2015 Favourites: Just Mayo

I’ve been meaning to do this for a bit – say, about a month? – but have been taking care of personal stuff so haven’t had the chance. Until NOW, that is! I want to share with whomever reads this a few of my favourite vegan things from last year; I promise that when I say ‘a few’ a mean exactly that – my top three discoveries. Any one of these items has likely been around a lot longer than a year, but I just didn’t know about it until sometime within the last 13 or so months. So, without further ado, the first in my three-part series:

  1. Just Mayo, by Hampton Creek

    justmayo

    Mayonnaise is probably my favourite condiment. I was about to say that I would literally put it on anything, but that’s not true. I don’t use mayo on my fruit, or in my oatmeal. But, um… yeah. Everything else. As a vegan who is steadfastly opposed to eggs and dairy, mayo has been the hardest for me to resist when eating out. To be honest, if I get a veggie burger from an omni restaurant, more often than not I will eat it with whatever mayo they put on it. Its the one thing I just can’t resist

    When local vegans began posting that Just Mayo was available for an amazing price from our neighbourhood Costcos, I made sure to look for it as soon as I possibly could. And when I brought it home and gave it the first taste test, with some crinkle cut french fries piping hot just out of the oven, the sauce passed with flying colours. The smell, the taste, the colour, the texture – there is no way someone would notice any difference if every restaurant and fast food chain were to suddenly start using Just Mayo rather than the egg-and-dairy-based stuff.

    Now, I’ll be honest – the health benefits to switching from egg-based mayo to Just Mayo are limited to one very key difference – Just Mayo has absolutely ZERO cholesterol. Bad cholesterol leads to heart disease, and with the amount of mayonnaise I can consume when I’m on a savory food bender I was at a serious risk for developing too much of the bad cholesterol that could cause me to suffer a stroke one day. While the calorie count and fat count are relatively similar between traditional mayonnaise and Just Mayo, when eaten in moderation, Just Mayo will make a much bigger difference to your health in the long run. Another benefit is not to your body, but actually to your wallet! Just Mayo is MUCH cheaper than regular mayonnaise. And, best of all, ZERO innocent animals were subjected to misery and torture to create this product. So now when I go out, I can bring a little container with this delicious stuff and use it on my restaurant food so I can have my cake (mayo) and eat it too!

    As a little note – it was announced yesterday or today (who can remember anything these days?) that Hellman’s, the company that sued Just Mayo for calling itself mayonnaise even though it did not contain the traditional egg ingredient, is now set to release its OWN vegan mayonnaise. I’ll be sticking to Just Mayo as long as it is available to me, but it’s inspiring to see more and more vegan options become available.

Advertisements

My First Giveaway! (or, What’s Mine Is Yours!)

As some of you may or may not know, I started my very own Seed page on Facebook in order to better interact with others of the veggie community. To celebrate the people who take time out of their busy days to make compassionate choices, to live mindfully, AND to read my ramblings, I am having my very first giveaway. To be entered in the draw, all you need to do is like Seed on Facebook before March 30th, 2015 – its that easy!

Now for the good part – the prize!

rescuechoc1I came across Rescue Chocolate several months ago and knew that they would be a fantastic company to support. Not only do they donate all their profits to charity, they make VEGAN CHOCOLATE. Yes, please! So, my first giveaway will be for the 4 Paw Collection of Rescue Chocolates, wrapped all nice with a pretty red bow. Rescue Chocolate
As per the Rescue Chocolate website, “Our delectable hearts, bonbons, and organic chocolate bars are all vegan-friendly, kosher, and handcrafted in Brooklyn.” Sounds pretty darn good to me. And again, all you need to do is like Seed on Facebook before March 30th and your name will be entered in the draw, which will take place March 31st.

Laika Magazine

I recently subscribed to, and ordered the back issues of, a new(ish) publication called Laika (pronounced ly-ka). The magazine, created and curated by Julie Gueraseva, is a beautiful, glossy, art-fantastic fashion and lifestyle magazine from New York City – the capital of the western world and a place of lights and promise. What makes Laika truly wonderful is that it is a love story to the burgeoning vegan culture that is taking our civilization by storm. Not only does it bring to the surface harrowing stories from the front lines of the animal rights movement, it also draws attention to strong and empowering vegan individuals from across the world, cruelty-free couture in fashion and beauty, and recipes that inspire the palate. I’m a huge fan of Laika, and devoured the four issues currently in print shortly after receiving them in the mail.

photo 4 (1)

Only four issues, though? Its hardly enough to sustain someone yearning to feel connected to a universe full of people like me. It is this longing for more relevant media that has me so inspired to promote on every platform possible that Laika has launched its own Kickstarter.

I’m a huge fan of crowdfunding and have supported a handful of other vegan and animal-related projects on Kickstarter – all of which were successful. Laika’s goal is not a lofty one, and I’m proud to support such a worthy endeavour as this, even in the small way that I am able. I hope that if you’re reading this that you’ll visit Laika’s website and their Kickstarter page. Please, if you can, support this publication. I firmly believe that print will never die, and that our vibrant vegan community deserves to find, among the current crop of mainstream magazines, a vivid and unique voice packaged in a product that is exquisitely designed and developed to satisfy the plant-based person’s appetite.

Product Review: Gardein Crispy Chick’n Sliders

There is a lot of talk about faux meats in the vegan world. Many vegans don’t understand the appeal of fake-meat burgers, hot dogs, ground “meats”, etc. Those vegans tend to state that they don’t miss the tastes and/or textures of meat, and therefore have no desire to consume any products made to resemble them. I happen to be on the other end of this particular teeter-totter. I, and many vegans I’ve talked to online, LIKE faux meat products – they help fill a void left by those foods we were all raised to eat, are used to eating, and might miss for some reason or another.

Last week I decided to try my first Gardein products – I had heard of the brand before, had even seen their products in my usual grocery store, but had never taken the leap to actually trying anything by them. The date of purchase, though, I just happened to be Craving (with a capital ‘C’) a chicken burger so gosh-darned bad. I know that sounds terrible, and I’m not proud of myself, but it just was what it was. So, I grabbed a box of these Chick’n Sliders to try.

BoxofSliders

When you open up a box of Gardein Crispy Chick’n Sliders you find yourself with two plastic-wrapped packages. Inside each package is two small slider burgers, buns and all. For my first go, I chose to make two of the burgers instead of all four, and picked the quickest way to get them into my belly, which was using the stovetop. I heated just a touch of oil on a skillet and then fried each of the burgers for about five to six minutes per side. The recommended cooking time is only three to four minutes, but I like everything a little extra crispy so I kept the patties on longer. In the last minute of cooking I added the two buns, face down, as directed by the cooking instructions on the package. After I took the skillet off the heat, I swiped a layer of Veganaise on to each side of the bun, added  lettuce, and then patties.

Slider

As far as taste and texture go, the chick’n patties met my expectations. Though small, the burgers were hearty and filling, and pleasing to the palate. I wouldn’t say they tasted exactly like chicken, but that wasn’t what I was expecting anyways. The most important thing to me was quieting that annoying craving without heading to my nearest McDonalds; I’m happy to say that my hunger for “flesh” was more than satisfied. My only complaint about the Chick’n Sliders pertains to the buns. For some reason I found the slider buns sweet, which put me off a bit. The buns are also slightly domed, so when I heated them up on the skillet the crest of the top over-cooked while the rest of the bun remained slightly chilled. Next time, I will look for Gardein patties specifically, and get the bread to go with them separately.

The only OTHER downside to the Gardein Crispy Chick’n Sliders is the ingredient list. As any successful vegan will tell you, eating whole foods is the way to a healthy and happy body. Often the complaints regarding faux meat products is how chemically processed they tend to be, and Gardein’s sliders are no exception.

SliderIngredients

But, for a quick fix, or to soothe the savage hunger beast in your belly, these will definitely do in a pinch.

Product Review: Dr Lucy’s Maple Bliss Cookies

lucys

I am an undeniable cookie-a-holic. I love cookies. As I have gotten older, my tastes have expanded from strictly the softest of soft chocolate chip to encompass all the flavours and tastes of cookies available to me. Transitioning to vegan means that the wealth of baked goods available to me directly off the grocery store shelves has decreased a hundred-fold, which makes satisfying my sweet tooth a little bit trickier. As I have come to learn, a woman can only eat so many Oreos (an accidentally vegan product) before she simply cannot stomach them anymore!

On my latest off-the-beaten-path shopping trip, I found a new brand of cookies called Lucy’s. There were two different flavours displayed: Ginger Snaps and Maple Bliss. I decided to try one flavour for my first go, just to see what I thought of them, and went with the Maple Bliss.

The cookies, once I finally broke down and ripped open the adorable package (which was SO CUTE I couldn’t bear to wreck it), are just a little bigger than bite-sized. In the picture below, you can see that one of them fits perfectly into the palm of my hand.

cookie

When you crunch into a Maple Bliss cookie the first taste that you get is of oatmeal, though these cookies are much lighter and airier than your average Dad’s Oatmeal cookie. Intertwined with that is the sweet maple, which lingers on your tongue long after you’ve swallowed the last tasty morsel. With an almost unnoticeable touch of salt that nevertheless tickles those particular sections of your taste buds, these cookies cover all the bases.

The selling point to Lucy’s little masterpieces, though, has to be the texture. While there is a lot in these cookies that can be compared to an oatmeal cookie, these maple bliss babies hold together well until you pop a piece into your mouth – that’s when they yield to your salivary glands and crumble in a soft, buttery way, surprising considering there is absolutely no dairy in this product.

From the peanut gallery: I had a few non-vegan coworkers try these cookies and they were blown away by how good they are. There was more than one surprised “yum” from those expecting dry and flavourless cardboard after hearing the word vegan, which I find is the best compliment a person can give a sweet treat.

The Maker

The culinary hands behind – and the namesake for – Lucy’s cookies is Dr. Lucy Gibney. She began creating allergen-free recipes for her young son, who suffered from severe food allergies. Her line of tasty baking currently consists entirely of a variety of cookie flavours that are all 100% free of gluten, milk, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts. You can see all her amazing products and which stores carry them (or you can even order them online!) at her website, http://www.drlucys.com.

lucys2

Live Clean

When making the decision to transition to living a wholly vegan lifestyle it is extremely easy to forget that being vegan involves more than just altering your diet. I have been very focused the past several months on eliminating all animal products and animal-derived products from my refrigerator and pantry that it wasn’t until this July that I finally started taking a look at the various home products I use every day.

Posts on the vegans-in-transition group I belong to on Facebook reassured me that it is completely okay to replace lifestyle products as they run out, instead of going through the home and purging everything all at once. While things have improved greatly over the last few years, vegan products do tend to run a little more expensive, and it can be difficult to match your ethics with your bankroll when it comes to buying groceries.

The first thing I’ve finished and that I wanted to choose an ethical replacement for was my shampoo and conditioner. I’ve been a long-time fan of Herbal Essences products, and was devastated a month or so ago when their name came up on a list of companies that still test their products on animals. I went to the Herbal Essences website and found on their frequently asked questions page that they vehemently deny testing on animals. While I find this very reassuring, for the time being I think I would prefer to support a fully vegan company. So, when I went shopping I chose to try Live Clean. I went with their Clean Air shampoo and conditioner, and let me tell you, I’m very impressed!

The shampoo is thick and smells amazing. It also lathers up really nicely, although not as much as my Herbal Essences did. I used about a loonie-sized drop and it covered my super long hair. The conditioner is also really nice – it doesn’t have as strong a scent but is also thick and left my hair soft and untangled. I’d also like to note that as gross as this is, I haven’t washed my hair for three days (I HAVE showered though) and my scalp isn’t greasy at all! Knowing that I’m getting use out of a great product that is also environmentally friendly makes me *that* much happier.

Conditioner2Shampoo2

 

Update August 6 2014:

After using live clean [clean air] shampoo and conditioner for the last couple of weeks I have to say I am noticing a definite improvement in my hair! My hair is lighter, and noticeably softer. I’d also like to add that the shampoo smells amazing – simple and fresh and just a little bit sweet. Love love love.