Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Beyond Meat Chicken Strips


A while back, I posted about Arooga's sports bars offering meatless chicken strips on their menu. I also mentioned that their menu stated they were made by Beyond Meat.

So! Armed with this information, I decided to see if I could find Beyond Meat's Beyond Chicken Strips in a store so I could make them at home.

The Beyond Meat website has a product locator so I used that to find a store that sold them near me. Well, sort of near me.  I had to drive a bit to find them.

I found them on sale so I bought quite a few bags.  Then I decided I really wanted the Arooga's experience so I set out to buy some of their wing sauce. Their website mentioned we could purchase sauces at their restaurant so I stopped at the nearest Arooga's next time I was in the area and bought a bottle.  (I also found out later that their sauces were also sold at Karns grocery stores and that works better for me.)

I pan-fried the strips and doused them in the wing sauce and found that I had the same experience I did at the restaurant!  Success!

The Super Bowl comes up in a few weeks and we usually serve buffalo wings.  Now I can have something similar to eat, too!

The nice part about this product is that I can do even more with them than I thought!  There are recipes on the website for chicken salads and chicken soups for starters.  I'll let you all know if I try something I especially like.

What's your favorite chicken recipe? Could you make it vegan using this product?


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Monday, January 16, 2017

The Vegan Side of Life

In all honesty, I generally have oatmeal for breakfast.

For one thing, it's a whole grain. Additionally, I can cook it in the crock pot while I sleep and wake up to find it ready to eat. And finally, I like the versatility! There are so many different things you can do with oatmeal.

Sometimes, I'll decide not to have oatmeal and just have cereal with a plant-based milk. But which ones are vegan?

Unfortunately, it isn't easy to find them. Honey is a popular sweetener that I want to avoid. Then there are the cereals with gelatin (Lucky Charms, for example, uses gelatin in their marshmallows), milk products (whey and non-fat dry milk are popular), and vitamin D3 which is often obtained from an animal source.

I'm in the process of compiling a list of vegan cereals from the major cereal manufacturers and today I'm concentrating on Quaker Products.

As far as I know, these are the only vegan Quaker cold cereal products:
  • Life Cereal
  • Cinnamon Life Cereal
  • Puffed Wheat
  • Puffed Rice
I've contacted the company to see if there are any more and will update this post when I get a response.

So!  This morning I had a bowl of Cinnamon Life with almond milk.  Tasty!  What do you generally have for breakfast?
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Update (1/18): I've received a response from Quaker, which I'll copy and paste here:

We're happy to help. We do not label our products specifically for vegan/vegetarian concerns, but we do label our products as Kosher when applicable. Some consumers who are concerned  with animal derived ingredients find Kosher labeling helpful in keeping to their dietary preferences.
Kosher Law is based on the Jewish book of the Torah, and precludes the use of meat and dairy products in the same meal. While a product may contain meat and also be Kosher, it must be labeled as containing meat products to prevent accidentally being mixed with dairy. Below is guide to some symbols you can watch for on our packages of Quaker products:

* The letter "U" enclosed in a circle on the front of a product is the symbol of the Orthodox Union of Jewish Congregations and indicates the product is Kosher. If it appears by itself, the product contains neither meat nor dairy as defined by Kosher Law.
* If a letter "M" or the word "Meat" is beside or underneath the circled U, it means that some part of the product contains or could have come into contact with meat as it is defined by Kosher Law.
* If a letter "D" or the word "Dairy" is beside or underneath the circled U, it means that some part of the product contains or could have come into contact with dairy as it is defined by Kosher Law.
For more information about Kosher labels, please visit:
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations Kashruthhttp://www.oukosher.org/
So... this is some interesting information!  I never realized that the Kosher symbols could be so helpful.  While this won't help identify all ingredients that vegans want to avoid, it certainly helps identify meat and dairy in a product.  One can read the label to discern whether there are other ingredients that might be an issue (honey or vitamin D3, for example) so this is good to know!  I'll have to use this new knowledge next time I visit the grocery store!  Thanks, Quaker!

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Image by wsilver (That's life) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Friday, January 13, 2017

What's Vegan at Olive Garden?

I'll admit it.  I'm not a huge fan of Olive Garden. I think their pasta is overcooked and their flavors tend to be rather bland.  There are, however, a lot of vegan options so that's one positive thing about them.

The salad is vegan without the dressing and croutons.  Just have oil and vinegar instead.

The bread sticks are vegan, as well!  The garlic "butter" is actually a soy product.  Who knew?

The minestrone soup is also vegan.  If you get the soup, salad and bread sticks, you have a meal, in my eyes.

But there is more!

Order any pasta with the marinara sauce and you're fine.  That's the only vegan sauce, by the way. Note: The Garden Primavera uses a non-vegan garlic marinara but you can ask them to use the marinara sauce instead.

There are no desserts that are vegan at Olive Garden but who has room for dessert?

Now I'm hungry for Italian food...

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Image By Anthony92931 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Daiya Cheezy Mac

Daiya is a company that makes vegan cheeses, dressings, pizza and even yogurt, makes a macaroni and cheese mix.

I found a couple of them - the cheddar and alfredo - at a local grocery store so I bought the cheddar to try.

I examined the label and discovered that the pasta isn't made from wheat but from brown rice, instead.  In fact, this product is not only dairy-free but gluten-free and contains no soy, egg or nuts.  It's free from a lot of allergens that affect most people.  Good to know.

There are two pouches inside the box, the pasta is in one bag and the sauce is in another.  You boil the pasta and drain it, then kneed the sauce pouch to mix it, open it, and squeeze the sauce onto the drained pasta.

Even though the pasta is from rice instead of wheat, I really wouldn't have realized it wasn't wheat pasta.  There is no flavor difference.

The flavor reminds me of the deluxe version of a particular popular brand of dairy mac and cheese.  You know the one. Starts with K, sounds like raft....

Unfortunately, it also tastes a lot like that deluxe brand of mac and cheese, as well - and I never did like the deluxe mac and cheese.. Still, it will do in a pinch so I'll probably buy it again.

I think next time I'll try the alfredo version and see if I like it better.


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Monday, January 9, 2017

The Candy Man Can

One of my first odd experiences since I became vegan was standing in front of a vending machine - with a craving for something sweet - and realizing that I had no idea if I could eat any of the candy!  I seriously had no clue.

I knew that chocolate was probably out of the questions and, with few exceptions, that is correct.  I still wasn't sure about anything else. I figured a lot of it would be alright but...there is gelatin in some candy and possibly other ingredients I'm not thinking of.

So, I set out to find out which candy I can have.  This list is certainly not a complete list but it is what I have found so far.



This should give you an idea of what candies you can eat as a vegan. Many hard candies and lollipops are also vegan, but you have to read the ingredients to be sure. 

What is your favorite candy?  Is it vegan?

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Image By Boris Dzhingarov [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Friday, January 6, 2017

Vegan at Burger King

As you probably guessed, Burger King is not the best place to get a vegan meal.  If you are in a bind, I'd recommend looking for a Taco Bell.

But let's imagine that is not an option for you. Alright then.  If it is prior to 10:30 am, you are in luck because there are several breakfast items you can eat!

The French Toast Sticks - and the syrup - are vegan!
The Hash Brown Rounds are vegan, as well.
Oatmeal - You can ask for Quaker Maple and Brown Sugar oatmeal made with water and you can have a healthier breakfast.

If it is lunch or dinner time, then you are more limited. You can have:

Garden Side Salad
Fries - no beef broth in the oil at this place!  (unlike a certain other fast food chain...)
Whopper Jr - Ask for it without meat or mayo.  The buns are vegan but neither the biscuits nor the croissants are.  Warning:  The veggie burger is vegetarian but NOT vegan.
Dutch Apple Pie

So, yeah. I guess I'd say it's better than nothing but, frankly, not a lot better.

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Image By Anthony92931 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

"Not" Dogs and Sauerkraut for New Year's Day


The New Year's Day tradition in my area of the country (central Pennsylvania) is to eat pork and sauerkraut for good luck.  My extended family (my sisters and I and our children and their families) get together each year to do just that.

But...  I no longer eat pork now that I'm vegan and I can no longer eat the mashed potatoes, either.

So, I decided to try to find a non-meat hot dog that I can stomach.

See, I've tried vegan hot dogs before and I didn't like them. Mostly it seemed like the texture was the issue more than the flavor.  They were dry and sort of grainy.  Yuck.

I asked my vegan friends for recommendations and many mentioned dogs I had already tried.  Then someone mentioned that Field Roast, the company that makes the delicious vegan sausage and cheese I like so much, made a hot dog and I figured it was worth a try.

I found them at a Wegman's located about a 40 minute drive from home.  (and I found a lot more different vegan mock meats, as well, and I decided to stock up!) But I digress.

Since I didn't want to eat even the sauerkraut that was cooked with pork and regular hot dogs, I thought I'd make my own crockpot of not dogs* and sauerkraut.  My daughter made sure I had a couple plain potatoes - which I mashed with my fork and put a little vegan butter on - and I was all set.

At the end of the meal, I noticed that all the pork and hot dogs were gone and so were the non-meat dogs!  I guess I should have labeled them. Opps! I don't think anyone was fooled by them but they must have tasted good enough to them because I didn't hear any complaints.

These dogs come in a plastic (or plastic-like) casing. If you boil them -as I did- you leave the casings on to cook and remove after.  I presume this is so they don't break apart while cooking. If you pan-fry them - which I haven't tried yet - you take them off before cooking.

For my "not dogs" and sauerkraut, I drained and rinsed a can of sauerkraut and dumped it in the crock pot.  I added a cup or so of veggie broth, about 1/2 onion sliced thin and plenty of fresh ground pepper.  I cooked this on high for a couple hours, then I boiled the dogs.  I removed the casings, added the dogs to the crock pot and that was it.  It worked out well.

I can't wait to try some of the other products I bought!  When I do, I'll be sure to blog about them.

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*I thought I was quite witty calling my vegan dogs "not dogs" but, of course, it's been used before. There is a company that makes mock hot dogs called Soy Boy and they own the name Not Dogs. Full disclosure:  I've never tried Soy Boy's product so it may also be a good meatless alternative to the hot dog.

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Can a Vegan have a Coke with a Friend?

The other day I had a hankering for a soda.  This doesn't happen often.  I don't usually drink carbonated beverages.

My next thought was, of course, whether sodas are vegan.

I did a quick Google search and found a source that claimed that most sodas (pop, soda pop, whatever you call them) are not vegan because they contain ester gum which they said could come from an animal source.  I could find no proof of this claim, however, so I discarded it. (To clarify:  I've seen ester gum as an ingredient in some sodas but I cannot find anything that informs me it might come from an animal source and not a plant source.)

I was still left with my original question.

I scanned labels at the grocery store and didn't recognize many of the ingredients. I could have chosen to look up each of these but I thought, perhaps, the companies themselves could provide me with better information - if they didn't decide it was some sort of state secret or too much effort to go to.

I began with the Coca Cola company mostly because I prefer their products, when having a soda. (I'm sure it has to do with the marketing. Don't argue with me.)  I looked over their website and found that they have a complete list of all their ingredients here where you can see what those odd sounding, confusing items are!  This is great!  Except... I'm lazy.  So....   I used their contact form and asked which of their products were vegan.

I received a terrific and detailed response from a man who identified himself as David and called me Ms. Cathryn so I believe he is from the south.

Here is what he wrote:
For the most part the brands of The Coca-Cola Company in the United States do not contain ingredients derived from animals.  However, there are a few products that contain ingredients such as cochineal* (which is listed on the label) and products that contain milk (which is also indicated on the label) that are derived from animals.  
In the U.S., Minute Maid Juices To Go Ruby Red Grapefruit Drink contains cochineal*. 
Also in the U.S., Coca-Cola brand products that contain milk are Odwalla Protein Monsters and some Odwalla Food Bars, Illy and some Minute Maid Smoothie Mixes. 
Some of our juice products contain Vitamin D3, which is derived from lanolin.  Lanolin is a natural oil in the fiber of sheep's wool.  It is separated from the wool after the sheep's hair is cut (sheared).  Lanolin oil is obtainable without harming the sheep but may be an issue for strict vegetarians.
Additionally, some of our suppliers use a common industry practice for grape juice clarification that does involve animal by-products.  The gelatin used to clarify the juice is made from bovine skin.
So!  Most of their products are fine!  Watch out for red or orange drinks which may contain cochineal and products that contain milk.  (so... read the label)  Additionally, watch for juice products that contain Vitamin D3 if you don't use anything from wool and any containing grape juice.

I'm pleased!  I can, indeed, have that Coke when I feel like it on occasion!

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*A cochineal is an insect that some red food coloring is made from.

Image Is By Ben Franske (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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