vegansaurus!

04/17/2014

Victoria Vegan Pasta Sauces: The Vegan Alfredo-Lover’s Dream!  »

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The lovely family over at Victoria Vegan recently sent me a variety of their pasta sauces for review, and so review them I happily will!

imageThey sent me their Arugula Pesto Alfredo, Artichoke Alfredo, Vodka sauce, Roasted Bell Pepper Alfredo and Original Alfredo to try. I invited my sister over for the fun, as pasta is her favorite food. We called it our “Marinara Tasting Party”, though our party was dominated mostly by Alfredo sauces! 

imageClockwise from top left: My plate, my sister’s plate, sautéed spinach with vegan bac’un bits and my niece Audrey enjoying the Original Alfredo sauce with pasta! I made my sister and I the garlic bread and spinach (veganized), because those were staples on pasta night when we were growing up. 

I had tried the Roasted Bell Pepper sauce a little while ago, so I already knew I was a fan of this brand! It was exciting to be able to sample so many varieties, and though I really enjoyed them all, my personal favorite was the Arugula Pesto. The Artichoke Alfredo definitely came in at a close second. They were so interesting and full of flavor; I thought the creaminess of the Alfredo complimented both the Arugula Pesto and Artichoke so well! My sister’s favorite was the Vodka sauce, so I sent her home with it. (She’s always open to trying vegan food, and it feels like such a victory when we find things she likes.) Audrey just had her 18 month check-up earlier that day, in which she was given the okay to finally introduce nuts in her diet. That was a good thing because Victoria Vegan Alfredo sauces are cashew based (it’s more of a fruit, I know, but you can never be too careful with nut allergies)! The sauces are also non-GMO and gluten-free! REJOICE! Sometimes they are soy-free as well, but be sure to check the labels on that.

After my sister left, I had four open, full jars of sauce to figure out what to do with! Things got creative over here. I had some jumbo shells I was waiting to do something special with, and having the Arugula Pesto sauce was the perfect reason to finally make them! 

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I filled my shells with sautéed mushrooms, garlic, onions and kale. I also added pinches of nutritional yeast, bac’un bits and salt. I was quite pleased with the results! 

By this time I was getting tired of eating pasta, and was racking my brain for something fun to make. I thought fried mac and cheese sounded good, but not quite what I was in the mood for. So instead, inspired by this recipe, I fashioned baskets out of phyllo dough. It’s not as hard as it sounds, I swear! I made mac’n cheese with sautéed onions, mushrooms and spinach, again with a pinch of bac’un bits and nooch. I used the Orginal Alfredo for these, but any of the white sauces would be perfection! [Ed. note: DAMN GIRL GIMME THAT!] 

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Phyllo dough is not impossible or overly intimidating to work with, I swear! My mom’s secret is to keep it covered so it doesn’t dry out, but with a dry towel instead of a wet one. I greased a muffin tin, and then stuffed one folded sheet of dough into each hole. I then filled the dough with a spoonful or two of mac’n cheese, brushed the edges of the dough with olive oil and baked it at 350 until the edges were lightly browned. EASY, SEE? 

All in all, I am a big fan of Victoria Vegan Alfredo sauces! If you see the Arugula Pesto, I’m telling you, pick it up! You can’t go wrong with any of the varieties and seriously, don’t be afraid to dress them up a little when you make them! I don’t live near a Whole Foods right now, but I was daydreaming combining any of the sauces with these ravioli (I can almost taste it!). 

Read more about the Victoria Fine Foods family here! Victoria Vegan products are sold at a variety of establishments, including SproutsRainbow Grocery in San Francisco, and Vegan Essentials.

Full Disclosure: Victoria Fine Foods sent me these jars of sauces, free of charge, to review. All opinions stated above are solely my own. 

04/14/2014

Blossom Du Jour goodies now available at NYC Whole Foods!  »

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Check it out! Whole Foods and Blossom Du Jour have teamed up to bring you Blossom goodies on the go. They will be rolling out a lot of products over the next year but the first out are Almond Biscotti Chips, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Double Choco Brownie Bites, Oatmeal Cookies & Pot Pies. POT PIES?! YES!

The line debuted at the Chelsea Whole Foods last Friday. I haven’t tried anything yet but best believe I’m getting pot pies as soon as I can get my chunky hands on them. And if they box up the vegan cronuts OMG!!!

01/28/2014

Product review: Magic curry paste!  »

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Magic Curry Pastes, by Magic Curry Kart, are vegan and naturally gluten-free Thai pastes available in the San Francisco Bay Area. They recently asked me if I wanted to review their pastes, which I very much did, and I was impressed! The pastes, when mixed with coconut milk, are comparable to a curry sauce from your favorite Thai restaurant! This is fantastic news; now we can get delicious restaurant-style food for a fraction of the cost and no delivery fees! You, know the important things in life. 

I made three different entrees, each featuring a different paste, which I will now show off to you. 

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First I made a vegetable stir-fry with fried tofu, using the Mellow Yellow curry paste. It was delicious! I followed the instructions on the jar for making the sauce, and used a 14 ounce can of coconut milk mixed with two tablespoons of paste. I did find myself adding a little salt and pepper, though it’s nice that the pre-made sauce does not come too salty for those sensitive to sodium. The description does not lie, the yellow paste was definitely the mellowest of the three! My favorite aspect of this paste was the fresh ginger taste. If stir-fry isn’t your thing, the Magic Pumpkin Curry soup recipe on their website looks phenom! 

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Next up I used the spicy red curry paste and tried to get all Zante’s by making a pizza with it! I was pleased with the results, but in the future, if i’m going to try and make a gluten-free pizza, I’m nixing the idea of making a crust from scratch and going with my tried-and-true Vicolo’s pre-made crust. (Gluten-free or regular, it’s the best pre-made pizza crust around!) I liked the spiciness of this particular paste; it had a bit of a kick, so if spicy curry is your thing I definitely recommend the Fresh Red Thai paste. Again, to make the sauce I mixed a 14 ounce can of coconut milk with two tablespoons of paste. 

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The third dish I made, using the Fresh Green Thai paste, was a stir-fry featuring vegan “shrimp”. This was my favorite paste for a variety of reasons! First, I nixed the instructions and made the curry sauce with 3/4 of a can of coconut milk and 3/4 of a jar of paste. (You can use the remainder of the coconut milk to make ganache. No waste around here!) Vegan shrimp is also one of the loves of my life, so I’m sure that had something to do with this particular paste being my favorite. I am a fan of spicy and tangy foods, and so the green curry had it all for me. 

My verdict is that these pastes are awesome! They are so easy to use, and you can experiment with the flavor of the sauces to your unique palate by adjusting the coconut to paste ratio. As of right now they are only available in the Bay Area (I always see them at Whole Foods, four ounces for about $6.00, or you can get them wholesale through BFF) and must be refrigerated. May I suggest you pick some up today so you can continue to quantity-watch your favorite Netflix series, with restaurant-style curry sans delivery fee at home? I am a fan of that luxurious life! Don’t forget to check out the Magic Curry Kart website for creative recipes, updates, and backstory

01/09/2014

Today! In NYC! Do Good at the Grocery  »

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Get your shop on today, Thursday January 9, at any Manhattan Whole Foods and 5% of your purchase supports the efforts of statewide nonprofit the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food (NYCHSF).

With a mission to educate participating school communities—students, teachers, parents and administrators—about ways in which they can consume more nutritious foods (i.e., more plants, fewer animals), we’re all about backing them. And what better way to do so than by picking up a few foodstuffs we were bound to buy anyway? You know you want to.

Funds raised will specifically benefit the coalition’s work with the New York City Department of Education Office of SchoolFood, a partnership promoting plant-based protein options and salad bars. Food UnEarthed, interactive curriculum developed by NYCHSF and currently taught to over 500 students a week in NYC, will also reap the rewards of your (hopefully gluttonous) trip to the Market. (By the way, we want in on this Food UnEarthed thing; kids get to act as detectives, using critical thinking skills to, as its title implies, uncover the truth about food. Then, following a rigorous investigation, they get to sit back, relax and enjoy a yummy—and healthy!—vegan snack. Sign us up!) 

If you’d like to learn more about the org or just say hey to the brains behind this genius means of feeding kids greens, NYCHSF representatives will be tabling at all seven stores in the city from 11 AM to 7 PM. From 11 AM to 3:30 PM, meet Executive Director Amie Hamlin at the Bowery location and from 11 AM to 1:30 PM, meet board chair Lisa Suriano at the Midtown East location.

Or, you know, just go get some noms, preferably free of flesh, dairy and eggs!

Nell Alk is a writer and editor based in New York City. If something #vegan is happening in the world, she is on it. Twitter with her here

11/20/2013

Vegan guide to SF Bay Area Thanksgiving!   »

Hey friends! Thanksgiving, aka the most glorious time of the year, food-wise, is quickly descending upon us! I can’t wait to see all of your festive food pics this year! In a quandary about what to eat? I got you covered! Of course if I missed anything, be sure to mention it in the comments! After all, that’s how our relationship works, for better or for worse.

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Source restaurant will be offering their annual Gobble Platter, complete with “gobble”, gravy, creamed spinach, candied yams, homemade cranberry sauce, and a side salad. This meal is pretty epic, and I’m seriously looking forward to it! I’ll be eating it as my employee lunch (yippee!) before scooting off to the Peninsula to eat with my own family. Of course Source will be offering an array of desserts, including spice cake snowballs with orange frosting and a living pumpkin cheesecake (from me to you!), though not included in the $20.95 platter price. Mention Vegansaurus for 10% off your Gobble Platter, which will be available all day Thursday and Friday. Call 415-864-9000 for more information, or to make take-out/reservation arrangements. 

Souley Vegan is offering a SCRUMPTIOUS looking Thanksgiving day brunch buffet, 11am to 5pm. There are so many items to choose from, including a tofu loaf with rosemary gravy, blueberry waffles, herb mashed potatoes, southern fried tofu, pumpkin cheesecake with warm caramel sauce and your choice of two mimosas or draft beers. The price of this buffet is still up in the air, but I was told it will be in the ballpark of $20 - $25. Call 510-922-1615 for more details

The Plant Cafe is offering a prix fixe three-course meal, which includes a soup course, salad course, and featuring an entree of a red-wine braised portobello mushroom and lentil stew, with a pumpkin cheesecake for dessert. I believe the entire meal is gluten-free as well as vegan. The meal is by reservation only, from 2pm - 8pm. It’s $50 for adults and $25 for children under the age of 12. Wine flights are available for $25. Call 415-984-1973 for more details, or to make reservations! 

Hella Vegan Eats is offering a “Festive Feast,” which is available for pick-up or delivery on Wednesday, November 27th. Time is running out, as they ask you please place your order by Thursday, November 21st! I love Hella Vegan Eats so very much; I can only imagine how spectacular their Thanksgiving feast must be! Reserve your order by calling 510-282-8233. (Please note side-dishes and desserts are only available in addition to the Festive Feast) 

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New-to-the scene cuties, Ashley and Kyle Knies, of From the Garden, are offering a Thanksgiving meal box, which they will deliver to you on Wednesday, November 27th (minimum order, two boxes). The boxes of food are $30 each and includes such delectable items as  an Herbed-Lentil loaf, apple-cranberry stuffing, green bean casserole with crispy onions, and garlic mashed potatoes! Dessert is also available for an additional fee. To reserve a box, or ask any questions (single savory items, and couple selections of pies are available) email chefkyleknies@gmail.com! 

Millennium is almost surely doing something because they always do so if you want to fancy it up, holler at them pretty soon (415-345-3900 x10) because I know they sell out and that would suck if your fancy thing was a bust because you slept on it. (And Uh, if you can, let us know in the comments what the deal is??)

If you want to bring home the Thanksgiving fun, you can get Hodo Soy Beanery yuba roast (supposedly very delicious!) from goodeggs.comOf course, Whole Foods always offers a vegan dinner available for pick-up at their many locations, while “faux turkeys” or holiday roasts are now sold at Rainbow, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. For your dessert needs, I’m always pretty stoked with the ready-made pies at Rainbow. There’s also Mission Pie, Timeless Coffee and of course pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls at Cinnaholic! Make sure you make your orders asap, as many bakeries have strict deadlines and cut-off dates!  

BONUS: If you know people in Los Angeles — check out our Los Angeles Vegan Thanksgiving Guide!

{Source Gobble Platter photo via Quarrygirl!}

04/01/2013

Kite Hill Cheese Is Here  »

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Meave reported on Kite Hill cheese rumors last month, and we’re back with an update. The rumors are a reality, and the fabled cheese has arrived OTS at Northern California Whole Foods. 

We took to the streets to report on the new vegan product that has all the vegans (and omni food-lovers!) dropping their edible panties (and checkbooks!) for. Here’s our HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM:

I learned the following from the Whole Foods in Los Gatos cheese people:

1. Kite Hill has an exclusive contract with WFs and will only be available at Whole Food stores for a year — after that, the rest of the world can have at it.

2. It’s currently only at Los Altos, Palo Alto, and Oakland Whole Foods, but it’ll expand to either 9 or 11 more Northern California WFs “very soon”. They weren’t sure which stores, but they THINK Redwood City and Berkeley are in. Los Angeles folks can try the cheeses at Crossroads, Tal Ronnen’s new vegan restaurant on Melrose, and I think there’s a cheese shop opening up next door or inside the restaurant or something CONFIRM OR DENY PLZ.

3. As of last Friday, all No Cal WF stores were sold out, but the’re supposed to get shipments this week. If you call in advance, make sure the employees look in the dairy case, and not with the vegan cheese!

OK, so what I tried… descriptions from Kite Hill’s FB page:

Costanoa, a semi soft dusted with a piquant blend of paprika and fennel pollen; and White Alder, a soft ripened cheese with a delicate white rind, pungent aroma and velvety texture. 

There’s one more flavor — Casuccio, a soft fresh with a supple, silky texture — but they didn’t have it at Whole Foods.

The people working the cheese section at Whole Foods were crazy about both cheeses, but particularly loved the White Alder. They were all genuinely excited about it, and impressed by it. 

I sampled it with a professional food critic (an omnivore!) and she thought it was good, if a bit salty. My vegetarian sister liked it a lot, but said it didn’t “trick her” into thinking it was cheese. She mentioned that it was crumbly like tofu, and not creamy like cheese — which was also my experience eating it. However, if the critic or my sister didn’t know it was vegan to begin with, who knows if they would’ve been able to tell. 

For my part, I thought it was good. Very good, especially when I ate it as instructed on the Kite Hill FB “info” page.

Costanoa:
Costanoa is a semi-soft cheese encrusted with a piquant crust of paprika and fennel pollen. Its texture is smooth and compact, making this cheese excellent for slicing and serving on crackers or fresh baguette rounds. We love to offset Costanoa’s buttery, earthy, peppery flavors with a pairing of fresh or caramelized figs.

Suggested wine pairing: A crisp, zesty dry white wine with citrus or floral notes. 

White Alder:
White Alder is a soft ripened velvety cheese with a white, fluffy rind. It has a tangy mushroomy flavor profile with a rich, silky texture and pungent aromatics. This cheese is best served straight from the refrigerator and pairs well with white grapes.

Suggested wine pairing: A dry white wine such as a Chardonnay with fruit or citrus notes or even Champagne.

I did think both flavors were a little salty, but mainly delicious. I preferred the White Alder because the rind was extra fun and reminded me of brie; I would be excited to eat this as part of a cheese plate at a fancy restaurant.

That said, I’m not sure if it’s as revolutionary as all that, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing — the more good vegan cheeses on the market, the better. Plus, the fact that the Whole Foods cheese people were SO excited about it, got me excited, too. Because if they say it tastes like cheese, it must taste (at least kinda) like cheese, right? And if the rich people are willing to switch from their cow cheese to this vegan cheese, that’s a good thing. And, uh, it’s gonna have to be rich people because this shiz is NOT cheap: White Alder is $14.99, Costonoa was $13.99 for six ounces. 

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So, what’s up? Have any of you tried it? What did you think?? 

UPDATE:

From San Francisco Magazine, here’s the list of Whole Foods the cheeses will be available at (and when!):

The brand will debut today (March 25) in Whole Foods Los Altos and Palo Alto; Tuesday in Oakland, Berkeley, Noe Valley, Franklin, and Potrero Hill; Wednesday in Mill Valley, San Rafael, and Sebastopol; and Thursday in San Jose, Cupertino, and Capitola. The cheeses are all exclusive to the Bay Area until they go national later this summer.

UPDATE 2:

Super Vegan tweets that Crossroads is out of Kite HIll and won’t have it back for “awhile”. DEMAND IS HIGH, MY FRIENDS. 

12/17/2012

Product review: Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Crab Cakes!  »

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I miss seafood. Thankfully, many a talented chef and  vegan company have heard my incredibly influential sobs, and risen to the challenge of putting this kind of delectable food item on the market! Today, we talk about Sophie’s Kitchen — specifically the crab cakes

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I got these bad boys at Whole Foods, a market I did not previously notice them at until recently. Here’s what I have to say — if you see them, grab them up. Honestly, I could not be more stoked with this product. 

I am not a fan of frying my food my food at home, which some of you might find surprising since I eat so much of it when going out. Whatever, let’s move on. I baked them, at 350, for about 15 minutes, or golden brown on the edges. I immediately ate one of them plain, because waiting for both the oven to pre-heat and then the cakes to bake was excruciating. Delicious! I don’t know how Sophie’s Kitchen does it! The best part is that these are gluten and soy-free! The texture is spot-on, but without being overly meaty, as I know some of you aren’t a fan of faux-meats that are exactly like the real thing. The addition of the wakame powder lends a fishy taste that I would also say is not over the top. It tastes like it’s from the sea, in a natural and light-hearted kind of way! 


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Baked to perfection and demolished in 30 seconds.  

Being a San Francisco Bay Area native, hot crab sandwiches were a part of my childhood. They bring back family lunches out, in Marin County while visiting my grandparents, and then my mom replicating those same sandwiches in our kitchen at home. Sometimes the hardest part of being vegan is not being able to eat the food that is linked to my family and our memories. Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Crab Cakes are delightful to me, not only because they are scrumptious, but also because for the first time in over a decade I got to eat a hot ‘crab’ sandwich! 

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My crab sandwich was nothing too spectacular, as I made it at my grandma’s house with only the crab cake, some french bread and Veganaise on hand. You can bet when I make them at home, I’ll be going all out with an english muffin, green onion, Veganaise and  melted vegan cheese. I can’t wait. However plain this one may seem, I couldn’t have been happier!

The crab cakes are somewhat small, so I thought I could eat all four, no problem. In reality, I could only get through two, because they are deliciously decadent! 

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Last but not least — the ingredients! I know a bunch of you are into analyzing this part of processed and packaged food items, so have at it! 

I can’t wait to try all of this company’s other products

10/30/2012

Whole Foods debuts their own brand of vegan meats!  »

And we’ve been eating them up and they’re TASTY. Chicken patties, burgers, meatballs, nuggets, THE WORKS.  

I believe they’re at all Whole Foods but Whole Foods doesn’t tell us shit so you might want to call a store near you and get the 411 on meatless meatballs and chickenless nuggets and WHAAAT. This stuff is GOOD. $4/package. I think that’s everything

LET’S EAT:

[thanks to wonderful megan and miles for the tip <3 ]

06/22/2012

Beyond meat is beyond delicious!   »

Ahahahaha! You are gonna have to forgive me for that title, it’s late! I want to be watching 30 Rock on Netflix, but I can’t rest until I deliver the news about Beyond Meat!


I’m super into it. Here’s the deal: it’s very chicken-y, so if you aren’t into faux meats, you probably won’t be into it. I on the other hand, love faux meats, as I didn’t go vegan because I hated the taste or texture of meat, and sometimes I miss it. So there! [Ed.: And it freakily shreds like real dead animal! So amazing! And I think the texture is better than Gardein… less, rubbery? Or something. And almost like, grisly and fatty! YUM.] Anyway, Beyond Meat reminds me of Gardein, except it’s gluten and nearly grain-free.* This is good news for me, because grains tend to hurt my stomach. Also, it’s not pre-seasoned! I’m into this because I like cooking so much so, that I want to season everything myself! Those Gardein chicken strips are ever-so-slightly seasoned, but seasoned nonetheless.

However, Beyond Meat isn’t available to buy pre-packaged like Gardein yet; I’m keeping my fingers crossed though. Oh yeah, I met the creators and they are super cool! We took a picture together, maybe one day I will see it on the internet; man, I hope I was sitting up straight and not blinking.


All grilled up and ready to be consumed by the masses me!

In San Francisco, I’ve spotted Beyond Meat at the Haight Street Whole Foods and Source restaurant! You know, my place of work. We got a couple bags to try out and luckily the chef is into it! So we’ll get a large shipment on Monday, and we’ll have it in specials or you can request to replace it for ‘cluck’ in any regular menu item. Isn’t that exciting? Your very special day to try Beyond Meat is coming! Let us know what you think when you eat it, I can’t wait to discuss!

[Ed.: It should be at all S.F. Bay Area Whole Foods by the end of next week. I purchased it in Redwood City and in San Rafael in their curry chicken salad in prepared foods—this is the only way I’ve seen to purchase it retail—so I’m pretty sure it’s errywhere! Oh, and here’s there rapidly expanding list of places to buy it!]

*Beyond Meat contains the grain amaranth.

06/11/2012

Bay Area! Try Beyond Meat this week at Whole Foods!   »

Beyond Meat, the vegan chicken meat that’s more real than the real thing but not dead so fun, HAS ARRIVED!! Sample it this week at the following San Francisco Whole Foods stores:

Monday, June 11th: Franklin store (11:15am-12:30pm); Haight store (4:15pm-5:30pm)
Tuesday, June 12th: Potrero store (11:15-12:30); Noe store (4:15-5:30)
Wednesday, June 13th: SoMa store (11:15-12:30)

And then, look for it in the prepared foods cases* it looks like Whole Foods is gonna start making mad deliciousness with it! This stuff is freaky realistic and I think maybe it’s meant more for meat eaters but we gotta support because 1) vegans gotta be all up in it and 2) we love to eat! Hopefully if it gets crazy popular, it can be used to feed people in developing countries a healthy protein for cheap and people will start grilling this shit up on 4th of July and chickens will get to be happy and goofy and take dirt baths and lay in the sunshine and just not give a cluck! SO yeah: eat it, spread the word, make it happen. 

*I don’t think you can buy it like, in the frozen or fresh sections yet… but maybe soon??

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