, Morels has become Louisville Vegan Jerky Co. and they have some new flavors! It's still the best jerky I've ever had. The consistency is soft but chewy and the flavors are rich and mouth watering. And since they use soy protein, all of the flavors are gluten-free. LVJC was kind enough to send me some samples to try out and review. So right now there are three flavors, but you can participate in the Indiegogo and get their fourth flavor before everyone else does! But first, let's talk about these three.  

Out of the three flavors, Bourbon Smoked Black Pepper was my favorite. Sweet but with a tiny bit of pepper kick, I'm totally addicted! It goes down so smooth, next thing you know, the bag is empty. Yum City. My next favorite was the Sriracha Maple Jerky. I'm not a huge Sriracha fan, but mixed with maple, it's heavenly. Not very spicy, but it has a hint of warmth. And last of the jerkies was the Bourbon Smoked Spicy Chipotle Jerky. Now this one is spicy! Not too much, but you'll definitely taste those chipotles. I'm not a spice person, but these are still high on my nom factor.

So that brings us to their new flavor, Sesame Teriyaki! The only way to get it is to purchase it through their Indiegogo. There are different price levels, but I would advise getting all four flavors. LVJC is seriously the best jerky I've ever had and I hope you get to snarf it down like I did!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Squares

One of this years most anticipated Vegan products has finally landed at my local Whole Foods. Yes, Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Squares are out and about in the world. The Vegan version of Cheez-its has Vegans losing their minds. Earth Balance has been on a streak lately, releasing anticipated products like Sour Cream and Onion Kettle ChipsCheddar Puffs and P.B. Popps. I've been excited to try the Cheddar Squares from a blogging perspective, but growing up I was definitely more of a Ritz cracker person. So, do the Vegan Cheddar Squares warrant the hype?

The answer is absolutely yes! These are the real deal. The flavor is everything you could want from a Cheez-it type cracker. Strong "cheddar" flavor in a little bite size cracker. And these really are bite sized! No dipping them in your homemade Vegan dips but they would be great to crush up over your salad. My only complaint is that there is a bit of an aftertaste, but it's not unpleasant, just noticeable. So go get a box and let me know what you think (some of you already have on Facebook.) Find them at your local Whole Foods or online at Rabbit Food Grocery and Vegan Essentials.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Natural Products Expo West 2014

I finally decided to stop being jealous of Quarrygirl's Natural Products Expo West blog posts and go visit the mecca for myself. Safe to say, I was blown away by the size and the quality of the Expo. I got to see some great products, meet tons of awesome people and, of course, get my name printed up on a press pass. The Expo is held in Anaheim, which is nice because it's right next to Disneyland, so you can really make a vacation out of it. Also, you're still close to LA (just don't drive there on a Friday night) so you can check out all the Vegan eats and catch a concert.

So, day one of the Expo, I really lucked out and caught Sarah from The Spooky Vegan in the press line. This was the first time at the Expo for both of us, so it really worked out because we didn't know what the hell we were doing. Sarah is the best Expo buddy you could ask for!

Ever since I've been back everyone is like "what was your favorite product???" I had a few that I loved, but the Gardein Golden Fishless Filet was my top pick. I still haven't seen it in Omaha yet, but I can't wait to get reacquainted.

So what else did I love? Well, Amy's Tofu Breakfast Sandwich was killer. Mr. Dewie's Cashew Milk Ice Cream was off the hook amazing. The Field Roast Hand-Formed Burgers (and Apple Maple Breakfast Sausages) were delish. And Phoney Baloney's new Coconut Bacon flavors (especially Apple Fennel) were mouth-watering good!

My favorite moment from the Expo is when I spotted Amy Berliner serving food at the Amy's Kitchen booth. I told Isa "look it's Amy!" and Isa was like "what are you talking about?" and I was like "look, It's AMY!" Isa finalllly got it and we were able to snag a pic. I'm happy to report that Amy is super nice and down to earth. And I finally got to tell her I put her through college. Life complete! Shout out to Allie Drew for making it happen.

And my second favorite moment from the Expo was getting Vega formulator Brendan Brazier and Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness creator Robert Cheeke together for a pic. Two cool dudes doing good things in the Vegan community.

So many awesome booths with great food! The Chicago Vegan Foods peeps brought the nacho cheese pump, so you know this expo is official. Follow Your Heart had yummy grilled cheese sandwiches right off the grill. Team Phoney Baloney was ready to greet the Vegans and all the people who ask "how can coconut be bacon?" One of the Qrunch team members was from Nebraska, gotta love my home state folk!

Sarah and I LOVED the Beyond Meat "Taco Beyond" booth. Their tacos were AMAZING. Cobra Corn is a product you need to try, headquartered in Chicago. The Bombay Seasoning Cobra Corn is worth getting shipped from Vegan Essentials. Daiya had a MASSIVE booth with tons of "Daiya Girls" walking around, giving samples. Mr. Dewie's had some really great ice cream and they entertained the heck out of us bloggers. Cybele from Cybele's Free to Eat told me she appreciated my putting up a pic of her cookies on Facebook. I thought that was pretty cool! And it took all three days of the expo, but I finally caught up with Jackie from Vegan Yack Attack. She's always the life of the party!

Nature's Path had some cool new things to sample and their rep was cracking us up. Dr. McDougall's had some new soups I hope to see soon. Vegetarian Plus had tons of stuff I've never seen before and I got to sample it. Sweet Earth had a sweet new Hickory and Sage Seitan Bacon that I can't wait to try again. Morinaga had a pamphlet with Terry Hope Romero on it, so we had to chat it up with them. And the Hail Merry ladies were super nice and gave us a heads up that Costco carries them now!

Always a treat to see Dan and Nicole from Upton's Naturals. Their Bacon Seitan is in my fridge 24/7. Happy to see the Liz Lovely booth, but they broke my heart by getting rid of the chocolate dipped cookies and pretzels. Wildwood got harassed by Isa about their creamer, I'm sorry. Vega had this nifty dispenser for Vega One. Oddly I didn't take any because it wasn't 6:20 am and I wasn't driving to work. Tofurky had a new gluten-free pizza I'd like to try again. I had a sample, but I need a whole pizza of that stuff. And Peanut Butter & Co. was in the house as they should be.

Sjaak's was very sweet and gave us bloggers a metric ton of candy to split amongst ourselves. I love their chocolates so much! JJ Sweet's Cocomels out of Boulder, Colorado was representing with their amazing caramels. Bee Free Honee gave a taste of everything. The honee is made out of apples, it's really good stuff! Endangered Species Chocolate had this amazing Raspberry Orange Creme Filled Dark Chocolate Bar that was to die for. I can't wait to find it here in Omaha.

So that was Natural Products Expo West 2014 in a nutshell! I didn't post half of what I actually saw, it really is a lot of stimuli. Lots of food, people and more people. Thank you to everyone who hung out with me and made my trip so special. I look forward to 2015!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Tofurky Pepperoni Pizza Pockets

If you were alive in the 90's, you know what a Hot Pocket is..... a microwavable bun stuffed with assorted fillings. I was more of a Totino's pizza guy myself, but I've had my fair share of Hot Pockets. They were super convenient and perfect to eat on the go. Last year, Tofurky introduced three different kinds of Vegan Pockets: Turk'y Broccoli Cheddar, BBQ Chick'n and Pepperoni Pizza. Tofurky was gracious enough to send me all three Pockets to try. My favorite, of course, was the Pepperoni Pizza and that is the one I'm reviewing today.

OMG! These are seriously addicting. With two in a box, I dare you to just eat one. The Pepperoni Pocket filling is straight up old school. It actually reminded me of a pepperoni pizza from my childhood neighborhood arcade. Super flavorful with a sweet zing and perfectly melted cheese. The dough was a surprise, because it isn't the traditional white bread you would get in an a Hot Pocket. Thankfully, I thought the whole wheat pocket complemented the filling perfectly. One word of warning though, the pocket gets HOT! After you microwave it, let it cool for a couple minutes. Better yet, cut it open to let some of the heat out. I might have burned my mouth a couple time because of my lack of patience, wink wink.

So if you love pizza, you're gonna go gaga over these. The only problem is that they are a little hard to find right now. Do yourself a favor and contact your grocery store and request them. You'll be so happy you did!


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