Rants and Raves

I made the shift towards veganism for my health. And 9 times out of 10 that means eating fresh, whole foods that come from the ground, not a wrapper. That’s not always an option, though. Like most people, I don’t really have the time or resources to blend my own snack bars or bake my own cookies.

So packaged goodies are a must. Here are some of the bites I’ve taken in my pursuit of tasty, affordable vegan snacks:
The No Cookie Cookie- Oatmeal Raisin
I’m all about some oatmeal raisin cookies. And when judging an oatmeal cookie there are 3 things I look for—1) a satisfying crunch to contrast the soft raisins, 2) plenty of oats, 3) no bland oat-y flavor.
This is a softer cookie, so no crunch. It was nicely crumbly, though, so that made up for it a bit. But for an oatmeal cookie, it was surprisingly lacking in the oat department. Sure, there were some oats in it, just not enough for my liking. The flavor, though, was out of this world. It was like a non-stop maple-brown sugar flood in my mouth.
This cookie didn’t make the oatmeal raisin hall of fame. But if I don’t think of it as oatmeal raisin and just think of it as a cookie, it’s pretty darn good.
Alternative Baking Company- Colossal Chocolate Chip
If you have any qualms about eating cookies without butter or eggs, thinking they’ll be gross or dry, you should eat one of these cookies. This cookie has almost the exact same taste and mouth feel as a Mrs. Fields Soft Baked cookie. I would say they taste homemade, but frankly they’re better than anything my mother ever made (sorry, Mom and your classic Toll House recipe).
Alternative Baking Company- Explosive Espresso Chip
This cookie was almost exactly like the Colossal Chocolate Chip, except it had a subtle coffee flavor added in. For an “Explosive Espresso” cookie I was expecting more of a coffee flavor, but it still wasn’t a bad cookie in any way. Hell, it was still a great cookie.
Luna Bar- Chocolate Peppermint Stick
When I began my Veek I had ½ a box of Thin Mints in my freezer. Not surprisingly, they’re not vegan. So it goes without saying that it hurt a little as I watched my friends devour my Girl Scout stash.
I guess giving away my beloved cookies earned me some food-karma, though, because not long after I found this Luna Bar. Correction, I “found” this particular flavor in my Christmas stocking, but for whatever reason, I hadn’t tried it yet (what’s the shelf-life?). I’m kind of glad I waited, because if given the choice between Luna Bar and Thin Mints I probably would have chosen Thin Mints. But with them out of the picture I can fully appreciate this delicious vegan alternative. Seriously, if you close your eyes I doubt you could tell the difference.
Now I just have to see how they are frozen.
Larabar- Lemon Bar
After months of reading about the awesomeness that are Larabars I decided I had to taste what all the buzz was about. One bite in and I was hooked. This bar, which boasts one of the most perfectly balanced lemon pie tart-sweet mixes I’ve ever gotten from a non-pie, blew my socks off. It was chewy, had a bit of a bite, and melted in my mouth. I wanted to squirt some whipped cream on top and eat it with a fork. It was that good.
Larabar- Cherry Pie
I’ve eaten a few slices of cherry pie in my day. It’s bright red, gooey and pretty sweet. Sure, there’s some subtle tartness, but this bar went a bit overboard on the tart. I can easily see some people loving this bar in all its tart glory, I’m just not one of them.
Chocolove- Raspberries in Dark Chocolate
I lovelovelove raspberries. And dark chocolate. Put the two together and I’m in heaven. This chocolate is packed with tiny morsels of tangy dried raspberries, which balance perfectly with the dark chocolate. My only qualm is that the chocolate melts quickly so I usually end up licking a little off my fingers. I’m not complaining, though.
This is one goodie that Jim (my Vegan Godfather) has been treating me to for years. And every time I treat someone else to a much-coveted square they’re shocked by the ingredients—fruit, fruit, and more fruit. Be warned, though, this is no Hershey’s bar. The chocolate doesn’t taste quite like what you’d think. But have no fear, it is a very quickly acquired taste. And a taste you should definitely acquire if you can acquire these chocolate bars (they’re a bit tricky to find) because anything by Gary Null is guaranteed good and good for you.
(If you don’t know who Gary Null is, I suggest you educate yourself.)
Gnu Foods- Orange Cranberry bar
When I first ran across this bar at Fresh Market I got really excited. Orange cranberry? 12g of fiber? Only 130 calories? Sign me up.
And while I’m not completely removing my name from the fan list after eating it, I’m certainly running for president. The orange cranberry flavor was good, but it was overshadowed by the flavor of the other things in it. I really had to concentrate on the flavor to find it, and that’s too much to ask from me in the morning.
The texture was also a bit off. I can’t quite but my finger on it. It was chewy, but not in the right way. And the whole raisins really threw me off.
I would eat it again, but it definitely wouldn’t be my first choice.
Luna Bar- Toasted Nutz and Cranberry
When I decided to eat this bar I was looking for something a little less sweet than my other Luna Bars. Nutz. Cranberries. Sure, there’s probably a bit of sweetener, but how sweet can it be.
Answer: very. It was almost too sweet, and coming from me that means a lot.
Don’t get me wrong, the flavor and texture were all there. It was just really sweet. Next time I think I’ll eat half.
Cliff Z Bar-Apple Cinnamon
I realize these bars are for children. But honestly, that means nothing to me. I eat what I want. And they were on sale and the right calorie count to qualify as a snack (120).
The taste and texture were exactly what I expected from a Cliff Bar–chewy, with a satisfying bite and a good (albeit somewhat artificial) flavor. 
I would buy these again (but probably only if they were on sale). 
I lovelovelove this little baby. Talk about a powerhouse. This is a dense bar filled with a plethora of different tastes and textures that come together to form…an ah-maze-ing, often imitated, never duplicated bite. The flavor isn’t too sweet or overpowering. But really, it is all about the texture here. 
Too bad the only place I can find these bars is Starbucks. 
This bar packs 20 fruits and veggies (as is GN’s trademark), which is reason enough to chow down on this on the regular. And if you’re a serious chocoholic, this bar is definitely for you as it is a bar dipped in (what I can only guess is) some sort of carob-chocolate mix. It wasn’t overly sweet, instead it had a nice deep, earthy flavor. But be warned, that flavor is intense. A bit too intense for me. I became a 2-bite bitch with this thing, saving the rest for later when I had more hair on my chest. But if you can handle that much of a cocoa punch, I suggest you go for it. 
Nutritionally, you can never go wrong with GN. 
Go Big Oat!-Chocolate Hazelnut
When I see chocolate and hazelnut together I immediately think of Nutella. That dangerously, sinfully amazing spread has a flavor that could bring a nun to orgasm. I was hoping that this cookie could at least get me a little excited.
Verdict: It was rich and creamy (or as creamy as an oatmeal cookie can be) like Nutella. Almost as sinful as that exotic spread, but not quite. I blame that reduction in sin for me forgetting the calorie count (each cookie is 2 servings and around 200 calories a serving) and eating the entire cookie. 
Oh well, confession takes off calories, right?
Go Big Oat!-Triple Berry
I’m a berry-addict. While it can get very expensive to maintain my habit, so can crack, right? And berries have antioxidents. Crack doesn’t. Berries win.
When I saw this cookie pre-berry season I got excited. I was already preparing my taste buds for some sweet-tart berry goodness mixed with the chewy texture these cookies are known for. One bite, though, and I felt like a deflated balloon. 
Where was my big burst of berry? Where was the sweet-tart tango in my mouth? Not in this cookie, that was for sure. It was still a good cookie, but it was just a cookie. 
Go Big Oat!-Oatmeal Raisin
With a name like that, this company better offer some out of this world oatmeal cookies. You call know how I feel about oatmeal cookies. As far as the three criteria goes this cookie got 2/3. It packed a hearty dose of oats and a hearty brown sugar-cinnamon-molasses flavor. Sure, this cookie was all chew, no crunch, but I didn’t mind. I didn’t mind so much that I may actually have to change my criteria for judging these cookies to take into account two different varieties of cookies–chewy and crunchy. 
It may just have to happen.
Go Big Oat!-Ginger Mulberry Walnut
I know what ginger and walnuts taste like. But I don’t think I’ve ever had a mulberry, so I went into this cookie without any expectations. I was a blank slate. And you know what?
I really liked this cookie. It had an usual, can’t put my finger on it flavor (could that be the ginger or the mulberries?) that was delicious in its intrigue. There was a lightness about this cookie that is quite surprising for an oatmeal cookie. 
And now I’m waxing-poetic about a cookie.
Odwalla-Chewy Nut Bar
As a fan of Odwalla shakes (minus the massive amounts of sugar) I was expecting only the best from this bar. And maybe the other, more fruit-based bars, are more my style, but this one just didn’t do it for me. It was chopped up almonds (maybe some other nuts, too), puffed rice and a few oats all stuck together with cane syrup. Yup, it doesn’t even sound tasty when I think about it.
I’ll still probably try the other bars, but this no is out. 
Chocolove- Cherries and Almonds in Dark Chocolate
Again, allow me to proclaim my love for Chocolove. This bar boasted a sweet dark chocolate that I can’t get enough of. The chopped almonds in it reminded me completely of a Mr. Good bar (a favorite of mine). My only qualm is that I wish there were more of the delicious chewy cherries. But then again, if there were more cherries, this bar might be too perfect to handle.
Larabar- Coconut Cream Pie

Holy smokes, Batman! I’m in love. Wrapped inside an angelic white wrapper this little baby may seem like nothing more than your ordinary Larabar. But looks are definitely deceiving here. With the first bite of this melt in your mouth goodness you are taken out of your miniscule cubicle/tacky living room/used sedan on a massive wave of coconut, vanilla bliss.
Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this bar.

Larabar- Apple Pie

I love pie. Who doesn’t love pie? But, as you can tell from my feelings toward the Cherry Pie bar, I’m picky about imitators. I mean, it’s has already lost in the looks and texture departments, so the taste better be on point. And you know what?
It totally is. This tastes just like the filling of grandma’s apple pie (if my grandmother made apple pie). I even felt an urge to bake it in a puff pastry and eat it with some ice cream. 

Cliff Z Bar- Blueberry

Normally, I shy away from anything claiming to taste like real fruit. Or at the very least, I just don’t expect it to taste like fruit. This bar falls in to the latter category, but that doesn’t mean you should turn your nose up at it. It didn’t taste artificial, but it tasted like doctored blueberries. Almost like a less-sweet blueberry pie. 
And for minimal calories, I’ll take it.

ProBar Fruition- Cran Raspberry

After seeing a handful of rave reviews of these bars across the blogosphere (and a sale on them at Teeter) I knew I had to take the plunge.
And they certainly didn’t disappoint. Chewy. Tart. Sweet. Slightly more al dente than a Larabar. And I’m all about the snack bars. This snackbaby gets high marks in my book.

Fresh Market- Garden and Tomato Soup

I realize I normally review cookies and bars here, but this soup is worth mentioning. And with so many options, soup can be equally confusing and hit or miss as bars.
I lovelovelove this soup. It is hearty, slightly sweet, and packing full on homemade flavor. There is nothing I don’t love about this soup. It even pairs wonderfully with Texas Pete. 
What more can you ask for?

Lucy’s Cookies- Sugar, Cinnamon Thins, Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal

The first reason I started loving Lucy’s was because Starbucks sold them. But now, after eating my weight in them I have a whole new reason to love them—they taste like cookies! They don’t taste vegan, gluten-free or kosher. Their chocolate chip cookies taste like Chips Ahoy. Their Cinnamon Thins taste like cinnamon Teddy Grahams. It’s great!
My only qualms are that the oatmeal taste like shortbread rather than oatmeal (but I’m not complaining) and that I could never fully fully love a crispy sugar cookie. Despite my hold ups, though, those two boxes are empty. So obviously I didn’t hate them.

Hail Merry Grawnola- Lemon Blue Agave, Orange Cranberry

Om nom nom nom nom. And once more–nom. I lovelovelove the dehydrated rather than baked texture of this (which makes it more chewy less tooth-breaking). The flavors were dead on. And the multitude of ingredients made every not so little nugget a delicious surprise. 

Hail Merry Macaroons- Vanilla, Chocolate

Both of these were so unbelievably delicious. The vanilla was borderline light and airy, while the chocolate was dense, powerful, and luxurious. Both melted in your mouth oh so wonderfully. 

Luna Bar- Chocolate Dipped Coconut

One word: Samoas. Or, if you live in one of those weird places — two words: Caramel deLites. Yup, this does taste almost exactly like the cookie. The only thing that’s not spot on is the crunch factor. The healthy bits in this bar just can’t compare to the unhealthy bottom of the cookies. But if your choices are eat this bar or eat a whole row of cookies, I’m going with the bar. 

Luna Bar- Blueberry Bliss

Stay the eff away from this bar unless you like NutraGrain fruit bars. The blueberry aspect of these bars is sticky and overly sweet. I was hoping for dried blueberries or something, but this is the exactly opposite. 

Van’s Gluten-Free Waffles

Did you grow up eating Eggo waffles? I sure did. And I missed them a little when I cut out the crap. So when I found these I got more than a little excited over the possibility of having freezer waffles back in my life. 
These were NOT what I wanted. They are more than a little flavorless, overly dry, and crumbly. Try picking one up with your hands and it will turn to dust. And you certainly CAN NOT cook these in the microwave like Eggos. 

*Anything that I’ve reviewed here or in a post on my blog was either 1) bought by me and thus it is an honest and unbiased review or 2) given to me by a company with no compensation and thus it is an honest and unbiased review.*

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