Review: Tofurky Deli Slices

When I find a food I really like, I tend to stick with it. Years ago, I discovered that I really like Tofurky brand Peppered Deli Slices, and that’s what I always put on my sandwiches. Last week when I went to the store to buy them, there were none on the shelf. Rather than despairing, I decided to take the opportunity to try some new flavors and review them for the blog.

Oven Roasted: This one is the “plain” flavor. It really is quite plain. It is very salty though, and there’s just not much other flavor besides the salt. It’s not bad, perfectly suitable for some low-intensity meaty sandwich slices.

Hickory Smoked: I almost couldn’t tell the difference between this flavor and the Oven Roasted. It’s maybe a little bit smokier, but not dramatically. The ingredients list is identical to the Oven Roasted.

Italian: The texture of the sun-dried tomatoes in the slices was so off-putting for me that I couldn’t really tell whether I otherwise enjoyed the flavor, unfortunately.

Bologna: These actually taste better than they smell, which was a relief once I put one in my mouth. I’d only ever eaten bologna a couple of times before I went vegan, and only vaguely remember what it tasted like, but this seems like a pretty close match to what I remember. I don’t love it and probably wouldn’t buy it again, but I wouldn’t turn down a sandwich with this on it if someone handed it to me.

Roast Beef: This one was probably the best of the bunch. It doesn’t really resemble what I remember of roast beef, but the flavor is still pretty tasty. I also probably wouldn’t buy this again, but I’d pick this over the bologna for sure.

Smoked Ham: This one was nearly inedible. I had to force myself to finish a single slice. I think it might actually taste like ham, which may have been why it was off-putting to me, but I can’t say for sure as I don’t actually remember having ever eaten ham in my life. If you like(d) ham and want to try this, let me know what you think!

In conclusion, the Peppered slices are still by far my favorite, and I hope they’re back in stock soon.

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Review: Louisville Vegan Jerky

A little over a year ago, I learned about a new vegan jerky company called Louisville Vegan Jerky. I went to their website to see where I could buy some. At the time, the product was only available in physical stores, not for online sale, and the locations were nowhere near me. However, there was an intriguing note: vegan food bloggers could email the company and receive a free sample pack in exchange for writing a review of their product.

“Oho!” said I. “I am a vegan food blogger! This applies to me!” I emailed them, received my package, devoured the jerky, and then…didn’t write that blog post. Whoops. I was in the middle of moving, my life got very chaotic, I just didn’t get a chance to do it. And by the time I finally did have time, I didn’t remember enough about the products to write a review. Uh-oh. So I’ve been stricken with guilt ever since.

A few weeks ago, I saw an ad for this product which made me think, hmm, I wonder if they’re selling it online now. Sure enough, I was able to purchase a sample pack through their website. The price was a little steep; I probably would not have bought this at that price if it weren’t for the free-pack/write-a-review agreement that I had failed at previously. That said, I enjoyed the product enough that I would consider purchasing it again at that price — infrequently, but certainly as an “occasional treat” item.

The flavors in the pack I originally received were a little different from the flavors in the new pack. The original pack contained 4 flavors: Sriracha Maple, Bourbon Smoked Black Pepper, Bourbon Smoked Chipotle, and Sesame Teriyaki. The new pack contained 5 flavors: Sriracha Maple, Smoked Black Pepper, Smoked Chipotle, Maple Bacon, and Smokey Carolina BBQ. The ingredients lists for the “Bourbon Smoked Black Pepper” and the “Bourbon Smoked Chipotle” are identical to the ingredients lists for the “Smoked Black Pepper” and “Smoked Chipotle” respectively — none of them contain bourbon.

Overall, I definitely recommend this jerky. I prefer the texture over any other gluten-based vegan jerky I’ve tried.

Here are my reviews for each flavor, which I tasted in random order.

Smoked Black Pepper: This one is very tasty. It’s not particularly spicy, and has no unusual stand-out flavors. It is delicious, a solid jerky flavor, but it doesn’t taste especially smoky or peppery. Just plain ol’ tasty vegan jerky.

Smoked Chipotle: This one has a good smell to it which I enjoyed even before putting it in my mouth. The smokiness comes through nicely. The heat is pretty mild and doesn’t really come through until after I’ve finished chewing; as a spicy food lover I would have preferred that kick to happen right away and for the chipotle flavor to really come through. But the taste is great. This is definitely one of my favorites.

Maple Bacon: This one surprised me by being a slightly different texture than the others. It’s a little tougher, bit of a denser mouth-feel. The flavor is very nice, the smokiness and sweetness balance each other well (a little heavier on the sweet than the smoky). It is also very tasty.

Smokey Carolina BBQ: I’m not that into this one. The Dijon mustard overpowers all the other flavors in an unpleasant way, and the only other flavor I can make out is just “too sweet”. This is the only one I really disliked.

Sriracha Maple: This one is my favorite. The heat hits the minute I put it in my mouth and lingers after I’ve finished chewing. The savory and sweet flavors balance perfectly. YUM.

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Polenta Soup

This has become one of my favorite comfort foods! It’s my adaptation of this recipe from Serious Eats http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2015/02/vegan-polenta-kale-soup-miso-recipe.html I add tofu to it, both for protein and because I like how the texture goes with the other ingredients. I also add lemon juice and nutritional yeast to give it more of the cheesy flavor and texture that makes polenta exciting to me. I like the smoked paprika for heat and its characteristic smokiness, which I find goes well with anything I want to make “cheesier”, but of course, if that’s not your thing, leave it out and it will taste just fine.

4-6 Tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, chopped into bite-sized pieces
pinch of salt
1 tsp black pepper
10-12 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika or other chili powder of your choice (optional)
1 block (12 oz) extra firm tofu
2 quarts veg broth
1 cup polenta (coarse corn meal)
4-6 cups chopped kale (or other greens of your choice)
2 Tbsp white miso
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 – 1 full cup nutritional yeast
6-8 scallions, diced
toasted sesame oil

Start heating about half the olive oil in your soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, stirring in the rest of the oil on top of them with the salt and pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic (and paprika or chili powder if using). Crumble the block of tofu into the pot so it’s well-mushed. Add the broth. Turn the heat up to high to start the broth boiling. While it is heating up, slowly add the polenta, stirring as you add it. When the soup begins to boil, turn the heat down to low. Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the kale (or other greens) and cover it back up for a few minutes. While that continues to cook, combine the miso, soy sauce, and 1/2 cup of the lemon juice. Add this to the pot and stir it in well. Once all these ingredients have cooked together a few more minutes, add the nutritional yeast and scallions. Drizzle in the toasted sesame oil.

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A Coconut Curry Noodle Soup

I don’t think I’ve ever posted a coconut curry noodle soup recipe. I can’t believe it! I make some variation of this all the time. Here is the one I made this evening. My “secret” for this kind of soup is not to overcook the veggies, adding them at the end so they retain their texture and flavor.

1-2 Tbsp veg oil
1 onion, diced
10-12 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger or 1 Tbsp ginger powder
1 heaping Tbsp red curry powder (I love the Nam Prik Krung Kaeng Ped from The Spice House)
a handful of cilantro, chopped
1 can black beans
4 cups veg broth
1 can full-fat coconut milk
2-3 cups green beans, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2-3 cups red cabbage, diced
a few handfuls of kale, chopped
up to 1 Tbsp sugar (if you’ve got unsweetened coconut milk and/or want to sweeten up your soup)
6 oz uncooked brown rice vermicelli noodles (you can use thicker noodles if you want, but if you do that, you might want to cook them before adding them to the soup)
lime juice, toasted sesame oil, nutritional yeast to taste (I added a little mushroom soy sauce too)

Heat the veg oil in your soup pot. Saute the onion for a few minutes, then add the garlic and ginger and saute for another minute. Add the curry powder and cilantro. Stir till fragrant. Add black beans. Let this all cook for a couple more minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil. As the soup is heating, add green beans, cabbage, and kale in that order. If you’re adding sugar, add it now. When it reaches a boil, reduce to a simmer and add the noodles. Note the package directions for how long to cook the noodles — most likely it will be about 3-4 minutes. When the noodles have reached the desired consistency, turn off the heat. Add your tasting ingredients as you wish.

[image: coconut curry noodle soup with green beans, red cabbage, and black beans]

IMG_4145.jpg

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Peanut Butter Bok Choy Noodle Soup

I got some really good bok choy at an Asian market a few days ago. I had a dish I was planning to make with it today, but I’m missing a few key ingredients and wasn’t able to get them due to INCREDIBLE SNOWSTORM. I didn’t want it to go to waste, of course…and I really wanted soup. So, here is my soup du jour!

1 cup soy curls + 1 cup water + dash of soy sauce, or equivalent amount of tofu/seitan/whatever
2 Tbsp coconut oil
4-6 scallions, diced
8-12 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh ginger root, minced
2 cups veg broth
2 cups water
4oz rice vermicelli or ramen noodles (or whatever noodles you want)
1 head bok choy, chopped/shredded into bite-sized pieces
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp lime juice
1/3 cup peanut butter
nutritional yeast, sriracha, black pepper to taste

Rehydrate soy curls if that’s what you’re using (I like to do it with water + a little soy sauce, you do it how you like it.).
Melt coconut oil in your soup pot over medium heat. Add your rehydrated soy curls (or tofu/seitan/whatever) and saute them until they’re a little bit crispy. Add scallions, garlic, and ginger. Saute about 3 more minutes, then add the veg broth + water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook for 5 minutes. Add noodles and bok choy, and let simmer another 5 minutes or so until the noodles and bok choy reach your desired tenderness. Combine vinegar, lime juice, and peanut butter. Stir into your soup. Add nutritional yeast, sriracha, and/or black pepper as desired.

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Coconut Miso Leek Soup

I made a big pot of this soup a couple days ago to bring over to a friend’s house. Happily, I made enough to leave a big container of it at my friend’s and still have a couple more bowls’ worth left for me at home!

2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 leeks, thinly sliced
12-15 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 a head of red cabbage (you can really use any veggies you want)
1 can black beans
1 Tbsp ginger powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp five-spice powder
4 cups veg broth
3 Tbsp miso (I used white miso)
1 can full-fat coconut milk
lime juice, toasted sesame oil, and/or hot sauce to taste
rice to serve

Melt the coconut oil in your soup pot over medium heat. Saute leeks and garlic for about 5 minutes. Add veggies, beans, and spices. Stir for another minute, then add 3 cups of the veg broth. Bring to a boil. Combine the remaining cup of veg broth with the miso while the pot begins to boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer (lowest setting), add the veg broth + miso mixture, cover the pot, and let it do its thing for about 20-25 minutes. Add lime juice, toasted sesame oil, and/or hot sauce as desired. Serve with rice.

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Soothing Miso-Fennel Soup

A nice, gentle soup for an upset tummy or just for soothing the soul.

2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 bulb fennel, coarsely chopped
3-4 Tbsp ginger root, minced
10-15 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups veg broth
3-4 Tbsp miso (I used half red miso and half white miso)
cooked rice or grain of choice to serve (optional)

Melt coconut oil in soup pot. Saute onion and fennel for a few minutes, then add ginger and garlic and saute a few more minutes. Stir the miso into the veg broth, then add the mixture to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let cook, covered, for about 20 minutes.

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