No Whey! Truffles

Those who know me well, know that I am a no presents type of gal for holidays. Every holiday, I remind my husband that I do not want anything. He loves to get me gifts, but I generally return them to the store. He usually bugs me for something that he can get me and I usually have the same answer- nothing. Before Mother’s Day, I knew he was itching to get me something so I sent him an email with information about a sale from No Whey. Sure enough, on Mother’s Day I received a big box of truffles. I rationed them to one per day and had a nice sweet treat for several weeks, until the box was gone. I even offered to share with him, but he said they were mine. I gave him one and enjoyed the rest. If he is reading this, I hope he gets from it that I would accept truffles, or any sweet treat, from No Whey for any holiday!

truffle box

Product: Signature Truffle Collection, No Whey! Foods

Overall Grade: A

Pros:

  • They are made using a vegan milk chocolate and are the closest to dairy milk chocolate that I have had.
  • The truffle flavors were fun. My box came with the following: “milk” fudge, coffee, grand marnier, raspberry, and salted caramel truffles.
  • The truffles were delicious! I enjoyed getting a box with a variety of flavors. I am not usually a fan of white chocolate, but I liked the grand marnier one that was covered in white chocolate.
  • The company is vegan!
  • All of the products are 100% Milk Free, Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Gluten Free, Egg Free, Soy Free! Free of the common eight allergens.
  • No Artificial Colors and Flavors Free of the common eight allergens!
  • The company is Kosher.
  • If you sign up for the email list, you are notified of sales and holiday candy.
  • They have a great selection of candy for each holiday. This is helpful when trying to find candy for Easter and Halloween.
  • The pricing for the truffles seems in line with other high-quality truffles.

 salted caramel truffle

Cons:

  • The truffles have to be ordered online. I am able to find one product in a local store (No No’s), but all others need to be ordered online. I have a vegan son and I would like to be able to go out and buy this candy locally for holidays or for an occasional treat.
  • While the truffle price seems to be reasonable, some of the other candies are a bit pricy- especially with shipping. I don’t mind this for special occasions, but I really wish vegan candy was not so expensive. I would like to buy this for my family for all holidays.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

Skinnypop White Cheddar Popcorn Cakes

If you live in the United States, Happy 4th of July! Today I wanted to highlight a snack that might be good to serve at your holiday picnic or travels. I came across Skinnypop White Cheddar Popcorn cakes and when I see a vegan white cheddar product, I scoop it up! This was one of my favorite flavors as a vegetarian. As a vegan, I am excited to see more products popping up that are cheddar flavor.

Skinnypop box

Overall Grade: A

Product: Skinnypop White Cheddar Popcorn Cakes

Pros:

  • The white cheddar flavor is spot on, it was the cheesy flavor that I remember from my vegetarian days.
  • Vegan cheddar flavor! I’m always looking for this flavor in a vegan snack!
  • They are 45 calories per cake, making for a light snack.
  • The cakes are made of popcorn, not rice. There is nothing wrong with a ricecake, but this is a bit more exciting!
  • Skinnypop brand products are available in both health food stores and non-health food stores such as Food Lion, Walgreens, Harris Teeter, Walmart, CVS, Lowes Foods, and Kroger.

Cons:

  • The cakes were a little on the firm side, almost stale tasting. I enjoyed it, but my husband was not a fan.
  • There are 12 cakes to a package and two to a plastic sleeve. They don’t last long!

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

FRIES!!! – Vegan MoFo Day 30

As MoFo comes to a close, we’d like to bring you something really, really good. Fries, anyone? Fries that are healthy and contain veggies, but still are fries? Meet your new best friend – Veggie Fries.

 

veggie-fries-seal

 

Product: Veggie Fries

Grade: A+

Pros:

  • Crispy and fluffy!
  • They really resemble french fries
  • There are 4 different flavors. The chickpea, red pepper & potato flavor is my favorite, but the other flavors (carrot & potato, broccoli & potato, and kale, tuscan bean & potato) are also yummy
  • Non GMO
  • Gluten and soy free
  • Easy to make – just pop them in the oven for 20 mins.
  • Low in fat and sodium
  • Each 3 oz serving includes 2 servings of veggies and 3 g of protein (one bag contains 14 oz of fries)
  • Their great nutrition profile makes them guilt -free!

Cons:

  • These could be considered pricey at $4.99 per bag (Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Harris Teeter). Considering the quality and convenience that you’re getting, I don’t think this is unreasonable. I am sometimes able to find them on sale, which gives me a good reason to stock my freezer.