Saturday, April 23, 2011

Product Review: Nacheez - It Even Fools the Cats!

At Berkeley Vegan Earth Day, I had the opportunity to sample and bring home two jars of Nacheez - a vegan "queso" style cheese to pour over nachos.  I had all sorts of ideas about steamed broccoli and mac-n-cheese but to be honest - both jars of Nacheez Spicy ended up on Nachos.  My friend Scott (an omnivore) & I had nachos with 1 bag of organic tortilla chips, 4 chopped up spring onions and some spicy organic salsa - that made a pretty good dinner.  The Nacheez is mostly nutritional yeast based, and pretty low calorie - 1 jar is 7 servings, at 20 calories per serving that's 140 calories per jar.

To be honest - I didn't even sample the mild version.  The spicy version isn't too spicy but it has a nice flavor with bits of peppers in it, smoky, cheesy and rich.  My cats went loco when I heated up the nachos and while my friend & I were eating them.  George, especially, was all over my lap, begging for cheesy goodness. 

Right now, it's available at Never Felt Better Vegan Boutique and at Food Fight! (they do online orders).

This is totally NOT the sort of thing that I would have bought based on anyone's review or seeing it on a shelf.  I never bought the non-vegan versions but this stuff is way better in flavor than the horribly oily orange non-vegan queso stuff that gets slopped on tortilla chips. 

I'm all over Nacheez - looking forward to getting my hands on some more - but it does seem kind of silly for me to order it from a Portland store when it is made 100 miles away in Sacramento... so I guess I'll have to wait for it to show up here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Plant Sale in Oakland on May 7!

Thanks to Girl on Bike for excellent news about an upcoming North Oakland plant sale

Spring Plant Swap in the North Oakland Golden Gate Community. 

Have plants you need to prune? Extras that don't seem to fit in with your home or garden? Started too many seeds this year? Why not bring them all down to the North Oakland Plant Swap and trade them with your neighbors for some new-to-you plants and gardening supplies.

At the plant swap you can bring plants, cuttings, seedlings, starts, foraged plants, and seeds of edible & non edible plants.
This is also a great place to bring any extra gardening supplies you have: pots, natural fertilizers, vermicompost/worms, garden tools, stepping stones, etc. 
Pass them all on to a new home and come pick up some new-to-you plants for your garden and home.

Need to donate your plants earlier than the swap date? No problem. We will be accepting donations at the swap location May 4th, 5th, & 6th. 

The only entrance fee is something brought to add to the swap.
*Please remember to label each of your plants with these Plant Information Sheets

Spring Swap:
Saturday May 7th

5927 San Pablo Ave.

Oakland, CA 94608
(on the Berkeley/Emeryville border)

Saturday, April 02, 2011


Vegan marshmallows are the height of decadent vegan junk food, right?  I've always been a big Sweet & Sara marshmallow fan since they are easily picked up at Whole Foods.  Vegan Essentials had a discount, so I picked up some Dandies with my last order.  I also took advantage of a Groupon for Sweet & Sara and bought a bunch of stuff I haven't tried yet from them.

There are some distinct differences between the two marshallows -- the Dandies are big, round & puffy like their gelatin-derived cousins.  Perfect for putting onto a stick and melting.  They are lighter and fluffier.  The Sweet & Sara marshmallows are denser, chewier & have a richer vanilla flavor - their strawberry marshmallow is pretty fantastic, too!

THE S'MORES TEST:   The shape of Sweet & Sara's marshmallows makes it really easy to use scissors to cut it in half across the middle for two flat squares to lay out on a graham cracker, with chocolate on the other side.  I just slide that into the toaster oven on "broil" and by the time the marshmallows are puffing up, the chocolate is melted just enough and I snap the cracker in the middle and press the two sides together.  The lower profile of the Sweet & Sara marshmallow works better in the toaster oven.

The Dandies marshmallow got kind of crispy (still delicious) and works better for the outdoors s'smores, toasted on a stick version.

THE FONDUE TEST:  Since they are so big, I usually find myself snipping up the Sweet & Sara marshmallows into little squares to dip into melted chocolate & chill as a super yummy treat!  They are just too big to eat whole with fondue.  As they are fluffier and not quite as rich, the Dandies work really well in fondue.

RECOMMENDATION:  Buy them both!  I like Sweet & Sara for toaster s'mores and Dandies for fondue, but both have excellent & distinct flavors.

Other Sweet & Sarah treats I tried included the Cinnamon & Hazelnut biscotti - they were delicious - they had a rich crumbly texture like pecan sandies, weren't too busted up in shipping and went really well with my coffee.  I'm half-Italian by heritage, so that makes me a dunker - these cookies stand up pretty well to the dunking test (just don't dunk the same area more than twice or you will have mushy coffee).  I also tried a sample of the Rocky Road - that was quite delicious but I prefer making that kind of treat at home since it's so easy to toast some pecans/almonds, chop up marshmallows and melt chocolate.