Lay aside every weight (and the dairy too): My journey with meat and dairy free products…..

Growing up in Texas, anything containing beef and cheese was a-ok in my book! Nachos, burgers, chicken fried steak with cream gravy- ALL OF THAT was awesome! Yet as a kid, I would burn off those calories by simply running around on the playground. Fast forward to now- I have now realized that all of that meat and dairy aren’t the greatest for optimal health. While I haven’t totally eliminated these things from my diet, I will say that I strive to eat more-plant based foods daily. So…….here are my fave meat-free and dairy-free products:

Gardein– I have to admit, Gardein has consistently put out meat substitutes that are actually GOOD! From the beefless tips to the crabless cakes to the porkless bites (chuckles), I have managed to crank out some pretty tasty meals with their products.

Daiya– So far it is the best cheese substitute out there…..It stretches and melts beautifully. However, the taste is little “off”, but still works for me!

Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast– This stuff has become my best friend! It’s sodium free and helps with the cheesy cravings. It tastes pretty good on popcorn, too! Not to mention that it is absolutely wonderful as taco seasoning (see the pic below).

Earth Balance Buttery Spread– It’s like butter, and a step above regular margarine. I bake with it, scramble my eggs with it, and so on. My kids can’t tell the difference, so why spoil the fun?

Tofutti Vegan Sour Cream– Prior to buying this, I attempted to make vegan sour “cream” with tofu, apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of sugar. Of course, it was a culinary disaster, and I vowed to stick with the store-bought stuff. It makes my life easier.

This is just a tip of the vegan foodie iceberg……More to come!

‘Til next time!

Is it worth buying?: Truffle mac n cheese

Just about everyone who knows me knows that I am a foodie, and that when it comes to cuisine I am willing to try almost anything! (I say ALMOST, because unlike Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern I draw the line at eating stuff such as animal testicles, intestines, brains and bugs.) With that said, as I was grocery shopping at my local ALDI, my little brown eye saw IT: a box of truffle macaroni and cheese!13613365_10104686030359630_2488337853857073116_o
I’m learning NOT to be an implusive shopper, so I left that little package on the shelf as I made my way to the checkout line. Yet, I wondered: “I wonder if that stuff is really good….hmmmmmm….” Two days later, I plunked down $1.80 for this product and couldn’t wait to head home to serve it up! The truffle mac and cheese is actually ALDI’s gourmet line, Carefully Selected (the same line that produced my fave ice cream flavor, Coffee Espresso Chip) and is quite easy to prepare. The shell pasta was parboiled so there was no long cooking time. I added hot water to the powdered cheese-truffle blend, but there was no gritty taste whatsoever. In 5-7 minutes, the dish was ready to serve and it did not disappoint. It was delightfully cheesy, with a lovely buttery finish that was only enhanced by the earthiness of the truffles. In short, it was decadently rich without breaking the bank. Final verdict: I wholeheartedly recommend this product!!

Til’ next time!!