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!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Gardein Saga Continues - New Seasoned Bites

My parents are the best. Home for the holiday’s and the refrigerator is stocked with soy and almond milk and the pantry with nooch (nutritional yeast), vital gluten, quinoa, soy flour, not-beef and chicken broth and the list goes on and on! My mom was also nice enough to buy a couple gardein products for me. One I haven’t tried before is the new Gardein Seasoned Bites. Since the box didn’t offer much direction on what dishes to use these little bites in I decided to make tacos with them. I sautéed some red onion and green bell pepper, chopped up the bites to smaller bites and added a couple teaspoons of my taco seasoning.

It looked divine, smelled like the most delicious tacos ever created (mind you I was starving so just about anything would have smelled delicious at this point). I toasted my taco shells, and stuffed them with the seasoned bites, lettuce and fresh salsa. It was so beautiful that I spent 5 minutes looking for a camera to take a picture of my magnificent lunch but the growling from my stomach said that photos would have to wait for another day and it was time to chow down. I took my first excited bite and was disappointed. The texture was fine, and my taco seasoning is always amazing but there was one fundamental problem that I’ve begun to notice with gardein products – all the sauces taste the same. These seasoned bites tasted just like the Gardein Tuscan Breast. Basically, these were just the Tuscan Breast cut up and repackaged. I was expecting a clean slate to work with but that’s not what I got. I’m really disappointed at the lack of originality in the sauces that Gardein uses. These would’ve been perfect if they were just lightly seasoned, with no sauce, and allow the bites to be a clean palate that are versatile enough to incorporate into any dish or recipe.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Angels and Demons – Gardein edition

Let me tell you for a fact, I will try just about anything for you guys and blog about it. I was nearly food poisoned by a bad batch of Gardein Tuscan Breast but tried them one more time only to find out that the issue had been resolved and those little cutlet’s of vegan happiness were delicious. Although the folks are Gardein were kind enough to send me samples of some of their other products (reviews to come on those soon) I got so excited after trying the Tuscan Breast that I went out and bought the crispy tenders (vegan chicken tenders) and the classic style buffalo wings.

I have to admit, it was hard for me to turn my back on Boca (the brand that made me a vegetarian) to buy Gardein's crispy tenders but it was a necessary betrayal for the sake of my readers! As I sit here, writing this, thinking about the last time I took a bite of these Gardein crispy tenders I just get a warm and fuzzy feeling all over. Like little vegan nuggets dancing through my head. I’m sad to say it but those boca nuggets are a thing of the past. Gardein’s crispy tenders are AMAZING! The taste, the texture, they’re crispy and juicy and perfect in every way. And did I mention they’re only 90 calories a serving?! If there weren’t laws against women marrying soy products then I would be Mrs. Crispy Tender, but you could call me Tender for short ;)

After a great 2nd impression with Gardein’s Tuscan Breast and a phenomenal first impression with their crispy tenders I was more excited than a 13 year old girl on the opening night of Twilight New Moon to try their classic style buffalo wings. But from the moment I opened the package I knew this was going to be an awful experience. All the “wings” were clumped up together in one big ball of soy and gluten. I microwaved them for about 30 seconds to separate the wings only to realize that there was only sauce on about ½ of them and out of those half the sauce was only on half the wing. But I soldiered on. I decided to bake them, hoping that the sauce would defrost slowly and begin to coat the entire wing, but that was simply wishful thinking. There was one wing that had a decent amount of sauce on it so I decided to try it out before I added my own buffalo sauce to the rest. IT WAS DISUSTING. Awful. Horrific. I spit it out immediately. The texture was slimy and just plain strange. The sauce was like a really bad enchilada sauce. It didn’t even closely resemble a buffalo sauce let alone a classic buffalo sauce. The whole thing was just one big disaster. As I attempted to brush every speck of these disgusting wings off my tongue all I could think is “why didn’t they just add some buffalo sauce to the crispy tenders? It would’ve been so perfect!” Well, perfect as long as they didn’t use whatever buffalo sauce was on their current wings.

So the final verdict is Gardein’s Crispy Tenders – Angel!!!! Gardein’s Classic Style Buffalo Wings – Demon!!!!
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