Product Review: Regal Vegan’s Basilcotta! »
As I announced on Twitter last night, look what I came upon at Union Market last night! Basilcotta: Regal Vegan’s basil cashew ricotta-style spread. You know I’m obsessed with their Faux Gras so I had to buy this immediately.
My official verdict: very yummy! It’s not as amazing and addictive as the Faux Gras, but really, what is? “Basilcotta” is pretty much the perfect name—that’s what it tastes like: ricotta mixed with basil. I just ate it on bread and it was creamy and good. I would love to have it in some pasta shells! I will try to get it together to do that and let you know how it turns out. Maybe I can mail some to Jenny and make her do it for us!
It’s not on their site yet but hopefully it will be soon and then hopefully you’ll be able to order it like you can the Faux Gras. Does anyone on the west coast carry Regal Vegan? They need to!
Product Review: Nutty Bean Chick Pz! »
Clockwise from the left: Vanilla Chai, Sesame Crunch, and Sweet and Spicy Chipotle.
Hello, friends! Here I am with another product review! This time we have some healthy snack food: Nutty Bean Chick Pz. These are flavored roasted chickpeas. All flavors but the Honey Roasted are vegan. I tried the Chai Vanilla, Sesame Crunch, Sea Salt, and the Sweet and Spicy Chipotle (for those following along at home, that’s all but the Honey Roasted and BBQ). Nutty Bean sent me these flavors to try for free and now I will tell you all about them.
I’ve actually seen roasted chickpeas before; I used to go to the Italian festival in New Jersey every year (which I highly recommend—except for the cannoli eating contest; whatever you do, don’t watch the cannoli eating contest! You will vom!) and they had them in big burlap sacks. Haven’t seen them since then. I always thought it was a good idea though, seems like a healthy snack idea.
So, in brief: they are a bit weird…AND I love them. The weird part is the texture. They are crunchy at first—kind of like wasabi peas or something—but then when you bite into them, they have a kind of dusty texture? I think dusty is the best description. But I think you get used to it and then you can enjoy them with reckless abandon!
The really cool thing is that these are super healthy. If they were bad for you and had the unfamiliar texture, I might not be into them. But I think the health factor makes it a good gamble. There are two servings per package (a good size!) and each serving has 4 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and only 1.5 grams of fat. It also has 10% of your daily iron, so that’s nice. And a little shot of calcium to boot.
My favorite-favorite flavor is the Sweet and Spicy Chipotle. Yummy! It rules. I’m kind of a nancy about spice so these are a little too hot for me. My solution was to eat like four, then eat a handful of sea salt ones to relieve the spice. Funny Megan! But it worked great.
I didn’t like the Sesame Crunch that much; I think you would definitely like that flavor if you like those little sesame sticks they always sell in bulk candy sections. You know the ones? My mom used to buy those for us when we were hippies. I was never that into them. But if you were, this is your flavor.
As for the Vanilla Chai, I thought I wouldn’t like them because sometimes chai is über-sweet. But to my surprise, this was my second favorite flavor! Not too sweet but nice and cinnamon-clovey. Definitely yum and a nice sweet treat that’s not too sweet.
That’s the other good thing besides the health: these hit the spot. If you want a little touch of sweetness, you got it; if you want something salty, boom. And you can feel like you are doing something good for your body because of the iron, fiber, and protein! So it’s really a great snack option. I officially recommend!
Guest Product Review: Good Greens: Superfood Nutrition Bars That Taste Like Candy! »
Good Greens low-glycemic gluten-free vegan bars, which boast 40 antioxidants, 10g protein, Omega 3’s, are low-glycemic, and are free from animal products, could taste like chalk and still get a nod of favor in my direction, because I love supplements so hard. These bars boast some of the fanciest and hyped ingredients in the natural health/vegan world, including mesquite, nori, mangosteen, probiotics, flax, aloe vera, chia seed, mulberry, bilberry, broccoli sprout powder, Nova Scotia Dulse (can we please make this the trendy new lox substitute? Yay Jewish vegan pride!), golden berries, alfalfa sprout powder, beet juice powder, wheat sprout powder, cha de Bugre, Siberian Eleuthero Root Extract, DHA, green tea extract, camu powder, pine bark extract, macs, lucuma, chlorella, and spirulina all grace each label of these superfood-packed bars.
With such a crazy A-list of superfoods, there’s very high risk for flavor failure. It’s like those star-studded ensemble cast movies which have such glorious talent but as a whole miss the mark: Paris Je T’aime, New York, I Love You, New Year’s Eve, etc. (Note: These films certainly had redeeming qualities, so if you love them please excuse this analogy!)
Taste may not be the primary concern for vegan health freaks (myself included!) but Good Greens bars unabashedly shoot for mass appeal. They even have a code to scan with your smartphone to learn more about the products! Can you just imagine a bunch of people scanning these on BART? I (s)can!
While a lot of so-called nutrition bars fail badly when they try to cram so many insanely powerful nutriceuticals (or else are seriously effing unethical and won’t disclose whether they source their cacao from places that use child slavery—F you, CLIF!), Good Greens decided to rise above and make bars that are completely ethical and INSANELY DELICIOUS. I shit you not, these are like CANDY! So how do Good Bars orchestrate a symphony of superfoods without creating sheer mouth cococphany?
Actually, it’s pretty simple: chocolate! Nearly every flavor of these bars includes dairy free dark chocolate as the first ingredient. It turns out, dark chocolate is the great equalizer when it comes to flavor-balancing. These bars are sweetened with healthful ingredients but you’d swear otherwise. The chocolate peanut butter, chocolate raspberry, and chocolate coconut flavors will inspire you to break dance in your “Pigs are Friends Not Food” underwear until you hit your target heart rate!
Good Greens, which sent me free samples of each flavor, are available in health food stores and online.
This is Vegansaurus raw correspondent Sarah E. Brown’s latest post! Read more by Sarah on Vegansaurus, and visit her personal blog, Queer Vegan Food.
Vegan Pâté throw-down! »
What up, thugs! Welcome to the vegan pâté throw-down! If you recall, once upon a time I sang the praises of Faux Gras; well recently I noticed that the Carroll Gardens Union Market had a new vegan faux-pâté, Nanny’s Vegetarian Chopped Liver. Obviously I had to try it! I’d also seen this Vegan Terrine stuff by Trois Petits Cochons and thought I ought to try that too—so here we are! Throw-down.
From left to right: Faux Gras, Vegan Terrine, and Vegetarian Chopped Liver.
The Faux Gras was as good as ever. I truly love the stuff. It’s sweet and savory and yummy! The veggie chopped liver looks very similar, and it actually tastes pretty similar, but it’s more meaty-flavored. With the Faux Gras, it’s awesome but I don’t think it’s trying very hard to taste like meat. I don’t mind that at all (actually I prefer it) but if you really loved meat pâté in your omni days, you may enjoy the chopped liver more. But for some reason the chopped liver is like $2 more than the Faux Gras. Not sure why.
The vegan terrine is…not so great. It tastes like pickled green beans maybe? Kind of? Or mashed peas mixed with olives? Maybe that’s what terrine is supposed to be like but I just really didn’t like it. But if you want something low in fat and calories, this is your best option. The Faux Gras and chopped liver are both pretty high in fat but it’s totes that healthy fat from walnuts and whatnot.
So the winner is Faux Gras! Nanny’s is a close second and Trois Petits Cochons falls last. Those are the breaks, my friends. Throw-downs aren’t pretty! But they are so very tasty.
Product Review: Benecos makeup and True Natural self tanner! »
Hey, pals! Here I am, back with another makeup review. The company this time is Benecos by loveTrueNatural. Not everything is vegan but the line is all natural and never tested on animals. The descriptions clearly state if a product is vegan. Of course, all the stuff I tried is vegan! Adoy.
Yes so they sent me a couple of vegan products to try for free. The first thing I tried is the loose mineral powder. I love this stuff! It comes with it’s own poof so I like to keep it in my purse to powder my nose on occasion. I got it in “light” and it was a little bit too light for me, but still great. It offers a lot of coverage, it’s not a sheer powder.
As you can see, the eyeshadow colors are very light and natural-looking. They go on great and blend well. I think I could have put more color on but I think it’d still be very sheer and natural looking. So if that’s the style you want, this is for you. You’ll have to look elsewhere for something more dramatic. I liked that the brow pencil has it’s own little brush but the pencil wasn’t subtle enough for me. I have pretty dark brows though so I don’t usually use an eyebrow pencil.
I also tried the True Natural self tanner. Self tanner always makes me nervous but this was pretty good. I just had a subtle tan the next day so it wasn’t like some cray orange. I did have some streaking by my feet but I think I applied it unevenly, so just be mindful of that.
All in all, great products! If you want organic makeup for a subtle, natural look, Benecos is for you. And if you’ve been looking to dabble in self tanner, I’d give this a shot. It’s not dramatic but if you don’t want to be a pasty ghost, this will help. That’s all for today!
Product Review: Nutty Cow Vegan Ricotta! »
Now, I don’t know what’s on the market these days in terms of vegan ricotta, but it doesn’t matter. I just tried Nutty Cow’s ricotta, and it’s all that exists to me.
I hate to admit this, but I really wasn’t sure what to expect when Carla of Nutty Cow approached us to sample this product. Vegan cheeses are sometimes great, but most of the time, kind of weird. However, I could tell I was going to like their cheese when it arrived in the mail just by the packaging—the logo is so well done!
Being hungry and impatient, I opened one of the three containers immediately and ate it with crackers.
I realized then that this wasn’t just any vegan cheese product. It was special. And though it’s made with nuts, the texture is so soft and creamy! I knew I’d have to hold back on the remaining two packages and make something incredible.
Carla suggested I make lasagna, which is a dish I haven’t made in 10 years! I was like, “all right,” but really I was just going to lazily spread it over Whole Foods spinach Florentine raviolis. Then I got inspired to fill large pasta shells with the cheese and bake it with my winning combo of spinach, mushrooms, garlic and caramelized onions. Fate was on Carla’s side, as I couldn’t find the shells I wanted at the store. Lasagna it was gonna be.
Boy, am I glad I made lasagna.
Nutty Cow Ricotta made this lasagna. I should not have indulged in cheese and crackers earlier in the week so that I could have topped my dinner with the ricotta—or at least added another layer to the lasagna! Oh, well. The ricotta was so creamy and delicious! My roommates and I loved it, one of my roommates being a new vegetarian and the other an omnivore. It’s awesome when my omni friends and family like vegan products as much as I do.
"Where can I get this Nutty Cheese?" you ask? Carla says, "We are so excited to be launching next month (fingers crossed), September at the latest. It will be available at Veganessentials.com [a Vegansaurus supporter!] and several stores in the Midwest (so far). We will be announcing stores as it becomes ‘official’ in the next few weeks on our FB page and have been encouraging everyone to ‘like’ us or at least check in on the page to see where we will be available. Also, we will be at Expo East in September in Baltimore and hope to have wider distribution after the show.” So there you have it!
*I find that the attention to detail in the artwork usually means a superior (albeit sometimes more expensive) product. This is not always true, and graphic designers DO NOT COME CHEAP.
Update: NuTru’s O-Mega-Zen + EPA supplement »
If you recall, our Sarah E. Brown reviewed NuTru’s O-Mega-Zen + EPA, a “vegan source of high-purity algae derived Omega-3 DHA and EPA.” She totally thought it was great, she just thought it tasted “like hell.” That Sarah, so spirited! Well, it turns out she was sent a version that’s no longer on the market, so NuTru sent her the current product to try. Here’s her updated assessment:
"The new, improved, product that is currently the only one available tastes like a faintly sweet vegetable-derived gel cap, which is exactly what it is. I am happy to report no fishy algae taste leaked into my mouthfeel experience whatsoever. The product is indeed as pleasing to the palate as it is to the body.”
There you have it! I’ve heard about this algae-derived omega, supposed to be just as good as icky fish supplements because algae is where the fish get the omegas in the first place! So now you can tell those “but humans are supposed to eat fish” people that they can suck algae.
Product Review: Nutty Cow Nut Cheese »
Hey guys! There’s a new nut cheese on the market! Nutty Cow sent me samples of their nut cheeses and now I will tell you about them. My verdict: pretty good. It’s not Punk Rawk Labs but what is? Just Punk Rawk Labs. But this is more of a shmear than a cheese-cheese.
OK, I tried the garlic and herb on some wheat-thin-like crackers, it was very good. But I think it’s more of a bagel spread. Definitely a good cream cheese alternative! It’s nice and tangy like cream cheese should be. And the herbs are yum. And the herbs are plentiful, which I like.
I tried the maple pecan on an english muffin and it wasn’t sweet like I was expecting. Tangy, but maple-y and pecan-y. I recommend it on a bagel again. What kind of bagel would you put it on? I’m thinking cinnamon raisin!
Now, I haven’t had the chance to try the ricotta yet but they have some awesome looking recipes on their site. I’ve heard the Tofutti ricotta is not so good so I’m pretty curious about this one. If anyone gets a chance to try it, let me know what you think.
I couldn’t find the ingredients on their site so here they are because I know you guys like that kind of thing:
Non-GMO Soybeans, Filtered Water, Raw Cashews, Lemon Juice, Expeller-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grade A Maple Syrup, Fresh Basil, Salt, Natural Nigari (seawater extract), Cultured Dextrose (vegan)
Non-GMO Soybeans, Filtered Water, Onions, Raw Cashews, Sulfite-Free Balsamic Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Expeller-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grade A Maple Syrup, Salt, Garlic, Fresh Basil, Natural Nigari (seawater extract), Cultured Dextrose (vegan), Spices
Non-GMO Soybeans, Filtered Water, Raw Cashews, Grade A Maple Syrup, Raw Pecans, Lemon Juice, Expeller-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Fresh Basil, Salt, Natural Nigari (seawater extract), Cultured Dextrose (vegan), Spices
Nutty Cow informs me that they will be making their way to stores in a month or so. You can follow them on Facebook to find out where!
Guest Product Review: KeVita! »
Did you know that we have a second “brain” in our guts? Apparently that whole gut feeling thing isn’t just a bunch of poppycock. Science tells us we actually have a delicate balance of bacteria in our guts that balance out our digestion, appetite, and even may affect our moods and feelings.
There’s long been a group of folks advocating for eating yogurt, a commonly known source of probiotics. But yogurt contains dairy, a.k.a. cultured oppressed cow secretion, and that’s no good! Luckily, the vegan probiotics market is totally blossoming. Raw cultured veggies, sauerkraut, plant-sourced yogurts and drinks can be found at many health food stores nationwide. One of my favorite products that’s been on the market for a little while now is KeVita, all-vegan fiz-tastic coconut water drinks splashed with a variety of other fruity flavors. Most kefir cultures contain dairy, a.k.a. cow oppression juice, but KeVita probiotic drinks are made with water-based kefir cultures, which the company assures are completely vegan (yay!). KeVita comp’d me a few bottles, and my favorites are the coconut (original) and the strawberry açai coconut. The original coconut has like 3 calories, and while I don’t think you should worry about that stuff, I guess that means there’s more room for raw vegan jicama fries and beet juice smoothies? The other flavors are nutrient-dense but not too filling either, and the strawberry açai pomegranate tastes exactly as it sounds: amazing! It’s like kissing a berry fairy with sparkly coconut wings. Really.
The pink-colored strawberry açai coconut KeVita would be a great option to serve at your next vegan wine and cheese party, for sober guests or those who wish to pre-game their Veuve Clicquot with some high-quality probes. Get KeVita at health food stores throughout the Bay Area and nationwide!
Guest Review: Chocolate Vegan Nut Butters Cage Match Winner: Rawmio! »
In the dark ages, vegans pining for Nutella were sod out of luck (Note: I learned this phrase from watching Lip Service, the UK lesbian semi-vegan friendly—they drink tea! sooo vegan!— show now airing on Hulu and some British channel you’d likely get if you’d finally give in to your landlord’s offer to trade sexting for free sattelite TV).
Fashioned from ground hazelnuts, chocolate, and other evil animal-derived ingredients (yuck!), Nutella figured out a great flavor combo, and for that I am grateful. But this is 2012, and while oppressing animals was always awful and wrong, we’re super fortunate now to get to choose from a bevy of delicious, all-vegan chocolate-nut butter spreads.
The vegan chocolate nut butter market is indeed saturated with options. I’ve tried many of them: Artisana’s Cacao Bliss (which is pretty good, although quite coconut-y and rich!), Justin’s Chocolate Almond, Peanut and Hazelnut, Simple Food Chocolate Soy Nut Butter, Peanut Butter and Co.’s Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate Dreams, and a few other companies and brands that weren’t thrilling enough to mention here.
While I have enjoyed several of the aforementioned varieties, the best and most healthful (in my humble opinion!) has always been Rawtella. Relatively new on the scene, Alex Malinsky and the Raw Guru team developed a coconut sugar-sweetened hazelnut butter confection that used the finest quality, ethically sourced raw cacao and lower-glycemic coconut sugar. The result was addictive spreadable bliss. Rawtella has spawned some new varieties, like Rawtella Mint, Rawtella Silk, Rawtella Coffee and Rawtella Crunch. They’re all great, but I recently completely fell in love with the newest Rawtella called “Rawmio,” features almonds instead of hazelnuts. Alex sent me a complimentary jar of Rawmio and I have to say, it’s absolutely my favorite chocolate nut butter on the market. At cold temperatures it’s a solid, and at warmer textures it’s creamy and luscious (isn’t chemistry amazing?!). You can warm it up and spread it on breads, biscuits, crackers, fruit, carrots, your partner, whatever. I even put some in my peach coconut smoothie the other day and wow, what a combo! Rawmio also makes a raw vegan hazelnut and fig chocolate bar that I highly recommend! Get Rawmio online and at health food stores nationwide.