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.

 

 

 

 

Fresh Vegan Mozzerella by Miyoko’s Creamery

I have been waiting to try Miyoko’s vegan buffalo mozzarella for what feels like years, but I think it really has only been a year or two since it has been sold to the public. Every time I have tried to order it online, it was out of stock. It is finally being sold in stores and I jumped at the chance to give this product a try! It lived up to all my expectations and MORE! I am having a hard time locating it where I live, but was able to find it on a trip to Myrtle Beach, SC. I am hoping for it to be more widely available in my local stores that carry Miyoko’s cheeses and butter.

fresh vegan mozz package

Overall Grade: A

Product: Fresh Vegan Mozz by Miyoko’s Creamery

Pros:

  • This cheese is amazing! It had a texture and taste very close to what I remember fresh mozzarella made from cow’s milk.
  • I find this cheese to be a huge win for animals. It tastes close to the original and is made without cruelty to cows!
  • This needs another bullet point- the cheese tastes amazing and functions just like its dairy counterpart! It melts! It also tastes great straight out of the package.
  • This is amazing on pizza!
  • It is becoming more readily available in health stores across the country.
  • It does not have a lot of ingredients. The ones it does have are all pronounceable and ones that I am familiar with.
  • This product is free of cholesterol, lactose, eggs, gluten and soy!
  • This product is organic and non-GMO!
Gluten free pizza (crust review coming soon) with Miyoko’s Fresh Vegan Mozz, Basil and tomatoes from my garden, and tomato sauce

Cons:

  • The cheese is fattening at 10g a fat per serving. The serving sizes are small.
  • The cheese has only 1g of protein and NO calcium. If we are going to get people to switch to cheeses made without the use of animals, we need it to mirror or come close to the nutrition of dairy cheese. I get my calcium mostly from greens, but new vegans or those thinking of making the switch would be more enticed by a product that had some nutrition to it.
  • This product was $9.99 for 8oz! That is outrageous! I know this cheese is cultured, but this is not affordable for the average person. This will be a once-in-a-while purchase. I feel like I say this on so many reviews, but vegan products need to be more affordable for the average person.

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.

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)

 

 

 

 

Sweet Mustard Dressing – MoFo Day 6

Hampton Creek, the creator of Just Mayo, has also created a line of dressings. This review is specifically for the Sweet Mustard Dressing. I was excited when I found this gem because I had not otherwise seen a vegan mustard dressing or dip. My local Target has a couple other Hampton Creek dressings in stock, but upon review of their website, they have SO many more! I need to find all of these.
just-mustard-seal
Overall Grade: A+
Pros: 
  • Sweet and creamy taste. I use this as salad dressing, or a dip for things like Hilary’s Veggie Bites or Veggie Fries.
  • Non-GMO
  • Gluten Free
  • Reasonably priced – 2.99 at Target
  • Low fat – with 5 g of fat per serving, it’s much less fat than most dressings
Cons: 
  • Only available at Target

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 15 – Barack’s Veganism

I realize that this is the second post in a row about vegan cheezes. I can’t help it. They’re so delicious and I want to give credit where credit is due.
I am grateful that Barack has decided to conduct random visits to vegan households to try vegan food. It’s only a matter of time until he’s vegan. Barack’s imaginary visit to my house would include a Miyoko’s Kitchen vegan cheeze spread.
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Miyoko’s Kitchen Artisan Vegan Cultured Nut Products include something for everyone. They have soft, cream based, spreadable cheezes (my personal favorites), and they also have harder, more traditional cheese-like products. I’m not very creative in the kitchen so I usually enjoy my Miyoko on crackers. although one time we did try a mac and cheeze recipe from their helpful blog.
The Classic Double Cream Chive is my number one favorite. I can (and have) eaten almost half the wheel on crackers in one sitting. Second place is a tie. That award goes to the Double Cream Sundried Tomato Garlic and the Fresh Loire Valley in a Fig Leaf. I like these on their own, too, but have found them even more enjoyable spread in a quesadilla or as a dollop on top of a tofu scramble.
I don’t want to downplay the other flavors. I just favor the creamy ones because I don’t like heavier, smokier flavored foods in general. Others that I know rave about them. To each his or her own!
The bottom line is that these cheezes rock. They’re a little pricey, and you do have to pay for refrigerated shipping, but it’s a treat that’s well worth it once in a while. They’re also organic, which in my opinion adds more value to them. Hopefully they will be available locally in stores very soon!
Happy Vegan MoFo’ing, Barack!

 

Day 14 – Sharing vegan cream cheese with a non-vegan

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Whenever my mom comes to visit, I make sure that she tries all of my favorite new vegan products. The hands-down winner of her most recent visit was Kite Hill Chive Cream Cheese Style Spread. She wanted to take some home with her, but you know how difficult the airlines make things. 
 20150904_085252
This proves that vegans and non-vegans can agree – this stuff is amazing! It’s exactly what I remember cream cheese tasting like – creamy, salty and a little sweet. The chives in this one are an added bonus. Mom thought it was even better than regular cream cheese. 
 
We enjoyed the cream cheese on bagels, but I’ve also used it on breakfast burritos, on top of a tofu scramble, on top of pancakes or breakfast quiche. It’s good on crackers, too. Here are a couple of pics showing it spread on some homemade vegan, gluten free bread. Along with my soy latte (made with awesome Larry’s Beans El Salvador Dali coffee), it made quite a delightful breakfast!
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Making a New Vegan Friend – Day 8

This summer, I made a new vegan friend named Helene.  I actually met her via Facebook through Julie and Amanda.  But, then life went in such a way that we were able to meet in real life at a Train concert.

Helene is kind and passionate about doing things for her community.  She is the organizer of the Triangle Vegfest. The 2nd annual Triangle Vegfest is to be held October 17, 2015 from noon to 5:00pm at Moore Square and City Market in Downtown Raleigh, NC.  I’ve been fortunate to be a volunteer this year and have seen just a little of the hard work that goes into planning an event like this.  I’m so appreciative of Helene and the rest of the crew for putting in so much effort to benefit the community this way.

 

Triangle Vegfest is in Downtown Raleigh, NC on October 17, 2015 Noon-5pm
Triangle Vegfest is in Downtown Raleigh, NC
on October 17, 2015 Noon-5pm

 

Helene was kind enough to grant me an interview amidst all the planning so you can find out more about her and Triangle Vegfest.  There’s even an announcement about Triangle Vegfest that hasn’t been published anywhere else yet.  Thanks for giving us the inside scoop, Helene!

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What inspired you to start a Vegfest in the Triangle area?

Last year I finished my practicum for my masters degree and had about four months off before starting my final semester and full-time internship. I didn’t have enough time to get a job, but wanted to do something with my time. I had thought about creating a Vegfest previously and now with the time and the inclination I decided to see if there was any interest. I set up a volunteer meeting and found there was interest and that the area could really benefit from this type of festival. The Triangle deserves to have something like this. We have an amazing community, which is  incredibly supportive. Triangle Vegfest was born in June of 2014! Why me? I’m crazy enough and organized enough to take on this huge undertaking. I strive to do well and to make this an incredible festival. Triangle Vegfest has changed me. It’s not just about the food. Our festival is about sharing the plant-based lifestyle with our whole community. It’s for all the animals and making sure they have a voice while at the same time our community partaking in a very fun event!

What’s your favorite part of organizing Vegfest?

I continue to be amazed by our community.  I feel the support and the volunteers who help with the festival are amazing.  The support I receive and the happiness others have because of this festival make it worth all the hard work and energy it takes to put it together.  This truly is a collaborative effort!


If an attendee only had one hour to spend at this year’s Vegfest, how would you suggest they spend it?

First, one hour is not enough! Everyone should plan on being at the festival for the whole 5 hours. I’ll announce this here first before anyone else hears it: Plant Pure Nation will be shown after the festival from 7-9pm with a Q&A by Kim and Nelson Campbell. Tickets will be $5 with proceeds going to PPN and TVF. The showing will be in our indoor space: Market Hall. So, if you can only make it for one hour I would say listen to the music, check out all our vendors, and maybe check out one of our many speakers/cooking demos. Seriously though, the festival is set up in a way where you can be busy for the full five plus hours.  (Dawn’s note: I completely agree that an hour is not enough)


What’s the one question you’d love to answer about Vegfest that never gets asked?  And what’s the answer to that question?

This is a great question, which I don’t know if I have an answer. Why do I do something that doesn’t pay me any income and takes up so much of my time? This is my passion. This is my baby. I will continue to help it grow and turn TVF into the best vegan festival around. TVF is a non-profit so this also affords me the opportunity to do outreach and fundraising, which in turn helps others in our community. This is just the way I am, which is why I’m probably one of the best people to take it on.


What is your favorite veggie product? It can be something new or an old standby.

There are SO many veggie products I love. Hmm, Just Mayo is a favorite. I take a jar that is half full and turn it into an agave mustard salad dressing. It’s yummy. Go Max Go vegan gluten free candy bars are to die for. Local favorites: Ada’s Cupcakes and Joie de Vegan cakes/tarts are amazing as well.

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It’s so been so exciting to see the growth of Triangle Vegfest.  One thing that’s changed this year is that there will be some national vendors.  One such vendor is Hope Foods out of Boulder, CO.

If you haven’t heard of Hope Foods, check them out.  They use organic ingredients and a high pressure process that allows them to package their hummus and superfood dips without heat or artificial ingredients.

 

Hope Dark Chocolate Spread
Hope Dark Chocolate Spread

 

So far, I’ve only tried the Dark Chocolate dip and it is amazing.  It is made up primarily of chickpeas, cocoa and cane sugar.  There is a bit of a chickpea texture to it, but I don’t find it off-putting at all.  The chocolate is dark and rich without being super sweet. I’ve tried it on grapes, apples, and strawberries.  It’s delicious on all, but the strawberries were my favorite.  It makes sense. After all, they have a picture of a strawberry right on the package.

 

Hope Dark Chocolate spread with Strawberries
Hope Dark Chocolate spread with Strawberries

 

I’m looking forward to visiting the Hope Foods booth at this year’s Triangle Vegfest and I hope you’ll join me!