Favorite Products

This list is not about health food. It's about taste. These are things that made going vegan easier for me, and things that are easy, go-to products. They are also my personal favorites. I can not speak for the entire vegan community. No one can. We each have our own preferences. You will probably not enjoy everything listed here, but if you see something that you haven't tried, I urge you to do so. I also welcome the suggestion of any product that you think I might enjoy, based on this list. Email me at: madonna816 @ yahoo . com (No spam, please.)

*SoyBoy Tofu - www.soyboy.com - An absolute staple in our house. I do not care for mass produced tofu, such as Nasoya (though it has its uses). I am very lucky to be able to get this in bulk at our local co-op. It has the best texture and firmness, and it's organic. (Please, if you buy nothing else organic, I implore you to make sure that your soy & corn products are organic. You've probably heard of the term GMO. Unless you eat organic, you're likely eating GMO (aka Frankenfood), not to mention pesticides. Not even Farm Aid likes GMO crops so that should tell you something.)
*UPDATE: Much to my dismay, SoyBoy has discontinued their bulk tofu. This has not gone over well in our house. Thankfully, their packaged, extra firm tofu is still a decent alternative, and noticeably better than any other that I've tried.

Field Roast Sausage - http://www.fieldroast.com/ - Their sausages are made with seitan. Addictively good!!! They also make roasts that we enjoy, though Tofurky is our personal preference.

Speaking of Tofurky ( www.tofurky.com ), I adore them!!! I know that might not be the popular thing to say, but it's true & I won't hide my adoration! I love their roast. I love the stuffing inside of it & their gravy. I also have an unhealthy addiction to their mock lunch meat slices. My co-op usually has Tofurky wraps available & I have to force myself to not buy them. More times than not, I cave & get one. Especially when they make special holiday Tofurky wraps that include cranberry sauce (SO hungry now!). Tofurky also has frozen vegan pizza. Mama Celeste anyone? Yes, it's frozen. Yes, it's crazy expensive. Yes, it's high in everything bad for you. But if you ever loved Mama Celeste, they scratch an occasional itch.

*Daiya ( http://www.daiyafoods.com/ ) & Follow Your Heart ( http://www.followyourheart.com/ ) cheeses. To be very honest, I prefer homemade vegan cheese & cheese sauces. They're surprisingly easy to make, much more economical, & they taste a million times better. However, for pizza, which we make often, I tend to use a blend of Daiya & Follow Your Heart (FYH comes in blocks & needs to be shredded). Daiya is definitely the most popular pre packaged cheese, coming in a cheddar & a mozzarella version (they're set to release a pepper jack version this spring), but it's starting to lose its appeal for me. FYH is not the best, and I do not recommend eating it straight from the package, but it melts well & I'm actually using it more and more as our main pizza cheese (when I don't just use dollops of homemade tofu ricotta, which is phenomenal!).
*UPDATE: We are obsessed with Daiya's new wedges. It's worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize...not kidding! This is the product to get all reluctant vegetarians on-board!!! Comes in 3 flavors: Jalapeno Garlic Havarti, Cheddar, & Jack. Havarti is my absolute favorite (melt some in a sammie, with Tofurky slices & mustard = heaven). I would say that their Jack flavor tastes more like American cheese, but I'm OK with that. This stuff is cheese, in every sense, but without the cruelty! I'm totally OK with that, too! Thank You Daiya!!!

Everything from *Amy's Organics - http://www.amyskitchen.com/ - (They label everything that's vegan at the beginning of the ingredients list.) In general, my wife will not cook & I'm not always home to fix her something &, frankly, sometimes I'm not in the mood & want something quick. I've yet to have anything that wasn't good. The burritos are our favorite (which even Wal-Mart carries, for much cheaper than most places). Probably 80% of the entire line is vegan, all of it organic, and they don't use preservatives. The cheese-less pizza is a good frozen pizza (though homemade is SO easy, especially if you buy the dough pre made in the grocery store. It trumps anything frozen), and for pre-made mac & cheese, they make a lovely vegan alternative (though making your own is by far cheapest & tastiest) however, the soups & chili are products that we always have in our house.
*UPDATE: Their Tofu Scramble Pockets are our new favorite! Very tasty & not a lot of calories. I also want to mention that you should save your Proof of Purchase: http://www.amys.com/community/proof-of-purchase (TIP: I've sent them with the form, as well as without. When I sent them without the form, I got a TON of coupons (including some for free products), along with a lunch bag, magnets & notepad. No coupons were sent to me when I used the form. Next time I'm gonna mail 'em, I'm not using the form. Free/cheap food is way better than ANOTHER water bottle!)

Mahalo, by Go Max Go - http://www.gomaxgofoods.com/ - It's like an Almond Joy, but better! Michelle, my wife, is obsessed. They do make vegan versions of other candy bars, but none (IMO) compare with Mahalo.

Rocky Road Bark, by Sweet & Sara - http://www.sweetandsara.com/ - OMG! Honestly, everything by Sweet & Sara is AMAZING! I never cared for eating traditional marshmallows from the package. Her marshmallows, I just can't get enough of them. Seriously, if you're unfamiliar, check out her site. She has a full line of products & they're all outstanding!

Cherrybrook Farms - www.cherrybrookkitchen.com - These fine people make allergen free, vegan friendly cake, brownie & cookie mixes that are impressive for a mix. Homemade, from scratch, is always better, but until I got more comfortable with vegan baking, these worked well for me (they're also more Michelle's speed, but only when she's feeling really adventurous). If you love baked goods, but fear baking, give these a try.

Earth Balance - www.earthbalancenatural.com - makes the #1 best selling vegan butter substitutes (aka vegan margarine, but healthier than traditional margarine). It truly is awesome in recipes & as a spread. It comes in sticks (best for baking) & tubs. You can find it in most major grocery stores, usually in the refrigerated health food/natural section.

Tofutti - www.tofutti.com - makes sour cream that I absolutely love! Pretty awesome cream cheese, too. They make a variety of other products (not all of them vegan, but the ones that are, they label), but those are the 2 we alway use when we need/want such items. Both can be made at home, and I've made great versions, but I actually prefer theirs.

So Delicious - http://www.turtlemountain.com/ - These folks make our favorite milk & creamer (coconut based) & ice cream (in a coconut base & a soy base). Their products can be found in most grocery stores, in the natural/health food section.

Added note: Vegan milk comes in countless varieties & they seem to be coming out with a new milk every week. Rice, almond, soy, coconut, hazelnut, hemp... in sweetened, unsweetened, vanilla flavored, chocolate flavored... some will be in the refrigerated section & some are in special containers on the shelves. It's all a matter of personal preference. My favorites are in the refrigerated sections (depending on the store, either with cows milk, or refrigerated in the health food section). I also really like Silk's soy milk & almond milk. If you aren't crazy about one, there are plenty more to try.

Gardein - http://www.gardein.com/ - We're big fans of their chick'n tenders! They make a lot of mock meat products, all of them vegan & they're in most grocery stores. Some are in the produce section, near the tofu, and some are frozen so they'll either be in God-knows-where general frozen foods, or they'll be in a freezer in the health food section. I can't say I've tried a lot, but I like what I've tried (with the exception of the Buffalo Wings, but I know folks who love them). Michelle is crazy about the BBQ Pulled Shreds, too (a mock pulled pork). I've also made Chef Tal's southern fried chick'n, twice, using Gardein's Chick'n Scallopini. It's outstanding!!! Mind blowing, even. A keeper, for sure. Mind you, it ain't health food. Nothing deep fried is. But if you ever enjoyed eating fried chicken, then fried "chick'n" is certainly the better option. Look mom, no veins!

LightLife - http://www.lightlife.com/ - Not everything they make is vegan (it will be labeled), but what they make (that I've tried) is excellent. Their Smart Dogs are fantastic. Their GimmeLean Ground Sausage is frighteningly realistic, and their Smart Breakfast Links are delicious (I bake them in a cheezy cornbread, with tofutti sour cream, a little Daiya cheddar, and some hot peppers. It makes for a tasty, special occasion breakfast, that's just like the non vegan version my mom use to make. *Recipe "soon."). Again, their products are widely available in most grocery stores, usually near the tofu.
*UPDATE: Wow, totally forgot to update this. The recipe has been up for quite some time. Oops: http://veganhelper.blogspot.com/2011/04/christmas-cornbread.html

We Can't Say It's Cheese - http://www.wayfarefoods.com/ - They might not be able to say it, but I sure will. WOW! If you can locate them, try them! Their spreads and dips are outstanding! At least that's our opinion. You can track down the nearest seller through their website. Seriously, I took them to a party full of cheese eating omnivores & they were a huge hit, & no one could tell it was vegan. Try not telling people before you get them to eat it & see what happens. As a vegetarian, I was heavily dependent on eggs & dairy, especially cheese, and I can tell you truly, this stuff rocks!

Veganaise (another Follow Your Heart product http://www.followyourheart.com/ ) - It's an excellent vegan mayonnaise that comes in a few different varieties. I've been able to try regular, grapeseed oil, & organic. I prefer organic, for obvious reasons, but they're all good. You can find Vegenaise in most major grocery stores, usually where they keep the Earth Balance.

Seventh Generation ( http://www.seventhgeneration.com/ ) They make great cleaning products that are w/o animal ingredients & they do not test on animals. Their products are also environmentally friendly, w/o harsh chemicals, and are widely available (they also tend to be cheaper than most vegan friendly products. If you're concerned about cost (and who isn't?), watch for coupons, sign up on their website for web coupons, and look for sales).

Lastly, is peanut butter, but I'm not enorsing a name brand. Most peanut butter is vegan, but it wasn't until I went vegan that I discovered the bliss of freshly ground peanut butter. Turns out that most health food stores & co-op's have machines that let you grind your own peanut and/or almond butter. I can not believe that I ate sugar, salt & oil added peanut butter for so many years. Nothing compares to the real thing! Nothing!