A play on the popular kale chip, Brussel Bytes by Wonderfully Raw take superfood snacking to the next level. Brussel Bytes come in three flavors: Cheezy Herb, Chili Pumpkin, and Tamarind Apple. All varieties are completely organic, gluten-free, and raw, containing a variety of nuts, seeds, and veggies. Flavorful and crunchy, this snack can satisfy even the pickiest eaters. My favorite variety is Cheezy Herb, as the combination of cashews and nutritional yeast yields a taste reminiscent of nachos. The texture of Brussel Bytes makes them a perfect potato chip replacement, sans the extra fat and salt. Try them in your lunchbox or keep them handy for healthy snacking throughout the day. Visit www.mycocoroons.com to locate a retailer near you with Brussel Bytes in stock.
Written by Sasha Keenan, VRG Intern.
Candle Cafe Empanadas
Candle Cafe, a must-visit vegan restaurant in New York City, has released their popular empanadas in the frozen foods aisle of natural foods stores. They are certified organic, all-natural and have no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Not only are they a filling and tasty side or snack, they are quick and easy to prepare.
There are three flavor combinations: Black Bean and Plantain, Chili Tempeh Vegetable, and Chipotle. The Black Bean and Plantain is "cheese"-y, with a mild filling of spinach and onions. The Chili Tempeh Vegetable is also mild, but with a hint of paprika and meaty tempeh. The Chipotle flavor, which is my favorite, is the spiciest, complemented by sweet corn and peas in the filling. Each empanada is encased in a light and flaky yet hearty whole wheat crust. We found that the empanadas turned out the best when defrosted in the microwave. Shop for these frozen meals at your nearest Whole Foods or on www.candlecafegoodies.com/foods.html.
Written by Hana Takemoto, VRG intern.
Vegan Ben & Jerry's
Vermont-based ice cream company Ben & Jerry's has been synonymous with decadent chunk-filled frozen treats since the 1970s, so it's about time they joined the vegan movement! This past spring, they debuted four vegan flavors: P.B. and cookies, Coffee Caramel Fudge, Fudge Brownie, and Chunky Monkey. All of the flavors are made with fair-trade, non-GMO, dairy-free ingredients.
VRG staffers clearly favored the P.B. and Cookies with its crumbly chocolate sandwich cookies and salty, crunchy, peanut butter swirls. The container was practically devoured the same day it was delivered.
Coffee Caramel Fudge was another favorite, and unlike the other flavors, it is new to Ben & Jerry's and not a take on an existing classic. Ribbons of caramel and a deep espresso taste are complemented by dark chocolate fudge chunks. Many may find it hard to believe something so creamy and rich is completely dairy free; this flavor was also the sweetest.
Fudge Brownie is similar to the original Ben & Jerry's flavor and is an intense, chocolate-y experience with generously-sized brownie pieces mixed in throughout.
Chunky Monkey is a banana-based flavor with notes of vanilla. Chunks of walnuts and chocolate are mixed in; the overall flavor is similar to a banana split.
These vegan Ben & Jerry's flavors are made with fairtrade certified cocoa, sugar, bananas, coffee, and vanilla. They will definitely satisfy a craving for a cold sweet treat; the almond milk base lends a pleasant hint of almond and all of the flavors have the same dense creaminess as the original versions, but without any of the dairy! Visit www.benjerry.com for more information and to find a store near you that carries these vegan flavors.
Written by Hana Takemoto, VRG intern.
Sunflower Seed Butter
Stuck in a mundane rut of natural almond and/or peanut butters? Have a peanut allergy? Try MaraNatha's Sunflower Seed Butter. Packed with vital nutrients like vitamin E, magnesium, fiber, and protein, this creamy seed butter is a great alternative to the other run-of-the-mill natural nut and seed butters. Unlike many other natural nut and seed spreads, after a quick stir, it's super smooth. This creamy spread's subtle yet unique sunflower taste can easily add an exotic touch to any sandwich, dessert, or smoothie. If your child attends a peanut-free school, this might be a perfect alternative! You can buy MaraNatha's Sunflower Seed Butter at Amazon.com, Whole Foods nation-wide and at natural foods stores. Visit their website at www.maranathafoods.com to locate a store near you.
Written by Autumn Burton, VRG intern.
Hummusphere Foods has added a smoky element to a vegan's perennial favorite dip. We didn't know hummus could get any better. This is smooth and creamy, with a belly-filling punch of protein and fiber, but with new flavor profiles to mix it up: Jalapeño Black Bean, Fire Roasted Red Pepper, Classic Traditional, Black Bean Traditional (which contains no garbanzo beans), and Thai Coconut Curry. In addition to being vegan, they are non-GMO and Kosher certified. Hummusphere hummus has no added oil; tahini is the sole fat source in the line. The result is less fat and fewer calories as compared to some other popular brands, but the complex flavors are never sacrificed.
The most unique flavor is definitely the Thai Coconut Curry, which has a strong coconut taste and a hint of lemongrass, too. Fire Roasted Red Pepper packs a fiery punch, while both black bean flavors are more mellow. Hummusphere is available at grocery stores nationwide. Visit www.hummusphere.com to find your nearest store.
Written by Samantha Gendler.
In a Washington D.C. barbeque restaurant, I am ready to complain to the waitress. I'm picking apart a vegan chicken wing, completely convinced that I will find a bone at its center; surely I have been served the wrong dish. I am so shocked and delighted to find a small wooden peg-like stick in the middle, rather than a bone, that I call the waitress over anyway, excitedly demanding to know their meatless secrets. The wings turn out to be May Wah Vegetarian Chicken Legs, and you can order them from www.maywahnyc.com, though you need to order quite a bit to meet their $30 minimum. May Wah products are also available in several stores in various NYC boroughs (they deliver free to Brooklyn and Queens!) and sporadically across the rest of the country, in specialty Asian and Natural Foods stores. You can use the store locator on their website to see if they are sold near you.
Preparing the "legs" was not especially easy, having never made any sort of "leg" before and had zero barbeque experience. It's quite a process, as the drumsticks come unflavored and frozen. You could fry them, but for a healthier and still delicious version, I recommend watching the YouTube tutorial by The Vegan Zombie. Not only is he hilarious, but he demonstrates a steaming and baking method and shows you how to make an easy vegan barbeque sauce. I followed his instructions and was pleased with my results, which came quite close to the restaurant version. This is not a quick and easy dinner solution, but it is one of the most impressive meat analogs I've ever tried and it will surely impress your friends, whether vegan or not.
In addition to Vegan Chicken Legs, May Wah Vegetarian Market offers a wide variety of other vegan meats, including Teriyaki Beef, Black Pepper Beef Steak, Ginger Chicken, Citrus Spare Ribs, Fish Fillets, and more. Unlike the chicken legs I ordered, some of these meat analogs come pre-flavored and with sauce packets for easy reheating and serving.
Written by Samantha Gendler.