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Tag Archives: cruelty-free

Victoria Vegan Artichoke Alfredo Sauce

I really liked the Victoria Vegan Roasted Pepper Alfredo Sauce, so I picked up a jar of the Victoria Vegan Artichoke Alfredo Sauce while at Viva La Vegan Grocery in Santa Monica.

Victoria Vegan Artichoke Alfredo Sauce | A Vegan in Progress

I thought it was pretty plain when I first tried it (seen in the photo below), but I think that’s because all of the artichoke had settled at the bottom.  It surprised the heck out of me when I poured some more out onto leftover pasta for lunch and saw artichoke chunks fall into the bowl.  I thought it had gone bad at first!  It’s a pretty tasty alfredo sauce, although I prefer the Roasted Red Pepper version.  Just make sure you shake the jar first!

Victoria Vegan Artichoke Alfredo Sauce | A Vegan in Progress

Vegan at Ike’s Love & Sandwiches, Walnut Creek Bay Area

While up in the Bay Area for the Great Dickens Christmas Fair, we planned to spend some time with our close friends, Randi and Ethan.  I’ve known Randi since we were in preschool together, so it’s been over 25 years!  Visiting with her parents and siblings feels like spending time with aunts, uncles, and cousins.  We don’t see each other too often because of the distance, but it’s great catching up… it always feels like no time has passed at all.

Anyway, Randi was excited to take us to Ike’s Love & Sandwiches in Walnut Creek since they have a variety of both omnivore and vegan sandwiches.  In fact, the menu says “Most of our 100 veggie sandwiches can be made vegan, so just ask!!”  The menu only listed 12 veggie sandwiches, but their website describes many more.  It would probably be a good idea to check out the website in advance of you visit so that you have more to choose from.

Ike's Love & Sandwiches | A Vegan in Progress

I initially asked for the Meatless Mike: vegan meatballs, marinara, and (vegan) pepper jack, but the cashier told me that they didn’t have any vegan meatballs because their local Trader Joe’s stopped selling them.  Instead, I ordered the Pilgrim on sourdough: vegan turkey, cranberry sauce, sriracha, and Havarti.  I asked if they just left off the cheese to make it vegan or if they had a vegan cheese; the cashier said that they use vegan cheese.  I wasn’t clear on whether it was a vegan Havarti or just some all-purpose vegan mozzarella or something.  I wouldn’t know the difference by taste because I don’t believe I ever tried Havarti before going vegan.  I asked for lettuce and tomato and I detected a little vegenaise in the sandwich upon unwrapping it.

Ike's - Vegan Pilgrim | A Vegan in Progress

I never would have thought to combine cranberry sauce and sriracha, but they were delicious together.  It was the messiest sandwich ever and I went through a ton of napkins.  I thought it was a creative and yummy sandwich, I just feel conflicted about one thing.  I’m pretty sure the vegan turkey was Tofurky brand and they use Trader Joe’s meatless meatballs for other sandwiches.  I just hate paying for what I can make myself.  On the other hand, I am grateful that restaurants are starting to purchase store bought supplies so that they can easily offer vegan options.  I will gladly stop by whenever we are in the area and in the meantime, Eric pointed out that I can use their menu as inspiration for original vegan sandwiches at home!

Ike's Love & Sandwiches | A Vegan in Progress

On a side note, Randi’s mom is interested in making her diet a more plant-based one and she may read this -> Hi Pam!

Artisan Tofurky Andouille Cajun-Style Sausage

The new flavors of Artisan Tofurky sausages were at the top of my list when I walked into Viva La Vegan Grocery in Santa Monica.  I love their classic Tofurky Italian sausages, but they have a strong tomatoey Italian flavor.  I often think that I could add them to so many more recipes if they were less specifically Italian.  Enter the Artisan Tofurky Andouille Cajun-Style Sausage!

Artisan Tofurky Andouille Cajun-Style Sausage | A Vegan in Progress

This sausage has a more versatile flavor and is just slightly spicy.  I browned some and had it with some accidentally vegan apple cinnamon pull apart bread that Eric found in the bakery section at Sprouts as well as some sliced apples.  Yum!  I’ll be buying these again.

Artisan Tofurky Andouille Cajun-Style Sausage | A Vegan in Progress

Starlite Cuisine Vegan Santa Fe Style Crispy Rolled Tacos

When I first saw this box in the frozen section of Viva La Vegan Grocery, I exclaimed, “vegan taquitos!” and immediately threw them into our basket.  There were a couple of flavors, but Santa Fe style sounded good.  Check out their other products here.

Starlite Cuisine Crispy Rolled Tacos | A Vegan in Progress

They didn’t take too long to cook in the oven and came out very crispy.  The shells were delicious and crispy, while light.  Unfortunately, the filling was totally bland.  With salsa, they were totally edible, but I don’t think I’ll be buying them again.  Bummer.

Starlite Cuisine Crispy Rolled Tacos | A Vegan in Progress

Vegan at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair, Daly City, Bay Area

Nerd alert!   . . .   For many years, my family has been heavily involved in Renaissance Faires.  At one time or another we have all been participants, actors in shows, interacting with patrons in the streets, and just adding to the ambiance of the fair in our costumes.  It’s pretty common for fair participants to visit and sometimes participate in multiple fairs throughout the year.  For this reason, we tend to know a few people at any given fair in the state.  This is why we made plans to visit the Great Dickens Christmas Fair in Daly City, just south of San Francisco.

Great Dickens Christmas Fair | A Vegan in Progress

Great Dickens Christmas Fair | A Vegan in Progress

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair as you may have guessed is a Dickens-era Christmas fair, set in the streets of London.  Not only are there everyday Londoner characters, but you will see many of Charles Dickens’ famous characters roaming the fair as well.  At one point, Eric and I popped into Fezziwig’s Dance Hall to watch some festive dancing and watched Ebenezer Scrooge wander in, wide-eyed, led by the Ghost of Christmas Past.  This was our first visit and our impression was that it was a very family-friendly fair.  We loved seeing little kids everywhere, dressed as chimney sweeps, covered in soot or roaming the streets with a telegraph message.

Great Dickens Christmas Fair | A Vegan in Progress

As a vegan, when it comes to food at fairs I usually don’t expect more than a few snack options.  I planned ahead by having a full breakfast at the hotel (thanks Homewood Suites, for having soy milk and cereal as well as fruit and tea!) and smuggling in a bag of trail mix and some fruit.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were a couple of perfectly yummy vegan options.

I got lunch from the Acropolis Greek Food booth (this is a familiar booth from other fairs) where they have a variety of Greek concoctions.  I ordered a falafel pita with tahini (made from sesame seeds) instead of tzatziki sauce (which is made with yogurt).  It was filling and tasted just how I expected it to taste.  They also offer dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), which are vegan.

Acropolis Falafel Pita, Great Dickens Christmas Fair | A Vegan in Progress

Eric and I ran into a friend, working at the Bramosia Fine Chocolates & Candies booth.  After chatting for a while, I noticed a small sign in the display saying “Vegan Truffles.”  I exclaimed, “I can’t believe you guys have vegan truffles!”  He then told me that they use coconut milk for the truffles and they actually offer a few candies that fall into the vegan category.  When it comes to desserts, I’m a chocolate person, so I got a vegan chocolate truffle.  They also have a vegan coconut caramel cup and a vegan pear fruit candy as well.  I loved the truffle and went back for another before we left.

Bramosia booth, Great Dickens Christmas Fair | A Vegan in Progress

Bramosia booth, Great Dickens Christmas Fair | A Vegan in Progress

Bramosia vegan truffle, Great Dickens Christmas Fair | A Vegan in Progress

I didn’t get a chance to try the cinnamon crunch almonds found in multiple locations around the site, but my mom asked how they were made on a previous visit and confirmed that they are vegan.

Overall, I would recommend visiting the fair for a fun, if expensive, holiday activity.  It runs until December 22nd this year.  I read on the website that they heavily discount admission if you arrive after 4pm and I’m confident that you could see quite a lot between then and 7pm.  Now you know that there are some good, relatively affordable vegan options.  Make sure to get a vegan truffle!

Vegan at Disneyland – Cafe Orleans, post 2

I have posted about Disneyland before and will continue to update as I try different vegan options in both Disneyland and California Adventure.  Click here to see all posts about Disneyland.  Eventually, I plan to put together my own comprehensive list.

On this visit, we ate at Cafe Orleans around sunset, so we could stay and watch Fantasmic after dark.  I wanted to try something different this time, so I ordered La Salade de Maison, described as “Our Cafe Orleans signature house salad, featuring tossed baby greens in a raspberry vinaigrette, topped with cherry tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese and caramelized pecans. C’est bon!”  I asked about the vinaigrette and was told that it was vegan and asked for no cheese.  I was unhappy to see the salad arrive without the pecans, but was told that they weren’t vegan.  With the non-vegan toppings removed, this was a pretty empty salad.  The dressing was tasty, though.

La Salade de Maison - Vegan at Disneyland | A Vegan in Progress

Between the two vegan options at Cafe Orleans – La Salade de Maison (sans cheese and pecans) and N’awlins Vegetable Ragout (without cheese or corn cakes) – I would go with the salad, because it is about a third of the price.  Neither of them make for a great meal in my opinion, they are more of a compromise, which we vegans are used to having to make when dining out.

However, there’s another option, which in my opinion is far superior.  The waitress told us that guests are welcome to get the Royal Street Veranda vegetarian gumbo (just across the way) and bring it over to Cafe Orleans to eat with the rest of your party.  Absolutely worth doing!  See my review of the amazing vegetarian gumbo here.

As a note for those who avoid such things, the waitress nicely came over to tell us that the garlic Pommes Frites are fried in the same oil as the Monte Cristo, which has cheese and meat in it.  I obviously avoid such things when cooking for myself and my husband, but I figure there are thousands of times that this sort of thing may be happening while I eat in restaurants and I’m never told, so this sort of thing doesn’t really bother me.  If you decide to order them, remember to ask for no cheese.

Rising Moon Organics Artichoke and Olive Ravioli

When I saw that Viva La Vegan Grocery had Rising Moon Organics vegan ravioli, I knew I had to get it.  I love ravioli, but can’t ever find vegan filled pasta.  I have made my own stuffed shells, but ravioli is a little more involved, so I haven’t attempted it.  There were a few different flavors, but this one sounded best to me.

Rising Moon Ravioli | A Vegan in Progress

Ravioli takes no time at all to cook, so these were ready in no time.  I wanted to really taste the filling and not let the sauce compete, so I used a regular marinara sauce rather than the Victoria Vegan Alfredo sauce that I got at Viva La Vegan Grocery.

Rising Moon Ravioli | A Vegan in Progress

The ravioli were literally stuffed to the point of firmness, so you really get a lot of filling.  And that filling… I loved it!  The soy ricotta was great and the artichoke and olive flavors were wonderful with it.  I will definitely be buying this again.  From a quick look at their website, it looks like some Whole Foods carry them.

Vegan at Sprinkles Cupcakes, The Grove, Los Angeles

The Grove and Original Los Angeles Farmers Market is one of the great, atypical places to take out-of-towners or to spend a leisurely Saturday.  There are tons of upscale stores to peruse, including the American Girl store, which is one of my favorites.  If you haven’t heard of them, they are great historical fiction books and dolls that are age-appropriate for elementary school kids.  I wrote an entire term paper for my Children’s Literature class about the flaws (specifically gender and racial inequalities) in these books and I still think they are great, so that says a lot.

Anyway, Eric and I were at the Grove for a free screener of Homefront, starring Jason Statham and James Franco.  You basically get exactly what you expect walking into that movie.  The actress who played Jason Statham’s daughter was great, though.  After the movie, we stopped at the tiny Sprinkles Cupcakes booth so I could try their famous vegan Red Velvet cupcakes.

Red Velvet, Sprinkles Cupcakes | A Vegan in Progress

First of all, if you are going to offer one vegan option – why not more than one?  I know that seems like I’m asking a lot, but not everyone likes Red Velvet.  I found the frosting to be very fragrant – almost smelling like a sugar cookie.  However, it tasted oddly of coconut.  Eric got another cupcake with a cream cheese frosting (not a vegan one) and it also tasted of coconut.  To me, that is both weird and gross.

Red Velvet, Sprinkles Cupcakes | A Vegan in Progress

The cake itself tasted a little dry.  Nothing about the cupcake left me thinking I should stop by Sprinkles more often.  After trying a non-vegan cupcake, Eric said that he wasn’t a fan either.  He prefers Crumbs Bake Shop, which also has several locations, but sadly no vegan options.  I highly recommend No Udder Desserts over Sprinkles.  They only have one location, but offer many more flavor choices as well as different desserts in addition to cupcakes.  The taste is far superior to Sprinkles.  Sprinkles Red Velvet fans – you don’t know what you’re missing!  Definitely give No Udder Desserts a try.

Nacheez Dairy-free Nacho Sauce

Nacheez Dairy-free Nacho Sauce was one of the goodies I purchased at Viva La Vegan Grocery.  I don’t know how “healthy” it is, but it’s certainly better than dairy cheese.

Nacheez Dairy-Free Nacho Sauce | A Vegan in Progress

They had mild and medium, so I went with the medium.  It wasn’t all that spicy, and was a little less than smooth.  Once I warmed it up a little bit and stirred it, it was a little more appetizing.  It was a little on the sharp side and I don’t particularly like the flavor of sharp cheese, so I only ate it in small amounts.  I know plenty of people who would love it, though.  I don’t think I’m likely to buy it again for a while, but it was nice to have the option of nacho cheese!  I would probably buy it as a dip for parties.

Nacheez Dairy-Free Nacho Sauce | A Vegan in Progress

Viva La Vegan Grocery, Santa Monica

The all-vegan market, Viva La Vegan Grocery opened a new location not long ago in Santa Monica.  Eric and I found ourselves in the area and stopped by to see what interesting new vegan products we could try.  First, I want to point out that this is not really a health foods store.  While there are cooking basics such as different kinds of flour, grains, and different sauces, there aren’t a lot of those things and you could get most of them elsewhere.  Mostly, they had the largest variety of vegan processed foods that I have ever seen.  I was there to buy foods that I don’t usually see at our local grocery stores, so I was okay with that.

The store is tiny and packed with vegan goods.  I definitely recommend you stop in and try something new.

Viva La Vegan | A Vegan in Progress

This was our haul.  It was the most expensive bag of groceries I ever bought.  It was over $60 for the items listed below.  Everything was $5-8 each.

  • Artisan Tofurkey Andouille Sausages
  • Tofurkey Chorizo-style meatless crumbles
  • Starlite Cuisine Santa Fe Style Crispy Rolled Tacos
  • So Good Miso Mayo Spicy Red Pepper Spread
  • Victoria Vegan Alfredo Sauce
  • Uncle Eddie’s Vegan Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Tofurkey Vegan Italian Sausage and Fire Roasted Veggie Pizza
  • Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (I used these for Thanksgiving stuffing)
  • Nacheez dairy-free nacho sauce
  • Rising Moon Organics Artichoke and Olive Ravioli

I will post about these as I try them, so stay tuned!