Category Archives: Product Review

Chao Creamy Original Cheese Slices Review

*This post was written 20.04.15, when the corona virus lock-down was in full swing. Please excuse any references/jokes that are no longer applicable.*

We’re officially into summer now, but who says quarantine means you can’t have a barbeque? You can have your very own self-isolated BBQ party, and one of the best things? You wont’ have to worry about your vegan patty sharing the grill! (Also, anytime you randomly smell BBQ on the breeze is a good time. Sooo, if not for yourself, do it for your neighbours!)

One of the best things about a BBQ-ed burger? The cheese. But just because you’re vegan (or veg-curious), doesn’t mean you need to eat a naked burger! There are tons of vegan cheese options available, and today I’m gonna be reviewing one of the best candidates for a burger topper: Chao Creamy Original.

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Now, to be fair, I haven’t actually tested this cheese on a burger, but I did try their Tomato Cayenne cheese on one, and that was pretty good, so I imagine this one would lend itself well, too.

I personally tried this cheese on a homemade naan pizza (posted on my Instagram), and cold out of the fridge. Because if it doesn’t pass the Alone Test, is it really worth it?

I’m happy to report this cheese definitely passed! My brother even tried it, and said ‘if I didn’t know this was vegan cheese, I wouldn’t be able to tell’. (He mixed it into a scrambled egg sandwich, though)

It has a very soft consistency, even to the touch. I felt I had to be gentle with it. This cheese is made out of tofu, but doesn’t have that typical ‘tofu’ taste. Straight out of the fridge, it actually doesn’t really have much of any taste, kind of like tap water. You know it has a taste, but it’s not very distinctive. Which is great, because that means it’ll blend in to whatever you make with it, instead of it overpowering the dish. Especially on a burger, the cheese should be in the supportive role to the patty, not the other way around.

This cheese also melts pretty well.

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It doesn’t stretch like cow cheese does, but it doesn’t puddle melt either, like some other vegan cheeses. The flavour also gets more intense when it’s cooked, so if you want to really taste it, I’d definitely recommend cooking/melting it.

When it’s been melted, and then cooled off, it has a slight rubbery consistency, and the whole piece of cooled-melted cheese will slide right off whatever it’s on, so it’s definitely best to eat it when it’s still warm, but not burn-your-mouth hot.

A down side to this cheese is the price. It comes in a pack of 10 slices, which is good, but it being $9+ (both at Vegan Supply and Good Rebel), it makes it one of the more expensive cheeses. Comparatively, a 10 pack of Earth Island ( that’s Follow Your Heart, to you Americans) slices is $7.95 (at Good Rebel), or even $6.99 at Loblaws! (I checked their online store, and didn’t see a result for Chao)

I know I basically complain about this every time, but it still pisses me off! We’re supposed to be wanting more people to go vegan, right? So why are the vegan substitutes so much more expensive? I understand that perhaps they’re not as big as others, and vegans shouldn’t rely on the pre-made packaged stuff as much, but damn! How can we expect people to even begin to give it a chance with such steep prices?

A pack of 22 Kraft cheese slices is $4.49 (at Loblaws), and that’s for double the amount! And yes, I realize they probably (definitely) aren’t on the same quality line, but just… you see what I mean, right?

This cheese is pretty awesome, but many people won’t know or give it a chance because of the price, and I think that sucks! Give it the due it deserves!

I’d recommend going out and trying this cheese, if you can find it. It’s pretty good, and especially if you don’t like the overwhelming taste of Daiya, or the potato-y taste of Earth Island, you’ll definitely like this one.

And, being in self isolation is probably the best time to try new foods, just in case they don’t agree with you.


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Tofurky Italian Sausage Review

Alright, now that the terrible weather is finally gone, chances are you’ll probably find yourself at a BBQ/summer cook-out of some sort over the next few months. You’ll most likely need to either bring a faux meat with you, or tell the host which brand you’d like. I recommend telling them not to worry, and that you’re fine to bring my own, but if they’re insistent, well Tofurky is one of the easier faux meat products to find/remember the name of.

You could always make your own, but if you don’t have time for that/don’t want to turn the stove/oven on in the hot temps, well, I don’t blame you. Sometimes it’s just faster/easier to grab something from a store. That’s why having some faux options are great.

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These Italian Sausages are great. They come 4 to a pack, (which, for 5.99 [Metro] isn’t bad at all) and are a pretty good ‘average’ length. I’ve seen a few other brands where their sausages are stubbier/not as long as ‘normal’ ones, which, I don’t understand – I mean, is it really that much extra work to make them a regular size?

But anyway, they have a nice smoky, taste, especially if cooked on a BBQ, and even if you leave them a bit longer than normal in a frying pan.

They have a good bite to them, too – they don’t quite ‘explode’ like non-vegan sausages that are in a casing, but they aaalmost do. I can’t say how close to ‘real’ meat they are, since I don’t really remember, but they’re definitely good.

I think that’s a good way to go into a lot of the premade vegan foods – if you don’t think ‘this will be a perfect replica’ and think of it more as it’s own thing, I think more people would like them. The taste isn’t really comparable, but they’re definitely good. They have that kind of generic spiced tofu taste you come to be familiar with if you eat a lot of the premade foods. And they have what I believe is tomato pieces (or possibly bell pepper) pieces in them. You can see them when you bite into them. They have flecks of what I assume are basil (since, they’re ‘Italian’ flavour) in them, too, though I can’t really pick it out as a flavour.

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(The original packaging!)

They’re not too firm when they are raw – akin to a moist cake consistency – which makes cutting them sometimes a pain, as they may just squish down instead of being cut into pieces.

The sausages are also covered in a slime-y (ish) liquid. I’m not entirely sure what it is, it’s about the same consistency as oil, but it’s a red/orange-y colour. I don’t know if that has any of the flavour in it, but beware if you use them on a charcuterie board or as hors d’oeuvres. Also, if you wanted to just cut them directly on the counter, just be sure to wipe up after so it doesn’t stain.

I haven’t tried their other flavours of sausages yet, but even still, these are my favourites. They just taste very familiar… though that may be because I’m Italian.

If you haven’t tried these yet, what are you waiting for?


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Hellmans’ Carefully Crafted Dressing and Sandwich Spread Review

I don’t know why, but for some reason, almost no one I know in my adult life liked/grew up eating Miracle Whip. They all liked mayo. Let me tell you: mayo is straight up gross. All it does is taste like eggs. Who wants every sandwich they make to taste like eggs?

Needless to say, I was pretty hell-bent on finding a vegan alternative to Miracle Whip, and not just a vegan mayo. I even found one, that had unfortunately been discontinued. I thought I was doomed to using salad dressing for all my deli sandwiches… which is fine, but you can’t exactly put ketchup on a breaded chick’n burger. It just doesn’t taste right!

That’s why I was over the moon when I discovered Hellmans’ Carefully Crafted Dressing and Sandwich Spread.

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This stuff is literally an exact replica of Miracle Whip, which I’m not sure if it’s because it came from the same company, or just because Miracle Whip isn’t exactly that hard to get right, but I am so glad I discovered this!

There used to be another egg-free dressing from the No Name brand, but I hadn’t had it in a while as they ended up changing the recipe and thus it was no longer suitable. I hate when companies do that, by the way. There was no reason to change the formula!

Anyway… this stuff does everything I expect a good Miracle Whip sub to do: lends itself awesomely to cold-cut sandwiches, chicken burgers, and even makes great pasta salad!

The only thing I don’t like about this product is the name. Having to memorize exactly this title to get it to show up search results and to ask about it kinda sucks. No one knows it as ‘Hellmans Vegan Spread’, when that would’ve been a much better name. (Or, pretty much anything with ‘vegan’ in the title)

Another good thing about this product, is that it’s actually comparably priced when matched with similar items. For example, at Loblaws, the Vegan Spread is listed as $5.99 for the 710ml container – which is the exact same price as the 710ml of the Extra Creamy Mayo. (‘Regular’ mayo didn’t come in a 710ml, it was only listed as a 445ml [which was $4.79] or an 890ml which was $5.99)

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It’s so awesome to see it’s not $8 or even $10 for this product, unlike most other vegan subs that are out there. And I understand, Hellmans may be able to give us a lower price because they aren’t just selling vegan products (which is a smaller market), but it saddens me whenever I see vegan products listed well above the ‘regular’ items next to it – how can we expect more people to try going vegan when all the subs are priced so much more expensively? And again, I understand the basis of a (good) vegan diet shouldn’t be these subs, but still.

The taste of this product is very similar to what I remember Miracle Whip being. It’s light, tangy, and perhaps most importantly: doesn’t taste like eggs!

It was a breath of fresh air after forcing myself to eat Veganaise. I’m definitely a fan, and would like to personally thank Hellmans for making such an amazing vegan substitute! (And beg them to please never, ever discontinue this product)


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Subways’ Beyond Meatball Marinara Sandwich Review

I got to try this sandwich back in February (it was actually during my birthday week) and I’m glad to say I loved it!

I had to do some other shopping before I was able to sit down and eat it, so the sandwich was a bit smushed when I finally got home and was ready to dig in. (This is also why I’m using the official picture)

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First thing I want to say, was while I was ordering, I wasn’t too excited to try it. The Subway I went to was pretty small and busy (I inadvertently went there around the lunch rush) so I felt very rushed.

Unlike when I tried the Beyond Burger at A&W, it was slower and I was able to ask some questions before completing the order. I had asked an employee specifically about their marinara, and while he didn’t seem sure, I was able to check the website when I got home, and am happy to report the marinara is vegan!

I told them to hold the cheese (obviously), and then for veggies, I got: lettuce, cucumbers, spinach, green peppers and tomatoes. I had some Daiya Smoked Gouda at home that I added as well.

The sandwich itself was pretty substantial. I got a footlong, and I’m happy to report they gave me 9 meatballs. (5 on one half, and 4 on the other) I’m not sure how many were ‘supposed’ to be placed in there, but the worker didn’t count them out either. He just took a scoop of the meatballs (covered in marinara sauce) and rolled them out onto the bread.

Honestly, when he did that, it looked kind of gross. Just splatted on the bread… But I’m glad my first impression was wrong because it was actually pretty good!

Aside from the mess, the taste was good. The Beyond Meatballs tasted similar to the A&W Beyond Meat Burger, (which didn’t surprise me because it’s the same company) and they weren’t too big or too small either. They’re about the size of a loonie, which I think is a good meatball size. I believe they’re the same size as the Gardein Meatballs, too. I’m glad they weren’t too small, like almost every other pre-packaged vegan food is. They had what I’m going to call the ‘typical’ Beyond Meat taste.

A friend tried one of the meatballs and they said ‘you could fool a meat-eater with that. Seriously.’ I personally can tell it’s not real meat, but maybe that’s because I don’t eat it anymore? My palate is now fine-tuned to veggies!

The marinara sauce was a little on the herb-y side, and it kind of reminded me of the Roads’ End Savoury Herb gravy. Y’know how some herb-y heavy sauces have that ‘light’ taste? It was like that. They also put way too much sauce on my sandwich, it leaked out all over the plate. But that’s the risk you take when getting a meatball marinara, I guess.

I’d definitely recommend adding your own vegan cheese to it, as the Daiya cheeses’ smoke-y flavour lent itself well to the over-all taste. I’d definitely get this again, but I wouldn’t put cucumbers on it. It’s not that it was bad, but it was definitely one of my least favourite parts.

The sandwich itself was $11-something, and the combo with drinks and chips I got it for $16. That’s actually a pretty good price for a vegan sandwich. Especially because of how filling it is – not in that I’m-so-full-I-can’t-move-and-feel-gross way, but in a highly satisfied way. It’s pretty bang for your buck, if you ask me.

If you want something non-saucy, the website and posters do say there is a non-marinara meatball version, though I didn’t see it out in the trays. (Though this might have been more because I was rushed and am too short to see over the counter)

So the Beyond Meatball Marinara, have you tried it? What’d you think? Let me know in the comments below!


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Que Pasa Nacho Chips Review

I first discovered these chips in April last year, thanks to Eamon and Bec and HotforFoods’ Youtube channels. (I recommend checking out these guys, btw, they’re both awesome!) They each had videos that were only a few days apart featuring this snack, so I took it as a sign that I should try them.

And boy, am I glad that I did. They are awesome!

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They’re like vegan nacho Doritos. Or at least, they’re what I imagine nacho Doritos taste like, as I’ve never had them myself. The only kinds of Doritos I’ve had are the Sweet Chili Heat and Ketchup ones. Those two are great flavours as well, but I’m always down for discovering a new vegan snack.

They’re smaller in size to Doritos, though they’re still the classic tortilla chip shape. They’re pretty cheese-y as well, and not in a nooch-y way. I’m not sure what they use for the vegan nacho flavour, but it’s really good. It actually tastes a bit similar to the Skinny Pop White Cheddar popcorn. (Which I also recommend)

Now, these chips do have a bit of a kick to them, so if you’re sensitive to spicy food, or can’t handle spicy food, I recommend not eating the whole bag at once. (Trust me, it does not make for a happy stomach) The fact that they’re spicy is one of the only bad things about them. If they were not spicy cheese-y chips I’d definitely get them more often.

Another bad thing about them? I can barely find them anywhere!

I was able to find them at No Frills when I posted the pic to Instagram, but since then? I haven’t been able to find them.

Seriously, I don’t know if they’re getting discontinued, or if other vegans are just beating me to the punch, but I haven’t been able to get my hands on them since.

The size of the bag is another thing I don’t really like. They are similar in size to Vegan Rob’s Cheddar Puffs. That kind of bigger-than-single-size-but-not-big-enough-for-family-size bag that I hate. Either make them small enough for one person, or as big as regular chip bags! (Preferably the latter)

It sucks that they’re so hard to find though, because they’re one of the best vegan snacks I’ve tried.

…. Maybe they’re just hating on Canadians?

I don’t know, but one thing is for sure: You find them in a store? You buy 3 bags.

Do you know of a store that has a secret stash of these chips? Let me know in the comments below!


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Daiya Monterey Jack Style Block Review

Since I did a chocolate review last year, I thought cheese would be a perfect pairing for this years’ Valentine’s Day.

Because let’s face it: everyone wants to try fondue at least once in their life, because it just seems pretty darn romantic! And what better day than to show off your romantic side than Valentine’s? (Daiya even has a dairy-free fondue recipe on their website!)

I want to start by saying this is my absolute favourite cheese, vegan or otherwise.

I honestly don’t know why Daiya gets such a bad wrap in the vegan community, yes it can be a little…. stronger than other cheeses, but that doesn’t make it bad!

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This was the first vegan cheese I ever tried, and – after years of eating nothing but goat cheese – this was a very welcome break from that game-y taste. (If you’ve ever had goat cheese, you know what I’m talking about)

I also like the texture of the block – they’re perfect for cutting up into slices and eating cold! You could of course still shred them up and use them on pasta, hot sandwiches, or whatever else you put melted cheese on. My favourite way to eat any of the blocks though is by itself in cold sliced form. (Sometimes with crackers)

Speaking of the texture, I have noticed it’s changed. It’s almost the same, but I’ve noticed the last few times I’ve bought them, when I went to cut slices off the block, they’ve been sticking more to the knife, and seem more almost-melty. Like they used to get if you carried them home from the store in the summer and they got a bit melted but were still firm. I’m not sure if they changed the recipe, or if there was just a less stable batch or something that went out, but I have to say, I don’t like the new texture as much. I don’t want to have to peel off pieces of broken slices from my knife.

Now, I don’t know what ‘real’ Monterey Jack cheese tastes like, but this one has a pretty mild taste. I used to think Mozzarella was the ‘plainest’ cheese taste, but this beats it by a landslide. Mozzarella has a bit of a like, twang-y taste to it (yes I know ‘twang isn’t a flavour), that I don’t like too much. This one is the plainest of cheeses I’ve tasted – it’s a pretty neutral taste, which is why I think it’s the perfect flavour.

I don’t know all those typical cheese descriptions – nutty, earthy, etc. I don’t know what any of those mean, so the best description I can give it would be it’s like the water of cheese flavours: you can pair it with anything and it won’t be weird. (Unless you pair it with like, mints or something)

One thing I can say I definitely don’t like about this, and all the other blocks: They’re $5.99 each! With how small the blocks are, (I can usually finish a whole block in one day and a half [or less]) you’d think they wouldn’t be so expensive.

At one point, I was buying them in 4’s just so I’d have enough for 1 week – that’s $20 on cheese alone! Who has that kind of money?

I complain about this in a lot of my reviews of vegan products, but I’m gonna continue to complain until something changes. Either lower the price (even 4.99 would be better), or make the products bigger. How can we expect more people to go vegan when the ‘transition’ products are so anti-family sized and expensive? (Like the Beyond Burgers – 2 in a giant plastic container that could easily fit 4-6 for $20 – and that’s the raw ones!)

And I know, I know, I don’t know how much it takes to produce the blocks, and that may be as low of a price as they can make them for the company to make a profit, but guess what? If you drop the price, more people will buy them, because they’ll be actually affordable and it will (most likely) even out. I know I’d definitely buy way more of them if the price was lower (or they were bigger). Especially because you can put them in the freezer! You could go on a stock up trip and throw them in the freezer to keep on hand.

If you do put the blocks in the freezer though, I recommend you only use them to be melted or in a hot dish. Once they go in the freezer, the texture gets ‘snowy’ and they don’t work as well as cold slices for a snack. Once heated, they retain the flavour and melt-y/stretchy texture.

That’s pretty much all I think I can say about this block. It’s my favourite, even though it’s a bit on the expensive side and small. (But all the blocks are the same size/price)

If you haven’t tried it yet, I definitely recommend it, and I recommend trying it cold first before you throw it into a dish. Just so you get an untainted flavour of the cheese. If you don’t know what it tastes like by itself, how will you know what to put it in?


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Daiya Deluxe Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac Review

*IMPORTANT*

This is the last product review of 2019! (It’s also the last post)

Right now, my plan is to come back on January 17th (with the first Throw Away Fic of 2020) in which case the next product review won’t be until Feb. 13th and then continue on the pattern of the 13th of every month.

I hope you all have an awesome holiday season, get presents you actually want, and I’ll see you all in the New Year.

AI


Ah, Daiya. You’ve yet to disappoint me (with the exception of yogurt, but that isn’t your fault, I hate the consistency) and I’m so happy I get to finally review the mac n cheese you have!

Nothing was really stopping me before, I just try to pick the products I review so they go somewhat with the seasons – hence the burgers in the summer, and the soups and heartier foods in the winter. This particular product was hard to decide on though, since you can eat it any time. It’s kind of like Kraft Dinner, you can eat it at any time.

Technically, mac n cheese is a hearty food, so that’s why I decided to do the review in the winter.

Aaand that’s enough babbling – onto the review!

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I can’t say taste-wise if it tastes like real cheese, but I can say it tastes like Daiya cheese. Which many people find to be… a bit strong. (To put it mildly) Let’s just say: if you like how powerful Daiya tastes, you’ll like this.

The box claims it makes 3 servings, but who are we kidding? 1 box = 1 bowl. It is very filling, the way mac n cheese should be. You know after you eat a bunch of food and then you’re ‘gross full’? It’s on the cusp of that and when you eat a bunch of vegetables where you feel full but not like you could vomit. (Maybe that’s why they say to eat it in multiple sittings?)

It also says on the box to just dump the cheese packet over the cooked pasta and mix. That is the gist of mac n cheese making, but if you follow those directions, it comes out very thick. What I like to do, is cook the pasta, drain it and then add it back into the pot/sauce pan and melt some butter and a bit of dairy-free milk and then add the sauce packet. I find this helps thin it out a bit and lessens the Daiya taste a smidge, too.

Overall, the dish is pretty basic – noodles + cheese pack – but I’m a fan of not over-complicated foods. It’s mac n cheese in a box, what do you expect?

If you want to jazz it up, you can add some salt and pepper, and (if you’re feeling even more adventurous) you can add some No Name Bacon Bits. Or, they have other versions of the mac n cheese, one I think comes with bacon bits, and the other comes with vegetable bits. (I don’t like the vegetable piece one as much as the others)

1 box is usually around $6, and in keeping with the vegan food prices? That’s not that bad at all. I definitely try to keep some of these on hand for a lazy meal – they’re super easy to throw together too! Maybe 10 minutes to cook and mix everything, and they’re filling.

This is one of the best vegan ‘convenience’ foods I’ve tried. I definitely recommend trying it out, especially for the long winter ahead. Time to stock up now!


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Gardein Stuffed Turk’y w/ Gravy Review




I know, I know, I missed Canadian Thanksgiving. But, I figured most of the people reading this are in the US, so I’m not late. (Technically)

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I want to start off by saying I haven’t tried the other ‘holiday loafs’ that are out, so I can’t really do a comparison.

That said though, this one is good. The ‘stuffed turkeys’ were a lot smaller than I thought they’d be (they were only about the size of my palm), and for only having 2 per package, if you were planning on sharing, that kinda goes out the window.

Honestly, why do vegan companies insist on doing this? You want more people to go vegan? Make some family sized products! Then at least you have enough for people to try without them eating 50% of the only food you can eat at the get-together. Seriously, it’s getting ridiculous.

Okay, sorry about that, getting back on track, you probably won’t want to share these, because they’re so good. I mean, it could be better (without the breading, it just tastes like tofu) but it’s pretty good for what it is. I wouldn’t say ‘this will fool a meat eater’ or anything because it won’t. You 1,000,000% can tell it’s tofu with breadcrumbs and stuffing. But that’s okay! Not every vegan substitute needs to taste exactly like meat! I personally am fine with eating a mushroom burger that tastes like mushrooms. I’m one of those people who actually likes the taste of veggies, so for me, this tastes good.

If you’re someone who was hoping to find a holiday roast or something to fool a meat-eater, or like the closer-to-meat tasting substitutes, then this product isn’t for you. For that, I’d recommend Beyond Meat. Their beef burger tastes so much like beef I actually don’t like it as much. (Too weird for me)

I do wish that the stuffing didn’t come inside the turk’y as well. I don’t know if it’s how I grew up or whatever, but we never left the stuffing inside the meat. It would get cooked in there, and then served separate in it’s own bowl as a side dish. Also, I feel like by adding the stuffing it’s a biiit of a rip off, because you’re getting less ‘meat’. And again, for how tiny they are to begin with, you’d think they wouldn’t be that stingy. I’m also not too much a fan of the cranberries, but that’s just personal taste.

The breading holds up pretty well (as long as you oil the pan/use non-stick) and it isn’t too soft to cut through, either. I think they should’ve seasoned the ‘meat’/tofu itself though, just to give it a better flavour. If the breading comes off and you eat the stuffing separate, the ‘meat’ is pretty bland.

Also, for the gravy: You should give two packs of gravy, or make the pack of gravy resealable. That way, if you only want to make one of the little stuffed turk’y things, you can save some of the gravy for the second. As it is, you either have to eat both at the same time, or, eat one dry and one with gravy. And, while I’m complaining, put more gravy! The one pack is barely enough to cover one of the stuffed turk’ies. Remember, after you pour gravy over something with breading, the breading will soak up the gravy, thus making it ‘dry’ again. Hence, you need more!

All in all, for being a frozen meal, it’s pretty good. If you wanted to bring it for Thanksgiving dinner though, I’d recommend buying two packs. That way you’ll have enough should people get curious enough to try it, and you’ll have leftovers. (And, let’s face it, isn’t that the best part of Thanksgiving anyway?)


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Daiya Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Pizza Review





Ah, Daiya. I don’t understand why so many people hate this company. I’ve had nothing but pleasant experiences with them. The only ‘issue’ I’ve ever had was one time I bought a block of their cheese from a store and it was mold-y. But, I sent them pictures, and they sent me coupons for compensation. How nice is that?

That said, this isn’t my favourite pizza from them. My favourite is the Supreme pizza, and I have a suspicion I would like their Meatless Lovers’ too, but I’ve yet to find it. Every store I’ve been to that sells their pizzas are either sold out of the Meatless Lovers’, or they just don’t carry that kind. I have no idea why, but it’s actually getting a little annoying. (Same as the Monterey Jack Blocks are getting harder and harder to find – they’re my favourite ones! I had to start buying them in 4’s!)

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Most of the Daiya frozen pizzas taste the same, which makes sense because it’s the same company. It’s the same crust, sauce and cheese, they just change the toppings. The garlic bits on the pizza are a little much for my taste. I don’t really understand why they put bits of real garlic on the pizza, so you actually bite into hunks of garlic. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t find that part appetizing.

The rest of the pizza is not really overwhelming. It’s watery mushrooms on top of a frozen pizza crust. Not really something to write home about, but I have also had worse. It hits the spot, and isn’t as hard to find as the other kinds, but it’s also not their best.

As said before, there’s no real ‘wow!’ factor to it, it’s just… good. Will do in a pinch, and gets the job done of satisfying your hunger.

I know that’s not really an exciting review, especially after the in depth one of the Vegan Food and Drink Festival from last month, but there’s just not really too much to say about this pizza.

It’s good, but it’s not their best. If you haven’t tried any of them, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this one, but if there is nothing else, it’ll get the job done.


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Vegandale Festival Review 2019




AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2019 Review - Vegan Power Sign

That’s right! Three years, baby! This is my third year in a row going to the Vegandale Festival in Toronto and I am still pumped about it! I don’t think the novelty will ever wear off of getting to go to a place where I can try whatever I want, and not have to ask about ingredients, or read the label before putting it in my mouth. (Save for cinnamon)

I was recently talking to one of my friends, and they made a joke about since this is my third year going, I could ‘take a break’ from going next year. Uhmm… what?

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That’s when it hit me: other people can walk into any place and order whatever they want, without looking at the ingredients list, or worrying about what’s in a product. They can walk in, order what looks good and leave. So, it makes sense that people with that ability don’t even really think about how exciting that can be. They have no idea, that’s their ‘normal’, so they don’t understand the hype.

How boring are other people’s lives? They can just… do stuff without thinking about it? That’s such a foreign concept to me! But I definitely wouldn’t have it any other way. I love getting to be excited about things others aren’t. It’s like I’m a child discovering how awesome the world is all over again. Who wouldn’t want that?

But enough about me – time to get to what you came here for: the food!

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This year, I was fortunate enough to get to try 20 things (instead of last years’ 17). There’s always over a hundred vendors, and while I feel like I get a pretty good mix of things, I’d love to eventually get to try half of them.

As always, these reviews will be written in the order that I tried the food. (And not in terms of what I liked best)

Okay, let’s get started!

These Wingz – Half N Half Wings with Mac N Cheese

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First up, is These Wingz wings and mac n cheese. I got the special, 6 wings (half BBQ, half buffalo) with the mac n cheese. The wings were massive. Not just in size, but they were thick. As. Fuck. It’s hard to tell in the picture, but they were definitely the thickest thing I got at the festival. They were also the most expensive ($16).

The wings were good, they tasted kinda seitan-y, though I’m not sure if that’s what they were made out of. They had a good, chewy texture, but the breading on them (and their size) made them hard to bite through. And, trying to rip pieces off with the small plastic fork I got (no knives were available) didn’t work that well, either. I’m pretty sure I accidentally flung sauce in my hair from trying to rip a piece off.

The mac n cheese wasn’t that good. The noodles were over-cooked, and just tasted like the wing sauce. It didn’t taste like there was any cheese on them at all.

 

Parka Food Co. – Broccoli Burger Mac

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I know, I know, a little ridiculous I got another mac n cheese after literally just buying one, but I was intrigued by the name: Broccoli Burger Mac.

This one was way better than the first. For starters, this one actually tasted cheesy, and it had battered broccoli pieces on top. Gave the mac n cheese a good crunchy aspect. The cheese sauce actually kinda tasted like pasta salad to me – it had that subtle vinegar after-taste that pasta salad gets. This was a great dish to try for $11. I’m still not entirely sure what an aioli is, but the pink one that was drizzled on top of this dish was good. The sign said it was just their Parka Aioli, so I’m not entirely sure what’s in it (or why it’s pink), but it was good.

The only thing I didn’t like about this dish, is that the top of it was dowsed in parsley. There was way too much sprinkled on top of the broccoli and mac n cheese. The entire top was almost completely green!

 

Peas and Thank-You – Chick’N Parm

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A chick’n parm. I’ve never in my life had a chicken parm. I’ve seen them in movies/heard about them – it’s a chicken cutlet with tomato sauce and parm – but I was really hyped when I saw this on the menu at Peas and Thank-You. It was only $10, so I figured why not? And boy am I glad I did. This was probably the best thing I tried at the festival in terms of the actual ‘meal’ things. Although, it didn’t have actual parm on it. It had some kind of sauce (I’m assuming [hoping] it was cheese sauce) but I thought the ‘parm’ on the sandwich would’ve been… y’know, actual parm flakes. The sauce actually tasted closer to Veganaise then cheese, but maybe that’s just what parm tastes like?

The chick’n patty itself was great – though it was a little too hard to bite through. I think maybe it was fried too long? But once you got passed the initial bite, it had a great flavour and wasn’t as hard to chew and get down. And the bun? Oh, man! I think it was a ciabatta bun? I don’t know, but I loved the bun. They didn’t do anything special to it – I believe it was just toasted – but it added such a great depth to the sandwich. They do pop-ups at different events, and I really, really hope that they come back next year! (Or do another pop-up in Toronto)

 

Not Your Mother – Rocky Road Ice Cream

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This was the favourite dessert I tried, hands down. Rocky Road ice cream? Do you guys know about Rocky Road ice-cream? It’s chocolate ice cream with brownie pieces and marshmallows. Marshmallows!

I cannot believe I’ve never tried Rocky Road ice cream before. It’s my new favourite ice cream flavour. Even though it was hot and I had to drink most of it, it was still my favourite dessert. I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something about chocolate and marshmallows that holds a very special place in my heart.

When will vegan Rocky Road ice cream be available for purchase in pints from a store?

Seriously, if you make vegan ice-cream, get on it. Please.

 

Globally Local – Hot Buffalo Chick’Un Burger

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2019 Review - Globally Local Buffalo ChickUn Burger and Fries - vegan food, food reviewer, vegan festival

Ah, Globally Local. They’ve been my favourite thing the past two years, and I feel a little bad about giving that title away, but my reason for giving the title away is two-fold:

  1. This burger is pretty much the same thing I tried last year, just with buffalo sauce coating the patty.
  2. The chicken parm was way more exciting and tasted better.

Don’t get mad, Globally, I still love you guys and cannot wait until you open your location here next month! But, I do wish that you had added something else on the festival menu to try.

The fries were great, too. Thick cut and fried fries I think are my weakness. These ones, and A&W fries are the best fries I’ve ever had. (… So far.)

 

Main Vegan Deli – Lobstar Roll

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Main Vegan Deli… what can I say? They were at the festival both previous years, and the first year I went I actually got to try a sample of their cashew cheese. I was hoping I’d get to do that again this year (or that I’d maybe actually get a ball/block to take home), but alas, they changed their menu.

This year, they had a ‘lobstar’ roll and a no-kobe sammy. Now, I’ve never really been that much of a fan of seafood. Before going vegan, I’d never eat it. It was gross to me. So, naturally, since going vegan, I haven’t tried any seafood faux products. Why would I if I didn’t like the real thing, right?

So, keeping that in mind, I didn’t really like this. It was mushrooms and their ‘seafood sauce’, so I figured it shouldn’t be too bad. I like mushrooms, after all – I don’t know what it was, it wasn’t exactly bad, but this was definitely not my favourite thing. I think it might’ve been the texture that the mushrooms were. They were slightly rubber-y, but also slightly slimy. Not chewy rubber-y, just… rubber-y.

I got my (non vegan) mom to eat it, (I couldn’t finish it!) and she said it ‘tasted like the kind of lobster you get from a can’. Take from that what you will.

I was actually really disappointed that I didn’t like this – I had loved their cashew cheese, and was hoping they might’ve been like Globally Local, in that I would just like everything.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not writing them off. Next year, if they bring their cashew cheese, or have some other type of sandwich (that’s not seafood) I’ll try it.

Bring it on!

 

Meltwich – Poutine

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2019 Review - Meltwich Poutine - vegan food, food reviewer, vegan festival

I love poutine! This one was a little lack-luster though. The fries were pretty basic, seemed like they were just regular frozen french fries, and the cheese shreds didn’t melt! At all. I took the picture, mixed it up, and then nothing. They tasted good, but they didn’t melt. I don’t know what happened, but that definitely made the dish not as good as it could have been.

That said, the gravy more for made up for the lack of melted cheese. It was a nice, rich, brown gravy and oh man, if they were just selling jars of that, I definitely would’ve bought one.

All in all, this poutine wasn’t anything spectacular (it was called the Classic Poutine) but regular poutine is still good poutine in my book. It doesn’t need to have chick’n or bacon bits or anything fancy for it to be good.

 

Vegtago – Nacho Cheese

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This was the first free sample I got at the festival. This cheese, while it’s great that it’s dairy-free, soy-free and nut-free, it tasted a little too sweet to me. If you gave this to me, and asked me to guess what it was, I would not guess ‘nacho cheese’. It tastes closer to pureed vegetable.

I’m not entirely sure if it’s made out of carrots, (the picture on the sign was a carrot), but it reminds me of my failed attempt at making cheese out of carrots and potatoes.

That’s not to say that it taste bad – I would definitely eat it in a different setting – but for something that’s supposed to be a nacho cheese, it misses the mark.

 

Magnum – Classic Bar

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This was the second free sample I got at the festival, and I have to say I was not disappointed. When I went, the lady at the counter said they were ‘down to Classics’. I was just excited I was getting a full sized ice-cream bar for free!

At this point in the festival, I was starting to feel a bit sick, so I do regret to say that I didn’t finish the whole bar. It’s the only thing from the festival I didn’t finish that I wasn’t able to take home.

With that said, it was pretty good. I don’t quite know how to describe it, but the chocolate coating on the outside of the bar had an odd ‘heavy’ feel to it. As soon as I bit it, that’s what I felt. I don’t know if that’s the right word for it, but it’s happened with other chocolate before, and that’s the only way I know to describe it. After that initial heavy/weighty feel, it was pretty sticky, too. Like, dry-out-your-mouth sticky. Similar to when you eat a spoon of peanut butter and immediately feel like you need to drink some water.

I don’t know if that’s just something that happens depending on the cocoa content or whatever, but it’s definitely something I don’t like in my chocolate. It shouldn’t make you thirsty.

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2019 Review - Magnum Non-Dairy Classic Bar - vegan food, food reviewer, vegan festival

The ice-cream was good, too. It was just basic vanilla ice-cream. Nothing too fancy, as this was the Classic Bar, but it was still good.

I’d definitely buy this if I wanted an ice-cream bar, but don’t go in with too high expectations. It’s pretty basic, and don’t forget to drink water with it.

 

Papabubble – Cherry Candy

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First, I’d like to point out: these are hard candies. They only had a few squishy ones (that I didn’t try) on display, and this wasn’t it. I thought that it was a squishy candy, so I tossed it in my mouth and got a rude awakening when I chomped down on it.

That’s my bad, I will admit. Other than that surprise, the candy was pretty good! It had a very good cherry flavour, and while it did stick to my teeth a bit, what candy doesn’t?

I also tried one called ‘lychee’ which is a type of tropical fruit. That one was good too, it did taste fruity, but I definitely liked the cherry one better.

I had actually been debating about buying a whole pack of their candy, but since they’re in Toronto, I decided I could always do a more in-depth analysis of their offerings later.

I don’t think they beat out Squish candy, since Squishs’ candy is well, squishy, but they are definitely a close second.




Julie’s Joyful Kitchen-  Chocolate Caramel Almond Bar

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2019 Review - Julie's Joyful Kitchen Chocolate Caramel Almond Bar - vegan food, food reviewer, vegan festival

This is my second year reviewing Julie’, and I have to say, I’m a little disappointed. Last year, I got their chocolate cookie, which was good – pretty hard to mess up a cookie – this year, they were offering other types of cookies, or, this chocolate almond bar. I thought I’d be a bit adventurous and go for the bar. I’ve seen similar bars before but have always stayed away from trying them.

I should’ve done that this time, too.

For starters, I couldn’t even pick the thing up. The bottom layer crumbled into a million pieces the second I tried to. So I had to eat it with one finger swiping through the middle ‘caramel’ part. And to be honest, the caramel wasn’t very good. It just kinda tasted like almond butter, there wasn’t very much ‘caramel’ flavour in it. The chocolate on the top was good – it is chocolate, after all – but it was the same kind of dry-out-your-mouth as the Magnum bar.

This definitely didn’t make my favourites list, not by a long shot. If they come back again next year, I’d definitely want to try something else, but if that doesn’t go well, I’m afraid I’m gonna have to write them off. Which sucks, because they ladies running the booth were very sweet.

But yeah, I’m thinking that maybe Julie’s just isn’t for me.

 

Sweet Nutritionista –  Beet Brownie

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2019 Review - Sweet Nutritionista's Beet Brownie - vegan food, food reviewer, vegan festival

For a dessert that’s made out of beets this was pretty good. I absolutely hate beets, so believe me when I tell say you could not taste the beets in this brownie at all. You could’ve told me it wasn’t made out of beets and I’d believe you.

This was a wee bit dense though. Maybe if they had cut them a bit thinner it would’ve been more enjoyable. It was a biiit too much to bite off and chew at one time.

I would definitely love to try something else they have to offer at the next festival, or if I’m ever in Oakville, I’d definitely stop by.

 

Yves – Sweet Potato Meatball

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2019 Review - Yves Sweet Potato Meatball - vegan food, food reviewer, vegan festival

I’m not gonna lie, this tastes very sweet potato-y. I unfortunately don’t like sweet potatoes, so I didn’t like it. It had a hint of a weird spice I don’t like, that reminded me a bit of cumin. (Although I’m not 100% on if cumin is actually in them)

If you like falafel, you’ll definitely like these.

They had nuggets available as a free sample to try as well, but I unfortunately was 5 seconds too late, as the lady in front of me had snagged the last nugget.

Fortunately though, they were also giving out coupons, and I was lucky enough to get one of those, instead.

 

Glory Hole Doughnuts – Cookies N Crème Doughnut

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2019 Review - Glory Hole Cookies N Creme Doughnut - vegan food, food reviewer, vegan festival

Glory Hole was back with a way better doughnut than last years’!

Maybe it’s because it wasn’t as hot, so it didn’t immediately melt into a goopy mess all over my hand, but I definitely enjoyed this one better than the peanut butter and chocolate I got last year.

While it still had the classic ‘this is a doughnut!’ sweetness, it was also very light. The icing I think was just regular vanilla, and the cookie bits were pretty similar in taste to Oreo cookies (no matter what the sign said).

The only thing I didn’t like is when I bit down, the entire doughnut flattened and didn’t bounce back. It was like I let all the air out of the tire.

That happened to the one I got last year as well, so I’m not sure if it’s just a doughnut thing, or if I’m somehow not biting them correctly but yeah. If they could find a way to make them not do that, that would be great.

And since these guys are in Toronto as well, I’m looking forward to trying more of their offerings.

 

BZZSFREE – Apple Honey

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Honey is definitely one of the things I miss the most since going vegan. I used to absolutely love it – not only for it’s taste, but also because it’s a great natural alternative to conventional medicine – so as soon as I saw this vegan honey company listed, I knew I just had to try it!

I was a little unsure of which flavour to get, as the sign said they had apple, pineapple and PMP (guava and something else I don’t remember). I just wanted to taste something that was closest to the real deal.

After speaking to the lady (who is beyond nice!) for a bit, she told me that the apple flavour is the closest to the real thing, so I decided to try that one. And boy am I glad I did!

It tasted so close to what I remember honey tasting like, I was blown away! It didn’t taste like apples at all! It was just as sweet, and even had the same sticky consistency!

I regret not buying a whole jar, but the lady said they were available to purchase online, and that they deliver to Toronto, so I’m definitely going to get my hands on some!

If you didn’t get a chance to check them out, or was a bit hesitant because of the flavours listed, you definitely need to try their apple flavour! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

I’m so glad they decided to come to the festival this year, and hope they come back!

 

Crazy D’s – Prebiotic Rockin’ Rolla Cherry Cola

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2019 Review - Crazy D's Prebiotic Rockin' Rolla Cherry Cola - vegan food, food reviewer, vegan festival

This was my least favourite thing from the entire festival. It tasted absolutely nothing like cherries. The ingredients say that there was actual cherry juice in it, but I couldn’t taste it at all.

This drink was spicy. It tasted like when you run out of bouillon cubes, so you try to make your own. So you get some water and throw ten different spices in it and then try it. That’s what it tasted like.

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2019 Review - Vegan Sign 2

This drink was an absolute no-go in my book. Which sucks because I was really looking forward to trying a cherry flavoured drink.

Their sign said it was supposed to have a bunch of health benefits and promote good digestion and stuff – I hate that they proved the old saying true. (Everything that’s good for you tastes bad)

I couldn’t even finish it, I had to dump it out when I got home. I felt bad for wasting it, but I couldn’t drink it. It was that bad. And tasted nothing like cherries!

Their other options were Ginga Kick and a citrus something. I went with cherry because I thought it’d be their best tasting one. Boy was I wrong!

 

If you like spicy drinks, you may like this, but if you want something that tastes like cherries? This isn’t it.

 

Tropic Love – Maple Luv Mini Pancakes

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Pancakes, whether big or small, there’s just something enjoyable about them.

These were light and fluffy, and so cute! They came ten per order, and were perfect with the right amount of maple syrup drizzled on top.

They weren’t really special, except that they were tiny. But I mean, a pancake is a pancake. I would’ve been really surprised if I didn’t like them.

 

WVRST – Soft Pretzel

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I have a soft spot for soft pretzels. I only tried them this year, actually. My first ever was from Through Being Cool (which unfortunately no longer exists!) and I instantly loved them!

They’re a bit salty to eat on their own (you’re apparently supposed to dip them in mustard? No thanks!), but have an amazing doughy consistency. It’s like eating just the thick crust from a pizza. I love soft, doughy breads, and these pretzels are no exception.

These guys also make sausages, (and are also in Toronto!) but I would recommend going there for the pretzels alone.

I’ll probably get around to trying their sausages, but the pretzels are an absolute must.

 

GTS – Watermelon Kombucha

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This was better tasting than the cherry cola, but still not my thing. I’ve tried kombucha before, and I didn’t really like it. I think it’s the carbonation I don’t like. Same reason I don’t enjoy pop – the carbonation isn’t a good time for me.

The flavour was good, though I don’t know I would call it watermelon. It had that fresh, fruity taste like a watermelon does, but it didn’t exactly scream ‘watermelon’ flavour.

I would definitely get it over an actual pop, like Coke. But my first go-to would still probably be just water.

 

Sausage Party – The Big Mock

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This not-dog was pretty good. They said it was a ‘hand crafted vegan sausage’, so I’m not entirely sure if it’s seitan, or something else, but it tasted similar to the flax dog I had gotten the first year. Very wheat-y. It was good, except I forgot to tell them no mustard, and they put a bunch of onions on it.

Why is that a thing people do? Smother the dog in a million cubes of onions? Onions are not that good of a topping, I’m sorry. I’d rather it of just been straight lettuce with the sesame seeds and cheese.

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2019 Review - Vegan Pyramid

I was a little disappointed that weren’t nearly as many dessert vendors as there were last year. I would’ve liked to get a cupcake or some other desserts.

On the vendors list on the Vegandale website, Kelly’s Bakeshop was listed, but the site map I got that had the list of the vendors, they weren’t anywhere. I don’t know if they were going to come, and had to fall out, or what, but I was disappointed that I didn’t get to try their Salted Caramel Pretzel cupcake again.

Also, I thought I saw Bald Baker, but he wasn’t a vendor. He was pushing a stroller around, but looked a lot like him. I didn’t have the courage to go up to him and ask, so if you’re reading this: sorry for starring!

I’m so happy I got to go again, and I’m hoping I get to try even more foods next year!


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