Review: Gardein’s meat-free pizza pockets

Review: Gardein’s meat-free pizza pockets

I’ve been waiting for this.

Earlier this year, Gardein teased that they were unveiling a new product. They posted hints on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, saying it was easy to take on the go, would be crispy on the outside, and deliver on flavour. Oh yes, and they described it as a ‘party animal,’ too.

A week after their first announcement, Gardein officially announced that they had come up with their own version of a pizza pocket, to the rejoice of vegans everywhere.

Gardein previously came out with pulled porkless pockets, which are to die for, and italian sausage pockets, which I wasn’t as crazy about. Later this year, they’re also supposed to start distributing breakfast pockets, which people are already going nuts for in tastings.

Last week, I found these at my local Save-On Foods, and got real giddy about it. I’m always into trying a bold, new product like this.

So, naturally, I gave it a whirl.

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So it’s a bit tinier than a hot pocket. And it leaked a little bit. But it’s hella cute.

Biting into it, the first thing that jumped out to me is that it’s not immediately like a pepperoni pizza pocket. I mean, it’s definitely like eating a pizza pocket, with the vegan mozzarella and tomato sauce. But the meat doesn’t really remind me of pepperoni.

With that said, if you’re going to harshly judge a vegan product and always expect it to be like the original thing, you’re going to have a bad time.

The flavours are definitely Italian-inspired, however. I know some people really love Italian spices, and for me… I’m not crazy about them. I mean, if someone told me I could never eat Italian food ever again, I’d be a bit bummed, but I would survive easily.

But I can appreciate this. It’s a pretty unoffensive fix for a pizza craving. It’s only 210 calories, and has 7 grams of fat in a serving. It’s not the best nutritionally, of course, but I can guarantee its certainly better for you than a slice of pepperoni pizza.

With some thoughtful consideration, I’m going to give them 3.5 forks out of 5. They’re pretty decent, but Gardein still has some work to do.

All in all, though, it’s the start of something beautiful. Vegan pizza pockets. Incredible.

Who doesn’t like pizza?

Who doesn’t like pizza?

Oh, pizza. It should be its own group, really.

By a turn of fate, I ended up writing two pizza-related posts this week, perhaps inspired by my own insatiable appetite for the stuff. But I digress.

If you’re like me and you have a love-hate relationship with cheese — in that you love it until you remember you’re lactose intolerant — this recipe might be for you. It’s pretty simple, and doesn’t have animal products in it. Really, it suits most diets. Except that of the gluten-free crowd. I’m sorry, I’ll get to you guys next time.

I first theorized making individual pizzas on pitas a few years ago. Then again, I’m positive I’m not the person who came up with it. But either way, it changed the way I make pizza at home for good.

Like most fans of a pizza pie, I don’t mind the stuff at all next day. But most homemade pizza isn’t good the next day. I think it’s a conspiracy to make you tempted to eat it all in one go and hate yourself.

Essentially, that’s how I came up with this. It’s easy to make, it’s quick to make, and it’s relatively cheap depending on the ingredients.

 

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That cheese pull, though.

Here’s what you need to keep around the kitchen to whip this bad boy up in 10 minutes flat.

  • one pita. I used a pita pocket, so the temperature might need to be different if you decide to go the route of a fluffy pita.
  • three pieces of sundried tomato in oil
  • a handful of spinach
  • 1/3 cup of daiya mozzarella shreds
  • two tablespoons of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of simulated bacon bits (Totally optional. I did it for this pie just because I felt like it. If you haven’t figured out yet, that’s my style of cooking.)

First, turn your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Really. That’s all you need to cook the pizza. Or to melt the ingredients together, I suppose.

While your oven is getting ready, chop up your sundried tomato pieces into small, diced cubes. They’re not the easiest things in the world to cut up, so try your best.

If you opt to work with simulated bacon bits, here’s a tip to get more of a satisfying chew out of them: just soak them in water for a few minutes prior to use. You don’t need a lot of water, maybe a ratio of 1 part water to two parts of bacon bits. But it helps a lot to make them more tasty.

Swirl the tomato sauce onto the pita. Try to keep it evenly distributed, because the pita pocket has wrinkles that trap sauce. Sauce pockets!

Next, sprinkle your bacon bits and sundried tomato onto the pizza. Blanket it in some mozzarella shreds, and finally, assemble the spinach.

When the oven is heated and your pizza is all cleaned up, place it directly on the highest rack in your oven. Set a timer for 10 minutes, but keep an eye on it. You’ll want to take it out when the cheese changes consistency. Any longer than 10 minutes, and you’ll likely burn the bottom of the pita. And that’s a no-no.

It doesn’t take long, and … yesssss. Your pizza is served.

There’s nothing you can’t do with this pizza. It’s a filling, easy-clean-up dinner when you’re in a rush, and such a versatile recipe.

What’s your favourite kind of pizza?

The top five dishes I’ve eaten, as per my instagram

The top five dishes I’ve eaten, as per my instagram

Alternative title: a wild ride in extravagant filters and editing apps

If you eat something, and you didn’t instagram it, did you really eat it? Did I just find a dieting loophole?

Doubt it. But it stands to reason, this is how we eat now, and I fully embrace it.

I wanted to take some time today to show my appreciation for instagram, and what better way to do that then go on a journey through all the food I have documented throughout the years with it? How else would I have known I had a Caesar loaded with snacks almost two years ago now? That’s an important memory I want to cherish.

So, looking back, from newest to oldest, here are my top five food picks from my instagram.

😍

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This burrito bowl from Chipotle, March 2016.

I could have been fancier, but I hadn’t been to Chipotle in more than six months at this point, so I opted for my usual, to not disappoint. The chicken burrito bowl with brown rice, mild and hot salsa, lettuce, and black beans will not disappoint. I would have gotten a burrito, but I knew I’d be eating this for breakfast, and needed something leftover friendly.

Thai 4 days

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This feast of Thai food, August 2015.

If you haven’t been to Ban Chok Dee in Langley, you gotta. It’s great. I went there for the first time last year on Valentine’s Day, and I was certainly treated with some of the best lettuce wraps.

Falafel is bae

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Falafel salad, May 2015.

2015: The year of good eats. 2016 will be an even greater year of eats, but I a. haven’t documented them yet, and b. haven’t gotten through the entire year either. I love falafels, they are so tasty, and pretty good for you if you’re not loading them up with fat. I’m pretty sure these ones are vegan and gluten-free, or at least easy to make gluten-free.

Good morning! Or afternoon. Whatever.

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Breakfast at Brioche, August 2014.

Oh, Brioche. How I miss it. Brioche is a cafe in Gastown that makes delicious breakfast, along with pasta, desserts, and daily specials. Their food is delightful homecooking, and a lot more than you’d expect as it’s kind of a hole-in-the-wall place you wouldn’t know about otherwise.

GOD SENT

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An individual sized pizza from Boston Pizza, December 2011.

According to my instagram feed, this was the first thing I posted. Waaaaay back, in the end of 2011. Pretty sure I had just gotten my first iPhone, and needed to take high quality photos with it. I believe this was a fajita-style pizza, with peppers, and loads of guac and sour cream. Super healthy.

#TBT: The definitive guide to making a green smoothie

#TBT: The definitive guide to making a green smoothie

I know they look kind of weird, but the majesty of a green smoothie is that something that, frankly, looks gross can taste so good and fill your body with valuable vitamins and nutrients. If you want to incorporate more veggies into your diet effortlessly, you probably need to learn how to make one you find palatable.

First, you get your greens. Whatever greens you use depends mostly on what you want in your smoothie. Kale and Spinach are good starters, but know that spinach blends up easier than kale. Both are good sources of fibre, too. Some people like swiss chard and beet leaves in their too, but I find those too stem-y for my liking.

Next, your base. This part is entirely up to you for the aesthetic of the drink, but I prefer to choose a fruit like mangos, pineapple, apples or peaches to keep the colour green. Frozen fruit works a bit better to bind everything together, but don’t fret if yours isn’t – fresh works good too! And don’t forget about other veggies that can be added in, namely cucumber and celery.

Now, you want to get it nice and mixed up. So what kind of liquids go well in the perfect smoothie? Well, one great drink to mix in is coconut water. Frankly, smoothies are the only place I accept coconut water, since I find it gross on its own. But maybe you like it, no judgement. Also think about using almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, or just actual cow’s milk.

Finally, your add-ins. Chia seeds make a good accessory to your drink because they add omega-3s and fibre. Some people like to add protein powder, which is acceptable if it’s a flavour that won’t mess with the other flavours muddled in there. If you don’t have protein for that extra pow, greek yogurt can do wonders to flesh it out with more protein to keep you fuller for longer.

If you want to see these steps in action, here’s a simple smoothie to try out. Spinach, frozen pineapple, coconut water, and a little bit of lemon juice.

So get your pineapple and spinach in a magic bullet cup, or any other blending cup. How many? This many.

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Next, add coconut water up until you almost cover the spinach, but not quite. Then you can start blending it together.

It’ll probably get stuck, so I used lemon juice to get it loosened. Also helps bring out the flavour of the pineapple. Which, you know, you want up front and centre.

If you are fresh out of lemon juice or anything else that would make the smoothie taste better, don’t be afraid to try just plain water. Like, you could just used water instead of coconut water in this, too. But coconut water is super hydrating and I have to drink it, according to the internet.

So once you’ve blended everything together, it should look like this!

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Once you’re there, feel free to drink it out of the cup, or put it into any decorative mason jar that might be kicking around.

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And to think people say they’re gross.

Congrats, you’ve successfully made a green smoothie you could probably convince anyone to drink. But why would you? It’s all yours.

This post comes to you from my old health and fitness blog, the real fit girl! I will be posting my old work from there here from time to time, so be sure to check out the #tbt tag!

Wakey wakey, eggs and bakey (Or not.)

Wakey wakey, eggs and bakey (Or not.)

The best part of my weekend is getting to wake up later, and make an awesome breakfast. Most weekends, I make a tofu scramble with a cup of coffee. Sometimes I play tunes if I’m feeling fancy.

When I graduated from college last year, I started doing freelance writing work in the summer and had a lot more time on my hands to make healthier meals than I was eating at school. Even though I work full-time now, I try not to forget to make meals that are delicious and healthy.

One of my favourite things to make last year was an egg-white omelette with greens and some form of protein on the side. My new take on egg breakfast actually features no egg; just tofu, vegetables, and usually a piece of toast.

This is both vegan, and gluten-free — within reason. Obviously you can just substitute the toast with your favourite gluten-free type.

If you’ve never had tofu scramble, you’ve got to give it a try. It sounds perplexing, but I promise it’s not that weird. You just take some tofu, season it up, and fry it with your favourite skillet vegetables. Really, its the bomb. You can make a big batch and heat it up the next morning, and you can do whatever you want to it.

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Here’s what I use to make my tofu scramble.

  • 1/3 pack of medium-firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • a pinch of salt and fresh-cracked pepper
  • a sprinkle of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup of red onion
  • 1/3 of a green pepper
  • 1/3 of a red pepper
  • 1/3 cup of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • a handful of greens
  • a few sprigs of cilantro (totally optional)
  • a dash of Sriracha sauce (again, optional)
  • a slice of sprouted toast (my favourite is Silver Hills bakery’s bread)

First, drain your tofu from the pack, and press any liquid out of between paper towels. This isn’t as scary as it sounds, just wrap it up and put it on a plate, with something heavy on top.

When that’s done, cut off a third of the tofu, and crumble it into a bowl. Put the rest in a container and back into the fridge. Combine the nutritional yeast with salt, pepper, and garlic powder with the tofu. Make sure it’s incorporated, but don’t mash the tofu up too much.

Next, chop up your onion and peppers into slices. Heat up the coconut oil in a pan, and fry the onions. When they become translucent, add the peppers and beans. Allow the mixture to cook for five minutes, and add the tofu for a few more minutes of cooking. When everything is heated though, take the pan off the heat and add the greens. Put the lid on, and a slice of bread into the toaster.

Lay the scramble onto the piece of toast, and add any garnishes you wish.

Congrats! You did it! This dish is best served with a cup of coffee or tea, and about half an hour to enjoy every bite of it. But you can eat quickly and run if that’s your style.

Dairy: do you dare?

Dairy: do you dare?

One of the remarks that comes up in conversations about veganism a lot is how many people feel its something they can’t do solely because they love dairy so much. And, being honest, I think I’ve been one of those people who has said that at some point.

Yes, dairy is a real comfort for many of us who grow up on western diets. I grew up in a family where we had a small glass of milk with our dinner every night, and I have other vivid memories of my brother’s favourite snack being a tall glass of milk with about half of a box of Oreos. It was just the norm, we always drank milk. If there wasn’t a gallon-sized jug of the stuff in our fridge, we went into panic mode.

Dairy is remarkable in the way it brings people together. It’s seems like, even if you gather a vegetarian and a meat-lover at the some potluck, they can typically be united by their love of cheese. Most veggie-friendly options rely on cheese to give the dish a sense of identity and a major flavour profile.

But despite this, there are a handful of reasons why people might forgo the dairy in their diets, and never look back.

Some do it to live without the animal products, some because they have moral disagreements with what goes on in the dairy industry, some because they have either an allergy or a sensitivity to dairy, and some just because they like how they feel on a dairy-free diet.

Around the time I was twenty, I discovered inadvertently that I was lactose intolerant. I didn’t get formally tested, I just found every time I had milk, I could guarantee a gnarly stomach ache in a few hours. Reason enough to stop drinking the stuff, I thought.

And I did just that. I quit milk, an impossible task at the time. But within a month, I had forgotten that milk was something I had used to crave.

Giving up milk, and switching over the non-dairy alternatives, was my first endeavour into exploring vegan options. I figured, if I can give up milk, what else can I try alternatives for? I explored the previously untouched world of vegan ice cream, vegan yogurt, and vegan cheese, finding some I really liked, and others I could live without.

Might I just say, we are truly living in the renaissance of vegan cheese. I’m flabbergasted at how many more options there are, and how much tastier they are than they were even five years ago. Bet you never thought you’d read the words ‘renaissance’, ‘vegan’ and ‘cheese’ in the same sentence.

People like to give vegan cheese a bad rep — as with most vegan food — but I wholeheartedly disagree with all of that. Some of the new fake cheese on the market is incredible. Though not available in Canada, Kite Hill creates beautiful artisan vegan cheese out of almond milk, the way its gourmet counterparts would be made out of the milk of a cow. Additionally, I’ve come to prefer eating mac and cheese made with Daiya, it really brings it on the gooey-ness factor.

So, build on your palate. Try some new alternatives to same boring dairy foods you’re used to. You might have a taste for coconut ice cream, who knows?

 

A start.

I’m Montana, and I like food. I like cooking, eating, and trying recipes that bring something new to the table.

I don’t adhere to a specific diet, but I do try to keep my eating clean, mindful, and delicious.

Stay tuned for some good eats!