Category Product Reviews

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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Product Review – Gardein Holiday Roast

What you need to know:

gardein holiday roast
* Vegan
* 8 servings
* 170 calories per serving (with included gravy)
* 0 cholesterol
* Found in most Whole Foods stores
* Runs about $15-20 per roast

How to cook, *****:

I used the package directions exactly. Stuck the roast in a casserole dish and into the oven under a piece of foil for about an hour. Took it out ten minutes early and let a little butter melt over it. Was brilliantly simple. Gravy was thawed in a bowl of hot water and microwaved to finish it off. It could not have been a more simple process.

What the above description does not tell you, ****:

Gardein has become a regular in my hous. Until now Jason has been hesitant to give up things like chicken, which has caused a lot of frustration on my end (the chick’n scallopini ended that dispute). So for Thanksgiving I knew I would going to need something really attractive for him to forego the turkey my parents had made. As soon as I said, “Gardein actually makes a holiday roast, though I’ve never ha-” he cut me off and said that would be the one. He did not want anything named “tofurky” and the field roast one just “didn’t look good”.

He continued, “Besides, you already know I like that garden one, so why even bother with anything else?” I giggled at him a little, “gardein” to “garden” I could understand and sympathize. So for my very first vegan Thanksgiving that’s what we got!

At the dinner table, ****:

I always look a bit like an outsider these days, with an additional few plates to make sure I know what’s in all of the things on the table. So Jason and I showed up with the roast, gravy, apple/sage/mushroom stuffing muffins, mashed potatoes and steamed fresh green beans and dill.

When I started slicing into the roast my brother was standing over my shoulder, you know, “just to see what it looked like”- he ate at least two pieces (and loved the gravy!). Mom was also willing the try it, as did Jason, of course.

Overall thoughts, *****:

I finished dinner with the entire roast completely gone. What had originally been meant for eight people had been taken down by a family of meat eaters (other than myself) with all of them sating, somewhat surprised, that was “actually really good”! The wild rice and cranberry stuffing and gravy really sold it for everyone though. Danny, my brother, actually ended up using that on his potatoes rather than the homemade turkey gravy Mom had made!

This is an item that will also be on my table this Christmas dinner as well, plans are already being made.

My only request is that Gardein would start selling extra gravy on the side- we could not get enough!!!

(For the rest of my Thanksgiving meal and additional photos have a look at the Giving Thanks in 2012 post.)

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Thrifty Shopping in Tampa – Hope Children’s Home Thrift Store

I don’t usually like clothes shopping. To be honest, I don’t normally like any  type of shopping unless it’s for a) food, b) camera equipment or c) kitchen ware. I tend to try to buy everything I need from the internet. No interaction with sales people, no worries about finding the sizes I want, etc. It seems to me that this is the most effective and least stressful way to do things, you know?

The exception to this rule is only one thing: thrifting. I didn’t used to like it, but somehow, somewhere in my mid 20s or so I really started to get into it. Tampa has some really nice thrift stores too, many of which benefit some great organizations.

This week I checked out Hope Children’s Home‘s Thrift Store.They had some great merchandise (mostly in the clothing department). They also has some small kitchen appliances and televisions that I was eyeing. I didn’t bring my camera to the store itself, but I found some really great items (new work clothes for my new job!).

Clearly my biggest score was an Express brand jacket, priced on their website for $98+, but only $5 at the store. I also got a new $25 skirt, tags still attached, for $4. Additionally I got a few more items (some of which are posted below). In the end I spent $18.99 for $225-250 worth of merchandise. It really was a winning day.

Overall this was a nice, fairly clean store, and I’ll be sure to check in occasionally to see if I can find anymore of these steals!

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Meatless Monday – Smoky Maple Tempeh BLT

As I’ve said before I don’t use a whole lot of meat replacements but I’ve found that my more popular posts (and my more popular recipes) tend to be the ones that are easy transitions from a meat eaters diet- and that, clearly, means I can’t get rid of all of them. I also like to test new products and see if they’re worth other vegans checking out.

This evening’s meal featured Turtle Island Foods Smoky Maple Bacon Flavored Marinated Tempeh Strips. They are surprisingly delicious and pack a good amount of flavor. I made a sandwich with some reduced fat Vegenaise (Follow Your Heart),  fresh, local spring greens and tomatoes from the local veggie market on a fresh baked baguette (dairy and egg free of course!).

The whole thing took me a whopping five minutes to get ready and tasted delicious! The sweetness of the tempeh and tartness of the Vegenaise really hit to spot. Not to mention fresh veg (I absolutely adore my local market and definitely need to get around to reviewing it!) and only 230 calories? You cannot beat it! I think I might just use the rest of my baguette to make this for lunch tomorrow as well. Paired with a cup of soup or side salad. Mmm, I’m salivating already!

[insert witty transition bringing us back to the discussion of meat replacements here]…A question to all of my vegan friends. Do you every hear meat eaters say things like:

“I think it’s stupid when vegetarians use meat replacements- I mean, if you didn’t want to eat it why do you keep pretending?”

It frustrates me. For so many reasons. I’m going to be honest when I say the following, and hold it against me if you want: I did not quit eating meat because I don’t like it- because help me universe, I do/did- I quit because it’s unhealthy, bad for the environment and animal suffering sickens me. I don’t want it now, not like I used to, but sometimes the convenience and comfort of having a hot dog, or fried chicken is necessary to keep me going.

What are the best ways you’ve found to help get you through conversations like this? I’d love to hear new ways to approved this specific issue! Thanks in advance for your help!

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