Thursday, July 14, 2016

Pure Genius Brownies

Can a brownie taste crazy good and be crazy good for you? That's Pure Genius! Pure Genius was founded by Nancy Kalish, a former health journalist and certified health coach, who wanted to create sweets that are good for you. After one year and hundreds of experiments in her Brooklyn kitchen, her dream came true.

Pure Genius recently launched two brownies made of garbanzo beans or "chickpeas" as they are more commonly known. But, are they really good?

Well, I have to say that I absolutely loved the Chocolate Chunk Brownie. This brownie made with garbanzo beans, maple syrup, chocolate, oats, sunflower oil, pure flavor extracts, oregano, flax, baking powder, and sea salt, is so tasty. It is moist, with a nice density, great flavor, and just enough chocolate. And we are talking chocolate chunks!


I found the other Deep Chocolate Brownie to be just okay. It's a good, basic brownie, but it didn't knock my socks off like the blondie did!


Both brownies are vegan, gluten-free, Non-GMO Project Verified, and Kosher certified and they have said they are rolling them out to Whole Foods Markets in the Northeast this month. Yay! Pure Genius Provisions will also be coming soon to health food and specialty stores across the country. Their products are currently sold online 24/7 at www.puregeniusprovisions.com.  They are offering my readers 20% off all orders by using the discount code: TVV through July 31. And shipping is free! Try them now for a healthy treat!

Full Disclosure: Although the products were provided to me for free to review, that in no way influenced my veracious opinion.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Twin Falls Sandwich Company, Twin Falls, Idaho #2

After BASE jumping all morning, I needed some sustenance and even though my first experience at the Twin Falls Sandwich Company wasn't great, I felt drawn to try them again. This hip little cafe-style restaurant is always packed at lunchtime. It is located inside a brick building in downtown Twin Falls. Inside, its eclectic decor draws you in with Christmas lights on the ceiling, lots of artwork, and flare.


We ordered at the register, then took a seat. I got the Bunny Burger, which is a veggie burger made with carrots and served with lettuce, tomato, onion, and mustard. Hold the mayo! This burger is pretty plain so I topped it with their delicious hot sauce too. I have to say that I'm just so thankful that they have vegan options, that I found it difficult to complain this time. I do think they could add more flavor to the recipe of that burger, but it, otherwise, isn't that bad.  The salad is really good too.


For $8, I think it's a fair price for the burger. I will say that the wait is often very long so be prepared for that. On another trip, I went and ordered the same burger and they accidentally put cheese on it. When I returned it, they gave me a coupon for a free meal, so their customer service is on point. I would recommend checking them out if you are in Twin Falls. Oh, and do a BASE jump too just for shits and giggles.

Previous review
September 25, 2015

Twin Falls Sandwich Company
128 Main Avenue N
Twin Falls, ID 83301
(208) 734-8372

Twin Falls Sandwich Company on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Buds Sandwich Shop, Salt Lake City

I flew into Salt Lake City on a Thursday afternoon and met a friend at Buds Sandwich Shop. This all-vegan sandwich shop has no outside seating so you order at the window and take a seat outside -- that's different. Luckily, it was a gorgeous day and it was wonderful to sit outside. So we placed our orders and took a seat.


Located in a simple red brick building, the word "Buds" is on the window and two arrows show you where to order and where to pick up food. That's simple enough! Outside, there are three red picnic tables. We waited until our name was called, then dug in!


I ordered the Cheesesteak only because of the rave reviews I saw online. And, hey, it was pretty good! The toasted sourdough bread was pretty darned tasty and the sub was filled with peppered soy steak, bell peppers, grilled onions, and warm smoky cheese sauce. I really enjoyed it and it was very filling. The "steak" had a nice flavor and texture and the cheese sauce, while thick, was really good.


My friend ordered the Buffalo Salad and I have to say I really liked his too! Atop a bed of greens is grilled soy chicken in housemade buffalo sauce with carrots, tomatoes, and red onions. It was topped with a creamy herb aioli dressing. There was even a warm flour tortilla at the bottom, which we didn't discover until the end!


With our meals, we had some Hansen's natural sodas and the vegan zucchini chocolate chip cookie. I looked away for a moment and my friend ate half right away! Such is life.


For just $6 - $7 per meal, this was a steal. Great vegan food with not much overhead. I can dig it. Next time I'd love to try the pesto or buffalo subs!

Buds Sandwich Shop
509 East 300 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Buds Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

By CHLOE, NYC

NYC -- the city that never sleeps. It had been five years since my last visit to NYC and how I've missed it so. Anxious to hit a few of the new restaurants on my visit, my first stop was by CHLOE, a vegan cafe. Chloe Coscarelli, a graduate of the acclaimed Natural Gourmet Institute, opened this cafe after gaining national attention by winning Cupcake Wars on the Food Network.


I arrived on a Friday night and it was packed. I wasn't super hungry so I asked them what the most popular items were. They mentioned a few burgers and the mac and cheese and after some thought, I placed an order.


The cafe has a cool vibe with black and white awnings outside and colorful seating inside including a funky hanging seat. There is a HUGE communal table and smaller tables against the wall. There was almost no seating so I took my order to go.


The Guac Burger is a patty made of black beans, quinoa, and sweet potatoes. Topped with onions, corn salsa, guacamole, tortilla strips, and chipotle aioli, it was so delicious. The whole grain bun was toasted perfectly and it just melted in my mouth. The burger had tons of flavor, but the chipotle aioli made it go from good to great. Be sure to get extra from the dispenser too!


The Mac n Cheese, however, was not nearly as good as everyone said it would be.  In fact, I didn't like it at all. To me, it tasted like butternut squash was mashed up, blended, and put over noodles. The vegan bacon was tasty, but it didn't fix the yuckiness of what was already happening in the bowl.


I also picked up a kombucha from their great drink selection of kombuchas, teas, and coconut water.

Other items on the menu include Pesto Meatball Sub, Whiskey BBQ sandwich, and Kale Caesar salad. It's a simple menu that is available most of the day seven days per week.  The burgers are $10-$11 each, so not cheap, but totally worth it. And I absolutely love the atmosphere. I'd definitely recommend this place as a hip lunch spot.

by CHLOE
185 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 290-8000

By Chloe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, June 27, 2016

Traveling Overseas Vegan-Style

You may have noticed that I've switched gears a little bit this year -- less frequent posting and mostly restaurant reviews. Why? I've been traveling for skydiving and BASE jumping A LOT! Most recently, I traveled overseas to a remote island off Panama where it was rumored there'd be no vegan food! Yes, seriously. We are talking a remote island two hours by boat from Panama where there are few restaurants and lots of fish.


How did I survive? Just to be safe, I brought a ton of food! I thought it would be helpful to share some tips.

First, I rented a villa. That's a house with a kitchen. That way if there weren't any restaurants to eat at, I could make my own food. Second, I contacted the local chef beforehand to let him know there'd be a vegan staying there for a week. As a result, he had bought Field Roast sausages, Hilary's burgers, vegan cheese, and more and was ready to cook when I arrived!

What kind of food did I bring? Here's some ideas of stuff you could bring while traveling.

No cook:
  • Purely Elizabeth cereal with almond milk
  • Raw Revolution bars with almond butter
  • Almond butter (good protein)
  • Trail mix
  • Mary's Gone Crackers pretzels
  • Go Macro protein bars
  • Dried mango 
  • Tastybite Indian Meals: ready to eat out of the pouch

Cook:
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Fig Food Co. soups: ready to eat out of pouch, but better when warm
  • Rice
  • Daiya cheesy mac (not that great)
  • Modern Table pasta meal
  • Lots of fresh veggies to make fajitas with salsa and tortillas
  • Asparagus

And on that, I survived. It was a great trip. Don't get stuck overseas without back-up food. As long as you have bars and trail mix, you'll survive!!


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sweet Earth - Frozen Meals

Sweet Earth Natural Foods recently reached out to me and asked if I'd be interested in trying their new line of frozen vegan world entree bowls. Yes, please. Although I will always continue to promote fresh, unprocessed whole foods, I must say that with my crazy traveling schedule this year, I've been seeking more convenience foods, and frozen foods can be a good choice. What's great about this line is that they are even being sold in Target! Talk about reaching the mainstream consumer!

Now, let me be clear -- not all frozen food is okay. Most of it, in fact, is loaded with all kinds of bad stuff. What I love about the new Sweet Earth bowls is that I couldn't find a bad ingredient in any of the five new vegan flavors.

Take the Kyoto Stir Fry for example. It was just so naturally good. The ingredient list includes organic brown rice, spinach, tofu, edamame, snow peas, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, miso, sesame oil, and pickled ginger -- all good stuff! The calories at 310 were reasonable, but the fat at 17 grams was quite high. There's 5 grams of fiber, 10 grams of protein, and 590 grams of sodium so while you are getting 20% of your recommended fiber for the day, you are also getting 25% of the max sodium.


I actually liked all five bowls. If I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be the Curry Tiger. Imagine lentils and brown rice along with broccoli, sweet potatoes, curry seitan, and a great curry sauce. Yum! 15 grams of protein, but 20 grams of fat...so yeah, all in moderation.


The Moroccan Tangine was absolutely delicious. Made with bulgur, garbanzo beans, sweet potatoes, raisins, and cinnamon, it had a lot of flavor and a lot of depth. This one was lower in calories and fat than the others, but higher in sodium.


The General Tso's Tofu was probably my least favorite, although I still thought it was good. I would have liked to see more broccoli and less tofu in this bowl, but that's just my preference. Also, the picture showed white rice, but there was brown rice inside. I hope they update their packaging soon.


Lastly, there is the Bean and Mango Cubano, which is a good, hearty, whole foods-type dish. It is just black beans, quinoa, and mango. I added some nutritional yeast and hot sauce for flavor. This is the kind of dish I could eat regularly -- simple, but good.


So, all in all, I'd say they've done an excellent job. The dishes have many organic ingredients and are all-natural, but realize that they can also be high in sodium. I did notice that I had to heat these dishes well beyond the amount of time listed in the directions. I usually had to stir and heat at least another minute. I'd also like to point out that there are 12 meals -- 7 of them are vegetarian and not vegan and 5 of them are vegan, so be sure to look at the front of the box, where either "vegetarian" or "vegan" is clearly stated. Great job, Sweet Earth! I'm so happy to have more convenient options in the freezer section.

Full Disclosure: Although the products were provided to me for free to review, that in no way influenced my veracious opinion.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Nuit du Champagne - Wine Event

As a lover of fine wine and a patron of regular wine tastings, I was very intrigued when the individuals behind Nuit du Champagne contacted me asking if I would help them promote an upcoming event in DC.


Nuit du Champagne will be hosting upscale wine events across the country this year to promote French Champagne as the only authentic Champagne. This series of festive events will have an educational twist to allow you to learn more about Champagne.

Hosted by the Sofitel hotel in Washington, DC, the first Nuit du Champagne event will be held on Tuesday, June 28 from 7 to 10 p.m.. The most prestigious French Champagne brands will be presenting a selection of their wines for this event including Veuve Clicquot, Moet & Chandon, Krug, Dom Perignon, and Ruinart.  To sign up, go to nuitduchampagne.com. Tickets start at $70 each.

Following this event, there will be others in Houston, Philadelphia, Miami, New York, and Chicago.

Nuit du Champagne is produced by French Touch Events, an experiential agency specialized in promoting French Excellence in the US and producing major Franco-American events.

CHAMPAGNE-BUCKET

Full Disclosure: They have offered me entry to this event in exchange for promoting it. As this is their first event, I have no experience with this organization.