Category Sample Thursdays

Sample Thursdays – Mellow Mushroom!

What can I say about Mellow Mushroom- except that they’re awesome! When I lived in Brandon I used to go here when I could, but that was pre-vegan days. It’s only recently (as in the last six months or so) that I realized they serve Daiya cheese! With the addition of a vegan cheesey topping I have found a safe haven for my pizza cravings. Not to mention they make one of the best spicy bloody marys, with extra olives, that I’ve ever had.

Honestly, I’d love to write a long, drawn out review of this place, tell you some ins and outs, etc. but there’s not much more to say than: they are effin’ amazing and you should check them out!

bloody mary blog

pizza blog

slice blog

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Sample Thursdays – Why I love Whole Foods Market

* Sometimes a company does things really wrong, so wrong that you hold it against them for for days, weeks, maybe even years. These transgressions could be justified or ridiculous (I mean come on, you know you get a little excitable sometimes, it happens to the best of us). You tell everyone about this awful experience and you run their name as far into the ground, down into the dirt, as you possibly can. You attack the service, the employees, the cleanliness, the timeliness, etc. Somehow, that little problem you had that one time has now morphed into a huge ordeal. And now, with the jump forward in technology, it’s not just the few people you have face-to-face contact with. No. Instead it’s the whole world wide web. Yelp, Google reviews, and a whole slew of others, are just waiting to hear about that experience and sink that business even lower than before.

This is not one of those stories.

This is the story of a triumph. In the face of critical, untrained reviewers who believe their opinion and their experience should be held up in the highest regard, Whole Foods Market stands tall. From the products they carry, the people they employ and the atmosphere of love and compassion I am constantly and consistently stunned by what a great business they are. Are they perfect? No. Is one location better than another? Perhaps. Do I believe they are without sin in all regard? Certainly not. But what I do believe with my whole heart and with every dollar in my pocket, is that they are working to be the best they can.

Jason and I went in on Tuesday evening for dinner. I felt lazy and he likes the food. Additionally I needed a few items for my vegan bake swap that Meg is hosting. I decided to go for a sandwich. Just a sandwich. Nothing fancy or exciting. The following (and this is word for word how I sent my customer review via their website) is how my experience went down:

I have been shopping at this  location for nearly two years. In the last year I have gone vegan and rely heavily on your products ranging from sweets to your hot bar on the nights I don’t feel like cooking.

Well, last night was one of those lazy nights. My boyfriend and I stopped in for a hot, delicious, veg meal. I opted for your sandwich counter (which I do fairly regularly with the addition of the Gardein chick’n patty). I rolled through my order until we came to the dreaded, “Do you want any cheese?”

I sighed, sadly, as usual. “No, thank you,” I said, “I don’t eat dairy.”

The gentleman behind the counter glanced up surprised and said, “You do know we offer vegan cheese…right?”

I seriously caught my breath and my eyes went huge. I have been eating these sandwiches forever and no one has told me that- and I said so! “What?!” I exclaimed- “How did I not know this and how has no one said so?!”

He smiled and laughed saying, “I guess because I’ve never made your sandwich before.”

I know this seems like kind of a dramatic reenactment of how it happened, but it’s truly not. ****, the guy that was working, laughed through it with me. Instead of giving me weird looks or shrinking away (like people tend to do with my huge personality) he simply said, “Indeed we do have a vegan cheese- and now you know! So the next time you come in, whether it’s me or someone else here, you can definitely ask and not miss out!”

Now, I have worked in sales for most of my life and often have found that it’s the mistakes that get remembered, but I want you to know that this experience (like so many that I have there) was superb. The staff is always friendly and helpful, but last night was one of those times that I felt truly appreciated and respected as a consumer. I was treated like a friend rather than a dollar sign.

So please keep up the great work. You continue to be my go-to health store, I participate in your charity donations and do all of my national/international vegan-swap shopping inside your doors.

I will sing your praises via every social networking site I’m on and will also be blogging this particular event.

Thank you for being the great business you are, it is truly, truly appreciated.

It’s a little hard for me to explain exactly how it felt. I am an exceptionally animated person. More than words can ever say on a computer screen. You kind of have to see me in action. When I say things like “my eyes went huge” I mean it. I get bug eyed and make loud gasping sounds. I am used to people being a little put off or surprised, but this guy took it all in stride. Not only that, but he laughed with me! Often, when someone thinks you should know something, people get a little condescending. I know this from experience, but not in this case. He was happy to share with me, he was happy to help me and he was happy to assure me that in the future it would be no problem for anyone to accommodate my request.

Honestly, I felt like a friend, not a customer. He was looking at me and interacting with me like I was a real person, there were no dollar signs in his eyes as I am so used to dealing with in this product driven environment. He saw me there with my boyfriend so don’t even try the, “I bet he just wanted to sleep with you,” line, I see where your mind is, haha.

But more than all of this, and the recount of this single (though there are many) great experience Whole Foods is just a good company. Supporting and promoting healthy lifestyles, compassionate charities and an all around better way to live. I will continue to shop here and I will use every ounce of social networking juice I have to let people know that they’re a company worth being a part of.

Additional perk, if you have one in your area, take a look at their cooking class schedules and other events- like I said- healthy lifestyle! ;)

The first photo below is the sandwich in question for the other night. I also added two photos of other meals I’ve had there for lunches and dinners. Enjoy!

the sandwich in question

foods gar

hot bar

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Sample Thursdays – TofuXPress

Thanks to Meg the Magnificent I have been the proud owner of the TofuXPress for going on a month now.

Preface: I have been aching for one of these bad boys for ever since I went vegetarian over a year ago and vegan nearly a year ago. I thought time and time again I would grab one, but could not afford it with the debt pay I’ve been trying to kill. (That said, if I totaled the cost of all the paper towels I’d wasted I’m pretty sure I could have bought this out right). Either way, Meg was a life saver here.

I had done a lot of research about which tofu press I would end up with, but the TofuXPress is by far the winner based on reading reviews and from the written description. How it would pan out when put to the test in my kitchen? Well, here we go.

Ease of use: 5 star

It’s brilliantly easy to use. I mean, you don’t even need to read the instructions (which is always my favorite kind of device). There are a few recipes in the included pamphlet, but to be honest I haven’t tried any of them. Other than that you really just plop the tofu block in and let it presssss.

Effectiveness: 5 star

Magic. It’s magic. This piece of equipment is magic. I have used to press tofu, but additionally my homemade seitan (that I keep refrigerated in a broth) is no problem for this baby too! What used to cost me nearly a half a roll of quality paper towel is now handled with this, and it goes without saying this is infinitely better than the “paper-towel-and-pot-with-water” method. It also doubles as a marinating container with a plastic lid that attaches unobtrusively to the bottom. How much better can it be?

Overall: 5 star

I cannot speak to the other brands I’ve linked here or that you might find on the internet. I have no place to say one way or the other, but what I can say is that this is worth the money (even if it seems like a lot (seriously, total what you spend in paper towels and then realize that this is still superior in execution)) and for any tofu eater the result of this pressed block will make for the best tofu dishes you have ever eaten. Likelihood to recommend to a friend? 100%! ;)

AdditionallyI’ve added a few photos of the device itself and a few dishes I’ve made with it since it’s arrived. Enjoy!

the press


tofu banh mi

seitan "boneless wings"

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Sample Thursdays – Silk Eggnog

I don’t drink a lot of eggnog, but every Christmas season I feel like I have to buy some. I usually make it through half a jug and then give away or throw out the rest. It’s kind of a weird relationship we have, this drink and I. So when I went vegan I almost threw a party thinking about how I could avoid drinking the stuff simply by saying, “Eggs? Dairy? No thanks!” But then this:

Silk makes a vegan eggnog (and apparently so does So Delicious (which I will have to review now shortly)). Oooooh man. So, just like every year, I went for it. Four dollars later and sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach I pulled this out while we were decorating our Christmas tree this past weekend. I pulled out some extra cinnamon, because heaven help me I knew I’d need it, shook, poured and hesitantly put the glass to my lips.

Ooooh. Mmmyyyyy. Wooorrrddd. IT’S AMAZING!

It takes all the thick, sticky, heavy grossness of the original drink and gives it a light, mild flavor. The cinnamon did help, of course, but even without it I was won over. Never again will I be able to say, “Ugh, eggnog? Hate the stuff, wouldn’t drink it to save my eternal soul.” Gone are the days I would wave it away without a second thought.

Additionally, at only 90 calories per serving, with low fat and no cholesterol to boot, it’s clearly infinitely more healthy for you than the traditional beverage. I let Jason and my mom try it, both nodded their heads in agreement.

I will buy this again and I will bring it to holiday gatherings at other people’s homes. I won’t feel left out, they won’t feel compelled to try to share theirs with me and I might even be able to convince a few people to convert if I’m lucky!

I give it a solid 4/5 stars, and for a declared eggnog hater I’d say that’s a win for Silk. :)

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