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

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Bakehouse With a Big Flavor

I feel like I have been living in a vegan, gluten free bread desert. The available options on the market have been less than desirable, unless you enjoy munching on cardboard. Some of the major gluten free bread makers refuse to make a bread that is also vegan. Besides a few specialty products, I’ve been skipping sliced bread. Then one day I was introduced to a loaf of bread that gave me hope. This bread was soft, fluffy, and tasted great even without toasting. Let me repeat EVEN WITHOUT TOASTING. Straight out of the bag. If you are doing a little happy dance, I’m right there with you. I was finally able to have a delicious slice of cinnamon toast, grilled cheeze, tempeh ruebans, the possibilities where endless. My desert was turning into a tropical oasis. Only one problem, I had a hard time finding the bread. Then slowly, it started creeping into a few markets somewhat nearby. It still needs to get into more shelves, but in the meantime I’ll keep driving to the locations so I can have bread. If you see this bread, do your little happy dance and then buy as many as you can carry!

LNB Bag
I forgot to take a picture before we devoured most of the bread.

Product: Millet and Chia Loaf by Little Northern Bakehouse

Overall Grade: A++

Pros:

  • This bread is delicious out of the bag. Even if it is frozen, when it thaws it can be eaten as is. Most GF bread has to be toasted to be semi-edible.
  • It doesn’t taste like cardboard. It is fluffy, soft, and flavorful.
  • It comes in three flavors, plus rolls. I have loved all four products.
  • All of the ingredients are things you have heard of! There isn’t anything obscure in the ingredient lists.
  • The bread is non-GMO and certified vegan.
  • They use a certified gluten free facility.
  • The facility that they use is also peanut and tree-nut free.
  • They are soy free as well!

LNB Sandwich

Cons:

  • They need to be in every grocery store! They are not in Whole Foods yet locally, but I am still able to find them.
  • They are priced like other gluten free products. You will most likely pay over $5 a loaf.

 

 

 

 

 

Coconut Jerky, An Interesting Concept

I was very excited when I found coconut jerky on a vegan website. I am a huge vegan jerky fan and had to give it a try. I miss jerky as a vegan, but especially as a gluten freer. There is a brand on the market that I can find in local grocery stores, and I like them, but I am always looking for something new to try.

Product: Cocoburg Vegan Coconut Jerky, Original Flavor

Overall Grade: C

Pros:

  • It is a new vegan jerky.
  • The jerky is soy free and gluten free.
  • There are a few flavors to choose from.
  • They have a good chewy texture.

Cons:

  • They come in 1.5 oz bags. The bag did not have many pieces of jerky.
  • The bag is about 5.99 for 1.5 oz. That is a bit pricey! Especially if you have to pay shipping as well.
  • The flavor is odd. I expected them to be chewy, but I didn’t expect such a strong coconut oil flavor. I know the product is made from coconut meat, but I expected them to have more of a jerky flavor.
  • If you are looking for a jerky flavor, this is not your product. It was like eating chewy coconut. That might be your thing, but it was not mine–especially for 5.99 a pop.

 

 

 

 

 

Toasted Coconut Almondmilk, Califa Farms

Happy New Year 2017! We are back and blogging, like we promised! In the spirit of the holidays and cold weather, you might be thinking drinks to warm you up. I know that has been on my mind. I bought the Toasted Coconut Almondmilk with that intention, but found myself a bit disappointed. I grappled with what grade to give to this product and I settled on a C. I can’t give it the Veggie Product Reviews Seal of Approval because it is not good enough for our seal. Read on to see why.

Califa Farms bottle in fridge

Product:Toasted Coconut Almondmilk by Califa Farms

Overall Grade: C

Pros:

  • This product is soy-free, vegan, gluten free, carrageenan-free (for those that care), non-GMO, and BPA-free
  • This product has 45% of your daily needs of calcium, that is more than milk!
  • This is a low calorie drink at only 45 calories per serving
  • It was acceptable as a base to hot chocolate (see the cons to explain)

Cons:

  • This product did not taste good cold or warm on its own. It had a very fake coconut flavor and it was hard to drink. I was only able to drink it as a base to hot chocolate.
  • The beverage is a bit thin and not as thick as other vegan milks.
  • The fake coconut flavor was overbearing. It is all that I could taste when I drank it alone.
  • There is only 6 servings per container. Most other vegan milk brands contain 8 servings per container.
  • With only 6 servings, this milk is expensive.

 

 

 

 

Crab and a Clean Conscience- Gardein Crabless Cakes

Ahoy maidens and mateys!  Veganswashbuckler is back, or you may call me Squashbuckler for short, as me fellow Vegan reviewer Amanda will do.  The crew quite likes it, and I admit it be less of a mouthful than how I was christened.  Just don’t call me late for dinner, especially if Gardein Crabless Cakes be on the menu.  Arr!

These fine morsels deserve the grade of A.

Now, before I became a Vegan pirate, when I was a wee little corpse munching scalawag, methinks I tended to avoid the crab cakes.  I never cared for mayo, and even today I fear the Vegan version.  Nevertheless, if ye like the stuff, by all means check this out, from another of our Vegan reviewers, Dawn.  Nevertheless, blindfold any miserable corpse muncher and give them a taste test, and I dare them to tell me these cakes are crabless, ye scoundrels and crab steaming poltroons!  And, since they already be blindfolded, make them walk the plank unless they reform their ways!

These tender chunks of delight are a treat lightly fried, and they come out crispy on the outside and juicy in the center.  They have the essence of the briny deep, they do, and a fine texture that will leave ye in amazement.  Add these yummy fries as a side, courtesy of another of our Vegan reviewers, Julie, and ye will have yerself a mighty fine repast with little effort.  Tell the chef to have the night off, but to take it easy on the grog and bring yer ship back in one piece.

The only real criticism I have of these nuggets is that they’re a bit tinier than ye think, and they only come ten to a package.  Ye may be left a little unsatisfied, but the flavor is a big winner.

A Chocolate Holiday Treat!

Do you remember those popular chocolate hazelnut truffles? They aren’t vegan. Pretty disappointing, I know. I’ve been longing for a vegan version and finally Sjaak’s has come through.

truffles-seal

Product: Sjaak’s Melk Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles

Overall Grade: A+

Pros:

  • These are incredible. They have a smooth milky-chocolate hazelnut taste just like I remember.
  • Organic
  • Gluten free
  • Soy free

Cons:

  • I don’t know if this is a true con, but they don’t have the delicate crunchy shell that I remember the non-vegan version had.
  • Slightly pricey ay 11.99 for a box of 9, but you get what you pay for. These are definitely worth it for a gourmet, nostalgic holiday treat!
  • I wish they were more widely available. I purchased from VeganEssentials.com but I would love to see them in Whole Foods some day!

img_2757

There is a Garden in My Straws!

The snack queen here again to tell you about a favorite and addictive snack. You all have heard me before mention how I like to snack. A bit too much at times. It’s a hard habit to break. When something claims to be healthy and delicious, I feel less guilty about snacking. Sometimes that means that I eat more than I should. Oops! The snack today is a rediscovered snack. I have eaten it in the past, but haven’t bought it in years. Then I found these beauties at Costco for a reasonable price and they came back into my life.

veggie straws bag

Product: Garden Veggie Straws, Sea Salt flavor by Sensible Portions

Overall Grade: A

Pros:

  • The straws are crunchy and delicious! Each straw packs a powerful crunch that makes you feel like you are eating a potato chip.
  • They have less fat than a regular chip serving. They claim to have 30% less fat. So I can eat 30% more, right?
  • They are gluten free, kosher, and non-GMO.
  • The ingredients are all things that are pronounceable and familiar to the average consumer. No junk like corn syrup.
  • They contain potato, tomato, spinach, and beetroot for the flavor and coloring. It has veggies, that’s a positive- right?
  • They seem to be pretty widely available. I’ve seen them both in health food stores and regular grocery stores.

Cons:

  • These are addictive. Once I start eating them, I have a hard time stopping. I usually eat way over the recommended serving. I guess this could be a pro and con. Pro for taste, con for how I can’t control myself.
  • After a while, these are a bit salty. Maybe that is because I eat too many though.

 

 

 

 

 

Kinnikinnick Smoreables Graham Style Crackers

Graham crackers are hard to find and vegan. Now say you need a vegan, gluten free graham crackers and you might have thought that feat was impossible. Not any more! I have recently stumbled upon Kinnikinnick Graham crackers and brought them home for a taste. They used to contain a non-vegan ingredient, but changed their recipe (beware they say “may contain egg” because of the production facility). These beauties made a mean vegan s’more. They have an awesome crunch and delicious graham flavor. They have brought s’mores back into my life. All I can say is “Thank you and YUM!”

Cracker box

Product: Kinnikinnick Smoreables Graham Style Crackers

Overall Grade: A+

S'more

Pros:

  • Delicious, delicious, delicious!
  • They are crunchy, just like you’d like a graham cracker to be.
  • They are thicker than a traditional graham cracker, but bit smaller.
  • They make a wonderful vegan s’more. Just add your favorite vegan chocolate and marshmallow.
  • They are relatively easy to find. They are sold online, whole foods, and I’ve even seen them at Food Lion.
  • They are gluten free!!

Cons:

  • The box is a good size, but there are so few crackers in the box. I’m thinking you can get about 6 s’mores out of the box (around 12 crackers).
  • They aren’t cheap for having so few crackers. I think they were close to $5.