Thursday, February 27, 2014

Polska Foods Vegan Pierogis

When I was contacted by Polska Foods to conduct a review of their vegan, mushroom, cabbage, pierogis I was intrigued.  Pierogis have been a staple in my diet for as long as I can remember, but since most varieties contain cheese, I've been relegated to the plain potato option for just as long.


The company's story is a touching one: steeped in tradition and family.  And, while this flavor is the only vegan product in their line, it turns out that it too has its roots in Polish tradition.


Lucky for me, the enticing mushroom cabbage pierogis arrived on my doorstep quickly.

And there it was right on the front of the package: "100% Vegan;" I was stoked.

Despite knowing that the bag would net one pound of cooked pierogi,


at first I was disappointed that there didn't seem to be many in the bag:

But I can assure you that it was enough to satiate this gluttonous vegan, a vegetarian, and an omnivore.

Although you can boil or steam, I followed the pan-frying instruction.

I like a crisper pierogi than the other two options would have delivered, as pictured on the package.

I caramelized red and white onions in a separate pan, then easily combined when both contents were almost done.

As a last minute decision, I added peas to serve.

I was actually startled by how terrific these were. The pasta pockets are absolutely filled with mushroom, cabbage, sauerkraut, and caramelized onions; they hit every note of sweet and savory and didn't even need the peas or the onions I'd added to the fray.  In the future I would probably serve these crispy fellows as is- with or without a dipping sauce because it's really not necessary. They make a succulent and gratifying meal all on their own.

I'm almost embarrassed to tell you the borderline blasphemous things I've done to lesser pierogis in the past, but I'll lay the blame on VM.  As I mentioned earlier, since plain potato are usually the only vegan pierogis we can get our hands on, we generally eat them one of two ways: 1. slathered in mustard (me) or sour cream (VM) with sauteed onions, or 2. layered in a Mexican casserole (it sounds weird, but I assure you that it's totally easy and delicious).  However, I wouldn't dare smother these tasty Polska Foods pierogis with anything as superfluous.

If you live in an area that carries Polska Foods vegan pierogis, I strongly suggest you buy them all up before your neighbor does.  As for me, I'm going to be harassing my local stores until they're carried everywhere within a 50 mile radius just to satisfy my whim; I'm going to need many, many more.  [UPDATE 7/16/14: you can now buy them online!]

Friday, February 21, 2014

Follow Your Heart Vegenaise for American Heart Month

As a kid, I ate as little meat as possible, never drank milk, and couldn't figure out what an egg was so I didn't want to eat it.  I did, however, eat more than my fair share of American cheese and mayonnaise sandwiches (cognitive dissonance)- until I saw a show on tv that showed how mayonnaise was made.  The seemingly inexplicable emulsification transformation of the already suspect eggs was both mesmerizing and disgusting, so I switched back to pb&j for good. 

Fast forward to the arrival of Follow Your Heart Vegenaise in the refrigerated section of my local supermarket some years ago.  Even though it's a vegan product, my innate distaste for the original made me cautious.  But once I tried, I was hooked.  Since then, I've gotten more than a few (vegan) friends and (non-vegan) family and co-workers hooked as well.  This is an example of the large jar of original that is consistently in residence in my fridge. 

It's always more empty than full because I will build full meals around the condiment.


When Vegenaise expanded their product line to include other gourmet flavors to their existing repertoire of mayo variations, I quickly tried the tartar sauce variety.  I found an excuse to eat it every night in a week and finished the jar before I knew what had happened.

So when I was recently contacted on behalf of Follow Your Heart to sample some of the rest of the product line in honor of American Heart Month, I did not hesitate to participate.  As a vegan, cholesteral-free, egg-free mayo (also low sodium, non-GMO, dairy-free, and gluten-free), Vegenaise is not only better than mayo, it's better for you, and better for animals.  As if all that's not enough, it's also made with solar power!

"With American Heart Month just around the corner, we would like to introduce your readers to Follow Your Heart Vegenaise® - the original cholesterol-free, egg-free mayonnaise with a taste that¹s Better Than Mayo.

Vegenaise makes it possible to enjoy favorite sandwiches, dips, and slaws with the same great mayonnaise taste, but with no cholesterol. Follow Your Heart has been producing this great tasting, low sodium, non-GMO mayonnaise alternative for over 40 years. In addition to being cholesterol free, Vegenaise is made with heart-healthy oils, rich in essential fatty acids such as omega 3s. 

Available in five varieties ­ Original, Reduced Fat, Grapeseed Oil, Organic, and Soy-Free ­ fresh Vegenaise can be found in the refrigerated section of grocery stores across the country."

I received quite a generous package of Vegenaise, as well as Follow Your Heart swag (I really needed that perfect-sized spatula in my life!) and couldn't wait to give these new-to-me varieties a try.

This spatula rules!

So nosy:

I dug into the chipotle Vegenaise gourmet first, which was both good and bad. 

Good because, well, this should be put on everything!  It tastes divine and there are actual, visible chilies in there.  Bad because, well, I did put it on everything and, once again, finished the jar all too quickly.

What can I say?  It tastes incredible and is really versatile; you can use it on sandwiches, of course, but it also makes a great dip for fresh veggies, pretzels...whatever.

It's also pretty fancy, so it makes you do crazy things like putting roasted Brussels' sprouts on your veggie burger.  Sprouts or no, I shall never eat another burger unless I have chipotle Vegenaise on hand to kick it up a few notches.

As soon as I could tear myself away Once the chipotle jar was empty, next up I decided to try the soy-free Vegenaise.

I admit that as a regular consumer of soy I hadn't even realized that the original Vegenaise contained any, but it does.

In my opinion, the soy-free has almost the same flavor as the original: with a lighter, airier texture.  See how it pulls away cleanly from the jar?  I don't know that it means anything in terms of taste, but it's an example of the textural difference from the original.

It's possible that it's slightly less rich, but it tasted just fine on my Tofurky sammie.

Then I tried the grapeseed oil Vegenaise.

I found this version to be a little smoother, a little thinner, and perhaps slightly more decadent than both the soy-free and the original.

In the interest of fairness, I gave it a whirl on the exact same sandwich concoction as I'd tried the soy-free.

The only difference I could discern between this version and the original was that I'd describe the original as creamier, while this one was slightly oilier (in a wholly non-greasy way); it was delish.

For the record, although my taste-test has concluded, there is still Vegenaise left in the fridge.

You'll be impressed no matter which variety of Vegenaise you choose as you're favorite.  And by doing so, you make every month heart-healthy: for everyone involved.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Obligatory Vegan Valentine's Day Post

The only thing I like better than dessert is themed dessert.

Valentine's Day isn't particularly spectacular to me in any way (in fact, I really get a kick out of these anti kinds-of-things) aside from my innate appreciation that February is essentially chocolate month...much like Halloween is candy month, and I make out better and better every year.

So, a rundown of my heart-shaped indulgences of late: in order of appearance.


For starters, there were the Surf Sweets fruity hearts.  While not chocolate, their innate heartness really won me over and I've yet to utilize them for well-deserved decoration because I just keeping eating them right out of the bag.  Okay, I finished the first bag and bought another; now you know.

Next up was a Valentine's sprinkled donut from Vegan Treats Bakery; I assure you not one additional sprinkle could have fit atop.

Alright, I had a Boston Creme donut too.  It wasn't Valentine's-themed, but it technically wasn't Valentine's Day yet.  Yep, I started early.

Also, not one, but two Valentine's heart cookies from Vegan Treats (neither of which were actually consumed by 89).

In keeping with the theme, next up was some Vegan Treats' chocolate swag.

More stalking.


Inside those beautifully wrapped packages: swiss chocolate covered peanut butter cookie stix!


89 received plenty of treats of her own, along with some V-day swag.  From me: a donut frisbee and a "pooch smooch."

And another heart and elephant (which she immediately mauled) from my parents.

But wait, there's more.  I came home to quite a bit of V-day swag myself.  Here's 89 trying to climb on the table to investigate.  This is a new trick!

I figured I'd get a shot before I told her it was WRONG to climb on the table.

Better lighting in the kitchen.

89 with her buds (when she wasn't trying to eat them.  She's vegan; she sees greens and she tries to eat them!).

And my sterlings after they'd been de-breathed.

As for the rest of the goods: more Vegan Treats!  Some of my superb faves: raspberry jelly donut, sprinkle donut, chocolate-encased angel's food cake donut, peanut butter-filled chocolate-dipped chocolate cookie, cowboy cookie, heart sugar cookie.

Also some speculoos cups:

And finally, Rose City Chocolates

vegan assortment!

Believe me when I tell you I just can't bring myself to open this box yet because A) I am stuffed, and B) it will be a race to the bottom of the box.

[UPDATE 2/17/14: it's open and going fast]

Valentine's candy- just like any other candy, can come in all shapes and sizes.  Sometimes it's simply a matter of separating the good from the bad and the ugly.  Hope yours was sweet.