Tempeh Product Review

Lightline Tempeh-Tations

Lightlife Tempeh-Tations

Jane has never been a huge fan of tempeh. We've tried it a number of times. I like it, but we both much prefer seitan. Recently, Lightlife came out with a new Tempeh product, Tempeh-tations. It comes in three varieties: Zesty Lemon, Classic BBQ, and Ginger Teriyaki.

Last night we tried the Ginger Teriyaki. The package is 6 ounces and makes two servings - 160 calories each. Jane sauteed up a bunch of vegetables and made some brown rice to go along with it. She also added some chicken vegetable stock to the sautee pot to make a little sauce, otherwise it would have been a tad dry.

The verdict: I thought it was delicious. Jane thought it was better than other tempeh she'd tried and would have it again, but still had a hint of bitterness. What she loved most about this product is its ease of preparation. It's another option for a quick and easy dinner, and I will happily consume it.

Next time we'll try the BBQ I think.

Vegan Handbag Review

Vegetarian Shoes & Bags - Orleans by Pink

Vegetarian Shoes & Bags - Orleans by Pink

Hi everyone, it's Jane writing tonight. No, it's not another Daring Bakers Challenge... I'm writing a product review. We were contacted recently by Vegetarian Shoes and Bags and asked to review a purse to help announce their new collection of 100% cruelty-free handbags.

As most of you know, Lane and I went vegan a little over a year and a half ago.  We're still wearing our old leather accessories and shoes.  Our reasoning here is that the cow has already been sacrificed; throwing away these items would be wasteful.  But they're slowly starting to wear out, and need to be replaced... this time with vegan items. So the timing of this couldn't be better for me.

Orleans Interior

Orleans Interior

My purse showed up within a week.  I received the Orleans bag by Pink Studios.   Typically, I tend to carry smaller bags, so Lane and I jokingly refer to this bag as "the luggage."  But in all seriousness, I LOVE IT!   This is, hands down, one of the better-made bags I have ever owned.   The zippers don't catch, there were no stray threads anywhere, and the seams are all even.

I've tried to abuse the bag a bit by overloading it, but so far, it's stood up to everything I've dished out.    In addition to the usual items you'd carry in your purse, I've carried two hardcover novels, my camera, and my knitting with no issues!

Orleans Bag Seam Detail

Orleans Bag Seam Detail

As for the interior of the bag - the main compartment zips shut with a cell phone pocket another smaller pocket, and an interior zip pocket.  Then there are two compartments that have snaps on either side of the main compartment, and two small pockets on the outside of the purse for quick access items.

All in all, I am very pleased with this purse and would recommend the Pink line of purses.  As for Vegetarian Shoes and Bags -- they're Vegan Society certified, and vegan themselves.  They reserach their manufacturers so the products they carry are 100% vegan in nature, without exception.  So you can choose your items without having to read any fine print.

Nogürt, A New Way To Think About Yogurt

Nogürt

Nogürt

Jane and I were asked to review a soon-to-be-released new product recently. The product is Nogürt, a non-soy based vegan yogurt. It's not only soy-free, it's also GMO free, dairy-free, casein-free, lacotse-free, gluten-free, and certified organic to boot. In other words, it's a healthy option.

Since going vegan, we've pretty much given up on yogurt. Jane does use soy yogurt in some of her cooking/baking, but neither of us has been satisfied with the soy-yogurt substitutes we've tried eating straight from the container. So you can imagine how excited we were when the folks at Nogürt contacted us. The product arrived during the holidays, so we had a little sampling with two of our family members. The tasting group wound up being three adults and one child. We were sent three flavors to sample: Orange, Blueberry, and Pomegranate.

Nogürt Orange

Nogürt Orange

First the Orange.

Nutritional Info -- Serving Size:6 oz /170g; Calories: 220; Fat 1.5 g; Carbs: 50 g; Protein: 3 g

Neither Jane nor I had ever tried orange yogurt; to us, that flavor didn't really make sense. Although we both did love creamsicles when we were children... It smelled okay, but the taste and texture didn't work for any of us. Of the three flavors, this was the least palatable to the four of us.

Nogürt Pomegranate

Nogürt Pomegranate

Next we tried the Pomegranate.

Nutritional Info -- Serving Size:6 oz /170g; Calories: 230; Fat 1 g; Carbs: 52 g; Protein: 3 g

When we opened the container, we were all pleased with the aroma that came from within. It wasn't as tart as some pomegranate products. Of the three, this was Jane's favorite, and her sister-in-law's as well.

Nogürt Blueberry

Nogürt Blueberry

Finally, there was the Blueberry

Nutritional Info -- Serving Size:6 oz /170g; Calories: 220; Fat 2 g; Carbs: 48 g; Protein: 3 g

Blueberry was always my favorite flavor of dairy-based yogurt. And this wound up being my favorite of the Nogürt brand. Our nephew also thought this was the best of the three (is it a gender thing?). It didn't smell as good as the pomegranate, however.

Overall product review:

The Nogürt, while not as smooth as dairy-based yogurt, is far superior in texture to any soy yogurt we've tried. Since we tested flavored varieties, Jane didn't cook/bake with any of them, so we can't report on that. Will we buy this product? Absolutely. However, as with most vegan "substitution" products, I don't think it is superior to the product it is replacing. If you or someone you love suffers from allergies, this product is a must-try.

As of this time, Nogürt is not yet available. Look for it soon in your local Whole Foods and if you're in Colorado, Vitamin Cottage and Sunflower Farmers Market as well.

Vegan Chocolate SoyMilk Review

Chocolate Soymilk Review

Chocolate Soymilk Review

Jane and I thought it was time to do another side-by-side taste test of vegan chocolate milks.  Last year we settled on Silk's Light Chocolate Soymilk as our favorite, but things can change.  We found a soymilk in Target, Archer Farms Organic, and we also found some 8th Continent Light Soymilk which a number of you say you prefer.  So, we figured it was time to revisit the issue.  Without further ado, here are our findings:

Archer Farms Organic Chocolate Soymilk

Calories 130.  3 g fat.  5 g protein.

This was the only full fat chocolate soymilk we sampled.  Interestingly, it looked the "lightest" of the three.  It was paler in color and appeared more "watery."   It had a nice nose.  As for taste.  I enjoyed it very much.  Jane liked it too, but thought it had an aftertaste.  It placed second in our taste test today.

Silk Light Chocolate Soymilk

Calories 120.  1.5 g fat.  5 g protein.

Our personal favorite.  It still holds up as the winner.  The scent was more chocolate-y and the beverage itself has more body.  A very satisfying drink.

8th Contintent Light Chocolate Soymilk:

Calories 90.  1.5 g fat.  7 g protein.

Downright awful.  I thought it smelled like paint.  Jane, who typically has a better sense of smell than I do, thought it smelled like chocolate.  But we both agreed it was terrible.  It had a chalky aftertaste and the texture was also not as good as the others.  It was so bad we double-checked the expiration date to make sure it was still okay.  It was.

In the past we've also tried the Whole Foods store brand and didn't care for that either.  Hands down Silk Light Chocolate Soymilk is the way to go.

When we buy soy or almond milk, we tend to buy the refrigerated varieties, but many of these products are also available in asceptic cartons, so you can stock up and keep them in your cupboard as they do not need to be refrigerated. Here's a few chocolate soy milks that are available in asceptic packages:

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LabelSilkZenSoyImagine
Rating4.4 out of 5 stars4.8 out of 5 stars4.7 out of 5 stars
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LinkMore InfoMore InfoMore Info

The review is about chocolate soy milks, but there are also chocolate almond milks (which we prefer):

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LabelPacific Natural FoodsSilkBlue Diamond
Rating4.3 out of 5 stars4.3 out of 5 stars3.9 out of 5 stars
ReviewsRead ReviewsRead ReviewsRead Reviews
LinkMore InfoMore InfoMore Info

Product prices and availability are accurate as of Feb 3 21:20:52 UTC but are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the merchant site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Along with vanilla milks in both soy and almond varieties:

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LabelPacific Natural FoodsBlue DiamondSilk
Rating4.3 out of 5 stars4.0 out of 5 stars4.8 out of 5 stars
ReviewsRead ReviewsRead ReviewsRead Reviews
LinkMore InfoMore InfoMore Info

Product prices and availability are accurate as of Feb 3 21:23:55 UTC but are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the merchant site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Image
LabelSilkSilkZenSoy
Rating4.7 out of 5 stars4.0 out of 5 stars4.8 out of 5 stars
ReviewsRead ReviewsRead ReviewsRead Reviews
LinkMore InfoMore InfoMore Info

Fit Fruit And Vegetable Wash

I have to admit, I'm not the target demographic for this type of product. Jane's tried to beat it into my head that we need to wash things before we eat them, but I'm a guy, and when I want to eat something, I simply want to eat it.  Washing things tends to get in the way.  However, the vendor contacted us and asked us if we'd like to review Fit Fruit and Vegetable Wash.  Since at least 75% of what we eat is produce, Jane thought it would be worth a test run.

The website and instructions claim you'll notice a marked difference between the produce you wash with Fit and the produce you rinse off in the sink.  Our experience didn't hold that to be true for most things we tried.  However, as I've mentioned before, we buy almost all of our produce at our local farmers market, and most of that is organic and/or spray-free.  So I'm not sure how much residue would be removed anyway.  We didn't find a significant difference when washing supermarket apples however, and that was a bit disappointing.  Jane is torn.  We know that the skin of apples has cancer-inhibiting properties, but there is usually a significant coat of something (wax?) on the skin, so we often eat our apples peeled.

We did notice a huge improvement using Fit on our citrus peel.  If you use the zest of lemons, limes or oranges in your cooking/baking, this product does a great job getting the waxy coating off the citrus rind.  I tried to capture before and after images, but it's too subtle for the camera.  The results are quite obvious in real life though, the rinds felt cleaner and weren't as shiny as they had been prior to washing.  We also had success using fit when washing blackberries.

Fit is easy to use.  You either spray, rub and wash for individual items, or add a capful to a bowl of water and soak things like berries, mixed greens, or cauliflower. Using the product, we noticed no aftertaste, no smell, no residue.

All in all, I can't say I agree with all the advertising claims made by Fit Fruit and Vegetable Wash, but I do see a place for it in our pantry.

Nutiva Product Review

Nutiva PackageOne of the fun things about blogging is that, occasionally, you are asked to review a product. Recently, we received a package from Nutiva. The package contained a variety of goodies. There was a jar of coconut oil, hemp oil, a bag of hempseed, a package of hemp protein, three HempShakes (Berry Pomegranate, Amazon Acai, and Chocolate), and a hempseed bar.

The first things we tried were the oils. Personally, I don't care for the taste of coconut oil over olive oil, but the authors of Skinny Bitch use it in most of their recipes, and I know many of you like it too. I've read conflicting information as to whether or not it's healthy. Neither Jane nor I have any medical training,and haven't done any real research into coconut oil, so I'll leave it to you to decide if it's something you consider healthy or not. It's not a product I expect we'll be buying. The hemp oil, however, has a nutty taste and works well in salad dressing. (If you buy it, make sure to keep it refrigerated.)

The next thing we tried was the hemp bar. If you don't eat honey, this isn't vegan! If you do... well, this reminded us of what most people assume you eat as a vegan - bird food. It's funny because we liked adding the hemp seeds to our salad, kind of like sunflower seeds, but the bar didn't work at all.

Next we tried two of the hemp shakes. Jane wanted to try the chocolate, and I chose the amazon acai. The instructions suggest adding fruit, so we used frozen raspberries, which made for a nice thick shake. However, neither Jane nor I cared for either of the two. But don't take our word for it, this product won best new supplement at the 2006 natural product expo, according to Nutiva.

I've been using the protein powder in my morning smoothies. I really enjoy the taste. Out of all Nutiva's products, the protein powder is by far and away the best, in my opinion, and I would absolutely have that again.

We Ate Natto

Recently, I wrote about a purchase Jane and I made at the Japanese market in Los Angeles... In case you don't remember, we bought some natto (fermented soybeans). Well we finally got around to trying it last night. I have to admit to having cold feet, all those YouTube videos of people gagging and worse weren't inspiring. So every time Jane suggested we try it, I'd reply "not tonight, I'm not in the mood honey." ;) Last night, she didn't ask, she just prepared the dish.

We have a few simple rules in our marriage. We try not to fight in front of friends/family. We don't spend over $100 without discussing it first. When someone prepares a meal, the other one eats it, unless it truly makes them ill. We can ask not to be fed something again, but we have to at least try it. So, I tried it.

Jane opened the package, and as expected, it was sticky. However, the smell everyone talked about didn't overwhelm us. We'd heard it was supposed to smell of stinky feet or strong cheese. It had an odor, but it was much milder and not at all offensive.

So you're supposed to stir the stuff up a bit before eating it. It gets more and more gooey as you do that (which began to freak me out a bit). Being that this was an experiment, we tasted the natto at this point without adding anything else. It tasted a bit like beans with a hint of beer. Not bad, but in definite need of improvement.

The suggested method of eating natto is over warm white rice with soy sauce and green onion. The natto comes with spicy mustard and some other seasoning packet. Typically we don't have white rice in the house. So we made sure to bring home our leftover rice from the Indian restaurant we ate at on Monday night. Okay, so the rice had a bit of saffron, and the natto would have probably been better over sticky rice, but overall, it was okay. It's way better than Vegemite! We thought the rice was necessary. And the sauce and onions improved the taste dramatically.

We'll eat the other two packages, however we probably wouldn't buy natto again. If it were served to us, we wouldn't hesitate to eat it. Honestly, I don't understand what all the fuss is about.

The package is all in Japanese, but they've put a little sticker on the back in English. So, we bought Kotsumbu Natto which came in three individual packages. The ingredient list:

Natto:

  • Soybean
  • water

Seasoning:

  • Soy sauce (water, soybean, wheat, salt)
  • vinegar
  • sugar
  • mustargd
  • salt and citric acid

Nutritional Info:

  • Calories: 140
  • Total Fat: 7g
  • Sodium: 1mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 9.8g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.8g
  • Sugars: 8g
  • Protein: 11g

Feel Good Tees

A few weeks ago, we received a t-shirt in the mail. Sandra Blum of FeelGoodTees.com asked us to review her shirt. She sent us a ladies large. Obviously, that was for Jane who was delighted with the graphic on the shirt.  It's a really nice way to get the message across.

We wrote Sandra back that we would write an honest review (good or bad), and that it would take a few weeks since Jane wanted to run it through the wash a few times to see how it held up.

The t-shirt we received is a "Long Sleeve Baby Rib Vegan Tee." This means it's one of those form fitting tees. (It's stretch cotton, whatever that means.) Jane typically wears t-shirts that are a little looser, and she usually likes an xl. So this is not a style that she'd wear, at least not without something over the top. In addition we both found the shirt to run a bit small. It got even smaller when Jane ran it through the wash. The instructions clearly say "tumble dry low" and Jane admits to not reading the label, which would account for the significant shrinkage we experienced.

So, after washing it and running it through the drier three times (cold wash / "normal" dry) we found no difference in color (it was still as black as the day we received it). Nor was there any disturbance to the graphic. To give you an idea of how much it shrank, this image is of a large t-shirt laying on top of a ladies xl t-shirt (non-form fitting). The t-shirt is designed to stretch, so it's not as small as it looks, but definitely get a larger size than you normally would. Especially if you're a bit relaxed in your laundering as we tend to be.

Overall, the shirt feels very good. Ms Blum has the t-shirts manufactured here in Los Angeles, and according to the website, they are sweatshop free (employees are paid fair wages). Ms Blum also donates a portion of her sales to animal sanctuaries and animal rights organizations.

"When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion." -- Abraham Lincoln

For me, it's what being a vegetarian is all about. I feel good because I do good by making a difference and not just unconsciously do what everybody else does. -- Sandra Blum

FeelGoodTees.com also offers t-shirts for men and kids, and babies.

Silk-y, Chocolate-y Goodness

Jane and I have become addicted to Silk's Light Chocolate Milk. We probably go through a half gallon every week or two. It's our "dessert." Someone even suggested to us that it makes a great hot chocolate, although it's been too hot to try it since we heard the suggestion. We've tried a whole slew of the silk products over the last 11 months, this is our favorite. (I really like the Silk Mocha beverage too.)

So we were in Whole Foods recently and they had a private-brand Soy Chocolate Soymilk product. It was $3.69 for a ½-gallon container. We pay $3.50 for the Light Silk at Ralph's. (Yes, that is the name of one of our grocery chains... if you don't believe me, google it!) We decided it was time for a taste test. We brought both containers home with us, and today was the day.

The winner was the Silk Brand Light Chocolate Milk, by far. We poured a glass of each. The Silk product was darker and thicker than the Whole Foods - 365 brand. It also had a more chocolate-y taste than the 365 brand, and a better overall mouth-feel. And it also won in the nutritional category, at least for the things we look at, although that may not be fair as the Silk Chocolate Soymilk we consume is the "Light" chocolate milk.

The nutritional information stacks up as follows (The Silk Light Chocolate Soymilk // 365-Brand Chocolate Soymilk):

  • 120 calories // 150 calories
  • 1.5 grams of fat // 3.5 grams of fat
  • 0 grams saturated fat // 0.5 grams saturated fat
  • 22 grams carbohydrate // 24 grams carbohydrate
  • 5 grams protein // 7 grams protein
  • 100 mg sodium // 170 mg sodium

So, as far as I'm concerned the 365-brand is okay, but if you can get the Silk Light Chocolate Soymilk, it's a better product. Jane actually disliked the 365-brand and wouldn't have it again.

BBQ Grill – Vegan Style

Yesterday was Memorial Day, and as is tradition, we grilled. As I mentioned previously, we grilled for some omni friends and family and their children. Everyone knew upfront that they would be consuming a vegan meal, and everyone seemed to be willing to give it a go. We were pretty excited about that, and a little nervous too!

Our buffet was comprised of the following:

  • red-cabbage salad
  • cucumber salad
  • green salad
  • grilled eggplant slices
  • grilled asparagus spears
  • grilled Maui onions
  • grilled peppers
  • grilled purple potatoes
  • grilled marinated tofu
  • MorningStar Grillers Vegan (stove-top preparation)
  • corn on the cob
  • guacamole

Overall, our barbeque was a success. We were pretty excited about the purple potatoes we picked up at the farmers market this past weekend. Unfortunately, they were unremarkable. They tasted like regular potatoes, and the recipe called for them to be parboiled and then placed in foil with a bit of salt, oil, and garlic, and then put on the barbeque. Jane's promised to try something else with the leftover potatoes. I'm hoping for shepard's pie (vegan style, of course).

The marinade we used for the tofu was a little heavy on the curry. It was good, but next time we'll try a different spice blend. The kids absolutely hated it, and I don't think it went over well with most of the adults either, which was too bad because it probably reinforced the stereotype of tofu being a "weird" hippie food. But everyone LOVED the burgers. The rest of the menu was very tasty. The eggplant slices were grilled to perfection. One of my friends said they tasted like parmigiana without the glop.

For dessert, Jane made a lovely fruit salad. We also had sliced strawberries with macadamia nut cream from Vegan with a Vengeance, and So Delicious Chocolate Ice Cream.

So, did we win over any converts? Probably not. But we did illustrate that it's easy to eat meatless.