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Fast Food Plant-Based What's New

McDonald’s Creates A Vegetarian Take On The Iconic McNugget

Following the viral buzz of their ‘McVegan‘ sandwich in 2017, McDonald’s has their latest plant-based take on a classic item for sale now in Norway.

Photo courtesy of McDonald’s

The focus of these “Vegetarnuggets” is all about the veggies, which you can see peeking through the crispy breading exterior. Produce on the inside includes chickpeas, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, corn, and onion. The breading on the outside uses ingredients like rice and semolina.

While they don’t have the exact same shapes as the McNuggets, these are the first meat-free take on a nugget we’ve seen coming out of any fast food chain. Sure, they are exclusive to Norway, but having a fast food nugget option made from vegetables would be groundbreaking in many other parts of the world.

McDonald’s Norway is refraining from calling these nuggets “vegan,” according to a representative, since they are cooked in the same fryer as other products that may contain cheese. As such, despite many current headlines suggesting the contrary, they are referred to as vegetarian nuggets.

Given how much buzz McDonald’s generates every time they create a plant-based item, though, there’s hope that these, or some version of them, could one day make it to the United States, and potentially even the rest of the world.

Categories
Fast Food Plant-Based

Beyond Meat Is Coming To All Del Taco Locations Nationwide

As plant-based options continue to proliferate in the fast food industry, Del Taco has decided to take their Beyond Meat partnership and go national with it.

del tacoPhoto courtesy of Del Taco

As of right now, a few locations in Southern California and Oklahoma carry the plant-based taco meat. In a recent investor call, however, Del Taco CEO John D. Cappasola said that his chain would begin rolling out Beyond Meat to all 594 locations. The Los Angeles Daily News reports that this should be completed by the end of April.

While there are two official tacos (a vegetarian Beyond Taco and vegan Beyond Avocado Taco) available, customers can also swap out ground beef for the vegan crumble on any menu item for a slight upcharge.

This news makes Del Taco the fourth major national chain to incorporate a plant-based meat option nationwide. Fatburger, Carl’s Jr., and White Castle have already done the same, but with their variations on burgers.

It also shows that the plant-based movement is rolling with a full head of steam, and it’s only a matter of time before all of the major chains have their own vegan options.

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Cravings Health Packaged Food Plant-Based Products

8 Vegan Cheeses You’ll Want To Add To Your Plant-Based Bucket List

Groundhouse’s Vegan Burger

For the majority of my life, I’ve experienced the bitter taste of lactose intolerance in my gut and in my soul. As a result, I simply avoided milk and cheese at all costs. Unfortunately, the siren song of a juicy burger with a hearty slice of cheese or a piping hot pizza straight from the oven would often haunt me.

As many coworkers have pointed out when I mention how much I miss cheese, we now live in an age where plant-based cheese alternatives are bountiful. Some are developed enough to just hit the spot, while others are so close that you actually can’t tell the difference between them or the real thing.

Check out some of the top vegan cheese brands currently in the market, each accessible through the click of a mouse or a trip to a speciality store. Going to make a bucket list to get my hands on each and every one of these. Stay tuned for a follow up with my thoughts!


Follow Your Heart

One of the more popular brands of vegan cheese slices, you’ll find Follow Your Heart on the menu of viral vegan burger chains like Monty’s Good Burger. I’ve had their cheddar on many a vegan burger, and frankly, it tastes nearly identical.

Kite Hill

 

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While Kite Hill is probably best known for their yogurts, they also produce almond milk-based cheeses such as ricotta. According to fellow Foodbeast, Constantine Spyrou, their plant-based ricotta is probably one of the best vegan cheese substitutes he’s had.

Miyoko’s Creamery

 

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The passion project of award-winning vegan chef Miyoko Schinner, Mikoyo’s Creamery is believed to be one of the first brands to bring vegan cheeses into the mainstream. Mikoyo produces high-quality cheeses from nut milks that even include artisanal vegan cheese wheels.

Violife

The first time I got to try Violife cheese, it was at a Natural Food and Products Expo. Violife makes a variety of vegan cheese options like cream cheese, parmesan, feta, smoked provolone, and cheddar. However, their take on queso was truly a mouthwatering experience.

Good Planet Foods

 

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Good Planet Foods prides themselves in a variety of tastes that tailor themselves to the consumer. What draws me to their brand of cheese is that the slices come in a bevy of unique flavors such as garlic and herb, hot pepper, and tomato basil.

Parmela Creamery

 

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Parmela Creamery draws from the subtle flavors that come from cashews. The company utilizes a slow-aging process for their nut cheeses that unlocks rich authentic flavors. Products include cheese spreads, meltable slices, cheese sauces, and meltable shredded cheese.

Wayfare

 

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A good smoked salmon bagel is something I’ll never turn down — even if the lactose gets the best of me for the rest of the day. Fortunately, Wayfare Foods specializes in dairy-free cream cheeses (with flavors like onion chive, green olive, and jalapeño) that may be the perfect solution to my bagel predicament.

Bute Island

 

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Foodbeast’s Analiese Trimber, a fellow lactose-intolerant soul who’s tried nearly every iteration of vegan cheeses, told me that Bute Islands was one of the best vegan cheeses she’s experienced.

“My favorite was the Greek style,” she said. “It was fashioned after feta cheese and their rendition was super creamy and slightly tangy, just like a good feta.”

Categories
Grocery Opinion Plant-Based

Breaking Down Two Of The Top Plant-Based Egg Alternatives Available Now

Plant-based alternatives are getting increasingly closer to their original replicas, especially in the world of egg substitutes. Today, you can purchase alternatives to eggs that work in all kinds of applications, like scrambling, baking, sauces, frittatas, and more.

In the current industry of egg alternatives, two companies really stand out: Follow Your Heart, one of the earliest to create an egg alternative, and JUST, the successor to Hampton Creek whose scrambled egg substitute has become a viral success.

Of course, you’re probably not going to have multiple egg alternatives in your food supply at once, so if you’re looking for which one of these two top choices to go with, here’s a look at what each one does best. From there, you can decide for yourself which one you should be getting on a regular basis.

JUST

Photo courtesy of JUST

JUST uses a mung bean protein to make their plant-based scramble, and it has all the form and function of standard scrambled eggs. Fellow Foodbeast Peter Pham captured the alternative being cooked at Expo West, and watching it turn into perfect scrambled eggs is mind-blowing.

Check out the video below:

In terms of capability, JUST’s “egg” is ideal for anything you want to do in terms of scrambling. This includes soft scrambled eggs, frittatas, Spanish tortillas, pancake batters, and anything along those lines. Its ability to thicken also makes it useful for batters for items like French toast.

Photo courtesy of JUST

Outside of that primary ability, though, JUST’s product isn’t incredibly versatile. It’s okay at some lighter baking applications (ie. cookies), but it really is made to be a scramble above all else. JUST itself doesn’t recommend using it as a substitute in baking just yet, although its working on a version that will hold up. It’s an amazing replica of a scramble, but not as strong when it comes to other usages of egg.

JUST also does require refrigeration and has a relatively short shelf life, so when you do buy it, you’ll want to use it sooner rather than later.

Follow Your Heart

Photo courtesy of Follow Your Heart

At first glimpse, Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg is very different from what JUST offers. Follow Your Heart’s soy-based version is a powder that you mix up with water when you want to make your egg substitute. You do get enough per batch to equate to about a dozen eggs, give or take. It’s not as convenient as the ready-to-pour JUST, but still pretty simple to use.

Follow Your Heart’s egg does take a bit longer to scramble, needing about 8-10 minutes versus the 2 minutes for JUST. As for texture, it’s a little more runny, but still has a similar taste and texture.

Photo courtesy of Follow Your Heart

Unlike JUST, however, Follow Your Heart excels at being versatile, especially for baking. Its base liquid form and thickening ability make it ideal for sauces and vegan versions of custard (tricky to pull off, but possible). One of my personal favorite usages for it is as the “egg” of a plant-based carbonara sauce, where it both coats and enriches to perfection.

The VeganEggs are also a great egg replacement in baking applications, particularly in cookies and cakes. It works so well in baking because Follow Your Heart’s product can withstand the higher heats without needing to scramble, and incorporates well into baking and other mixes. You can also utilize it in batters for items like pancakes, waffles, and other breakfast staples.


Overall, if you prefer eating savory foods or want to cut out eggs from your morning routine, I’d go for JUST as the top alternative to scrambles in the game. If you’re more into baking and general applications, though, Follow Your Heart is more ideal.

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Health Packaged Food Plant-Based Sweets

This Bakery Creates Plant-Based, Allergy-Free Versions Of Our Favorite Sweets

Everyone craves the occasional hit of sweet sweet indulgence. The problem is, food allergies have hindered a fair amount of the options for a portion of the population.

Better Bites, a bakery out of Austin, TX, specializes in sweets geared towards those who struggle with food allergies. They’re able to achieve this because the plant-based treats are free from all of the top eight allergens such as gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn, and nuts.

Products from their pantry include: “Hostess-like” cupcakes, chocolate cookie dO bites, cupcakes, cake balls, brownies, and s’more cakes — a veritable cornucopia of allergy-friendly options for anyone with dietary restrictions.

“As someone who can’t eat gluten or dairy, Better Bites is my savior!” says Foodbeast’s Analiese Trimber. “I’m so used to products that sacrifice taste just to meet the buzzwords behind dietary restrictions. Their Hostess-like cupcakes are free from top seven allergens, but you’d never know. Wholesome ingredients and amazing flavor makes Better Bites stand out from the rest.”

Anyone looking to get their hands on some Better Bites sweets can find them at participating retailer locations across the US. Finally, a lactose-free treat I can mess with.

Categories
Grocery Packaged Food Plant-Based What's New

These Paleo Pizza Pockets Taste Just Like Hot Pockets But Cut Out Several Major Allergens

Innovating in the “better-for-you” foods industry means you’re not just making salads and veggie bowls. Often times, it involves creating alternatives to the more junky but beloved foods that got us through college and our earlier years, like Hot Pockets.

At this year’s Expo West, we found a paleo Hot Pockets alternative on the market, and it could be the perfect substitute for those who enjoy the nostalgic item, but can’t eat dairy or wheat anymore.

Created by gluten-free and paleo food producer Mikey’s, their take on the classic hits the flavor notes you would expect. However, they utilize a plant-based cheese substitute on the inside and a unique crust made from ingredients like cassava flour, konjac, sunflower flour, and chia seeds.

Behind the pockets is chef Michael Tierney, who’s worked at Michelin-starred establishments like The French Laundry and Eleven Madison Park. He’s part of a growing movement of chefs bringing their talents to the grocery store space, making sure that flavor is capitalized as much as function. Tierney started Mikey’s with an English muffin recipe, and his product lineup has since evolved to include offerings like these pizza pockets.

While Mikey’s isn’t vegan (they use actual pepperoni and ham in their various pocket products), they still are a better-for-you alternative that cuts out many of the major allergens. To have all of that absent while retaining all of the sensory attributes of a classic Hot Pocket is pretty impressive, making these a must-try substitute to the original.

You can find Mikey’s pockets at over 5,000 retailers nationwide, including Sprouts, Target, Publix, Walmart, and Whole Foods. For a full list of stores, take a look at their product locator.

Categories
Drinks Fast Food Plant-Based Sweets

A Vegan Fast Food Chain Just Launched Their Version Of The Shamrock Shake

Viral sensation Monty’s Good Burger has been growing rapidly. Called a “vegan In-N-Out” by many, the LA-based burger shop has recently gone from plant-based icon to an official chain, with their second location opening up in Riverside, California.

Monty’s is also continuing to innovate their menu, with the most recent addition being a limited-time tribute to the iconic Shamrock Shake.

Photo courtesy of Monty’s Good Burger

The all-vegan shake has a mint flavor, and comes topped with a plant-based whipped cream and cookie topping. With the exception of an added chocolate drizzle, it looks pretty similar to the OG Shamrock you can find at McDonald’s around this time.

Monty’s creations do come at a slightly higher price, so you’re looking at dropping $7 to secure yourself this shake. They’ve proven themselves as a specialist in vegan indulgence, though, so those looking for a plant-based recreation of the legendary Shamrock Shake should find this worthy.

You can find the Vegan Shamrock Shake at both of Monty’s Good Burger locations in Los Angeles and Riverside, CA.

Categories
Fast Food Health Plant-Based

Panda Express Changes Chow Mein And Eggplant Tofu To Be Plant-Based Friendly

To be completely honest, I was about today years old when I learned that Panda Express’s plant-based options aren’t 100% vegetarian. Turns out that in the past, their chow mein and eggplant tofu, amongst other items, have included chicken broth or chicken-based seasonings inside of them, meaning while they may look meat-free at a glance, they’re not.

Moving forward, though, that won’t be the case, as Panda Express has been making changes to their menu to ensure that those items are free from animal products.

For the past few years, according to a Panda Express representative, they’ve working to eliminate animal byproducts from several of their dishes while keeping taste and quality the same. These include the chow mein, Super Greens mixed veggies, eggplant tofu, and steamed brown and white rice. Panda has been able to scale these changes to a national level, and began rolling out the new recipes in late 2018. They’ll be in all restaurants nationwide by the end of this year.

While these dishes are suited for those who live a plant-based lifestyle, Panda Express will still avoid calling them “vegan” or “vegetarian.” Since all of the dishes are cooked on the same kitchen equipment, potential exists for leftover bits of meat and animal products to intermix with the meat-free dishes.

So, while the items are technically plant-based friendly, there is no guarantee that there won’t be meat inside them. Nonetheless, it’s a huge step forward for Panda Express to begin renovating their menu to accommodate vegetarian and vegan guests better. In the future, perhaps they will be able to prevent that cross-contamination as well.