Tag Archives: Gardein

The Oozy, Greasy Grilled American Cheese Sandwich, Vegan Style

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Before becoming Vegan, I was never a really big cheese fan. I loved nice melty mozzarella, like on a pizza or in parmesan dishes, and parmesan topped onto dishes like stuffed bell peppers. I liked cottage cheese, and lasagna with these other cheeses and ricotta, but not too much else. Follow Your Heart American Cheese Style Cheese AlternativeAny stronger cheese, like jack, cheddar, feta, goat, blue etc., literally made me sick. But, what I liked most of all, was plain, bland to most, basically processed, American cheese, and I loved nothing more than a greasy, oozy, crisp on top and soft in the middle, Grilled American Cheese sandwich.

Vegan cheeses have been problematic for me. For my first few years, most I found possessing all of the bad elements of “real” cheese, and none of the good. But lately, Vegan cheeses have gotten much better, and there is a place near home that has really good Vegan “mozzarella” on their pizza, and Gardein has an excellent pepperoni pizza pocket with their version of mozzarella as well.

But, the very best I’ve found so far, is Follow Your Heart American Cheese Style Cheese Alternative, which looks and tastes EXACTLY like American cheese slices. Continue reading

Morningstar Farms and Their Limited Vegan Options

Back in September of 2012, I wrote about Gardein’s great vegan ribs, and how they made an excellent meatless version of McDonald’s popular McRib sandwich. Well, unfortunately, Gardein chose to discontinue production of their meatless ribs, but after a very long ribless dry spell, a new meatless rib product is now available, and from a very unlikely source.

Morningstar Farms, purveyor of a wide array of vegetarian food items, but little in the subject of Morningstar Farms Hickory BBQ Ribletsvegan, now produces their excellent Hickory BBQ Riblets, a very satisfactory, and maybe even improved, substitute for Gardeins’ product.

For several years, grocery frozen sections have given extremely limited space to meatless products, and the major of that space has generally been given over to companies such as Morningstar and Quorn, who make vegetarian products that include the likes of milk and cheese. In recent weeks, at least in our home area of West Covina, California, local groceries that in the last year or two have expanded their stock of meatless vegan items, primarily Gardein, Boca and Beyond Meat, have now seemed to reverse themselves, and have eliminated much of the selection offered by these companies, while turning over that space to expanded product lines primarily from Morning Star. Continue reading

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

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.

Meatless Barbequed Chicken with Sauteed Green Beans and Garlic Potatoes

The most versatile meatless product that I have found is Gardein’s chick’n scallopini. It looks like chicken, it has the consistency of chicken, and yes, it pretty much tastes like chicken on its own, and when you add a sauce, it is the perfect vegan meat substitute.

Gardein scallopini comes frozen, and no defrosting is required. Heat a pan with oil (while in my meat-eating days, I generally used extra virgin olive oil, I have now found that the best taste with such meatless products comes with using safflower oil) and saute on each side for around four to four-and-one-half minutes. The instructions say do not overcook, but I quickly found that you want a well-done, “Saute’d”, almost crusty top and bottom. Then, keeping the pan hot, add your sauce of choice, and saute on both sides for another 20-30 seconds.

On one of my more ambitious nights when I had some time, this is the vegan meal I prepared:

Barbequed Chick'N Scallopini with Sauteed Green Beans and Garlic Red Potatoes

Barbequed Chick'N Scallopini with Sauteed Green Beans and Garlic Red Potatoes

I prepared the scallopini as described, and added barbeque sauce at the end, for a great-tasting meatless barbequed-chicken breast entree.

I also made a side dish of sauteed green beans, using one of my old recipes. I heated olive oil and added crushed garlic. Then I added sliced mushrooms and seasoned with cayenne pepper. After sauteing for a couple of minutes, I added cut, fresh green beans. I prefer French cut, but MrsHound does not like the French cut, so I cut whole beans into three inch pieces. The dish then sauteed on high heat for about five minutes.

Finally, I made one of my favorite potato dishes, garlic red potatoes. I steamed red potatoes, let them cool, then peeled and diced them. and put them in a bowl adding crushed garlic, ground black pepper, a dash of salt, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh chopped parsley.

All these items came out perfect, and this was one of our best home-cooked vegan meals since our conversion. Considering the time and effort needed for this one, and the result, I’d have to give this a 9 of 10 on the Hound scale.

Vegan “McRib” Sandwich

In the old days – Pre June 10, 2012 – I would have a McRib or two per year, and usually enjoyed them, thought I was never a big fan of McDonald’s. Any more than a couple per year, and the novelty quickly wore off. The idea of a vegan “McRib” was intriguing, and finding Gardein’s slow-cooked, meatless barbeque riblets was all I needed.

Vegan McRib

Vegan McRib

This product is super easy to prepare, just take it out of its baggie and put it in a covered microwave dish and heat for two minutes. I had also purchased some nice, fresh, soft oblong rolls, that were the perfect size. Add a couple of McRib condiments, and voila’, a vegan McRib is born.

This product is truly amazing. Honestly, most meatless products trying to masquerade as beef do not taste like or have the consistency of real beef. Gardein does a great job on both counts, creating a meat-like consistency, and, in most instances, a real meat-like taste. The riblet may be their absolute best job on the taste side. I dare someone, if they did not know, to say this is not meat.

In my newly-veganated mind, this is one of the best vegan dishes I’ve put together, requires no actual cooking, can be made in less than three minutes, and has a great taste. Clearly, an 8.5 of 10 on the Hound scale.