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. 


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?


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.”


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.


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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  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
  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/

Ben & Jerry’s Vegan Ice Cream (Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert) [Product Review]


Our trip to Burlington, VT brought us to Ben & Jerry’s corporate offices and factory to see first-hand the process of creating ice cream. With the launch of their new vegan ice cream (non-dairy frozen dessert) line, Ben & Jerry’s invited us to try all 4 flavors on site! Of course, we were happy to oblige.

Note: Ben & Jerry’s cannot call their product “ice cream.” The FDA (Food & Drug Administration) in the U.S. defines ice cream as a product that contains a certain amount of (dairy) milkfat, of which you’ll find ZERO in this line. Therefore, it’s called non-dairy frozen dessert. But for the purposes of this blog post and because we want to, we’re calling it ICE CREAM.

With the launch of their vegan ice cream, Ben & Jerry released 4 flavors: 2 new and 2 familiar favorites. All are made with an almond milk base. Why almond milk, considering the number of nut allergens there are. Well, first of all, Ben & Jerry’s is not a nut-free facility. Many of their products already contain nuts. Secondly, in research & development over a 3-year period, Ben & Jerry’s found the greatest success in using almond milk because it had a neutral flavor and texture. If you were familiar with Ben & Jerry’s in your pre-vegan days, then you know that flavors and textures are bold in their products, meaning they have to be the right consistency to support the mix-in ingredients and the flavors need to be fully represented and not convoluted by the base.

As you can tell, we learned A LOT during our trip.

So, let’s get down to it. What did we love? What did we like? What did we shrug off? Here’s our review in order of Awesome to Ugh.


PB & Cookies. This is a special flavor just for the non-dairy line!

If an ice cream flavor could give you LIFE, it’s this one! It was hands-down the best of the log.  Vanilla-flavord almond milk ice cream with a crunchy peanut butter swirl was AHHHMAZING! Then those chocolate creme sandwich cookies that flipped the concept of Cookies & Cream on its head. You didn’t get little itty bits of cookie, you got full-on cookie to bite into. 


The ice cream itself was rich and somewhat creamy. Its slight lack in creaminess supported the cookie, which otherwise would have been lost. We were both very happy with this!


Coffee Caramel Fudge. Another special flavor for the non-dairy line!

Carlo LURVES coffee in all its forms. Me? I’m not so much of a coffee ice cream fan. It’s all about when the mood hits. However, the Caramel Coffee Fudge surprised me A LOT! It was the creamiest of the bunch. If you like caramel macchiatos, then you’ll definitely love this. Then to mix in those fudge chunks? Wow!!


So, what was missing from this one to not make it #1? Well, it could have used a bit more caramel and a bit more fudge. Carlo said it was “just right,” but he also felt PB & Cookies was better between the two.



Chunky Monkey. I was really excited about this being a vegan flavor. Sadly, I was a bit disappointed. The banana ice cream at first tasted great. Then it got a little chemically for me and was the least creamy.


I did like banana ice cream in the past (not NICE cream – I’m talking pre-vegan days). However, something seemed slightly not quite there for me with this one. I don’t know if it was the almonds and walnuts together. I think this one would have done better with a coconut base. 


Chocolate Fudge Brownie

Oddly enough, the classics didn’t fare as well in their vegan form.  The team at Ben & Jerry’s certainly acknowledged that the chocolate ice cream in the Chocolate Fudge Brownie needed some work. I have to say, as a chocolate lover, I do not chocolate almond milk ice cream. I’ve not liked it with other brands either. I find it gets really chalky with a strange after taste. The chocolate in coconut base would have done well in my opinion. 


However, there is a redeeming quality about the Chocolate Fudge Brownie, and it’s the brownie! Those chunks are HUGE and have to be eaten on their own to taste how amazing they are (perfectly dense yet moist). Even though they were made for the Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor, those brownies could star in any ice cream base! We’ll have a fuller review on Greyston Bakery coming soon! 

Wondering if the ice cream is certified vegan? It is certified by Vegan Action, as well as the vegan brownies by Greyston Bakery!


Have you tried the new Ben & Jerry’s flavors? Which one do you like? Tell us in the comments!

Not sure where to get it, check out Ben & Jerry’s website at http://benandjerrys.com/non-dairy.

What Would Carlo Eat? Episode 9: Kite Hill Yogurt [Product Review]


Since the Spring, we’ve been grieving the loss of my beloved vegan yogurt, WholeSoy. we’ve lamented its dissolution, as have our cat kiddos who loved the tang and creaminess of that soy yogurt goodness. When we heard that Kite Hill was coming out with a line of almond-based yogurts, we didn’t know what to expect. We’ve not had the best luck with most non-dairy yogurts, soy, almond, coconut alike. However, as you know, Carlo’s up for trying all things vegan. 

Last week, while grabbing lunch, Carm found the Kite Hill line of yogurt at Whole Foods in Paramus, NJ. Of course, that find would become an episode of “What Would Carlo Eat?” Without further ado, we present you with Episode 9! Let’s see how this  yogurt measures up!

Kite Hill is the artisanal almond-based dairy-free “creamery” launched by famed vegan chef, Tal Ronnen of Crossroads in Los Angeles. This start-up is one of a few plant-based companies changing the way we view how we get our protein. From ricotta to cream cheese, Kite Hill has been delivering dairy-free alternatives, using a cultured almond base! 

To add to what we shared in the video, we love how Kite Hill is packaging the yogurt with a strong message of compassion, sustainability and transparency. In fact, if you tear along the side of the label, you’ll find some great notes on the inside of it! And you can see the yogurt in its blended glory through a clear recyclable cup! Their mission and vision is right there with the yogurt. That’s something I can truly stand behind.  

Question: Have you tried Kite Hill yogurt yet? What do you think? Is it your fave? Share in the comments!

What would you like to see Carlo try next? Drop him a line!

Missed last week’s episode? Check it out here!

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Thanks for watching!

DIY Holiday Leftovers Sandwiches with Gardein Holiday Roast

Gardein Holiday Roast in Box

Roasts are not just for special events or holidays. They can be a great dish that can spread across a couple of meals, especially if you’re in a smaller household like we are. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, there’s no better time like now to plan for how to deal with those leftovers! We’ve got a plan in place to make you go #OMGardein, using the Gardein Holiday Roast


The Gardein Holiday Roast is one of the best vegan roasts we’ve had, and it’s quick and easy to make! You can cook from frozen and all will be ready in about 60-75 minutes. The gravy packets only require steeping in hot water. Nothing more is needed, unless you want to do more.

What we really enjoy about the roast are the breadcrumb coating and the cranberry and wild rice stuffing. They really put the “holiday” in Gardein Holiday Roast. Not to mention, the roast itself is juicy and tender, which may seem odd for something made of soy protein and vital wheat gluten. There’s a lot of flavor in there! Yup, #OMGardein

Sorry, if you’re gluten-free, but Gardein does offer a number of gluten-free option in its line!

Gardein Holiday Roast Cut Open

Gardein Holiday Roast nicely serves up to 8 and comes with 2 gravy packets! So, there may just be plenty for everyone to make your holiday compassionate and cruelty-free. If not, a second roast won’t hurt you. Compared to others on the market and the animal kinds, you can’t beat a price of around $14.99 for this roast!

If you’re lucky to have leftovers (or have a second roast on hand), we found a great way to enjoy them in a fun way…DIY Holiday Leftovers Sandwiches. This may seem like a lazy recipe, which it is, but who wants to put in any additional effort after a busy week or a massive family feast? So, here we go! It really is an anything goes type of creation!

gardein holiday roast leftovers sandwiches


DIY Holiday Leftovers Sandwiches
Using Gardein Holiday Roast, we came up with our idea of "lazy" "the day after" dish that takes little prep. Just use what you already have! Cooking is optional!
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
  1. 8 sandwich rolls or 16 hearty slices of bread
  2. 1 Gardein Holiday Roast, cooked according to package
  3. 2 pkts. Gardein Holiday Roast gravy, prepped according to package
  4. 2 c. whipped sweet potatoes* (Carlo has one for you, if you want to try!)
  5. 1 c. your favorite cranberry sauce
Optional ingredients
  1. 1 c. greens
  2. 1 c. vegan mac & cheese
Carlo's Quick Whipped Sweet Potatoes
  1. 2 medium sweet potatoes
  2. 1/4 c. vegan butter
  3. 1/4 c. maple syrup
  4. 1/4 tsp. dried sage
  5. Salt & black pepper to taste
For Sandwiches
  1. Toast your sandwich rolls or bread slices
  2. Slice Gardein Holiday Roast into 8 equal portions. Then slice each portion in half
  3. Assemble each sandwich as follow: 1/4 c. sweet potatoes, two slices of roast, spoonful(s) of gravy, cranberry sauce
  4. If adding other leftovers, be sure to add them before the cranberry sauce and top part of roll or slice of bread
  5. Enjoy, especially while in front of the TV in pajamas!
For Sweet Potatoes
  1. Rinse potatoes and prick skin with a fork
  2. Microwave for approximately 7-10 minutes
  3. Push ends together of each potato to open them
  4. Scoop out the potato into medium bowl
  5. Add the remaining ingredients and whip with a fork or whisk until smooth
  1. You really can add anything you like to this. Carmella would highly recommend some mashed turnips. Carlo would throw in some spicy peppers (of course). Have fun!
  2. Playing with your food is always encouraged!
The Food Duo http://thefoodduo.com/

Need some ideas for your holiday feast…and leftovers…see what Gardein has to offer! There are some quick and easy meal ideas to go along with your Gardein Holiday Roast and other seasonal items!

gardein holiday leftovers close up

Hungry for that sandwich? Yeah, us too! #OMGardein!

Question: What’s your favorite way to enjoy the holidays…and the leftovers? Share with us in the comments!

Simmered in Tradition with Ragú® & Vegan Cast-Iron Pepperoni Pizza Dip!

Vegan Pepperoni Pizza Dip

Traditions can mean many things when it comes to food. Those traditions don’t necessarily have to be conventional. Not a lot in my family was!

As a kid, most people in our family knew my mom, aka Momma Mac, to be an amazing baker. What many don’t know is that she taught me how to cook pasta, which she learned from her travels in Europe…and then later marrying my Italian father. At the same time, she was a busy lady, not really having time to make her own pasta sauce except on a rare Sunday. She would often pick up a jar of Ragú®, do some kitchen magic by adding her own blend of spices and serve up a plate of popping flavor. Little did she know that her “tradition” would be passed down to me.

Ragú® Old Style Marinara
Source: Ragú®

Mom often played around with jarred sauces by adding various ingredients and trying different cooking styles. I think she felt like a star chef on a shoestring budget. And when she would cook dinner, it was often good and weird. Pizza grilled cheese? Uhh yeah! Her creativity made up for her working late nights and being too tired to cook. Now that I’m vegan, I’ve found my cooking game has been improved by being able to be as creative as my mom and enjoying my time in the kitchen.

While there are many pasta sauces on the market, you have to be careful as many are not vegan, often having cheese/milk or even chicken broth (say WHAT?!?!). However, being vegan doesn’t mean you have go for the expensive sauces either. Ragú® Old World Style® Marinara* is an affordable vegan option, which is often around $3.00 for a 24oz jar. It makes for a good base for a variety of dishes from lasagne to pizza pillows. You can go basic or add your favorite ingredients to kick things up a notch. 

Pre-oven vegan pepperoni pizza dip

The marinara has a lot of real tomato flavor! Ragú® believes in using no artificial flavors, colors or high-fructose corn syrup. The sauce is made in a slow-cooking, simmering style to really appreciate that red fruit! While we find the sauce a bit thin for our liking, we use it as a base to which you can your favorite veggies, spices and even vegan cheese! You know how we roll in doing kitchen whip-ups, which are becoming our “tradition.” So, of course, we did one with this sauce!

I was having pizza cravings, but didn’t want an actual slice or pie. Thanks to Ragú® for providing us with the sauce, I was inspired by my mom’s cooking style, her love of cast-iron and favorite pizza spice blend. Hence, the Vegan Cast-Iron Pepperoni Pizza Dip was born! 


The marinara sauce set the platform for a creamy, “cheesy” dip mixed with vegan cream cheese and vegan mozzarella shreds. Whisked together with vegan pepperoni, later topped with more cheese and then broiled, you have no idea excited we were to eat this right out of the pan!! It was pizza…and really good pizza…where you could taste all of the ingredients, especially the tomatoes in the sauce. 

Vegan Pepperoni Pizza Dip with Bread

To serve this dip, Carlo sliced an Italian bread loaf and made some easy-peasy pan-fried bread!

Want to give this a try at your next party or raging pizza craving? Here’s the recipe!

Vegan Cast-Iron Pepperoni Pizza Dip
Serves 6
Got a pizza craving? Here's a fun way to satisfy it, featuring Ragú® Old World Style Marinara sauce! Share with family and friends or eat it by itself!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
Pizza Dip
  1. 1 24oz jar of Ragú® Old World Style Marinara Saue
  2. 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  3. 1 4.2oz pkg. vegan pepperoni slices
  4. 1/2 c. vegan cream cheese
  5. 1/4 c. nutritional yeast
  6. 1 1/2 c. vegan mozzarella shreds
  7. 1 tsp. garlic powder
  8. 1 tsp. dried oregano
  9. 1 tsp. dried basil
  10. 1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
  11. Fresh cracked pepper to taste
  12. Torn fresh basil for garnish)
Pan-Fried Bread
  1. 1 loaf of Italian bread, cut into 12 slices
  2. 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  3. 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  4. Dash of sea salt to taste (optional)
Pizza Dip
  1. Heat cast-iron pan with olive oil. When hot, add half of the pepperoni slices and cook for 2 minutes on each side
  2. Pour in marinara and bring to a boil. Then, stir in cream cheese and 1c. of vegan mozzarella shreds until melted into the sauce
  3. Lower heat to a simmer and stir in nutritional yeast and spices (except black pepper). Simmer for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally as sauce thickens
  4. Set oven to broil on high
  5. Remove pan from heat. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella shreds and layer the remaining pepperoni slices
  6. Place pan in oven for 5-7 minutes until the cheese gets slightly brown
  7. Remove pan from oven. Sprinkle fresh cracked pepper and torn basil on top before serving
Pan-Fried Bread
  1. Mix garlic powder and olive oil into a small bowl
  2. Heat a large skillet with the oil. When hot, arrange bread slices cut-side down
  3. Cook for 4 minutes. Turn over. Cook for another 4 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with sea salt before serving (optional)
  1. You can serve this dish right in the pan on a trivet
  2. Yummy ways to enjoy: Scoop with pan-fried bread, spoon into a bowl with fresh veggies or spoon on top of your favorite pasta
  3. Psst. This taste good cold too next day!!
The Food Duo http://thefoodduo.com/
Have you heard about Food.com’s Ready. Set. Cook! contest? It challenges home cooks to create new and unique recipes featuring Ragú® sauce plus a set list of other ingredients. The contest runs between now and November 30, 2015! Click here to enter!

Note: Not all of the Ragú® Old World Style varieties are vegan. Check the label before you buy!!