Archive for the ‘Reviews’ category

Butler Soy Curls

January 14th, 2012

Butler Soy Curls

If you’ve been to Portland you’ll find plenty vegan food and you’ll also likely experience a thing called soy curls. They’re found everywhere from Homegrown Smoker to Native Bowl. Nothing more than dried soybean protein they have a chewy texture and, like tofu, Butler Soy Curls can take on the flavor properties of whatever you season them with. So when given a few bags of these versatile goodies I brainstormed on what I should prepare first. The obvious choice was a simple barbecue sandwich.

I’m no fan of meat substitutes and I’ve made that clear before. I do, however, realize that fake meats have their place for transitioning vegetarians and the occasional vegan who likes the chance of getting with some junk food. I’ll indulge in junk food from time to time and sometimes one of those fake meats might be what I choose if it’s new or really doesn’t have exact properties of actual meat.

I chose to make saucy barbecue sandwiches using some of the peach BBQ sauce I made and bottled over the summer. Instead of simply soaking the curls for a few minutes as the directions indicated I simmered them in a mixture of broth, seasonings and a little of the peach BBQ sauce for about 15 minutes until most of the liquid had boiled away leaving the soy curls well-flavored before I added them to a saucepan of peach BBQ sauce. I turned them down on low and simmered them again for about 30 minutes. Fresh baked buns awaited great vegan barbecue sandwich.

Butler Soy Curls

Butler Soy Curls hydrated. At this point they have a slightly chewy texture and are ready for your recipe.

 

Butler Soy Curls BBQ

Butler Soy Curls simmering in homemade Peach BBQ Sauce. Getting ready for a great vegan BBQ sandwich.

 

Butler Soy Curls - Vegan BBQ Sandwich

Vegan BBQ Sandwich with Butler Soy Curls

 

The soy curls are slightly chewy and have no flavor on their own so they can be made to fit into most any dish you choose. They’re great for stir fries, sandwiches, fajitas and could be chopped slightly smaller and used in soups or stews.

Butler Soy Curls are available from their website as well as many online retailers.

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Battle of the Nogs

December 5th, 2011
Vegan Nogs: So Delicious - Rice Dream - Silk - Earth Balance

Vegan Nogs: So Delicious Coconut Milk Nog, Rice Dream Rice Nog, Silk Nog and Earth Balance Soy Nog

 

Egg Nog. I once guzzled that stuff by the carton this time of year. I’m a nog lover. A connoisseur of the nog. AficioNOGdo. If your nog is off then I’ll know it. I’m on top of the nog. Etcetera etcetera… Let’s not think about the sugar and fat content in a glass of that drinkable pudding. I think it’s very tasty but of course since the vegan switch years ago egg nog has been off limits. Silk has had their variant on the shelves this time of year for a few seasons and now were confronted with other entries in this holiday guzzle-fest. I welcome them all but only want the one that tastes best and can hold up, as in coat the side of the glass, like a true nog should. No thin watery stuff. Nog should to be thick.

Looking on the shelves in the cold section of the grocery store this season I was greeted by the usual entry by Silk, a good standby when you just have to have the nog  but I also found some new ones. So Delicious has a coconut milk version of nog and Earth Balance has their own nog as well. One I was surprised to find is Rice Dream Nog. You won’t find this one in the refrigerated section, it’s in a septic pack.

I have four choices now for my nog fix and a decison needs to be made as to the best vegan nog available.  The best way to make such a decision and not be skewed is a blind taste test, Pepsi Challenge style. Four glasses blindly filled and letters corresponding to each nog placed in front of each glass. With paper in hand for notes on each nog this nog tasting was ready to get serious.

Vegan Nogs: So Delicious - Rice Dream - Silk - Earth Balance

Vegan nog blind taste-tasting ready to begin. Each glass filled and with a corresponding letter.

 

Vegan Nogs: So Delicious - Rice Dream - Silk - Earth Balance

Top view of nogness. Note color.

 

Tasting was not limited to just me.  Mrs. Nashveggie and The Kid also participated. Mrs Nashveggie is not the most avid nog fan and it shows in her opinions but it’s still good to get such an objective view included. The Kid, on the other hand, likes most anything sweet.

 

Rice Dream Rice Nog

A – Rice Dream $2.99/32oz

My first thought when seeing Rice Dream Rice Nog is it’s not supposed to be pink! Getting past the pinkness and tasting this overly watery drink left little flavor. There are what appears to be spices in the bottom of the glass so that’s a plus but the only one. Pink, watery, bland.  F

Mrs. Nashveggie: Too pink! I don’t want to taste it… Sweet and chalky.

The Kid: It tastes good.

 

Silk Nog

B – Silk Nog $2.69/32oz

I’ve tried this one before but it was still a little hard to pick out from the four. As a usual standby in recent years when I’ve had the urge for some nog it has stood up well. Being critical though, I could point out flaws as well as high points. Silk Nog has a good flavor. There’s nutmeg flavor you can pick out that should be there though the one flaw that makes this one fall is its consistency. While not as thin as Rice Nog it definitely could stand to be a little less runny.  B

Mrs. Nashveggie: Did you put something in this? Smells like yogurt. Tastes like rum.

The Kid: I like this one. I think it’s my favorite.

 

Earth Balance Soy Nog

C – Earth Balance Soy Nog $2.69/32oz

Earth Balance is known for their vegan butter substitutes but lately they have branched out into other endeavors such as mayonnaise and,  more-notably, soy milk. Their seasonal offering of Soy Nog is likely my favorite of the four. It does have a good consistency and could hold up to a brandy, if that’s what you like. The flavor is a little lighter than I prefer but overall this is a good choice.  A-

Mrs. Nashveggie: Gagged. Too thick.

The Kid: It tastes a little sour. Just a little sweet.

 

So Delicious Coconut Milk Nog

D – So Delicious Coconut Nog  $2.99/32oz

I’m no fan of coconut milk beverages. I find them generally fatty tasting and off-putting. I do like coconut but everything has its place and coconut milk isn’t meant to be swilled like a bottle of cheap malt liquor. With that said So Delicious Coconut Nog had the expected consistency. Thick and rich and that works here. It has that right but that about the only thing. I thought I was drinking liquid candy! So sweet! My teeth hurt after drinking this. I couldn’t taste any spice, if there is any for the overpowering coconut flavor and booming sweetness. For those that want an alternative to soy you have this and Rice Dream Rice Nog to choose from. If I was forced to choose one of the two this would be it. For that reason alone I’ll give it a letter grade up. C-

Mrs. Nashveggie: Where’s the spoon? Thickest one. Tastes too much like coconut milk.

The Kid: This one tastes like coconut. Eww.

 

The clear choice of vegan nogs is Earth Balance Soy Nog. A good balance of everything though not perfect. Still, faced with the decision when these four on on the shelf it would be the one to come home from the grocery store with me.

Those are my opinions on the nogly offerings you’ll find this season. Suffice it to say Mrs. Nashveggie is not a Nog fan and I’ll not likely let The Kid near that much sugar at a time so I’ll be drinking what’s left of the nogs. Each of the four have room to improve, some more than others. Hopefully next year someone will have the perfect nog. I can hope.

 

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Robbie’s Worcestershire – Vegan!

May 24th, 2011

Robbie's Worcestershire

I’m a lover of sauces. I cook with it and pour it on my food. I even make my own barbecue sauce. One of my favorites is Worcestershire and one of my favorite uses is putting it on a baked potato. I know that may seem odd to some but until you try it don’t sneer at it. Up to now the only vegan Worcestershire sauces I’ve found have been Amy’s and The Wizard’s. While good, both of those are a little to thick for me and don’t quite hit the flavor. I just discovered Robbie’s Worcestershire, a vegan Worcesterchire that is the most perfect vegan Worcestershire I’ve found. What makes Worcestershire not vegan, you may ask. Anchovies. It is the ingredient in most conventional Worcestershire sauces though I never remembered tasting it in sauces from Lea & Perrins or French’s.

Robbie’s Worcestershire is thin, just as every conventional sauce I’ve used and has the absolute perfect flavor. As a plus, it is the same price as Amy’s and The Wizard’s for twice the amount.

Robbie’s Worcestershire is available at Whole Foods in Franklin.

Time for some potatoes on the grill!

BBQ Tempeh Sandwich and Baked Potato topped with Robbie's Worcestershire & nutritional yeast

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Noodles & Company

April 25th, 2011

Noodles & Company has opened a new location in the strip center adjacent to The Mall at Green Hills. For those not familiar with Noodles & Company it is a fast casual restaurant serving pasta bowls that are freshly prepared.  All items are $5.95 for a large or $4.95 for a slightly smaller portion.

We have visited Noodles & Company in Denver on many occasions previously and are very happy to have a location now in Nashville giving us another vegan option.

I received a VIP (read: let us use you for training purposes) invite to a pre-opening event this past Saturday. My sidekick foodie was our 5 year-old daughter who is a pasta-lover. I checked the website beforehand to make sure I knew what was vegan friendly. There is a selection of nine items on the menu that either are vegan or can be made vegan with a simple omission. Tofu is an option to be added to any entree.

  • Indonesian Peanut Saute
  • Japanese Pan Noodles
  • Chinese Chop Salad with no wontons
  • Penne Rosa with no cream and no cheese
  • Pasta Fresca with no cheese
  • Whole Grain Tuscan Linguine with no cream and no cheese
  • Spaghetti with no cheese
  • Cucumber Tomato Salad
  • Tossed Green Side Salad with balsamic vinaigrette

Upon entering we were greeted, asked for our names for the invite list and given a menu. While talking with the greeters, about 2 minutes,  no less than 10 people walked in the door only to be turned away when told it was invite only. Most seemed a little angry. I told the employees we were vegan and was quickly and happily handed a vegan menu, not something you get much of around here.  Usually when we tell a server that were vegan it’s typically followed by a blank stare and, “What does that mean?”

I had already decided to get the Japanese Pan Noodles and the kid just wanted a pasta so she decided to get Pasta Rosa. We added tofu to each, of course. Our food was served quickly and looked great. The one issue was the kid could not eat hers. It was far too spicy and I wished I had known it would be such an overpowering heat before she had ordered. A little spice doesn’t bother her but the Penne Rosa was far too hot for her. We packed it to go. The Japanese Pan Noodles was very tasty and not over-sauced. The dish was served with flavorful, seared tofu and fresh, crispy sprouts which my daughter thoroughly enjoyed picking from my plate. The noodles were a bit overcooked but I expect that to be worked out as this was, of course, a training session. I had planned on eating only half and boxing the rest but it was gone before I knew it.

The remainder of the Penne Rosa was reheated and eaten the day after our visit and tasted just as fresh as when it was served in the restaurant. I only wished I had some more of the Japanese Pan Noodles to munch on at the time. I plan another visit this week and I’ll likely try the Indonesian Peanut Saute or the Bangkok Curry. You’ll be seeing plenty of me at Noodles & Company in the future.

Noodles & Company
2116 Green Hills Village Drive
Nashville, Tennessee 37215
(615) 383-7740

Japanese Pan Noodles

Japanese Pan Noodles with Tofu



Penne Rosa with Tofu



Little Nashveggie with Penne Rosa



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SoyGo Soy Creamer

April 10th, 2011

I sometimes go through two pounds of coffee a week at home. That’s alot of coffee and I sometimes drink it with a creamer. When I’m not home finding a vegan creamer at a coffee shop or restaurant isn’t easy and is usually impossible. SoyGo is trying to fix that.

SoyGo Soy Creamer is a soy-based powder coffee creamer in a small, travel-sized packet that’s easy to carry wherever you go. Very welcome to the vegan or health conscious who don’t want the unpronounceable chemicals in most powdered creamers or a non-dairy creamer in their coffee.

SoyGo Soy Creamer

SoyGo Soy Creamer is available in handy, travel-sized packs.



A single pack of SoyGo gives enough creamer for an 8 ounce cup of coffee. Much more coffee than that and you’ll need a second pack of SoyGo to get the flavor and proper results. It’s been a couple decades since I used a powdered coffee creamer such as CoffeeMate so I don’t remember how well it dissolves but SoyGo needs a very good stirring before breaking down sufficiently and then it still leaves a powdery swirl in your cup. I stirred for about 30-40 seconds yet the majority of the powder had still not dissolved. The flavor is there, lightly but I would prefer it dissolve better. At the bottom of your cup you will find a sludge of soy powder goo once you drink the coffee.

SoyGo Creamer

SoyGo Soy Creamer after stirring



SoyGo Soy Creamer Dissolved

After stirring for a bit there's still some SoyGo that doesn't seem to dissolve.



SoyGo Soy Creamer in the bottom of the cup

After drinking the coffee SoyGo residue is left in the bottom of the cup.



The ingredients are all-natural and all-vegan. – Soy Powder (non-GMO), Vegan Sugar, Color Added (All-natural whitener), Xantham Gum, Inulin, Natural Flavors (French Vanilla), Natural Flavors (Non-dairy cream flavor), Dipotassium Phosphate, Lecithin, Salt

Overall, SoyGo is a welcome product. I like having the option to get a cup of Sock Juice (brewed coffee) while away from home and have the option to add a vegan creamer. I would like to see it dissolve a bit better and maybe a half-ounce more product per packet so a larger cup or mug of coffee can be fixed up with just one pack. With that said, I’ll be sure to take a few packs with me on road trips. It will come in very handy at those coffee shops where vegans are never taken into consideration at the condiment bar.

SoyGo Soy Creamer is available at most Whole Foods locations including Coolsprings and Green Hills. You can find it in the baking aisle near the cocoa in both of those stores. It is also available directly from SoyGo, Amazon and some other online vegan outlets.

For more information on SoyGo Soy Creamer visit SavingOpusOne.

SoyGo Soy Creamer Review

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