June 07, 2013

Vegan product reviews (Vida Vegan Con swag) | Giveaway


My morning smoothie tastes so much better now that I can have it in a VVC mug. The mug was part of the enormous amount of swag we were handed when we signed in for Vida Vegan Con at the art museum in Portland. The bag was just the first collection of goodies we received — samples kept coming all weekend. Venders had samples, people handed us samples as we walked outside the museum ("would you like to try some vegan snacks?"), there were bags of treats on our chairs at the Battle Royale trivia contest — see what I mean?


This is what the collection looked like spread on the floor when I got home. Not all of it is in the photo, of course, because, well, some things may have been eaten. My husband was at the conference, too, so he also had a bag, but most of his things have mysteriously disappeared. We also received a nifty toiletry bag from Susan Nichole, and my husband was particularly excited about this, because his old bag was in tatters, and he left it behind in the trash.

I've been tasting and testing some of the products since we returned home, and am going to present a little review of some of my favorites so far.


I've always been a fan of Hail Merry macaroons, and was excited to see a bag in the collection. I can't show what they looked like because ... because they are so good they don't last long enough to photograph. They are magic and just disappear. The kale chips, on the other hand, I forced myself to photograph before they, too, disappeared.


I think the kale chips were my favorite snack I've tried so far. These are the best kale chips. The best. They are organic, gluten-free, raw and of course, vegan. They're made in Portland, and you can read all about them here. So good. I want more.


I think I found a new favorite boxed breakfast cereal. We had full-sized boxes of the cereal in our swag bags, and I ate some dry for breakfast one day in Portland. I also munched up a bowlful after I snapped the photo. It tastes like toasty buckwheat and is all crunchy and delicious. Attune foods is the company behind Erewhon supergrains. This morning I had it with almond milk and blueberries, and loved it even more.

Dang. Today I tried to buy a box at Whole Foods and was so dismayed by the $5.99 price that I bought Bob's creamy buckwheat cereal instead.


Here's an interesting little snack. It's chewy, spicy, salty and satisfying, and it's made from soy curls. You can find purchasing information here. I believe my sample came from Vegan Cuts.


Booda butter is an all-purpose body moisturizer that smells divine and leaves me with the light fragrance of a chocolate macaroon. At first I didn't like it. I applied it to my face after a shower and an hour later I had to blot it so I didn't look like a grease ball. After blotting, I applied very light makeup and my skin looked much dewier than usual, and felt very soft. Then I smoothed a tiny amount on my hair to tame some frizz — perfect. Today I used it as a body lotion after showering and although it doesn't sink in as quickly as some lotions do, it was very moisturizing, and I loved the feel of it on my skin. I gave my face some extra time to soak up the booda butter and I didn't need to blot. And the smell is so gentle and pleasing. I think it's going to become a favorite.


Can you believe this? A kombucha starter kit. Now I just have to find a one gallon glass jar and work up the courage to try it.  Has anyone tried a kit like this one? Any advice? Here's a link to their Web site if you want more information.


When I first looked at the tomato chips I wasn't impressed — not the most appetizing-looking snack I've seen — but by the time I'd finished the package I was hooked. They were spicy and cheesy, and I kept checking the package to see if I'd missed any crumbs because I wanted more. You can see the ingredients, here.


When I checked the safety of the BWC (Beauty Without Cruelty) shampoo and cream rinse on Skin Deep, the EWG (Environmental Working Group) ratings of body care products, I was dismayed to find a rating of 3. I like to stay within a safety rating of 0 to 2. But I confess I really like the way the extra body shampoo and cream rinse leave my very fine hair with more body. I liked the way the product worked, and the fact that it's cruelty-free, but some of the ingredients may be a concern. Still, I might buy some.


I'd be lying if I said I didn't like the Earth Balance Puffs.  In fact, we ate quite a few sample bagfuls in Portland and back at home. Non-GMO and gluten-free, the crunchy, flavorful puffs left a cheesy/powdery residue on my fingers exactly like cheese puffs/cheese curls used to. And I had to lick my fingers just like in the old days. They are beige rather than day-glo orange, and they don't have real cheese. The first two ingredients are corn and navy beans. And they don't contain palm oil. Earth Balance claims to use "responsibly harvested" palm oil for their other products but it still makes me nervous to find that ingredient in my food. (You can read more about the negative impact of using palm oil, here.)


Lush nuts are a sophisticated snack of dark cocoa, sugar and chili-coated Spanish peanuts. They are sweet, spicy and surprising. I think they came in our Vegan Cuts snack bag — not your ordinary peanut.


How cool is this? Along with all the samples — and filled with some! — was a great toiletry bag from Susan Nichole. It was given to us when we checked into our hotel.


Whew. This post is longer than I thought it would be when I started, and I've made barely a dent in my bag of swag. If you've read this far, you now have a chance to grab a little VVC souvenir of your own. Amey, from Vegan Eats and Treats, assembled a cooking zine with a favorite recipe from many of the presenters at VVC 2013. She's illustrated it with her wonderful, humorous cartoons. I bought a bunch to give out as souvenirs, and I have two for my blog readers. Just leave a comment and I'll randomly select two people to receive one. You have until Monday, June 10 at midnight to leave a comment. So what are you waiting for? (U.S. and Canada.)

And BTW, if you already have the zine, don't want one or are Amey, just put a minus (-)  at the beginning of your comment and I won't include you in the drawing!

THE CONTEST IS NOW ENDED BUT COMMENTS ARE STILL WELCOME.

48 comments:

  1. that booda butter looks great! what a terrific haul!

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    1. I'm really loving the booda butter!

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  2. "Would you like to try some vegan snacks?" could be a tagline for VVC; such an impressive array of goodies. I particularly love those cheese doodles myself, and I tried the peanut butter version (not a doodle) at a party and was blown away by that one as well; waiting for it to be available in stores.

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    1. I didn't write about the chocolate peanut butter, but it was pretty edible, too. If I could only have one snack, though, it would have to be the kale chips.

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  3. I am not from the USA, can I still enter?

    It would be awesome to win the cookbooklette as I am also a reader of Amey's cute blog. c:

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    1. I'm really sorry but the giveaway is limited to the U.S. and Canada. Do you live in Canada?

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    2. No, but I wish I did, it's one of my dream countries. :D

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  4. Crivens, that looks gorgeous. I really like the look of the tomato crisps - I hope there's a recipe out there to make those at home! I'd love the zine, but alas geographically excluded!

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    1. "Crivens" — now there's a word I haven't heard before. I like it!

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  5. We got a bag of the Hail Merry Macaroons in my April (or maybe May)Birchbox, and we really enjoyed them.

    I would love it if you would link up and share some of your wonderful recipes with my readers on my Foodie Friday Blog Hop! You can share some of your favorite recipes and find some new ones, as well!

    Hope to see you there!

    Melissa
    A Room for Two with a View

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    1. Thanks for the invitation, Melissa. We'll see.

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  6. I would love love to snag a copy of Amey's cute zine! I've heard great things.
    Are the kale chips available nationwide? Or only in the Pacific NW? The jerky and tomato chips also sound pretty interesting. Odd that I zero in on the savory goodies...

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    1. I thought of you as I was collecting copies!

      I zero in on the savory things, too. I hardly ever crave sweets. Even the sweet snacks I posted aren't extremely sweet. I think you can buy the kale chips on Amazon but I don't know where they're sold locally.

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  7. Enjoy your blog. Thanks for the chance to win the swag. The end of May was my one year "vegan" anniversary . Can't imagine eating any other way.

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    1. I agree that vegan is the best! I can't imagine ever going back. Congratulations on making the change and sticking to it. :)

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  8. Such a great bunch of swag! I'm really impressed at how much they give everyone. Mike uses the Booda Butter because it's the only thing that his hands don't react to. It smells so terrific!

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    1. It's a stunning amount, for sure, and I'm not even showing all of it. Plus the samples we ate on the spot. Whew.

      Booda butter is very pure and natural — and the smell is heavenly. Don't you use it too?

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    2. I don't only because it can be kind of greasy. Mike uses it to give me foot & calf massages, though. :)

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  9. I would love to win this great vegan bag of swag! I want to try everything, absolutely everything!! I wish I could have gone to the event.

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    1. I wish you could win the bag of swag, too, but if you re-read the post you'll see that you can only win the recipe zine. Sorry. :)

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  10. I have a few of Amey's Christmas zines, and they are all great - super fun with really tasty recipes. I wish I'd gone to Vida Vegan Con this year! It totally snuck up on me, and I didn't even know it was happening until it was over :(

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    1. Going to VVC would have been cool, but if you win the zine, it will be your consolation prize. Maybe you'll get to go to VVC next year!

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  11. What an awesome haul. That cereal sounds great, but like you, I wouldn't spend $6 on a box. I'd love to win a copy of Amey's zine!

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    1. It was a big box, but still ... I've seen recipes for buckwheat granola floating around the blogs and I may make some of that. But I really did like the Erewhon stuff.

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  12. What terrific products, my daughter would love all of these. I would enjoy trying the kombucha starter kit.
    twinkle at optonline dot net

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    1. There were a bunch of tasty snacks in the swag bag, and I wish I could send a bagful to the winners, but alas, only the cookbooklette.

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  13. Wow--those samples all look and sound fantastic! I have always wanted to try those tomato chips (I think they also have zucchini chips and onion chips too)--now that I know they are good, they will be harder to resist!

    Courtney

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  14. Wow! What a treasure trove of goodies! Fun, fun! xo

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    1. There are still goodies in my bag that I haven't tried yet!

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  15. that is one load of swag! so much stuff!.. i have to try those tomato chips!

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    1. They were tasty and spicy. I liked them a lot but they weren't pretty. :)

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  16. Yummy snacks! looks like it was a fun and tasty time.

    Would love one of those! Love Amey's pics.

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    1. It was. Amazingly enough, nearly all the snacks were gluten-free.

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  17. Yay for VVC swag. I love my mug too and will rinse it out and reuse it for days...the dream lives on :-) Also, I had no idea that the body butter was body butter. I thought the brown package it was in housed some cookies or coupons. I was so delighted when I opened it because I love body butters, especially those that smell like cake/cookie! I still haven't tried my kombucha kit yet either. If I do, I will be sure to post about my experiences.

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    1. I do the same with my mug. And I agree that the booda butter packaging was a little unusual. :)

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  18. you are making me wish i was there, you got sooo many good things. i really want to try those kale chips, you make them sound amazing!

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    1. It wasn't just the snacks that should make you wish you were there — it was meeting all the bloggers and attending the great sessions. Maybe next year ... :)

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  19. ohgoodgolly it all looks so superyumful! I wish there was a VVC traveling road show that would come visit our city!
    Amey is so talented...what a fun cookbooklette! :)

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    1. Amey is indeed a talented and clever artist.

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  20. Wow, that's a boatload of swag! So many neat things in there, some I've tried, some new. That booda butter looks especially interesting...

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    1. I thought of you as I was tasting (and tasting again) the EB puffs. :)

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  21. - ha ha, I AM Amey! But i still want to comment on this excellent post! I am thinking of doing something similar... blogging about some of my favorite finds from the swag bag. :) And I agree that those Kale Chips were truly yums.

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    1. hahaha. Sure you are. Everyone wants to be Amey. But if you ARE Amey, I look forward to reading about your favorites. :)

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  22. My husband and I have bin vegan for a month now. We love the change, and are impressed with all the vegan friendly products that are available. Thank you for educating us a little more with your blog:)

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    1. You're welcome. And I hope you continue to love your new diet!

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  23. THos Lush nuts are ridiculous! We ate all of ours before we even got home!

    After I read this post, I started using the Buddah butter to tame my crazy hair days- Amazing! I never would've thought to try it. Thank you!

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    1. I was pretty surprised to see the hair results, too. I thought it would turn my hair into a grease ball but it just made it look smooth and shiny.

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