Oma's Own FUNoodles and Soup Cubes

I was recently contacted by Oma’s Own asking me to try some of their products for an honest review to be posted on our site. I gladly accepted when I learned that their products were both vegan and gluten free. The package arrived with bags of freeze dried fruit chips, vegan soup cubes and FUNoodles. The soup cubes came in three flavors: Grandma’s No Chicken, Grandma’s No Beef and Grandma’s Vegetable. The FUNoodles came in two flavors: Spicy Noodles and Grandma’s No Chicken Noodles.

It took me a little while to try everything that came in the box, but I found both of the products in this review ended up being tasty and useful. Having the soup cubes ended up saving dinner one night as I ran out of my homemade vegetable broth and was able to use the cubes in one of my favorite soup recipes. I tried the FUNoodles during my first week of work at my new job and found that it was a nice solution when I didn’t have any leftovers in fridge and had not had a chance to run to the store. The FUNoodles were filling and delicious.

ProductOma’s Own FUNoodles and Soup Cubes

Overall GradeA

Pros FUNoodles

  • They are convenient and easy to use.
  • Lunch was ready in five minutes.
  • It is a good option on days that you need a quick lunch, but don’t have time to pack food.
  • Both soups had a nice flavor.
  • The spicy flavor was just spicy enough for my liking, but not too much to overpower the true flavor of the soup.
  • The Grandma’s No Chicken soup had a nice mild flavor reminiscent of meat broths.
  • They are gluten free.

Pros Soup Cubes:

  • The bullion cubes all have a rich flavor.
  • The cubes dissolved quickly in hot water, unlike other bullion cubes.
  • It is nice to have a no Chicken and no broth flavor that is different than the vegetable flavor. The variety of cubes offer more options for cooking.
  • A half of a cube makes a full cup of broth, so the cubes will make a good bit of broth.
  • They are a convenient solution when you don’t have broth on hand.
  • They are gluten free.

Cons FUNoodles

  • The cups came with a plastic throw away fork which may add to the convenience, but it adds to the waste of this product. These forks don’t seem necessary as it is easy to bring a reusable fork along.
  • I like the convenience of this product, but I generally don’t buy products like this as they generate more waste than I am comfortable with- even without the fork.
  • I would have liked to see more vegetables and/or a protein in the cups like tofu or beans.

Cons Soup Cubes

  • I followed the instructions for the ratio to make broth, 1/2 cup per cup of water and the broth was a bit too salty for my taste.

Banza! It’s Pasta!

I have been hearing about this new pasta craze on social media and I was curious to give it a try. Since the pasta is sold at Costco, I only had the option of a large box. I held my breath and gently tossed the box in my cart, hoping that I didn’t commit to pasta we would not like. To my delight, we really enjoyed the flavor! I was also pleased with the high fiber and protein in the nutritional values. The best part for me was that it was a gluten free pasta that did not fall apart when cooked or reheated. Many rice based pastas do not last well as leftovers. They often get crunchy and/or fall apart.

box with sealpackage of pasta

Overall Grade: A

Product: Banza Pasta, Rotini Shapped

Pros:

  • This product is becoming widely available in stores across the US.
  • The pasta has a delicious taste. The flavor and texture seem very close to wheat pasta.
  • It is certified gluten free and GMO-free.
  • It contains only four ingredients and they are all things that I was familiar with – no funky ingredients.
  • A serving has a whopping 14g of protein and 8g of fiber! Wowsa!

Cons:

  • It is over $4 a box (if you look at the smaller individual boxes). Wheat pasta can be purchased for under a dollar. It doesn’t have the same nutrition, but if we want people to switch to healthier products, we need to make them more affordable.
  • There are two serving sizes on the box, 2oz and 3.4oz. The 3.4oz serving is 340 calories!! I know this is equivalent to wheat pasta, but I wish it were lower calories. If you are not calorie-obsessed like I am right now, then please ignore this con.

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.

Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pizza Crust, Vegan MoFo Day 21

I’m a big fan of pizza.  With the exception of tacos, it’s probably my favorite because it can be made so many different ways and changed to fit the season (hello caramelized onion and sweet potatoes.) But making homemade vegan gluten free crust is a lot of work. Buying it at a pizza place is expensive.  For so long there was nothing in between.  Enter Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pizza crusts.  It’s not the best crust I’ve ever had, but it makes up for that in price and convenience.

 

Product: Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pizza Crust
Grade: B

 

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Pros:

  • Thaw, top, bake.  It’s super easy.
  • It’s inexpensive.  $3.69 for two crusts
  • I don’t have to make homemade crust or leave home for a pizza
  • It’s relatively sturdy while still being soft.
  • Gluten free, no soy ingredients

Cons:

  • If I were reviewing strictly for gluten free folks, I might grade it a little higher. While it’s really good for gluten free crust, I think you can tell that it’s gluten free.  I like things to be gluten free without knowing it.
  • It’s got a coating of flour on it and has a little chalkiness on the outside.
  • Sometimes it’s cracked.  But, that didn’t really cause a problem, I just cut it a little less than evenly

 

Here’s my latest pizza with a little too much Daiya.  I also got a yummy jarred pizza sauce at TJ’s while picking up the crust.

 

 

 

Field Roast Gives Tofurky a Run for Their Treasure- MoFo Day 10

Grade: B+

Ahoy, mateys!  Your favorite Vegan pirate has disembarked again to review another worthy Vegan product.  Today I bring you a Vegan sausage from the good landlubbers at Field Roast, provisioners of other Vegan victuals such as deli slices and Chao cheese.  Tis football season, after all, and it makes a great excuse for my first mates to entertain without resorting to cruel obscenities, such as slaying at least 25 of fowl to provide a mere 50 Buffalo wings.  These links will satisfy any wretched corpse muncher, and if they still want to bellyache to ye, tie them to the mast and leave them for the albatrosses and the gullies!

The particular sausage I’m reviewing today is their smoked apple sage.  For various reasons, I rate it a B+, as I must compare the caliber of this product to that of the other fine provisioners at Tofurky, and I give the edge to Tofurky.  Tofurky be the OGs of mock meat, and any worthies to challenge them have their work cut out for them.

 

smokedapplesage

 

That is what you need to look for in the stores, mateys.  And I must warn ye, if you are a Vegan who shies away from mock meats that are too authentic, then this is not for ye.  I found the flavor of this delicacy quite satisfying after a long voyage with nothing but filthy laddies (and ye may think a sausage would be the last thing I’d want to see after such an arduous journey).  The texture was also very fine, but not quite on a par with whatever Tofurky has concocted for their links.  Just something oddly crumbly to me in these sausages.  One bonus behooves these sausages over the Tofurky, and it be in their packaging.  Without using much extra material, all four links be individually wrapped, so ye need not worry about eating all four within a matter of days.  For my gluten free mates, this product is strictly verboten, me fear; there are other brands that provide gluten free sausages, and keep yer eyes out for land and for these patties when they hit a store near you.

My chef prepared my meal with gluten free penne pasta, imported from the distant shores of Costco, he tells me, though I’m unfamiliar with this part of the seven seas.

 

smokedapplesagemeal

 

In it he added some onions and garlic, a healthy amount of olive oil, a bit of salt, dried sage, and red pepper flakes, and butternut squash with a drizzle of maple syrup to boot.  As ye can see, he sliced the links up on a bias, but he failed and should have added more sausage!  Alas, I’ll keep him around as he’s the best I got, and Polly has taken a liking to him.

Back to the boat, mateys; those shores won’t plunder themselves.  Arr!

 

 

 

 

Kite Hill Mushroom Ricotta Ravioli is a Pirate’s Treasure – MoFo Day 2

Happy Vegan MoFo Day 2! Today we have a special guest blog post for you! Enjoy mates!

Overall Grade: A

 

Ahoy there you landlubbers, Veganswashbuckler here, back for another Vegan cuisine review.  I’ve been out to sea, and it’s good to be back on dry land; while seaweed is delicious and nutritious, and staves away the Scurvy, your captain was getting pretty sick of it.

While sailing the seven seas and plundering the shores of the carcass eaters and fighting the trawlers and whalers, your first mate made a stop by Italy to try out a new, glutiny delight from the almond cheese experts at Kite Hill: their mushroom ricotta ravioli.  A fine meal it was, and it reminded me of what it was like to be a miserable baby cow milk munching scalawag, without all of the feelings of guilt and complicity.

kite-hill-rav-seal

These ravioli are jumbo sized, though 10 in the pack may have left a hungry pirate like me a little unsatisfied.  These are a gourmet treat, mateys, and make sure you bring along a nice side of veggies if you’re planning to share.

As far as taste, I’d say these nuggets were mighty authentic, with a delicate, cheesy filling that was mighty pleasing to me palate.  And for all of my gluten-free first mates, I beseech the good gentlemen and gentlewomen at Kite Hill to try out a version without the wheat.  And if you could do it without raising the price, I won’t make ye walk the plank.  These pockets of pasta bliss will please any Vegan or non-Vegan you may know, and for all the non-Vegans out there, stop lining the pockets of the animal torturers, or I’ll make ye swim with the fishes!  With fine options such as this, no need for you to bellyache about not being able to live without meat.  If your friend the Veganswashbuckler can do it, then shut yer mouth unless yer filling her with cruelty free sustenance.

If you’re wondering how your favorite Vegan pirate had his ravioli, my chef prepared it with an Earth Balance margarine sauce that included mixed mushrooms, spinach, garlic, and red pepper flakes, with a sprinkle of salt, nutritional yeast, dried oregano, and dried sage.  It was enough to make Mario Batali, Giada de Laurentiis, and Chef Boyardee reformed Vegans!  Believe me when I tell you, Chef Boyardee would be pleased to know he’d never have to eat beefaroni again.

Arr!

kitehillplatedravioli

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Happy Cinco de Mayo from Veggie Product Reviews!  It seemed only fitting that today we review a frozen taco.  Yes, a frozen *taco*.  I was going to get another box of Carla Lee’s Nut Balls, and right next door I saw Carla Lee’s Nut Tacos.  I’m easily enticed by anything taco and anything mini, so I picked up a box.  I really wanted to love them. Unfortunately, I just didn’t.

Product: Carla Lee’s Nut Tacos

 

nutTacos

Carla Lee’s Nut Tacos with vegan cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and hot sauce.

 

Overall Grade: C+  These were just ok and probably got the + just because they were so darn cute.  I was also a little annoyed by the fact that I had to use a spoon to push down the filling so there was room for toppings.  This is frozen food, it shouldn’t be that much “work”.  Yes, I know that’s lazy, but when I’m cooking prepared food from the freezer it’s because I’m feeling lazy.

Pros:

  • Small and easy to eat
  • The shells crisped up nicely
  • The shells didn’t crack too badly
  • The tacos were more filling than they look.  Those 4 tiny tacos with the toppings really were enough for dinner for me.
  • I recognize all the ingredients, so no scary stuff

Cons:

  • The filling didn’t get a crisp on it like the nut balls, so even for me it was a little soft
  • They’re a little greasy
  • The shells got super hot (obviously) but by the time they weren’t burning my fingers, the filling wasn’t hot enough
  • The heat level was weird.  It was too hot to be mild, too mild to be hot, too hot with the added hot sauce.  And, I like the flavor of my hot sauce better than the heat here)

Overall, I think the problems I had with the nut tacos could be solved by just selling the taco nut meat as crumbles and letting you cook it on the stove top for your own shells. You’re already doing the toppings anyway.   Or, if they’re really excited about the mini tacos, package the shells to go in the oven and the filling to go on the stove top and let you assemble.

 

 

 

 

 

From the Freezer Case: Carla Lee’s Nut Balls

I finally got around to making zucchini noodles last week and I wanted just the right thing to go with them.  I’ve been eagerly awaiting the Beyond Meat “meatballs”, but I haven’t seen them in stores yet. I did come across these while I was checking for them.

Product: 
Carla Lee’s Nut Balls

 

Carla Lee's Nut Balls #vegan #glutenfree #xgfx

 

Carla Lee's Nut Balls served with Zucchini Noodles and Arugula Pesto #vegprodrev #vegan #glutenfree #xgfx
Carla Lee’s Nut Balls served with Zucchini Noodles and Arugula Pesto

 

 

Overall Grade: B+ I really enjoyed them.  If I were the only consideration, I probably would give them an A.  I knocked it down just a little bit in consideration of our readers who aren’t gluten/soy free like I am.

Pros: 

  • Flavor is savory, but not overpowering to other items on the plate
  • I can pronounce all the ingredients and regularly have them in my kitchen.
  • Gets a nice little crisp on the outside
  • Fewer than 10 minutes from freezer to plate
  • They don’t really require quite as much oil as the directions say.  But do be sure to continue to turn them and not just let them sit on one side for too long.  They’re more likely to stick.

Cons: 

  • A little spendy.  But then I realize that I’m getting 3 servings and they’re natural ingredients and that helps balance this out. (plus, Carla Lee’s website says they give 50% of the net proceeds to feed humanity)
  • The name is a bit misleading. They’re called nut balls, but the first listed ingredient is brown rice.
  • Even though they get a nice crisp on the outside, they’re a little soft.  I foresee this being more of a problem for those of you who eat gluten / soy products.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faux Seafood, A Sophie’s Kitchen Adventure

It’s been a while since we’ve written out reviews. Please forgive us, the reviewers have been up to a lot. Rest assured, we have been testing a lot of products and need to find the time to write them up. Stay tuned for more reviews!

Product: Sophie’s Kitchen- Breaded Vegan Coconut ShrimpBreaded Vegan Coconut Shrimp Box

Vegan Shrimp in a bowl

Overall Grade: C+. I wouldn’t recommend this product to non-vegans and would caution vegans in keeping an open mind before buying or tasting this product. The texture is strange. I don’t remember what shrimp tastes or feels like, but it could also have a strange texture. Either way, this product won’t be a regular on my shopping list.

Pros:

  • It is a breaded seafoodless product. There are not many seafood imitations out there.
  • It is different from the other seafoodless products out there. There are “fish fillets” made by other companies, but this is one of the few products that imitates shrimp.
  • It is easy to cook and doesn’t require anything besides putting the shrimp on a tray in the oven.
  • It is gluten free and soy free.

Cons:

  • It is a seafood imitation product. I think there is a reason there isn’t a lot of faux seafood on the market. Seafood tastes and smells strange to many people and this product has an odd squishy texture.
  • I’ve never had coconut shrimp, but I expected to taste the flavor of coconut. The breading was nice, but I didn’t get much of a coconut taste.
  • It is quite greasy. I prepared it in the toaster oven and didn’t add any oil.
  • In order for it to be tasty, I had to make a vegan mayo based sauce and cover it in the sauce.

 

 

 

 

Like I Need Another Reason to Go to Ikea

I have a problem. I’m slightly addicted to Ikea.  I’ve often said we should have one close by, but I fear if we did my slight addiction would become extreme.

Whenever I’m on the road and am going to be near an Ikea, I try to schedule a stop.  After all, there is so much you can’t through their website (I’m looking at you, cute dishes and throw pillows).

But earlier this year, as if I needed another reason to stop by, Ikea introduced GRÖNSAKSBULLAR, a vegan option in place of their traditional meatballs.  I expected, as in most places that carry faux meat products, to be disappointed by the presence of gluten and soy.  But, no, not here.  In fact, the strength of these veggie balls as that they are just that…a veggie ball.  They aren’t trying to pretend they’re meat.  Their simplicity is their strength.

 

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GRÖNSAKSBULLAR has a firm texture without being chewy, and the little chunks of vegetables allow you to taste some of the individual veggie flavors.  The seasoning is Goldilocks savory…not too bland, not too strong…just right.

And get this, they’re less expensive than the traditional meatballs.  In Woodbridge, VA* a plate of 10 with a sauce and a side is $4.49.

The sauce is like a thin sweet potato chili.  It’s good, but not my favorite.  The side is seasonal vegetables.  On this day, that was a mixture of green peas, (slightly dried out) kidney beans, yellow beats, and green beans.  Again, not my favorite, but I ate most of it.  In fact, I’m a beet hater, and these were edible to me.  I guess I should give Ikea a little credit for that. But, let’s face it, I was only there for the GRÖNSAKSBULLAR.

 

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If you go to try them out, make sure to take a thermal bag if you don’t live close by because they’re available in the food market.  A 2 lb+ bag was $7.99 (again, less expensive than the meat option).  The sauce isn’t available for sale.  I’m ok with that.  I’ve tried them at home with barbecue sauce and with yellow mustard.  So far, I like them best all by themselves. The yellow mustard is currently in 2nd place.

Photo Credit: ikea.com

Photo Credit: ikea.com

 

 

Even if you’re not a huge fan of assembling your own furniture or of those adorable little guest towels, you should swing on into Ikea for a little lunch.

Thanks, Ikea for thinking of us!

 

*The Woodbridge, VA cafe will be closed for the next 3 weeks for remodeling.