Tag Archives: vegan

Pizza Oggi’s Mini Calzones with Cauliflower Crust Review

Happy New Year, everyone!

Hope you all had an amazing, relaxing holiday and are ready to get back into it. First article this year is this product review!

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I’ve never heard of this brand before, but decided to go out on a limb and try their product. After all, I like pizza, so how bad could a calzone be?

I first tried these mini calzones on 22.12.14, and I was immediately surprised by how big they were. Considering they were supposed to be ‘mini’ they were a lot bigger than I thought they’d be. One calzone was roughly the same length as my hand (tip of middle finger to palm).

The box itself was relatively small, and 1 box also only came with six. This surprised me, because they were listed under the Appetizers section, and I naively assumed it would come with more, since when I hear ‘appetizer’ I immediately think of a party.

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Don’t get me wrong, these would absolutely still work for a party, but you’d need more than one box. Or, you could cut the calzones into bite-sized pieces, but that might defeat the purpose of eating a calzone.

They also cooked a lot faster than the box recommended. Though my oven burns hotter than most, I was still surprised at just how fast these cooked. The boxes instructions say to cook them at 425 for 12-15min, or until golden. (And to flip halfway through)

I cooked them at 400 for 6min, then had to turn the oven down to 350 for the last 6min because the outsides were starting to look burnt. After the second 6min cooking time, I took them out and they were done! So if your oven tends to burn hotter like mine, I’d recommend doing 350 for the entire cooking time, unless you like calzones extra crispy.

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Once they were cool enough to bite without burning my tongue, I went ahead and divided them between me and my non-vegan friend. (He agreed to help me out with product reviews when he was able to)

My first impression of the calzones was that they didn’t smell very ‘deep’ like regular pizza. It’s hard to explain, but if you’ve ever had pizza, it’s almost like you can smell every layer: the dough, sauce, cheese (or lack thereof) and toppings. These smelled more like… nothing.

I’m not sure if it’s because the dough was made out of cauliflower, or if it was a lacking of spice in the sauce, but when I held it up to my nose, it was almost like there was nothing there.

Which is very weird considering how many things were in it!

These calzones had: cauliflower crust, Beyond Meat Italian crumbles, vegan cheese, potatoes, bell pepper, peas, mushrooms, onions and more! Which is great for a food to have that many veggies in it.

But not so great for the taste.

Not that the taste was bad, but I definitely wouldn’t have said they were calzones. Calzones are supposed to taste like pizza, right? Just in a not-quite-pocket shape. These… didn’t. These calzones tasted closer to samosas, Perogies, or even a veggie Jamaican Patty.

They tasted like veggie soup in a wrapper, essentially. And speaking of the wrapper, neither me nor my friend could tell it was cauliflower dough. Even though the box proudly exclaimed it was made with a cauliflower crust, we couldn’t tell at all. In fact, if the box didn’t tell us it was cauliflower, we wouldn’t of guessed. It was that close to ‘real’ dough.

Though it’s clearly listed in the ingredients, you also couldn’t really taste nor see the vegan cheese. There were maybe 3 dots of white mozzarella. The inside of the calzones even looked more dry and crumbly than a calzone is supposed to.

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And sure, you could argue that maybe that’s my oven’s fault for almost overcooking, but even if it did dry them out, the pizza flavour was still missing. My friend agreed. They were great! But neither of us would’ve labelled them as ‘calzones’.

So, the big question: should you try them?

If you like the taste of samosas, Perogies or veggie Jamaican patties, then yeah, absolutely!

But if you’re craving something pizza flavoured? I’d skip this one.


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Beyond Meat Hot Italian Sausages Review

If you’ve been around here before, you’ll know I can not handle spicy foods. I have a very low spicy tolerance, and very, very rarely eat spicy foods willingly.

That said, when the Beyond Meat Hot Italian Sausages came to Canada, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to review them.

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I first tried these sausages back in March of last year (2021), and I have to say, I was actually pleasantly surprised!

Similar to the Beyond Meat Burgers, these sausages had a very similar texture to meat sausages (or at least, from what I remember) and even seemed to have a ‘skin’ or casing on them.

These sausages are very meaty tasting, and smelling. Which is great, if that’s your thing! If you’re looking for a plant-based alternative to replace meat products without compromising on taste or texture, these are definitely the sausages for you!

As I’ve said in previous reviews, I’m a fan of plants that taste like plants. Give me a mushroom burger that tastes like mushrooms, and I won’t complain. These sausages, as well as the Beyond Meat burgers… honestly, I think it’s amazing that we can make plants taste that close to meat products, but it’s just not really my thing.

I don’t know quite what it is, but even just smelling the ‘meat’ smell makes me mildly nauseous. Like my body is screaming no, don’t eat that! at me, even though I know it’s made out of plants, and is not a dead body.

For me personally, it’s too close to meat for me to be a big fan of them, or to add them to my regular shopping list. Once in a while is fine, but I really can’t handle them more than that. I just don’t crave that meaty taste – even back before I went vegan, I stayed away from pretty much every meat that wasn’t chicken/turkey, because I just didn’t like the taste – so it’s actually not surprising that I still don’t really dig that flavour.

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Beyond Sausage close up

Not only were these sausages super meaty, but they also definitely lived up to their Hot name. They were spicy. Like, take three bites and burn the back of my throat spicy. Now, as said above, I have a very low spice tolerance, so you may not find them that spicy, but honestly, these messed up my digestion I imagine the same way eating hot wings messes with other people. It was not pretty, nor fun.

Even just thinking back to eating them is making me want to chug a bunch of water. I definitely am a bigger fan of the Mild sausages, though I also found those spicy. Not as bad, but they definitely still had a kick.

I did notice however, that if I chopped up the sausages and mixed them into something else, it did significantly reduce the spicy effects. So, that’s also an option, if you’re worried about how spicy they are.

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Beyond Sausage cut up in a Mr. Noodle stir fry

One thing I definitely don’t like about these sausages, is the packaging. They come in a cardboard container, that’s wrapped in plastic. Also, they only come 4 to a package. I’ve complained about this in other reviews, but seriously, if you want to offer that little in a package, at least have a bigger packaging option. Why not make them available in an 8, or hell, even a 6 pack would be better.

Beyond Meat now makes Breakfast Sausages that come in an 8 pack, so I don’t understand why these big ones can’t also. I’m not for sure on this, but the breakfast links also appear to come in a cardboard box, instead of plastic, which again begs the question: why can’t the big sausages come the same?

I know this review may seem like it’s negative, so I want to be clear: I’m in no way trying to trash this product. I think it’s amazing and crazy that Beyond Meat has figured out a way to make plants taste that close to meat products. It’s truly an incredible achievement, and said above, if you’re someone who’s looking to quell your meat cravings without eating the real thing, you would be hard pressed to find a better sausage than these.

These sausages aren’t something I personally will be buying very often, but I’m still definitely recommending them!


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Kelly’s Triple Fudge Brownie Review

I’ve been very excited to try other products from Kelly’s ever since I tried their Salted Caramel Pretzel Cupcake during one of the Vegandale Festivals. I thought for sure I’d be out of luck after learning they were located in Burlington, but fortunately, they deliver to Toronto!

Wanting to try something new last year (2021) for Valentine’s Day, I decided to go ahead and place an order. Now, I’m not sure if it was just me, or the way their shop operates, but their website didn’t have too many offerings at the time I placed my order. Wanting to not go crazy, as well as remain practical (as I was planning on sharing some of the baked goods with friends and family), I decided to go with their Triple Fudge Brownie. Since it was flat, I figured it would be the safest to carry for travel.

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Small brownie tray

I ended up choosing the Small Tray size of their brownie to share, as well as two loose brownies to try beforehand – this way, I could test them myself before giving out possibly bad-tasting baked goods.

Luckily though, their brownie was amazing, and even my non-vegan friend enjoyed it!

Kelly’s Triple Fudge Brownies were firstly a lot bigger in size than I thought they’d be. The ones I got loose were roughly the size of my palm, and were also very sturdy.

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The loose brownies came in this cute pink box!

 

I don’t know if I’ve just had suck-y brownies before, but other brownies I’ve tried were closer in consistency to a cupcake than this was. This one felt a lot denser than ones I’ve previously tried – but not in a bad way!

I was also surprised that it was very soft to bite into, and reminded me of eating ice cream. Soft, yet firm. That said, the brownie was also not overly sweet like some other desserts. You know how sometimes you eat a cupcake and the second it goes into your mouth, your tongue almost recoils because it’s so sweet? That didn’t happen with this brownie.

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Brownie cut in half – like this, you can clearly see where the ganache ends and the brownie begins.

The website also said that the brownie had a chocolate ganache on top, which you can tell by looking at the brownie – the top of it is more of a lighter brown than the rest of it. The ganache also kind of flaked off the top when eating it. This worked out though, because the brownie was the type of dark chocolate that makes you thirsty, so picking up the ganache piece after eating it and letting it melt in your mouth helped with the dryness.

It was actually quite weird, now that I think about it. The brownie was dry, but not dry. I thought at first this may have been because the loose brownies were most likely made during the morning, but I didn’t receive the order until later in the day. You know that sort of dryness baked goods get if you leave them out on the counter? It was similar to that. (Though of course, I can’t say for sure whether or not the brownies were sitting around, and I’m in no way accusing Kelly’s of doing this)

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How the two loose brownies looked in the pink box.

My non-vegan friend said they liked the brownie as well. They said they weren’t sure if they would call it ‘fudge’ per se, but that it ‘definitely was a good chocolate brownie, was nice and flaky and surprisingly not crumbly’. (They ‘only made 4 crumbs’ when eating it)

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Another thing I liked about this brownie, and the Kelly’s company in general, is the fact the order came in a paper bag, instead of a plastic one. Granted, the containers that the actual brownies were in were plastic, but I liked that they at least didn’t have unnecessary plastic.

One thing I didn’t like about this order, was the price. Now, I know Kelly’s is a small, family owned bakeshop, and I did make them deliver from Burlington to Toronto (around Victoria Park and Danforth), however, my order total was $48.39, not including the tip. Considering I only got 2 items, this just seemed like a lot to me.

Another thing I didn’t like was the way the website would time out if you were taking too long to complete the order. I understand this is probably for inventory purposes, but it was annoying when I had to keep restarting my order, even though I stayed on the website. (I was trying to find ingredient information)

That said, Kelly’s had amazing customer service, and was overall very pleasant to do business with, aside from those two things. I definitely recommend you check them out and place an order with them, if you’re within the delivery zone (or can go and do a pick-up), and I look forward to placing more orders with them in future!


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So Delicious Vanilla Bean Coconutmilk Frozen Dessert Review

Vanilla gets a bad wrap as being a ‘boring’ flavour, but, without a solid foundation, you can’t build ice creams that are more complex. Also, sometimes you just want a ‘boring’ flavour, or maybe someone doesn’t like a weird combo of flavours – whatever your reasoning, vanilla is a great basic flavour to keep stocked in the freezer.

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That said, this means the review of a plain-er flavour won’t be as long, because there’s not as much to talk about flavour-wise. But again, I don’t think that should influence someone’s decision to buy it!

Okay, that’s enough defending, let’s get down to the review.

I’m going to be honest, this ice cream didn’t actually taste like vanilla. It tasted like coconut, which is fine, since it’s a coconut-based ice cream. And it wasn’t an overpowering coconut flavour like some other things I’ve tried. It was actually a much more subtle flavour than I thought it’d be. I don’t know if they added vanilla, and that’s what muted the coconut, or if that’s just what plain coconut ice cream tastes like, but it was nice, even though it’s not the flavour that’s advertised on the label.

The ice cream was also very ‘light’ and refreshing, unlike some more complex flavours which feel ‘heavier’ when eating them. This ice cream was a perfect, light snack. It actually kind of reminded me of summer, in the same way that eating watermelon does.

It was also pretty soft. I don’t know if it’s because it was coconut based or not, but I actually loved how soft it was! I could take it right out of the freezer and eat it, unlike with (as an example) Ben and Jerry’s, where you have to leave it on the counter for 5-10 minutes just to get a spoon in it.

A downside to this, and so far all vegan ice cream, is unfortunately it still came in the small pint containers, like the Ben and Jerry’s ice creams. I don’t know why there’s no family sized vegan ice cream out there, but I wish someone would start making it! Sure, for one person, this size would last maybe a week (if you ate a little every day), but what should you do if you have a celebration, like a birthday? You could buy multiple pints, but the amount you’d need to feed everyone, coupled with the high price, makes it not worth the effort.

I’m going to try to restrain myself from launching into a whole rant about the sizing thing – if you’ve read any of my other reviews, you know how much the smaller size thing irks me.

That’s really everything I had to cover for this ice cream: nice, light, coconut-y flavour, and a small container. Not much else I can say about it, except tell you to buy it if you like mellow flavoured ice creams.


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Just Egg Plant-Based Liquid Egg Review

After my last venture of an egg replacement that was closer to a pancake than a scramble, my hopes of finding another good vegan egg replacement were slim. Don’t get me wrong, I love the VeganEgg, it’s amazing! But with it’s usual $12.99 price tag, I was on the hunt for something that was just as good, with a lower price. (If it existed)

Enter: Just Egg. I saw post after post on Instagram of how amazing this substitute was, and knew I’d have to get my hands on it to see if it really lived up to it’s hype. Unfortunately, at that time, it was only available in the US. So like any other pessimist, I resigned myself to only getting VeganEgg for ‘special occasions’ and temporarily halted my search for another egg scramble replacement, and focused my energy/time on the more urgent upcoming projects.

Then, in early 2021, the news dropped: Just Egg was coming to Canada!

I was re-bombarded with glowing Instagram posts, and decided to add it to my shopping list – for the end of the year.

See, when it gets down to around November, I’ve (usually) got all my other projects for the year (books, website posts, etc.) done, so I have the free time I need to come up with the next year’s posts, project ideas, etc. including, trying products for the upcoming product reviews.

While other people are busy buying Christmas gifts, I swoop in to snag the otherwise-sold-out new foods. It’s a win-win!

That makes me a little later to the game than others, but I don’t mind. If it’s still a good product, everyone will still be talking about it months after it’s launch, right?

Right!

And that was just the case with Just Egg.

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I tried Just Egg for the first time in the last week of November/early December, 2021. (21.11.29 was the first day I tried it, if you want to be more specific)

Very first impression? This bottle seems kinda small.

I don’t know why, but for some reason, the pictures I saw on social media and in online store selections, I thought the bottle would be bigger – closer to a skinny juice carton. It’s actually about as tall as my hand (roughly 6in from the tip of my middle finger to the base of my wrist), and not very wide. It says it’s 340g, but I wasn’t about to scale it.

After getting over the (mild) shock of how small the bottle was, I checked the bottle (as us vegans do), to scope out the ingredients and the instructions. The instructions were hard to find, as they weren’t clearly marked, and were on the bottom of the label, disguising themselves as being part of the copyright information.

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AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Product Reviews - JUST Egg Plant Based Liquid Egg - Just Egg Cooking Instructions - vegan, vegan food, veganism, egg, egg scramble, food, food review, food reviewer, bloggerWhere the cooking instructions are

The ingredients also didn’t list black salt, which made me curious to see if it would taste ‘egg-y’ if I didn’t add any myself.

After that, I broke out my frying pan and got cooking up the very first test batch. I did as directed and shook, then poured out ‘my desired amount’ into an oiled pan and waited.

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Product Reviews - JUST Egg Plant Based Liquid Egg - Just Egg Liquid in Pan - vegan, vegan food, veganism, egg, egg scramble, food, food review, food reviewer, bloggerWhat the Just Egg looked like right after pouring into the pan

It didn’t take very long for the mixture to start solidifying. Using a spatula, I did the usual gentle mix and break to get those classic scrambled egg chunks. I also separated the mixture – part I was going to leave plain, to see what it’s flavour was on it’s own, and the other part I was going to add black salt, ground pepper and regular table salt to.

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Product Reviews - JUST Egg Plant Based Liquid Egg - Just Egg Separated Scrambles Pic - vegan, vegan food, veganism, egg, egg scramble, food, food review, food reviewer, bloggerSeparated scrambles – plain on the left, black-salted/peppered on the right

The plain scramble tasted pretty good, though it didn’t taste like an egg. It mostly just tasted like oil, since I didn’t add any other flavour. Think plain fried tofu. The spiced mixture tasted a lot more like eggs.

Both mixtures had a nice soft-ish texture that I vaguely remember ‘normal’ scrambled eggs having (it’s been 6 years, give me a break), and held their shape pretty well. The chunks were soft enough I could cut the bigger pieces with my fork, but were also firm enough they didn’t fall apart when you tried to stab them.

The only thing I didn’t like about this product, was that it was surprisingly hard to find. I don’t know if it was just sold out of a bunch of places, or if it’s only available in certain stores, but I checked the usual ‘normal’ grocery stores to find vegan goods (Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore, Metro) and none of them had it. I ended up getting it from Wal-Mart.

It was also only $5.59, which was much cheaper than I was expecting!

Overall, I think this is a great vegan scrambled egg substitute, and if I manage to find it at one of my usual grocery stores – especially for that price – I’m definitely looking forward to adding it to my semi-regular grocery list.


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Main Vegan Deli Smoked Applewood Cheese Wedge Review

Usually, I like sticking to cheese that has a pretty mild/tame flavour. I’ve seen some cheeses that have blueberries, and other odd things in them. While I’m not quite at that stage of trying new things, I did want to try branching out from my usual Daiya (and now Violife) cheese and see if I could be satisfied with a wilder flavour.

Enter: Main Vegan Deli’s Smoked Applewood Cheese Wedge.

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I decided to go with Main Vegan Deli because I remembered liking their cheese sample at one of the Vegandale festivals I went to, so I thought they would be a safer choice. (Instead of picking a completely new company) Also, their cheese is made out of cashews, and I haven’t tried very many cashew based cheeses, so I figured two birds.

Now, this cheese definitely has a… let’s say ‘bold’ flavour. Upon first taste test (done cold, right out of the fridge), it had the texture of soft tofu, and didn’t really have much of a taste, until you got to the red dust that was along one side. Once you got there, that’s when the flavour became apparent. It’s kind of hard to describe the flavour, but one thing I can say for sure, is that it made the back of my throat tingle after swallowing it.

I found out later, that it apparently has whisky in it, so I’m not sure if that would’ve been that flavour (I’m pretty sensitive to alcohol’s), or if it was something else, but it definitely didn’t make it fun to swallow.

That said, I had my (non-vegan) friend try it as well, and they absolutely loved it! They said, and I quote, “It’s as close as you can get without dairy. It melted the same and tasted great on burgers and sandwiches.

I also tried it in a cold sandwich, and it was definitely better when not eating alone, although I couldn’t tell if that was because it was disguised with other flavours or not. And, it still tingled my throat. I didn’t get a chance to try it melted, although I did smell it melted, and similar to a few other things, the flavour just seemed to intensify when it was heated.

I figured since I didn’t really like the flavour, I probably wasn’t gonna like it with an intensified flavour.

While this cheese wasn’t my cup of tea, I would still say it was good, and if you’re someone who looks for bold flavoured cheeses, I’d definitely recommend you try it out!

Another good thing about this wedge, is that it was a lot bigger than I thought it’d be! It’s actually the size I thought the Violife Parm Wedge was going to be. Since I tried the Violife wedge first, I had lowered my expectations on size when I bought this one, but I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised! Especially because it was listed at $15.

If I had ended up liking the flavour, I would’ve been over the moon at how big of a wedge it came with. I ended up giving it to my friend, who was really happy with it’s size. Though they did agree with me that $15 still seemed a bit too steep. We both thought if it was closer to $10-12 it would’ve been better.

Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea here, when I say ‘big’, I don’t mean it was ‘big’, I mean it was bigger than the Violife wedge, but was still relatively small. The whole wedge was roughly the size of my hand.

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The wedge went from the tip of my middle finger, to my wrist, making it about 6 inches long. It was also about 2 inches wide (pointer to ring finger).

Definitely not big enough to be $15 in my eyes. But! I want to say thank-you to Main Vegan Deli for not making it ridiculously small.

If their other cheeses are the same size, I definitely can’t wait to try one of their tamer flavours!

Have you tried Main Vegan Deli’s Applewood Smoked Wedge? Let me know what you think about it in the comments below!


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8 Simple Summer Recipes

Who doesn’t love summer? The long, cold winter is finally over, plants are in full bloom, and you generally just feel better all around now that you can actually go outside and see the sun.

But, there is one downside to summer: it gets hot.

I know, I know, when you’re coming out of a winter that got down to -40, hot weather is something of a salvation. But! When it’s hot out, you won’t want to turn on the oven and make your place even hotter. And, let’s be honest, there’s only so many days in a row you can BBQ before you get sick of it. (Especially the clean up)

So, in a bid to save your electric bill and your BBQ, here is a list of 8 simple, no-cook summer recipes to get you through the days when you just cannot eat a burger.

 

1 Nice-Cream

While technically nice-cream isn’t a ‘meal’, it is no-cook, also, who’s gonna complain about a new way to make ice cream?

This nice-cream is super simple to make. All you really need is some frozen bananas, some Silk (or other non-dairy milk), and a blender. If you don’t want it to taste like bananas, you can throw other stuff in the blender as well. (I’ve tried frozen cherries, and cocoa powder with chocolate Silk, but really pretty much any frozen berry you’d want would probably work)

Once you have all your ingredients, toss them all into the blender at the same time, and blend until its maybe Slushy consistency. Don’t worry if you over-blend it. If it gets too runny, then just call it a smoothies.

And boom! That’s it.

Told you these were simple!

 

2 Chickpea Salad Sandwich

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I know I might be late to the game with this, but I recently discovered that chickpea salad sandwiches are actually pretty good – and this is coming from someone who doesn’t really like chickpeas! (Unless they’re in roasted red pepper hummus form)

I also learned that chickpeas in a can don’t have to be cooked before eating (but you should still rinse them), which is great in the summer because then you won’t even have to turn the stove on!

Another nice thing with not only this recipe, but with a lot of summer recipes, is that since they’re all meant to be eaten cold, you can make a lot on one day, and then just eat them directly out of the fridge for a few days after. No-cook weeks are awesome not only because they won’t heat your house when it’s already hot, but they also save you a lot of time!

Most meal prep takes about an hour, but if you don’t have to cook every single day, that’s an extra hour you’re gaining back to do one of the other millions of things I’m sure you’re ‘getting around to’.

Okay, so to make chickpea salad, you can actually do pretty much whatever you like (again, it’s food, which means it’s based on your tastes), but this is the way I like it:

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp of Paprika (about)
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Dill
  • 1 Tbsp vegan mayo (optional)

Once you have all the ingredients, then all you have to do is smash the chickpeas with whatever masher you’d like – you can use an actual potato masher, or a fork, or a hammer, whatever way you like smashing your chickpeas – and smash them up so there are a lot of bits and halves, but also be sure to leave in some whole ones. This gives it a better texture.

Once all the chickpeas are somewhat smashed, add all the other ingredients to the bowl and mix until it’s all pretty much evenly distributed. You can then either eat it right away, or (depending on how long it took you to smash the chickpeas), throw it in the fridge until it gets cold again, then you can put it on a sandwich.

You can also add other things like lettuce or spinach to the sandwich to make it a little more filling. Or you could over-fill the sandwich so there’s a lot of chickpeas in it. When I make them, I use about 2-3 Tbsp of the chickpea mix per sandwich.

Or, you could go even simpler and just eat the chickpea mix right out of a bowl and skip the sandwich making all together.

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  1. Cucumber Noodles

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I know cucumber noodles are pretty big in the raw vegan community, and they have all kinds of inventive dressings, sauces and ways you can dress up these bad boys, but I like mine kept simple, with just a little salt and pepper.

You could try one of the thousands of sauces that are out there, but sometimes you just need something simple to hit the spot. I mostly make cucumber noodles when I want to eat cucumber slices, but want to make them ‘fancy’.

You can achieve the ‘noodle’ like strands with the cucumbers by either running it through a Spiralizer, hand-cutting them thinly, or I believe a mandolin would work, as well.

The first time I tried cucumber noodles, I actually hand-cut them. They didn’t look nearly as appetizing as the above noodles, though they still tasted good! It was still just cucumber after all.

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See? Not the prettiest, but taste was on point! (Minus the pesto)

 

  1. Salad

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You know, for as bad of a wrap salads get (no pun intended), they are actually quite a handy meal. You can basically throw together anything in a bowl and call it a salad. Fruits, vegetables, beans, pasta – there are like a million different ‘salad’ recipes possible.

Which is great, because many of them only require you to chop up a few things and mix them in a bowl. You can’t get much simpler than that! And, what’s more, is once you have the salad done, you can use it in other meals, too. For example, instead of just eating a salad in a bowl, if you throw it in a tortilla, now you’ve got yourself a salad wrap!

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This will of course depend on what kind of salad you’re gonna make. While I’m not trying to limit your salad creations, I just don’t think a fruit salad wrap would work. But you do you.

For a lettuce salad, I always start with the same basics

  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Bell Pepper
  • Hemp Hearts
  • Nooch/Cheese Shreds

Then from here, you can dress it up however you want! Sometimes I’ll add black salt to give it an ‘egg-y’ taste, or you can add bacon bits (No Name Bacon Bits are vegan!), dill, vegan mayo, and lemon juice to make a ranch/Caesar style dressing.

Or if it’s not astronomically hot, and you don’t mind turning on a burner, you could cook up some chick’n nuggets/strips and add those to your salad to turn it into a chick’n salad.

Or, you could make pasta salad, instead. For pasta salad, I usually add peas, bell pepper and celery to the noodles (either macaroni or Scoobi-Doo shapes are the best for pasta salad), and then for the dressing, I add: white vinegar, yellow/French’s mustard (optional), salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion (either powder or very small cubes), nooch (optional), and vegan mayo (also optional). Then you mix it together and let it cool in the fridge, or you could be one of those freaks who eat it when it’s still a little bit warm.

I love making pasta salad in the summer, not only because it’s super easy, but because it takes just as much effort to make a little bit of it as it does to make a lot. So I can usually make a big ‘batch’ of it, and then throw it in the fridge and eat it all week!

Also, same as lettuce salad, you could get a little creative and make a pasta salad wrap, or use leftovers in a warm pasta dish (I’ve turned left over pasta salad into mac n cheese) if you make it at the tail-end of summer. And, assuming it would last long enough you need to turn it into something else.

 

  1. Avocado Toast

I’ll be honest, I haven’t actually made avocado toast all that much, since I’m not that big of a fan of how avocados taste. I don’t know what it is, but it’s just not really my bag.

That said, I have been trying to force myself to eat them more often (which isn’t hard when you’re starting at ‘never’), because I know they’re super good for you. So, with that in mind, I’ve only made avocado toast twice, but both times I didn’t feel the need to immediately vomit, so I’m taking that as a good sign.

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This is the first way I tried it. I made some VeganEgg scrambled eggs, and then put some avocado slices on top of toast with a little bit of salt and pepper on top.

This… it tasted good, but as my first time trying avocado toast, with the giant pile of egg, it was too much of a not-that-great-texture in my mouth at once. I didn’t spit it out, but it was waaay too mushy for my liking. I did however finish it.

Some time after this, I had discovered I could eat at this place called Chipotle, so I went on a bit of a Chipotle kick, and decided to always get guac ‘on the side’, so I could continue to test the avocado waters. I wouldn’t eat the whole container of the guac (partly because Chipotle is super filling, and partly because I still wasn’t too into the taste), but my friend was more than happy to help me out. (This was pre-COVID, when sharing was still a thing we were allowed to do)

After that week of basically eating Chipotle straight, I didn’t eat avocado again until this year (2021), when I tried my hand at avocado toast again.

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This time around, I figured since I liked chickpea salad, if I made it ‘taste like summer’, I’d probably enjoy it more. Which, I don’t know if that’s why I liked it, or if my body had just gotten more used to eating avocados, but this time when I ate it, it wasn’t that bad. (Which was good, because I had another avocado in the fridge)

For this avo toast, I put salt, pepper, black salt (for the ‘egg-y’ tasty), a slice of PC Vegan Swiss Slices (side note: PC has come out with a whole line of new vegan products in Canada, which is awesome!), and smushed half an avocado on top, to which I mixed in some lemon juice, garlic powder, a smidge of paprika and dill.

Again, I don’t know if I liked this one more because I’m more used to eating avocados, or if it’s because I used less of it, but the second one I definitely wouldn’t mind eating more often. (… Which I realize isn’t that great of a selling point on a recipe, but hey, you’re here for honest opinions anyway, right? If you want awesome vegan recipes, go check out HotforFood)

 

  1. Cheese and Tomato Sandwich

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This one is probably the easiest recipe in this post. You literally take a slice of cheese, and a slice of tomato (or two) and add them to bread. Boom, done.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can add some vegan mayo, and/or salt and pepper.

 

  1. Snack Plates

Like salads, snack plates are awesome, because you can basically make them whatever you want to eat.

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In summer especially, snack plates are great, because you can cut up a bunch of fruit and/or veggies, and then just mix and match them onto 1 plate, whip up a quick dip, and boom lunch is done.

I eat snack plates all the time and love them. Mine usually consist of: cucumber, green pepper, broccoli (or cauliflower), carrots and dip. But you can add whatever you want to them, really. It all depends on what you like to eat, and what you have. Sometimes, I’ll swap out one of the veggies for crackers and cheese, or some frozen nuggets or something. Or you could do a fruit mix with watermelon, strawberries, grapes, golden berries, etc.

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Or, you could do little lunch meat + cheese sliders and cut up veggies. Or meatballs, mozzarella sticks, and crackers, or… pretty much you want to center your snack plate around whatever your dip is. As long as all the foods you choose pair well with the dip, they can go on the same plate.

The possibilities are literally endless!

And there you have it! Hopefully this small list of summer recipes has inspired you to create your own no-cook recipes. It’s really not that hard! Most veggies are great to eat cold, and all it takes is (usually) a little bit of creative thinking, and usually a tortilla to make a kick-ass, cold meal.

Do you have any favourite no-cook summer meals? Are you going to try any from this list? Let me know in the comments!


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5th Year Veganversary

5 years, baby!

I’ve finally reached the 5 year mark, and I couldn’t be more excited!

Well, technically it won’t be a full 5 years until Saturday (Feb. 6th), but I’m still excited! Each year, I get more excited, because I’ve been vegan longer, and it’s always crazy for me to write down the actual number of years, because in my day-to-day, it’s just how I live now. It feels like it’s been a long time, and I suppose you could argue that 5 years is a long time, but relatively speaking, it’s actually not.

The majority of my life lived up until this point is still non-vegan, and I think that’s the weird part to me. 5 years vegan is amazing, but it’s not even close to half my lifetime. Since going vegan, and learning about all the bad things that happen to animals, I’ve just wanted to erase my non-vegan years, because I’m ashamed of them. I was so ignorant, and even used to make fun of my vegetarian aunt (along with my siblings), and I just look back and cringe so hard that I used to act like that.

And yes, I know that me looking back and cringing at how I used to be is actually a great sign of growth and learning, but it’s still embarrassing for me to think about. It does also help put into perspective how those close to me must see my veganism. A little while ago, one of my closest friends asked me if I was ‘ready to stop this vegan thing’ now that I had been doing it so long. They seemed to be kidding, but that really threw me through a loop. It’s been 5 years, and in the grand scheme of my over-all life, that’s still short enough to be considered a ‘phase’ by some.

It’s sad to me that something that changed my life so radically can be viewed so dismissively by those around me, but it helps me see things through their eyes. Not everyone views this 5 years as a good thing, or even as a big deal, and that’s pretty sad to think about. That someone close to me could be waiting for me to ‘snap out of it’ or something similar is just crazy. ‘Oh yeah, sorry I’ve stopped murdering for 5 years, guess I should get back to it, huh?’ Come on.

If (and this is a big ass if) I was ever going to stop being vegan, it definitely wouldn’t be so soon! I would wait at least until I saved as many animals as I’d previously eaten, so that my scale could be ‘balanced’.

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And I know that it won’t ever truly be balanced – just because I saved the same amount of animals I had a hand in killing, doesn’t make it okay. Those animals still died for a stupid reason, and there is nothing I can do that will ever truly make up for that. I’m just letting you know that would be my rationale.

That said, that won’t happen until I’ve been vegan for 20 years, and by that point, my life would be so much more changed, it’d be even more crazy to ‘stop’.

Even now at 5 years, being vegan is just part of who I am. I can’t stop being vegan any easier than I could stop being left-handed, or stop being short – it’s just part of me. I can’t force myself to start eating dead bodies any more than I can force myself to grow another foot.

It’s just not gonna happen.

I find it especially funny for me to stop being vegan, because I’ve tried so many new foods I never would’ve been able to eat had I not gone vegan. With my food allergies, it was really hard to find non-vegan food I could eat. Like I explain in my Vegandale Festival articles, it still trips me out that I’m able to go to certain places and order whatever I want, and not order the only thing on the menu that wouldn’t make me sick.

I love all the new foods I’ve been exposed to, and being vegan has made me a better chef. I’ve had to learn how ingredients interact with each other, and learn how to build flavour profiles with spices and condiments. For example, when I’m making seitan, I have to mix 12 different ingredients together, just to get the ‘base’ taste of chicken. That takes a whole day to make, and then if I want to use it in something, I have to cook it ‘normally’ on top of that.

It takes longer sometimes to cook vegan, but it’s definitely worth it.

I love being vegan, and I’m hoping I’ve been able to share some of that love and have sparked curiosity for some of you, but I feel like I’ve just been repeating the same thing each year. And while it’s all true – I do think it’s crazy and amazing that I’ve been opened up to basically a whole new world – I don’t want to sound like a broken record, so I think I may just start doing these Veganversary posts every 5 years instead of every year.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still gonna celebrate it myself every year, but I don’t think I need to make a dedicated post each year, either. I think waiting to make a new post will be better, because a lot can change in 5 years, and I’ll be able to share with you all that I’ve learned. (Unless you like hearing me be amazed each year, in which case leave a comment! Lol)

I’m also still going to be posting veganism articles, so don’t worry. I just realized these Veganversary posts are kind of… I don’t know, maybe dull to read every single year, so I’m gonna cool it. If you want to keep up with what I do on my Veganversary, you can check out my Instagram, as I’m sure I’ll continue to post a picture of my celebratory food.


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Gardein 7 Grain Crispy Tenders Review

These are some of the very first things from Gardein I ever tried.

I’m not gonna lie, like most of the other chick’n Gardein products, you probably already know what these taste like, so if you like those, you’ll like these.

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One thing I actually don’t like about these, is the fact they only come 10 to a bag. I know from personal experience you can fit 20 into the bag. And, while 20 did slightly overfill the bag, you could definitely put more than 10. Even 15 would be better. I really don’t understand the obsession with vegan companies not making foods in family sizes.

I don’t know about other people, but I don’t want to go shopping every week, and like to buy the biggest quantity of something I can, so I’m not constantly running out to the store for supplies. (And, in light of COVID happening, I think it’s more important than ever to buy things in bulk to limit your amount of outings)

Aside from the lack of food, these are as I said above, not very spectacular. But that’s okay! I actually really enjoy these, they’re pretty fast to make in a pan, and can be eaten by themselves as nuggets, or you can add them to other dishes, like pastas or rice.

The 7 grain breading on them is pretty good, too. While I can’t really describe it – I don’t actually taste 7 different grains, for example – but I can say it’s definitely different than the breading on the Mandarin Orange Nuggets. One thing I can tell you though, is that this breading is way more crumby than the other. It’s not really a big deal, but even after washing my hands I still feel like the crumbs are on me, so be wary of that.

As for the innerds – as I said, it tastes the same as their other faux chicken products. The texture is a bit tougher than the nuggets, though. It’s closer to the texture of the faux chick’n burgers.

Another thing I’d like to mention, I recently noticed that the Gardein bags have changed texture, they don’t feel quite so ‘plastic-y’ anymore. So I did some recon, and discovered they changed their bags to be made out of ____ which is awesome, because this means that while they still come in packaging, they’re more recyclable, and – as someone who recently started getting into the zero waste lifestyle – this is awesome! So while I try to move away from pre-packaged foods, I will still continue to support Gardein.

I feel like the Beyond Burger (and Impossible Burger and the like) are more of the flashy/Instagram-y side of veganism, trying to seem interesting and enticing – while Gardein is more like an old friend who’s always there.

If you haven’t tried their products yet, please go out and support them!


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Store Crawl #2: Metro (Online Edition)

Welcome to second store crawl in my new series.

I want to start this off by saying that at the time of writing this post (20.04.07), the COVID-19 shut down of practically everything is still in full swing, so this store crawl is going to be a bit different.

Since I wasn’t actually able to go through and crawl the physical store, this will be a crawl of Metros’ online store. This means that not only may there be vegan items not listed, but that due to the virus and panic buying, they may not list items that are sold out, either.

I actually debated about scraping this post and doing a different one altogether, and to maybe back burner this series until things get back to normal, but then I figured in the midst of what’s happening, it may be more important now than before to keep the series going, as you may not be able to get groceries delivered from your favourite store, and knowing what other stores are offering without doing the research yourself (which takes hours, btw) would probably be helpful.

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Also, I want to note: Since this is an online version, instead of listing the foods by section, I’m going to be listing them by brand.

I’m also not going to list the fruit, veg, grains or most snacks that are vegan friendly because seriously, how long do you want this post to be?

Earth Balance

  • Soy Free Traditional Spread
  • Original Traditional Spread
  • Creamy Peanut Butter & Flaxseed
  • Creamy Coconut & Peanut Spread

 

Yves

Lunch Meat:

  • Salami
  • Turkey
  • Bologna
  • Ham
  • Pepperoni (I know it’s not technically a deli meat, but the official Yves website lists it here)

Not-Dogs:

  • Jumbo Veggie Dogs
  • Meatless Veggie Dogs
  • Yves Mediterranean Harissa Sausages
  • Spicy Italian Veggie Sausages

Ground Round:

  • Original Ground Round
  • Italian Ground Round
  • Mexican Ground Round

Other:

  • Veggie Burgers
  • Souvlaki Veggie Skewers
  • Veggie Chick’N Tenders
  • Veggie Breakfast Links
  • Veggie Breakfast Patties
  • Broccoli Bites
  • Falafel Balls

 

Lightlife

  • Original Veggie Bacon
  • Veggie Chicken Tenders
  • Smoked Veggie Hot Dog Sausages
  • GF Vegan Burger
  • Beyond Meat Beyond Burger (don’t know why, but online they were listed together)

 

Tofurky

  • Italian Sausages
  • Polish Style Meatless Kielbasa Sausages
  • Marinated Roast Ham
  • Holiday Roast and Gravy

 

Daiya

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Cheese/Sauce:

  • Plain Cream Cheese
  • Chive and Onion Cream Cheese
  • Mozzarella Slices
  • Cheddar Slices
  • Smoked Gouda Block
  • Cheddar Block
  • Mozza Style Cutting Board Shreds
  • Cheddar Style Cutting Board Shreds
  • Mozzarella Sticks
  • Cheddar Sticks
  • Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac
  • Deluxe Alfredo Style Cheezy Mac
  • Deluxe Veggie White Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac
  • Deluxe Cheddar Style Sauce
  • Deluxe Alfredo Style Sauce
  • Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing
  • Homestyle Ranch Salad Dressing
  • Blue Cheeze Salad Dressing

Frozen:

  • GF Supreme Pizza
  • GF Margherita Pizza
  • Cheeze Lovers’ Pizza
  • GF Classic Pepperoni Pizza
  • GF Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Pizza
  • Crunchy Chocolate Fudge Ice Bar
  • New York Cheezecake
  • GF Chocolate Cheezecake
  • Key Lime Cheezecake

 

Amy’s Kitchen

Frozen:

  • California Veggie Burger
  • Roasted Vegetable No Cheese Pizza
  • Thai Red Curry
  • Pad Thai
  • Organic Veggie Loaf While Meal (listed as Veggie Loaf and Vegetable Meal)
  • Black Bean Enchiliada Whole Meal (Enchiliada with Spanish Rice and Beans)
  • Quinoa & Black Beans with Butternut Squash & Chard
  • Dairy Free Bean & Rice Burrito
  • Black Bean Vegtable Burrito

Cans:

  • Organic Split Pea Soup
  • Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup
  • Organic Vegetable Barley Soup
  • No Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Organic Medium Chili with Vegetables
  • Organic Spicy Chili

 

Silk  (All Silk products are vegan!)

Soy:

  • Organic Unsweetened Soy Beverage
  • Organic Original Soy Beverage
  • Chocolate Flavoured Soy Beverage
  • Soy Beverage For Coffee

Almond:

  • Original Almond Fortified Beverage
  • Unsweetened Almond Fortified Beverage
  • Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Beverage
  • Vanilla Flavoured Almond Beverage
  • Dark Chocolate Almond Fortified Beverage
  • Berries and Acai Flavoured Dairy Free Almond Yogurt
  • Peach Flavoured Dairy Free Almond Yogurt
  • Vanilla Flavoured Dairy Free Almond Yogurt
  • Strawberry Flavoured Dairy Free Almond Yogurt
  • Hazelnut Flavoured Almond Beverage For Coffee
  • Dairy Free Almond Coffee Whitener

Coconut:

  • Original Coconut Beverage
  • Unsweetened Original Coconut Beverage
  • Almond and Coconut Blend Beverage
  • Vanilla Flavoured Unsweetened Coconut Beverage
  • Original Coconut For Coffee
  • Vanilla Flavoured Coconut For Coffee
  • Unsweetened Vanilla Dairy Free Cultured Coconut Yogurt Alternative
  • Unsweetened Plain Dairy Free Cultured Coconut Yogurt Alternative
  • Berries and Acai Cultured Almond Milk Yogurt

Cashew:

  • Original Creamy Cashew
  • Unsweetened Creamy Cashew Beverage
  • Vanilla Flavoured Creamy Cashew Beverage

 

Gusta:

  • Vegan Montrealaise Wheat Sausages
  • Vegan Espanola Wheat Sausages
  • Vegan Italiana Wheat Sausages
  • Pizzaroni Vegan Seitan Stick

 

Gardein

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Chicken:

  • 7 Grain Crispy Tenders
  • Crispy Chick’n Patties
  • Chick’n Sliders Mini Burgers
  • Chick’n Fajita Bowl
  • Teriyaki Chick’n Bowl

Beef:

  • Sweet and Tangy BBQ Wings
  • Beefless Ground
  • Beefless Tips

Patties:

  • Chipotle Flavoured Black Bean Patties
  • Spicy Breakfast Meat Free Saus’age Patties
  • Breakfast Meat Free Saus’age Patties

 

Sweets from the Earth

  • GF Flourless Cashew Flavoured Cookies
  • Nut Free Cupcakes
  • Blueberry Cheesecake
  • Chocolate Fudge Cake
  • GF Vegan Chocolate Cake
  • GF Vegan Espresso Cheesecake

 

Ben & Jerry’s

  • Non-Dairy Peanut Butter Half Baked
  • Non-Dairy Cherry Garcia
  • Non-Dairy Chocolate Fudge Brownie
  • Non-Dairy P.B. and Cookies
  • Non-Dairy Coffee Caramel Fudge

 

Okay, I know that seems like a lot, but considering they’re a pretty big grocery store, this actually isn’t that much. It just looks like it all listed out.

Anyways, I hope you found this helpful, should you need to do some digging around your non usual digs for vegan food, at least this way you know you’ll be able to find some pre-made stuff.

Which I know isn’t everyone’s favourite, and I’m actually trying to move away from it, myself, but it’s better than starving.


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