The wonderful world of vegan food has only gotten better and better in the last decade, all thanks to the demand for higher quality and delicious plant-based foods. Yet, if you’re a newer vegan, or perhaps someone who just wants to curb their meat intake and try new things, it can be a little daunting when faced with so many unfamiliar brands and food items. Especially if you’ve experienced a product that had a weird taste, texture or smell in the past. No one wants to spend their money on sub-par food. Even vegans.
With this in mind, here’s what I hope will be the first installment of a series that will list some of the best tasting vegan products in the market right now! Today, we’ll take a look at some of my personal favorite staples that I keep around often in order to complete a meal and add to my favorite recipes. I’ve sneaked a few indulgences in, too! If you can’t find these products near you, don’t hesitate to order them online; it’s so worth it! You can also ask your local grocery store to carry them. It totally works, especially when you convince a few friends to ask for the product there, too! It doesn’t matter that they don’t want to eat it. If they are your real friends, they will help you out, right? Right.
For some of these products, the right preparation is important for best taste. So I’ve added tips for cooking and pairing, too. Now, dig right in!
1. Upton’s Ground Seitan
There’s just no question; Upton’s makes the most superior vegan “ground meat” in the market right now. It’s satisfying meaty texture and spot-on flavor makes it difficult to tell if it’s vegan when served to omnivores, and it holds it’s texture very well in recipes like soups or stews. In my experience, you can cook Upton’s almost anyway you like. One of the best ways is to saute it with a little grapeseed oil, especially if prepping for use in a sauce or gravy. Season however you like, Upton’s Ground has a neutral savory flavor that pairs well with everything.
It’s best for: pasta sauces, pizzas, tacos, enchiladas, hearty soups, and basically any other recipe that calls for “ground beef”.
2. Punk Rawk Labs Nut Milk Cheese
Okay, so depending on where you live, this may not be the easiest product to find. However, I am telling you right now that the search, price and any wait involved is completely worth it. All of their cheeses have a depth of flavor and a texture that rivals any gourmet status dairy cheese. Plus, because it’s raw and probiotic, it’s definitely not bad for you! This particular vegan cheese is best served chilled in a cheese-plate setting of crackers, fruits and salty-savory items like capers or olives. Once you’re done appreciating it on it’s own, try it on top of salads and Italian or Greek dishes.
It’s best for: hors d’oeuvres, salads with light dressings, pizzas, pita bread sandwiches, artisan breads.
3. Field Roast’s Apple Sage Sausage
For many vegans, this product is an oldie but a goodie. I had to include it for those who may have never tried it, because it’s such a favorite. Field Roast is a brand that makes a superior vegan sausage compared to everyone else in the market. Although Tofurkey’s line of sausages is a close second, Field Roast has a meatier, sturdier texture that makes it great on it’s own, or for adding into meals, too. It’s best cooked on the stove top by browning in a bit of cooking oil, and then heated through with a little water to simmer in while covered by a lid. Best made in a non-stick ceramic pan.
It’s best for: buns and beers, breakfast scrambles, stuffings, soups and hash.
4.Sweet Earth Food’s Hickory and Sage Smoked Seitan Bacon
This thickly cut, almost brisket-like bacon seitan will saturate your taste buds with amazing savory-sweet-smokey bliss. Killer on a sandwich, but it’s flavorful enough to use to give many other recipes it’s distinct smoky bacon flavor. It’s best cooked on the stove in a non-stick (I prefer ceramic) pan with just a touch of peanut oil, either in strips or cut into pieces. After that, use how you wish! You could also easily wrap veggies like jalapenos or asparagus and bake for a superb treat for guests.
It’s best for: sandwiches, hors d’oeuvres, quiches, soups, and cooked with greens.
5. Treeline Cheese
Treeline is another cashew based cheese that I really love. More specifically, their soft-style herb garlic flavor sends me over the moon. You can spread this delectable treat on crackers and crusty breads by itself, or add a few ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes and olive oil, or top with a vegan caviar like Cavi-Art. You will want to refrigerate this cheese when not in use, but to get the maximum amount of flavor and best texture, take the cheese out about 15 to 30 minutes before serving.
It’s best for: bagels, crusty artisan breads, hors d’oeuvres, veggie sandwiches, and salads.
6. Edward & Son’s Not Chick’n Bouillon
I know what you’re thinking. Bouillon? But if you want to infuse many of your savory dishes with tons of flavor, you need this stuff. I use this bouillon as an enhancer for soups, sauces, gravies and much more. Pair with some cashews, white whine, and non-dairy unsweetened yogurt to have the beginnings of an amazing white alfredo cream sauce. Sub nooch in for the white wine and add a few Mexican spices to create a creamy enchilada sauce. Use to flavor your house made seitans or use as a base to marinate tofu. Your imagination is really your only limit!
It’s best for: sauces, soups, stuffings, gravies, greens and mashed potatoes.
That concludes this list! I would love to know what you think about these products if you’ve tried them, and what you use them for. Also, what are some of your favorite vegan food products right now?