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Rice Dream Ice Cream Pies

September 6, 2011

Rice Dream isn’t a foreign company to me, not in the least. My hippie dad made sure our fridge was well stocked with this chalk water at all times growing up. I vividly recall one moment in particular when I was seven years old. My father and I were having a family moment in the kitchen and I proudly admitted to him that I didn’t like rice milk but continued to drink it because I knew it was good for me. He yelled at me for it. I still don’t know why.

Though I’ll admit it isn’t an awful drink, I still to this day can’t get through an honest gulp without wondering why someone painting their living room white decided to use my glass of water to rinse their brush. What I’m trying to say is that rice milk is generally watery and bland, but if you’re into that kind of stuff then be my guest and drink it. While you’re at it you can hang out with my dad, he’s really into Bob Marley and gardening and scolding his youngest son who was just trying to impress him.

This isn’t about that, though. This isn’t about my aversion to rice milk or the daddy issues I may or may not be suppressing. This is about now, living in the moment, today. And today I’m eating frozen dessert pies. Don’t ruin this for me.

Say hello to Rice Dream Frozen Dessert Pies, the popular companies non-dairy take on the ice cream sandwich. They’re available in four flavors – chocolate, mocha, mint chocolate, and vanilla. All flavors are choco-dipped except vanilla, where they decided to hippie fist bump and go for carob. As you can see, we tried chocolate and vanilla.

The first thing I noticed was the top cookie, they were both off centered to the point of almost falling off the pie. Not very attractive, Rice Dream. Why not just make a cookie the same size as your frozen dessert puck? They’re lucky I shamelessly mooch off my girlfriend and didn’t actually buy these, any more self worth and I might have actually cared.

I was pleasantly surprised after my first bite. Oatmeal definitely wasn’t a bad choice here, but I’m kind of an oatmeal cookie snob so I’ll go ahead and say the cookie was lack luster. Both chocolate and vanilla “ice cream” fillings were delightfully creamy, though I can’t say flavor gets a perfect 10. Vanilla in particular didn’t do a good enough job masking that rice milk after taste and even clashed with the carob coating in an off putting medicinal sort of way. Chocolate was definitely the most palatable over all, solely because it felt the most like an actual treat. Creamy, chocolaty, not bad to bite into. I might have even enjoyed a scoop of the chocolate (r)ice cream on its own.

Still, at the end of the day these things are nothing to write home about. They’re not something I’d go out of my way to get into my shopping basket, but I certainly wouldn’t turn one down if offered, lets say, for free at the local health food store. It might even make the granola munching cashiers insufferable drug inspired rants about universal existence more bearable. Your name is Tree Flower, I get it. Now bag my produce, I’ve got places to be.

Item: Rice Dream Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert Pies
Price: $1.39 each (99 cents on sale)
Purchased at: Jimbos…Naturally!
Score: 3/5


Recipe: Raw Vegan Cheesecake

August 1, 2011

I know it’s been a while since my last post, but it turns out that downloading music illegally is not a great way to keep your computer from crashing. Oops.

I’ve recently discovered that my boyfriend has a serious weakness for raw vegan desserts. When I say serious I mean trying a new recipe almost every night. Because of this new found addiction cashews, almonds, dates, and agave have become staples in our pantry.  We just recently tried something that I was very skeptical about, Raw Vegan Cheesecake. Now I will admit that I’ve bad mouthed cheesecake for years, but what nobody knows is that I have NEVER ACTUALLY TRIED IT. So when le boyfriend found out this little truth he just had to make it, and I’m glad he did. I could have never imagined that cashews and a squeeze of lemon could create that creamy tang that is specific to real cream cheese, adding agave provides that sweet quality you look for in a dessert. You may think, like most, that you need a ton of fancy equipment to make raw food, but that’s not always the case. There are easy solutions to not having a dehydrator or spiralizer, but there is simply no replacement for a good ol’ fashion food processor. Everyone should have a food pro regardless of their food orientation, and with that we will start the…

What you need list:

– 1 handy dandy food processor
– 1 cooking vessel

-1 cup raw nuts (I used almonds)
-1/2 cup pitted dates
-1/4 cup coconut flakes
-1 teaspoon cinnamon

-2 cups soaked cashews (soaked in water for at least 3 hours)
-1/2 cup lemon juice
-1/2 cup agave nectar
-1/2 cup warm coconut oil
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1/2 teaspoon salt

-Process your crust ingredients until it forms a fairly dry but still workable dough.
-Place dough into cooking vessel of your choice (sprinkled with extra coconut flakes to prevent sticking) and press.
-Blend filling ingredients in your food processor until smooth, adjust to taste. Feel free to add water (by the tablespoon) while blending your filling to create the consistency you’d like.
-Pour evenly over your hand sculpted crust and garnish with whatever you’d like (remaining nuts, berries, etc)
-Freeze until firm, refrigerate one hour before serving.

Now there  you go, Raw Vegan Cheesecake. If you wanted a strawberry, raspberry, or chocolate cheesecake then you could add your choice to the filling while blending, just remember to start with a small amount and build from there to get the flavor you’d like.

News: Earth Balance takes on mayo

June 13, 2011

Watch out Follow Your Heart! There’s a new mayo sheriff in town. A younger, slightly more attractive sheriff with a charming smile. Does he have a quicker draw? I don’t know, its mayonnaise for god sakes. This comparison hardly held water to begin with.

Popular vegan spread, Earth Balance, recently released a line of non-GMO dairy free mayo. MindfulMayo™ has hit stores and Earth Balance fans are excited. Will this new sandwich spread live up to the expectations that other Earth Balance products have set? More importantly, how will it compare to the already very well received Vegenaise? Only time will tell. Expect MindfulMayo™ to make an appearance in a review soon, depending on whether or not this stuff has hit Southern California yet.

Speaking of new Earth Balance products, have you heard of their organic coconut spread? Coconuts have been making a big splash in vegan products lately, I’m definitely seeing a food trend here. I personally approve of this fad. As we all know, too much processed soy is never a good thing. Coconut provides a much needed break from the same old substitute routine, I welcome it with open arms. As does my boyfriend, who I see has been eating lots of coconut yogurt as of late.

What a trend tracking hipster.

Primal Strips Meatless Vegan Jerky

June 13, 2011

You’d think, working in a health food store, that I’d have an abundance of vegan treats for lunch. And you’re right, I do. My problem is that I can only order a Very Veggie Stuffed Sandwich with no tomato so many times before I admit that I’m in a lunch rut. Today I was determined to escape the confines of sammie hell and try something new. While moseying around hopelessly I realized I was being watched by an older gentlemen nibbling on a piece of jerky. I recognized him as the man who comes through my check stand and hands me an empty wrapper of, you guessed it, jerky. Vegan jerky to be exact. Curious yet? I was.

The people at Primal Spirit Foods run a line of meatless vegan jerky simply called Primal Strips. Its contents range from wheat gluten to soy, even shiitake mushroom. These snacks come in six flavors (though my store only carried five) and are high in protein, non-GMO, vegan, and even kosher.  I brought home Thai Peanut, Hickory Smoked, Teriyaki, Hot & Spicy, and Texas BBQ. None of which honestly looked very promising. I mean it’s vegan jerky, something about that is already contradicting itself…more so than other faux meat products in an odd way. Lets hope mystery jerky nibbler has decent taste.

They should really call these things Primal Strips: Boyfriend Proof, because mine couldn’t for the life of him tear these things open. That’s not to shine any negative light on the packaging, my boyfriend just happens to have a chronic case of permanent butterfingers, I opened them almost effortlessly. He was impressed.

Lets talk about flavors. Or, when it comes to Thai Peanut, lack there of. That’s a good place to start.

Thai Peanut: Easily the worst of the bunch. Bland, very wet, and the undesired wheat gluten taste came through loud and clear. Smelled of peanuts but not a whole lot of Thai. On the plus side this made for a great dog treat.

Teriyaki: Only slightly better than Thai Peanut and shared similar problems. Sauce lacked teriyaki flavor and smelled very dull. Texture was tough but not in a very jerky way.

Hot & Spicy: This was the only mushroom jerky. It was very dense and looked different from the others. The outer surface was protein bar-esque but had the mouth feel very similar (or at least from what I remember) to a Slim Jim. I can’t say if this is exactly a good thing, but it made this jerky slightly more appealing than the previous two.

Hickory Smoked: Immensely better than it’s fellow faux meat treats. A soy based strip with a smokey barbecue sauce made for a snack that I quite enjoyed, though I can’t say I was a fan of the heavy liquid smoke aroma. It’s texture was something more along the lines of jerky, which I’m assuming only soy can accomplish.

Texas BBQ: This was the flavor mr. jerky nibbler recommended to me, his clear favorite and I have to say it’s mine as well. It had a sweet barbecue taste and the texture was by far the most jerky like. It, along with the Hickory Smoked flavor are both gluten free and soy based. I guess when it comes to vegan jerky soy really has the upper hand.

Final thoughts? Primal Strips Meatless Jerky is far from perfect. The flavors were too hit or miss, the misses in particular being inedible. The hits were nothing extraordinary but they were pretty good. Still, next time I think I’ll stick to my usual Very Veggie Stuffed Sandwich with no tomato.

Price: $1.29 each
Place: Jimbo’s…Naturally!

  • Thai Peanut: 0.5/5 (that half a point comes from dog appeal)
  • Teriyaki: 1/5 (again, mostly dog appeal)
  • Hot & Spicy: 2/5 (edible texture, still gross)
  • Hickory Smoked: 3.5/5 (soy protein, gluten free, smokey)
  • Texas BBQ: 4/5 (actually pretty good)

Lundberg Spinach & Mushroom Risotto Florentine

June 10, 2011

What’s for dinner tonight? Lundberg Risotto Florentine Spinach & Mushroom. Lundberg, from what I understand, is a family owned and operated organic rice company with a pretty decent reputation. Organic, gluten free, vegan? At $2.79, this eco-farmed little box of food is already on my good side.  Also, to this day I get giddy seeing “VEGAN” physically printed on the products I buy. If you got it, flaunt it. Nabisco can learn a thing or two there, but hey, that’s just me.

Unboxing revealed its very straight forward contents. Organic arborio short-grain rice and the spinach & mushroom flavor packet, nothing out of the ordinary here.

Spinach & mushroom (though clearly visible) were almost immediately forgotten about when the dominant aroma of Italian herbs were released. Basil and oregano hold a stronger fragrance so, again, no surprise. The box came with instructions for both stove top and microwave. We decided to go with stove top considering we don’t own a microwave. That and the thought of preparing anything claiming to be risotto in a microwave felt like bad Italian karma. We even went with the optional white wine addition to be extra fancy.

The smell? It smelled nice. Familiar, like…well, like pizza. A lot like pizza, actually. After 20 minutes of simmering and occasional stirring I was left with something that looked pretty good.

So how was it? Tasty, but a bit on the salty side. The first bite definitely delivered good flavor and the rice was cooked nicely. I might even toot my own horn a bit and say the rice was close to perfect doneness, at least as far as 20 minute stove top risotto goes. Not a lot of mushrooms, or even mushroom flavor. The spinach came through a little louder but, like my interest in this dish, seemed to fade more with each bite.

On a positive note, almost all Lundberg products are organic, gluten free, and eco-farmed. Thinking about it now, their Spinach & Mushroom Risotto Florentine would actually make a decent side dish. On its own? The risotto didn’t deliver a satisfying amount of spinach or mushroom flavor and came out more salty than I would have preferred.

Would I use it as a side? Sure, it’s organic and reasonably priced.
Would I eat a bowl of this on it’s own? Definitely not.

Price: $2.79
Place: Jimbo’s…Naturally!
Score: 2.5/5

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze

June 10, 2011

For my first post I thought I’d review something that is guaranteed to be on my weekly shopping list, almond milk. Now, I have tried many different types of almond milk (I’ve even made my own) and I have to say that Almond Breeze Vanilla is by far my favorite. Compared to other common milk alternatives Almond Breeze always manages to fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to price, less expensive than rice milk yet slightly more than soy. Almond Breeze is typically $4 for a half gallon at most stores but you can certainly find it cheaper elsewhere ( Fresh&Easy).

Up until a year ago I had never touched the stuff. Was I turned off by it? Grossed out? Not really. Was I scared? Maybe a little, but mostly for fear of breaking out into hives. Yes, my almond aversion stemmed from the irrational assumption that I was terribly allergic to the little wonder nuts. This obviously turned out to be untrue but, you know, thanks for the lost years anyway, doctor.

Most of you are probably familiar with this stuff and if you’re anything like us it’s a staple in your fridge. Those who aren’t (due to lack of interest or an imaginary nut allergy) can expect to be pleasantly surprised. Almond Breeze has a great creaminess that plays well with its subtle almond flavor. It’s decent in coffee, great in cereal, and goes incredibly well with your favorite vegan cookies. On its own Almond Breeze is surprisingly sweet, perhaps too sweet for some. Luckily for those some, Blue Diamond offers unsweetened varieties of each flavor (original, vanilla, and chocolate) at 50 calories less per serving. So what’s the verdict? This stuff is, simply put, amazing.

Price: $2.99
Place: Fresh&Easy
Score: 5/5