Violife Prosociano

violife prosocianoIf you’ve been vegan for a while, you know that finding a substitute for Parmesan is not an easy task. There are things you can sprinkle on your pasta or your soup that give a similar cheesy umami taste – like nutritional yeast flakes, or mixtures of nutritional yeast with nuts and salt – and these are delicious and absolutely worthy additions to your food repertoire in their own right! But it can’t quite replicate that special experience of grating fresh, pungent cheese onto your dish.

Enter Violife. I’ve already written glowingly about some of their other cheeses, so I was excited to try this new product when I saw it on the Shavt webshop. My first impression on opening the package was “Whoa, this smells like cheese!” Which is not surprising considering it’s made with “parmesan flavor”. It grates smoothly, like a hard cheese, and sprinkled on pasta is definitely reminiscent of those Italian hard cheeses (Parmesan, Pecorino, or Asiago) that I used to get from the Italian market back in my pre-vegan days. It’s quite expensive compared to other vegan cheese blocks, but you really only need a sprinkling of it, and the block lasted me a much longer time than other blocks like Wilmersburger, that I use for things like sandwiches. This is definitely a premium product, but then, so is the original dairy version.

I got my block at Shavt, but I suspect other vegan specialty stores (online and bricks and mortar stores) probably sell this too.

La William Mayella (Colruyt)

la william mayellaEver since Dutch vegans started getting their hands on an accidentally-vegan mayo in the Netherlands, I’ve been hoping against hope that we’d get something similar here. I kept picking up reduced-calorie mayonnaise from different brands and checking their ingredient lists with no success. Then last week in the Colruyt, Mr. VSiB happened to check this little bottle of Mayella from La William at the BBQ display, and lo and behold! Accidentally vegan!!

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. In the bottle, it seemed a lot more fluid than normal mayo, and in use, that first impression was confirmed. I tried it with fries, and while it sticks to the fries, it doesn’t hold a peak like other mayos and tends to form a puddle on your plate. It definitely seems more suited for, say, salads, and I did try it on a salad, where it was more successful than on the friet. I’ve tried the Remia Mayolijn (friends from NL brought it once) which I’ve found overly sweet, and this Mayella comes closer to the slightly sour flavor profile of Belgian mayo, but it’s still a tad sweeter than Bio-Keuken Veganaise. I think I prefer the Veganaise over this both in terms of flavor and texture, but it’s nice that there’s now an accidentally-vegan mayo option in the supermarket! That’s assuming that this stays in their selection. I couldn’t find this product on the La William website, so it may be just a summer special edition product.

So far, I’ve only seen this at the Colruyt in their summer BBQ product section.

Terra Vegane Mac & Cheez

Terra vegane mac & cheezI recently placed my first order from Shavt in Leuven (highly recommended!) and couldn’t wait to try out a bunch of new-to-me products that I saw there. One of the ones I was most excited to try was this boxed (bagged) Mac & Cheez from Terra Vegane. I like making my own sometimes – I used a modified version of this recipe (warning: video) – but having grown up with Kraft Mac & Cheese, I have been on the hunt for a similar easy-peasy boxed M&C experience.

Not surprisingly, there’s a lot more choice in boxed vegan Mac & Cheese/Cheez/Cheeze in North American than there is here in Europe, so when I’ve been able to get ahold of American/Canadian brands (including Road’s End and Daiya), I’ve tried them out. They’ve all been edible, although not as good as the version I make, and they really don’t replicate the Kraft experience I remember from my youth. So I wasn’t really expecting much from this brand either. But to my surprise, this is REALLY good. I mean really really good! Of course, it’ll never taste like the stuff I grew up with, but of all the boxed Mac & Cheeses I’ve tried since going vegan, this one comes the closest, both in terms of flavor and ease of preparation. I will definitely be ordering this again! (If you want to see what it looks like prepared, check out Seitan is My Motor’s photo on FB!)

So far I’ve only run across this brand at Shavt, but keep an eye out for it at other vegan specialty stores and possibly health-food stores.

SoFine Mexican Chili (Delhaize)

sofine mexican chiliSome days you’re just too tired to cook (or like now, it’s too hot to cook) and at times like that, I’ve always wished there were more ready-made vegan meals on the market. So I was excited to try this SoFine Mexican Chili I stumbled on in the “vegan meat” section of the Delhaize recently. You can warm it up in 4-5 minutes in a pan or in the microwave and serve it as you like with rice, in a wrap, with tortilla chips, whatever strikes your fancy.

I ate mine over whole wheat mini-macaroni, and grated  some Strong Cheddar Sheese over the top. This was surprisingly good. I do like my chili spicier than a lot of people so I found it a bit mild and sprinkled it liberally with Tabasco to give it an extra kick, but other than that, it was quite flavorful! I would definitely buy this again, and I see on their Dutch website that they also have an Indonesian Saté with the vegan logo on it (the Thai Curry on the same page looks like it’s vegetarian, but not vegan), so I hope that the Saté will also be available in Belgium soon.

So far, I’ve only ever seen this at the Delhaize and a quick look at the websites of other supermarkets leads me to think it might only be available there for the moment.

GranoVita Vegane Feine Bratwurst

granovita vegan bratwurstGranoVita has a number of vegetarian-but-not-vegan sausages and the health food store nearest me tends to stock those most of the time. Each and every time, I’ll check the ingredients just in case there’s a vegan one hiding in there, and most times I’m disappointed. But every once in a while, there’ll be these vegan bratwust sitting there in the fridge, smiling down at me, and when it happened recently, I knew I had to buy them before they disappeared.

These come individually wrapped in a plastic casing. After cutting them out of the casings, I grilled these up in a pan in some olive oil. The outer layer forms a really nice crispy crust. I have on occasion had vegan sausages that were tough one the outside once you browned them in the pan, but these were still easy to cut through. These sausages are tofu based rather than seitan based and the texture reflects that. They have a very smooth, fine consistency that’s not necessarily as “meaty” as seitan, but is still quite pleasant. They’re nicely flavored and work well dipped in ketchup and a bit of Veganaise.

I’ve only ever seen these at the health food store.

 

Delhaize Kids Choco Puffies (Delhaize)

delhaize kids choco puffiesAfter I posted about finally finding a vegan breakfast cereal a few weeks back, a bunch of people contacted me pointing out other vegan cereals they’ve stumbled upon, and an interesting trend seemed to emerge. There are more accidentally-vegan store-brand cereals than name-brand cereals. There tends to be less hidden dairy, less honey, and less vitamin D (the three main culprits that seem to push cereals into non-vegan territory) in these cheaper brands than in “fancy” cereals.

So recently in a tiny Delhaize Shop & Go, I casually picked up their store brand of Kids Choco Puffies, read the ingredient list several times to make sure I hadn’t missed anything, and happily dropped a box into my basket!
It’s been years since I’ve had a kids’ cereal, so this felt a little decadent. These are nicely crisp little chocolate flavored puffs. I don’t know why, but to me, they had a slightly “burnt” taste, for lack of a better word. That didn’t stop me from eating several bowls in a row right away. And I made a happy discovery: chocolate cereal and hazelnut milk are a winning combination!

These are from Delhaize’s home brand, so that’s where you’ll find these.

Ola Swedish Glace

ola swedish glaceSummer is breaking through and it’s finally ice-cream weather. And as luck would have it, there’s a new vegan ice-cream available in Belgium! Ola has produced a vegan, soy-based Swedish Glace, available in vanilla and raspberry flavors.

The funny thing is, Ola actually approached me a few months ago, asking if they could send me a sample of this product for review, but then never did. I got tired of waiting and after the third time of walking by this in the supermarket freezer, I finally just bought it. I decided to go for the “Delightful Raspberry” flavor, as there’s already a vegan vanilla ice-cream available in Belgian supermarkets.

Well, it’s lovely! It’s creamy, but also really light. The ice cream itself has a sweet raspberry flavor to it, but there’s also a slightly more tart raspberry-flavored vein running through it giving it a pleasant contrast. I will definitely be buying this again, and am looking forward to trying the vanilla (to be dressed with some chocolate or caramel toppings). And I hope they bring more flavors to Belgium. (Apparently, there are several flavors available in the UK.)

I found this at Colruyt, but Ola informed me that they are also selling it at the Makro, Cora, Match, and Smatch.