Summer Adventure + Tasty Bite Review: Part II

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Several weeks ago, I had a decent stretch of time off from work – simply because that was the way my schedule ended up. In a span of seven days, Tim and I spent five of them immersed in the wilderness. It was awesome. If you didn’t catch Part I, you can read all about it here!

I’m quite fond of backpacking trips that lead out of the trees and into a world dotted with alpine lakes, wildflower meadows, and grand views of snow-capped peaks. We have a few favorite trails, one of them being the Broken Top Loop near Sisters, OR. We hiked this 25-mile gem two years ago and knew we would make it a point to return again.

Sadly, during the year between our first and second visit, a wildfire damaged a generous portion of the trail (4-5 miles or so). The area is still beautiful, but wow, what a transformation of landscape! Charred tree trunks, dusty black ash underfoot, not much greenery, and no shelter from the sweltering summer sun.

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This time around, we took less photographs, but I think we still captured the beauty. And, we had a Tasty Bite meal to review. Easy dinners are always appreciated after climbing for 8 miles!

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We camped close to a mountain lake on our first night – the perfect place to splash around in icy water and cool off. We had the company of dozens of squawky Clark’s Nutcrackers. They are noisy and hilarious. Tim recorded them and you can listen here and here! I loved hearing their sharp beaks peck away at pinecones.

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After relaxing and rehydrating, we whipped up dinner: a pouch of Tasty Bite’s Ginger Lentil Rice plus some kale and vacuum-packed tofu we brought from home. Gourmet, right?! It was filling and very flavorful. We marveled at how we could detect all the fresh spices and ingredients.

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I would absolutely make this meal again. Dry rice takes too much time to cook when backpacking so this was a special treat. Tasty Bite provides lots of nourishment in a small pouch, and enough food to feed two hungry (HUNGRY) vegans.

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As you can see, Tim is a fan of smiling for the camera. We hope to get several more backpacking trips in before the weather turns wet and cold. We have a few months still so it should be easy!

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See ya next time!

 

Who’s Nuts? Review: Lush Nuts *New* Almonds

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A few days ago I won a contest on Facebook. The prize? A sampler of the new almond line from Lush Gourmet Foods. If you aren’t familiar with Lush Gourmet Foods, let me introduce you! This Michigan-based company handcrafts amazingly addictive peanuts and almonds using high quality ingredients, no added oils, and no preservatives or artificial flavors. The end result is delightfully crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth, sweet-n-salty, full-flavored, coated nuts. Got that? Here are some fun facts:

  • Made with USA-grown peanuts and almonds
  • Good source of protein
  • Handcrafted in small batches
  • 100% vegan
  • Natural ingredients
  • Eco-friendly packaging
  • Gluten-free

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I regret to inform you that I plowed through these little bags without a single thought of sharing even one nut. Well, there are a few left, but who knows if Tim will find my hidden stash before I finish them…

The sampler included three varieties: Coconut Orange Peel, Coconut Lavender, and Dark Cocoa Chili.

Coconut Orange Peel

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These were my favorite of the group. I loved the bright, fresh orange and tropical coconut flavors mixed together. Just look at that yummy, crunchy coating!

Ingredients: almonds, cane sugar, coconut water, coconut flakes, orange peel, sea salt

Coconut Lavender

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While I am not usually a fan of flower essence in my food, the Coconut Lavender almonds surprised me! I kept going back to the bag for another handful. The flavors are perfectly balanced which is why I think I enjoyed these almonds.

Ingredients: almonds, cane sugar, coconut water, coconut flakes, lavender, sea salt

Dark Cocoa Chili

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The romantic combination of intense, dark cocoa and smoky, slightly spicy chili powder makes these almonds extra special. I think they would be delicious sprinkled over a few scoops of your favorite vegan vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients: almonds, cane sugar, dark cocoa powder, sea salt, chili powder

Tempted yet? You should be! I highly suggest you visit the Lush Gourmet Foods website and order some of their peanuts and/or almonds. Aside from the almonds, I have also tried all six varieties of peanuts (Salt & Pepper, Hot Curry, Coffee, Dark Cocoa Chili, Original, and Cinnamon Spice). I’m nuts. You should join me.

 

Review: Tofurky’s *New* Pizza Pockets

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Wait, what’s happening? A pizza-themed post after Vegan Pizza Day? Well, let’s just say that it is dreadfully hot in Portland right now and as a result, pizza stones and 500-degree ovens are not my friends (translation: moody, evil Amy). I didn’t indulge in one of my favorite meals on its special holiday. I think I had a cold salad instead. Ha!

The 95+ degree days are still lingering, yet when Tim and I saw these Tofurky Pizza Pockets at Food Fight! today, we caved in and bought a box. It is rare for us to purchase prepared foods so this was a seriously special treat.

Straight out of the box, these pizza pockets are about the size of a small burrito. You can opt to cook them in a microwave or oven. Since we don’t have a microwave, we made the sacrifice and turned on the oven. Thirty minutes later, we had lunch!

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A fresh green salad + ripe watermelon + Tofurky Pizza Pockets = a speedy, filling lunch (even in the ridiculous heat!)

I really enjoyed these portable pizza pockets. While they were baking, I was instantly reminded of the frozen pizzas my dad would make when I was growing up. I’m pretty sure my love for pizza is genetic. The outer crust is infused with Italian herbs and the inside has sauce, melty cheezy goodness, and Tofurky pepperoni. If you were a fan of those infamous hot pockets back in the day, you will be delighted, because these are a million times better and cruelty-free! Tofurky makes a few other varieties too. Seek them out at your nearest vegan-friendly grocery store and settle down for a tasty, fun meal.

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The Vegan Burger That Wasn’t + A Giveaway!

Several weeks ago I was contacted by a representative from Quorn, a company known for their line of meat-free vegetarian products, and was asked if I would be interested in taste-testing their new vegan burger. How could I say no?! It’s always exciting when a new vegan product hits the market. Plus, with summer just around the corner, it is the ideal time to start thinking about (vegan) barbecues!

I should start by mentioning that I rarely purchase packaged vegan burgers because it’s much more fun (and less expensive) to make them at home from scratch. When I do opt for the convenience route, my standards are pretty high: clean, wholesome ingredients; thick patty; full of flavor; good texture; and organic if possible. More than once, I have found myself choosing Amy’s California Veggie Burgers because they are pretty tasty and meet the above requirements. I had high hopes for Quorn’s first vegan product!

Unfortunately, I was disappointed with these burgers. They come packaged (4) in a box, as most burgers do, but the patties themselves aren’t wrapped in anything. My patties had a mild case of freezer burn upon their arrival. This certainly could be blamed on transport, but it seems likely that even in a grocer’s freezer, the patties could fall victim to freezer burn. I do appreciate the lack of plastic wrapping for environmental reasons, but some frozen foods need the extra packaging to protect the product.

Secondly, these patties are THIN! I have a hearty appetite and expect a bit more oomph from a burger. My homemade burgers are monsters in comparison!

Thirdly, when paired with a homemade bun, toppings, and condiments, the flavor of the burger (and the burger itself) is completely lost. I don’t put much on my burger, usually greens, avocado, mustard, and ketchup. I was really hoping to taste the burger in my first bite! I had to pluck a piece off the patty so I could get a good taste. In all honestly, it reminded me of a hotdog in flavor. I wasn’t impressed. But, the texture is great: chewy and firm.

Lastly, the ingredient list isn’t necessarily healthy. The only vegetable listed is onion. Roughly a third of the patty is made from mycoprotein, which is made from a member of the fungi family. It is high in protein and dietary fiber, which is certainly a bonus. But, the rest of the ingredients are flavorings, extracts, oils (including palm), starches, and stabilizers. I need my veggies-even in convenience foods!!

Maybe I am terribly fussy when it comes to vegan burgers? I don’t know. I’m sure that plenty of folks will enjoy these vegan burgers. In fact, I’ve read several other reviews that are more positive than mine. I think I will stick to homemade burgers though.

But, let’s not end this review post on a negative note! The kind folks at Quorn included two free product coupons with my package and I would love to give them away to two lucky readers!!! If you are interested in trying Quorn’s vegan burgers for yourself, leave me a comment telling me about your favorite veggie burger. That’s it! I will choose the winners on Monday, April 2nd. Good luck!!!

P.S. Thank you, Quorn, for the opportunity to try your new product :)

A Hearty Giveaway!

Who’s up for another giveaway? This time, I am hosting a giveaway for your very own copy of Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman (courtesy of Fair Winds Press). I had the pleasure of testing recipes for this massive, colorful (seriously, there are so many beautiful photographs to lure you in), recipe-packed cookbook and can tell you first hand that it is a true treasure. If you want filling meals that will keep your tummy happy and please the fussiest anti-vegans on the planet, you should enter this giveaway!

Stuff I made:

Avocado Rolls

Pesto Pea-Damame Soup

Tempeh, Pepper, & Spinach Pesto Sandwich

Funnel Cakes

Roasted Broccoli & Garlic Pizza

I also made Altella Spread, Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes, Salty Sweet Oats, Ham-ish Saucisses, Mozzarella (perfect for pizza), and Roasted Broccotato Soup with Bacon Flavored Chickpeas. This cookbook has you covered with beverages, breakfasts, soups, breads, main entrees, desserts (like Cake Batter Ice Cream!), and even condiments. Celine’s gorgeous photography graces the pages and the first chapter offer tips and advice on cooking, baking, and stocking your kitchen. There are soy-free and gluten-free recipes, plus low fat recipes. See? They have thought of everything, just for you!

For a chance to win a copy of Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites, leave a comment here telling me what your favorite hearty meal is, whether it’s from a cookbook, a restaurant, or one of your own creations. It doesn’t matter, I just want to know your favorite hearty meal! I will randomly select a winner on Wednesday, January 18th. This giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry!).

Good luck everybody!