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.

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!

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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 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

 

20160929_172422

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.

 

 

 

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.