Category Archives: Online retailers

Mozzarella sticks?!

I’m beginning to wonder if Chicago SoyDairy is some kind of magic factory.  From melty cheese to melty marshmallows to some of the most decadent ice cream I’ve ever tasted, CSD seems to have made it their mission in life to fill in those pesky “gaps” in the vegan menu.  It’s funny, because as a vegan I rarely feel like I’m missing out on anything omnivorous, but when a neat new product like Dandies comes out I definitely enjoy it more than I remember enjoying the “real” thing!

Anyway, all that to say… CSD has now seriously outdone themselves with the invention of the vegan mozzarella stick. I’m not talking string cheese (although that’s surely next) — I mean the breaded, herbed, oily, tasty thing that as a child I used to get an order of EVERY TIME my parents took me out to dinner.

I’m usually hesitant to suggest such blatantly unhealthy food, but the throwback (and, ok, the delicious picture) convinced me I had to share.

Vegan mozzarella sticks!

Restaurant-style vegan mozzarella sticks! Image from VeganEssentials.com

Check it out at VeganEssentials!  Currently the price is set at $5.99 for a bag of 15 sticks (frozen, dur), which is way, way cheaper than the dairy ones go for in any restaurant.  So go to!  I expect a report from whoever tries it out first! :)

I’m beginning to wonder if Chicago Soy Dairy is some kind of magic factory.  From melty cheese to melty marshmallows to some of the most convincing ice cream I’ve ever tasted, they seem to revel in filling in those pesky “gaps” in the vegan menu.  It’s funny, because as a vegan I  never feel like I’m missing out on anything omnivorous, but when a neat new product like Dandies comes out I seem to enjoy it more than I remember enjoying the “real” thing!

Anyway, all that to say… CSD has now seriously outdone themselves with the invention of the vegan mozzarella stick. I’m not talking string cheese (although that’s surely next) — I mean the breaded, oily thing I used to get an order of EVERY TIME my parents took me out to dinner.

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Gnu it all along

Ouch, I know.

I’m almost always on the hunt for a really tasty, really healthy go-to nutrition bar.  I rarely eat bars, but when I do, I want one that’s vegan, delicious, and of some nutritional value (and preferably minimally processed).

There are a few that fit the bill.  Larabars and Raw Revolution bars are good but so greasy (not added, just naturally from the nuts)!  So I have to be in the right mood for those (read: have napkins handy).  Clif bars are good but a little calorie-heavy for a snack, unless I’ve been working out hard that day.  Their Zbars (marketed toward the kiddies, but good for us too!) are lighter, but careful — several Zbar flavors contain honey.  Sadface.

My favorite bar of all, though, is the Gnu bar.   By far.  These little buddies have a lot of things going for them.  All-natural, all-vegan, minimally processed, and packing 12 grams of fiber per bar (nearly 50% of the RDA, so make sure you drink lots of water with these!) — plus many of the ingredients are organic.  And on top of that, they taste REALLY, REALLY GOOD.

Gnu's 7 flavors! Image from Gnu Web site

I first discovered the Cinnamon Raisin and Chocolate Brownie flavors at Trader Joe’s when I was in school in Chicago around 2006 or 2007, but I just recently found out that they sell many more flavors at Whole Foods and on the Gnu bar Web site.  The site is pretty sexy — along with both individual and by-the-box purchasing capability, there is a “Joy of Fiber” club (a similar idea to Amazon’s Subscribe and Save) that offers a 30% savings and free shipping if you sign up for at least one month of bar delivery, commitment-free.

I was so excited to discover that there were more flavors than the two I’d been buying that I immediately ordered the 7-bar sampler, which is just what it sounds like.  It cost me $13.95, but they recently dropped the price down so just $9.95 will get you one of each bar (plus free shipping!  one-time only).  This is a super deal, since the bars regularly retail at $1.99 each.

Here are my thoughts:

  • Chocolate Brownie – My absolute favorite.  I am so impressed with how delicious this tastes for something that is such a health food!  This can pass as dessert for sure!
  • Banana Walnut – A little more dry than the other flavors, but very banana-bread tasting!
  • Orange Cranberry – Not my fave — surprisingly super-orangey.  Might be good to kill the occasional scone or muffin craving, but I wouldn’t stock up on these.
  • Cinnamon Raisin – JUST like an oatmeal raisin cookie!  This is coming from someone who loves oatmeal raisin cookies.  This flavor especially is good with tea!
  • Lemon Ginger – Eh.  Not great.  Wrong taste for the texture (the psyllium and flaxseed especially), I think.
  • Peanut Butter – Not quite peanut-buttery enough to satisfy a PB cookie craving, and a little dry.  Still tasty in its own way.
  • Espresso Chip – I love this one!  It definitely tastes like coffee, though, and does contain caffeine, so this one is best saved for the A.M.

Overall: My faves were the Chocolate Brownie, Cinnamon Raisin and Espresso Chip.  Without being gross, it’s also worth noting that the Gnu slogan (“It works!”) may be cute but it’s also TRUE — so if your body’s not used to lots of fiber at once, maybe start with just half a bar a day, or split the bar between a.m. and p.m.  I’d also recommend NEVER eating more than 2 bars a day — eek!

Stock up on Gnu Bars (or try the sampler!) at http://gnufoods.com, or purchase them individually at most Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s (and I’ve seen them in other stores too! — so check out your local grocer or health food store).

11/30 NOTE: I discovered JUST TODAY while I was perusing Gnu’s About page that the company is open about the fact that the sugar in their chocolate chips (found in the Brownie and Espresso flavors, which were my faves — boo!) is processed with bone char.  Bad that they use it, but good that they post a warning about it on their Web site so you can eat with full consciousness, whatever your decision.

“Black Weekend” specials at Vegan Essentials and E.L.F.

Wow, Black Friday!  Here again.  When I was growing up, our yearly Black Friday tradition was to stay at home the entire day if at all possible — to avoid traffic and crowds (and I guess rampant consumerism).  Fortunately, nowadays you can get your must-haves for the holiday without needing to go anywhere!  More and more online retailers are offering sales on Friday as well as, or even in lieu of, “Cyber Monday.”  Here are two deals that stand out to me as noteworthy for us vegan-types.

Vegan Essentials is offering a new deal each day this weekend!  If you’ve had stuff hanging around in your VE cart for ages but were waiting around for prices to go down before you ordered (*cough* like me), now’s your chance.  Follow them on facebook for more updates, and check out their deals below:

11/26 deal (today!): Enter code “BF1” to save 15% your entire order, ANY SIZE. Expires at 11:59p Friday (doesn’t say what time zone, so I’m assuming their local Wisconsin time).

11/27 deal: Enter the appropriate code and receive free shipping on your order — applies only to orders of $50 or more.  Enter “BF2A” for free shipping on orders of $50-75, “BF2B” for $75-100, “BF2C” for $100-125, “BF2D” for $125-150, “BF2E” for $150+.  This code will only work on 11/27 and expires Saturday at 11:59p.

11/28 deal: Free Veganu soap with any order (no code required), and free bag of Dandies marshmallow with your order of $50 or more (enter code “dandies”).  Deal only valid 11/28 and expires Sunday at  11:59p.

E.L.F., for Eyes Lips Face, is an almost entirely cruelty-free cosmetics retailer.  They offer super-affordable (one entire line is $1/item) makeup, brushes, and bath items that are not tested on animals and contain no animal products.  Their stuff is legit, too — their $1 regular/waterproof combo mascara is my go-to mascara for everyday use, and it doesn’t clump, it looks great and a tube lasts for 2-3 months.  There are also more “upscale” lines of mineral-based makeup and “studio” makeup, which cost a little more, but still way cheaper than buying something at the department store counter.   Here’s their deal for today:

11/26 deal: Enter “BOGO50.”  Buy one item, get the next 50% off, sitewide.  Plus free shipping if your order tallies over $30.

EDIT! 11/29 Cyber Monday deal!: Enter code “55WIDE” to receive 55% off your order over $25!  This is a great offer!

Hope something in here helps you!