Thursday, October 11, 2012

vegan mofo :: overdue reviews and contest

Apple Pie Coco-Roons, an absolutely scrumptious raw inclusion in the Healthy Surprise sample box I received.
I admit it, I've been procrastinating on putting up a few reviews. Vegan MoFo is the perfect time to catch up. You know me, I tell it like it is. I love some stuff, but other stuff – meh! Read on...

Healthy Surprise

Healthy Surprise is a snack subscription service. You can sign up to receive a box of vegan, hand-picked whole-food snacks each month, and options range from $33, to feed 1-3 people, to $99, to feed 3-9  people. It's a fun idea – the plant-based, culinary version of Birchbox

Some of the stuff was orgasmically good, and to be frank, just a few of the "healthier" options were just so awful that I had to spit them out. But still, I'd say the good-to-bad ratio was about 85%/15%.

Here's what was in my box and what I thought:
  • 2 flavors of Gone Nuts flavored nuts, Teriyaki and Garlic – I enjoyed these. They're the kind of fancy. flavored nut you'd want to put out in a dish at a party. Would I buy them? Nope.
  • Giddy Up and  Go Granola – Tasty! Crunchy! Healthy! 
  • Apple Pie Coco-Roons – Raw macaroons, Apple Pie Flavor. These were my favorite treat in the bunch and I must confess, after tasting them, I bought them at Whole Foods once as a splurge.
  • Bobo's Oat Bars in Chocolate Almond and Maple Pecan. Tasty energy bars. I preferred the Maple.
  • Cayenne Cocoa Dough Ball – Orgasmically rich and good.
  • Gluten-Free Sesame Bumble Bar – Liked these a lot. Light snacks. Perfect for lunchboxes.
  • Kale Chips – These were delicious – one of the few savory options, and I practically inhaled them.
  • Spirulina Energy Bars – Maybe I am not evolved or sophisticated enough, but I spit these out. I never spit things out. Well, I guess I can't say "never" anymore.
  • Cashew-Cocoa Biscotti – Both of these were gone in an hour. Fabulous.
  • Banana-Bread Flax Bar – I didn't spit it out, but I only ate one bite. It was like cardboard.
  • Live Granola Bar – Ditto.
  • Stretch Island Fruit Co, Fruit Strips – Good. Your average fruit jerky.
  • Bare Fruit Cherries – Good dried cherries for salads and snacking.
My verdict? Well, I am a bit of a control freak and don't like surprises. So I probably would not subscribe. But if you like surprises, raw-vegan chow, and like to be among the first to try cool, trendy foods, this box is for you!

Vega Shake and Go Smoothies

Vega Energizing Smoothies

The nice folks at Vega sent me a full spectrum of energizing smoothies to try. I was especially interested in sampling these because, at the time, I was running 50 miles a week, and when you participate in endurance spots at this level of intensity, you practically need a constant drip-infusion of protein. I usually refuel with a smoothie made with protein powder. Each Vega packet contains about 10 grams of protein. Add soy milk or a nut butter, and you are adding even more protein. Besides a protein shot, they aso contain flax seed, a green blend, and a digestive blend.

The directions say to add to water, juice or a non-dairy beverage, or add to your own smoothie. I was intrigued by the water option, so I tried it with the chocolate, and once again, I spit it out [Am I becoming a fussy eater?]. 

But the good news is that these are pretty tasty when you mix them with soy milk, flax milk or just add them to a smoothie for a protein boost. Tropical Tango was my favorite flavor – odd for me, since I usually go for berry and vanilla. Would I buy these? Yes, definitely during race-training season.

Vegetarian Plus Entrees
Vegetarian Plus entrees – cheaper and tastier than fast food
When I received these entrees from Vegetarian Plus, it was like a godsend. I was working 40 hours per week at a freelance advertising gig, running 50 miles per week, and working on my pie cookbook. I had zero time to cook. And eating salads for dinner every night got old real fast.

They actually sent me 2 Citrus Spareribs and one Pepper Steak, but as you can see, I was so tired at the time, I took a photo of 2 Spareribs entrees. Both flavors were insanely good and satisfying. I ate them as is, but they would be nice over rice or with a side.  Each box is said to serve 4, but little ol' me, I ate the entire box for dinner.  These were, quite simply, delicious. Such a treat after putting in a full day. 

What would Vegan MoFo be without a contest [or two]? If you'd like to try the Vega shakes, I am giving away packet of each flavor, 5 total, plus a signed copy of my last cookbook, Celebrate VeganJust leave a clever comment, and make sure there's a way I can reach you [email or blog]. To double your winning chances, follow me on Twitter: theurbanvegan. Sorry kids, but contest is only open to US and Canadian readers. I'll announce the randomly chosen winner early next week.

Good luck and happy MoFo-ing! 

Signing off to watch the VP candidates go at it. Go Joe!

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KellyC said...

Oh! What a wonderful giveaway! Thanks for the chance to win.

radioactivegan said...

The best debate I've seen all season is the rumble between Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly. I am constantly impressed with how articulate and reasonable Stewart is - he's not just a pocket-size comic! If you haven't watched it, you can watch the full (90 minute) debate on youtube.

Molly G said...

I follow you on twitter! (and as of, like, 10 minutes ago, you follow me! Woohoo!)

Caitlin said...

i'd love to win your gieaway! i've been wanting to try the vega smoothies for a while now, and i'd love to get a signed copy of your cookbook!!

Molly G said...

I run, too! I'm running my second half marathon this Sunday. I have never tried the new vega flavors. I just have the (gross) old neutral flavor. I make green smoothies with it most mornings! Gotta rebuild that muscle!! I would love to win the Vega and I would also love to win your cookbook!

kmm22 said...

i'd love to try the vega shake and go!

Lisa from western Mass said...

Sounds like vegan mofo is a good way to increase one's mojo! I'd love to try the Vega shakes and win your cookbook -- thanks for the opportunity!

Amey said...

I already have your (excellent!) book and I already have and love vega smoothie mixes - but I just wanted to say that I love your reviews. In *theory* I like the idea of getting a box of snacks in the mail - but I am totally a control freak too. In practice, I want to very carefully select every special snack that enters my home! Plus, I've been watching my calories lately, and a good chunk of chocolate is WAY more interesting to me than a flax ball or whatever. :)

Jess said...

I have been wanting to try Vega shakes for awhile! I read Brendan Brazier's book Thrive and have been enjoying a bunch of his recipes but haven't gotten a chance to try any of his products from Vega yet. I am a triathlete and weight train as well, so I am always trying to find new ways to get my protein! Cheers!

omgoshimvegan said...

About the only running I do is running to my car when the work day is over. I've always wanted to try it but had a bad experience in high school gym class and haven't been able to get into it.

Love the reviews. The Vegetarian Plus entrees look great.

Anonymous said...

I've read mixed things about the Vega products, interested in trying them for myself. I already have your first book and would love to have a copy of Celebrate Vegan.

Leslie R. said...

I'd love to win! Thrive by Brendan Brazier is one of my favorite cookbooks- would definitely enjoy winning some Vega to use in some of the recipes :) Thanks!

Laura said...

I've never tried the vega shakes, but keep hearing good things about them.

Laura said...

I follow you on Twitter (@bitemevegan)

Alorinna said...

Administering databases is hard work, Vega shakes are much needed! Well, more so because half the time I don't get a lunch break... I promise I wouldn't spit anything out from your cookbook! ps - I follow on twitter (@alorinna)

The Unintentional Vegan said...

I love MoFo! Lots of great stuff out there this year - my pinterest boards are overflowing with things I need to try! I'd love to win a copy of your cookbook - I've been eyeing it for some time now.

The Unintentional Vegan said...

I follow you on Twitter! (las_dos_ashleys)

Anonymous said...

I tried a couple Vega products a few weeks ago and LOVED them!

Cadry said...

I like your totally honest review! I can't get behind spirulina either. I've tried it in a couple of different things, and the flavor is way too overpowering and unpleasant for me. They say it's really healthy, but I'll have to get my extra health points elsewhere! Thanks for the cool giveaway!

echowoman said...

You made me laugh so hard at the thought of you spitting out that sample! I drink the vanilla almond Vega after running - it is really good made in the blender with a frozen banana and soymilk.

Anonymous said...

I have always wanted to try the Vega products! Thanks for the giveaway :-)


Carla Anderson said...

I'm especially glad that I've been following your blog now that I've started dating a very handsome vegan! I'd love some reposts of more restaurant reviews from your original blog, though-- and I seem to remember a review comparing different vegan ice creams? Maybe once it gets warm again (I'm already looking forward to spring, too!)

Also, a second on the frozen banana smoothie trick!

Michael Busch said...

Well, this isn't clever, but it is true. I have been a Vegan for over 20 years, and a marathon runner for the past 12. Just missed running Chicago, after a great training cycle due to last minute trip to the Netherlands to attend a dear friends funeral. I have your other cookbooks, and love pie! The items reviewed above look interesting.

RochelleK said...

Clever, eh? How about choosing a former Philly girl and fellow Pisces who is on the road toward starting a pregnancy? I know that first trimester will wreak havoc on my energy levels! Plus, I have your first book and my family enjoyed the scrapple. --For breaking up the Gimme Lean I used a potato masher!

Carrie™ said...

Sooooo, you're a bit of a control freak, eh? I am too; but a lot more than a bit! I saw the Vega shakes at the store but was reluctant to buy any because of a horrible past experience. One year at the Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival I tried one of the Vega energy bars. I spit that out. To this day it qualifies as the nastiest thing I've ever put in my mouth. (All you people reading this, get your minds out of the gutter. HAHAHA!!)I was afraid that everything Vega was that nasty. If you say the shakes are good in a smoothie, then I'll take your word for it. After all, I think you have pretty darn good taste.