I've been eating a lot of chocolate this month, so it's only fitting that my favorite things for July are cocoa-related.
1. Sjaaks Peanut Butter Cups
Vegans! Boxes of assorted chocolates are now ours too! Thanks to Sjaak's, a small, socially conscious, fair trade company whose aim is to create the highest quality organic chocolates. Thin mints? Check. Peanut butter cups? Check. Melt in your mouth truffles? Check. Nuts and chews? Check. You can even buy them individually.
Sjaak's also has special occasion chocolates, like Easter bunnies and Valentine's Day assortments. I don't know if they're available in retail stores. I order them from their site.
2. Chocolove Almonds and Sea Salt Bar
Obsessed with this chocolate bar. I buy four each time I walk through Whole Foods. Chocolove has a bunch of different bars, like Cherries and Almonds in Dark Chocolate, but this is my favorite. Most dark chocolate is vegan, but Chocolove is careful to not advertise themselves as vegan. Here is their statement on the matter:
We do not claim that Chocolove bars are vegan. Most of our dark chocolate arrives at our facility as kosher parve which means it is completely free of milk products, according to Jewish dietary law. The remainder arrives kosher dairy, which means the dark chocolate was made on equipment that also makes milk chocolate. Chocolove has separate equipment for melting and molding milk chocolate and dark chocolate. We take every measure to assure that milk chocolate is kept away from dark chocolate. You can expect our organic dark chocolate to be the least likely to contain any traces of milk chocolate.
3. Earth Balance Chocolate Milk
Truth be told, my lactose-intolerant boyfriend Brad, also on a plant-based diet, loves chocolate milk. He has tried every brand of vegan chocolate milk and says this is by far the best. I'm including it in my list of favorite things because I think you should know about it. I've tried it, and though it is super creamy and chocolatey, I prefer to eat my chocolate, not drink it.
It is made with soy--a topic that divides people as much as religion. Personally, I'm with those who think GMO (genetically modified organism)-free soy is just fine. The Japanese and Chinese people have made tofu a part of their daily diet--they often eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner--for 1,500 years, and studies show they are much, much healthier than we are. (By the way, if you haven't read The China Study, check it out. It's the book that the insightful and life-changing documentary Forks Over Knives is based on.) There are chocolate almond milks, if you're concerned about soy.
Full of protein, and no GMOs or cholesterol. All Earth Balance products are plant-based, vegan, made without artificial ingredients or hydrogenated oils, and are free of gluten, lactose, and eggs.
Okay, friends, that's it for July. We'll see if I can lay off the chocolate in August.
Do you have a favorite vegan chocolate thing? If so, it'd be wrong to keep it to yourself. Please share!
You wouldn't think it'd be so hard to find vegan granola, but it is. A lot of them use honey. I prefer to support vegan companies, but honestly I'm just grateful to find a vegan option in most companies. I'm sure there's a vegan company that makes vegan granola, but I haven't found them yet.
I really like this granola. I use it for my acai bowls. But here's the thing about Kind. I went to their website to read about them, fully thinking they were a vegan company, I mean with a name like that, how can you not be, right? I read their mission statement, and it's awesome: "to spread and celebrate kindness." But then I was surprised to see that some of their products contain dairy. Huh? The truth is, until Kind goes all vegan, they are not a Kind company. They are supporting one of the cruelest forms of abuse in the world--the dairy and veal industry. Just to make sure I was reading this correctly and that they hadn't changed their policy, I wrote them and asked if they still use dairy. This was part of their reply:
I haven't had tuna fish in 30+ years, but my mom's tuna sandwiches were one of my favorite things growing up. Forewarned, if you eat tuna, you'll hate this product. If you're vegan and haven't had tuna in years, you'll appreciate it. My husband and I first tried this at the Natural Products Expo West. I loved it. I now eat Toona straight out of the can with crackers and some of that Treeline nut cheese that I mentioned in June's Favorite Things post. I've made Toona sandwiches with this and an old school Toona casserole that turned out great. (I'll post a recipe soon.) Here's a quick peek on the Live Strong Blog as to why you're better off ditching real tuna. $4.49 on Vitacost.
Sometimes you need a little something more to snack on than just cashews and cherries. There are tons of vegan snacks out there--potato chips, pretzels, corn chips--but most are terrible for you. Here are three healthier vegan snacks that I've been digging lately.
This is the first time I'm including something on the list that I haven't yet purchased. But I'm so obsessed with these sandals that I couldn't wait to include them. They're a bit pricey, but aren't they perfect? I'm a sucker for rubber heels too, because I'm all about comfort. I had not heard of the unisex shoe company Good Guys but check out their adorable label:
I was fortunate to be at the Natural Products Expo West with my husband Brad for our second year in a row. This massive expo, which included 73,000 visitors, is held at the Anaheim Convention Center next door to Disneyland. In fact, the shuttle drops you off underneath a roller coaster! Last year we went on a Sunday, the last day, and quickly realized we'd made a huge mistake. You need at least a weekend to get a glimpse of what's there. This year we went spent all day Saturday and Sunday and, no joke, saw maybe a 1/1000th of the vegan products.
I was just reflecting that 2015 is my 26th year of being a vegetarian. (Who says you need meat!?) And 7th year of being vegan. (Who says you need eggs and dairy or leather and wool!?) I'm excited to think about all the new vegan products that will come out in 2015.
One product I can't wait to try is the new chick'n pot pie that Gardein recently announced. I've longed for a good ol' fashioned pot pie. Vegan things are popping up all over, from new cosmetic companies to clothing lines to food products. There's never been a better time to go vegan, or go vegan before 6pm, or go vegan one day a week. It doesn't matter, just start moving in that direction. You don't have to be perfect, you want to evolve.
When I say that I am obsessed with each of these new favorite things, I mean that I eat, wear or use them every day since discovering them. No exaggeration.
OCHO stands for Organic Chocolate. Their bars are also gluten-free, non-GMO, and the coconut bar is vegan. I found these at my local Ralph's grocery store and nearly flipped my lid when I tasted it. If you liked Mounds or Almond Joy candy bars, this is your lucky day. Available on their website. $1.99 each. (I just hope they veganize all their bars. Vegan Snickers, c'mon!)
Who doesn't love Mexican food?! I've been eating a ton of it lately, especially because I found these great additions to my meals.
I love good ol' flour tortillas best, but I'm trying to eat healthier. I didn't think I'd like these--though I eat the Ezekial 4:9 bread regularly--and boy, was I was wrong. They're good! I make quesadillas with them and Brad uses them for wraps. And it's a complete protein! All the amino acids in one tortilla.