BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked


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Out Of This World Vegan Feasts

“You always hurt the one you love,” or so goes the pervasive pop music refrain, but truer words were never spoken- Especially when it comes to cookbooks. Tidal waves of new books continue to sweep in across the foundation of vegan cooking, which is great for exposure and variety, but not always such a positive thing for quality, or true staying power. When a new cookbook finally comes along that gets me genuinely excited, I cling to it, for fear of it being washed away with the rest of the overflowing texts. Perhaps its a subconscious means of saving the best for last, but it’s those books that I want most to dive into that get neglected the most. Wanting to do them “proper justice” means cooking from them with abandon, picking out just the right recipes, and analyzing them to the fullest, but that eventually becomes an impossibly complex task. Thus, World Vegan Feast by Bryanna Clark Grogan has been sitting on my overburdened bookshelves since at least November, bookmarks sticking out of almost every crevasse, but completely unexplored. Rather than striving for the “perfect,” complete, full-on feasting review, let’s just go with a little taster.

Immediately appealing for its sheer diversity in flavors and techniques, cultures collide in this all-inclusive compendium of veganized world cuisine. Best of all, no stone is left unturned, and homemade solutions to faux meats, seasoning mixtures, dairy-free cheeses, and any other staple you can dream of are provided as well. Bryanna has gone out of her way to educate the cook, not just provide a few isolated recipes, so they might learn to create their own dishes through her examples. Menus are even suggested for all sorts of engagements, both big and small, to please any guest. It’s not all good news though; recipes don’t get their own individual pages, so it can often feel like one big run-on sentence as ingredient list and preparations collide. Pictures are provided in a central insert, but aren’t exactly plentiful. Luckily, a quick check of Bryanna’s blog can oven be enlightening since many of the images (and even full recipes) are shared there.

Dipping in a toe to test the waters, the Potato and Mushroom Miso Soup (page 74) sounded like a quick, easy, and comforting dish to kick start the cookbook test drive. Easily slapped together at the last minute, surprisingly complex flavors came from such a deceptively simple soup. Deeply satisfying due to the triple whammy umami punch of mushrooms, miso, and kombu, sliced potatoes give this starter much more staying power than the typical wan broth. Not too salty, packed full of goodies surrounded by just the right amount of broth, it’s Bryanna’s finesse here that makes this combination extraordinary.

Another one to file under the “quick, easy, delicious” category are the Shwarma Wraps (page 60). Stuffed with highly spiced and toothsome seitan, it’s clear that the “meat” is absolutely the star of this show. Incredibly flavorful but only mildly hot, the combination of Middle Eastern spices is spot-on. Delightfully tangy, it’s powerfully acidic but not too sharp thanks to a quick trip through the oven. Though I served my “yogurt” on the side as a dip to prevent my lavash from becoming too soggy, it’s absolutely imperative to include, as it tames the burn of pickled peppers strewn amongst the milder fresh veggies. Once the seitan is prepared, you could throw this little number together in minutes and have a lunch to go or quick-fix dinner just like that.

Tempting readers with two separate dessert sections, clearly, there was no way I could end this review without a little sweet investigation. Although the Lemon-Strawberry Tiramisu (page 203) is related to a traditional coffee-flavored tiramisu only in basic construction, that doesn’t matter one bit considering the bright, fresh flavor it provides. Opting to make a half batch in individual servings, it was the perfect treat for an impromptu picnic- Even if that excursion only took me as far as the backyard. These creamy layered verrines were delightful, brightly spiked with citrus and lightened with fresh, ripe strawberries. Sliced almonds tucked between layers and sprinkled over the top are a nice additional touch, adding a bit of crunch to contrast the smooth creme filling. The Sponge Cake (page 177), though a bit player here, tasted remarkably like a dense, chewier version of angel food cake. Fluffy but still quite sturdy enough to withstand a soak in lemon syrup, this unassuming component clearly has great potential for other applications as well. All told, it’s the kind of dessert that no one with a sweet tooth could refuse.

That’s barely even scratching the surface on all the recipes I have bookmarked in World Vegan Feast. Think fish-free “salmon” loaves, vegan souffle omelets, and walnut-based Georgian-style matzo ball soup, just to name a few on my list. There’s a great big world out there to explore, and as demonstrated by this inviting cookbook, the kitchen is the best place to start.


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Blissfully Delicious

For such a highly-regarded and lauded brand, you’d think it would be a snap to launch new flavors to an existing, successful line of products, to have them gobbled up by an eagerly waiting and hungry fan base. Well, at least half of that statement is true… Coconut Bliss ice creams have always been an easy sell, boasting organic, fair trade, and generally wholesome ingredients, but finding those frozen pints can be another matter entirely. Just as four exciting new flavors were scheduled to launch, disaster struck, and a coconut shortage meant that there wasn’t much Bliss to go around. After waiting for nearly a year and only being able to secure one of those new offerings, I decided to focus on the existing, available flavors instead of only those latest additions. Surely, there was still plenty of delicious ice cream to discover beyond those freshest flavors! Especially considering my latest cookbook venture, it seemed only fair that I get a good taste of the commercially available competition, after all.

Caramel Ginger Cookie, the one new ice cream offering I managed to get my hands on, promises great things even with a merely casual glance. An abundance of cookie pieces are swirled into each easily scooped spoonful, with a thin ribbon of caramel not far behind. Though the base is unmistakably coconut flavored, the addition was not unwelcome here, adding depth and complexity to the light vanilla essence. Rather than providing a crunch, the cookie pieces had softened to an almost cake-like consistency through their trip to the deep freeze, but the rich molasses flavor and gentle warming spices still brought a delightful contrast to the ice cream overall. If only that gooey stripe of caramel was slightly darker, tasting just slightly more burnt, it would be practically perfect.

Failing to find the Mocha Maca Crunch I so desperately craved, I turned instead to another favorite combination, found in the Mint Chip Galactica. Tiny shards of delicate chocolate flakes are strewn throughout the snowy white pint, looking for all the world like a negative photo of a galaxy of chocolate stars, instantly explaining the creative title. Cool, refreshing mint flavor carries this ice cream, tasting like fresh mint leaves without veering into more grassy notes or toothpaste territory. Bright and curiously light considering the rich coconut base, it strikes me as the perfect snack to beat the heat on a summer’s day. The chocolate stracciatella is key to the success of this ice cream, lending a subtle bitter edge that makes the combination all the more satisfying. Sweetened just enough to balance out the pint, it’s like my childhood mint chocolate chip, but all grown up.

Finally, I needed a full-fledged chocolate experience, so I dove into the Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge ice cream with abandon. Sweetened once again with a light hand, this is a strong, slightly bitter chocolate offering for mature palates. Not exactly a full-bodied, rounded chocolate flavor but a really intense cocoa instead, it still covers up the coconut flavor more thoroughly than the previous two pints, making it a more attractive option to those not so crazy about coconuts. Small pieces of hazelnut are hidden within, adding good crunch but seeming to lack in that deep, toasted flavor I craved. However, hands down, the fudge swirl makes this flavor worth a second scoop, adding a delightful gooey texture, and an extra punch of flavor every now and then. Perhaps it’s not one for the kids, but who says you would want to part with even a spoonful in the first place?

Far richer than most vegan ice creams found in the mainstream marketplace, tasting Coconut Bliss for the first time is like discovering super-premium ice cream when you’re accustomed to bulk economy quarts. Though notably pricier than many other options out there, a smaller scoop is likely sufficient to satisfy even the most voracious sweet tooth, so it all evens out with careful portioning. That is, if you can resist the strong temptation to indulge in just a bit more Bliss.


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Baking a Difference

You’d think that someone so immersed in baking as myself, whipping up various sugared confections nearly everyday, could care less about similar sweet gifts. Well allow me put that misconception to rest; You’d think wrong. Though there’s no shortage of sweetness in this particular kitchen, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the craftsmanship and careful pastry art of other bakers. Enjoying a dessert that wasn’t created by me is truly a rare treat now. As the resident baker of the family, it’s up to me to “surprise” myself with my own birthday cake, or plan to go without.

That’s why, so many years ago, when an unassuming but delicately wrapped purple box by Allison’s Gourmet landed on my doorstep, I could barely contain my joy. An unexpected gift, which is always a delight by itself, little did I know that the contents of that package would open my eyes to a whole new option for handmade vegan sweets. Not made by my own hands, but assembled and baked with as much attention to detail as I could muster myself.

Butterscotch Pecan Fudge. More beautiful words were never strung together and attached to something edible. Finding something delicious in the mail was still such a novel concept, and to get something that seemed impossible to make without dairy, it was easily one of my favorite holiday presents that year. Though the packages are all very well wrapped and provide explicit instructions on freezing to make your treasures last, I’m afraid that whole pan of fudge disappeared at warp speed, without any help from hungry gawkers.

Another year, one of my favorite indulgences to date showed up at the party unannounced; Those Peppermint Brownies were legendary. One of my top 5 favorite combinations, chocolate and mint, I already knew it was love at first sight. Taking that initial bite merely sealed the deal. Deeply chocolate-flavored and fudgy to a fault, the sprinkling of crunchy candy cane pieces on top created the most irresistible textural contrast. It’s a shame this offering isn’t for sale this year, because I would recommend it to anyone who likes dessert, period.

My most recent opportunity to sample Allison’s incredible creations was a crazy stroke of luck. Another serendipitous gift, out of the blue, that coincided with the talented baker’s need for a promotional photo. Truly, it just happened that way! A good business deal is one that ends with a rich brownie sundae, peppered with chopped chocolate-covered toffee, a mouth-watering photo, and a new friendship. I can tell you with absolute certainty now that Allison is every bit as thoughtful and kind as her baked goods are irresistible.

My brief sampling doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the goodies on offer at Allison’s Gourmet. There are chocolates, cookies, and candies beyond any vegan’s wildest dreams, and I trust that they’re every bit as delicious. Now, lucky for you, Allison has generously offered a very sweet holiday gift indeed- The opportunity to win a $25 gift certificate for anything in her online bakery! Just imagine the possibilities!

To enter, leave me a comment before Midnight EST on Friday, December 9th, telling me what you would buy with your winnings. For extra entries, follow Allison’s Gourmet on Facebook and/or Twitter, and leave separate comments saying as much for each.


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Hearty and Heartfelt

Timing is everything, especially when it comes to seasonal cravings. Though immediately inspired to get in the kitchen as soon as my copy of Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites by Celine Steen and Joni Newman came in the mail, mere months ago, it was too hot to even contemplate turning on the stove, or even approaching the oven. After pouring over the pages with shining eyes and growling stomach, leaving a barrage of bookmarks in my wake, all I could do was wait for the inevitable switch that would make a warming, belly-filling meal more appealing than a bucket filled with ice-cold watermelon. As temperatures now dip and dance around the 40’s and 30’s, it’s safe to say that that time has come.

Finding a pause in the action to break into my long list of desired dishes was another matter, though. Luckily, many recipes are brilliantly simple to throw together, and pretty much cook themselves, as was the case for the Slow Cooker Corn Chowder (page 76). Toss ingredients into your slow cooker, crank it up to high for a few hours, and eat. Preferring a thicker, creamier chowder myself, I opted to blend half of it to add body, but otherwise followed the recipe to a T. The natural sweetness of the corn was nicely balanced with the spicy kick contributed by a dose of cayenne pepper, giving this unassuming recipe a complex, delicately nuanced flavor profile. Though I had never used a slow cooker prior, now I can’t for the life of me figure out why not.

Having first spied the Red-Eye Treats (page 250) on Celine’s blog years back, I knew that it was time to finally give them a test run for myself. An unusual combination of chocolate, coffee, and peanut butter, I wasn’t entirely convinced that these distinctive components could all play nicely together. Happily, my fears evaporated with one taste. A soft, chewy, but crisp bite yielded subtle sweetness, and a very satisfying depth of roasted flavor due to the coffee. The chocolate does take a bit of a backseat here, contributing more color than flavor, but next time, I think I will just have to add a handful of chocolate chips to remedy that, because there will be a next time.

The sleeper hit of my recipe trials actually came about by accident. First lured in by the promise of Hickory-Smoked Breakfast Strips (page 36) wrapped around water chestnuts to imitate bacon-wrapped scallops, my original plans were dashed once I popped open that can and discovered tiny chestnuts approximately the size of chickpeas. So here I was, far too much seitan bacon on hand, and no where to go with it. Quickly switching gears and frying it up as one typically would for “bacon,” I riffled through the pages for an appropriate accompaniment. Scramble, there had to be a scramble, I thought, homing in on the breakfast section. There, almost as an afterthought, the Scrambled Eggs hidden within the recipe for a Hearty Breakfast Bowl (page 35), were the perfect thing. So few components, so little effort, I didn’t expect much other than a nice way to round out the photo, to be honest. Adding in a bit more creaminess with a splash of soy creamer, I could scarcely believe how downright eggy things were beginning to smell- and look.

The hickory strips were completely overshadowed by the greatness of this scramble. A bit too sweet and chewy for my tastes, any flaws could be forgiven as long as that scramble was on my plate. Although I always add tons of veggies and seasonings, yet again, the mantra of “simpler is better” was proven true. I’m only slightly embarrassed to say that I wolfed down the first entire batch, unaided. The very next day, I had to have this killer tofu again, and couldn’t help but make further tiny tweaks, just to suit my own palate to perfection. Though there are a million recipes out there for tofu scramble, I implore you: Try this one. You will never miss eggs again.

Straight-Up Scramble
Adapted from Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites, by Celine Steen and Joni Newman

1 16-Ounce Container Extra-Firm Tofu, Pressed for About 45 Minutes
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Kala Namak (Black Salt)
Pinch Turmeric
1 Teaspoon Braggs Liquid Aminos
2 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Margarine or Coconut Oil
3 – 4 Tablespoons Plain (Unsweetened) Vegan Creamer
2 Scallions, Thinly Sliced

Crumble the pressed tofu into a large bowl and add in the nutritional yeast, garlic and onion powder, kala namak, turmeric, and braggs. Use a fork to lightly mash and combine.

Set a saute pan over medium heat, and melt the margarine or coconut oil. Once liquified, add in the tofu mixture and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until heated through and just barely browning in some places. Pour in the creamer until it reaches your desired state of creaminess, cook for 1 minute longer, and turn off the heat. Toss in the sliced scallions and serve while hot.

Makes 2 Servings, or 1 for a Vegan with a Monster Appetite

Printable Recipe


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Tasty Takeout at Home

There’s a lot to be said for ready-made frozen meals, even for the avid cook and fresh food fanatic. Having a plan B safely squirreled away, just in case of a dinner emergency, can make the difference between choking down impossibly tough seitan burgers or enjoying something a bit more edible. Well aware of a certain bias against most prepared foods, I will go on the record to say that there is nothing inherently wrong with the classic tv dinner every now and then; it’s the ingredients and the over-processing where these easy options frequently go wrong. Homemade frozen meals of leftovers are fantastic, and the only difference is that you’re still the one doing the legwork to put that food on the table. For the overworked mom, student, busy professional, or anyone who doesn’t spend all of their waking hours in the kitchen, a warm, relatively healthy meal that can be on the table in five minutes or less can be downright miraculous. The key is choosing the right brands to pledge your dinner allegiance to.

New on my radar but hardly newcomers to the freezer aisle, Vegetarian Plus has been cranking out the meatless frozen meals for years now, providing vegan options directly to consumers and to larger institutions that wish to feed them. Featuring easily accessible flavors for even the pickiest palates, while still covering a whole world of exotic cuisines, they’re excellent for serving to a crowd with varied tastes.

Plate provided by Steelite

Take for example, their latest offerings of Indian-inspired entrees. Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala, looking for all the world like curried poultry, rather than its actual soybean fiber and wheat protein construction. Redolent of warm spices and a certain savory scent, the flavor is shockingly on par with some of the better takeout I’ve had. Initially sweet but switching over to spicy in seconds, the spice profile is impressively well-balanced, and on the spicier side for a mainstream meal. Nothing to burn a hole through your tongue, for sure, but lively in flavor and fairly true to its title. I would absolutely purchase this again in the future, and anyone who appreciates Indian food should take a chance on it too.

Defrosting a package of Vegan Lamb Vindaloo on another hungry and somewhat desperate evening, I had no clue what to expect. I’ve never eaten lamb, so I can’t say with any authority how authentic those protein chunks were, but I can tell you that the texture seemed chewier, perhaps gamier as far as imitation meat goes, and more similar to seitan than the previous offering. Somehow the flavor struck me as less rich, and a bit lacking in body compared to the first amazing meal, but rest assured, I had no problem cleaning my plate. Unarguably spicier, those craving a meaty meal with some bite to it would no doubt enjoy this.

Craving greasy but oh so good Chinese takeout? Vegetarian Plus has got you covered there, too. Their Vegan Kung Pao Chicken tastes as though it could have just as easily come from a cardboard carry-out box as your own freezer. Not just an homage to the idea of kung pao, this version goes the whole nine yards; coated in the same shiny, vaguely sticky, semi-sweet and generously salted sauce, it coats the palate richly, perfectly scratching that itch for something a bit indulgent. As “authentic” as American Chinese food goes, this is exactly what I remember chowing down on as a picky omnivore ages ago. Accented by a decent kick of heat, it manages to avoid descending down the sad path of bland Americanized ethnic food, so it may even have a leg up on the competition.

I must admit that what I was most intrigued by, however, was not the offering of a completely ready made and defrostable dinner, but the possibilities presented by their Vegan Shrimp. Packaged with a sweet chili sauce that I didn’t particularly enjoy, the “shrimp” needed only a bit of love to become something even better. Genuinely fishy, they both looked and smelled the part. Sure, the mere concept may sound dubious at best, but they don’t deserve the harsh judgement they’ve so often received. Bouncy between the teeth and relatively bland unadorned, the flavor strikes me as being very similar to the somewhat controversial shirataki noodles. Either you love them or you hate them, so the same could probably be said for these “shrimp.”


Plate provided by Steelite

Lightly pan-fried in a generous dose of garlic I dressed up my imitation crustaceans as a riff on shrimp and grits. Rather than making grits from dried cornmeal, my version is more like a cross between polenta and creamed corn, utilizing fresh, coarsely pureed corn for a brighter, lighter flavor. You certainly don’t need fake shrimp to enjoy it though; a bit of crispy tofu on top would be just as good, if slightly less convenient for the harried cook.

Fresh Corn Grits

1 Tablespoon Non-Dairy Margarine, or Coconut Oil
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Large Shallot or 1/2 Small Yellow Onion
1 Teaspoon Light Agave Nectar
3 Cups Fresh or Frozen Sweet Corn, Thawed
3/4 – 1 Cup Unsweetened, Plain Non-Dairy Milk
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
Salt + Pepper

Melt your margarine or coconut oil in a saute pan over medium heat, and swirl in the olive oil. Add the shallot and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Incorporate the agave and continue to saute for 10 – 15 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Toss in the corn next, and allow about 5 – 10 more minutes on the flame to soften the corn and enhance its sweeter flavors.

Transfer everything into your blender or food processor, along with 3/4 cup of the non-dairy milk and nutritional yeast, and plus lightly until the mixture is creamy, but still has a good bit of texture to it. Drizzle in more non-dairy milk if needed, to reach your desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If preparing the “grits” in advance, add more non-dairy milk when reheating, because it thickens significantly as it sits.

Serves 3 – 4 as a Side Dish

Printable Recipe


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An Earth-Balanced Diet

Having nearly cornered the market on vegan butters, both nut- and soy-based, Earth Balance now seeks to conquer the whole buttery world. Expanding their empire exponentially in one fell swoop, those who eschew dairy can now spread it on thick with no less than three types of Mindful Mayo, plus a Coconut Spread. Specifically trumpeting the lack of soy in half of these new products, it’s clear that Earth Balance seeks to provide a little something for everyone, vegan and allergic alike.

Most groundbreaking of the bunch is the Coconut Spread. Claiming to be “perfect for baking and cooking instead of butter!” a challenge has been clearly declared and battle lines drawn. Tall promises for a humble ingredient, it does fill a niche left yawning wide open for decades, providing a soy-free option for those wary of the maligned bean. Pure white and somewhat waxy in appearance, it has no discernible scent out of the container. Solid straight out of the fridge but fast to melt, it smooths easily over a slice of hot toast, fresh from the broiler. Subtly sweet in the way that coconut naturally is, with a decent hit of salt to round out the fresh coconut flavor, a faux-butter, this is not. Don’t expect a straight butter replacement in the flavor department, as the Coconut Spread is true to its ingredients, tasting for all the world like a more spreadable coconut oil. Whether you like the flavor of coconut or not should be the deciding factor of your preference for this product.

The real question, however, was how would it bake up compared to Earth Balance’s more buttery offerings? Though I generally do not recommend using spreadable, tub-based margarines for baking, as they contain a greater percentage of water than stick-based “butters,” I gave the coconut spread the benefit of the doubt. Whipping up a simple chocolate-chocolate chip cookie, made many times over, I noticed a difference in the consistency of the dough right away. Far softer than usual, even a brief chill in the fridge did little to firm it up. Though they baked up just fine and were quite tasty, there was a marked variation in texture from the norm. Cakey rather than chewy, I would have to say that the coconut spread is not a viable direct substitute in baking, if you’re hoping to achieve exactly the same results. It will certainly work, and for those with no other option, fire up that oven by all means. I’m just not about to trade in my buttery sticks just yet.

Once my culinary nemesis but now a guilty pleasure, the Mindful Mayo couldn’t have been released at a better time. Now primed for a tasting, I was still reluctant to sample the spread in such a naked format, but I did it for you, my dear readers. Short of plunging in a spoon and eating it straight, it seemed that including it in a classic BLT would be an acceptable format for getting a good read on the flavor. Using tempeh bacon for the “B” portion of the sandwich, I made sure to really slather it on thick, as much as common sense told me not to. Thank goodness, my fears were unfounded, and it was a genuinely delicious sandwich! Thick and flawlessly creamy, you could easily stand a spoon straight up in the jar, which meant that it held up beautifully to the more hefty filling ingredients. Tangy, with a strong flavor of lemon and mustard than Vegenaise, it’s incredibly well balanced and adds serious “umph” to an ordinary bread and veggie assemblage.

Available in three varieties, I found the Organic and Original to be indistinguishable in flavor, unsurprisingly, but the Olive Oil mayo did mix things up a bit. Soy-free, whereas the aforementioned spreads are not, it’s a solid option, and one of the few available for those avoiding dairy, eggs, and soy all at once. However, I did find it a touch looser than the previous, and tangier, with a more fruity flavor as you would expect from decent olive oil. Lighter on the palate and perhaps a bit less rich, it’s a nice light option for those not as crazy about the traditional taste of mayonnaise.

Now fully stocked with three full jars of vegan mayonnaise, I had to do something to work down my excess. A simply green garlic dip easily filled that need, providing an excellent accompaniment to any party platter of crackers, veggies, or chips. Thanks to a serendipitous find of frozen garlic scapes, it took just a push of the “blend” button to churn out a gloriously emerald-hued and garlic-imbued dip.

Green Garlic Dip

6 Ounces (1/2 Package) Extra-Firm Silken Tofu
1/2 Cup Frozen Chopped Garlic Scapes, Thawed
1 Cup Fresh Spinach, Packed
1/2 Cup Vegan Mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
2 Teaspoons White Miso Paste
Salt and Pepper, to Taste

Simply toss everything into your food processor or blender, and blitz until perfectly smooth. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, to ensure that everything gets incorporated. Season to taste, and chill thoroughly before serving.

Makes About 1 Cup

Printable Recipe


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It’s All Greek to Me

Nipping at the heels of the latest food trends yet again, Turtle Mountain has managed to combine two powerful buzzwords in one fell swoop: “Coconut” and “Greek yogurt.” As if their plain coconut yogurt, a boon to the dairy-avoidant and soy-intolerant all at once, wasn’t enough, this latest creation manages to up the ante further. So new that I have yet to spot it on grocery store shelves, I was lucky enough to get advanced warning for this latest coconut invention and a box of three unmarked and label-less white containers in the mail. Slated to include 6 flavors in all for this line, I’m still dying to get a taste of the chocolate, strawberry, and plain varieties not included in my small sample package.

What’s most important here, however, is the texture. Without that critical viscosity, there’s little separating this latest offering from their pre-existing line of standard coconut yogurt. Achieving entirely different results from such a small change in the formula could be difficult to believe, but the promises do hold up to scrutiny- Across the board, these Greek yogurts are quite thick, somewhere along the lines of a sour cream consistency. Completely smooth even without stirring, no lumps or chunks to speak of, the richness that each spoonful brings is incredible, especially considering the substantial nutritional content. Insane amounts of fiber mean that one container plus perhaps a side of veggies or a piece of fruit makes for an entirely satisfying meal, which still feels slightly decadent.

Pale purplish-pink in color, the Raspberry Greek yogurt carries not only the seeds of its namesake, but even the tiny raspberry hairs (ie, remnants of the pistals; the female portion of the flower) as well. Much more tangy than sweet, it’s balanced by just enough cane syrup to resist bitterness, but may not be for those expecting a dessert or pudding-like experience. All the better, if you ask me! I for one don’t want to eat candy for lunch, and this option actually offers a complexity of flavors beyond pure sugary sweetness. However, fair-weather coconut friends beware: this yogurt doesn’t attempt to hide its roots, and definitely has a bit of tropical twang.

Blueberry fell a bit short for me, considering my high expectations. Very tangy but low on actual blueberry taste, it seemed to have more color than flavor. Chunks of fruit would have helped, but alas, all that can be found throughout this plastic tub are merely a few scattered seeds, merely proof that perhaps there were once berries involved. Sure, it’s fine, certainly not bad, but boring at best.

Ending on a high note, the Vanilla was the expected redemption to the whole tasting experience. A creamy off-white that reminded me of mayonnaise, I didn’t have very high hopes. Surprisingly, it carried only a slight aftertaste of coconut, and allowed the vanilla flavor space to breathe and be tasted, with a very modest amount of sweetness as well. Not terribly tangy, but mellow and agreeable, it works beautifully as a pairing to countless other treats. Dressed up in a fruit and granola parfait, I had an impressive yet simple and healthy treat in a matter of seconds. Such versatility is really the winning aspect of the Greek yogurt angle, since it’s thickness can stand up to more demanding applications than the typically runny plain yogurt.

Though there wasn’t enough of any flavor to spare for recipe experiments, rest assured that those won’t be far behind… Especially when I can get my hands on some plain Greek yogurt, there are endless possibilities for both sweet and savory baking!

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