Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chik'n Strips

I've really come to enjoy most of Morning Star Farm's vegan products. Their Meal Starters Steak Strips are among my favorite meat substitutes and their Meal Starters Grillers Recipe Crumbles are almost always in my freezer.

For some reason I've just never gotten around to trying their Morning Star Meal Starters Chik'n Strips until now. They are an excellent source of protein with 23 grams per serving. Plus, each serving has only 3.5 grams of fat and 140 calories. I'm not as thrilled about the 510mg sodium, but there is a whole list of vitamins including 4% of the daily recommendation for calcium, 30% thiamin, 35% niacin, 30% vitamin B12, 6% magnesium, 30% iron, 15% riboflavin, 20% vitamin B6, 8% pantothenic acid and 30% zinc. Since iron and B vitamins are sometimes a challenge in vegan and vegetarian diets, I was particularly happy to see how much each serving of this meat alternative had to offer.

Click here to read my full Morning Star Farms Meal Starters Chik'n Strips Product Review.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gardenburger BBQ Riblets Product Review

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Gardenburger BBQ Riblets. Ok, so now you know how I feel about them, so maybe you don't really need to read the full review, but here is some info on these vegan vittles:

Gardenburger BBQ Riblets are veggie riblets made with all natural ingredients. Each serving has 18 grams of protein, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 3.5 grams of fat, 810 grams of sodium, 580 grams of potassium, 24 grams of sugar, 220 calories, 10% of the recommended daily intake of calcium and 15% of the recommended daily intake of iron. I'm not thrilled about the sodium or the sugar content, but the protein, fiber, calcium and iron are great additions to a healthy vegan or vegetarian meal.

I have served these mini meatless ribs with both rice and vegetables and baked potatoes and vegetables, and received rave reviews on each. These savory, delicious rib substitutes are smothered in barbecue sauce and pull apart easily. They are not chewy or weird like some meat alternatives can be and they truly are de-lish.

For more info and serving suggestions, click here.

Product Review: Nasoya Original Vegi-Based Sandwich Spread by Vitasoy

Here is the first paragraph from my recently published product review for Nasoya Original Vegi-Based Sandwich Spread...

I have always been a huge fan of Vegenaise made by Follow Your Heart. Up until now, Vegenaise is the only vegan sandwich spread or mayonnaise substitute that I have used for sandwiches, coleslaw, potato salad and tofu salad (think egg salad with tofu instead of eggs). But, alas, on my last trip to the grocery store it was out of stock, so I decided to give another vegan mayonnaise substitute a try. There weren't many options, but I found Nasoya Original Vegi-Based Spread in the natural foods section and tossed it in my cart to give it a go.

Click here to read the full review.

Gardenburger Garden Vegan Veggie Patties Product Review

Gardenburger has long been a mainstay on the vegan and vegetarian scene. From the original Gardenburger to the array of meatless fare they offer today, over the years Gardenburger has become a household name known for serving up delicious meat alternatives of both the burger and non-burger variety.

So, naturally, as soon as I see a vegan Gardenburger product that I haven't tried, I immediately have to remedy the situation. When I spotted Gardenburger Garden Vegan Veggie Patties at my local Fred Meyer, I snapped them up and headed home to make veggie burgers and garlic fries for dinner.

Click here to read my full review of Gardenburger's Garden Vegan Veggie Patties.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I like my wine blood- and fish gut-free...

I don't know, that's just the kind of girl I am. When I'm indulging in an occasional glass of wine, I'm just not looking for that extra hint of bull's blood, egg albumen, casein or ground up tendons -- but hey, that's just me.

Sure, wine is mostly grapes with a bit of yeast and some sulfites thrown in, but did you know that the winemaking process also includes something called finings, which are most often made from fish, shrimp, ground up tendons and even blood? For most wine drinkers, this may not be an issue, but for the vegan or vegetarian consumer, this is a big no-no.

Most winemakers use animal-derived finings (even though non-animal finings are available and work great) and they do not have to put this information on the label. Therefore, you need to consult a vegan wine guide before you go wine shopping, since you won't be able to determine which is suitable for you once you are at the store.

Click here to read more about the non-vegan finings used by most winemakers and to find out where you can buy vegan wine.

Click here to get the printable Pocket Vegan Wine Guide from Vegans are from Mars.

And, a quick note on champagne - popular brands Dom Perignon and Moet & Chandon are both vegan and are sold anywhere that champagne is sold.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

On the topic of breakfast...

Since I just posted about the wonders of Tofu Scrambler, I thought I should also add a post about Soyrizo (vegan version of chorizo sausage), which is a perfect complement to Tofu Scrambler, among other things. Soyrizo is really, really good. It's definitely one of my favorite meat alternatives and adds a great spicy flavor to any dish you use it in. It's great for chili, to serve with scrambled tofu (or eggs for you vegetarians)and I can't wait to try it in pasta sauce.

For cooking tips and my complete product review, click the link below.

Vegan Product Review: Soyrizo

Tofu Scrambler: Product Review and Cooking Tips

Tofu Scrambler rocks. I used to make scrambled tofu with all sorts of different spices and additions and sometimes I loved it, sometimes not so much. But now that I've found Tofu Scrambler it is always in my kitchen and I use it every time I make scrambled tofu, regardless of what other spices, veggies and whatnot I mix in as well. It's just a little seasoning packet, but oh what a seasoning packet it is. It's a great base for any scrambled tofu dish you want to whip up and I definitely recommend it!

Tofu Scrambler: Product Review and Cooking Tips

Vegan Dining and Shopping in Wilmington, North Carolina

I used to live in Wilmington, NC and finding vegan - or even vegetarian - food at restaurants and grocery stores was a bit of a challenge, to say the least. But, while I was there I compiled a list of places where even vegans can find tasty dishes and fill up their pantries with vegan vittles.

Here are links to my lists so that you too can be a happy vegan while visiting - or living in - Wilmington.

Vegan and Vegetarian Dining in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Vegan and Vegetarian Grocery Shopping in Wilmington, North Carolina.

The Best Places to Find Vegan Fare in Seattle

Folks who live in and around Seattle, Washington are lucky to be in an area with so many vegan and vegetarian dining options. I've only been able to check out a few restaurants so far, but will be writing restaurant reviews for each of them as I get around to it. My favorite so far is Pizza Pi in the U District. If you ever find yourself in Seattle you absolutely must try their spinach artichoke dip and their kick ass vegan pizzas.

For some other Seattle vegan eateries, click here.

Vegan Kebabs for the Grill

Colder weather is on its way and, here near Seattle, we will soon be having more rainy days than sunny ones. But, in the meantime, we can still try to squeeze in some warmer weather barbecues before the rain and snow tries to keep us indoors for the winter. Fortunately, patios, indoor grills and just plain gumption will keep some of grilling indoors or outdoors all year long.

I love grilling Tofurkey Italian Sausages and veggie burgers on the grill, but no BBQ is complete without vegetable and tofu kebabs.

I love huge chunks of onion and garlic mixed with peppers, tofu and mushrooms on my vegan kebabs, but click here for more fun vegan kebab ideas.

Miss Mavyn's Meatless "Meat"loaf

There are lots of recipes online for meatless meatloaf but - much to my dismay - every time I've tried one, I haven't liked the outcome. So, starting from the basics in the recipes I found online, I came up with my own that isn't too crumbly, too mushy or too anything else that those other recipes were. I have tried it using vegan burger crumbles made by Morning Star Farms and Boca and both have worked similarly.

I haven't had the chance yet, but I really want to try it with Gimme Lean's ground burger and their sausage style, which I think will be totally de-lish.

Click here for my meatless meatloaf recipe, and definitely let me know how it turns out if you try making it with Gimme Lean before I do!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cheers to Vegan Beers!

Water, grain, malt, hops and yeast may not be the only ingredients used in the production of your favorite brew. Did you know that the process might also include animal-derived products such as glycerin, casein, isinglass or even bugs? Many breweries use animal products as fining (clarifying) agents, foaming agents, coloring and flavoring, which means that their beers are not suitable for vegans, or most vegetarians.

If you are sipping a pint from Germany, the U.S. or Belgium, you might be safe since most of their beers are vegan, but if you are in a pub in the UK, well...you might be getting pissed with a pint filtered with fish guts. I don't know about you, but I like my beer fish gut-free and I don't want any of that other animal-derived nastiness used in the brewing process either!

Find out more about vegan beer and where to find it by reading, Vegan Beer: Who Makes it and Where to Find it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Give me butter, or give me death

I was vegetarian for almost 20 years before I completely gave up dairy and eggs. Some dairy was really easy to give up, particularly since I'm lactose intolerant and had already limited my dairy intake quite a bit, but other things - like butter and cheese - were harder for me. I missed cheese A LOT at first and even had a couple of days when I wasn't sure I could live long term without some of my old favorites -- bagels with goat cheese and walnuts, cheese and veggie omelets, grilled cheese sandwiches, havarti on crackers...even nachos and pizza were on my mind on those days. But, believe it or not, the craving really does go away and I don't miss cheese AT ALL now. Of course, knowing how it's made and what the animals go through to provide the milk helps quite a bit as well.

Now, as for butter, well that's a different story. Of course, mind you, I wouldn't eat dairy butter for the same reasons I don't eat dairy cheese or other animal products, but I did miss the taste just about every day until recently. I made do without butter in my recipes and everyday cooking and I was getting along okay, but then I came across Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread and my vegan butter prayers were answered.

It isn't perfect for frying because of the low fat content, but it melts like a dream on biscuits, baked potatoes or pancakes and I have never had a problem baking with it.

If you decide to run out and get some of your own, keep in mind that only the light version is vegan. The regular Smart Balance Buttery Spread is vegetarian, but not vegan. (On a side note, I've heard that the regular version is better for frying and cooking for you vegetarians out there).

To read more about my experience with Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread and why I love it, click here.

Yves Meatless Deli Slices

I love Yves Meatless Deli Slices and they are a lifesaver when it comes to making hearty, meat-free lunches for my partner to take to work. If you haven't tried them yet, I highly recommend the meatless salami, which is definitely our fave. I usually throw them on a sandwich with some Vegenaise, mustard and lettuce or spinach, but they are even tastier in a wrap made with flat bread.

Yves' Meatless Pepperoni is another one of my faves - it's great on pizza, but it adds a great flavor for a sandwich or wrap as well.

If you aren't sure that you will love them, you can read more about each one by clicking on these links:

Yves Meatless Deli Turkey
Yves Meatless Deli Bologna
Yves Meatless Deli Salami
Yves Meatless Pepperoni