Tomorrow is my last day at work before I’m off for a week and a half, I’m trying to be good this holiday and find a balance of doing things and also making time for myself. I’m looking forward to the first wedding of the year (I have three to attend), Swansea Vegfest, and my birthday next week. There’s plenty of good things happening in the next two weeks. Now onto today’s review.
As I’ve said before I’m not a vegan who just eats the super healthy stuff, I like a good substitute. I don’t eat them every day (except when I take sandwiches to work), and it’s not like I really miss the tastes and textures. I don’t know what it is but I just like tasty food so I’m going to review a few products for you today, this review is a mix of dairy and meat replacements.
The first product I tried was the rice besciamel from Rice & Rice, this is a rice based take on a bechamel sauce. I used this product as a base for a really creamy cheese sauce, it was thick, creamy and didn’t have much of its own taste so you could flavour to your liking. You could also use it to make lasagne or pasta bakes. It’s very simple as it comes ready made in a carton, just cut open and use. I also think that at £2.49 for 500ml it’s reasonably priced, although you can find it cheaper online. Additionally, it’s gluten free. I found this at my local vegan store.
Ingredients: Water, Rice Flour, Sunflower Oil, Rice Starch, Corn Starch, Emulsifier: Sunflower Lecithin, Salt, Thickeners (Carrageenan, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum), Natural Flavouring.
A similar sauce I tried recently was Tesco’s free from white lasagne sauce, it had a similar texture and thickness as the rice based product except this one is made from coconut. It had a bit of a tang to it and a little more flavour and it also made a great base for a cheese sauce, although you could use it for much more than that. It’s also a cheaper option at £1.30 for 480g.
Ingredients: Water, Coconut, Modified Maize Starch, Rapeseed Oil, Salt, Sugar, Acidity Regulator (Lactic Acid), Stabiliser (Xanthan Gum), Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, White Pepper.
Another sauce from Tesco’s free from range which I picked up was their korma sauce, I’m not a massive curry fan but when I do have a curry it has to be a mild korma, I’m not fussed on spicy Indian food. This sauce seemed like a good buy, a quick and easy way for me to make my own vegetable korma with exactly what I wanted to put into it. I didn’t really like the way it looked in the jar, watery, a weird shade of orange and little gelatinous when shaken. It had a bit of a sour taste but it also tasted very sweet, way too sweet. There was a taste of spices in there somewhere but it wasn’t exactly flavourful, it had more of a fruity taste. Overall, I just didn’t like it. I paid £1.30 for the 500g jar.
Ingredients: Water, Tomato Purée, Coconut (5%), Lemon Juice from Concentrate, Cornflour, Sugar, Desiccated Coconut (3%), Dried Onion, Garlic Purée, Ginger Purée, Salt, Coriander, Ground Fennel, Acidity Regulator (Lactic Acid), Ground Cumin, Ground Coriander, Ground Ginger, Ground Turmeric, Ground Cardamom, Ground Cassia, Dried Fenugreek Leaf.
Macaroni cheese is a dish that will always remain close to my heart and I’ve recently tried two brand’s offerings. The first is Amy’s Kitchen rice mac n cheeze, made with Daiya cheese, an American brand which I haven’t had the opportunity to try before. I’ve eaten the dairy version of this before I went vegan and remembered that the rice based pasta kind of makes the dish taste like a savoury rice pudding, and I had the same feeling again. It was unpleasant, just something I’m not used to. The mixture was salty and buttery and tasted different to similar products I’ve eaten before, it tasted delicious. The pasta is soft and almost melts in the mouth, it’s not overpoweringly cheesy but it does have a cheese-like taste. I burnt the top slightly and the burnt pieces of cheese were amazing. I really like this and would buy it again but can’t remember how much it cost me. I always find that Amy’s Kitchen products are quite expensive.
Ingredients: Organic Rice Pasta (Organic Rice Flour, Water) (47%), Filtered Water, Daiya Vegan Cheddar-Style Cheeze (Filtered Water, Tapioca and/or Arrowroot Flour, Safflower Oil, Coconut Oil, Pea Protein, Salt, Inactive Yeast, Vegan Natural Flavourings, Vegetable Glycerin-Humectant, Xanthan Gum-Emulsifier, Citric Acid-Acid, Annatto-Colour) (19%), Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Sweet Rice Flour, Sea Salt, Dried Inactive Yeast, Mustard Powder.
The second macaroni cheese I tried was from Sainsbury’s free from range, when I got it home I realised that it only had instructions for cooking in a microwave and I don’t have one so I opened it up and dumped it into a saucepan. I feel like it cooked okay on the hob. It cooks in a few minutes, and I couldn’t tell the difference between this gluten free pasta and my regular macaroni. There’s plenty of sauce involved and it has a really tangy cheesy flavour, it’s probably the most cheesy of the two macaroni cheeses that I tried. This came close to the real thing for me, despite it needing a bit more seasoning I was impressed. I’d be more impressed if my local Sainsbury’s would stock enough packs for the demand, round here this stuff is like gold dust. On my last visit I managed to find two packs and I’ve hidden one in the freezer for my birthday meal. I paid £3 for the 400g pack, well worth the money, even if the ingredients list is as long as my arm.
Ingredients: Cooked Gluten Free Pasta (38%) (Rice Flour, Wholegrain Rice Flour, Water, Maize Flour, Quinoa, Rapeseed Oil, Emulsifier: Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids), Coconut-Based Alternative to Milk (Filtered Water, Coconut Milk, Grape Juice Concentrate, Calcium Phosphate, Emulsifier: Sucrose Esters of Fatty Acids; Sea Salt, Colour: Carotenes; Vitamin D2, Vitamin B12), Water, Cheddar-Style Coconut-Based Alternative to Cheese (10%) (Water, Coconut Oil, Soya Protein Concentrate, Salt, Spirit Vinegar, Acidity Regulator: Lactic Acid; Yeast Extract, Flavourings, Sugar, Thickener: Carrageenan; Colour: Carotenes), Onion, Grated Cheddar-Style Coconut-Based Alternative to Cheese (2%) (Water, Coconut Oil, Modified Potato Starch, Soya Protein Concentrate, Maize Starch, Salt, Thickeners: Carrageenan, Guar Gum; Modified Maize Starch, Yeast Extract, Flavourings, Acidity Regulator: Lactic Acid; Sodium Lactate, Colour: Carotenes), Cornflour, Carrot, Gelling Agent: Pectin, Salt, Mustard Powder, White Pepper, Nutmeg, Bay.
The next product is made by a local company, Vegangela Rose Bakery, I recently bought their almond feta and walnut sausage rolls. I wish I had been bothered to warm them up a little because cold sausage rolls are never great but regardless these were really tasty and definitely hit the spot. The pastry was soft, flaky and topped with seeds for extra texture. The inside ‘meat’ was actually quite meat-like considering it was made with nuts. They had a lovely mild nutty vegetable flavour and I really enjoyed eating them. I don’t have the ingredients list but I paid £3 for the pack of three at my local vegan shop. On a side note, if you take a look at their Facebook page they make adorable unicorn cakes.
The next two products are from Mighty Bee, I reviewed their chocolate hazelnut jerky previously and now I’ve had the opportunity to try their two savoury offerings.
The first flavour I tried was the spicy BBQ, the coconut pieces were much larger in this one than in the chocolate version. It had a prominent tomato flavour and was really quite salty and herby. The flavour was too strong in my opinion. I also thought that it didn’t taste like spicy BBQ at all, more like spicy Italian food. I wasn’t fussed and as much as I like the texture of coconut jerky I wouldn’t buy this again. I paid £2.85 for the 30g pack at my local vegan store.
Ingredients: Coconut Meat, Water, Sundried Tomato, Dates, Smoked Paprika, Cayenne Pepper, Garlic, Salt, Onion, Oregano, Basil.
The second packet was the teriyaki flavour. As soon as you open the bag you get a waft of amazing flavour and I was hopeful that I liked this one. It had the same great texture as the other two, you can really sink your teeth into it and it’s chewy. The flavour was strong, sweet and salty with a hint of sharpness. However, the addition of ginger ruined this for me because I absolutely hate the taste of ginger and it’s quite prominent in this product. This jerky would have been perfect if it hadn’t have been for that pesky ginger! I finished the pack but I wouldn’t buy it again. I paid £2.85 for the 30g packet.
Ingredients: Coconut Meat, Dates, Tamari, Coconut Sugar, Brown Rice Vinegar, Garlic, Ginger.
The final products of this review are a couple of Tesco’s vegan cheeses, having tried some of Sainbury’s range I decided to try some different varieties from Tesco’s shelves. I am aware that Bute Island produce both these ranges.
The first product I picked up was their jalapeno and chilli cheese, this is an interesting mild orange colour with visible peppers throughout. This is supposed to be an alternative to Mexicana, which I don’t think I ever bought while I was eating dairy, but I was interested in this product. It has a deep spicy flavour with a good tang, tickles the throat, and is probably one of the best flavoured of these supermarket vegan cheeses that I’ve tried. However, it has the same issue for me as the Sainsbury’s range in that it tastes starchy, or like potato. It does melt and I have managed to make a cheese sauce with it, but the issue with the one is I don’t think it’s particularly versatile. You could slice it and put it in burgers or make a nacho dip with it but I’m not sure I’d want to do much else with it. I paid £2.25 for the 200g block.
Ingredients: Water, Coconut Oil (20%), Modified Potato Starch, Chilli Chutney, Maize Starch, Oat Fibre, Modified Maize Starch, Thickeners (Carrageenan, Guar Gum), Salt, Spirit Vinegar, Flavourings (contain Soya), Tricalcium Citrate, Jalapeño Chilli, Acidity Regulators (Lactic Acid, Sodium Lactate), Yeast Extract, Red Pepper, Chilli, Colours (Paprika Extract, Mixed Carotenes), Soya Protein Concentrate, Garlic, Chilli Chutney contains: Water, Sugar, Tomato, Spirit Vinegar, Sultanas, Tomato Purée, Modified Maize Starch, Dried Apple, Mixed Spices, Dried Onion, Red Pepper, Salt, Garlic Powder, Chilli.
The second variety I chose was the grated mozzarella. I was interested in buying this because I’m looking for more cheeses to make pasta sauces with since I’m getting better with my bases and I want to find a good flavour addition. This cheese is buttery, again it’s starchy so it reminds me of a cheesy buttery jacket potato. Not really what I was looking for but also not that bad of a taste. I found the texture to be good, pretty much like grated cheese and it does melt well, I quite enjoyed it as part of a cheese sauce and thought that it tasted cheesier when melted. I have bought this a few times since. I paid £2.25 for the 200g bag.
Ingredients: Water, Coconut Oil (24%), Modified Potato Starch, Soya Protein Concentrate (2.5%), Maize Starch, Salt, Modified Maize Starch, Thickeners (Carrageenan, Guar Gum), Tricalcium Citrate, Flavourings, Acidity Regulators (Lactic Acid, Sodium Lactate), Colour (Mixed Carotenes).
I hope you enjoyed this review, I’m hoping to post another later in the week 🙂
Fancy a look at my first vegan substitutes review? Click here.