lifestyle, snacks

Vegan Cheese Review

May 31, 2020

It’s 2020 and let’s admit it, vegan cheese has come a loooong way.  

There’s no denying the ever-increasing popularity for vegan cheese,  whether you’re already a vegan, or a dairy cheese-lover wanting to cut down, now more than ever there’s a range of vegan cheese to meet our needs.

I purchased all these cheeses from Good Rebel Vegan, a vegan grocer in Toronto, however, you can find most of these cheeses in various grocery stores, some even have their own websites to purchase from directly who deliver.  I’m a one stop shop kind of gal, so I like that Good Rebel has SO many types of cheeses to choose from. 

When I was deciding which cheeses to choose from I wanted cheeses that would be suitable for a charcuterie board.  That meant getting a:

  • variety of different types and colours of cheeses i.e. cheddar, goat, mozzarella 
  • different textures i.e. slices, firm block, soft
  • could be eaten with a variety of crackers, breads, fruits and vegetables   
  • good balance of flavour and aroma i.e. light, strong, sharp 

The 5 cheeses I reviewed all meet the above criteria and created the most synergistic charcuterie board.  Ever.

Full disclaimer: I have good but sometimes weird taste buds.  I haven’t tried a single fruit or vegetable I didn’t like and I definitely have an ‘acquired’ pallet.  Meaning, I have an appreciation for foods unlikely to be enjoyed by a person who has the taste buds of a 5-year old aka my husband.  These reviews of the vegan cheeses are based on my own taste buds and opinion which may differ from yours.  I ate these charcuterie boards with my sister and husband and we each had our own, and completely different, order of ranking these cheeses.  

I purchased all of these cheeses with my own money and am simply sharing my honest feedback.

1. Emborg – Mozzarella Slices

Before going vegan, mozzarella cheese slices were one of the only cheeses I would buy and eat.  I always bought my cheese from the deli section of the supermarkets and had the deli slice me fresh mozzarella slices.  I am actually a huge fan of the emborg mozzarella slices and they are the closest vegan cheese that reminds me of my ‘real mozzarella’ days.  I can eat the entire container in less than 5 minutes (that’s with me trying to savour and slow down).  I’ve seen Sobeys and Longos carry Emborg and it is also very reasonably priced.  Earth Island and Chao sliced cheese are close runners up. 

Base: starches (potato, tapioca, corn)

Taste: fresh with a slightly lactic taste 

Mouthfeel: smooth and satiny  

Age: young 

Colour: bright white (I wish the colour was a bit less bright white to make it look more authentic) 

Pairs well with… sandwiches, burgers, crackers, by itself  

2. The Frauxmagerie on Georgian Bay – Botanic Camembert 

I love this camembert.  Want to know something funny? Before going vegan I had actually never heard of ‘camembert’ cheese before.  I was never a huge cheese eater and to be honest the mould would have thrown me off.  But when you introduce a vegan version? I’ll be the first in line to try.  I have tried other vegan camembert before and did NOT like them. I can confidently say this one IS the best and it is so so beautiful on a cheese board.  It’s so photogenic and most people cannot believe it is vegan. It’s a real crowd pleaser by being so ‘different’ and has that ‘wow factor’ so I usually get it during the holidays or when I am hosting people over. This camembert cheese has a mild but rich, buttery flavour with a firm texture. It’s bloomy rind is totally edible and adds texture and flavour to the cheese as well.  

Base: cashew

Taste: mild, rich, buttery  

Mouthfeel: firm and creamy    

Age: aged

Colour: white 

Pairs well with… crackers, baguette, fruits and nuts 

3. Vegnature – nuts and cranberries 

This is one of my favourite go-to cheeses.  It is so versatile and tastes amazing.  This was one of the first vegan cheeses I tried that I actually liked! I remember first trying this at the vegandale festival and bought 3 of them because they were so good.  I have tried all their flavours and always come back to the nuts and cranberries.  The nuts and cranberries provide crunchy and chewy texture and sweetness. It is also covered in chives so it has an onion-y flavour too. This cheese resembles a ‘goat cheese’ and also looks authentic by being in a log shape. The texture is spot on and the taste is similar yet I find it milder, which I actually prefer.  You know how real goat cheese can have that very pungent, ‘barnyard’ taste, this one does not have that, yay!

Base: cashews

Taste: mild, tart

Mouthfeel: creamy    

Age: fresh 

Colour: white 

Pairs well with… crackers, bread, salads, baked goods 

4. Stokes – Sharp Cheddar

This was my first time trying Stokes sharp cheddar.  Previously I had tried their vegan feta, which I enjoyed, so I was excited to try other flavours.  I liked this cheese because the bright orange colour looked very appealing on a charcuterie board and it packed a VERY flavourful punch.  Now ‘sharp’ in the ‘real’ cheese world indicates how cheddar changes in flavor and texture as it ages. When cheddar ages it’s flavours become deeper and tangier and its texture becomes harder.  Stokes sharp cheddar is true to its flavor profile by being tangy and pungent, but its texture was a bit off.  The cheeses’ texture was soft and crumbly, not like a true sharp cheddar which is more firm and hard. I knew what the texture was going to be like before purchasing, so that is not a deal breaker for me.  I also want to be completely transparent and include that my picky husband has VERY mild taste buds and he did not like this cheese, but my sister and I really enjoyed it.  This cheese is an acquired taste and would pair wonderfully with some crackers and a glass of Pinot Noir.  I really want to try their smoked gouda cheese next!  

Base: cashew and soy yogurt

Taste: bold, sharp, piquant 

Mouthfeel: creamy and crumbly     

Age: aged 

Colour: orange 

Pairs well with… crackers, wine (I haven’t tried yet but I think this would taste good dolloped on pizza too!)

5. Pulse Kitchen – Creamy Almond Chevre

I had never heard of Pulse Kitchen until I stumbled upon them on Good Rebel vegan’s website and they are made in BC.  I took an expensive gamble on this cheese, not knowing if it would be good or not because I couldn’t find any reviews online.  Turns out this was my personal favourite cheese out of all of them.  The word ‘chevre’ in french means goat so this was supposed to resemble a ‘goat cheese’.  When I first opened it I was surprised at the texture as I thought it would be more soft but I was pleasantly surprised it held its shape yet was still very creamy and smooth. It also had a very mild taste with a touch of acidity from the lemon juice.  I am a sucker for tang so this was why I enjoyed this cheese the most but full disclosure my sister liked this one the least.  I was mind-boggled by her comment when she said ‘it just has an off taste to me’, it might have been the acidity but I like SERIOUSLY loved this cheese. Out of all the cheeses I fully devoured this one in its entirety and would not let my husband have the last bite when he tried to grab for it. Ps. This cheese is an excellent dessert cheese and pairs wonderfully stuffed inside a date topped with a drizzle of coconut nectar or honey (if not strict vegan) was AMAZING. You’re welcome. 

Base: almond, lemon juice, chickpea miso

Taste: tangy and acidic 

Mouthfeel: creamy and smooth     

Age: young

Colour: white

Pairs well with… dessert, crackers, dates, fruit, bread, alcohol 

breakfast, dessert, snacks

Healthy Breakfast Crumble

May 9, 2020

This strawberry breakfast crumble was actually developed by my beautiful, talented, sister.  I went to her condo one weekend morning and she asked me if I wanted some strawberry breakfast crumble, I’m usually on board for eating dessert for breakfast so I said ‘sure!’. Then she proceeded to tell me this is not a dessert crumble as some would imagine it to be sweet, decadent, and a tad guilty for consuming so early in the day.  Instead she described it as a breakfast crumble which means (to her) that it’s made with no refined sugar and uses only ingredients one would typically eat for a healthy breakfast; fruit, oats, chia seeds etc.

I was intrigued and proceeded to watch her make it in front of me.  It was SO easy to make, took all of ten minutes to whip up and put in the oven.  When I saw that beautiful crumble come out of the oven, before even tasting it, I knew I had to share this recipe.

How did it taste though? It was:

  • Flavourful & filling 
  • Tart and zingy 
  • Warm and pure from the whole foods

So, I had to go back home and try it out for myself and figure out the exact measurements.  I had asked her probably 4 times what the ingredients for the crumble were. Little did she know, every time I asked her for the recipe the ingredients or measurements would slightly change.  I tried for a good 6 months to perfect this recipe, but every time something just felt off, either too much salt, too much lemon, not sweet enough.  Until now I FINALLY perfected the ingredients so it is well balanced.

If you are looking for more of a dessert crumble, you can simply add some coconut sugar to the strawberries and more maple syrup to the oat crumble topping and use vegan butter instead of coconut oil.  You can also use any type of berry, strawberries are naturally sweet to me, but blueberries or a mixed berry combination would be delicious too, raspberries alone will yield sourer results. You can also reduce the strawberries by one cup and add 1 cup of rhubarb. 

You don’t have to bake this in a large baking dish either, you can portion out in to individual ramakins (my personal favourite).  By doing individual ramakins the crumble keeps its shape and it’s so much cuter to eat out of. 

Healthy Breakfast Crumble

Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Keyword gluten free, vegan
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

Berry Layer

  • 4 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1 tbsp ground white chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp maple syrup optional

Oat Crumble Topping

  • 1.5 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3 tbsp solid coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and coat a 9 x 8 square or rectangular baking dish or individual ramakins with some coconut oil 

  2. Mix the oats, almond flour, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and then add the maple syrup and stir.  Add 1 tbsp at a time of the solid coconut oil and mix until all the crumble is stuck to the coconut oil. I find using a metal spoon works best by gently squishing the coconut oil and oats together.  Set aside

  3. Place the strawberries, lemon juice, maple syrup (if using) and vanilla in a pot and cook on medium heat

  4. Once the strawberries have started to melt and release their liquid for about 5 minutes, add the ground chia seeds and cook another couple minutes until it thickens up. It will thicken up more in the oven too

  5. Pour the strawberry mixture in the bottom of your baking dish and top with the oat crumble.  Gently press the oat crumble down.

  6. Place in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, if using a large baking dish, 15 minutes if using individual ramekins. I sometimes turn on broil for the last minute to get the top crumble nice and toasty but make sure you watch it closely.

  7. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving

Recipe Notes

*You can use any type of berry, I find strawberries are sweeter than most, so I like to use that, however, blueberries or a mixed berry would work too.  If I have any fresh or frozen rhubarb I will also add in 1 cup of that and reduce the strawberries by 1 cup. If you use raspberries only it will yield more tart results, so I would add a tbsp or so of maple syrup or coconut sugar. 

**my sister used white chia seeds because it won’t change the beautiful colour of the strawberries, if you use black chia seeds it could make the strawberries turn dark.  I don’t have white chia seeds, so I used black and it did change the colour of the strawberries slightly, but it didn’t bother me.

***solid coconut oil is coconut oil that is firm at room temperature.  Melted coconut oil will not work! If your coconut oil is melted at room temperature put it in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

If you try this recipe I would love to see it and share it! Tag me on IG @thegreenerer, using the hashtag #thegreenerer

lifestyle

Top Five Ways to Help You Relax

May 1, 2020

For a while now I’ve been thinking about writing more posts that’s not just about… food. Showing you another side to The Greenerer, ya know? Stuff that only those closest to me get to see. I will share everything from my own personal interests to adventures with my husband. Obviously, food-related things too. So every last Thursday of the month, I’ll post a blog on my curiosity’s, memories, and everything in between. 

What better way to start off this series, by sharing my top five ways to relax.  These are the ways that help me relax, I encourage all of you to experiment to find what works for you.  Humans are such interesting creatures and what feeds one soul may be completely different than what feeds another soul.  Which is something I learned throughout this whole pandemic. This understanding that what nurtures each person can be completely different from one to the next and we should not judge one another, is something I hope to carry with me in my everyday life when this is all over. 

Give these relaxing tips a try and let me know in the comments what you personally do to relax!

  1. Take a warm bath.  

     I have been a bath lover from a child.  When I was sick, heartbroken, needed to unwind I always went to have a bath, which always seemed to help.  I find water very soothing and feel water has the ability to wash away energy.  When I feel exposed to someone’s negative energy, having a bath or shower always helps rinse it away, literally.  Instead of a bath, I also like to lie in the bathtub with just the shower pouring on me.  I also like the sound of water.  Why not elevate your bath experience by adding Epsom salts, essential oils, and body scrubs to help you delve into further relaxation.
(My dream bath curtesy of Serenity at Coconut Bay, Saint Lucia)
  1. Read a book.

    Those who have read a book that you cannot put down, knows, books can be the ultimate escape from reality, and thus, help you to relax. Reading at night always helps me to sleep too.  The hardest part though, is finding that perfect book.  My favourite book of all time is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.  The entire book is so poetic to me, every sentence is an inspirational quote and metaphor for the greatest meanings in life, yet is told through a simple story.  I highly recommend this book as a good starting point.  The easiest way to find a book that interests you is to understand what you’re interested in.  There are love stories, ghost stories, crime, fiction, non-fiction, memoirs and biographies, try to find something that suits your needs.  I personally like ‘chick lits’, like a chick flick movie but a book. They’re an easier read, little love story in there, a plot twist is always welcomed. My favourite author for ‘chick lits’ is Taylor Jenkins-Reid, I have read every single one of her books and recommend them all. Leave a comment below on what your favourite book is so I can check them out!
(The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho)
  1. Practice yoga.

    I was going to put ‘exercise’ for this one, but exercising can cause anxiety and exhaustion sometimes and that’s not the purpose of this.  The purpose is to relax, and yoga does just that.  There are so many different types of yoga; hatha, restorative, yin, and many more.  If you’ve never done yoga before or are new to some of the different types I highly recommend restorative yoga for relaxation, it can be defined as a ‘guided nap’.  It is the ultimate yoga to do before going to bed, best not to do this one first thing in the morning because it may just put you back to sleep.  Yin yoga is also another amazing yoga, actually it’s my favourite type.  It is about 5 poses in an hour or so, so you are holding the poses for much longer.  This really helps me relax as you hold the poses you have to take deeper breaths, emotions start to pop up and its better than therapy for dealing with my shit.  I have an online yoga membership from Yyoga, it’s a cheap monthly subscription with tonnes of different online yoga classes, you can also find a bunch for free on YouTube. 
(Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, Jamaica)
  1. Meditate. 

    The ultimate goal of meditation is to relax and/or focus the mind.  Meditation comes in many different forms; walking meditation, mindful journaling, breath work and much more.  Meditation can seem daunting if you don’t know where to start but all you need to start with is one minute a day, then go to 5 minutes, 10 minutes etc.  It takes time and work to build up your ability to meditate and the longer doesn’t always mean the better.  This can be a short practice at any time of day (first thing in the morning or in the evening works best for me).  Sometimes my practice of mindful meditation is writing the top 3 things in a journal that I am grateful for that day.  Other times I practice 5-10 minutes of pranayama breathwork in the evening.  There is also an app called ‘Insight Timer’ that is free to use and has different types and lengths of guided meditations no matter your mood.  Also doing certain activities where you ‘zone’ out can be a therapeutic form of meditation, I really relax when I do puzzles. Find something that relaxes you maybe that’s painting, or cleaning.
(I love to burn palo santo and sage to clear energy)
  1. Eat well.

    I saved the best for last.  Food can have such a huge impact on your mood. If you are fueling your body with processed fats, oils, sugars, your body may not physically be able to relax. Eating a colourful diet full of fruit and vegetables can really make you feel better i.e. more relaxed, happier, less anxious.  There are also foods that promote relaxation such as, lavender tea, chamomile, magnesium rich foods, turmeric, walnuts, and fermented foods like coconut yoghurt. 
(Healthy foods don’t have to be over-complicated, a simple salad will do it)

smoothies & juices

Immunity Booster Green Juice

January 27, 2018

When I first went vegan one of my first purchases was a juicer (and a blender). Before turning vegan I had never tried or drank a green juice, maybe because they weren’t trendy yet or maybe I just never cared for it. I can tell you now that juicing has nothing to do with being vegan.

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mains

Vegetable Noodle Stir-Fry

June 11, 2017

After watching all 7 seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the entire Twilight series, all 13 episodes of 13 Reasons Why, all the Bill Burr stand ups that Netflix has and finished watching The 100,  I’m finally ready to do something with my life so I decided to write and blog about this recipe.

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