Love Bar

Recently, we were contacted by the owner of Love Bar to ask us to provide an honest review of their bars.* I was excited about this review as I have enjoyed their bars for years. I eagerly said yes! They sent me one of each of the flavors to try. I am a creature of habit and have usually purchased the same two flavors, so this was a real treat to get to try the third flavor. They quickly arrived and I got to work sampling. The kiddo tried them as well and was also a huge fan. I will remember this for when we are out and need a quick and healthy snack.

Love Bars

ProductLove Bar- Ginger Spice, Cashew Brownie, and Goji Cocao

Overall Grade: A

Pros:

  • The bars are absolutely delicious! I cannot even pick a favorite between the three. They managed to use the tastiest combination of ingredients in each bar. I am a sucker for brownies, ginger, and goji berries!
  • Each bar only has a handful of ingredients that work well together and are common ingredients. You won’t find anything processed or fake in these bars. They are real food. They do not contain any processed fillers or additives.
  • Their nutritional content is important to me. It offers protein, fiber, healthy fat, and iron.
  • They are certified vegan and gluten free!
  • They are organic!
  • They are made in North Carolina. I live in NC, so I can feel confident in supporting a local, vegan business.
  • I can easily find these bars locally. Do not worry if you are not located in North Carolina, you can check out their store locator and online shop.
  • They have free shipping, if you buy online. That is a great deal!

open barCons:

  • They are about $3.49 a bar, online. That is a bit on the pricey side, but they are worth it because of the pure, unprocessed ingredients.

*Please note that we are happy to try vegan products for an honest review. If you are interested, please contact us.

 

 

 

 

 

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Brad’s Plant Based Crunchy Fruit Kale Chips

When I plan to review a product, it is usually one that I have had several times (or bites) and feel that it is worthy of a blog post. I often come across mediocre food and move on from it forgetting to do a review. Every so often, I come across something so terrible that I feel like I cannot let a single person waste their hard earned money to buy said product. That is where we are today. I am a kale chip fan, even of this brand, but the product at hand today was so disgusting. I plan to come back and review one of their delicious flavors, but you must be informed of this particular flavor and to stay away. Both Julie and I gagged at the smell and taste of this product. We asked two other people to try it who also felt the same way. Then we asked my toddler to give it a try. He actually ate a few and then said he was done. I think he wanted to like them, but just could not. The compost pile is currently eating this snack. You are probably wondering how kale chips could be this bad. Please read on for more information.

kale chip bagProduct: Brad’s Plant Based Crunchy Fruit Kale Chips

Overall Grade: F

Pros:

  • They are healthy. Sure, they taste horrible, but at least they are good for you. And they are gluten free. Maybe this is why people think vegan, gluten free is not palatable.
  • They are a brand I trust, in general, so I will continue to buy their other flavors.kale chipsCons:
  • They smelled putrid. The smell was something like a fruity, earthy, death. I accidentally got a whiff before I took a bite. Big mistake.
  • The taste is…indescribable. I like beets and I like strawberries and I’ve eaten these things together and liked them. I don’t understand why they tasted so bad in this kale chip.
  • They have oats. Normally, that would not be such a bad thing, but I think that contributed to the rank flavor.
  • Whatever price was paid, was too much. Julie, purchased these and I know she thinks that they were not money well spent.
  • These are being sold with other kale chips. These give kale chips a bad name. If I had never had, or made, kale chips and picked these up I would have thought all kale chips were bad.

 

 

 

 

 

Nutrient Dense Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips

Nutrient dense potato chips- say what? That’s all the excuse that I needed to try these chips. The website claims “For Jackson’s Honest, the goal of nutrient density is simple to define: pack the most traditionally nourishing fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into food as possible.” I’m not really sure I buy this claim, but my stomach did so I can eat more chips. Did I eat the whole bag? Yes. Stop gasping! I did it in about three sittings.

 

potato chip bag with seal of approval

Product: Jackson’s honest Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips

 

Overall Grade: The chip itself gets an A because of the crispiness, but the flavor only gets a B. I enjoyed the flavor, but I could barely taste any vinegar. I like my salt and vinegar potato chips to have a lot of vinegar flavor. This product still receives our seal of approval!

Pros:

  • This chip has a lot of crunch! I like that in a chip.
  • Each chip is thick. These aren’t paper think chips, they pack extra thickness and crunch. If you don’t like listening to people chew, don’t eat these chips with them.
  • There were a lot of curly chips. I really enjoy curly chips. I can’t explain why, I just do. They didn’t all look uniform and processed.
  • They had a nice oiliness to them as a chip should.
  • They claim to be nutrient dense and are made with coconut oil instead of other oils.
  • They are organic and non-gmo

Cons:

  • Too small of a bag! The bag was only 5 oz. If you wanted to bring these to a party, you would have to buy a bunch. These are more for yourself. And we won’t judge you if you ate a whole bag in a sitting.
  • They didn’t have a vinegar taste at all. I would like to try another bag in a different flavor to see how the others compare.
  • The bag makes you think you are eating healthy when you are not. Let’s be honest, a fried chip is not healthy. It’s ok though, I don’t eat chips for the health benefits.

 

 

 

Square Bars

I love a good vegan snack bar. Bonus points for it being organic AND gluten free! Square Bars have definitely made it to my favorite list.

IMG_1084

 

Product: Squarebar
Overall Grade: A
Pros: 
  • Delicious! They taste like a less sweet version of a candy bar
  • Organic
  • Gluten-free
  • They have great flavors – the peanut butter and mint are the best
Cons: 
  • On the pricey side ($3 each at the store, however if you order a case on their website and use a coupon code, it can be less than $2 each depending on the sale or coupon code)
  • Not easy to find locally. The only store that I have seen them at is Whole Foods
 IMG_1083

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.

 

 

 

 

 

I Scream. You Scream.

When it comes to ice cream, I am my mother’s daughter.  It doesn’t matter the weather or the time of day.  So, despite the fact that fall is upon us, I picked up a box of the Coconut Bliss Salted Caramel in Chocolate bars.

 

Photo Credit: coconutbliss.com
Photo Credit: coconutbliss.com

 

 

At 5.99 for three, they’re a bit spendy. But, Coconut Bliss has a strong enough rep with me that it didn’t feel like too much of a risk. They did not disappoint:  Smooth. Creamy. Caramelly (with no sticky caramel sauce). Just enough salt to keep it from being coverly sweet. (This is where I depart ways with my mother. She thinks there is no such thing as too sweet).  And how they do all this without a strong coconut flavor is beyond me.

 

The chocolate tastes pretty much like every chocolate covered bar or cone you’ve ever had.  It’s a tiny bit melty from the coconut oil.  So, I got a little smear on my hands, but if you have the foresight to hold it in a napkin, you’re good. They make a great afternoon snack.

 

20151006_143253

 

I may or may not have even eaten one with breakfast.

If you’re a summer-only ice cream eater, file this review away for June because you’re not going to want to miss these.  But, if you’re an all-year ice cream eater, you’re not going to want to wait that long.

 

 

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.

 

20151004_112802

 

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.

 

20151004_112755

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.

A Capitol Idea – Day 27

Who can believe we have less than a week left in Vegan MoFo?  September has flown by!

Today’s MoFo prompt encourages us to tell you about our favorite herb or spice.  This was a super easy decision for me.  Mine is actually an spice/herb mixture called Capitol Hill Seasoning from Savory Spice Shop.

It’s a perfectly savory mixture of dried shallots, salt, pepper, dill, parsley and chives.  As you can see from the photo below, my bottle is well-loved.

 

capitolHill

 

My first use of it was on a cashew and asparagus dish, that Savory Spice Shop adapted and shared on their website.

A couple years later, I’m still finding good ways to use it. I like it stirred into Earth Balance for an herbed “butter.”  It’s good cold for spreading and good  melted for pouring on popcorn.  It’s a good mixture to encrust on tofu (for me, it’s the original variety of Living Harvest’s Hemp Tofu).

 

tofu

 

One of my newest and favorite ways to use it is to make a quick ranch dressing/dip.  I realized that is everything in it that I added to my homemade ranch except for garlic.  So now, I make up an individual serving of dressing by taking a spoonful of soy-free Vegenaise, adding Capitol Hill Seasoning and a little garlic powder to taste, then thin it with water or non-dairy milk.  Quick and easy.

In my spice cabinet, aside from the salt and pepper, this has the most accessible spot.  I don’t foresee it being kicked out anytime soon.  If you haven’t got it in your spice cabinet yet, you might need to remedy that.

 

Making a New Vegan Friend – Day 8

This summer, I made a new vegan friend named Helene.  I actually met her via Facebook through Julie and Amanda.  But, then life went in such a way that we were able to meet in real life at a Train concert.

Helene is kind and passionate about doing things for her community.  She is the organizer of the Triangle Vegfest. The 2nd annual Triangle Vegfest is to be held October 17, 2015 from noon to 5:00pm at Moore Square and City Market in Downtown Raleigh, NC.  I’ve been fortunate to be a volunteer this year and have seen just a little of the hard work that goes into planning an event like this.  I’m so appreciative of Helene and the rest of the crew for putting in so much effort to benefit the community this way.

 

Triangle Vegfest is in Downtown Raleigh, NC on October 17, 2015 Noon-5pm
Triangle Vegfest is in Downtown Raleigh, NC
on October 17, 2015 Noon-5pm

 

Helene was kind enough to grant me an interview amidst all the planning so you can find out more about her and Triangle Vegfest.  There’s even an announcement about Triangle Vegfest that hasn’t been published anywhere else yet.  Thanks for giving us the inside scoop, Helene!

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What inspired you to start a Vegfest in the Triangle area?

Last year I finished my practicum for my masters degree and had about four months off before starting my final semester and full-time internship. I didn’t have enough time to get a job, but wanted to do something with my time. I had thought about creating a Vegfest previously and now with the time and the inclination I decided to see if there was any interest. I set up a volunteer meeting and found there was interest and that the area could really benefit from this type of festival. The Triangle deserves to have something like this. We have an amazing community, which is  incredibly supportive. Triangle Vegfest was born in June of 2014! Why me? I’m crazy enough and organized enough to take on this huge undertaking. I strive to do well and to make this an incredible festival. Triangle Vegfest has changed me. It’s not just about the food. Our festival is about sharing the plant-based lifestyle with our whole community. It’s for all the animals and making sure they have a voice while at the same time our community partaking in a very fun event!

What’s your favorite part of organizing Vegfest?

I continue to be amazed by our community.  I feel the support and the volunteers who help with the festival are amazing.  The support I receive and the happiness others have because of this festival make it worth all the hard work and energy it takes to put it together.  This truly is a collaborative effort!


If an attendee only had one hour to spend at this year’s Vegfest, how would you suggest they spend it?

First, one hour is not enough! Everyone should plan on being at the festival for the whole 5 hours. I’ll announce this here first before anyone else hears it: Plant Pure Nation will be shown after the festival from 7-9pm with a Q&A by Kim and Nelson Campbell. Tickets will be $5 with proceeds going to PPN and TVF. The showing will be in our indoor space: Market Hall. So, if you can only make it for one hour I would say listen to the music, check out all our vendors, and maybe check out one of our many speakers/cooking demos. Seriously though, the festival is set up in a way where you can be busy for the full five plus hours.  (Dawn’s note: I completely agree that an hour is not enough)


What’s the one question you’d love to answer about Vegfest that never gets asked?  And what’s the answer to that question?

This is a great question, which I don’t know if I have an answer. Why do I do something that doesn’t pay me any income and takes up so much of my time? This is my passion. This is my baby. I will continue to help it grow and turn TVF into the best vegan festival around. TVF is a non-profit so this also affords me the opportunity to do outreach and fundraising, which in turn helps others in our community. This is just the way I am, which is why I’m probably one of the best people to take it on.


What is your favorite veggie product? It can be something new or an old standby.

There are SO many veggie products I love. Hmm, Just Mayo is a favorite. I take a jar that is half full and turn it into an agave mustard salad dressing. It’s yummy. Go Max Go vegan gluten free candy bars are to die for. Local favorites: Ada’s Cupcakes and Joie de Vegan cakes/tarts are amazing as well.

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It’s so been so exciting to see the growth of Triangle Vegfest.  One thing that’s changed this year is that there will be some national vendors.  One such vendor is Hope Foods out of Boulder, CO.

If you haven’t heard of Hope Foods, check them out.  They use organic ingredients and a high pressure process that allows them to package their hummus and superfood dips without heat or artificial ingredients.

 

Hope Dark Chocolate Spread
Hope Dark Chocolate Spread

 

So far, I’ve only tried the Dark Chocolate dip and it is amazing.  It is made up primarily of chickpeas, cocoa and cane sugar.  There is a bit of a chickpea texture to it, but I don’t find it off-putting at all.  The chocolate is dark and rich without being super sweet. I’ve tried it on grapes, apples, and strawberries.  It’s delicious on all, but the strawberries were my favorite.  It makes sense. After all, they have a picture of a strawberry right on the package.

 

Hope Dark Chocolate spread with Strawberries
Hope Dark Chocolate spread with Strawberries

 

I’m looking forward to visiting the Hope Foods booth at this year’s Triangle Vegfest and I hope you’ll join me!