Loving Hut Vegan Cafe Review

April 1, 2011

Loving Hut

Do I have a surprising food find to share with you!  And guess what, LilSis?  There's one in your hood!

I'm talking about Loving Hut, a casual and inexpensive vegan cafe. They don't use any MSG, dairy, eggs, or any animal products at all.

So if food is super-affordable, fast, full of veggies and protein, and cruelty-free, is it doomed to taste like an old shoe?  An old stinky shoe?

Absolutely NOT, if you eat at Loving Hut!

I just spent a week in Houston on business with a couple of my girls from the office: one pescatarian and one omnivore.  Plus me: 99% vegan for 15 months so far and vegetarian for 17 years.  We stumbled upon Loving Hut (thanks to UrbanSpoon) and decided we were all up for a food adventure; for better or worse!

We ordered a feast of dishes to share, and actually had to put some of our food on another table.  Here's what we ordered and devoured:

Loving Hut Spring Roll

Spring Rolls: Good, but fairly ordinary and a bit bland.  Very carroty!  The jicama was unexpected, and the tofu unnecessary.

Loving Hut BBQ Roll

BBQ Roll: Love love love these!  Wow!  This subtle little combo of vermicelli, peanut, lettuce and BBQ soy protein blew all three of us away.  I don't know what that orange stuff is, and I don't care.  I just want more of it.  Maybe it's carrot?  All I know is it isn't cheese and that's all I need to know.  When I get to Arlington's Loving Hut, they better have these. I mean it.

Loving Hut Fabulous Pho

Fabulous Pho: Our least favorite dish of the night, but pretty! The broth was a little too perfumey for us.  It seemed to be a well-done dish, just not to our taste.  The flavor tasted strongly of cinnamon basil to me, and was a little more enjoyable when the spicy condiments were added, but we still didn't love it.

Loving Hut Sweet Sour Divine

Sweet and Sour Divine: Delicious!  I wished for more soy protein and pineapple, with less carrots, onions and peppers, but the flavor was great.  I'm not usually a sweet and sour fan, but we all liked this.  I suspect it was pretty high in calories though, so this wouldn't be my go-to dish.  Our pescatarian was crazy about this dish.

Loving Hut Noble Broccoli

Noble Broccoli: Who could tell this wasn't beef and broccoli? Certainly not our omnivore who always orders it in Asian restaurants!  I loved that the broccoli was cooked perfectly: not too crunchy but not overdone.

Loving Hut Mongolian Wonder

Mongolian Wonder: I ordered this really spicy, but light on the ginger since I think it can dominate.  I would order this again.  The flavors were perfect over a little pile of brown rice.  The rice was a touch sticky, but it didn't slow us down.

Carrot and Apple Juice: I'm not a fan of raw carrots at all, so it was a big step outside my comfort zone to order carrot juice.  This was an adventure though, so I went for it.  The carrot and apple blend was actually tasty and I finished the whole glass.  I think I would have loved it even more if it had been colder.

Jasmine Iced Tea: We all agreed this drink was a little bitter. Maybe a touch of sugar would have helped, but it might have just been transformed into bitter sweet tea.

Sunny Forest: What a light refreshing summer drink this was! We're still not sure about what the “zesty petals” were, but we loved this blend of orange juice, mint and sparkling water.

Out of all these dishes, the only things we weren't in love with and wouldn't order again are the Pho and Jasmine Tea.  The good news?  We have a Loving Hut in Arlington, which is where both the girls live.  We don't have one in Big D yet, so for now I'll have to make a small road trip to A-Town.  To get another order of those BBQ rolls that I can't stop thinking about, it's worth it!

There are bunches of Loving Hut locations in the United States. Look for them in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

There are also locations internationally.  Each location has their own menu, so check out the web site for your local Loving Hut menu, if you're lucky enough to have one nearby.

LilSis, you have a few Loving Hut locations to choose from in Southern California.  Take your meat-eatin' boys there and see if they like it!

I know that this kind of food isn't without some downside: it usually has high sodium content and can be high in fat due to the oil used.  But for a vegetarian or a vegan, it's a fantabulous thing to have a quick meal option that actually contains a vegetable or two, and not just beans, bread and lettuce. If you're grabbing an occasional fast meal as opposed to making it a daily habit, I think Loving Hut is a great option!


1 Quick Recipe: 4 Super Bowl Party Snacks

February 5, 2011

You don't want to spend all day Sunday preparing for your Super Bowl party, do ya?  Me neither!

I already talked about vegan Bob Armstrong dip, which is now my go-to football snack.  What else could could I serve along with Bob, without spending a bunch of time or money?

I was noodling around some ideas, and I found this recipe for a Ranch Cheese Ball.  I thought it would be really cool to start with one basic cheesy spread recipe, and then use it in a bunch of different quick ways on Super Bowl Sunday!  Let's do it!

Super Bowl Vegan Cheese Appetizer Dip

The basic cheese spread can be customized with your favorite flavors.  I started with a tub of Tofutti Cream Cheese, a handful (around 1/2 cup) of Daiya Cheddar and a touch of Veganaise to thin it out a bit.  Then I added garlic powder, onion powder, dried onion, dill weed, pepper and Beau Monde seasoning.  You add what you like: hot sauce, olives, cumin, lemon pepper, whatever.  Allow the spread to chill in the fridge for a couple of hours to marry all the flavors.

Now, here's where it gets fun.  Take that spread and go crazy!

Super Bowl Vegan Cheese Appetizer Dip

  • Serve the spread at room temperature with crackers
  • Heat the spread up (nuking is fine) and serve with crackers or toasted bread rounds

Super Bowl Vegan Spinach Dip Appetizer

  • Create a healthier spinach dip.  Thaw frozen chopped spinach or use leftover sauteed spinach if you have it.  Squeeze it as dry as you can.  Mix it with an equal amount of cheese spread and a few good dashes of hot sauce.  Bake at 350 degrees until hot throughout.  Serve with toasted pita or tortilla triangles.  I like to cut up whole wheat tortillas and bake them until they're crispy.  A little spritz of cooking spray on both sides help crisp them up with almost no added fat.  I don't think you even need to salt them, but it's fun to sprinkle on salt-free spices before they bake.

Super Bowl Vegan Shrimp Toast Appetizer

  • Make vegan shrimp toast.  Have you tried this Vegan Shrimp product from Vegetarian Plus?  I hadn't before, but they were a fun little experiment!  There are about 22 shrimp in a package, and the entire box is 280 calories and 8 grams of fat, but no protein.  To me, the texture is very shrimpy!  They don't have a fishy flavor as I expected, but instead they pretty much take on the flavors you add to it, kind of like mushrooms do, so season these guys up.

Super Bowl Vegan Shrimp Appetizer

For your toast, saute the thawed shrimp in a pan with a touch of olive oil over medium heat for about 4 or 5 minutes, just until heated through.  I added lemon pepper and garlic salt while they were warming.  Kind of cute, aren't they?

Super Bowl Vegan Shrimp Appetizer

You could use crackers, but I like toasted whole grain bread as a base for the shrimp toasts.  Just brush the bread rounds with a bit of olive oil and bake until golden.

Super Bowl Vegan Shrimp Toast Appetizer

Add a smear of your cheese spread to the toast, and top with a warm shrimp and a sprinkle of paprika.  Ta da!

Super Bowl Vegan Shrimp Quesadilla Appetizer

  • Toast up cheesy shrimp quesadillas.  Do you still have shrimp and cheese spread left?  Use it all up with this dish.  Roughly chop your shrimp and add to the cheese spread, along with some Daiya Cheddar and/or Mozzarella.  Don't worry about quantities; just add these ingredients to your taste.

I'm a spicy Texas girl, so I have to add peppers too.  I have a stash of roasted Hatch chilis in my freezer, so I thawed out one of those little babies, chopped him up very finely since he's a hot little bugger, and mixed him into the shrimp/cheese concoction.  You could use mild canned green chilis if you wish, and you could also add onions.

Spread a generous layer of the mixture onto one side of a tortilla (I like whole wheat), and fold over.  Cook in a little olive oil or vegan butter on medium low heat until toasty on both sides.  Make sure your heat is low enough to heat the filling throughout without burning the tortillas.

Cut into halves or quarters and serve with your choice of guacamole, sour cream, or salsa.

There you have it…one easy cheesy spread that very quickly becomes a variety of savory snacks.  If you're going to have a crowd or you're going to do several of these options, be sure to double, triple or quadruple the basic recipe.  Above all, have fun!


Super Bowl Dip: Bob Armstrong Goes Vegan

February 3, 2011

I wish I could take the credit for inventing this dip, because it's greatness. You have to understand; I love chips and dips more than almost anything so when I tell you a dip is greatness, I mean it's G-R-E-A-T-N-E-S-S!

I hear that Bob Armstrong dip originated with a Mexican food chain called Mattito's.  It's one of those off-the-menu items that everyone knows about and orders, so you know it has to be good.  Mattito's version starts with their cheese queso with a blob of ground beef plopped on top, along with a scoop of guacamole and a dollop of sour cream.  Then it's stirred all around and gobbled up with tortilla chips.

It sounds weird, but trust me, it's scrumptious.  At least the vegan version I make is, since I've never tasted the meaty original.

Let me give credit where credit is due…I found the recipe for vegan Bob Armstrong dip on the Dallas Vegan blog.  You start with a batch of vegan queso, which can be the tricky part.  There are a couple of good ones available online and at stores like Whole Foods, but I'm a me-do-it kind of a girl, so I follow the suggestions from DallasVegan.com and make my own.  It actually comes out fabulous; beyond what I ever expected.  But it gets even better…

Vegan Queso

Vegan Queso with Seitan Crumbles

Next, add a whole package of sauteed Upton's Naturals Ground Beef Style Seitan into it.  You can stop there, and be perfectly happy with an excellent vegan version of that Velveeta dip that is required at any Super Bowl party.  But don't stop!  Add a scoop of Tofutti Sour Cream and your favorite guacamole, either homemade or store-bought.  Stay with me!

Vegan Queso with Sour Cream and Guacamole

Vegan Queso with Sour Cream and Guacamole

Something magical happens when you stir in the sour cream and guacamole.  You get an unbelievable creamy texture that makes the whole thing sing!  It's creamy and spicy and cool and hot and tangy and cheesy; all in perfect dippy balance!

The first time I made this concoction, I literally inhaled the whole bowl by myself, and I have to admit I was making the “nom nom” sounds that my cats make when they're really relishing their food.

Vegan Bob Armstrong Queso Dip

Vegan Bob Armstrong Queso Dip

Bob isn't photogenic, but he's delicious!  I do have to confess that I could have taken a little more care in setting up these photos, but I was in too big of a hurry to eat Bob!

I conducted a highly-scientific experiment and took a batch of this to my carnivorous office, and guess what?  Voila, Bob vanished!  Try your own experiment at this year's Super Bowl Party, and take vegan Bob Armstrong dip along.  There's no reason to tell people that Bob's vegan now…until after he's in their happy little full bellies!  🙂


Sunday Supper: Scrambled Tofu

January 30, 2011

I can't believe that I've been vegetarian for almost 16-1/2 years to the day, and I've never even tasted Scrambled Tofu.  It always sounds and looks unappetizing to me: it's usually neon yellow from the turmeric, and it frequently involves green bell peppers.  Bleh.

I do love tofu though, and I'm making an effort to get more variety into my diet so it's time.  It's time to be brave and do this thing.  I think breakfast foods are awesome for supper, so this week's Sunday Supper is Scrambled Tofu!

I have several of Isa Chandra Moskowitz's cookbooks…Appetite for Reduction, Veganomicon, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, Vegan with a Vengeance, and Vegan Brunch.  Isa hasn't let me down yet, so she had to be the source of my foray into all things tofu and scrambly.

I pulled out Vegan Brunch and followed her recipe for Scrambled Tofu.  It's essentially tofu with, garlic, cumin, thyme, turmeric and nutritional yeast.  The only add-in I used was a big blob of mushrooms that I'd already sauteed with lots of garlic.

Scrambled Tofu

I have to say I was VERY pleasantly surprised to discover that I love Scrambled Tofu!  I do!  It was savory and a bit spicy, and not mushy and bland as I had imagined it to be.  The only change I would make next time is to back off the salt a tad.  I love salt, but I think half the amount in the seasoning mix would be plenty.

I used Wildwood Sproutofu extra firm (sprouted tofu) that had been frozen, thawed and squeezed, which I think really contributed to the great texture.  I did add about half a cup of water at the end after the nutritional yeast went in, since it seemed a touch dry at that point.

Overall…delicious!  I will absolutely be making Scrambled Tofu again and again; for breakfast, brunch and supper!  I'm imagining it now with olives, spinach, Daiya cheese, asparagus, Upton's Naturals Seitan…


Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Vegan Cookies

June 10, 2010

Vegan Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since our next SPCA Bake Sale is only 6 months away, I better get myself busy building a repertoire of vegan recipes!  I'm almost 6 months into “eating vegan”, but I'm not a big sweets eater so I haven't done much baking.

After my coworker K-to-the-T brought these awesome Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Coconut Cookies to the office the other day though, I knew this was a recipe I had to adapt asap!  They were scrumptious, and reminded me of a Cowboy Cookie I used to make.  She had made a few tweaks of her own to the original Epicurious recipe, and I tweaked it even more.  Voila and ta da!  Here's my first adapted cookie recipe, sans eggs and dairy products!

Vegan Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Vegan Cookies

Adapted from K-to-the-T and Epicurious

1 stick (1/2 cup) Earth Balance, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup + 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup semisweet vegan chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat together Earth Balance and sugars in a bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add applesauce and vanilla, and mix until blended. In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, flax seed, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to mix ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix at low speed until just blended. Stir in oats, coconut, chocolate chips, and walnuts.

Arrange 1/4-cup mounds of cookie dough about 3 inches apart on 2 ungreased large baking sheets (about 6 cookies per sheet), then gently pat down each mound to about 1/2 inch thick. Bake until golden, about 14 to 15 minutes.

Cool cookies on sheets until set enough to transfer with a spatula to racks to cool completely. Makes about 12 big cookies.

Note: The bottoms of my cookies were pretty brown. I think that using parchment paper might help with that if you prefer lighter bottoms.

My cookies had a slightly different texture than K-to-the-T's, but they were absolutely delicious!  I never would have guessed that they were vegan.  They were moist and chewy, and had great flavor.  I will absolutely make them again…and yes, they may make an appearance at the Bake Sale!


Raw Vegan Lunch Adventure

January 25, 2010

Occasionally, all of us girls at the office sneak out for a lunch together, and last Friday, we decided it was time to shake it up a little bit.  Sometimes we go for a posh girlie lunch at a fancy place, like Stephan Pyles or Fearing's at the Ritz Carlton, and other times it's a cheap delicious lunch at Cafe Brazil.  This week, we went raw vegan!  The “we” is me; a 15-year vegetarian/3-week vegan, and 3 open-minded carnivores!

I don't want to say where we went since the restaurant was having a bad day: their chef quit, they were short-handed, and they were having a sewage issue.  Probably not the day to give them a fair review!

All 4 of us got something different so we could share.  Some dishes were more successful than others.  Our favorite was the Coconut Kale Enchiladas.  I never thought I'd say those words!  Marinated kale was wrapped in coconut tortillas with nacho cheeze, pico de gallo, salsa verde, and cashew sour creme.  It was spicy and really tasty, but not sweet at all as you might think it would be from the coconut.  I usually find raw kale to be too tough and chewy, but this was perfect.  I would order this again.

Coconut Kale Enchiladas

Our second choice was the Greek Pizza. Creamy tahini hummus was topped with a Greek salad of cucumbers, avocado, red onion, capers, fresh tomatoes, Greek olives, chopped parsley, and romaine.  The dressing on the salad had a great flavor, and the hummus base was delicious.  You had to dig a bit to get to the “pizza” part, but it was delicious digging!

Greek Pizza

In third place was Raw Tacos. Crisp corn tortillas are topped with chipotle flavored beans, guacamole, nacho cheeze, pico de gallo, and salsa verde.  This is a pretty dish as the previous two are, and had fresh ingredients on top, but we found the “tortilla” and bean topping to have a slightly bitter flavor.

Raw Tacos

And our least favorite by a mile was the Raw Pad Thai.  Kelp noodles are tossed in almond butter and chili sauce, and
garnished with crispy vegetables.  This dish was practically inedible, sorry to say!  It was bland, watery and had a pretty nasty texture.  The kelp noodles were oddly crunchy, and were mixed with slightly slimy zucchini noodles.  None of us could eat this.

Raw Pad Thai

In spite of the challenges of the day, our waitress did her best to take care of us, and it was a pretty fun eclectic experience.  Maybe we'll go back after they've had time to recover from last week!


Creamy Tomato Soup, Cut the Cream!

January 11, 2010

It may be beautiful and sunny in LilSis' neck o' the woods, but it's colder than a well-digger's butt here in Texas.  I guess that's pretty darn cold, right?  Our last few nights have been close to 10 degrees, and our daytime highs have been well below freezing.  It's definitely soup season here!

I've been trying my new vegan diet on for size this week, and so far, it's been pretty easy.  I've been disappointed to see how many of my favorite products have unexpected animal products in them, but I'll adjust and it really motivates me more. It'll just take a little getting used to, and my palate will need to happily adapt to a dairy and egg-free world.  I did lose 3 pounds this week, but I think it's because it was kind of a detox from the semi-bad eating I've been doing for the last month or so, and some of that weight was bloaty water weight from too much salt, sugar, etc. It's the “etc” that gets you every time!

So dinner the other night needed to be 1) soup, 2) vegan, and 3) quick and easy.  Voila!  Here's what I came up with: Creamy Tomato Soup with no added salt, no butter, no cream, no guilt AND lots of flavor!  It's vegan, but I wanted to share it with you because it's so delicious, but isn't loaded with bad fats like the tomato basil soups you usually find.

You can use any seasonings you like.  I used the salt-free Italian seasoning and Mural of Flavor, and surprisingly didn't have to add any salt at all.  I think it may have something to do with the citrus peel in the Mural of Flavor, since lemon reduces our perceived need for salt.  I'm super-sensitive to salt and get big “salt bags” under my eyes from a small amount of it, so being able to skip the salt is huge for me.

Creamy Tomato Soup
(recipe by me)

28 oz can Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
Water (I filled the tomato can about halfway full, but make your soup as thick or thin as you like)
2 tblsp Italian seasoning (I used Pampered Chef salt-free)
Penzeys Mural of Flavor, optional but really tasty
3/4 cup cashew cream (see note below)

Simmer the tomatoes and water in a medium saucepan with the Italian seasoning and Mural of Flavor for about 20 minutes to let flavors develop a bit.  With an immersion blender, puree the soup until it is smooth, or leave it chunky if you prefer.  Stir in cashew cream and heat through.

Note: Cashew cream is my new favorite discovery.  It's from Tal Ronnen's book “The Conscious Cook“.  You might have seen Tal on Oprah recently.  Cashew cream can be used in place of milk or cream in lots of recipes.  All you do is soak some raw cashews for 12 to 24 hours, and when whiz them around in a blender with just enough water to cover them.  That's it!  Just cashews and water.  Sure, nuts do have fat, but it's good fat and you aren't guzzling a gallon of this stuff.  You're just using 3/4 cup in this whole recipe.


New Year, New Way of Living

January 4, 2010

Happy new year, everyone!  I hope that you had a wonderful holiday time, and that you're fired up about the new year and ready to get it rolling!  I love that it always feel like a fresh start to me.  Who among us doesn't need a fresh start in some area of their life?

I talked last year about how I don't really like resolutions because I feel like I'm setting myself up to fail somehow if I make official “resolutions”.  Instead, I like to think about what I did the previous year…what worked, what was a disaster, what do I want to do differently, what do I want to add to my life.  For me, a new year is about reflection and reevaluation.

This new year, I can see that it's going to take extra workouts to achieve and maintain the level of fitness I'm comfortable with.  I was on that train for several months in 2009, but wandered off it and have to get back on now.  I'm not totally out in the weeds, but I'm a bit off course, and that slight veering off the path can quickly turn into a full-blown physical train wreck when you're forty-plus!  If you don't know what I mean, you will eventually!

The biggest change for 2010 is one I've been seriously contemplating for the last few months, after having it in the back of my mind for 15 years. It's time for me to stop fiddling around and finally go vegan.

When I first stopped eating all meat products, I also stayed away from eggs and dairy for quite a while, but finally succumbed and adopted a purely vegetarian diet rather than vegan.  Since I know that the egg and dairy industries are probably more abusive than the factory meat farms, I'm going to put my money where my mouth is and stop putting eggs and dairy there.

I started out telling myself that this vegan business was going to be really hard; harder than going vegetarian was since that was pretty darn easy for me.  The biggest challenge is definitely going to be learning how to bake in a completely different way, and for me this is pretty major since I love to bake more than I like to cook.

I've decided this change will be fun, as well as the right thing for me to do, and one thing I'm going to do from square one to make it funner is to blog about it.  I realize that most BigSisLilSis readers aren't vegan or even vegetarian, so I'm going to start a brand new blog for my vegan ramblings. I'm still noodling it around, so I'll bust it out when it's a bit more finalized.  I do know it's going to be a little adventure, and I'm excited to start.  I'm in the process of cleaning all the butter and eggs and other holiday baking remnants from my kitchen, along with the holiday leftovers.  Once that's gone, away we go to Vegan Land! Wheeee haw!

So, my goals or resolutions or whatever I'm calling them, are to:

  • Exercise with a new motivation and keep it up, with the goal of building more muscle and getting stronger. That means getting back to Jillian Michaels' videos, yoga class, and using the new Wii Fit I just bought myself with Christmas money.  I also joined RecipeGirl's 10 in 2010 program as LilSis did.
  • Adopt a vegan diet asap and blog about it.  You'll notice a lot of new cookbooks in my left sidebar reading list now, since I'm going to need some help to keep my food interesting and nutritious!
  • Learn how to bake without eggs and dairy!  The 2010 SPCA Bake Sale is only 11.5 months away!
  • Find a new church and plug in.  It's time already; stop messing around and commit to one.
  • Work toward balance between all aspects of my life: work, blogging, social, health, and spiritual. This is a toughie when you're an all-or-nothing personality like me!

There you have it.  I bet that some of my goals and LilSis' goals are the same as yours, so let's all rally around each other, and make some positive changes in 2010!  We can do it!


Vegan Bacon Challenge Part 3: Faux Bacon Strips

November 5, 2009

Before we went off to BlogWorld, I was on a mission to find a vegan, or at least a vegetarian, alternative to bacon since so many of us seem to be enamored with it.  I've actually heard of people who are vegetarian except for bacon!  I haven't eaten bacon or any other meat product in over 15 years, but I have confessed that I do love the smoky aroma and I long for the crunchy yumminess that you get from bacon.  I just don't want a pig to have to die for me to get my crispy-urge satisfied!

So the search continues.  One of my favorite guilty-pleasure meat analog products for years has been MorningStar Farms' Bacon Strips.  I say “guilty-pleasure” because these guys are full of all kinds of ingredients that are hard to pronounce and identify.  If you like to fill your body with as many unprocessed foods as possible, these strips won't be on your menu very often.

MSFarmsBaconRight off the bat, they fail the vegan challenge because they contain egg whites, carrageenan and non-fat dry milk.  On the upside, they contain 60 calories per serving (2 strips, which is a pretty dinky serving), 44% less fat than pork bacon, and zero cholesterol.  So on the whole, they're a far superior choice to pork bacon.

But, how do they taste?  The package declares that these strips have “the delicious hearty flavor of smoked veggie bacon with a crispy bite”.  I think that's a fair claim to make; they taste pretty darn good!  I like to nuke mine on a paper towel til they're really crispy; almost burned in spots.  I let them cool a second, then peel off the paper towel and make a faux BLT.  To be honest, I usually cook 5 or 6 slices at a time for a decent sandwich. The flavor is appropriately smoky and I get the crunch I crave.  With some good tomato, lettuce, mayo and maybe some avocado, you've got an excellent sandwich.

The verdict: tasty and crispy!  These strips aren't the healthiest option in the world because of all the processing, but as an occasional treat, they aren't a bad choice and they do satisfy a little of the bacon craving in me.  Would your meat-eating friends gobble these up and say yummy?  Probably not.  But if you're like me and don't want to eat pork, or just want to consume less fat, cholesterol and calories, then give these a try!  The bonus is they smell awesome while they're nuking!


Vegan Bacon Challenge Part 2: Jerky

October 10, 2009

I happened to find this random product at my favorite natural foods store, Natural Grocers/Vitamin Cottage.  It's called Stonewall's Jerquee, A Vegetable Protein Product.  I bought the Cajun Bacon flavor honestly expecting that it would be horrible, and when I opened the package, I had one thought…cat treat.  It looks like cat treats.  And it smells kind of like smoky cat treats.  😀

Cat treats or People snack?

Cat treats or People snack?

So far, my expectations were not very high.  How about the ingredient list?  Defatted soy flour, water, yeast, extra virgin olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, onion, cayenne, and sorbic acid.  Not a bunch of junk that I can't pronounce or decipher.  Ok, so maybe this won't be so bad?

Now for a bite.  The texture is very chewy; a texture I can't remember getting in a meatless product.  I like it!  And the taste?  Very spicy and peppery with a little smoke and saltiness.  I'm surprised that I'm enjoying this odd little snack, but I really am!

Stonewall's Cajun Bacon Jerquee

Stonewall's Cajun Bacon Jerquee

I've bought Stonewall's Jerquee twice now, and I still like it. I'd like to try some of the other varieties next time. And guess who else likes them?  Gabriel!  The cat who won't even touch the Thanksgiving turkey doggie bag that SisMama sends to Ashy Poo begs for a taste of this spicy soy bacon treat!

Overall rating: 4 stars out of 5 on the Sister Scale.  Stonewall's Jerquee doesn't really remind me of bacon, but I like the originality, the chewy texture and the spicy flavor as a little tidbit.  Nice job, Stonewall!

If you can't find these snacks locally, you can order them on Lumen Foods web site.  Next time I'll give you the veggie scoop on Morningstar Farm's faux bacon strips.