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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)

 

 

 

 

Recreating a Restaurant Meal (that I’ve Never Eaten) – Day 6

This meal was not what I had planned.  I had planned on making a Chinese takeout “beef” and broccoli.  But for some odd reason I didn’t look up the recipe before grocery shopping and I was about 3 ingredients short for making the sauce.  It was time to drop back and punt.

Instead of making a meal that I’ve had, I decided to look around for a meal that used ingredients I had and a product I could review for you.

I had a brand new package of Eden Selected Buckwheat Soba.  I put my trusty Google skills to work and found the website for a soba restaurant in NYC called Sobaya.  I perused the menu and found a dish that, when veganized, sounds right up my alley.

First, let me tell you about these noodles.  Don’t get them confused with the $3 soba you can pick up anywhere.  These are 100% buckwheat (and safe for us gluten-freers) so you’re going to pay more.  I don’t spend $9 on them all the time, but they’re a great splurge item when i just have to have them.  They have a classic light, nutty taste of buckwheat without the bitterness that sometimes comes with buckwheat.  When cooked according to the package directions, they are perfectly al dente and didn’t stick together at all.

100% Buckwheat Soba

The dish I found on the Sobaya website is called Kamo Seiro.  It’s served cold and consists of soba, sauteed duck slices and Japanese green onions served in a hot dipping sauce.  I’ve never eaten at this restaurant, I’ve never eaten duck, and I wouldn’t know the difference between a Japanese green onion and a good ol’ NC green onion if my life depended on it.  Obviously all that ignorance meant one thing: I had to make a vegan version of this dish.  I didn’t measure anything, so this isn’t really a recipe, but I can tell you what I did.

Since it’s a cold dish, I got the noodles cooking first so they could cool.  When they came out of the pot, I put them in a colander and ran cold water over it.

Then I started working on the “duck”: I’ve heard that duck is more like beef than anything else, so I went with my frequent beef standby – a portobella mushroom cap.  I sliced the mushroom cap (about 1/8″ thick slices) and put it in a plate of my favorite “beefy” marinade for mushrooms: a mixture of Coconut Aminos (you can use soy sauce/tamari if you’re not allergic or averse to it), liquid smoke to taste, a tiny swirl of maple syrup and as much black pepper as I’m in the mood for that day.

After the mushrooms marinated for 5-10 minutes, I heated up a lightly oiled cast iron griddle pan (a skillet would work too) and laid out the slices on the pan, saving the remaining marinade.  I cooked the mushrooms over medium high heat until they were dark brown and chewy (about 7-8 minutes).  This might be a little longer than you’re used to cooking mushrooms, but it gives it a meatier texture.  I flipped the mushrooms about 4 times during the cooking.  Right before each flip, I brushed on some more marinade. The marinade caramelizes on the mushroom a little more with each add.

I put the finished mushrooms on small plate and stuck them in the freezer to cool for a few minutes while I mixed the sauce and assembled the rest of the dish.

I wanted to bulk it up with extra veggies, so I lined the bowl with some baby kale, topped with the cool soba noodles, placed the mushroom “duck” slices across the top, tossed on some sliced green onions and drizzled on a sauce that was just Sriracha and soy-free Vegenaise.

 

Vegan Kamo Seiro - mushroom "duck" and soba noodles
Vegan Kamo Seiro – mushroom “duck” with soba noodles & green onions

 

After the picture, I poured on more sauce and mixed it all up.  I used the chopsticks for the photo and then thought I’d get out a fork.  Then, I thought…I’m terrible with chopsticks…they should slow me down so I don’t scarf my dinner down like a crazy person.  They didn’t.

All I can say is that it’s a good thing I have some of those noodles left, because I may be eating this again tomorrow.

Morning Cup of Joe

I don’t know about you, but I need my morning cup of Joe each day. At one point I got out of the coffee habit, but now I’m back again in full swing! I have a sweet baby and I’m often up several times in the middle of the night and I need a little caffeine to help get me motivated. There are so many vegan creamers on the market these days that I don’t bother taking it with me on vacation. I usually have a plethora to choose from; however, I was at the beach and went to a Publix only two options were available. Both were sweetened and I prefer my coffee without sweetener. Alas, I needed my morning Joe, so I picked up the Califia Farms Almondmilk Creamer in the original flavor. The taste of the creamer was nice, but is a bit too sweet for me to drink regularly. I liked that it didn’t add an aftertaste like plain almond milk does to coffee.

I have been back from the beach for almost two weeks and I’m still using the creamer. I am finally getting used to it. What’s your favorite vegan creamer? Do you make your own? I’ve been toying with the idea of making one.