The Wait is Over – The VeganEgg is HERE!

FTC Disclaimer – we have no business relationship with Follow Your Hear or with Elements Natural Foods Market. I receive nothing free from either of them, and I paid full retail price for my VeganEgg. We receive nothing if a site viewer decides to purchase VeganEggs. We do receive a commission for any sales made through the affiliate product links appearing on this page. The following is an honest review based on facts and nothing more – and specifically free of any monetary interest related to the VeganEgg or Follow Your Heart.

Follow Your Heart VeganEggIt seemed like the promise would never come true – a fully plant-based, animal-product-less product that looks like an egg, that tastes like an egg, and that can be used to cook and bake just like an egg. Well, it is here: From Follow Your Heart, the VeganEgg!

They were available in other areas before here in the Los Angeles area, and the good folks at Elements Natural Foods Market had been trying to get them in for weeks, and yesterday morning, I got the call, “They eggs are in!”. I wasted little time getting there yesterday for my first package, and in the past hour, I cooked my first meal with VeganEggs – a lovely breakfast of hash brown potatoes, a toasted everything bagel, and scrambled VeganEggs.Scrambled VeganEgg with Hash Browns and a Bagel

Wow.

The cooking experience was amazing. They come in a power and you whisk the power into cold water. As soon as you start, they take on the texture and appearance of real eggs. Into a hot skillet they go, to be scrambled up. The only difference between scrambling VeganEggs and real eggs is Continue reading

Vegan Options in Las Vegas

FTC Disclaimer – we have no business relationship with any of the restaurants mentioned in this post and receive no free food and no renumeration whatsoever from them. As a member of the Affiliate Summit Advisory Board, I do receive a free pass to the conference, but that has no connection whatsoever to mentioning the conference in this or in any other blog post. By serving as the ADMIN/Community Leader for ABestWeb.com over the past couple of years, I did represent them at various conferences, including ASW16, and by virtue thereof, the parent company of ABestWeb.com, which is in the process of closing down and which is set to go offline by Feb. 1, 2016, my expenses, including meal expense for myself and for my wife, is reimbursed to me by the parent of ABestWeb.com, but again, that is irrelevant to my reviews of any of the mentioned restaurants. I do receive a commission for any sales made through the affiliate product links appearing on this page. The following is an honest review based on facts and nothing more – and specifically free of any monetary interest related to the entities reviewed.

Along with MrsHound, I spent a full week in Las Vegas earlier this month, the longest single amount of time I’d ever spent there, certainly since becoming vegan, on a single trip. I was there for the annual Affiliate Summit West business conference, Affiliate Marketing’s biggest yearly

get-together featuring somewhere over 5,700 participants. We arrived on Saturday, Jan. 9 and the conference ended Tuesday the 12th. We had intended to return home the next morning, but for various reasons that developed, we decided to stay a few more days, until the following Saturday morning. Thus we were faced with the need for many additional food options that we were not anticipating.

Having been to Las Vegas several times since becoming vegan, we did know of a few excellent places for some of our meals, but we were able to add to our list of eateries that were more than accommodating to our vegan needs.
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Elements Natural Foods Market in West Covina, CA

FTC Disclaimer – we have no business relationship with Elements Natural Foods market and receive no free products and no renumeration whatsoever from them. The following is an honest review based on facts and nothing more – and specifically free of any monetary interest.

Elements Natural FoodsLast year, while enjoying vegan food but not writing about it, we had open in our community a wonderful new market, small in size but monumental in bringing natural, organic, vegetarian and vegan products to the community. Elements Natural Foods market, located at 2522 E. Workman Ave., West Covina, CA 91791, in the Grove Shopping Plaza across Citrus Avenue from the Eastland regional shopping center, features some well known brands but also the best from local, organic farmers. In addition to their grocery section, they also have the Salad Box, featuring fresh-made Salads, Breakfast and Acai Bowls, and Organic Cold-Pressed Juices, Smoothies and Tonics. Continue reading

The Jackfruit Experience

JackfruitAfter much apprehension, I finally tried jackfruit, and the experience was amazing. More about all that later on, but first a bit about this amazing piece of vegetation.

Native to eastern Asia, it is immensely popular in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Malaysia and elsewhere in the region, but not in India, where it is believed to have originated but also where it is considered a food of the poor and lower class, and thus disdained by the upper class mucky-mucks. Learning this, I immediately thought of the potato, as I recently wrote an article about its storied history (“Potatoes: History, Descriptions and Uses“) including about how its popularity was stifled for years, in large part due to the similar belief that the inexpensive spud was beneath the dignity of Europe’s aristocracy. Continue reading

FindVegalChoices.com is Back

It’s been a long time since this blog was active, but it’s now time to get back to it, with a lot of new information for vegans. Besides recipes, vegan food sources, restaurants and the like, I hope to also bring a lot of nutritional and health information to the blog as well, along with a bit of socially relevant and scientific information that can contribute to the lives of those of us who choose to be vegan.

I cannot possibly even try to catch up for the missed time, but rather will start anew, and occasionally refer to past omissions.

As I contemplate my first real new post in so long, why don’t you take a look around the all-new NiftyKitchen.com, my first website, originally active in late 2001, and on which I just completed a four-month total rebuild, with a new platform, a totally all-new design, and thousands of new products, from Dinnerware to Tools for the Cook to Kitchen Cutlery and much more, and with an even-increasing archive of Food and Cooking Tips, though designed for everyone, in most cases very relevant and helpful for vegans. There are also both a Holiday Shop and a Gift Shop, for both holiday entertaining and finding the right gift for the friend or relative who loves to cook.

Time to get busy with FindVeganChoices.com!

Gardein Chick’N Dijon

Gardein knows how to make a chicken-like substance that you would swear was chicken. You can get it in the basic “Scallopini” form and do with it whatever you want, like I did with my “Meatless Barbequed Chicken with Sauteed Green Beans and Garlic Potatoes”. They also take this same chicken-like stuff and make their own sauces to go with them, such as Mandarin Orange and a Buffalo Wing style. And, they make this one that got mixed reviews in the Hound household, Gardein Chick’N Dijon.

Gardein Chick'N Dijon with Rice

Gardein Chick'N Dijon with Rice

The large chicken-like pieces are apparently the same as in the scallopini, but a little bigger (though only two in a package) and unlike the scallopini, the Dijon does not come frozen, so the cooking time is about five minutes.

So, I fired up the rice cooker, got my pan nice and hot with my safflower oil, and put in the chick’n pieces, and cooked them the recommended two minutes on a side. I would have cooked them longer to get that real sauteed, almost crunchy effect, but my pan was pretty hot and they got fully cooked to my taste in the two minutes. I aded the enclosed dijon sauce, sauteed about 40 seconds, turning the chick’n a couple of times, and served with white rice.

Gardein Chick'N Dijon Package

Gardein Chick'N Dijon Package

The chicken itself came out its usual good, chickeny consistency, and tasted, also as usual, similar to chicken. Now, the sauce. I thought it was a pretty good dijon sauce. I used to love the Chicken Dijon at one of Los Angeles’s venerable old classic restaurants, the Pacific Dinning Car, which was not too far from my old office in downtown LA. I’m not saying one would confuse the two dishes, but Gardein’s version did bring back fond memories of the delicious and expensive PDC entree. Gardein does not put in plump, juicy mushroom slices, as does PDC, and there is no comparing a prepared, in-a-box version with the real thing, but the mustardy flavor and hints of garlic and paprika did make Gardein’s concoction an enjoyable remembrance of real chicken past.

MrsHound, on the other hand, had a different opinion, I am sure partially colored by the fact that I do not think I ever saw her order, or even consume, chicken dijon in the 38 or so years we’ve known each other. She found the sauce too thick and tart. So, be aware of this, should you venture forth and try it yourself.

On the Hound scale, I give it a 6.5 out of 10.

One World Vegetarian Cuisine, in West Covina, CA

One World Vegetarian Cuisine is a vegetarian, thought primarily vegan, restaurant, located very close to us in West Covina, CA. We have gone there periodically for several years, when our daughter and son-in-law have been on visits here. Since our conversion, MrsHound and I have gone a couple of times, the last time, just before our trip to Seattle, for their once-a-month mid-week buffet.

One World Vegetarian Cuisine Buffet

One World Vegetarian Cuisine Buffet

Our past meals there have been hit and miss, some dishes very good, others, not so much. However, the buffet, that featured all vegan dishes, was excellent, and was complemented by friendly and professional servers.

The buffet included several standard-type dishes, including our long-time favorite One World appetizer, their Golden Crispy Rolls, along with brown rice, and what they call their Autumn Salad, which is a really interesting mix of exotic greens, beans, corn kernels, and more. They also served an excellent and understated Curry Fried Rice (much preferred by me to the brown rice) and a couple of real vegetable dishes, which I mean to indicate vegetables being vegetables, not pretending to

One World Vegetarian Cuisine Buffet

One World Vegetarian Cuisine Buffet

be a rib eye steak or a Cornish Game Hen. These included their Imperial Eggplant, that had a tasty array of other veggies as well as the well-prepared eggplant, and Vegetable and Tofu, which was highlighted by the well-cooked broccoli, and other veggies, rather than the tofu. I would say that this was my least favorite of the buffet selections.

On the other hand, my favorite, and a dish that was vegetation masquerading as something else, was their Veggie Quail. That was excellent, with a “quail-ly” taste, and a firm but not tough texture.

Topping off the buffet, was their dessert, one of the fresh-baked vegan cupcakes, which have always been moist and flavorful. That night’s selection was a lemon poppy seed cupcake, and it was a great finish to the meal.

There was not a large selection on the buffet, but what was presented ranged from good to excellent, and we look forward to the next buffet.

Dining at Seattle’s Wayward Vegan Cafe

On our trip to Seattle, we had two meals at the Wayward Vegan Cafe – and they were two of the best vegan meals we’ve had, anywhere. The Wayward is located in what I’ve previously described as the Vegan Center of Seattle, on University Way at 52d St, and its been there a few years. On prior trips to Seattle, while eating vegan with our daughter and son-on-law, we ate at many vegan restaurants, but somehow, never Wayward.

Wayward Vegan Cafe Club Sandwich

Wayward Vegan Cafe Club Sandwich

I had been warned that Wayward can be really crowed, so for our first meal there, lunch, we went in the late afternoon, and were able to get in without a wait, and enjoy a leisurely meal. I had their Club Sandwich, a delight combining vegan bacon, turkey and ham, on three slices of French bread, with lettuce, tomato, vegan mayo, and to which I also added mustard, and served with French fries. It was exceptional, and probably the best vegan sandwich I’ve eaten. The fries were great, also. MrsHound thoroughly enjoyed her faux pulled pork sandwich, the “Pull No Pork”, composed of shredded grilled seitan and a great barbecue sauce, on a bun.
Wayward Vegan Cafe Monte Cristo Sandwich

Wayward Vegan Cafe Monte Cristo Sandwich

Our son-in-law had the Monte Cristo, which was very good as well. At a later point on our trip, I was able to sample a piece of leftover Monte Cristo, and wow, it WAS great. It combined grilled faux turkey and ham on French toast, and when, before we left Seattle, we retuned to Wayward early in the morning (we actually got there before they opened and waited patiently outside in the brisk but dry Seattle air) for breakfast, I had to have a full order of the French toast, which I had with a side order of hash browns.

Wayward Vegan Cafe Pull No Pork Sandwich

Wayward Vegan Cafe Pull No Pork Sandwich

MrsHound had pancakes, and she loved them. An order of two was gigantic, and she enjoyed her leftovers for several days, including on the plane on the way home. Our son-in-law had an omelette, full of vegan meats and covered in faux cheese, and our daughter had her regular breakfast, a bowl of oatmeal with hot sauce. No comment there. I think we all had the excellent coffee served at Wayward. The place filled up quickly, and we were glad we had gotten there so early.

We’ve been to quite a few vegan restaurants now, and it seems that even the best are somewhat spotty – some dishes excellent, but other, not so much. Of four people each having two meals there, everything seemed to be equally good, and all were dishes I would not hesitate to order again or to recommend thoroughly. The breads and buns were all fresh and substantial, not fluffed up with the main ingredient of air. The vegan meats were all tasty and chewable, unlike many that defy being able to be bite into, and the vegetation was all fresh and crisp.

The service was efficient and friendly – you order at a counter and they bring the food to your table, but you get your own coffee and water.

All in all, on future trips to Seattle, a meal at Wayward is an absolute must.

An Overview of Our Vegan Trip to Seattle

While on an all-too-brief trip to Seattle, MrsHound and I spent some time with our daughter and son-in-law, both orthodox vegans, and sampled some great vegan cooking, got a couple of vegan cooking lessons, and ate at a couple of Seattle’s great vegan restaurants. We evan brought home a few items from a vegan grocery, all fodder for several upcoming posts.

For now, we want to briefly discuss the vegan center of Seattle, the area around University Avenue and NE 55th Street.

For several years, the area around this intersection has been the home to several great vegan outposts. On our first trips to Seattle after the young’ins moved there, we were introduced to Pizza Pi, a vegan pizza parlor. Pizza Pi has gone through several changes in ownership, and while the quality of the product has stayed pretty high, the atmosphere has had its ups and downs, reaching a zenith when it was owned by some of the same people who own other area vegan businesses. We did not eat there on this trip, but previously, in our carnivore days, did enjoy meatless, cheeseless pizzas and calzones there, thanks in part to their great selection of sauces and dips, in particular, their “creamy” garlic sauce.

The area also features Sidecar, a great vegan store, that sells all sorts of vegan products, including pet supplies and food, clothing, and supplements, but features a great array of vegan groceries, many of which can not be found easily elsewhere. I highly recommend their great Cream Filled Dillos, the vegan twinkie, but, made to be eaten NOW, not to “stay fresh” on the grocery shelf for a hundred years. I came home with a bag of assorted vegan mixes, sauces, and snacks, and a couple of Dillos.

Across the street from Sidecar is what we have found to be the best vegan restaurant we have been to, anywhere, Wayward Vegan Cafe. We will be writing more about Wayward, and our two meals there, soon.

And now we have learned that anchoring that brand new building being built south of Sidecar, will be the new location of Seattle’s great vegan Thai restaurant, Araya. We were not able to go there for a meal on this trip, as we have in the past, but did get take-out, and we’ll write more about Araya later on, too.

We had a great trip to Seattle, and the vegan dining was excellent. It would be terrific to see an area in LA County, hopefully near us, explode with a vegan community of restaurants and shops, as has happened in Seattle. There is an area in Claremont, CA with a handful of natural and organic establishments, and we hope to check it out soon, and see what they offer vegans.

Much more on our trip to Seattle, though, to come.

Tofurky Beer Brats – The BEST Vegan Hot Dog

In the past, I’ve sampled a few different attempts to create a meatless hot dog-like substance. Most failed miserably.

Tofurky, however, makes vegan sausages that come pretty close to the real thing. I’ve tried a couple of their varieties, and by far the best are their Beer Brats, but be careful how you cook them.

When I used to eat real hot dogs, my favorite way to cook them was to boil them. So, when I first tried a Tofurky Beer Brat, I looked at the cooking instructions, and low and behold, one of the described methods was to boil them. Big Mistake.

Tofurky Beer Brat and Beans

Tofurky Beer Brat and Beans

One thing that I have quickly discovered in cooking various meatless vegan commercial products is that they need to be cooked and cooked and cooked. And then cooked some more. Rare does not do it. Boiled Tofurky Beer Brats are terrible.

I did not give up, though, and needing a hot dog fix, I tried again, and this time I looked further on the instructions, and saw the part about heating in an oiled pan. Ah Ha!! So, I got out my pan, heated it with my vegan-foods-oil-of-choice, safflower oil, and placed in a couple of Beer Brats. I cooked them as evenly as possible on all sides, and being aware of the packages’ stern warnings about NOT OVERCOOKING, I took them out when they reached a golden brown.

The improvement was startling: So much better, but not yet perfect.

As I’ve mentioned, what I have found is that such vegan meat-like products need to be cooked within an inch of their vegetable-life. So, the next time I had the hot dog urge, I did it the same way, but cooked them on all sides not to golden brown, but to practically charcoal black. Success – cooked that much, they were great, and MrsHound and I have had them several times since, and we have several packages in the wings for future endeavors.

The photo shows my Beer Brat on a bun with lots of mustard and relish, and my favorite prepared canned beans, which thankfully are vegan – Bush’s Grillin’ Beans, Steakhouse Recipe. Careful, though, some of their other flavors besides the Steakhouse Recipe are NOT vegan!

This meal rates an 8 of 10 on the Hound scale.