One of the hardest parts of being a new vegan (or even an old seasoned vegan) is trying to keep up with all the new products out there. I must have spent over $50 looking for the "right" vegan cheese my first year being a vegan and I have over 50 vegan/vegetarian cookbooks in my arsenal but not all the recipes are the greatest. I’m the first born so I’m used to being a Guinea Pig and now I’m your Vegan Guinea Pig. So here are my recommendations and critiques. Let me know what you think!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Breakfast Sausage Style Links by Lightlife

When it comes to Lightlife brand of products sometimes I love them and sometimes I hate them. The Organic Smokey Tempeh Strips were on the hate them side but I have to say that I actually like the Lightlife’s breakfast sausage style links. Although my favorite vegan sausage of all time is the now discontinued Publix brand sausage this is a pretty good compromise. It has a great little bite to it and a wonderful mix of spices. It has been decades since I had pork or beef sausage but my instincts tell me that if you’re looking for either of those flavors to be duplicated you won’t find them here, but they are delicious on their own and a wonderful protein boost to your breakfast.

Although they are technically breakfast links the taste is closer to that of the type of sausage you would find on a pizza so that’s exactly how I like to use it. After trying it once as a side to some tofu scramble and sweet potato waffles I decided to use a little left over teese and make sausage mini pizzas. It was 1000 times better as a pizza topping than as a breakfast sausage. It’s also pretty pliable so you can just pinch off pieces of it add it to pizzas, make a breakfast burrito with a little tofu scramble or just eat it as is.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Organic Smokey Tempeh Strips by Lightlife

I have tried for years, 3 years to be exact, to like Lightlife’s Smokey Tempeh Strips but to no avail. I keep on buying them thinking that this time things will be different but they never are. In my mind I’m imagining a rich smokey thin slice of tempeh with a hint of sweetness but it never turns out that way. For some reason all I taste is the smoke, and a tart smoke at that. Someone out there obviously likes them since they keep on showing up in my grocer’s refrigerated section time and time again. As for me, I just can’t stomach them and I’m done wasting my money trying.

Note: If anyone has a good way to doctor these things up and make them halfway edible I’d love to try it since I still have about 9 strips left and don’t want to waste them.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Trader Joe’s Barley Soup with Vegetables

A while back while stocking my vegan pantry with non perishables I decide to throw in a can of Trader Joe’s Barley Soup with Vegetables. It was less than $2 a can and weighed in at over 28 ounces so I was clearly getting a deal. As an added plus there were no mystery ingredients on the label; just water, barley, vegetable and spices. Now that we are reaching record low temperatures here in Georgia I thought it would be a perfect time to breakout the soup from the back of my pantry.

No need to add water, just heat and serve. Simple enough. This soup had so many things going right for it that I didn’t anticipate the one thing that could go wrong – way too much salt. So much salt that I could freeze it and turn it into a salt lick for my goats. I tried to dilute it with ¼ cup of water and add some freshly ground pepper. When that didn’t work I added a couple more tablespoons of water. Then I just gave up and began to eat it. I tried to keep happy thoughts in my head and remember all the things that drew me to this soup: wholesome ingredients, low in calories, great price and high in fiber. But eventually, after managing to eat half a bowl I just couldn’t go on any further and immediately went upstairs to rinse the salt out of my mouth before it crystallized and I had a deep sea adventure on my tongue.

If you are used to eating a diet high in salt then the taste probably won’t bother you. But mind you, 1 servings (which is 1 cup) of this soup has almost 40% worth of your daily salt intake and that’s if you eat a 2000 calories diet. For someone like me it’s nearly 50% of my daily salt intake per serving. Had I paid attention to that little nugget of information on the label I would have most likely steered clear from the beginning.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gingerbread Donut Holes

When December roles around I always get a craving for all things gingerbread. Gingerbread cookies, gingerbread cake and now gingerbread donut holes. The makers of these delectable treats, Nutrilicious Natural Bakery, have a line of donuts and donut holes that never disappoint. Although there standard flavors of yogurt glazed, cinnamon spelt and chocolate/carob are all amazing it’s their seasonal flavors that make me do a little happy dance.

For the thanksgiving holiday it was pumpkin, which tasted like little bites of sugary heaven. For the Christmas season they have unveiled their gingerbread flavor. After winning a box of these treats in the trivia round at Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppes 2nd Annual Bake-Off I couldn’t wait to get home and try them. I warmed them in the microwave for about 10 seconds to soften them up a bit and then took my first bite. Celestial! So sweet, so rich, so perfect. Most of the gingerbread taste is in the icing so, if you’re like me and like them a little warm, make sure you heat them until they are just soft but the icing doesn’t begin to melt (about 7-10 seconds).

To find a retailer in your area that carries these mouth-watering treats head to the Nutrilcious website or order online at Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Vegan White Chocolate Chips By Oppenheimer

Oh how I love love love white chocolate! However, for the last 3 years I have been without this luscious treat. White chocolate is just one of those treats that I had to part with forever when going vegan, I accepted it and moved on. But it looks like I moved on too soon and thanks to Oppenheimer white chocolate has come back into my life.

The taste, the texture, the sweetness, the creaminess it is all there. Oppenheimer’s vegan white chocolate chips taste even better than I remember white chocolate to be. At first I was afraid to try the chips alone so I whipped up some white chocolate macadamia nuts cookies (pictured below). Heaven! Pure bliss! I was on cloud nine. I decided to try a couple chips alone and well, by now you can guess my reaction. This is the best $3.99 I have spent this month thus far. I’m not a huge sweets person but I will be keeping a bag of these delicious vegan treats on hand as a permanent part of my vegan pantry.

To get your own bag head over to Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Goodbelly Multi – Fruit Drink Shot with Multivitamins

After I tried Goodbelly’s Probitoic fruit drink I had to try their fruit drink shots with multivitamins. What an ingenious idea of adding multivitamin’s into your daily probiotics. I’ll never go back to yogurt again (well, maybe a little Ricera every now and then). Goodbelly’s shot come in their own little nutrient and probiotic packed shot cup. In only 2.7 ounces they manage to fit amazing flavors (Peach/Mango, Blueberry Acai and Strawberry/Rosehips), 20 billion active probiotics, 100% of the daily requriemente for Vitamins C, E, K, Riboflavin, B6, Folate, B12, Biotin, and Pantothenic Acid; 50% of the daily requirement for Thiamain, Zinc, Selenium, Manganese, Chromium and Molybdenum and is a good source of calcium, vitamin D and vitamin A. All this for only 50 calories.

And did I mention that these little shots pack tons of flavor! The Peach/Mango is velty smooth, creamy and sweet. The Blueberry Acai taste likes like a rich blueberry smoothie. I did not get an opportunity to taste the strawberry rosehip as it was sold out at both my co-op and Whole Foods, if it’s demand is any indication it seems to be a consumer favorite. Like the Fruit Drink it is vegan, soy free and wheat free as well. The GoodbellyProbiotic website has a buy one get one free crequirementoupon for the 4-pack of Goodbelly Multi and the Fruit Drink in the quart size. At the Whole Foods here in Atlanta the multi-shots are about 50 cents cheaper than the fruit drink but with the coupon I stocked up on both.

Buy one get one free coupon good until 12/31/08

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Goodbelly Probiotic Fruit Drink

After the disappointment of So Delicious Coconut Yogurt I was looking for another, more satisfying way, to get probiotics into my diet. I’ve been adding Acidophilus powder to my smoothies but it really hasn’t been smoothie weather lately (something about 41 degree highs doesn’t scream smoothie for me). My probiotic drink of choice has always been Kombucha but the strains of bacteria floating around it always weirded me out and I had to psych myself up to gulp it down – not to mention that I also had to cover the bottle so I couldn’t see what I was drinking.

But just as I found myself alone on the dance floor with the house lights dimmed, a disco-ball appeared from the ceiling and a spotlight followed me as I walked towards my probiotic destiny – Goodbelly Probiotic Fruit Drink. I was cautious, but I decided to take the plunge and dance (after all there was a disco ball). Thanks to a buy one get one free online coupon I was able to try all 3 flavors for half the regular price (knocking each quart down from nearly $5 to $2.50). For the first time in a long time I actually enjoyed every flavor I tried. Although, out of the Mango, Black Currant and Watermelon/Cranberry flavors Watermelon/Cranberry is my favorite. Not only is every flavor fantastic but each one is also low in calories averaging 100 calories a glass and packed with vitamins & minerals such as vitamin E, Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6. They are, of course, vegan but not only that they are perfect for those with allergies because it is wheat free and soy free as well (although it does not say gluten free and there is a distinction between wheat free and gluten free so make sure to double check if you have a gluten allergy)*.

The price of Goodbelly varies from store to store but ranges between $4-5. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see it at many major grocery stores such as Publix and Wegman’s on the East Coast and Safeway & select Albertsons on the West Coast. It is also available at most Whole Foods and local co-ops. For a location near you, check the company’s website.

*Note: The labeling online and in the retail stores of “Vegan” varied so I double checked with the company to make sure all of their products are vegan. I also asked for clarification of the “wheat-free” vs. “gluten-free” labeling. Both answers from the company are below:

All GoodBelly products are completely vegan and have no animal derivatives. The plant where we produce GoodBelly, is solely dedicated to production of GoodBelly. It may put you at ease to know that our company was started by Steve Demos, the man who started White Wave Tofu and Silk Soymilk.

There are no genetically modified ingredients in GoodBelly- GoodBelly is GMO-free! As well, we just received our Organic Certification from Quality Assurance International, a very reputable Organic Certifier.

We only claim that GoodBelly is wheat free – not gluten free.
GoodBelly uses oat flour as the basis for growing probiotic culture. We use a small amount of barley malt that assists the oats in the culturing process.

We have had the GoodBelly tested for gluten and have found consistently that gluten is not detectable…even at a detection limit of 20ppm (parts per million). However, we will still not make a claim that GoodBelly is gluten free, as it contains traces of gluten from barley malt.
For a list of frequently asked questions regarding GoodBelly products please go to Please don't hesitate to contact us with additional questions or comments.

Buy one get one free coupon good until 12/31/08

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