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Bento Box School Lunch Kits: Fun and Earth-Friendly

Laptop Lunches school bento box

Bento box school lunch kits are a fun route to healthy meals your kids will actually eat! If these contemporary bento boxes were available when my kids were growing up, they would have made the process of packing lunches much more enjoyable. As it was, I stood in the kitchen at 6:30 a.m. every school day for 14 years, packing adequate yet boring lunches for my kids. They grew up vegetarian until ages 10 and 12, then went vegan, and never wanted to buy lunch at school.

The ingenious bento box lunch kits that are so easy to come by these days inspires your child to enjoy his or her homemade lunches, and helps you, as the parent, enjoy making them! Older kids and teens will eventually be make and pack their own lunches in these colorful kits. And lest you think, “oh, no, unhealthy plastic!” these containers are safe in every way, including being BPA-free. Continue Reading…

Pingala Café Lets You Bring Home the Eggplant Bacon

Eggplant bacon sandwiches

When Pingala Café opened its doors in 2013, it was the only vegan eatery in Burlington — though it won’t be holding that distinction for much longer. Word has it that soon it will be in good company, reflecting the exponential growth of the plant-based revolution. 

From the get-go, Pingala’s aim was to exceed expectations of how hearty and tasty plant-base meals can be, and offer familiar foods in good-for-you, good-for-the-earth versions. Burritos, burgers, falafel, French toast, and grilled cheese are on the menu, but in meatless, dairy-free versions. For clean food enthusiasts, there are smoothies, juices, salads, and bountiful bowls.

Another mission of Pingala (which means “sun energy and life force” in Sanskrit) is to use house-made products whenever possible to enhance the flavors of fresh foods — savory dressings like Thai peanut and luscious sauces like Korean BBQ sauce among them. But it was one unique Pingala-created product that has completely caught fire (not literally, of course): the café’s homemade vegan eggplant bacon. Continue Reading…

Are Oreos Vegan? Let’s Take a Look

Are Oreos Vegan

Are Oreos vegan?

The short answer is yes, kind of.

It’s one of the most frequently cited, debated, and disputed food facts: “Did you know Oreos are vegan?” Strangers to plant-based cooking might be surprised that chocolate cookies and creamy frosting don’t contain milk or eggs. But, as those of us with plant-based kitchens know, it’s not far-fetched at all.

Here is an abridged Oreos ingredients list: unbleached enriched flour, sugar, palm and/or canola oil, cocoa, high fructose corn syrup, leavening (baking soda and/or calcium phosphate) cornstarch, salt, soy lecithin, vanilla, and chocolate.

So, Are Oreos Vegan?

By most definitions, it certainly looks vegan. But, many vegans swear off refined sugar, some of which is processed with animal bone char. There’s also the milk issue. Like many processed foods, Oreos are produced on the same equipment as other, non-vegan products. So, you might be ingesting trace amounts of dairy with your Oreo cookies. Some vegans stay away from these types of food while others leave room for the small error.

So, that’s the gist of the “Are Oreos Vegan? debate. However, it begs another question.

Are Oreos healthy?

Some adopt a vegan diet purely for ethical reasons while others are at least partially motivated by health. And if that’s a concern of yours, you might want to take a second look at the unabridged ingredients list. Oreos are made with highly processed ingredients, and chock full of sugar – three cookies contain 14 grams of sugar, or 2.95 teaspoons. That’s half the recommended daily allotment.

If you want to stay away from processed ingredients and high fructose corn syrup, then opt for an organic, but still vegan, cookie like Newman O’s. Organic sugar isn’t refined with bone char, which is another big plus.

But, a word of warning: organic products can contain as much sugar as their highly processed alternatives. Three organic Newman O’s cookies contains 16.5 grams of sugar – even more than Oreos. So, if you’re watching your sugar intake, indulge in packaged cookies in moderation if at all. Instead, try low-sugar or sugar-free dessert recipes from VegKitchen.

Contributed by Hannah Brown
Image: Evan Amos, Wikimedia Commons

Maya Kaimal Indian Simmer Sauces & More

Maya Kaimal Indian simmer sauces and naan chips

I can whip up decent Asian-style dishes, but I never got the hang of making authentic-flavored Indian dishes at home. It’s not all that difficult, as demonstrated by the brilliant Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. The truth is that I’m just too lazy to deal with roasting and grinding and mixing and measuring all the myriad spices that add up to those amazing flavors.

For me, making a curry has always meant dumping curry powder into something or another, and If I’m feeling really ambitious, adding some ginger. And while that’s not terrible, doing so doesn’t give the dishes the deep, complex flavors of Indian cuisine. Continue Reading…

Cruelty-Free Holiday Gift Ideas

Bare Bones Body Care

If you like the idea of gifts that keeps on giving to the cause of compassion toward animals, you might enjoy choosing your holiday gifts (and beyond) that will benefit to Animal Place. This non-profit operates two sanctuaries in California that have rescued and sheltered hundreds of animals.

Bare Bones Body Care
Unisex, non-toxic, and animal-friendly Bare Bones Body Care offers a stylish line of skincare, a vegan deodorant that really lasts, and even tattoo balm. Founder Monica Schrock uses ingredients made from scratch, and from organic and local suppliers, and all products proudly feature Animal Place’s logo to help raise awareness. Prices start around $3 up to $35 for gift sets. Continue Reading…

FreshWorks Produce Saver: Make your groceries last longer

Rubbermaid FreshWorks Produce Saver

Buying groceries is an investment. We spend our time at the grocery store carefully reading food labels, checking to see if items are organic and where the produce comes from, for example. I could easily spend a good two hours in the grocery store. We might also plan our meals for the week ahead and create a very specific shopping list. With all this work, planning, and time, it’s incredibly disappointing when produce goes bad before we get a chance to use it! I often find I buy cilantro to use throughout the next two weeks and, to my disappointment, it goes bad after just a few days. Keeping fruit and vegetables as fresh as the day we bought them is no easy task. But what  can we do. Allegedly, we can avoid opening the fridge to spoiled produce by using FreshWorksâ„¢ Produce Saver, an innovative storage container that claims to incorporate patented technology to keep fruits and veggies fresher for up to 80% longer, #LongLiveProduce! Continue Reading…

Ginger’s Healthy Habits Veggie Trail Mix

Ginger's Veggie Trail Mix

A new kind of snack recently made it’s debut —Ginger’s Healthy Habits has created Veggie Trail Mix, made from a mixture of vegetables, nuts, sprouted seeds. VegKitchen recently got the opportunity to sample tasty, all-natural Pepperoni Pizza (which should be in air quotes, since there’s nothing pepperoni or pizza about this snack other than the flavor—it’s all plant-based!) and Maple Cinnamon. One other variety that’s available is Garlic and Herb. Continue Reading…

Thank, You, Colavita!

Colavita products

One of the perks of running a site like VegKitchen is receiving great products to review and beautiful cookbooks to review and excerpt. We got a goldmine of lovely products from Colavita to cook with and taste, and we can’t wait to dig in. And while these products aren’t specifically geared toward the vegan market, isn’t it great that they are, incidentally, completely plant-based?  Continue Reading…

Kaffree Roma Roasted Grain Beverage — a Review

Kaffree roma roasted grain beverage review

Are you a coffee lover who just can’t handle any amount of caffeine? Do you like the idea of sipping on something hot and soothing, but just aren’t enamored of tea? Kaffree Roma might be just the alternative you’re looking for. It’s an instant beverage made just the same way as instant coffee — a spoonful or so stirred into a cup of hot water. Made of roasted barley and malt barley with a bit of chicory and rye, it’s not meant to imitate coffee so much as to be a comforting, caffeine-free cousin to it. Continue Reading…

Real Pickles Turmeric Kraut — a review

I’ve long been a fan of Real Pickles products, so when I found out they’ve introduced Real Pickles Turmeric Kraut, I was eager to try it. Real Pickles, located in Greenfield, MA produces an array of naturally fermented products. Though pickles and relishes are familiar foods, most pickling these days is accomplished with vinegar. This method doesn’t give you the valuable, natural probiotics that naturally fermented foods do — a hallmark of Real Pickles products. Continue Reading…

Sirabella’s Vegan Cheesecake – a review

Going vegan no longer means having to give up cheesecake! Sirabella’s Vegan Cheesecake recently sent VegKitchen their dairy-free, egg-free, completely luscious New York-style cheesecake to sample, and it is out of this world. We all enjoyed it immensely — at last, a vegan cheesecake with the look, taste, and texture of traditional cheesecake, with a fraction of the calories and none of the guilt. Continue Reading…

Fresh n’ Lean Meal Delivery Service: A Review

Fresh n' lean oatmeal

Most people come to VegKitchen to grab a recipe or two to make at home, and we try to make it as easy to do just that. Presumably, VegKitchen readers love to cook, while others just plain don’t like to (though they come to the site for tips on living more healthfully). In this same household, I’ve manage to raise kids of both varieties. My son is an excellent cook; my daughter doesn’t own a single pan. She not only can’t be bothered, she also struggles with a poor appetite. Continue Reading…

Vegan1 Protein Shake: A Review

Vegan1 protein shake vanilla

When N53 contacted VegKitchen to see if we would like to sample and review Vegan1, an all-plant-based protein and nutritional shake, I have to admit that I was less than excited. I had yet to try a nutrition shake that I really like — most have some sort of under-taste, after-taste, or chalky texture than I don’t enjoy. But Vegan1 sounded intriguing, with so many benefits packed into each serving that I thought I’d give it a try. I’m glad I did, and I was pleasantly surprised! Continue Reading…

Miyoko’s Creamery cultured nut products – a review

Sundried Tomato Garlic from Miyoko's Creamery

Recently I was the very lucky recipient of an array of Miyoko’s Creamery cultured nut products —aka vegan cheeses — from the newly launched Miyoko’s Kitchen. * Miyoko’s Kitchen has generously offered VegKitchen readers $5.00 off all online orders. Use the discount code: VEGKITCHEN. Valid until 12/31/14, aka, through the end of this year. Shown above, Sundried Tomato Garlic. Continue Reading…

Tofurky Vegetarian Roast Turns Twenty!

Tofurky vegetarian roast review

For many vegans and vegetarians, Thanksgiving is the Mother of All Holidays. It used to mean being relegated to side dishes, but over the last couple of decades, the holiday has blossomed into an occasion for full culinary celebration among the plant-based crowd. Thanksgiving’s original intent was as a feast of gratitude for the abundance or the fall harvest. The bounty of squashes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, apples, pears, cranberries, nuts, greens, and other veggies typical to this holiday’s theme give vegans and vegetarians the ability to enjoy a full-scale feast.  Continue Reading…

Progressive International Produce Keepers: A review

Progressive international produce keeper

If you frequent farm markets, grow your own produce or belong to a CSA, especially throughout the summer, the produce that comes into your kitchen might overflow from you refrigerator’s produce drawers. But that’s a good thing! Summer as well as most of the fall are the perfect seasons for indulging, or even over-indulging in the season’s generous bounty of produce.  Continue Reading…

Sunrawise Artisan Nondairy Cheeses — a review and special offer

Sunrawise artisan nondairy cheese

If you’ve gone vegan or are lactose intolerant (which a majority of humans are, logically — we’re not calves, after all!), it’s heartening to observe the growth of nondairy alternatives to milks and cheeses. There are a number of the latter that give you that nice melted quality that makes pizza, mac ‘n cheese, and quesadillas so yummy. If you’re missing the sharper flavor and pleasantly hard, dry texture of artisanal style cheeses, fortunately, those options are expanding, as well.  Continue Reading…

Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker: A Review

fitbit wireless trainerDon’t wait a moment longer to resolve to get fit — any day is a good one to start working toward 10,000 steps a day (or more!). I’m a huge fan of the Fitbit Zip Wireless activity tracker. * The Fitbit keeps me honest about my daily activity and I almost always try to find a way to achieve my ten to twelve thousand steps a day. It makes a fantastic gift for the walking enthusiast in your life, and a great investment in your own health and fitness. Continue Reading…

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Vegan recipes by VegKitchen