Vegan Yogurt Product Review – The OK, the bad, and the worse

Vegan yogurt.  My taste buds just shudderd a bit.   In my opinion, yogurt is the main dairy product that has not been reproduced to even an ounce of my satisfaction.  I’m sure most people would say cheese, but Daiya has mostly rescued me there.  Most days.  But there is just no acceptable vegan yogurt to eat straight from the container as a snack.

I’ve tried all the vegan yogurt I can get my hands on, all the brands available to me, with all the available options (soy, almond, and coconut-based).  They are okay to bake with, but nearly all of them make me want to gag when I eat them alone.  I thought I’d share my reviews of the options you may be seeing on store shelves.

First, I’ll start off with the “ok”…

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It’s the Amande brand of almond milk-based yogurts, and only the coconut flavor is good.  The texture is silky, like dairy-based yogurt, but it’s not like what you imagine when you think of creamy yogurt.  Yes, it’s consistently smooth and all one texture, but you could turn the container upside down and it would plop out and hold it’s shape like a jello mold.  The container-shaped yogurt is sitting in a thin layer of a liquid syrup, which I’m guessing is part of the flavor/sweetener that separates over time.   But the yogurt itself is like a cross between yogurt and jello.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s not “creamy-runny.”  Not like sour cream or a creamy dip.  You can’t get a spoonful, tilt your spoon, and then watch it run back off the spoon or put a “dollop” on anything.  It’s smooth, but gelatinous, if that makes sense.  The strawberry and blueberry flavors are very muted and not that sweet.

A close second in the “ok” category is the SO Delicious brand coconut-milk based yogurts.

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These are the most true to texture, in my opinion. They offer both a “regular” (it’s runny creamy, but not too runny) and a Greek style (thicker and richer,” like dairy-based Greek yogurt).  I occasionally buy the Greek style in the vanilla flavor for the macrobiotics and I can get it down, but again, it’s not as good as dairy yogurt.  SO Delicious makes a wider variety of flavors then Amande.  They have strawberry, vanilla, blueberry, chocolate, plain, raspberry, and mango.  I’ve only tried the first 4.  None of them are very sweet, so you may actually prefer this brand, but I like sweet yogurt.  As with the Amande brand, the flavors are very muted.

Recently, Almond Dream has come out with another almond-milk based yogurt.  It’s definitely better than the Amande brand, but I haven’t been able to find any flavors except vanilla and plain (if you consider “plain” a flavor).  I had the vanilla once and never bought it again.  It’s just not good, folks.

Everything else is totally unacceptable, if you ask me.  I don’t like any of the soy-based yogurts, and there are plenty of them out there.  I’ve tried at least one flavor by each of the following companies: Stonyfield O’Soy, Whole Soy & Co., Silk, and SO Delicious.  Most of them are very runny and when I say runny, I don’t mean “creamy-runny”, I mean watery.   And the soy-ish flavor/aftertaste they all have just really turns me off.

Sorry I couldn’t blow your mind with a really awesome vegan yogurt review.  If I ever find one (an awesome vegan yogurt, that is) I’ll be sure to review it.  Until then, Odwalla organic Australian yogurt is delighting my taste buds!

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Product Review: Whole Foods 365 Breaded Chickenless Patties (soy free!)

While strolling through Whole Foods one day, I passed an employee passing out vegan meatball and chicken nugget samples.  I tried one of the “chicken” nugget samples, dipped in honey mustard and it was really good.  I went over to the freezer section to read over the ingredients list, thinking for certain they were soy-based, but to my surprise, they are actually made from wheat protein. 

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They were out of the nuggets, so I bought the patties. They come 4 to a pack and were around $4, I think.  I thought they’d make a good, quick lunch for work days.  Unfortunately, you can’t microwave them, which was a huge con for me.  The only way they recommend cooking them is in the oven and it takes nearly 20 minutes.  That won’t do for work, and at home, I must admit that it feels like a waste of energy to warm up the oven for one little patty.  I tried cooking 2 and then refrigerating one for the next day.  When I go to work, I placed the already cooked one in the toaster oven for a few minutes to re-heat it and that worked out fine, but it was slightly tougher than the one I ate straight from the conventional oven.   It is for these reasons that I probably won’t buy them that often, but here is what I thought of the actual product:

If you like the MorningStar “chicken” nuggets, you’ll like these.  They taste almost identical to me.  The breading crisps up nicely, especially when I cook them in my iron skillet, sprayed with a little oil.  The texture is also very close to the MorningStar brand soy-based nuggets, so if the texture of most frozen faux meats weirds you out, don’t even bother trying these. 

They work well for dinner recipes other than just chicken sandwiches.  I made chicken parmesan out of them one night, placing the patty on top of cooked pasta with marinara and a little vegan parmesan melted over the top.  You could also use them for chicken alfredo or cut them into pieces for a child’s snack.

I wouldn’t recommend putting them in a dish while it bakes or cooks because the breading will become soggy.  I think the best way to incorporate them into a dish with any kind of sauce would be to cook them separately and add them in at the end.

Overall, I would buy these again based on taste and texture, but if you’re looking for ease and convenience, you may want to try another product.

The BEST Tortilla Soup EVER

Cold, rainy winter days just make me SAD sometimes.  By the time I get off work, it’s dark outside and it’s so cold all I want to do is eat hot food and take a warm bath. My motivation to work out, cook, or anything other than curl up on the couch under a blanket is almost entirely obliterated.   Thank goodness for soup on days like this!  It’s warm, you can make enough to last you a few days, and it’s easy.

This recipe comes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Appetite for Reduction.  Every recipe I’ve made from that book has been packed with flavor and absolutely yummy, so this soup is no exception.  Prepare for your tongue to be assaulted with flavor!

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 jalapenos, seeded and sliced thinly
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped (if you can’t find poblano, use a green bell pepper)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 (24 oz) can whole tomatoes
3 cups vegetable broth
4 oz baked tortilla chips (about 4 handfulls or so – you don’t have to be precise)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice from 1 lime

Directions:

Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium-high heat and saute the onions, jalapeños, and poblano in the oil for about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt.  Saute for another minute.

Break up the tomatoes with your fingers, tearing them into small chunks, and add them to the pot, along with the juice, broth, and cumin.  Crush 2 oz (a couple handfuls) of chips into small crumbs (you want them pretty crumb-like, very small pieces) and add to the soup.

Cover and increase the heat to high to bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add the beans, corn, and cilantro.   Turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.

Squeeze in the lime juice and serve garnished with the extra chips and a sprinkle more of cilantro, if desired. I personally like to add a dollop vegan sour cream and a few slices of avocado.

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