Secondly, I had one more product to review, but discovered the package had sat in my fridge past the "best by" date. When I contacted The Jackfruit Company to ask how long past the date it was good (it's not on StillTasty or EatByDate), they offered to send coupons. Unfortunately, the one I planned to try (BBQ Jackfruit) was sold out when I went to Whole Foods Co-Op the other day. So that review will have to wait, sorry.
Finally, I have photos to include. They were taken over time (which is also how these reviews were written), and in a couple cases, the packaging was open. Also, the colours are a bit wonky, as my cell doesn't take the best photos (and my digital camera needs new rechargeable batteries). But I hope it helps!
People have asked me for information on Veg*n products - recommendations for what tastes good and doesn't, what the "best" is, etc. I've decided to cover some things I've tried recently, in hopes that it will help you save money (after all, knowing what products are worth it and what aren't will keep you from wasting money on uneaten food). If you find this information useful, please feel free to let me know, and I'll gladly do more posts like this (or maybe one discussing Veg products by type?). Anyway....
Upon opening the package, and while cooking, these smelled like meat hot dogs. I followed the package directions for boiling them. Brought them out with tongs (noticing that they were very firm from the outside). Cut them to layer on bread with Vegetarian chili, as I usually do with "dogs"...they were gummy inside and stuck to the knife! The texture was very mushy, with a hint of stickiness. And the taste! Even drowned in chili and with cheese sprinkled on, it was pretty awful. I'll stick with Lightlife Smart Dogs, thank you!
Lightlife Smart Sausages Chorizo
But recently, Whole Foods Co-Op AND Tops Friendly Markets started carrying some of their products. Among these is the Smart Sausages Chorizo. I grew up on real Mexican chorizo, so maybe I'm a bit pickier. But these were a disappointment. They're oddly coloured. The only real flavour is heat (I love spicy foods, but I was expecting...well, chorizo). They're very firm, so don't expect to crumble them to mix with eggs or tofu. Pan-frying per their directions, the two "sausages" I cooked the first time kept sticking to the pan. I persisted, and tried to crumble them. Nope, got chunks at best. The other two, I fried in a cast iron skillet with a LOT of oil. They still stuck a bit, but not as bad. The texture was still off, and the taste was still just that of hot pepper (only now with oil, lol).
My advice? If your stores carry it, go for Frieda's Soyrizo (sadly, I haven't seen it in my area in a long while). I've tried a couple "chorizo", and theirs has the best texture. I'd recommend adding a tiny bit of hot sauce, and some vinegar before cooking, to give it a closer flavour.
Lightlife Meatless Smart Jerky
The bag is a pretty decent size, and has a moisture-absorber so the jerky stays chewy. Speaking of which, yes, it IS chewy. Each small piece has that firmness when biting and leathery texture that I remember. It does seem a bit under-flavoured though. But comparatively, I found the Primal Strips pretty mushy and moist (and though the taste was stronger, it was less appealing than the Lightlife).
Thumbs up for this jerky!
Tofurky Pepp'roni Pizza Pocket
The Tofurky pockets microwave up pretty quickly, and are about the size of a Hot Pocket. The crust is a bit on the dry side. However, the filling is really good! There are plenty of fairly big chunks of their "pepperoni" (which I've always liked in sliced form) and the Vegan "mozzarella" combines beautifully with the rest of the filling. They're a bit pricier than a Hot Pocket, but hey...they're really tasty, and Veg-friendly! I look forward to trying the other flavours they have.
That said, you absolutely COULD make these Hot Pocket clones with your fave veggie "pepperoni" (I suggest Tofurky Pepp'roni) and either a Vegan cheese (I'd suggest Daiya) or dairy mozzarella. Meat-based pepperoni obviously works if you're one of my meat-eating readers (though I doubt this post appealed to that group, lol).
Quorn Meatless & Soy-free Meatballs
Another disappointment, sad to say. I tried some simmered in homemade tomato sauce (to be used on pasta), and some baked (then mixed with sauce for a sub). I have to say, they are better when baked. The texture of the simmered balls is firm and a bit rubbery, while baked they're still firm (but not rubbery) and slightly crisped on the outside. Taste-wise, they're odd.
I much prefer the only other brand I've tried, thus far: Nate's Meatless Meatballs (Classic is the only one I've tried). Though they are smaller than Quorn.
Best bet, make your own! There are recipes for "balls" ranging from TVP to nuts to eggplant. I usually use Lightlife Gimme Lean Sausage mixed with rehydrated TVP as the "meat" base in mine.
Rich & Creamy MELT® Organic
Well, Melt really impressed me! It is very hard when brought out of the fridge, so if you want to spread it on bread, let it sit at room temp a bit. But once softened, it spreads amazingly well. It has a rich, buttery flavour unlike anything I've tried (short of actual butter). Their website says "Rich & Creamy MELT Organic cooks, bakes and melts just like butter. . . ". I haven't tried baking, but I DID heat a tiny bit in a pan to fry up one of my homemade mushroom patties. Even with nonstick spray, they usually stick a little. But they fried up perfectly with just a small amount of Melt! I definitely recommend this one.
Tucson Tamale Jalapeño & Cheese
The package description says "Simply delicious handmade tamales with roasted jalapeños and a lot of cheese wrapped inside organic corn masa."
I steamed these in a pan (from frozen), following the package directions. Unwrapped them and took a forkful. Let me just say that you have to REALLY love spicy foods to enjoy these (as mentioned, I do. But if you don't like the heat, stay away). They were definitely good, though not worth what I'd paid for them. The masa dough was perfect. However, "a lot of cheese" is definitely an alternative fact! There was hardly any cheese in either of the tamales, so I know it wasn't just that one was understuffed. That said, these aren't bad, just not quite what I'd expected.
I think I might try this recipe (using a Veg-friendly broth and vegetable shortening [or maybe Melt...]) next time I'm craving tamales.
Well, that's it for my reviews. I sure hope you enjoyed this post and found it helpful. Feel free to send me a message on your thoughts!
Until next time....