Posts Tagged ‘earth balance’

I can’t believe it’s not…meat!

By request from my good friend J, I will be posting some great vegan processed foods. Yes, that is such an oxymoron but it is true. It would be great to be 100% all natural but it does get hard, and new processed foods make life that much easier. Of course since they are processed the most healthy thing to do is eat things in it’s most natural form, like grains, oats, fruits and veggies but we are human after-all and Americans! As a nation we have grown to expect certain foods as everyday normalcy’s, like chicken nuggets, hot dogs, bacon and the like. Since thats what we are used to, its nice that we can still be vegan and enjoy our food. Luckily, most vegan processed foods are significantly healthier for you than true meats and dairy.

You can find anything these days, soy sliced turkey, beef, chicken, chicken nuggets, pizza, hot dogs, butter, cheese, the works. It has not been hard for me at all, and not really expensive either! Since I am buying these things instead of real meat (which is costly by the pound) I’m really not spending more money. As for the dairy, it is slightly (I’m talking cents) more expensive, but think of your health in the long run. Dairy is a huge contributer to high and bad cholesterol numbers, and soy or nut dairy has NO cholesterol. You are saving money AND your health in the long run.

So, the big questions J has are what is out there? Where do I find it? How much is it?

I don’t know about anywhere else in the States but the most common brands I find are: Tofutti, Earth Balance, Tofurky, Amy’s, Morningstar, Boca, Annie’s, Rice Dream, Silk, and Trader Joe’s brand. There are tons more out there but these are the ones I think are most common.

I swear by Trader Joe’s. (Here in MN we have locations in Maple Grove, Minnetonka and St. Louis Park.) I luckily live by one so I frequent it enough to call it my home store. I will occasionally shop at other places but I am pretty loyal to Trader Joe’s. They so far have offered me the most and best choices of vegan food out of all the groceries store in my vicinity. They are also very reasonably priced; I have found that they have cheaper prices than Target on vegan products which makes this frugal gal pretty happy. They offer so much stuff its unbelievable. There are bars, beverages, bread, candy, cookies, cereal, dried fruits and nuts, frozen desserts, produce, nut butters and snack foods that are vegan. (They also supply lists there that you can take with you that will list the vegan products, vegetarian products, gluten-free products and low fat products.) The key is to turn around the product and look for a bolded caption underneath the ingredients that says CONTAINS blah blah blah…. Almost all products have this and it should say if something has milk or dairy in it since many people have those allergies. It will also tell you if there’s wheat in it, nuts or soy (other common allergies.) This makes life a lot easier because you don’t have to stand there and read the whole list of ingredients,you can look at that one line and it will tell you automatically if you can put it in your cart or put it back on the shelf.

I find that Trader Joe’s will carry many of the product brands I listed above, but their version is superb. It tastes good and it’s the cheapest. They also offer great variety. This is where I got my BBQ Pulled “Chicken” that my non-vegan husband liked. I also purchased “Beef” Strips and “Chicken” Strips here. My favorite thing though from the “meat” section is the chicken nuggets. They are entirely made of soy and taste just like the chicken nuggets I grew up on. And it’s only 120 calories for 4 of them! Seriously! You can eat 8 and only have consumed 240 calories! Only 4 chicken nuggets from McDonalds is over 300 calories not to mention they are bad for you.

As for the other brands, you can find them at most grocery stores. In my circumference I sometimes go to Cub Foods, Byerly’s, Target, very rarely Rainbow and never Wal-Mart. But I have gone to all these places to compare variety and prices for this post.

Cub Foods: B- They have a really rather large natural/organic foods section that is full of different brands and selections. However most of it is vegetarian friendly, not vegan friendly. Of course you can find things but you have to look. (Though it’s not very hard to look.) They offer Amy’s, Tofutti, Earth Balance, Tofurky, Morningstar, Boca, Rice Dream, Silk and others.

Byerly’s: B- The only reason why this got the same score as Cub is because they offer awesome cheese. They are called “Veggie Slices” and “Veggie Shreds” and it tastes almost identical to real cheese products. I cannot find this cheese anywhere else! Of course I haven’t traveled far, but out of all the common places I have listed, they are the only ones that have it. They have other products as well that are hard to find. Amy’s Soy  Macaroni and Cheese can be found here, and damn, this is SO good. I actually prefer this macaroni to the one’s I grew up with. It tastes almost homemade for being a frozen meal. Much tastier (and healthier) than Kraft. One icky factor? Byerly’s stuff is more expensive. And you are paying for the ambiance much more than the product. I know this because I can get Tofutti Cuties ice cream sandwiches (which taste 100% like the real thing) at Byerly’s for $4.99 or go to Trader Joe’s and get the same thing for $2.99. Come on Byerly’s! Just because your grocery store has carpet!

Target: C Target does okay. They offer organic and natural foods but very slim vegan foods. This really puts them at a disadvantage because if they offered vegan food I’d probably do ALL my shopping at Target. They do offer Silk milk (which is soy milk) for the cheapest price out of all their competitors. (Trader Joe’s soy milk is still cheaper however. But Silk has the best taste.)

Rainbow: C+ They are getting on the bandwagon. They are very much like Cub…getting more health conscious to retain their customers. They are getting better although selection is still low and unfortunately they are overpriced. Everything you find here will most likely be more expensive than at Cub or Target, unless it is on sale/special.

Wal-Mart: D Terrible, terrible, terrible! The only brand I could find was Amy’s and the selection was only 4 measly rows in the frozen section. One small perk that saved them from failing? They were cheaper.

I have mentioned some tastes and preferences above but I can go into farther detail here.

Tofutti: They offer a lot of stuff man. They first came out with just ice cream (which is SO good you can’t believe it isn’t the real thing) but now have expanded. They now also offer frozen foods, cookies, cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, and other frozen treats. I have had their cream cheese (good) and a lot of their ice cream and frozen treats. My freezer actually always has something from Tofutti in it, because my husband eats it too! Again like I have mentioned, go to Trader Joe’s if you can for this because at Byerly’s it is off the wall expensive.

Earth Balance: I use their “butter” which is very similar in taste to margarine. I have no problem with margarine’s taste so I have no problem with Earth Balance. They also offer peanut butter and other spreads like jams but I have never seen them anywhere. I can easily find the butter but never anything else. Their website says that it can also be bought at Whole Foods, which I have yet to go to.

I cannot believe it’s not butter.

Tofurky: They offer our most common “meat”, like deli slices, sausages, links, jerky, but also have pizza. I have tried the turkey deli slices (A+ in taste) and the sausages (okay…but I’ve only had the italian sausage, not the plain).

Amy’s: They have way more natural and organic food than vegan but the stuff they do have is really tasty! It’s sick how addicted I’ve become to Amy’s burritos and macaroni and cheese. Hmmm….the mac and cheese is divine and the burrito is sooo yummy. All the burrito is, is straight up pinto beans and rice. Delish! They also have a veggie burrito with black beans but isn’t my favorite. The beans and rice one reminds me most of true Mexican food. There are also lots of Amy’s products for the vegetarian or organic food eater. The brand has soups, frozen meals, pastas, burgers, kid’s meals, pizzas, breakfast, etc.

Morningstar and Boca: Both of these are mostly just meats. They carry sausages, burgers, hot dogs, sausages, breakfast sausage, and so forth. The thing to be careful about is a lot of this stuff is veggie based, not soy based so they still sneak in dairy and/or eggs. I didn’t assume this the first time I grabbed some breakfast sausage patties and then was pissed when I got home and looked at the back of the box. Tsk, tsk. That’s why now I always make it a habit to look at the ingredients before I purchase. These will probably be your best bet in meat-like burgers and offer the most variety. I did love those nasty sausages. Damn them for not being vegan. But hey, if you are going vegetarian or just looking to eat healthier, they are great!

Annie’s: Mostly organic but they offer some good vegan options. You can also find this stocked plentiful at Cub, Rainbow, Target, etc. because it’s starting to become such a common and popular brand. I feel like they offer everything under the sun: sauces, dips, soups, crackers, cereal, and so forth and so forth. The all natural Goddess dressing is amazing. The natural Caesar dressing is really good too, and much MUCH healthier than restaurant versions without losing any taste; however it isn’t vegan.

Rice Dream, Almond Breeze, Silk, and VitaSoy: All of these will substitute milk. In taste I think Silk tastes the most like cow’s milk. But truly all of them taste good as long as they are ice cold! My husband loves Almond Breeze, and he drinks the Original, Vanilla and Chocolate flavors. He even mixes it with his coffee! So what is the difference and point of rice milk, almond milk or soy milk? Well it’s all preference in my opinion. They all taste very similar, but since I already consume so much soy in my daily diet I try to drink rice or almond milk just to get a different source of protein in my body.

Of course there are normal everyday things too that you can find that will fit into your vegan lifestyle. For example I can still eat most breads/bagels, most cereals, a lot of chips and crackers, obviously all fruits and veggies and even some treats! Did you know Oreo’s are vegan? That yummy white creme center isn’t even made of dairy! It’s soy milk!! Read the ingredients yourself and be amazed! A lot of things in your pantry are probably already vegan so you don’t need to worry that once you go vegan you won’t be able to enjoy some of the foods you currently eat. I’m not saying they are necessarily healthy for you, but they do fit into the vegan diet with moderation, like everything else.

Oh, and don’t forget Veggie Slices and Veggie Shreds. It’s the cheesiest non cheese you’ve ever had.

Hope this was useful! I will be back.

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