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.

 

 

 

Not Your Parents Tofu Scramble (Microwave), Vegan MoFo Day 26

Last year for MoFo you might remember that we posted about The Vegg’s egg scramble product. Since then they have come up with an updated version of that product called “Not Your Parents’ Tofu Scramble”. The creator of The Vegg contacted us to ask us to provide a review the microwave version of the “Not Your Parents’ Tofu Scramble”.* I loved the old product, but it had complicated directions and it is no longer on the market. The title of the new product is a little confusing. It is an “egg” scramble. It is not a tofu scramble where you use a block of tofu. Confusion of the name aside, this product seems to imitate scrambled eggs quite well. As you can see by the pictures, it looks like scrambled eggs. The directions were very simple. Mix with water, place on a plate, microwave, push curds around, and then microwave more. You might remember that Follow Your Heart has a vegan egg scramble out as well that we reviewed during Day 1 of MoFo 2016. I am a huge fan of The Vegg because they were the first company to come out with a vegan egg yolk that has a wonderful taste and is easy to use.

5 oz package with seal

Product: Not Your Parents Tofu Scramble by The Vegg (Microwave Version)

Overall GradeA

plate with cooked NYPT scramble
Breakfast: GF O’Doughs bagel, Tofutti Cream Cheese, The Vegg Not Your Parents Tofu Scramble, and a SoL patty

Pros:

  • This product has 22g of protein per serving. Move over eggs from a chicken’s butt, this is some serious proteinage!
  • The product has 15% of your daily needs of iron and 20% of your daily needs of B12. The Vegg really took an opportunity to make this product more nutritional than the Follow Your Heart vegan egg.
  • There is NO cholesterol!!
  • The instructions are easy. No stove necessary, just a microwave.
  • The product is able to be made on the stove or in the microwave. Options are good.
  • The products is certified Kosher.
  • I don’t have to add any vegan milks to make this product high in protein. I’ll mention it again…….22 g of protein
  • The product easily makes curds that have a feel just like an egg in your mouth and look like scrambled eggs on your plate. Texture and look of this product is spot on.
  • It is gluten free! It is made in a facility with wheat though.
  • This product is toddler approved! My son loved it.
  • This made us feel like we were eating a plate of scrambled eggs. I’ve often missed that as a vegan and am glad to have this back in my life. I like being able to whip up some vegan eggs on a weekend. And since this is so easy, I can do it during the week too!
Whisked with water, ready to go into the microwave.

Cons:

  • Currently the 5 oz version is sold on The Vegg’s website for $9.59 (plus shipping and tax).  This product is not cheap. A carton of eggs is much cheaper.
  • The current products are mostly available online only. This isn’t for lack of trying on the part of The Vegg. I’d love to see this product on store shelves some day.
  • Without adding black salt, pepper, and other seasonings this product is quite bland. It didn’t have that much of an egg taste. I was able to easily remedy this with seasonings.
  • This product contains soy, which would be a con for people who need to avoid soy.
  • This product isn’t as versatile as it’s competitor at Follow Your Heart. It can only do scrambled eggs. It doesn’t seem to be able to be used for an omelette or quiche. The good news is that I think there are plans on the horizon for a product that makes an omelette. We hope to review that product when available.
NYPTS in microwave
After being microwaved for a few minutes. The curds are starting to form.

 

*We are willing to review any vegan product in exchange for an honest review from a member from our review team.

 

 

Dandies Marshmallows, Vegan MoFo Day 24

Happy Vegan Thanksgiving to those of you who live in the United States. I’m thankful for many things today, one of them being all of you! I really only love this holiday for one reason, it means that I can start decorating for Christmas at the end of day! I love Christmas decorations, carols, music, lights, and holiday inspired food. When it gets chilly, I start craving a nightly cup of homemade hot chocolate. You are in for a treat today because I’ll be sharing a recipe of mine along with a product review. It’s a holiday gift from me to you! As I decorate the tree tonight with my husband as my son is nestled in bed (no one wants a toddler’s help decorating), I’ll have a mug of piping hot chocolate in my hand adorned with a white fluffy vegan marshmallow or two….or three!

marshmallow bag with seal

Please enjoy this recipe that I’ve adapted from my mostly abandoned personal blog from a Vegan MoFo post from 2012.

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

  • 1 cup of almond, soy, rice or coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 tbsp vegan chocolate chips
  • 3 1/2 tbsp natural peanut butter (my tablespoons were not rounded, so feel free to go over this amount)
  • 2 or more of Dandies vegan marshmallows

Place all of the ingredients into aVitamix, or high powered blender and blend for 4 minutes or until steam comes out of the top of the lid. Check for desired heat level and blend more or pour into a mug and enjoy! You can also make this on the stove, but you will need to whisk like crazy to break up the peanut butter and incorporate into the hot chocolate.

Product: Dandies all natural vegan vanilla marshmallows

Overall Grade: A+

Pros:

  • This tastes exactly like I remember marshmallows tasting. I want to make a bonfire and make s’mores and sing camp songs!
  • They are fluffy and delicious.
  • They can be eaten straight out of the bag or in your favorite warm beverage.
  • They are made will all natural ingredients. All things that you can pronounce and no corn sryup: Tapioca Syrup, Cane Sugar, Filtered Water, Tapioca Starch, Carrageenan, Soy Protein, Natural Vanilla Flavor. (See cons regarding one of the ingredients).
  • They are gelatin free!
  • They are gluten free!
  • They are free from most of the common allergens: peanut, tree nut, milk, egg, wheat, fish, shellfish, and corn.
  • They are sold as large and small marshmallows.

Cons:

  • They contain carrageenan. This doesn’t bother me, but some people wish to avoid this ingredient.
  • They are not soy free, for those of you who wish to avoid soy.
  • I’ve only seen them at Whole Foods and our Co-op locally. I hope they become more widely available. If you can’t find them in stores, you can buy them online.
  • They seem to range from $4.50-$5.50. This is a lot more than gelatin containing marshmallows.

 

 

 

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.