The Cruelty-Free Review

A review of compassionate products, foods, and recipes

Free Chipotle!

Who doesn’t love free food? No one, that’s who. And here’s your chance to try Chipotle’s new sofritas (if you haven’t already) and get rewarded for it. On Monday, January 26th, order any item with sofritas, and you’ll get a free burrito (or taco, salad, or bowl), redeemable between January 27th and February 28th.

Still unsure if you want to try sofritas? Read the guest blog review I did for That Was Vegan? here, and then just give it a shot! You might discover your new favorite item…and if not, hell, at least you’ll get to go back and get something you do like for free! Either way, you’ll be supporting Chipotle’s awesome vegan option. Bring on Sofritas Monday!


Snack Attack, Part 2

Remember when I reviewed Earth Balance’s white cheddar puffs and popcorn? I was pretty astounded at how well they replicated the taste of their non-vegan counterparts and was convinced that they were the pinnacle in taste of vegan snack food. But Earth Balance has done it again and while I’m never fond of hyperbole, I will say they have created THE greatest vegan snack food ever! Oh and there’s a couple of other pretty good ones reviewed here, too.


So, just what is the greatest vegan snack? Sour Cream and Onion Kettle chips. Okay, I am being totally biased as sc&o chips are my all-time favorite snack/junk food indulgence. I have loved them for as long as I can remember. I never even used to like sour cream, except as a flavoring on a chip. In high school I went to lunch at Subway at least twice a week and the best part of the meal was opening up that green and white bag of happiness and popping the first tangy chip in my mouth. Even now as I journey closer to a 100% vegan diet, there are a few things I have a very hard time letting go of, and sc&o chips are one of those things. But I can finally cross those off my list thanks to EB. Their take on my lifetime fave is spot-on perfect. They have the perfect balance of tanginess and sweetness that make sc&o chips so great, plus they’re kettle-style so they have an extra crunch that just rounds everything out. Every time I eat one my mouth does a happy dance. They are also healthier than their non-vegan versions, so that makes them practically guilt-free snacking! Of course, healthier is a relative term since we’re talking about potato chips but who cares! I have a vegan alternative to one of my favorite foods!


Earth Balance has also come out with a Cheddar flavor kettle chip and while I would never choose them over the sour cream and onion ones, they do taste pretty fantastic. I was worried that they would taste just like EB’s white cheddar puffs but the cheese flavors in each are quite different. While the white cheddar is sharp and strong, the regular cheddar is creamier and more subtle. The best thing is that the chips aren’t overly salty and that really lets the cheese flavor shine through.


The third snack EB has released is Cheddar Flavored Squares—vegan cheese-its, essentially. I was actually a little disappointed by these—to me, they lack cheddar flavor. It really surprises me too, considering how well the cheese comes through in the chips. They don’t taste bad but I just think they need more cheese flavor. Don’t get me wrong—I’ll eat these any given day over the non-vegan version. Robert on the other hand, prefers these to regular Cheese-Its, and he loves Cheese-Its about as much as I love sour cream and onion chips. So there are both sides of the coin for you.



I have seen the Cheddar Squares at Whole Foods, but neither flavor of the chips yet. I actually had to order mine from Food Fight Grocery. They had been sold out for a while, but I checked today and both flavors were in stock. If you are as desperate to try the chips as I was, FFG will probably be your best bet to get them. I highly recommend you do, at least once as they are completely worth it. Happy snacking!


Candle Cafe Vegan

First of all I would like to give a huge thanks to everyone who stopped by here to check out my entry for the Virtual Vegan Potluck. I welcome and appreciate your comments. I’m still making my way through all the blogs!

Living in Colorado I am fortunate to be close to many great restaurants that feature vegan food. City O’ City, Watercourse, Hops and Pie, Root Down, Linger. I could go on but I doubt these names mean anything to those living outside of CO. I don’t think any of those restaurants are known on a national level. But I’m willing to bet that every vegan knows the name Candle Café. Internationally known as one of the best vegan restaurants in the world, Candle Café features farm-to-table cuisine that is created in the most eco-friendly ways possible. I am insanely jealous of those who live in New York City and can go visit any one of their 3 locations at their leisure. I hope I get to experience it one day.

Until that day comes I can live a little vicariously through their new line of frozen entrees. Available in Mac and Cheese, Ginger Miso Stir-Fry, Tofu Spinach Ravioli, and Seitan Piccata with Lemon Caper Sauce, these meals give a small taste of the goodness that CC dishes out. I tried the Seitan Piccata as it was the only one available at Whole Foods. It was also the one I was most interested in due to the seitan. As far as I know it is the only frozen meal that features everyone’s favorite wheat meat and I was curious to see how it held up.


Before even heating it up I was a little disappointed by the amount of seitan. The seitan in the sauce contained only about four thumb-sized pieces and a bunch of much smaller peices. More than half of the dish was rice. Normally that wouldn’t bother me but the rice was seriously lacking flavor. There wasn’t enough sauce to go throughout the whole dish so it was on the dry side. However, the flavor of the sauce was great. It was distinctly lemony and though I didn’t actually see whole capers I could taste a slight brininess. The larger pieces of seitan were chewy and added just enough texture to keep the whole thing from feeling all around mushy. With 12 grams of protein it was more than enough to keep me full until dinner.

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I do hope to be able to try the other versions soon and review those; hopefully they will be a little more balanced. Unfortunately these meals aren’t cheap; at nearly 5 bucks a pop they are an occasional buy to keep around for emergency use. Candle Café does support The Humane Society of the United States and Farm Sanctuary, two organizations that work tirelessly to better the lives of animals in our world, so I can justify the cost somewhat. If you are interested in trying their frozen fare you can print a coupon off their website to help save a little on the purchase. And if anyone out there has tried any of the varieties I’d love to hear what you think!




Doggone It!

We’re just one day away from spring! Although that doesn’t mean much in these parts (Colorado is notorious for having some wicked spring blizzards) it does mean we are one day closer to summer and I am so ready! So to get everyone in a summery mood, I present a review of Tofurkey’s vegan hot dogs.

Vegan chili cheese dog!

Vegan chili cheese dog!

Before I get to the review, let me clarify a few things, mostly to do with the lame picture above. I’m not the world’s best planner when it comes to my posts (hence my sporadic posting schedule) so although I knew I wanted to review these, I didn’t get around to taking the picture until I had already thrown out the package and was out of hot dog buns. I actually took the picture at work, thus the paper plate. Thankfully my blog isn’t about pretty pictures but honest reviews, right? 🙂

My go-to for vegan hot dogs has been Lightlife Smart Dogs. I’ve tried Field Roast’s Frankfurters and thought they were better than Lightlife’s in both texture and flavor, but they are more expensive and each dog contains 8 grams of fat compared to the Smart Dogs, which have just 2 grams.  I’ve stayed away from Tofurkey because honestly it is my least favorite mock-meat products. I’ve only tried the deli-style slices once and was horribly put off by them. I occasionally use the Italian sausage or Kielbasa in a jambalaya recipe, but can only use a very small about. I just don’t like the texture or taste. I always assumed that I wouldn’t like the hot dogs based my dislike of their other products but they just happened to be on sale so I threw caution to the wind and picked up a package. I figured even if they were awful I would be adding copious amounts of Daiya and vegan chili so it wouldn’t really matter.

Here’s where you learn an important lesson, kids—never assume that you will dislike everything a company makes until you try it all. I was so prepared for a bland, mushy offering that I was afraid I had accidentally served myself one of Robert’s beef dogs when I took my first bite. It had spice and texture. It didn’t taste like an extension of the bread, but rather an ingredient all its own. I grilled mine on an indoor grill and it actually developed a nice crispness to the outside, providing that satisfactory ‘snap’ when I bit into it. The flavor is almost exactly how I remember non-vegan dogs tasting; a perfect balance of salt, garlic, and smokiness, and it stood up well to the chili, cheese, and red onion I adorned it with. I do believe that Tofurkey has made a perfect vegan hot dog, and I almost let my own narrow-mindedness pass it up.

I make sure to label leftover dogs to aviod any unwanted meat consumption.

I make sure to label leftover dogs to aviod any unwanted meat consumption.

Nutritionally speaking they fall right in the middle of the pack between Field Roast and Lightlife. Lightlife dogs are 50 calories each, with 2 grams of fat, no saturated fat, and 330mg of sodium. Tofurkey comes in at 100 cals per dog, 4.5g fat, no saturated fat, and 330mg of sodium (Keep in mind these are for the regular dogs, not the jumbo ones). Field Roast’s dogs will set you back 180 cals each, 8g of fat with 2g saturated fat, and 690mg of sodium.

Definitely check the puppies out (no pun intended) if you haven’t already and keep thinking happy, summery thoughts; it will be here before you know it!


Snack Attack

I’m going to apologize in advance for the lack of pictures in this post. I’ve been trying to make sure I post my own pics and not just those from a website, but I occasionally get lazy and don’t feel like dragging out the camera, taking pics, uploading them to my computer, then to the post. But that’s not why pictures are lacking for this post. I have no pictures because the product in question doesn’t last long enough for a picture. I’m totally serious.

So, just what is so amazing that it practically disappears as soon as it crosses the threshold of the apartment? Only Earth Balance’s new vegan Aged White Cheddar Popcorn and White Cheddar Puffs.


I love Smart Foods White Cheddar popcorn. I can eat an entire bag. Not one of those ‘snack’ size bags but the big, this-should-last-you-at-least-a week size bag.  I haven’t eaten it nearly as much as I would in the past due to its un-vegan-ness but that hasn’t stopped me from indulging.  So imagine my delight when I saw that EB had created a vegan version of one of my all-time favorite junk foods.  I won’t lie and say that I didn’t have my doubts.  Could it possibly live up to the taste of the original?

I was fortunate enough to get the last bag on the shelf of my local Whole Foods a few weeks back. I raced home and opened the bag in eager anticipation. I threw a few pieces in my mouth and for a moment I thought I might cry. I tasted almost exactly like the Smart Foods version. In fact I found that I liked it more because the cheese flavor was not as overpowering.  I had Robert try some and he loved it too. I also noticed that it was a lot less powdery so I didn’t get a thick coating of ingredients on my fingers. But perhaps the best thing is the nutritional comparison. I always managed to fool myself into thinking that the Smart Foods version wasn’t that bad considering it was made with popcorn but  I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves.

Earth Balance Vegan Aged White Cheddar Popcorn

Earth Balance Vegan Aged White Cheddar Popcorn










Nutritional Information for Smart Foods White Cheddar Popcorn

Nutritional Information for Smart Foods White Cheddar Popcorn













With EB you get almost double the serving size with fewer calories, less saturated fat and more healthy fats, and less sodium. That’s not to say that eating an entire bag of EB popcorn is recommended, but if you do it certainly won’t be as bad.

Do you ever miss Cheetos Puffs since going vegan? EB has an answer for that as well-Aged White Cheddar Curls. These big, airy puffs of deliciousness are made with corn and…navy beans? That’s right. It sounds weird but after your first one you won’t be able to stop.  It’s almost like the beans add creaminess to the puffs.  That might not be the right way to describe it but you’ll know what I mean when you try them. Their nutritional content is even better than the popcorn, again making it less of a guilty pleasure.

Earth Balance White Cheddar Puffs

Earth Balance White Cheddar Puffs










Since trying both these products the first time a few weeks ago we have gone through 2 bags of the popcorn and 2 bags of the puffs. Neither bag has lasted through more than one sitting. They are just that damn good. We probably would have gone through more bags but more often than not they’re sold out, so I get them whenever I can. They also have a plain, buttered popcorn flavor that I haven’t tried but I imagine it’s equally delicious.  I highly suggest you snag a bag of either if you come across them and see for yourself how the evolution of vegan junk food is coming along.


Spiked Hot Chocolate


I hope everyone had a Merry/Happy Whatever! Our Christmas was a bit eventful—after brunch we had to rush our kitty Loki to the emergency vet due to a blocked urethra. This is a very dangerous condition in male cats which causes them to be unable to urinate. The wastes from the urine build up, distending the bladder and causing extreme pain, sickness, and death if not treated quickly. Thankfully we got him in before he became too sick and he is already on the mend and will hopefully be coming home tomorrow. I am so thankful that we live only 20 minutes from a 24-hour vet hospital and that the caring individuals got him in right away to begin taking care of him. We visited him yesterday and all the vet techs and the vet taking care of him just love how friendly he is. He really loves going to the vet so he made friends easily once he got to feeling better. Of course, this little trip wasn’t cheap but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t wait to get my boy home tomorrow!

On a happier note, this post is for my Spiked Hot Chocolate! With winter in full swing, we could all use a little extra something in our drinks to keep us warm and this recipe is perfect for that.


A bit of back story—Robert works with some truck drivers from Russia who are always bringing him bottles of liquor. I don’t know why; he’s not even sure except that they are just really giving, friendly guys. We often get various kinds of Armenian brandy and champagne as well as the occasional bottle of vodka or tequila. For Thanksgiving, they brought him a gift set of Patron XO Café and XO Café Dark Cocoa, which are chocolate/coffee flavored liquors. I had an entire container of Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder that needed to be used so I figured they would go great together.  From the Patron website, here are the descriptions for each flavor:

Patron XO Café: Patrón XO Cafe is an extraordinary blend of ultra-premium Patrón Silver tequila and the pure, natural essence of fine coffee. The taste is dry, not sweet as with most low-proof coffee liqueurs with notes of chocolate and vanilla. Patrón XO Cafe is excellent for sipping, as a premium cocktail ingredient, or as a unique and delicious dessert topping.

Patron XO Café Dark Cocoa: Patrón XO Cafe Dark Cocoa combines high-quality Patrón Silver tequila with the extraordinary essence of fine coffee and Criollo chocolate from Mexico to create a unique and enjoyable ultra-premium coffee liqueur. Patrón XO Cafe Dark Cocoa marries the smooth, dry taste of Patrón XO Cafe with the decadence of rich chocolate and light tequila.


I don’t know about sipping either of these but then again I really am not a fan of drinking any liquor straight. So I decided to mix them with hot chocolate. You could use Kahlua (also vegan) or even Fragelico if you aren’t a fan of coffee flavor. Whatever floats your boat, really. And if you aren’t sure what liquors are vegan, check out

For this recipe I used the XO Dark because it is sweeter than the regular XO. I did not add any sugar as the recipe on the Ghirardelli container called for because the sugar in the liquor made it just sweet enough while still retaining a little bit of earthy bitterness from the cocoa powder.  Again, you can add it if you feel necessary. I certainly would add some when using the XO because it has little sweetness to it, making for a stronger coffee flavor. You can also adjust the amount of liquor you add; neither of these is overwhelmingly strong alcohol-wise when mixed with the milk and cocoa but some people might prefer a less intense taste.

Spiked Hot Chocolate (makes 2 large mugs)

3 cups non-dairy milk of your choice—experiment if you want; I used plain old soy milk but I bet vanilla soy milk, almond, or even coconut would take equally delicious!

4 tablespoons Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder

Approx 2 ounces (2 shotglasses) Patron XO Café Dark Cocoa

Sugar, optional

Pour milk into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk constantly until milk is hot (approximately 5-7 minutes) and cocoa is completely incorporated. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan with the whisk or else you will end up with a layer of cooked cocoa that is a pain to wash out. Remove pan from the heat. Pour a generous shots’ worth of the liquor into each mug and carefully pour an even amount of cocoa mixture into each mug. Stir and enjoy!



Whip it Good

I hope everyone enjoyed the second Virtual Vegan Potluck! I had so much fun going through all the recipes. Now I’m in the process of going through the extensive list of participants again to pin all the ones I want to try. Thank you to everyone who visited me—it was my most successful day to date! I’m excited to have several new followers and I hope you enjoy my future posts. Big thanks to Annie, Somer, Lidia, and Jason for their hard work at making the potluck successful. This is the start of what I think will become a very popular tradition!

We are officially in ‘holiday season’. I’m not entirely sure when it begins—every year it seems like Christmas decorations come out in stores sooner and sooner. But I think the start of November is really when things pick up. I myself am not a huge holiday fan, even less so this year with my unemployment casting a huge shadow over any merriment I might try to enjoy. However, I am trying to stay positive about my future and one way I’ve done that recently was by making a pumpkin pie. Now that may not sound like a big deal but I’ve never made a pie before so when it came out well, I was ecstatic. And of course with a slice of vegan pumpkin pie I needed some vegan whipped cream.

I know that there are recipes out there on how to make your own whipped cream but I am not that ambitious. Thankfully, Soyatoo makes vegan whipped cream in the can. I wasn’t sure what to expect taste-wise, but I was pleasantly surprised at how similar it was to dairy-based whipped cream. I will say that it has a slight soy-flavor similar to soy milk but it’s only noticeable if you taste it on its own, and who just eats whipped cream with nothing else? I put this on Robert’s slice and he said nothing about it, which is basically like a thumbs-up from Caesar, so it passed that test. It also comes out of the can just like other brands so I think it would be easy to fool anyone that it’s vegan.

What I really liked about this whipped cream is that it wasn’t too sweet. While it does contain sweeteners like maltodextrin and coconut oil, it doesn’t taste like you just ate a spoonful of sugar. Nutrition wise, it’s fairly even compared to other brands. For the same amount of serving of the popular dairy-based whipped cream, Soyatoo contains 0.5 gram less fat, five fewer calories, and of course no cholesterol.

My only qualm with this whipped cream is that you have to remove it from the refrigerator 15 minutes prior to using, in order to loosen the contents up. It’s inconvenient, especially if you just want a cup of cocoa because you can’t just take it out, spray some on, and be done. You have to plan the timing of your desserts and drinks. Spontaneity is not allowed.  Still, it’s a small price to pay for vegan whipped cream that tastes this good. Look for it next to other canned whipped cream, and look hard. At my Whole Foods at was at the very end of the cooler, on the top shelf, practically hidden by the other brands.

A whipped cream snow cap for my penguin 🙂


Tofu, Green Chili, and Arugula Toasted Sandwich


I have enjoyed reading all the awesome entries for Vegan Mofo and have a ton of new pins that I can’t wait to try. Since I’m by no means a cook, there was no way I could participate so I really admire all the bloggers who have toiled for 11 days so far to bring us their creations.

That having been said I am occasionally struck by inspiration and I can’t wait to share when it comes to fruition. The following is a recipe I adapted from a  from Penzey’s Spices. It was for a tofu BLT (subbing the bacon with tofu) and it sounded so good I tried it. I made a few changes—instead of lettuce I used baby spinach. Why? Well, it’s hard to use a whole head of lettuce between two people before it goes bad. Baby spinach is available at the salad bar at Whole Foods, so I can get just the amount I need. Plus spinach is healthier, so why not try it? The rest of the sandwich was standard—thick slices of tomatoes, a bit of vegan mayo, and toasted bread. The tofu was sliced, coated with Penzey’s Mitchell Street Steak seasoning and baked. It was filling, fairly healthy, and paired perfectly with some vegan potato salad.

However I didn’t want to stop there. Something was missing and keeping it from being a really outstanding, unique sandwich. I felt like the smokiness that bacon would have provided wasn’t represented enough in the seasoning. I know I could have used tempeh bacon, but I’m not a huge fan of tempeh to begin with and wanted to stick with tofu as the protein.  So the wheels began to turn and when Robert and I purchased a bushel of roasted green chili the light bulb clicked on. The result: tofu, green chili, and arugula toasted sandwiches. Okay, I know it’s a far cry from the original but bear with me; I have a reason for all the changes.

First, I used green chili instead of tomatoes because Robert will eat anything with green chili. Seriously, he would put it on ice cream given half a chance. Also, do you know how much green chili comes in a bushel? A lot. We have green chili coming out our ears so I needed any excuse to use some. As for the arugula, that was more a matter of using what I had on hand. I had leftover arugula from another meal and didn’t see the point in buying spinach. It added a fresh crunch and the peppery taste complimented the chili.

Green chili goodness!

So how did I fix the lack of smokiness? Vegan bacon bits. I added it to the bowl of spice I used to coat the tofu and it worked wonders. It added a nice texture and boosted the seasoning so it really stood out among the other strong flavors. I also pan-fried the tofu this time to get a better sear on the outside.

I’m pretty proud of this recipe and I hope you give it a try. It might sound a little odd at first but trust me; everything comes together so well when you take the first bite. The amounts of ingredients are for 2 sandwiches, so adjust accordingly. Also, I would suggest wilting the arugula a bit before adding to the sandwich; as much as I liked the freshness, the raw taste was a bit overwhelming. If you can’t get your hands on fresh roasted green chili you can sub the canned variety; just drain them before adding so it doesn’t make everything soggy.

Just in case you need to see how to assemble a sandwich. Don’t forget to put the two halves together!

Tofu, Green Chili, and Arugula Sandwich-makes 2 sandwiches

½ block of firm tofu, drained well and cut into 6 slices

4-5 roasted green chilies, halved, seeded, and cut into ½ inch wide strips

½ cup arugula

~2 Tbs steak seasoning

~1 Tbs vegan bacon bits

2 Tbs olive oil

4 slices bread

Vegan mayo


In a shallow pan or dish, combine the seasoning and bacon bits. Coat each strip of tofu with the mixture, pressing down slightly on each side to embed the bacon bits. Heat the olive oil skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and let cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, being careful to not let it burn.

Heat a small pan over medium and add the arugula. Cover and let wilt for about 2 minutes.

To assemble: Toast bread and coat one slice with mayo. To this slice, add half of the arugula (the mayo helps to adhere it to the bread so it won’t slip out while eating). Add half the green chili strips and 3 slices of tofu, and top with the other slice of bread. Repeat with second sandwich. Voila! A smoky, spicy, crunchy, filling, sammie. Pair with whatever side your heart desires, though I highly suggest tater tots 🙂




Gardein Sliders with Daiya Havarti cheese

I’m not going to lie: I miss burger sliders. Chili’s big mouth bites were my favorite chain restaurant entrée.  Mini burgers topped with bacon, cheese, ranch, and fried onions; I was foolish enough to think that the smaller burgers meant less calories and fat but that couldn’t be further from the truth. 4 big mouth bites pack a mind-blowing 1,579 calories and 97 grams of fat (28 saturated). The side of fries that come with it adds another 520 calories and 31g fat. Okay, I don’t miss the ‘nutritional’ content so much. Or the various animals that were killed or otherwise tortured to make the meal. But I do miss burgers in mini-form. So imagine my delight when my initial foray to Nooch brought me together with Gardein beefless sliders. I couldn’t get those suckers into my basket fast enough! And of course I needed some cheese to put on those babies; what better than the Daiya Havarti wedge that had been eluding me?

The sliders come 4 to a box and are packaged in pairs. The instructions are to pierce the plastic and microwave for 30 seconds but I needed about an additional 45 seconds to cook them fully. I don’t have the most powerful microwave though so 30 seconds may work on better models. I took them out and let them sit the 1 minute that is suggested and cut some slices of Daiya to top them with. I also had some fresh roasted green chili that I thought would go well on them. I added some salt and pepper Popchips to my plate and dug in.

I was a little disappointed by the mushiness of the sliders, especially the buns. I think that letting them sit in the wrappers that extra minute caused them to become even softer, so I would suggest not leaving them in there. An alternate way to cook them is to use a sauté pan; I will definitely use this method next time to see if it solves the mushy problem. The slices of Daiya I cut were a little too thick and overwhelmed the sliders a bit, but overall the flavor of the burgers was good if not exactly outstanding . I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Gardein is reinventing the wheel when it comes to veggie burgers but I love their products because of the healthy grains that are used and as you can see from the nutritional info these are a great deal better than the sliders I used to eat. No guilt here!

I don’t think I ever had Havarti cheese before I began transitioning to a vegan diet so I don’t know how Daiya’s version compares. I do like the tanginess and creaminess and think it works very well on burgers. I made these awesome green chili black bean burgers last week and topped them with the Havarti and even Robert enjoyed it so I think that says a lot! I think my favorite Daiya wedge flavor is the cheddar but I guess that’s because I’m a classic-flavor girl at heart. Still I am impressed by Daiya and their ability to make some of the best tasting vegan cheeses out there. It’s also great to see vegan foods becoming more available in chain grocery stores. The very week after I found the Daiya Havarti for the first time at Nooch I saw it at King’s Soopers! If you can get your hands on any of the varieties I highly suggest you try them out and if you need any ideas on how to use it, look no further than Vegnews; their top 7 vegan cheese dishes features my pal Barb at number one!


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 😉