Kite Hill Jalapeño Cream Cheese

I have been vegan for quite some time, but still enjoy bagels and cream cheese for breakfast. I try not to eat it every day, but I will admit that it makes a regular appearance on the breakfast table. Some mornings I switch it up for oatmeal (or a half of an English Muffin), to be a little healthy.  Kite Hill has always been a delicious brand, but it is a bit too expensive to have every week. However, the jalapeño flavor makes me want to buy it weekly. cream cheese tubProduct: Jalapeño Cream Cheese By Kite Hill

Overall Grade: A

Pros:

  • It is vegan cream cheese!!
  • It has a delicious creamy flavor with a hint of spice.
  • It is mildly spicy. I would prefer it a bit spicier, but it is good for most taste buds.
  • The package lists less than 10 ingredients!
  • It is almond based, unlike other popular cream cheese alternatives made of soy.
  • It is a cultured cheese product and therefore has a more in-depth flavor. Kite Hill cream cheeses are the closest flavor to dairy cream cheese that I have tried.
  • It is gluten free and soy free.

cream cheese on a english muffin

Cons:

  • The cream cheese is quite pricey. I have seen it for about $7 a tub. At this price, it will only make an appearance on my table for special occasions.
  • I can only find it in health food stores. I hope to see it in more mainstream grocery stores.

 

 

 

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Hilary’s Ranch Chia Dressing

The longer I am vegan, the more I see items popping up to mimic my old nonvegan favorites. It is a great time to be vegan! I am a fan of Hilary’s products and was excited to try this product. It was so thick, that it would not come out of the bottle. I had to take a knife to it to get it out of the bottle. With a skinny neck, it was hard to get to the contents that were down below where my knife could reach. I had to thin the product out with plant based milk. I was conflicted in rating this product. My husband and I did not like it, but my son did. It did not taste like ranch to us, it was very vinegary and the chia taste was detectable. Since 1/3 of my family liked this product, I am giving it the seal of approval with caution.

dressing bottle with seal

Product: Hilary’s Ranch Chia Dressing

Overall Grade: B-

Pros:

  • The product is free of corn, dairy, gluten, and soy.
  • It is a vegan ranch option!
  • This product was available to me in Whole Foods and Kroger.
  • My son liked it as a dip!
  • It is an organic product.
  • It is low in fat and sugar, compared to other ranch dressings.
  • The ingredients are all recognizable.

Cons:

  • It is so thick that it does not pour out of the bottle without thinning out.
  • It was too thick to be a salad dressing. It was more suitable as a dip.
  • The taste was too vinegary for a ranch dressing.
  • The product tasted and felt too much like chia seeds. While I love chia seeds, I didn’t like it in this product. The dressing had a strange flavor.
  • The bottle was over $4 in stores. It is pricier than most bottles of dressing.

 

 

 

 

The Beyond Burger Goes Beyond Expectations

I have to be honest, I have been excited about this burger since I heard about it a year ago. I have been waiting patiently, or not so patiently, for it to be available in my area. The marketing has wooed me and I have been dreaming of a vegan burger that can draw in omnivores. When I saw this was available at my local whole foods, I became diligent in trying to get my hands on a box or two. It was hard since they were selling like vegan hotcakes. When I got my hands on a package, I decided to make a cheeseburger on a gluten free bun, with onions, vegan mayo, and BBQ sauce. If I would have had pickles in the house, they would have been on top as well.

BB package

I had read reviews that my house would smell of meat when I cooked the burger and that I should be prepared to be disgusted by the look of the burger. Neither of those things happened. My home smelled delicious, but not of meat- it was more like a grilled veggie smell. The pinkness of the burger did not upset me because it still didn’t look like meat to me. I was a bit taken back by all of the oil in the burger and the calorie count. I knew this would only be an occasional treat for me. Fast forward to dinner and my first bite and I loved it! The texture was a bit “meaty”, but not anymore than other veggie burgers that are intended to imitate meat.  It has been decades since I’ve had meat and this reminded me of a good veggie burger. It had an aftertaste of what I remember Boca burgers tasting like, only better. I am very excited for the omnivores in my life to give this a try at their next BBQ. This seems like a great burger for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores.

beyond burger on plateBeyond burger on plate

Overall Grade: A

Product: Beyond Meat, The Beyond Burger

Pros:

  • This burger becoming more available in stores across the country. Right now it is in Whole Foods and Safeways.
  • It is packaged like meat to entice omnivores.
  • It is vegan, gluten free, soy free, and delicious!
  • It has no cholesterol
  • It has 20g of protein!
  • This needs its own bullet point, it is DELICIOUS!
  • It does well on a pan and on the grill.
  • It looks like a burger to entice omnivores.

BB cooking

Cons:

  • It is pricey! Whole foods sells it for almost $6 and there are two patties equaling a quarter of a pound. If we want to entice omnivores, this product needs to be cheaper or comparable to two meat burgers.
  • It is too fattening for me. The amount of grease that came out, was a bit much for me. I don’t mind this food on occasion, but I can’t do this on a regular basis. The calorie count was also a bit high for my tastes.
  • The plastic packaging is a bit much and seems wasteful. The container could be smaller.
  • Most veggie burgers are offered in packages of 4 or 6. Two patties is just odd. We have a family of three, so we have to buy two packages for almost $12!!

BB in package

I’ll Have My Salad with Daiya Ranch

Since going vegan, I have been on a quest to find the best creamy vegan dressings on the market. I have been mostly unimpressed. I recently stumbled upon Daiya Ranch. I decided to buy it after having tried the Cesar dressing and not liking it. The ranch dressing came home with me, without any expectations. One evening, I cracked it open and decided to put some on my salad. I was not sure if I would like it, so I took a little taste. I was pleasantly surprised, loved the dressing! It reminded me of the bottled ranch dressings that I had at my the homes of friends as a kid (my mom always made the homemade version).

bottle with seal of approval

Product: Homestyle Ranch Dairy-Free Dressing, Daiya

Overall Grade: A

Pros:

  • The dressing is very creamy and tastes very close to the dairy based ranch that I grew up on.
  • It is readily available in my area. I have been able to find it in the natural sections of several area grocery stores.
  • I served it to meat and dairy eating family and they didn’t even know it was vegan!
  • It is free of the major allergens.
  • The ingredients are all recognizable items.

Cons:

  • Like the dairy ranches, it is high in fat. 13 grams for one serving!
  • It isn’t easy to pour because it is so thick. I had to water it down a bit with some vinegar.
  • Like many processed vegan foods, this product is pricey at over $4 a bottle. Sometimes, even $5.

Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss Almond Milk Creamer

I have a confession to make, I have a bit of an attachment to coffee. I have a hard time starting my day without it. There was a few years where I swapped a cup of coffee for a green smoothie, but sweet aroma of coffee called me back. When I see a vegan creamer, I try it out because I love knowing my options. I would prefer not to just have a vegan milk, but an actual creamer because it is thicker and creamier than a milk. When I saw that Coffee-mate was coming out with a line of non-dairy creamers, I was intrigued. I prefer my coffee without sugar or sweet creamers, but it is nice for a treat every so often. I have fond memories of drinking coffee-mate flavored creamers when visiting my sister-in-law. It was always a treat for me since we bought unsweetened creamers. Up until recently, the world of vegan creamers was mostly limited to unflavored soy. I was ok staying in that world, but so many options have been popping up that I have been venturing out.

coffee-mate bottle with seal

 

ProductNatural Bliss Almond Milk Creamer by Coffee-Mate

Overall Grade: B+/A-*

Pros:

  • This tastes very similar to coffee-mate dairy creamers, from what I can remember.
  • There are several flavor choices in non dairy: caramel, vanilla, hazelnut, sweet creme
  • They are easy for me to find locally at Target and Kroger.
  • They were comparable in price to other flavored vegan creamers.
  • No gluten, soy, or GMOs.
  • I did not taste an overwhelming almond flavor that I do in almond milk and creamers. I do not prefer an almond milk flavor in coffee, so this was a nice change.
  • Usually almond creamer takes quite a bit of product to lighten my coffee. This creamer lightened it with about the size of a listed serving on the bottle.
  • The creamers were $2.37 on sale at Target. They seemed in line with, if not a little cheaper than other vegan creamers.

coffee-mate and coffee

Cons:

  • I tried the caramel one and it is very sweet. This could only make an appearance in my coffee on occasion. This could be a pro if you like your coffee extra sweet.
  • I didn’t see a plain or unsweetened flavor in stores or on the website. I really wish they come out with that option as I would be more likely to buy it.

 

*I struggled with grading this creamer. If you are looking for it to taste like a sweet creamer, then this gets an A. The sweetness in this creamer was a bit much for me, but I enjoyed the flavor. My grade leans more toward a B for this reason.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hemp Hearts, Vegan MoFo Day 27

I remember hearing about hemp ropes and how it is a strong material as a teenager. I wondered if it had any other uses, besides the illegal kind (well, at least illegal in some states). Then I started hearing about hemp ice cream, milk, yogurt and more. The one thing that I’ve noticed about all of those products is that they seem to be a good source of protein. When I stumbled upon Hemp Hearts, I was intrigued. The little seeds seemed easy enough to sprinkle on food, put in smoothies, baked goods, and more. After trying a sample, I was on sold! They had a nice mild flavor and the nutritional information seemed too good to pass up. They contain mostly unsaturated fat, 3 grams of fiber, 10g of protein, iron, thiamin, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, manganese, riboflavin, zinc, and vitamin B6. These little seeds seem to be a powerhouse of nutrition. Since then, we sprinkle them on anything we can think of!

hemp hearts bag

Product: Hemp Hearts, Raw Shelled Hemp Seeds by Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods

Overall Grade: A

Pros:

  • They have a mild and delicious flavor.
  • They are fun to sprinkle on food!
  • The powerhouse of nutrients and vitamins make these a must have for all- not just herbivores!
  • They are non-gmo verified and have an organic version
  • You can buy this product in a large package (28 oz or 5lbs), which is sure to last you quite some time.
  • This product is widely available. I’ve seen it many places, but I usually buy it at Costco for a decent price.
  • They are fun little snack on their own.
  • Gluten free, soy free, and free of everything except hemp.
english muffin sprinkled with hemp hearts
Vegan GF English Muffin spread with homemade vegan cheese and Hemp Hearts.

Cons:

  • I really don’t have any cons. I do wish they didn’t have 13g of fat, but at least it isn’t saturated fat.

 

 

 

 

Dandies Marshmallows, Vegan MoFo Day 24

Happy Vegan Thanksgiving to those of you who live in the United States. I’m thankful for many things today, one of them being all of you! I really only love this holiday for one reason, it means that I can start decorating for Christmas at the end of day! I love Christmas decorations, carols, music, lights, and holiday inspired food. When it gets chilly, I start craving a nightly cup of homemade hot chocolate. You are in for a treat today because I’ll be sharing a recipe of mine along with a product review. It’s a holiday gift from me to you! As I decorate the tree tonight with my husband as my son is nestled in bed (no one wants a toddler’s help decorating), I’ll have a mug of piping hot chocolate in my hand adorned with a white fluffy vegan marshmallow or two….or three!

marshmallow bag with seal

Please enjoy this recipe that I’ve adapted from my mostly abandoned personal blog from a Vegan MoFo post from 2012.

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

  • 1 cup of almond, soy, rice or coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 tbsp vegan chocolate chips
  • 3 1/2 tbsp natural peanut butter (my tablespoons were not rounded, so feel free to go over this amount)
  • 2 or more of Dandies vegan marshmallows

Place all of the ingredients into aVitamix, or high powered blender and blend for 4 minutes or until steam comes out of the top of the lid. Check for desired heat level and blend more or pour into a mug and enjoy! You can also make this on the stove, but you will need to whisk like crazy to break up the peanut butter and incorporate into the hot chocolate.

Product: Dandies all natural vegan vanilla marshmallows

Overall Grade: A+

Pros:

  • This tastes exactly like I remember marshmallows tasting. I want to make a bonfire and make s’mores and sing camp songs!
  • They are fluffy and delicious.
  • They can be eaten straight out of the bag or in your favorite warm beverage.
  • They are made will all natural ingredients. All things that you can pronounce and no corn sryup: Tapioca Syrup, Cane Sugar, Filtered Water, Tapioca Starch, Carrageenan, Soy Protein, Natural Vanilla Flavor. (See cons regarding one of the ingredients).
  • They are gelatin free!
  • They are gluten free!
  • They are free from most of the common allergens: peanut, tree nut, milk, egg, wheat, fish, shellfish, and corn.
  • They are sold as large and small marshmallows.

Cons:

  • They contain carrageenan. This doesn’t bother me, but some people wish to avoid this ingredient.
  • They are not soy free, for those of you who wish to avoid soy.
  • I’ve only seen them at Whole Foods and our Co-op locally. I hope they become more widely available. If you can’t find them in stores, you can buy them online.
  • They seem to range from $4.50-$5.50. This is a lot more than gelatin containing marshmallows.

 

 

 

Follow Your Heart Vegan Sriracha Vegenaise Gourmet, Vegan MoFo Day 23

On the eve of Thanksgiving here in the US, most of us are thinking of rich, comfort foods and cool creamy desserts.  But, after a day or two of that, I want something with some kick.  Having this in the fridge could come in mighty handy.  Of course, if you’re heat averse, you’ll need to forego this.  But if you’re not, you need to go for it.

Product:  Follow Your Heart Vegan Sriracha Vegenaise Gourmet
Grade: A-

sriracha

 

Pros:

  • Available in a handy squeeze bottle
  • Perfectly creamy
  • Heat in mayo form
  • Really good with vegan sushi and salad rolls.  I usually just squeeze a little on top, but it would be good thinned out as a dipping sauce too
  • One word: sriracha
  • Gluten free, soy free, non-gmo

 

Cons:

  • There’s not much bad to say, but if I were making it, I’d give it a little more mayo cool tang and a little less sriracha heat.

 

 

 

Trader Joe’s Vegan Spread and Dressing, Vegan MoFo Day 22

From what I’ve heard just recently there’s been a Trader Joe’s vegan spread for years, but it was never labeled as such.  Now, there’s a new, improved and labeled vegan (mayo style) spread on Trader Joe’s shelves across the country.

Product: Trader Joe’s Vegan Spread & Dressing
Grade: A

 

wn-vegan-spread-dressing3

 

Pros:

  • The thickness.  It’s a little thicker than Vegenaise and a little thinner than Just Mayo…just the way I like it.
  • The texture.  It’s smooth and creamy.
  • The flavor.  It’s actually a little more like I remember Miracle Whip than how I remember mayo.  I could be off on that memory, but whichever it is, I like it.  It’s mildly sweet, mildly tangy.  I like the flavor a little less than Vegenaise but a little better than Just Mayo (I’d use any of the three).
  • The price.  The jar is a a few dollars cheaper than Vegenaise for the same size jar. TJ’s website advertises it as $2.29/jar.  I’m not sure that’s exactly what I paid for it, but it should be close.

 

Cons:

  • I’m used to Vegenaise for recipes, so I might have to tweak my seasonings a little to adjust for the new spread.
  • The flavor isn’t quite as nice as Vegenaise (but it makes up for it in thickness and price)

 

 

 

 

Follow Your Heart Grated Vegan Parmesan, Vegan MoFo Day 16

Unlike Amanda, I am not Italian.  I’m the youngest of 5 children with my earliest memories in the suburbs of Baltimore, born to parents who grew up and met in Baltimore City.  Then my dad went on to school and then on to be the preacher at a little country church in eastern North Carolina.  We were not shredded Parmesan people.  We were spaghetti sauce from a jar, grated Parmesan from a can people.  I’m also a little older than Amanda and when I was little the can was cardboard rather than plastic.  I was probably an adult before I realized that’s not the only kind of Parm there was.  Truth be known, I loved the stuff.  I frequently snuck to the fridge and just emptied some out in my hand to eat.   While Follow Your Heart has the shredded Parmesan people covered (read Amanda’s review here), they didn’t forget about the rest of us.

I’m just going to say it straight up: I loved this stuff!  I even caught myself going to the refrigerator to get some in my hand once… or twice… or let’s just say I lost count.  Since I found it on vacation, I even got one right before I left town to sneak in my suitcase.

 

Product: Follow Your Heart Grated Parmesan

Overall Grade: A+

 

fyhparm

 

Pros:

  • FYH nailed the flavor of the original stuff in the green can (at least as close as I can remember…it’s been a while)
  • Like the shredded, it’s in line with other vegan cheese prices
  • It’s not powdery like the original.  At first I thought that was going to put me off.  It didn’t. I actually liked the texture a little better than the original
  • It was even good alone.

 

I have one con:

  • I can’t find it where I live yet.  I am eagerly on the lookout.  I’m almost to the point of begging FYH to ship me some to hold me over.

 

BTW, I really liked the shredded kind too.