The Cruelty-Free Review

A review of compassionate products, foods, and recipes

Happy Labor Day Weekend everyone! No reviews this week, but I’ll be back for more next week! In the meantime if you need any ideas on what to make this weekend, look no further than this post from Barb-her vegan burger roundup. Pick a fave (or two!), hit the grocery store and don’t forget the beer! Have a happy and safe holiday!

That Was Vegan?

This weekend marks the unofficial end of summer, which will be celebrated by many a backyard BBQ. Below are a few vegan burger recipes for your consideration (and if you’re hosting said BBQ, check out my Guide To Vegan BBQ-ing!). Click on the pictures to get to the recipes.

Smoky-Sweet Chickpea Burgers with Adobo

Vegan smoky-sweet chickpea burger with adobo

These burgers, which are my absolute favorite, bring a whole mix of flavors to the (picnic) table: Sweet, smokey and spicy. If you’re a fan of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (or are just game enough to add some heat to your plate), give these a try!

Spicy Chickpea Burgers

spicy vegan chickpea burger

I think these were my first ever homemade vegan burgers, so they’ll always hold a special place in my heart! Plus it’s easy to adjust the amount of heat: just adjust the amount of chili powder and thai chili sauce!

Green Chile Black Bean Burgers

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Lunch Express

 

Two reviews for the price of one! How lucky are you readers? 🙂

Last week I posted my haul from Nooch and a couple of the items I picked up were Dr. McDougall’s microwave lunches. I’ve posted my love for easy (read: microwave) lunches in previous posts so it’s just par for the course that I would start off my reviews of the cool vegan stuff I got with these products. I’ll begin with the ramen.

Since going veg my cravings for greasy burgers, pink-centered pork chops, and bologna sandwiches have long since faded. Okay the cravings for bologna faded long before that, but that’s beside the point. I don’t physically desire meat anymore but every once in a while I’ll smell a food that triggers a (happily) long-forgotten memory of my omnivore days.  I had one of those moments recently when co-worker cooked up a Chicken Cup-O-Noodles. There was just something about the smell that put me on edge and had me desiring the classic poor college student meal.  Now, I used to eat ramen noodles like they were going out of style when I was younger. Part of that is because ramen was (and still is) very, very cheap and at times that was all my mom could afford. I could eat them every day and not get tired of them. Even as adults Robert and I have had our fair share of ramen dinners just because they are so easy to make. Becoming vegetarian didn’t slow me down much, thanks to the “oriental” flavor, though I have no idea exactly what flavor it’s supposed to represent. I’d eat them when I was sick, to satiate late-night hunger, and when I was too lazy to make anything else. It is a comfort food to me but of course I’ve been looking for a suitable replacement.   How lucky it was that I’d made this purchase just a few days earlier! Almost as if I foresaw the craving coming.  As the noodles were cooking I had a moment of doubt that they would live up to my expectations but I should have known better. The ‘chicken’ flavor was so similar to what I remembered and the noodles were just as slurp-worthy. The noodles here are baked, not fried, resulting in only 1 gram of fat compared to the 13g (7g saturated) found in the Nissan brand.  The best part is that Dr. McDougall’s doesn’t have nearly the amount of sodium as Cup-O-Noodles (680g vs. 1480g) and I didn’t bloat up like a balloon when I was done eating. I’m happy to have been able to quiet that little mental omnivore that still inhabits a small part of my brain 🙂

Now on to the masala lentil pilaf. I love Indian food. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t try it until 2 years ago, but now I know better! Indian food had the best combination of savory and sweet flavors, which is my personal favorite combination 🙂 Plus it is probably the most vegan and vegetarian friendly cuisine that I know of.  It is from Indian food that I learned that spices can make or break a dish, especially when it comes to vegan cooking.

Here, lentils and rice create a base for a hearty meal that hardly tastes like microwave fare. Fragrant cumin and cardamom bring to mind all the classic flavors of the traditional masala dishes while adding a little kick of spice. The lentils stayed firm so it didn’t taste like a cup of mush.  The raisins add a much welcomed pop of sweetness that helps temper the spice. With 8g of protein and only 280 calories this cup of deliciousness makes for a filling lunch; I was full for about 4 hours before I even started feeling a rumbly in my tumbly. Throw some veg or tofu in there and you will have a perfect meal.

I know it’s easy to find Dr. McDougall’s products at Whole Foods; I’ve passed them up many a time while shopping. I guess it just took having a few varieties highlighted on Nooch’s shelves for me to take notice. They have a ton of flavors of noodles and soups and even some oatmeal that I really want to try. It’s nice to have a variety of healthy, easy to make meals with the cooler months coming up. Check out the entire line of Dr. McDougalls’ foods here and pick up a few good sounding ones for go-to meals on the days you want to put more effort into your cocktail than dinner 😉

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An All Vegan Store Comes to Denver!

 

After months of anticipation, Denver finally has its very own vegan market! Nooch (cute name, right?) opened its doors on Monday and I could not get there fast enough! Barb and I made our way there on Tuesday and promptly began filling our baskets with all kinds of vegan goodies.  You can check out what Barb snagged here, and below is my haul:

Lots of stuff to review! Not pictured (because I forgot) is a cup of Goji-Cacao Oat Based Cereal by Vigilant-Eats. And the best part? I got all this for just under $30 which makes Nooch’s prices very competitive. I know I could have found some of these items at Whole Foods but I want to support Nooch as much as possible. It was a labor of love to open, backed by a Kickstarter campaign so I want to make sure it sticks around! Plus I don’t have to waste time reading labels to make sure something is vegan which leaves more time to debate what I want to get 🙂

Nooch has a lot of products I’ve not seen before, like the Gardein sliders and specialty flavors of Veganaise (think chipotle and barbeque). It is also the first store I’ve been able to find the Havarti wedges, so that alone was worth the trip. They have white chocolate chips, Choco Banzo, a chickpea-based chocolate dip similar to Nutella, Soy Curls, Teese, and so much more. Their non-food items include my favorite lip balm, Hurraw balm, vitamins, pet food, cookbooks, clothing, and stickers (my favorite one says ‘Nooch. Vegan as fuck’ 🙂 ). The store looks a little sparse right now but they will be adding more products throughout the weeks including treats from local companies Beet Box and Sweet Action Ice Cream and my favorite seitan! It’s small but intimate and I know that in a few weeks it will be packed with products and hopefully shoppers! If you’re in the area please go check them out. I cannot wait to go back and stock up some more. Thanks to Barb for the store photos; she took them while waiting for me and in one you can see me on the left at the check-out, though I don’t think she got my best side 🙂 Now if you’ll excuse me I hear sliders and Havarti calling my name!

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Roasted Veggie Tacos with Hummus

I wanted to share this recipe for a few reasons: 1) It’s super easy, 2) It’s quick and healthy, and 3) My omnivore boyfriend came up with it.  At the grocery store today we were trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Robert suggested tacos with roasted veggies but we were struggling with what else to put in the taco. Then he said “How about hummus?” I was doubtful that the flavors would work together, but I didn’t have a better idea so we set about choosing a flavor that would compliment the vegetables. In the past we have had a delicious green chili hummus made by Falafel King, but that wasn’t available where we were shopping. We decided on Tribe Zesty Spice and Garlic.

At home I chopped and seasoned the veg, still unsure that just vegetables and hummus were going to make a good taco. But oh how wrong I was. The veggies were flavorful and thanks to keeping the cuts rather thick, they still had some bite to them. The creamy hummus reminded me of refried beans, but obviously much healthier and with a little spicy kick. And that’s it. No need for sour cream, salsa, guac, or cheese. These tacos are filling and take less than half an hour to make. Feel free to use the veg of your choice; we went with a  combo of bell pepper, onion, and zucchini. Next time I make these I might add some potatoes and  tomatoes and maybe try a different flavor hummus.

I guess  this really isn’t a recipe per se; you can use the veggies, hummus, and tortillas of your choice and the amounts for seasoning are approximate since I just throw stuff together until it tastes good 🙂 Also, the salt I used is a specialty green chili sea salt from a local company in Brekenridge, CO called Olive Fusion, but regualr salt will suffice. Still, I was just so surprised at how good they were and was especially proud of Robert for the idea that I just had to share. Never underestimate anyone’s ability to come up with a healthy vegan meal!

Roasted Veggie Tacos with Hummus

Makes 4 tacos; serves 2

1 Large Zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/2 inch half moons

1 Red Onion, sliced in half, then cut into 1/2 inch half moons

1 Bell Pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch strips

Optional other veggies of your choice, cut to approximate same size as veg above

2-3 Tbs olive oil

1/2 Tbs Sea Salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp garlic power

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp oregano

Hummus flavor of your choice

10″ flour tortillas (We used Mission Multi-Grain)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Cut your veggies and put into a large bowl. Add the olive oil and seasonings, then toss with your hands to make sure everything is evenly coated. Check and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Spread veggies evenly on a cookie sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes,  stirring halfway through, until just tender.

Warm up your tortillas, schmear some hummus on and pile on the veg. Crack open a cerveza or light white wine and enjoy!

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Polish Power

I’m not very good at ‘girly stuff’. Applying makeup, styling my hair, being fashion-conscious; I think I missed out on that gene. I’ve never been good with my hair which is why I keep it short now. When it was long I usually just put it up in a ponytail and called it a day. I don’t have a deft hand when applying makeup so I stick with just the basics; eye shadow, mascara, and foundation. And I really couldn’t care less if my clothes are trendy.

I even fail at wearing nail polish. It seems that no matter what I do I can’t avoid getting bubbles. I’ve scoured the internet looking for suggestions on how to keep this from happening. I’ve tried not shaking the bottle, applying two coats quickly without letting the first dry, using different brands, applying upside down. Okay, not that last one, but needless to say that none of those tactics worked. Except changing brands. Most of my polishes are Revlon but with the recent news that they are conducting 3rd party testing I needed to find a new brand.

I was thinking this very thing during my favorite pastime a few weeks ago-wandering around Whole Foods. Honestly the employees at the WF I frequent must think I’m stalking someone there. I’m not, but I will wander up and down the same aisles over and over debating on what new products to try. And I came across Mineral Fusion’s Nail Lacquer stand. I’ve reviewed MF’s products in the past so I was very excited to see a line of polishes from them. I had to resist buying one of each color and just decided on Stepping Stone, a paleish pink hue. And yes that is my toe in the bottom right corner 🙂 I don’t have any really good places for photography in my apartment, so sometimes you will see thing like this. Faithful and obeservant readers will recognize a microwave in may of my photos. Anywho…

I thought I would try applying it without going through the rigmarole of putting on a base coat and finishing with a top coat. This first layer went on very thin but dried quickly. I applied a second and third coat and when my nails were completely dry there were no bubbles to be found! And I could not believe how shiny and smooth this polish was.  The dried color was very true to how it looked in the bottle and even with three layers they were completely dry in about 30 minutes. I also had no chipping even after almost a week of wear.

Today I just had to pick up another color so I chose Grotto.  It looks like just a purplish-grey, but in direct light I could see a pretty shimmer. And again, no bubbles! This time I only applied two coats, which was enough. I guess it just depends on the color if two or three coats are needed.  And forgive my pictures because they do not do justice to how vibrant these colors really are.

Most of the colors offered are various shades of pink and red but there are a few other colors (like Grotto) if you’re looking for something that stands out a bit more. Unfortunately, Mineral Fusion doesn’t have the polishes listed on their website (I know, this is the second review I’ve done that lacks a link. Sorry!) but I was just so impressed with the quality that I had to review them. Look for them at a Whole Foods near you; Mineral Fusion is pretty well represented around the country, even Canada. I put Toronto and Vancouver into their store locator and both came up with results so I hope you give them a shot. As for me, I’m just glad that I can do one girly thing right now 🙂

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