Fruit leather, step aside. You just got your ass kicked by my new favorite flat snack: Veggie-Go’s.
Take the fruit leather you know and give it a classy, vegetable-oriented makeover, and you’ve got the sophisticated dehydrated foodstuff known as a Veggie-Go. I met these Colorado-made cuties at a street fair in Denver a few weeks ago, and after sampling each of the five flavors, I knew I had to pull the Vegansaurus card and convince the guy at the booth to give me a bunch for free. SCORE!
Verdict: The snacks are a bit thinner and more brittle than fruit leather, so you can’t do the thing where you scrape them down with your teeth, but they’ll still make you do a little dance in your chair when you remember you brought one in your lunch. My favorite flavors are Carrot Ginger and Sweet Potato Pie, but they’re all good.
Right now they’re only for sale at a couple Colorado Whole Foods, but you can order them online from Abe’s Market, which I recommend you do post-haste. Especially if you’re rich, because they are kind of pricey, like all sweet things in life: pedicures, true love, signed first editions of Alice in Wonderland, etc.
Bonus: The owners are at the tail end of a Kickstarter campaign that has a pretty sweet perk: Donate $25 or more, and you’ll not only get to sample each current flavor, you’ll get to help them pick the next flavor, too. And if you’re really feeling bossy, $1,000 will buy you the rights to create your own flavor. Jackfruit lychee jicama lime! Bam! Done! You’re welcome.
Vegan cooking: There’s an app for that (and a bonus pumpkin pie recipe)! »
Scroll down for the recipe for this pumpkin pie!
Now, I’ve mentioned before how I feel about apps vs cookbooks: books all the way. And the harsh truth is I’ve never been impressed with the recipes in How It All Vegan. So I can guarantee if I hadn’t gotten this app for free, I’d never have downloaded it.
On the one hand, I’ve had it for a couple months now and I’ve yet to get inspired to make any of the recipes. How’s that for radical honesty? I’m the worst reviewer ever! But no not really, because I think that says a lot about the fact that this app doesn’t really fit into my life.
On the other hand, I’m impressed with what Kramer’s done, and I think for some people, it could be a really great tool. The app includes 60 recipes, 10 of them brand new. You can access them by meal, or by other categories like “gluten-free” or “with video”
The videos are well-done and fun to watch; my favorite is about people who say they don’t like tofu (Kramer says that’s as dumb as saying you don’t like cake flour; of course you don’t like plain tofu! Also then she stuffs her face with cake flour. Classic).
Within the recipes, you can do all sorts of iPad-y interactive stuff, like add ingredients to a shopping list or email an invitation to come eat food to a friend.
You can’t see the list of ingredients and the list of steps at the same time, which I imagine would be a pain while actually in the kitchen, except the steps themselves are really detailed and take that into account. The photos, as you can see, are hella pretty.
Anyway, at $6.99, this is a cheap alternative to an actual cookbook, and you can have it with you even at your grandma’s house or on vacation or whatever. May this be the beginning of a flood of wonderful authors truly taking advantage of the digital format! I’ll probably just late-adopt on this trend though.
OK, here’s the recipe I promised! Sarah’s people were cool enough to let us use it! Let us know how you like it if you make it!
Pumpkin Pie from the GoVegan! w/Sarah Kramer App
App available at www.goveganapp.com
I’m thankful for pumpkins, for sugar, and for this pie. Don’t worry that it won’t look ready when you first take it out of the oven—it sets as it cools.
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
1/4 cup (25 g) flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. vegan margarine
1/4 cup (30 g) walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
1 14-oz (398-ml) can unsweetened pumpkin purée
1/2 cup (120 ml) vegan “milk”
1/4 cup (40 g) cornstarch
1/2 cup (120 ml) maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 9” (23 cm) pie crust
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar, 1/4 cup (25 g) flour, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 2 Tbsp. vegan margarine, and 1/4 cup (30 g) finely chopped walnuts. Set aside.
In a food processor, blend together 14-oz (398-mL) can unsweetened pumpkin, 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegan “milk”, 1/4 cup (40 g) cornstarch, 1/2 cup (120 ml) maple syrup, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 tsp. allspice, 1 tsp. vanilla extract until smooth.
Pour pumpkin mixture into prepared pie crus. Sprinkle topping evenly over top and bake for 40–45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve at room temperature. Makes 1 pie.
My friend’s cat Romulus likes her heated cat bed.
Vegans love cats, right? And cats love snuggling into warm little balls. So when my cat Zuki met her first Colorado winter and started living next to our radiators like her life depended on it, I began exploring how to keep her warm and happy even when my lap was at work all day. A friend from Chicago recommended a heated cat bed. Kitty bliss! I would be the best cat owner ever!
The nice folks at K&H liked Vegansaurus enough to send me one to try, and thus began my journey of acceptance that my cat is a freak. Because no matter what I tried, be it kibble or cat nip or sweaters, nothing could convince her that the green plush disk with the 4-watt heating pad tucked inside was anything other than a portal to hell. She didn’t just not like it, she hated it with a passion.
“Radiators are far superior to THAT thing!”
Luckily I found another, saner cat to test the bed. My friend Steph reports, with evidence (see video above), that Romulus is a fan.
The bed is somewhat pricey ($40 on Amazon), but it should last for years, and you do want your cat to be happy, don’t you? The heater is pretty mellow—under the bed gets warm, but the surface of the cushioning isn’t actually hot to the touch until the cat’s body helps insulate it. If your cat has a history of nestling in things, she’ll probably like it. If not, don’t bother. But consider moving somewhere with radiators.
New Quorn Vegan Burgers: Yummy! »
Quorn’s got a new vegan offering and I got to taste it! I like it a lot! Yay for new foods! The company sent me a free package of the new frozen patties via flying monkeys, a.k.a. FedEx, which made me feel like a rock star.
The directions say you can microwave, grill, bake, or pan-cook them. Since I was at work and am impatient and lazy, I nuked the thing in order to taste it right away.
If you’ve ever had the non-vegan Quorn chicken patty, just go ahead and erase that memory forever; these ain’t nothing like that. They’re thinner and not breaded and have more of a smokey, baconesque flavor profile. The microwave made the thing really tough and chewy, kind of like a jerky patty which sounds gross but which I dug in a salty-MSG-yum kind of way.
A few days later I did the Quorns up right as part of a sandwich with coleslaw (BBQ sauce woulda been swell too, someone should buy me some of that).
This time I cooked them on the stovetop and they were much moister and softer. Husband said the texture reminded him of fish sticks, kinda flaky. The smoky flavor is pretty strong, so don’t expect these to meld or fade into your meal like a slab of tofu or whatevs.
Bottom line: This Boca Burger hater has found a new sandwich filler of choice. Yay fungus! But I’d be even happier if the company offered a few flavors to mix it up. May Quorn come to a store near you!
Stuff your face with Nicole’s Fancy Vegan Caramels! »
Imagine this: You’re a stay-at-home mom and a fiction writer, and suddenly you need $30,000 to repair water damage at your house. You could sell your child into slavery, obviously, but Nicole Kornher-Stace of New Paltz, N.Y. came up with a way tastier and more legal option: sell vegan caramels on the interwebs.
Her Etsy store is called Feed Your Face, and did I ever! The budding entrepreneur contacted Vegansaurus to see if we wanted to try her desserts and then tell you about them. Duh, next question. What I didn’t expect was that she’d send along two delicious little nuggets of each of 11 different flavors. Holy fatness, my day was made! And my dentist’s, too!
Nicole started making her caramels for fun, and because her three-year-old will only eat vegan sweets (rock on, kid). All her candies are vegan and gluten-free, and don’t have no corn-syrup neither (she uses coconut milk for the fat). She wraps them in parchment paper, which you can compost, so that’s cool.
Best of all, they’re damn yummy. The texture is on the gooier than chewier side, with some flavors even downright fudgey (though that varies with your room temperature), but the taste is all caramel, all the way. I didn’t love all flavors equally, though, so here’s my own personal, subjective, and totally professional review:
- Pomegranate balsamic: win! Tangy and not at all like a salad.
- Spicy mango: great chewy texture, would be perfect after Indian food.
- Dark chocolate sea salt: way too salty for me. Really salty.
- Dark chocolate orange: pne of the less-chewy ones (kind of crumbly), but the taste—orange oil and deep chocolate—is awesome.
- Green tea chai: Can I have this drink in a coffee shop please? Someone call Starbucks.
- Double ginger: YES YES YES! Kind of like a ginger chew but less intense and sweeter, and like a ginger snap but gooey! (I do love my ginger).
- Spicy chocolate: I think the chocolate is what fudgifies the texture; these have a nice kick without being overwhelming.
- Sea salt: still pretty salty but more edible than the chocolate sea salt ones. If you’re into salt and sweet, you might really dig these.
- Espresso: Coffee flavor’s definitely there but this is less “Pow!” than some of the others.
- Maple: like pancakes and Canada! Nice maple flavor, kind of extra sweet.
- Pumpkin spice: perfect for this time of year! Really nice, like pie. Holy crap, you could make pie with melty caramels on top or something. Score!
In short, if you’re looking for a yummy special fix, I definitely recommend what Nicole’s putting out there.
Nicole also has a section called Cookies For a Cause, where she’ll sell you a PDF of some cookie recipes she’s developed, and 50 percent of profits from that sale go to charity. Cool idea! Even cooler idea: Use her recipe to make cookies for a bakesale (like Sunday’s SF Vegan Bakesale) and then give THOSE profits to charity, too. So much giving!
Final bonus! A photo of Nicole’s vegan-sweets-loving three-year-old petting a turkey at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. CUTE!
I grew mushrooms, and you can too! »
Look what I made! It’s oyster mushrooms, growing out of a box, and heading straight for my belly!
The box, as you may or may not be able to tell from my crappy, grainy photo (sorry) is a kit from Back to the Roots. The kit is pretty rad and makes growing fungus on top of your refrigerator a miraculous joy instead of just a gross accident, like it normally would be.
The whole thing started right at U.C. Berkeley in 2009, when a pair of students figured out they could become rich and famous by selling people kits to grow mushrooms on coffee grounds.
I first encountered these kits in an earlier iteration for sale at Berkeley Hort in mid-2010. I bought one for my man for his birthday, but you had to collect your own coffee grounds and we only drink a little coffee, so that took forever. By the time we had enough, the mushroom spore/coffee mixture had molded; it was a messy disaster.
Fast-forward to this year’s VegFest Colorado in Boulder, which I will remind you is 1,250 miles from Berkeley. Lo and behold, there was a Back to the Roots booth! This stuff had gone global (or at least regional)! I told the lady at the table about my sad, gloppy failure, and she was totally puzzled. See, now the kits come pre-loaded with coffee grounds (they come from Peet’s), and is much fancier and easier. She gave me a free one so I could try again and write this review.
Well, VegFest lady, it took me forever but I have tried, and I have conquered, and I say to the pink dinosaur-loving masses, go grow thee some mushrooms!
Step 1 involves slitting open the bag of mushroom spores (white) and coffee grounds (black) and soaking them in water for 24 hours. The water turned all dark like coffee; it was kind of gross, but not really that bad.
Next, you put the bag back in the box, put the box in a spot with indirect light, and keep the whole thing moist by misting it twice a day. For nearly a week, it looked like NOTHING was happening. Then BAM, it was like super-speed.
See all those little shroomies poking out on the right of the opening? I’d leave for a few hours, and when I came back, they would be noticeably bigger. Every time! It was like The Peanut Butter Solution. SO COOL!
I harvested a batch and they were tasty. I’m going to see if more grow, then I’m going to flip the kit over and open the other side and do it again. I’ll update if there’s more news. Home-grown mushrooms. Love ‘em.
Meet Sunsational sunflower seed milk, the new deliciousness on the block! »
Remember back in the day when rice milk and soy milk were your only choices? Ha! We spit on you, Past, with our vast and growing selection of dairy alternatives!
Voilà another addition to the dizzying array: Sunsational sunflower seed milk! If you live in the Northeast, Florida, or parts of the Midwest, you may have already seen it on the shelves of your local Whole Foods or hippie co-op. For the rest of you, expect it to be on Amazon in the next month or so, and in the meantime, I think you can order it directly from a guy named Steve at the product’s website, via the contact form. I believe that’s what you do, if it’s different, I’ll update this review!
So far Sunsational comes in two flavors, Original and Vanilla. I got to taste them both, and find them quite pleasant, with a nutty but mild sunflower flavor. There’s no unsweetened variety, which I would prefer since this milk is definitely on the sugary side, but that may come in the future. The main drawback is the unappealing grayish color. I swear I’m not drinking newspaper pulp, guys! No seriously.
Conclusion: if you see this stuff in the store, it’s totally worth a try. Hooray for choices!
Review: Mary’s Gone Crackers makes some surprisingly yummy snacks »
Approximately a million years ago the folks at Mary’s Gone Crackers emailed us about reviewing their gluten-free vegan snack foods. I like crackers and free stuff so I accepted the offer, even though IN GENERAL I am skeptical of gluten-free baked goods. Mary’s sent me a monstrous amount of food, one of almost every product:
Exhibit A: An overwhelming supply of snack.
Now, after a long and rigorous testing process that included a road trip, a plane flight, an interminable graduation ceremony, and many weeks without grocery shopping, I am pleased to bring you my opinion about almost everything Mary’s Gone Crackers (MGC) makes.
Executive Summary: These are pretty decent snacks. I’d buy the Sticks and Twigs again. I’d be perfectly happy to eat the cookies and crackers for the sake of a gluten-sensitive friend, but probably wouldn’t seek them out.
MGC says it manufactures its food in its own dedicated gluten-, dairy-, and nut-free facility. Though I don’t have serious food allergies, I have much sympathy for people who do, and thus I declare that such a level of dedication is awesome. Their ingredients are also organic and non-GMO, yeehaw.
Did the name “Stick & Twigs” focus-group well?
Sticks & Twigs
Dear MGC: That is not an appealing product name. Also “Pretzel-Snack” is not a word and is not a good description of the food contained in this package.
That said, these are delicious and my household devoured the three bags we received within about two days. Think super-crunchy, health-food Fritos, but with less grease and more chia seeds. My favorite was the curry flavor, my BF liked the chipotle tomato (not particularly spicy), and we both found the sea salt pretty snackalicious. These have the addictive level of crunch that all snack food have, and due to their high seed-content are hard enough to chew that you might just avoid eating the whole bag in one sitting. Thumbs up.
Mary’s makes five flavors of crackers. They are small and round and like the Twigs, rather dense and seedy. They’re not crumbly or melt-in-your mouth like some kinds of of crackers, which makes them kind of an intense eating experience and not in my opinion the perfect place for hummus or other spreads to lay. However, when I treated them like little round snack chips, I found them worth eating and kind of like rice crackers (which they are).
- Herb flavor: Very rosemary-esque and not to my liking
- Black pepper: Nice kick
- Original: Seed-tastic
- Caraway: Reminds me of rye bread
- Onion: Not enough onion! Never enough onion!
A challenging arena, and MGC did OK. These are some of the better gluten-free cookies I’ve had, but I’m not in love with them. Somehow all the flavors remind me of raisins. But I’ll admit, in late-night cookie-binge desperation, these were pretty damn worth stuffing my face with.
- Double chocolate: Chocolate saves things
- Ginger: Crumbly, nice zing
- Chocolate chip: Hmm. Not so much
- N’Oatmeal Raisin: I miss oatmeal.
Confession: I only finally got around to writing this review because I’m moving and it became obvious I couldn’t move with an entire box full of cookies and crackers. Has anyone else had experience with MGC? What’s your favorite flavor? Do you have other gluten-free options you recommend? Does anyone who’s not allergic prefer to buy gluten-free? If so, can you explain that to me?
Review: Earth Elite Vegan boots from PlanetShoes! »
You guys, I got free boots. And they are amazing.
PlanetShoes contacted Vegansaurus in January to see if we’d be interested in sampling their services. After some editorial discussion, I decided that as I’m totally in this for personal gain—presents, money, the adulation of anonymous masses—then yes, it would be a really great idea if they sent me a free pair of vegan shoes to review.
Knowing I would soon be living in the republic of Georgia, which in the winter is a snowy country and in the spring a wet one, I thought, how about wellies? Or even better, insulated wellies! I chose this pair, the Earth Elite Vegan. In leopard, because animal prints work best when used unconventionally (or at least not as underpants, ugh).
One of my feet is nearly a half-size smaller than the other, which is spectacularly inconvenient, but I wear a between U.S. women’s sizes 7 and 8, so at least I can always find shoes to (mostly) fit. In a dream world, they’d sell shoes individually, but this is real life and not even clothes-by-weight places will sell you single shoes, so I ordered a 7.5 and hoped.
The boots arrived just a week before I was scheduled to leave, so I didn’t get much time to break them in. The first time I wore them outdoors, actually, was to walk through the sleet in Tbilisi to fill a prescription before my disgusting cold and I left for the village where I’d live the next four months. They kept my feet warm and dry, so I was pleased.
I was more pleased the more I wore them, which was between once a week and daily during February, March, and April. The seasons have been weird and late in Georgia since their snowless winter and utterly freezing-cold January and February. March, too was cold and wet, and while it’s warmed up for spring it still rains almost daily. Meaning, I’ve really made use of these boots! They fit snugly over tights and tights-and-socks (noting I have like average-size calves), and the fleecy lining kept my feet and legs toasty warm. Actually, they’re too well insulated for warmer-weather rain, but for winter (and presumably autumn) they’re ideal. The soles are comfortable, although they didn’t keep my feet from freezing on the cement floors in the unheated school; I don’t count that against them, I have a condition.
Walking on Earth Shoe soles is weird; I may have been the only woman in Georgia wearing fashion! boots that made her shorter. They are quite comfortable though. And the zippers are nearly waterproof! I tested this one March day by wading into a knee-deep, freezing cold river; the boots let in a negligible amount of water right on the zipper line, which dried very quickly after I got out. Because they’re fitted to your leg, water can’t splash over the top, so all of you covered by boot is protected in whatever weather. They make a lovely squeaking sound when you knock them together, and they are really easy to clean. They protected me from rain, puddles, mud, and other perils of a two-kilometer walk to school over a partially paved road, and you can roll up the legs to pack them with ease.
What I’m saying is, I love these boots. You might, too! Why not buy a pair? Oh, because it’s going to be summer soon and it hardly rains at all in California, let alone in the summer—well, they’re on sale NOW, so maybe taking advantage of that would be smarter than thinking about shoe purchases in the short term? MAYBE. Or don’t buy them, whatever. I had warm and dry feet all snowy/sleety/rainy/hail-y winter/spring long, these boots are great. And they come in colors like black and red and whatever if you’re not ready for/you’re not looking for the extra attention drawn by leopard print. Earth Shoes! Worn by hippie weirdos AND your Vegansaurus!