Follow Your Heart VeganEgg, MoFo Day 1

Welcome to Day 1 of Vegan MoFo 2016! I’m excited we are back and blogging. I really hope this will give us the motivation we need to keep posting after MoFo is over. This is our second year as a group participating and we have been busy little vegan bees trying products!

In the past year there has been a lot of hype about vegan eggs. There are two products that I am aware of on the market that scramble and one possibly coming soon. I’m loving this because I miss the ease of eggs for breakfast on the weekends. It’s probably been 10+ years since I’ve bought a carton of eggs, but I always loved how easy they were for a weekend breakfast. I just didn’t love the cruelty that came along with the egg. Follow Your Heart has come out with a powdered egg that can be mixed with ice cold water and scrambled in a pan. Pretty cool, huh? I think so too!

VeganEgg box

Product: Follow Your Heart VeganEgg

Overall Grade: I give this product an A-. It earns our seal of approval. I’ll explain in my cons why I am giving it a minus. The short of it is that it is on the right track, but still needs a little work. I think the other egg product by The Vegg needs work too. I still like both enough to buy them regularly!

Breakfast plate
Vegan breakfast. Coffee with coconut creamer, vegan sausage patty, and VeganEgg scramble.

Pros:

  • It is available in stores and on Amazon. It still doesn’t have wide availability in the stores near me, but I can find it if I need it.
  • There are easy to follow directions.
  • The product scrambles up pretty quickly and easily.
  • It looks like a plate of eggs.
  • It makes an omelette!!! This is the big one! This is why I give this product an A. It can make a fancy omelette, scramble, and quiche. It is so versatile.

  • This one needs it’s own bullet point to repeat. It makes a mean quiche! It is so realistic and delicious.Quiche
  • It has an “eggy” texture.
  • There is no cholesterol in the product!!!!

Cons:

  • It doesn’t really have an “eggy” taste. I have to add black salt and other spices to make it taste like something. This is what leads me mostly to the minus.
  • It is NOT comparable to an egg nutrition wise. This is a fail for this product. Someone who eats eggs would not switch to this product for the nutrition. This product is not going to convince non-vegans to give a vegan egg a try. There is one gram of protein. Compared to eggs that contain more protein, vitamin D, and B12. There are many other sources to get these vitamins as a vegan, but the company missed an opportunity to have this product be more nutritionally comparable to an egg. I have increased the nutrients by adding plant based milk instead of water.

nutritional contents of product

  • It is pricey compared to a carton of eggs and that will turn some people off to it. A carton of eggs is under two dollars and this product is usually more than five dollars a carton.
  • Some people might have a problem with the ingredients, specifically the carrageenan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Not So Neat!

Today I have for you another negative review. We at Veggie Product Reviews want to be honest with our opinion. We don’t love every product we try and are willing to share the positive and negative products. You might or might not agree with us, but we want to bring you honest reviews. Otherwise, this site isn’t useful to people looking for vegan products.

Years ago I discovered Neat brand products and bought one to try. I cannot remember which product it was or where I got it, but we didn’t care for it. Then recently, I stumbled upon Neat products again and thought I’d give them a second chance. I bought the Original and Mexican mix. Trying them again didn’t do the brand any favors, it fell short in a lot of areas. I’ll cover the Original mix in this review. The product indicates it is 100% vegetarian and gluten free. Upon further inspection of the ingredients, it is vegan.

Neat packageOne of the downsides is that they suggest egg as a binder or vegan eggs, not indicating what they recommend as a vegan egg. So I used a boxed egg replacer. I wasn’t sure if I should use tofu, flax goo, or a boxed replacement. I just made my best guess. I don’t know if my choice was poor, but the product didn’t bind very well.  In fact, I ended up going in a different direction with it and making tacos. The package said that it also be used in chili and sloppy joes, so I thought tacos wouldn’t be too far off.

Pan of Neat cookingI followed the directions and tasted the mixture and was not impressed at all. I added onions, peppers and a bunch of spices to help add flavor. It helped, but I still was unimpressed. The mixture tasted grainy and odd. The way we made the tacos a delicious meal was by adding avocado, vegan cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa and hot sauce to mask the Neat mix. If I were to make this meal again, I’d use a different meat substitute, I wouldn’t spend my money on this product again. Well, unless I decide to give it a third chance!

Mac N Cheezey, Oh! So Pleasey

In the past year there has been a welcome influx of vegan mac n cheese options. That’s a-okay by me, I am always up for pasta with vegan cheese sauce. My last post about mac n cheese was a negative one. Today, I have one that is delicious to share with you. Say hello to Gluten Free Cheddar Mac & Cheese made by Earth Balance.

Earth Balance Mac N Cheese boxOne of the things many things that I enjoyed about this product was the shape and taste of the pasta. The shape reminded me of the non-vegan popular counterpart from my childhood. It might be silly, but it is what I’m looking for in a vegan mac n cheese. I want to be drawn back to summer days of my childhood eating mac n cheese at my best friends house. I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor of the sauce. It had a cheesy taste and a nice orange color, just like you would expect from a boxed mac n cheese. I can envision kids enjoying this product just as much as the popular non-vegan brand. The bonus with the Earth Balance one is no cruelty or chemicals!

The only drawback is that I had to order this online because I couldn’t find the gluten free one in stores near me. Hooray for Amazon Prime!

 

Totally Grossed Out, A Mac N Cheese Adventure

If you have been following our blog, you probably think we like just about everything since we have provided all positive reviews so far. To keep it real, I am posting a review today about two products that are sub-par in my opinion. Let me preface this blog by saying that I am not a picky person. I like just about everything. Even the things that I don’t love, I eat. I am not the biggest fan of watermelon, sweet potatoes, pudding textures, or yogurts- but I eat them all (vegan of course!). We actually eat sweet potatoes quite a bit in the fall and I have started to like them in savory form. Maybe I should take them off my “not the biggest fan of” list then! Even with this list, I can usually choke something down if I don’t like it. I can even do this with a smile! I also married someone who likes just about everything. His only real dislike is asparagus, but we eat it often because he is like me in that regard.

Even as I post this review, I have to note that I ate all of each of the products in this review (not in one sitting, of course) because I hate wasting food. I always hear in my head “there are starving kids in X who would appreciate your food” spoken in a mothers voice. I clean my plate always and save leftovers for later. We don’t like to throw food away. It seems like a sin to me! To save you from having the need to throw away food, I must tell you about two products that are better left on the shelf.

Enter Annie’s vegan and gluten free elbows and creamy sauce and So Delicious cheddar mac n cheese. I was extremely excited to try both products and had high hopes. Those expectations were quickly brought down when I hate the first few bites of each. I really wanted to like them. I wanted more choices when I went to the grocery store. I wanted to be able to recommend these products, but I can’t.

Let’s start with Annie’s. The recipe has pumpkin in it so I thought it would be a creamy pumpkin goodness. Boy! I was wrong! It tasted like a cross between chemicals and wasabi. I must note that John tasted wasabi, I don’t know what I tasted after the chemicals. I even tried my hot sauce test where pour a bunch of hot sauce on something to make it edible. Fail! I tasted the chemicals above the hot sauce.

Annie's elbows and creamy sauce GFThen a few weeks later after I had recovered from the Annie’s mess, I tried So Delicious cheddar. It was so weird! It didn’t tasted like cheddar at all. It actually had a metallic taste to it and it left a horrible taste on the sides of my tongue. I also tried the hot sauce test and it failed. The metallic taste came through hot sauce. I put the remainder in the fridge and decided to try it the next day to see if the flavor would improve. You have probably already guessed that it didn’t.

I must note that I also tried the So Delicious pizza mac n cheese and it wasn’t as bad. I plan to buy it again and do a separate review once I recover from this fiasco. I also plan to review the delicious vegan mac n cheeses on the market. Until then, please go forth and eat good mac n cheese!

Please check out Jennifer’s blog- My Blissful Journey. We are loosely participating in an off season link up where we pick three topics to blog about. I picked a topic not on her list- “New vegan products that I have tried and NOT enjoyed”.

 

 

 

North Carolina – Indian Fusion

I am a North Carolinian through and through.  I wasn’t born here, but I’ve lived here for most of my life.  I’ve got the accent which gets worse (read: better) when I’m tired.  I’m ok with the hot summers.  I like staying home for the one good snow we might get in the relatively mild winters.  And, there’s nothing quite like southern food.

Smoky, sweet, spicy…it all works. So, for today’s post, I’ve decided to mix a little North Carolina in with a coconut milk curry.  And what’s more southern to soak up some of the liquid than a a little fresh-baked cornbread?

First off, let me tell you a little something about black-eyed peas and collards.  They are the essence of NC cooking and I never liked them growing up.  The real truth is I never ate them.  Although I grew up here, my parents didn’t, so we never had them at home, and I guess I was afraid of them at all the reunions and church potlucks.

In the last couple years, I’ve learned to love the black-eyed pea, but still had a little fear of collards. Until now.  I loved this dish so much that it, and variations of it, will be in my regular rotation from now on.

20150926_141328

I didn’t really measure anything to make this dish because who wants to work that hard for curry? But, I can tell you what I did to give it that NC spin.

First cook some diced red onion in a little oil in a large skillet.  When they are translucent and start to brown, add in some of your favorite mild curry powder  (I used this one) and stir to coat the onions.  It’s better to err on the side of too little curry powder as you can add more later. After about a minute, add the black eyed peas, some small florets of cauliflower and about a cup of water.  Add in a golden broth cube (I used Not Chick’n) and use a fork to break it down into the water.  Once the broth cube is dissolved, add in a can of coconut milk.  And, here’s that little bit of sweet…add in about 1/2 can of pumpkin puree and stir it in with the coconut milk.  Taste the broth to see whether it needs more curry powder or salt and add to taste.  If you need salt, I highly recommend smoked salt.  It adds a little extra something.  But, if you don’t have it, regular salt will work just fine.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a simmer and let it simmer until there’s little liquid left (it took mine about 15 minutes).  Add a bunch of collards, chiffonaded and about 1/2 cup of water to thin out the curry and cook the collards.  Use more if you like it thinner.   Serve topped with toasted pecans (more NC), and finely chopped red onions.  Sprinkle on more curry powder/smoked salt as needed.

To keep the NC flavors going, I tested out the Bob’s Red Mill Cornbread Mix.

cornbreadMix

The mix calls for eggs, but I tested it out using “chia-eggs”  (1 Tbsp ground chia to 3 Tbsp water)   I used white chia to affect the color as little as possible.  It has a mild, slightly sweet corn taste, but I like the corn to “jump” out at me a little more.  The flavor was better against the curry (seemed sweeter and more corn flavor) than it was on its own.  It’s a little on the dense side (a lot on the dense side if you like the muffin-y almost cake-like cornbread that you get from some mixes).  Although I typically like room temperature baked goods, this is better warmed up.

Noting that it may be different using actual eggs (which we don’t do here at Veggie Product Reviews), my review is that it’s decent, but nothing to write home about.  I’d rather have my homemade, but it will work when I’m in a hurry.

Until next time, Julie, Amanda and I would like to thank you for spending time with us this Vegan MoFo. We look forward to hearing from you as we review products  throughout the year.

 

 

 

 

Veganized Family Recipe -or- Beyond Beef Mac – Day 20

When I was growing up, my dad was a student and then a pastor.  With 5 kids in the family, that meant mom had to work and dinner was often a little later than any of us would have liked.  When I was around 10 she started to teach me how to cook.  I liked it right off the bat.  Each weekend I’d learn a dish as  she cooked it.  Then, over time, I knew how to make enough basic meals that I could work into the weeknight rotations and have dinner on the table when she got home.

I don’t remember her ever teaching me this particular dish and I’m hoping I served a vegetable with it (probably green beans), but it was one of my favorites.  We called it beef mac, but you might know it better as beefaroni or chili mac.  Basically,  our version was just a combo of boxed mac and cheese with our sloppy joes.

It’s one of those comfort food dishes that I still want and my sister still asks for every now and again.  I’ve never gotten it “quite right” until the new Daiya Deluxe Style Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac came along.  It’s creamy and cheddary and quite a lot like I remember the famous blue box mac n cheese.  Daiya does have a “taste” in all their products that makes you know it’s Daiya.  It’s in here, so if that taste isn’t something you’re fond of, you may not want to eat it straight like this, but I don’t think you’d notice it mixed with the other things in the Beyond Beef Mac.  I like Daiya’s taste, so this was a hands down winner for me.  It reminds me a lot of the cheddar wedge before they changed the recipe, which was my favorite Daiya ever. By the way, the alfredo is good too, but I like this a little better.

 

Daiya's Deluxe Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac
Daiya’s Deluxe Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac

 

Using the Cheezy Mac, combined with one of my favorite products, the Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles, I was able to recreate this old favorite, even to my sister’s satisfaction.

 

beyond Beef Mac
Beyond Beef Mac made with Beyond Meat Crumbles and Daiya Cheddar Cheezy Mac

 

 

Dawn’s Beyond Beef Mac

1. Make a box of Daiya Deluxe Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac according to the package directions.
2. While the macaroni is cooking, brown a bag of Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles in a separate pan with a little olive oil (or canola, or sunflower, or whatever you like)

3. When the Cheezy Mac and the Beefy crumbles are cooked completely, mix the crumbles into the Cheezy Mac (still in the pan you cooked the mac in)

4. Add the following and stir:

  • 1/4 cup tomato ketchup
  • 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Aminos
  • Several drops liquid smoke
  • 2 Tbsp dried, minced onions
  • 1 tsp prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/4 tsp granulated garlic

Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve and enjoy.  It’s good at room temperature later too.  Or cold from the refrigerator.

 

Just a few notes: My tastes on the onions and mustard change a bit from day to day.  So start with that and add however much seems right to you.  You can substitute 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire in place of the aminos and liquid smoke.

 

Thanks for letting me share this little part of my family with you!

 

 

B12, It’s What’s for Breakfast! Day 11

Most every vegan that I have met likes nutritional yeast (a.k.a.- nooch). We add it to things like popcorn, scrambles, baked goods and uncheeses to give a nutty and cheesy flavor along with a yellow color. Nooch has B-complex vitamins and many brands are specifically fortified with a vegan version of B12.  In addition, nooch contains fiber, a fair amount of protein, all nine amino acids and iron. Nooch is easy to sprinkle on many foods and is a quick and delicious way to get B12, which isn’t abundant in plant based foods.

The Vegg Scramble cooking in a pan
The Vegg Scramble cooking

While it is fun to sprinkle nooch onto food, I also like to eat foods fortified with B12 like nut/legume milks and The Vegg. If you haven’t heard of The Vegg, I suggest you check it out. They make several products to replace eggs- such as the vegan egg yolk, scramble mix, baking mix and French toast mix. I have tried the egg yolk and most recently, the scramble mix. Several years ago, I sampled the vegan egg yolk and created a recipe for The Vegg on my personal blog.  The recipe was even published in one of their cookbooks! Then I heard about the scramble mix coming out and ordered it as soon as it was available on their website. I was so curious what it would be like to have a scrambled eggs again. I love tofu scrambles and I was interested to have a product that looked like and tasted like eggs.The Vegg Scramble packageI have made plain scrambled veggs, a scramble with veggies and a scramble sandwich.  The texture is very similar to what I remember of eggs. They are light and fluffy and look just like a scramble when taken from the pan. I really enjoy the flavor of the scramble, but I can’t say if it imitates eggs exactly. It isn’t what I remember a scramble tasting like, but it has been quite a while since I had scrambled eggs. Either way, I really enjoy the flavor and will be sad when my package runs out. You get 12 servings in the package, which is a generous amount. With so many vegan products costing a lot of money, I really appreciate this!

The instructions caution to follow them exactly and they aren’t kidding. I once thought that I could cut corners and the product didn’t turn out as described. The instructions are not hard to follow, so follow them! The package indicates to use a soy milk that has 9 grams of protein, but I used one with 7 or 8 that was unsweetened and I think it turned out great. I still plan to find out what the soymilk of choice is and use that as well. To enhance the eggy-ness, I add a little more nutritional yeast and black salt.

The Vegg sandwichMy most favorite way to enjoy the scramble is to have it on a gluten free English muffin, with a tomato slice, a SoL patty and Chao cheese (tomato cayenne flavor). Another great addition to this would be vegan cream cheese or vegan mayo. Or maybe even a squirt of ketchup!

I am looking forward to trying the other products as well. Happy MoFo’ing!

Quick, Easy and Delicious Mac & Cheese Day 3

Today’s Vegan Mofo theme has me thinking of mac & cheese. I’ve made many vegan ones in my day, both my own recipe and recipes from friends and other bloggers. While I don’t necessarily have a favorite food, mac & cheese would be among the top. When we want a go to meal we make greens and my tried and true recipe. Bonus- it lasts us several meals. I could make the recipe with my eyes closed.

Sometimes, though, you just want something easy. Our world is one of conveniences these days and vegans aren’t left out. Even vegan gluten freers! I’ve seen several options on the shelves and in online stores. A top contender for these choices is Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Flavor Mac & Cheese. There are several mac & cheese products by Earth Balance, but I’ve only tried the gluten free one. I had to order it online and it turned out to be a great purchase.

Earth Balance Mac & CheeseThis treat was delicious and also quick and easy. Score! The cooking instructions reminded me of the popular non-vegan brand that I ate as a kid. Even though it has been many years since I’ve had the popular non-vegan brand, I can say the Earth Balance version was better. It was creamy and didn’t have a chemical aftertaste like the brand of my childhood. Best of all, it’s cruelty free! I think it might be a good thing that I haven’t seen it on the shelves of our grocery stores because I fear I’d buy it too much!

Happy MoFo’ing!

Let Them Eat Pastry!

I’m not going to lie, I’m a sweets fan. Maybe a little too much of a fan. My breakfast is normally a bit boring, but sometimes I like to have a little something special. Enter the delicious Eat Pastry quick vegan and gluten free mixes. I tried the muffin mix first adding organic blueberries and mini vegan chocolate chips. The mix was easy to use and only required a couple of ingredients. The instructions were clear and the end product was delicious, moist and satisfying. I cut my muffin open and smeared vegan butter on and noshed on my little blueberry delight. I allowed myself to have one a morning until they were gone. I did have to share with the hubby though. Boo!Muffins

My only complaint with this mix is that it made six muffins. I stretched the batter to make seven so that they would last longer, but then my muffins were smaller. I like to make 12 muffins at a time. In my mind, more sweets is better!