Thursday, August 25, 2011

Return to Portland: Vida Vegan Con Bound!

This weekend is finally the Vida Vegan Con in Portland, Oregon! It's been about a year since it was announced and I was kindly asked to participate in it. First on Saturday is the panel Small Town Represent! which also includes Lauren from Whoa Wren, Ryan from T.O.F.U. Magazine, Bianca from Vegan Crunk and moderated by Elizabeth Castoria, Managing Editor of VegNews. Then Sunday is the presentation Product Reviews and Ethics. Joining me is Kyle from Vegan Vagrant, MeShell from Prarie Vegan and once again the Queen of Vegan Crunk, Bianca!

When I'm not busy from all the Vida Vegan awesomeness, I'd like to hit up some of my favorite Portland hot spots. On the food side of things, the must do's for me are Portabello, VooDoo Doughnut (must. have. grape. donut.), Vita Cafe, Food Fight Grocery, Native Bowl, Paradox Cafe and Homegrown Smoker. For fun I want to hang out at 2nd Avenue Records, Ground Kontrol and Powell's Books.

For those of you who have not been to Portland, make sure you get there one of these days! For someone like me who lives in the most meat-centric part of the country it definitely gave me hope. Maybe someday in the future you will be able to walk into any restaurant or convenience store and there will be tons of Vegan items. But in the meantime, come to Portland, check out Stumptown Vegans and CHOWDOWN!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Candle Cafe Frozen Foods

When I first heard Candle Cafe was going to create their own frozen dinners my ears perked up. I've been to Candle 79 and I have to say they make some of the most amazing food in the world. How that would translate to the frozen world I wasn't sure. So over the course of four days I tried each of the new dinners: Macaroni & Vegan Cheese, Tofu Spinach Ravioli, Seitan Piccata with Lemon Caper Sauce and Ginger Miso Stir-Fry. These can only be found at Whole Foods as they are the exclusive retailer. Well, let's get down to it!

Macaroni & Vegan Cheese- I liked it! If you know Daiya (pronounced DAY-YA, git with it people!!!) like I do, then you'd know instantaneously that the cheese is Daiya. It's not a problem for me, but it is interesting that they don't mention it on the package. I did have a problem with the fact that it was creamy on one side and liquidy on the other (*probably due to the fact I didn't stir the dinner as instructed). I'm not sure if it's like that in all the Mac dinners but it was a tad weird. What I loved was the spiral noodles and the flavor. I guess it depends on how you feel about Daiya. If you don't like it, this is a no-go, if you do then you'll probably like this dinner.

Tofu Spinach Ravioli- Again, the first thing you'll notice is the Daiya sprinkled on top of the ravioli. What I enjoyed about this dinner is that the ravioli was nice and tender. I also enjoyed the taste of the raviolis mixed with the red sauce and cheese. It's a nice change of pace from your typical frozen dinner. I'd totally buy this one again.

Seitan Piccata with Lemon Caper Sauce- I wasn't feeling the Seitan Piccata at all. The seitan was a little rubbery and the rice was dry. (*The rice was probably dry because I didn't stir the dinner as instructed). The sauce was overpoweringly lemony and oddly sweet. I actually had this dish at Candle 79 so this was really disappointing.

Ginger Miso Stir-Fry- I don't love strong ginger flavors, but despite that, I thought this dinner was ok. The tofu was tasty and the rice was moist. Would I ever buy it again, though? Probably not.

Candle Cafe has the impossible task of making these frozen dinners live up to their reputation. I enjoyed the cheesy dinners but the inclusion of Daiya is an interesting and possible controversial choice. The portions seem smaller than other frozen dinners and the meals seem to be directed at health conscious buyers. So bottom line, I think if you are on a diet and you want a good tasting Vegan meal, these Candle Cafe dinners are a decent choice. But if you are hoping these dinners are going to save you a trip to Candle Cafe or Candle 79, you are sadly mistaken.

* I'm lazy.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Smooze Fruit Ice

This summer was a hot one! I know that's kinda of a given here in Nebraska but I don't know if you ever get used to it. For me, the best way to combat the heat is air conditioning, shorts and popsicles! Earlier this summer I spotted these Smooze Fruit Ice Pops at Vegan Essentials. Not really knowing what to expect, I got two flavors, Pink Guava and Pineapple.

What's great about these Smooze Fruit Ices is that they are coconut milk/fruit juice based instead of water. So they are creamier than your run of the mill popcicle. They come in a little triangle that you freeze and then cut the top off to eat. 10 in a pack, they actually lasted me a while.

My favorite of the two was the Pink Guava. The flavor is amazing! If you've had guava juice before, you know what you are in for. If I had to describe it, I guess I would say it has a peachy-like floral taste. The pineapple on the other hand wasn't tasty to me. I just wasn't feeling the pineapple and coconut milk mix. Oh well, finding the Pink Guava more than made up for it. I'm hoping to try the other two flavors, Mango and Passion Fruit soon. Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lazy Vegan Breakfast

I'm going to be completely honest and tell you that I hate breakfast. For some reason I have no appetite in the morning (or whenever I choose to wake up). But that doesn't mean I don't like breakfast foods! Pancakes and waffles are wonderful and I love to eat them at all other times of the day. Here are a couple breakfast foods that fill a void if you are a lazy one.

I was pretty excited the first time I saw Ian's French Toast Sticks. I love the way French Toast tastes plus it's kind of a pain in the butt to make from scratch. Last week I bought my first box and gave 'em a shot. The French Toast sticks were good but they didn't blow me away. Perhaps I set my expectations too high. I felt the taste was a bit muted and the oven-only cooking directions were tedious. If you are Gluten Free and Vegan, give them a might appreciate them more than I.

Nature's Path Hemp Waffles are like tradition waffles except for the whole hemp thing. Odds are you won't notice the hemp in the waffle but you'll enjoy the nutritional benefits. Super easy to make via toaster or toaster oven. Just don't forget the maple syrup and Earth Balance!!!

Remember when these were 6 in a pack? The good old days. Amy's Toaster Pops have been in my freezer for eons. The way I like to do it, is to buy one flavor for awhile until I get sick of it, then I switch to the other flavor. Right now I'm in apple mode. The toaster pop is full of fruit and sweet filling, great for when you are on the go. Maybe Amy's can come up with some new flavors? Maybe blueberry? Banana? Raspberry?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gardein Seven Grain Cripsy Tenders

I loved chicken nuggets as a child. Thinking about it now kinda makes me feel bad but at the time they were the jam. Decent Vegan nuggets are hard to come by. Many companies have tried but I think Gardein has done the best job so far. I've been eating these Seven Grain Crispy Tenders for over a year now and they are amazing!

The Seven Grain Crispy Tenders have a nice crispy coating with a tender inside. Pretty much what I remember as a kid, without the cruelty. They're also more of a strip then a nugget, but that's good for dipping! My dip of choice has been a mix of organic ketchup and Frank's Red Hot. So the next time you want to watch old episodes of You Can't Do That On Television, grab a juice box and Gardein's Seven Grain Crispy Tenders and have a tubular time!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Laziest Vegans Top Ten Asks Sara Sohn

Sara Sohn is the genius behind the Vegan marshmallow company Sweet & Sara. She has been making Vegans happy since 2005 with some of the most delicious and decadent desserts out there, from her peanut butter smore to her rice crispy treat. Vegan since 13, Sara set out to fill the Vegan marshmallow void. Taking over a year to get the perfect recipe, she unleashed her marshmallows unto the public. Now Sara shares with us her favorite Vegan goodies (besides her own of course!). It is with extreme pleasure that I bring you Sara Sohn!

What is your favorite store-bought veggie burger?
Not into veggie burgers too much but if Boca is grilled right it can be pretty darn good. I'm more of Chik'n burger kinda gal – the Boca Chik'n patties are awesome.

What is your favorite frozen dinner?
I used to live on Celentano Eggplant Rollettes but I think those don’t exist anymore but who cares because Tofurky Pizza is where it’s at. I cried when I first had one. Mmm

What is your favorite ice cream?
There’s nothing like Lula’s. I've trekked through blizzards, braved horrendous rainstorms, and endured blistering heat waves just to get my ice cream fix, no joke – it’s one of the happiest places on Earth. I'm there every Friday – see you there? When I cant get to Lula’s, I go for Purely Decadent coconut based Vanilla or Turtle Trails – near perfection.

What is your favorite chip or cracker?
Oh man, I'm a sucker for chips. Wanna be my bestie? Get me a bag of Lays BBQ chips or Tings. EcoPlanet “cheddar” crackers are crazy dangerous, I've eaten an entire box in one sitting and then eyed the other one.

What is your favorite cereal?
Peanut Butter Panda Puffs + Gorilla Munch + almond milk =breakfast of chimpions. I mean champions.

What is your favorite candy?
Besides Sweet & Sara vegan marshmallow goodness? Go Max’s Peanut Butter Cleos, Eli’s butterfingers, and Skittles, now that they’re gelatin free!

What is your favorite cookie?
Not too exciting but I think Whole Foods makes the best chocolate chip cookie ever. And Im obsessed with the Q-bel chocolate hazelnut wafer cookies.

What three pre-packaged food items would you take to a desert island?
Alright, here we go. Guacamole. Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut butter. Tofurky’s Hickory Smoked Turkey Deli Slices.

Name a product you would like Veganized?
Spam – I know, so nasty but I loved spam! I miss omelettes too. I also haven’t had a good white chocolate bar.

What are your favorite local and/or online stores for Vegan products?
Food Fight Grocery, Vegan Essentials, Cosmos Vegan Shoppe, and Pangea for online shopping and Lifethyme + Whole Foods for local shopping.

And that concludes The Laziest Vegans Top Ten. Thanks Sara!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Heidi Ho Organic Hazelnut Cheezes

In the last couple years, Vegan cheeses have really blown up. I think it's an exciting time to try Veganism and one of the gateways is cheese. So having a multitude of choices is important. One of the newest entries into the Vegan cheese world is Heidi Ho Organics. Heidi Ho is different because they use hazelnuts instead of soy or tapioca. And I'm sure you're dying to know, yes, it does melt! For the time being these cheezes are only available in Portland, Oregon but will be available at their website soon.

Chipotle Cheddar was my favorite of the three. It had a hearty spicy taste that was begging to be shredded into some tacos (which I eventually did).

Monterey Jack had mellow buttery flavor that was delicious on crackers. A slice on a veggie burger would be yum also.

Smoked Gouda had a smoked tangy flavor. I've never eaten real gouda and the only reason I know about it is Mr. Mom. It would be good on a Tofurky sandwich.

For the tasting cracker, I went with the Late July Classic Rich. I found them to be very buttery and delicious. These would take down a Ritz cracker any day. Look how far Veganism has come, wine and cheeze all day!


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