Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Food Review: Luce's Gluten-Free Artisan Bread Mixes

My baked Luce's Gluten-Free Artisan Bread Mix in Classic Sourdough

Written by Sarah E. Jahier

I was recently sent some samples of Luce's Gluten-Free Artisan Bread Mixes in Classic Sourdough and New Italian flavors. Though I am not gluten-free, I was still interested in trying these mixes since they are vegan and I love homemade bread but don't like all the work that goes along with making it from scratch, though I grew up in an Italian family where breadmaking was the norm (but I guess didn't catch with me)! When I received the cute little packets of bread mix, I was pretty ecstatic to see "just add water" on them! How much easier can you get? And let's face it, I am such a lazy vegan that if I can make homemade bread by just adding water to a mix, I'm totally gonna do it (sorry mom and dad!)!

What's contained in the bread mix kit - baking flour, white rice flour for
dusting, parchment paper and a baking bag!

I decided to make the Classic Sourdough first, since I looooove sourdough. I opened up the packet and found the flour mix, a parchment sheet, a baking bag, and a small bag of dusting flour. I followed the directions by adding the mix to a big bowl, adding the required water, stirring, waiting 5 minutes for the consistency to solidify, stirring again, forming a loaf on the parchment paper, sprinkling with the dusting flour, sticking in the baking bag, and BAM! Done! I went through the extra step of sticking the dough in the oven (with it just slightly warmed to 100 degrees) to let it rise a little. After that, I took it out, pre-heated the oven and baked the loaf for a little less than an hour and a half. The fresh-baked bread smell was heavenly while the baking process went on!

Look how beautiful the Classic Sourdough loaf turned out!

Once cooked through (I thumped on the loaf to make sure it had a hollow sound to make sure it was done), I took the loaf out of the baking bag and let cool thoroughly before trying a slice. While the outside seemed a little hard, the inside was perfectly baked and the hard crust gave it a nice contrasting bite! I tried my first slice plain, and it was really tasty on its own. I also tried the sourdough with some hot pepper spread and some Earth Balance vegan butter. My loaf turned out a bit on the flat side (entirely my fault - I didn't shape the dough into a tall enough loaf), but it was still really delicious and perfect for slathering with spreads or vegan butter!

Luce's Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in New Italian! 
Just look at that lovely loaf!

Next, I tried Luce's New Italian flavor. It was the same process of adding water, mixing, shaping the dough, and sticking it on the parchment paper in the baking bag to cook it in the oven. I felt like the second time around I was much quicker at everything since I was familiar with the process. One tip in the mixing process, this kind of dough is extremely sticky, so I used a slightly wet wooden spoon and a silicone spatula to mix it together and shape it into a loaf. If you use your hands, it will just create a big sticky, mess, so I highly recommend you use a mixing spoon and a spatula!

A close-up of the New Italian loaf - such a nice color and consistency!

The New Italian flavor came out a deeper brown color and had a great nutty flavor! I loved the Classic Sourdough flavor, but I think my favorite was the New Italian. The hearty loaf reminded me of the homemade bread my parents make, and reminded me of my Italian upbringing! This beautiful bread would be perfect served with a big bowl of soup or stew, or even as a snack drizzled with some olive oil and pepper!

Luce's Gluten-Free Artisan Bread Mixes were extremely easy to make and yielded delicious loaves of bread that I never would have guessed were gluten-free! If you are looking to make some quick homemade bread that is vegan and gluten-free, I would definitely recommend picking up these handy bread mixes!

You can find out more information on Luce's on their website

Monday, March 31, 2014

Food Review: Amy's Vegetable Pot Pie

Written by Sarah E. Jahier

I was in the mood for some comfort food, so I picked up the vegan version of Amy's Vegetable Pot Pie (make sure to get the dairy-free, vegan version since Amy's also makes one with dairy in it!), because what is more comforting than some tasty veggies engulfed in some creamy gravy-like sauce, all tucked away in a flaky pie crust?!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Food Review: Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar and Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Kettle Chips

Written by Sarah E. Jahier

Ok, I am slightly behind the times as I just picked up the two new Earth Balance kettle chip flavors this past month though they have been out on the market since the beginning of the year. I found them at my local Whole Foods and couldn't resist picking them up since I can't remember the last time I ate sour cream and onion or cheddar flavored chips!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Food Review: Venice Bakery's Vegan and Gluten-Free Pizza Crusts

Venice Bakery's Vegan and Gluten-Free Pizza Crust topped with 
Vegan Bacon, Kale, Avocado and Tomato and Smoky Cheddar Sauce
from The Sexy Vegan's recipe

Written by Sarah E. Jahier

If I had to pick a favorite food, I'm pretty sure it would be pizza. I can eat pizza any time of day, days and days in a row, and pretty much never get sick of it. I usually buy store-made dough and roll it out myself to make pizza, but I was recently sent pizza crusts from Venice Bakery to try out. They make pre-made pizza crusts that are both vegan and gluten-free! Now, I'm not gluten-free, but it is always nice to see another gluten-free option out there that is also vegan. And as long as it's vegan, I'll try it!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Food Review: Tofurky Pockets

Tofurky Pockets

Written by Sarah E. Jahier

I totally remember being a teen and enjoying Hot Pockets on occasion...I loved the convenience of popping them in the microwave and enjoying a hot, gooey snack (though definitely NOT a healthy one). So when Tofurky came out with their vegan version, I was ecstatic (as were many other vegans)!

I found the Tofurky Pockets on sale (score!) at my local Whole Foods and had to try each flavor, which include BBQ Chick'n, Turk'y Broccoli and Cheddar, and Pepperoni Pizza. Each box holds two Pockets and they come in microwavable pouches.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

My Top 10 Vegan Products at Natural Products Expo West

Written by Sarah E. Jahier

This year was the first time I attended the Natural Products Expo West, held every year at the Anaheim Convention Center, which is only about 20 minutes from my house. I was super-excited to be able to attend the Expo, where companies show off their latest and greatest products. Lots of vegan companies were in attendance (represent!), so I was able to check out many, many new products as well as stuffing my face with samples of my favorite vegan foods. Yes, I ate LOTS and LOTS of samples, but it was all for you, dear readers! I just HAD to eat every vegan thing in sight so I could dutifully report my findings to you, right? Righhhhhtttt...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

5 Must-Try Vegan Options in Orange County

Written by Sarah E. Jahier

I have SUCH exciting news, ghouls and boils! I wrote my first article for Vegansaurus about "5 Must-Try Vegan Options in Orange County" and it was published this past Monday!!! I am so over-the-moon excited about this because 1) Vegansaurus straight up rocks and you should be reading it regularly if you aren't already, 2) Vegansaurus has always been there for me on my vegan journey and I could always rely on them for straight talk peppered with sass! It truly is an honor to see my writing on a site I have read for years and years now!

You can check out the article on the "5 Must-Try Vegan Options in Orange County" on Vegansaurus or read all about these awesome places below. 

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: while LA is undoubtedly the vegan Mecca in Southern California, Orange County isn't far behind. Orange County is located between Los Angeles and San Diego, roughly an hour from each, and has amassed quite a collection of excellent vegan restaurants that are definitely worth the visit.

Since it would probably take at least a few dozen paragraphs to tell you about all the vegan options in Orange County, I've decided to spare you a wall of text and instead recommend restaurants based on meal-times throughout the day, from brunch to a late night snack. A lot of people will be coming to town this upcoming weekend to attend the Natural Products Expo, not to mention those who visit for the beaches or Disneyland on a regular basis, so now is the perfect time to recommend the best vegan options for those on a tight schedule or for those that may only be visiting Orange County for a day or two. I've only included restaurants that are unique to Orange County so you can maximize your time and try new things!

The vegan Huevos Rancheros at Seabirds Kitchen

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Vegan Hot Dogs at LinX Artisan Sausage in Old Town Orange, CA

Written by Sarah E. Jahier

I am always so stoked when non-veg restaurants offer up a vegan option to their customers! So when I heard that LinX Artisan Sausage in Old Town Orange was serving up a vegan hot dog, I couldn't wait to go down there and check it out!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Restaurant Review: Vegan Cuisine in Fountain Valley, CA

Written by Sarah E. Jahier

I've said it before and I'll say it again - we are spoiled with vegan food places here in Orange County! We are so spoiled that in my 6+ years as a vegan I haven't even been to all of them yet. Shocking, right?! Plus, new ones keep popping up! I'm definitely not complaining, it just means I have oodles of options when it comes to dining out!

A new vegan restaurant called "Vegan Cuisine" opened up within the last two months in Fountain Valley, California, less than 10 miles where I live. After some friends posted pics on Instagram, I knew I had to check it out! This is another restaurant that serves vegan Asian food, but they also have some good old fashioned Americanized comfort food like fried chicken, burgers and even lasagna on weekends!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Vegan Options at Universal Studios Hollywood

Written by Sarah E. Jahier

Mister Spooky surprised me last month with an impromptu trip up to Los Angeles to visit the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park. I was super-stoked to go since I hadn't been there since I was a kid! Plus, I hadn't yet been to their "House of Horrors" maze or ridden The Mummy ride yet! However, I was a little concerned about finding vegan options at Universal, since I hadn't exactly heard good things from other vegans regarding the theme park's food.

Visiting my friend Norman at the Bates Motel.
Whatcha got there, Norman?

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