Product Review: Maple Bacon and Sweet & Salty Kettle Chips! »
Say what you will about the “hipster” movement over the last few years, but there is a silver lining in the black-Levi’s-with-keys-on-a-carabiner-dangling-from-a-belt-loop cloud. So-called “foodies” have been putting bacon on everything, which is pretty disgusting and unfortunate, but it’s provoked vegan and vegan-friendly food chemists to create some more mock-bacon food stuffs. The bacon craze has always been weird to me; even in my non-vegan days, I never understood the infatuation. I’ve even seen Torani, the company that makes sugary syrups for your coffee beverages, add a “bacon” flavor to their lineup. Seriously dudes? Bacon-flavored coffee? But I digress.
Kettle Brand certainly isn’t the first potato chip company to take a crack at bacon flavor, but as a company who is proud to stamp their bags with “GMO-free” labeling and as a company that knows what “vegan” means, I was pretty excited to try their new summer flavors, Maple Bacon and Sweet & Salty.
If you’re one of the many vegans who couldn’t care less about finding a bacon replacement, then these Maple Bacon chips are actually going to be right up your alley. They were incredibly delicious—they just weren’t bacony. At all. They tasted more in line with K.C. Masterpiece BBQ-flavored Lays, but with Kettle Brands’ better chip as the base. Plus, I can guarantee, with no prior research, the fine folks at Lays probably go to the same country clubs as the fine folks at Monsanto. Again, I digress.
After eating the Maple Bacon chips, I became curious as to what the Sweet & Salty were going to taste like, because that name easily could have gone to the bacon chip, and no one would be the wiser. The Sweet & Salty, however, are WAY sweet. Like, almost as sweet as I am (awww, also I’m single, just kidding (no I’m not)). My vegans-of-Instagram pal Chris, aka @dinotheman, said it best: “Imagine chips with a hint of pineapple flavor and [there] you have it.”
These chips should be already on your grocer’s shelves, just in time for summer cookouts, or in my case, dinner. I’ve eaten entire bags of chips in one sitting before and I’m not ashamed to admit it. They’re both a must-try and please let us know what you think! Kettle Brand deserves a Lays-sized display in the chip aisle. Say no to Monsanto. Monsan-no.
Andrew E. Irons is a blogger from Long Beach, California. He co-created and contributes to a Rhode Island-based hip-hop website, The Echo Chamber Blog, under the pseudonym Verbal Spacey. You can track his daily diatribes by following him on Twitter.
Product Review: Buddha Cups, raw organic dark chocolate almond butter cups! »
Your Vegansaurus loves (vegan, fair trade, organic) chocolate, and your Vegansaurus loves almond butter, so when the lovely people of Buddha Chocolate offered to send us a sample two-pack of their fancy gourmet cups, you know we took them up on it.
I cut one in half to share with whoever else was in the apartment that day, namely one of my roommates, her boyfriend, and my brother, all omnivores.
The results were … mixed. While the chocolate was rich, the almond butter was dry and crumbly. The omnis all said they could “tell” the chocolate was vegan; I haven’t had dairy chocolate in like seven years, so I wasn’t really sure what they were tasting that I wasn’t (or vice versa?).
I suspected user error, though—they’d gone from a hot package in the mail to the fridge, and then right back out to a hot apartment—and the second one I let sit on the counter a while before eating it. Much better. The almond butter was softer, the chocolate melted into it, and it was really satisfying. Not too sweet, so you could totally eat one for breakfast (seriously, the fat and protein? Awesome to start the day) if you didn’t want to wait till dessert.
Buddha Cups are handmade in Brooklyn by a couple of awesome vegans, and are available at select Manhattan and Brooklyn locations, or you can buy them online. They’re like Justin’s, but almondy and harder to get! I recommend them. In fact, I’d eat one right now if I had it.
[Top photo via Buddha Chocolate; second photo by me]
Product Review: GalloLea Gluten Free Vegan Pizza Kit »
My amazing high school sexuality and society teacher (it was Quaker School, OK?) taught me pizza is like sex; there’s tons of different ways to enjoy it, and sometimes you just want a slice and other times you want ten pies and you want them NOW. (Watch his Ted Talk to learn more!)
Speaking of pizza and unlimited choice and sex, last night four of my nearests and dearests and I made some GalloLea gluten free vegan pizza! GalloLea sent me three of their gluten free pizza starter kits, all of which come in this cute box that contains the basic necessities for fomenting an at-home pizza-making revolution: crust and sauce ingredients. The only things you have to bring to the pie are your favorite toppings, a bit of oil and water. Pretty groovy, right?
There are a lot of frozen pizza options these days, some of which even contain vegan cheese, and you can buy a crust or maybe crust plus sauce pre-made, but this is a really solid option for those of us who want to pretend we’ve cobbled together all the homemade pizza fixings and slaved over a hot baking tray without, you know, actually having to do that.
Toppings included: daiya, spinach, onions, olives, Brussels sprouts, and fresh tomatoes.
I highly recommend getting one of the GalloLea pizza kits and making it with friends or a significant other/crush. You can learn a lot about each other based on topping preferences, and discover how everyone’s respective booties look when bent over the stove checking AGAIN to see when it’s finally gonna be done, because the package lies and it took us twice the time it advertised on the box.
The pizzas turned out great! The sauce wasn’t my favorite part, but the crust was super solid and it definitely held up well under the weight of the massive amount of toppings we used. Thanks to GalloLea, I ate some delicious homemade pizza AND I learned that all of my friends want onions on their pizza except Jenna, who is weird and should really think about her life priorities.
Chambers Lane pâté review! (amazing new vegan cheese alert!) »
Since Laura and I moved to the East Bay, we’ve been unable to get to Rainbow Grocery as often as we used to. Last time we were there, we um, went a little overboard. We came away with four new cheeses and cheese spreads that we had never seen before. Of these, the Chambers Lane Truffled Cashew pâté was far and away the favorite, even above the much pricier Punk Rawk Labs cheese.
So when the people of Chambers Lane contacted us to see if we were interested in trying their other flavors, of course we said yes.
All together, there are three flavors. The first we had tried was Truffled Cashew. They also have Fig Balsamic Walnut Cashew and Rosemary Thyme Almond. These are also quite good.
The Fig Balsamic is sweet, tart, and rich-tasting, with hints of spice, it definitely has a wonderful complex flavor.
The Rosemary Thyme, on the other hand, is savory, but with a milder herbed taste. It’s almond-based, so it’s not quite as creamy as the other two, but is still pleasantly nutty.
But the first one we had tried probably still remains the favorite. With its rich, decadent truffle oil and creamy cashew texture, it really is something special. We started out by eating it on crackers like fancy folks, but then polite affectations went out the window, and we finished by sticking our fingers directly into the jar to get every last bit.
In addition to being available at Rainbow Grocery, you can also find Chambers Lane pâtés at Country Cheese Coffee Market and Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, Woodlands Market in Kentfield, and Draeger’s in Menlo Park, Danville, and San Mateo.
Let’s hope they get into even more stores soon, because this stuff is the GREATEST. Insanely delicious vegan cheese for all!
Product review: Earth Balance White Cheddar Flavor Puffs »
If you haven’t heard of the Earth Balance Aged White Cheddar Puffs yet, you must live under a rock! Don’t be embarrassed, everybody has to live somewhere. So I finally tried these bad boys and they are good! They are not as amazing as the beloved Jax of my childhood—any Jax fans out there?!—but they hit the spot. Way better than Tings. They aren’t super cheesy but they do have a nice subtle cheddar flavor. And they are super puffy! The puffiness is my favorite part.
I got mine from Vegan Essentials but I’m hoping to see them in stores near me soon.
Product review: Saucee is kickass sauce! »
My new friend Mohit Jain has recently launched a line of all-vegan, super healthful sauces called Saucee! Each of their all-organic sauces is designed to take the guesswork out of what your meal should taste like. Just grab whatever ingredients you have on hand—veggies, bread, Megan Rascal’s favorite chickpea frittata recipe, rice, salad—add some Saucee, and suddenly it’s a spicy delicious time!
My partner in crime made Megan Rascal’s favorite chickpea frittata for us and I topped mine with the kale Saucee!
Saucee sauces are pretty spicy! Mohit sent me three flavors: capsaicin, turmeric, and kale. I loved them all! The kale is mild, but the capsaicin flavor almost made me wanna ask my landlord to turn off my heat! If you dig spicy it’ll be your new Sriracha. Each sauce is focused around ingredients that rock: capsaicin, turmeric, kale (did you know you can have kale sauce? Yes you can!) maitake mushroom, and flax. Bottom line: Mohit and his team are geniuses!
Each of the Saucee sauces is 100 percent organic, vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, with no crappy added colors (hello Sriracha!), fillers, or stabilizers. There are no additional sugars or oils, and they only use organic vinegar as a preservative. Just the good stuff.
The Saucee team just launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the word out about their delicious sauces and sell some bottles at the same time. Get involved so we can all buy their sauces everywhere and always!
Coracao Confections is raw, ethical, and delicious! »
Coracao Confections is a raw, mostly vegan (there’s one truffle with bee pollen) chocolate company. It’s on the FEP recommend list so we can enjoy it in ethical peace! Moreover, Coracao says all of the chocolates “are made with the purest ingredients, including raw cacao, which is full of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and those “happy brain” chemicals that we so love.” That’s my kind of science! Sarah reviewed these a while ago but I wanted to try them for myself because everyone should try all vegan chocolate all the time!
Coracao sent me a bunch of free stuff to try. Coracao chocolate is rich but not very sweet. In a word: delicious. I want more! No really, I’ve been craving it since the first bite. But because I am so nice, I brought the chocolates to work to share with everyone. Everybody loved them! I think it made up for some of the other wacky vegan things I make them try. Silly omnis, always hating vegan stuff. Not this time!
Here is a lovely box of chocolates they sent. The almond heart is the cutest! So of course I gave it to the baddass rock ’n’ roll biker who occasionally freelances in my office (being on staff is NOT rock ’n’ roll!). He enjoyed it. What’s cuter than a biker with a chocolate heart? Not much.
Here’s the inside of the hazelnut mousse truffle:
My favorite thing in the mix was the caramel cup.
Here are the butterscotch cookie-dough macaroons. I tried one and it was good but coconut isn’t my favorite. Macaroon fans at work liked them though. My Creative Director also really enjoyed the package design—and he has high standards in design.
Coracao also sent me these chocolate bars:
The caramel bar was great and everybody liked it. Someone noted that the caramel had a bit of a grainy texture, but they liked it. I thought it was very yummy. I wasn’t that into the lime caramel bar; it was REALLY lime-y. But my taste-testers definitely liked it. One said it had a key-lime pie flavor. So if you like chocolate and key-lime pie, this is for you.
But my most favorite thing was the almond butter bar! Here’s an inside shot:
It’s yummy! It has a high chocolate-to-filling ratio. The filling is my favorite part but it’s good chocolate so that’s OK too. When you bite in, the bittersweet chocolate shell exterior snaps and gives way to the delicious almond butter filling. I totally can’t get it out of my head! I seriously just ordered two bars (and a peppermint patty!) because writing this post was making me miss it. Sigh. Until we meet again, Rawmond Butter Bar!
Product review: Nibmor ethical vegan chocolate got FEP-approved just for this post! »
I love Nibmor chocolate. First of all, it tastes damn good, ticking all the boxes to make my vegan chocoholic heart happy: free from refined sugar, vegan, and organic. The two flavor varieties Nibmor sent me, original and mint, were both rich and smooth, the right balance of dark, fruity cacao and creamy richness.
But while Nibmor tastes like joy incarnate, what I may love most about it is that when I told the company I couldn’t review its chocolate until it was certified ethical vegan by the Food Empowerment Project, Nibmor jumped to the occasion, contacted FEP, and became certified! FEP’s Lauren Ornelas just did an amazing interview about the dark side of chocolate; I highly recommend listening to it!
Nibmor is truly ethical and delicious dark chocolate. Get some online, or at Rainbow Grocery and other local health food stores.
Purely Posh: Sephora for vegans! »
Purely Posh is an online makeup/skincare/etc. store that specializes in natural beauty products. But it’s not all granola-crunchy-like, it is well-designed and modern. It’s not entirely vegan but the great thing about it is that you can search the products by vegan, organic, gluten-free, fragrance-free,* and U.S.-made so that you can find just the products that pertain to your concerns! Huzzah! Purely Posh sent me the lovely vegan eyeshadow you see above and the vegan lipstick pictured below to try out.
The eyeshadow is by Lauress and the color is moonbeam. It’s vegan, gluten-free, and made in the U.S. I thought it was a great color. My coworker said it really made my eyes pop! That is nice, no? It was subtle too though which is nice as well. I mean I wore it to work and it wasn’t like I was lit up like a disco ball the way our lovely front desk woman loves to be. Bless her glittering heart.
The lipstick they sent me to try is the Emani hydrating lip color in Dolce. I must say it is hydrating! Usually lipstick makes my lips feel dry and gets crackly and whatnot; Not this stuff! The color is very similar to my natural lip color except with a lot more punch. So it’s obvious I have lipstick on but it’s very understated (on me at least) at the same time. Lovely!
Now, guess what! Purely Posh is offering a 5% discount to Vegansaurus readers for the next two weeks! Just enter the coupon code “vegansaurus” at checkout (or wherever). It expires on February 18th. Go forth and sparkle!
*OMG I know you fragrance-haters are stoked! It must be hard to be irritated by fragrances, they put them in god-dang everything. You have my sympathies.
Product Review: Emmy’s Organics Superfood Trail Mix and Peanut Butter Banana Granola! »
Emmy’s Organics is a pretty amazing company. The owners met at a music festival, and the good vibes seem to permeate their raw macaroons, granolas, trail mixes, and other tasty all-gluten-free raw vegan products. sent me a complimentary batch of their new Superfood Trail Mix featuring cacao, goji berries, raisins, and cashews. I used the superfood trail mix and Emmy’s outrageously yummy Peanut Butter Banana Granola containing hearty buckwheat, and rich large chunks of nuts and banana atop a homemade raw vegan strawberry banana smoothie. It was the most delicious and decadent breakfast I’ve had in a while!
Raw vegan strawberry banana smoothie
Serves 1 to 2
2 cups strawberries
1 cup almond milk
6 to 7 drops Stevia, or maple syrup, or coconut nectar, or agave
1 tsp. maca
1 tsp. cacao powder
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
1/4 cup ice (optional)
Blend and top with superfood trial mix and granola!
It’s rare to find raw food that hits the mark in multiple categories—savory, breakfast, and dessert—but Emmy’s truly do. I approve of these products! Check them out online and in stores!