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!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Joys of the TofuXpress

Howdy! I have been on quite a hiatus for much of the month of November but never fear your Vegan Guinea Pig is back and eating and reading up a storm to give you guys some great new reviews. First on deck, TofuXpress.

When TofuXpress first showed up on the market a little under a year ago I was ecstatic! I've never been the greatest at pressing all the water out of tofu. Wrapping it in towels, then weighting it, changing the towels and weighting it again or attempting to squeeze it as hard as possible without breaking the form of the tofu were both unattractive options but there has never been alternative. I headed to the TofuXpress website to buy my very own and then saw the $39.95 price tag and decided that for nearly 40 I would just suffer through the weights and towels.

But then I got frustrated. I’m a sucka (yep sucka with an “a” not an “er”) for Thai food. The first time I ever had tofu and liked it was from a Thai restaurant, the texture is just so perfect. I wanted to make some panang curry at home with that perfectly textured tofu but it just wasn’t happening for me. Inevitably my mind wandered to the Tofuxpress again but I still wasn’t quite ready to make the jump. As it turns out you guys were starting to think the same thing as me. In the last 3 months I've received at least 20 emails asking me my opinion of the TofuXpress. So I finally decided to give it a try and I am so happy that I did!

My first time using the Tofu Xpress I placed my tofu inside and let it sit in the fridge while I went off to work and class. 8 hours later I came back only to see that my block of tofu had shrunk by half and there was over ¾ cup of water waiting to be trained from the top! You can guess what happened next – Panang Curry here I come! It was so amazing, the texture was perfect. Just a little pan frying, added the sauce and veggies and voila! Authentic Thai food at home.

Once I started I couldn’t stop. Tofu Kebabs, Filet O’Tofish sandwiches from my book Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food, and of course Tofu Scramble. When making tofu scramble I like a lighter press so I just popped my tofu in the Tofuxpress for about 10-15 minutes while prepping the other ingredients and that was enough time to drain out at least ¼ cup of water from the tofu! The Tofuxpress is also great for marinating but here’s the secret – once you’ve pressed all the water out, take the tofu out and cut it into 4 sheets or cube it while still I the tofu express. Then marinate for desired amount of time and press out a little more before using in your recipe. If you don’t cut up your tofu before marinating then the marinade won’t go all the way through your tofu.

The biggest downside to the TofuXpress is the price, because really if you have a family you’re going to need more than one of these things at spending $71.95 (there’s a discount for buying two) just to press out your tofu can seem like a bit much. But when you think about it, if you’re a kitchen gadget lover like myself you’ve probably spent double or triple the $39.95 price tag of TofuXpress on other kitchen gadgets. I only use my pressure cooker to cook beans but I know I spent at least $80 on it without thinking twice, or my French Mandoline that I only use twice a quarter or so, and don’t get me started on the new Convection Oven I just bought myself for my birthday. So in the grand scheme of things $39.95 for one or $71.90 for two TofuXpress’ isn’t really that bad after all. So go on out and get yourself one!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gardein's Tuscan "Chicken" Breast

The folks at Gardein emailed me to inform me that they had a bad batch of their Tuscan chicken breast out there in circulation. I was extremely skeptical, it's easy to blame a bad experience on a "bad batch" but on the off chance they were telling the truth I accepted their offer to try another batch of their Tuscan chicken breast.

With skepticism written all over my face I baked up one breast, plated it with a salad again and took a bite. OMG!!! (Yes I just said OMG) It was sooooo yummy. I'm going to be honest with you, it’s been so long since I had actual chicken I couldn't tell you if it did or didn't taste like chicken but what it did taste like was one damn delicious meal. The taste, the texture, the sauce, everything was perfection! And for only 150 calories and 22 grams of protein how can you go wrong! I now officially know what all the fuss is about. Gardein's Tuscan Chicken breast will now and forever be the go to convenience food in the fridge.
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