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!

Monday, October 22, 2012

New Product Review: Vega Energizing Smoothies

After years of trying to figure out why I find all Vega products completely repulsive (after spending well over $300 trying to like them over the years). I finally figured it out as I was writing the review for Calnaturale Svelte. It's the stevia!

Back when I first tried Vega back in 2006, I'd never heard of stevia so I wasn't sure of what that awful taste was that I just couldn't get out my mouth. But now I know! Geesh - why won't these companies just use sugar! Urgh. Anywho. The kind folks at Vega sent me samples of their new Vega Energizing smoothies a couple months ago.

It took me nearly 4 weeks to muster up the courage to try one of them. I already knew I was going to hate it but, as your guineapig, I am sworn to try it! As with all Vega products, I've always tried them wanting to like them so badly - mostly because I needed it to be worth the money (this stuff is not cheap) and two because they are usually full of lots of healthy stuff.

One serving of Vega Energizing Smoothie features

•Two servings of veggies
•10 g of complete, plant-based protein
•5 g of fiber
•1 g of Omega-3

The back of the package always says "just add water and go" but seriously, have the makers ever tried this stuff with just water? That's just inhumane! I decided to try the tropical tango flavor with a big glass of mango/orange juice one morning while rushing out the door to get to a rotation on time. Before I knew it the smoothie was gone, I was at my rotation and my day was humming along until I realized - "OMG (yep, i said OMG), did I just finish an entire Vega smoothie? And dare I say did I like it?!" The answer to both questions is YES!YES! YES! Finally, a Vega product that I like, even with the addition of stevia this stuff was still amazing. The natural sweetness of the juice was enough to counteract the bitterness of the stevia for me. To make sure this wasn't a fluke I tried the Bodacious Berry with the same combo of juices and it was equally delicious. I went out and bought both flavors and stocked my pantry.

Since the first two flavors were so good I just knew the rest would be slam dunks. Unfortunately, they were not. That horrible bitter stevia taste came through loud and clear and I immediately spit out each subsequent flavor. I have a feeling if you like stevia then you would be ok with the flavor. So if you've had any of the other flavors and like them please leave a comment here and share your experience with the VGP readers! Even thought the other flavors weren't hits in my book the fact that I was able to fall in love with two Vega flavors in nothing short of a miracle so all in all, no complaints over here!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Brooklyn Dark Chocolate - You are one chocolate away from a happier day!

I am not inherently a chocolate lover. I idolized my mom growing up and she hated chocolate so I steered clear as well. Add the fact that we weren't allowed many sweets growing up and you can draw a clear picture of me eating grape nuts and nibbling on raisins instead of candy as a child. It took me 3 decades but I have finally learned to enjoy the pleasures of a well crafted bar of dark chocolate. When the opportunity came along to sample Brooklyn Dark's line of 63% cacao dark chocolate I jumped at the chance. With flavors like Moroccan spice, Classic hemp, Open Sesame, and Orange Silk who could say no?

Since I was never a chocolate lover who craved chocolate morning, noon and night I've always been more reserved when it comes to eating dark chocolate. Two little squares once a week or so is enough to keep me happy. On the back of each bar of Brooklyn Dark it says "You are one chocolate away from a happier day" to which I said out loud to myself "we'll see about that!" as I unwrapped the bar of Moroccan spice and broke off two squares. I cannot describe the perfection that is Brooklyn Dark chocolate. The Morrocan Spice flavor is everything chocolate should be, its velvety and warm but at the same time savory with hints of cumin, coriander, vanilla and black pepper. It taste like the best Moroccan sauce you have ever had in your life. It immediately fills the senses without overloading them.

Next up I tried the classic hemp, which is just that - a classic dark chocolate bar. Although it has hemp in it (all Brooklyn Dark flavors do) you don't notice it at all. Its just a perfect rich bar of chocolate. The sweet citrus taste of Orange Silk snuck up on me. First I tasted the bits of dried cranberries and the slight crunch of the sunflower seeds and then just as I was about to type "can't taste the orange at all" a subtle burst of orange filled my mouth with a taste reminiscent of orange liqueur.

By now we all know that small amount of dark chocolate in the diet can be beneficial to our health - it's full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, improves cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and recent studies have shown in might in improve cognitive impairments . Add to that the power of hemp seeds, which are a rich source of essential fatty acids and, dare I say it, these bars are down right good for you!

Since I mozy through eating chocolate at a snails pace it will likely me months before I finish the three bars I've opened and move on to the last flavor (sesame seed) but when I do I'll be certain to update this blog to let you know what I think!

You can find Brooklyn Dark Chocolate at on the Brooklyn Dark website and at these fine stores 
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