Rigoni di Asiago’s Nocciolata Dairy-Free Organic Hazelnut & Cocoa Spread [Product Review]

Nocciolata Organic Hazelnut & Cocoa Spread

They say you don’t have to re-invent the wheel, but who are “They?” 

When you find a product you love, and learn it’s not vegan, then it’s time to get into high gear to crack the recipe and make it yourself. OR, you can hope that some brilliant company comes up with one for you to buy (saving you time in the kitchen, no doubt). Well, friends, that day has come, thanks to Rigoni di Asiago and their FABULOUS Nocciolata Dairy-Free Organic Hazelnut & Cocoa Spread.

Did you know that hazelnut in Italian is “nocciola?” It’s not “nutella!” 

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Yes, this is the non-dairy hazelnut spread you’ve been looking for. Some companies have come close, but not many quite like this! The thing that has been key for us is a hazelnut spread where you can really taste the hazelnuts AND the chocolate. It’s not enough to just have the two blended together. 

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Like with any good spread, it has to be versatile. This is not just for your sweet tooth. You can put it on sliced fruit, crackers, even some semolina bread. You can also sprinkle on some rosemary, fennel or a little cayenne (yes, we’re a little weird like that) to add a bit savory into the mix. Stir into your coffee or warmed non-dairy milk, or whip it up in a shake or smoothie! The nuttiness goes very well here!

Speaking of nuts, HOW CUTE is Rigoni di Asiago’s logo for this product. It incorporates a SQUIRREL! If you’ve been following us long enough, then you know about our squirrely friends

 

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Rigoni di Asiago is an Italian-based company, dating back to 1923. While many of their products contain dairy and/or honey, we’re excited to see that they’ve stepped up in producing a certified vegan (by The Vegan Society) product that is also palm oil free, USDA-certified organic and GMO-free!

We’re telling you that you’ll want to eat a whole jar by yourself. Since the holidays are coming up soon, you may want to consider this as a gift too! SOOOO GOOD! You have to share with your friends…if you’re a person and stuff.

To learn more about Nocciolata Dairy-Free and Rigoni di Asiago, please visit https://rigonidiasiago-usa.com/

NuGo Slim Bars [Product Review]

Protein and vegans. Vegans and protein. We keep getting asked questions about protein and vegan sources. We don’t know about you, but the answer is always the same…”FROM PLANTS!” Then comes the retort about needing protein for fitness. With many vegan protein products on the market, we’re often looking for what not only meets our recommended daily allowance, but what also tastes good! 

We’ve been fans of NuGo Nutrition for some time. When we learned that they had a new line of high protein, low sugar bars, we were eager to try! With that, we’d like to introduce you to…NuGo Slim!

Okay, we know the name sounds like it’s geared towards feminine weight-loss. However, it’s quite the contrary. Many high protein products are high in sugar, or use a sugar alternative that’s really off-putting, like malitol, reflecting in its taste (and body reactions). What NuGo has created is a vegan bar in multiple flavors, ranging in 15 to 18 grams of protein, less than 5 grams of sugar and around 6-7 grams of fiber. This product hits low on the glycemic scale, making it an option for diabetics!

What’s also great is that this bar is certified vegan and gluten-free. It is a soy-based product, using non-GMO soy in its ingredients. It’s low in carbs, yet high on protein and fiber. 

So far, we’ve tried the Toasted Coconut and the Chocolate Mint. Here’s what we thought of them (with comments from Momma Mac too)!

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Photo Credit: NuGo Nutrition

Carlo: Light with a coconut subtle flavor. It tasted like a brownie with a hint of coconut. I could taste the chocolate without chalkiness.

Carmella: No chalk. No weird aftertaste that you get with some sugar alternatives or artificial sweeteners. I also thought it was like a coconut brownie with a slight crunch from the coconut flakes,

Momma Mac: These are vegan? They’re good, but not so good for me because I’ll eat them like candy bars. I don’t even like coconut!
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Photo Credit: NuGo Nutrition

Carlo: The coolness of the mint!! It was a good marriage with the chocolate. It tasted in the realm of a Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookie, but without the slap of sweetness.

Carmella: If you love chocolate and mint together, then you’ll love this in a bar. Again, no chalk, no weird aftertaste and you can really taste the flavors in the bar.

Momma Mac: This wasn’t bad at all. Are you getting more?

Bottom line: We liked these bars and will certainly eat them again. The low amount of sugar per serving really attracted us. 

NuGo Nutrition’s line of NuGo Slim come in other flavors too:

  • Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • Brownie Crunch
  • Raspberry Truffle
  • Roasted Peanut
  • Espresso

Bars sell in boxes of 12 for around $21.00 (depending on where you buy). Individual bars are around $1.99-2.99 per bar (depending on where you buy).

Carm’s got her eye on the Peanut Butter, and Carlo’s set on Espresso! We’re sure these will be yummy!

To learn more about NuGo Nutrition and its NuGo Slim line, please visit https://www.nugonutrition.com

Be sure to check out all of their vegan products at https://www.nugonutrition.com/lifestyle/vegan/

Spicy Crabless Salad with Gardein Mini Crabless Cakes! [Recipe & Product Review]

When your other half has a fish & seafood allergy that is so sensitive that he cannot deal with a “fish-like” smell from vegan fish, you know you’ve struck gold with a recipe he’ll sample without him making a face! That’s what happened when I made this Spicy Crabless Salad for a couple of take-to-work meals. 

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Last year at Expo West (2015), we saw the debut of Gardein’s Mini Crabless Cakes. Carlo made such a face and refused to try a sample. This was no different than when I first tried Gardein’s Fishless Filets. Carlo said “no” to a sample. However, he was cool with me making them at home, because they didn’t “smell” like fish. So, would we have such luck with the Crabless Cakes?

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I told Carlo to stay out of the kitchen while I preheated the oven. It was a “safety precaution” in case of “odor.” I baked the cakes according to the package (you get about 3 servings in a bag). As they were cooking, I shouted to Carlo “Can you smell them?!?!” He said “I smell something, but they don’t smell like fish!” I jumped for joy.

As I began making my crabless salad, Carlo came into the kitchen and said “That actually smells pretty good and not like fish.” I told him what I put in the salad, especially the mayo mixture. He watched me shred the cakes and fold them into the mix. As I got a bowl of greens set, he said “I’ll try a little.” So, I gave him a teaspoon. His response “The mayo’s good and I taste the lime.”

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With that friends, I can say there was “Success!” Will Carlo go out of his way to eat the cakes? No, because he really can’t get beyond the whole vegan fish and seafood thing. However, he didn’t mind me eating it in front of him and I’ll take that.

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What about my take? I love the cakes. They’re flaky, full of flavor with a mild bite of spice (but we like to amp it up here) The cakes are so easy to make. They’re great for parties, but you honestly can make them whenever. If you want a no fuss meal, like my Spicy Crabless Salad, then Gardein’s Mini Crabless Cakes are the way to go.

Here’s my salad recipe. Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments!

Spicy Crabless Salad
You don't have to wait for a party to have Gardein's Mini Crabless Cakes. Making this salad to spoon over greens or stuffed in a pita is perfect!
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Ingredients
  1. 1pkg Gardein Crabless Cakes
  2. 1/2 c. Vegan Mayo
  3. Juice of 1 lime
  4. 2 green onions (white & light green parts)
  5. 5-6 pickle chips, chopped
  6. 2T pickle juice
  7. 1/4 t garlic powder
  8. 1/4 t paprika or chipotle powder
  9. 1/4 t cracked black pepper
  10. 1/4c shredded carrots
  11. Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Make the Gardein Mini Crabless Cakes according to the package instructions
  2. While the cakes bake in the oven, prepare your spicy mayo sauce in a large bowl by mixing the mayo, green onions, pickles, pickle juice, lime juice and spices together. Set aside in the fridge.
  3. When the cakes are ready and cooled slightly, shred them with a fork or roughly chop. Remove mayo mixture from the refrigerator
  4. Fold in the crabless cake pieces and shredded carrots. Season with salt to taste
The Food Duo http://thefoodduo.com/

V Is for Vegan by Kerstin Rodgers [Book Review + Giveaway]

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Kerstin Rodgers is a celebrated food writer and chef, who’s attributed to launching supper club/pop-up scene in the UK back in 2009. Known by her moniker, MsMarmiteLover, she shares her food experiences, recipes and stories from all over the globe. Last year, she published a vegan cookbook in the UK called V Is for Vegan. Now released this year in the US, this cookbook delivers on world flavors with insights with an interesting spin…Kerstin isn’t vegan.

Now now! Before anyone goes on a culinary witchhunt, understand that a book like this is pretty major! Kerstin IS vegetarian and has written this book not just for vegans to up their cookery skills. It’s a book for everyone, whether you’re looking to cut your meat and dairy intake, are vegetarian looking to transition or just want some new recipes to try.

What Kerstin has put together is not only a cookbook; it’s a resource. In the very beginning of her book, she outlines what being vegan means. While I don’t agree that vegan cooking is harder rather than being different (but I get what she’s saying), she provides an understanding of what veganism is and the impacts of today’s western diet (not just the Standard American Diet) on the food system. I also appreciate that she notes the global influences and openness that comes with vegan cooking. She answers many common & basic questions people have about going vegan. With that knowledge, readers can take their first step in connecting with the concept/philosophy of a vegan lifestyle.

Now let’s talk about the food, because that’s why we buy cookbooks, right? While Kerstin noted that vegan cooking is harder, her recipes are pretty simple. The recipe titles and accompanying photos may sound and look intimidating, but it’s really all about how you put these dishes together. In fact, I’ll take book on how to plate vegan food beautifully from Kerstin herself (Next book? PLEASE!), because these dishes are so drool-worthy from her colorful melange of hummus recipes to the Chocolate Smoky Tofu Mole Tacos with Grilled Calcots (see recipe below)

The only question we have for Kerstin is… “So, when are YOU going to go vegan?”

We actually are quite honored to review this cookbook, and even moreso that Kerstin is allowing us to share one of the recipes from V Is for Vegan: Chocolate Smoky Tofu Mole Tacos with Grilled Calcots! Looks beautiful, right?

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Chocolate Smoky Tofu Mole in Tacos with Grilled Calçots
Serves 4
From the book: "In Oaxaca, they have all kinds of mole, a kind of paste or thick sauce—yellow, green, red—but a chocolate mole is one of the most unique. This chocolate mole with smoked tofu is as satisfying as any meat dish. Calçots are a Catalan dish of very young leeks simply broiled, slightly blackened and dressed with olive oil. A great combo for tacos. The typically Oaxacan sauce will make double the amount you need for the tofu, so either freeze half, or if you have more guests, double the amount of tofu. You can serve this as tacos or just as a stew with rice."
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Ingredients
  1. 2½ Tbsp olive oil
  2. 1 onion, diced
  3. 3 garlic cloves, minced
  4. Generous 2 oz [60 g] vegan dark chocolate
  5. 8¾ oz [350 g] whole tomatoes
  6. 1 tsp ground cumin
  7. ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  8. ¼ tsp ground allspice
  9. 2 dried ancho chilies
  10. 2 dried chipotle chilies
  11. 2 Tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
  12. 1¾ cups [170 g] blanched or ground almonds
  13. 2 Tbsp strong agave nectar
  14. 14 oz [400 g] firm smoked tofu, drained and cut into 1-in [2.5-cm] cubes
  15. 1 pack of calçots, young leeks or scallions, trimmed
  16. 14 corn tortillas
  17. Sea salt
To serve
  1. Slices of avocado
  2. A fistful of alfalfa sprouts
  3. Sprigs of cilantro
  4. Lime wedges
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion and garlic until soft, then add the chocolate, tomatoes, cumin, cinnamon, and allspice. Cook slowly over medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes while you prepare the chilies.
  2. Meanwhile, split all the dried chilies and discard the seeds, then briefly toast the chilies in a dry skillet until soft. Place in a 1 pint [½ L] heatproof pitcher with the vegetable bouillon powder. Fill up the pitcher with boiling water and leave to soak for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  3. Put the almonds, the chili and stock mixture, the cooked sauce, agave nectar, and 1 Tbsp salt in a powerful blender. Starting on a low speed, process together, increasing the speed as you go, until smooth. Transfer the sauce to a deep, wide skillet.
  4. Add the tofu cubes to the sauce and poach until the tofu expands slightly and the sauce is bubbling but not boiling.
  5. In the meantime, roast the calçots, young leeks, or scallions in a dry skillet or directly over a flame, turning them, until soft and slightly blackened around the edges (this makes them sweet).
  6. To serve, place some of the tofu pieces and the chocolate mole in the tacos and fold so that the opening is upwards. Tuck in a leek or scallion and a few avocado slices. Top with alfalfa sprouts, the calçots, and cilantro. Season with salt and squeeze over some lime juice.
Notes
  1. Recipe posted with permission from the publisher, Quadrille.
Adapted from V Is for Vegan
Adapted from V Is for Vegan
The Food Duo http://thefoodduo.com/

Want to make some gorgeously delicious yet easy to make recipes by MsMarmiteLover herself? Enter for a chance to win a copy of V Is for Vegan right now! (U.S. residents only – SORRY!)

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Winner to be announced on #VeganFoodChat on Sunday, April 24, 2016, happening at 8pm ET/5pm PT!