Sunday, May 31, 2009

Products in Jars: A Review

One perk of being a vegan blogger is that I'm occasionally and generously given products to review. This review installment focuses on products that are packaged in jars.

First up, way back in March, Zukay Live Foods sent me two jars of salsa and two jars of relish. The jars arrived with a typewritten warning about the products fizzing and bubbling due to the fact that they're fermented and full of wonderful probiotics. I set the sealed jars on my counter and left them alone for several days until I was ready to use them. Then, as I was sitting on my couch in the family room, I heard little noises every once in a while, as if air were being released from something. I thought nothing of it, but it kept happening. When I got up to investigate, I realized that it was the contents of the Zukay jars that were causing the commotion!

When I finally tasted the Zukay products, my favorite was the Horseradish Dill Relish. It tastes more like dill pickles than horseradish, but I really enjoyed the fresh, light flavor. Mostly, I ate this on Ezekiel toast. The Garlic Dill Relish smelled very strongly of garlic, but the garlic flavor wasn't overwhelming.

Both salsas were quite good and slightly different from each other. The Hot Salsa Vida had a great kick to it and had a thinner tomato base. The Mild Salsa Vida, on the other hand, had a thicker tomato base and, obviously, was less spicy.

I apologize for taking months to post this review, but maybe it'll help Zukay keep the awareness of their products at the forefront of everyone's minds. Their products are available directly from their website and at limited U.S. stores.

I'm going to attempt some restraint when discussing these Naturally Nutty nut butters just as I had to exercise restraint when eating them. They're very good! According to the NN website, Katie Kearney, a vegetarian mom and nut butter lover, decided to create healthier nut butters for her kids. Knowing that flax seeds and hemp seeds are loaded with nutritional benefits, Katie added the super seeds to her nut butters, as well, and ended up with delicious and nutritious spreads.

As an aside about my own life, my brother was diagnosed at 9 months old with a potentially fatal peanut allergy about 30 years ago when peanut allergies were extremely rare. We currently have the luxury of finding alternative nut butters on practically every grocery store shelf because this allergy is now prevalent (unfortunately), but that was not the case 30 years ago. So, my mom made cashew butter from scratch when we were growing up and we didn't have peanut butter in the house until we were both old enough to understand the ramifications of him ingesting it. Although her freshly homemade cashew butter was superb, I'm sure she would've been thrilled to have had the alternative nut butter options readily available today.

I tested the Chocolate Cherry Peanut Butter, the Vanilla Peanut Butter, and the Vanilla Almond Butter (Katie asked me which flavors I wanted to test and these were 3 of my top 4 choices). I sampled all of these straight out of the jar on a spoon. Who needs bread to interfere with the nut butter goodness?

The Chocolate Cherry PB wasn't overly chocolaty or overly peanut buttery, which means that the balance of flavors was nice. It was slightly textured from the addition of ground flax and hemp seeds, so it was smooth, but a little grainy (in a good way), and had the chewy addition of dried cherries.

The Vanilla PB required a little stirring to distribute the small amount of oil that had accumulated on top and the vanilla powder that had caked together on one side of the jar. This PB tastes deliciously like the inside of a Butterfinger bar (from what I can remember).

Although I tasted the Vanilla Almond Butter second, I'm saving the best for last. I couldn't get enough of this nut butter that tasted like the most fantastic almond cookie you could possibly imagine. Like the Vanilla PB, it needed to be stirred to distribute the vanilla powder, but that was a small effort in exchange for such wonderful flavor and texture. I'm actually really happy that I can't buy this at my local market or I might gain 50 pounds!

Naturally Nutty products are only available directly from their website, I believe, but please make sure to read the ingredients of each product, as they're not all vegan.

I also recently sampled PB2 and Chocolate PB2, powdered peanut butters from Bell Plantation. Unfortunately, I didn't care for their odd, overly-processed flavor (especially bizarre because they claim that no chemicals are used in their process) or texture. I do appreciate Bell Plantation's kindness in sending me samples to review, though.

Thank you to all three companies for creating vegan products and for being kind enough to send me samples to review!


ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

I love naturally nutty :)

aTxVegn said...

I love love love pb so thanks for these reviews. I had been curious about the powdered stuff.

Anonymous said...

These are great reviews! Of course I can't get any of those here in France, but I love reading about what's available in North America and what my vegan friends are sampling. Those nut butters sound amazing, especially that almond butter! Your mom really rocked hard making her own butters for you and your brother - food allergies are so serious, and I can't imagine sorting through all that with a little one. Your mother rocks!

Anonymous said...

Whoa that vanilla butter looks awesome

Wheeler's Crew said...

All of the nut butter varieties sound really delicious. Thanks also for your reviews of the salsas and relish. I'm always looking for new flavor combos to try.

Ricki said...

Lucky you! I'm intrigued by the Zukay products and of course would LOVE to sample the nut butters!

Anonymous said...

Wow... thank you for introducing me to Naturally Nutty! You have no idea how excited I got when I saw Vanilla Almond Butter. And just from reading your review, I'm even more excited. I can't wait to order some!

Love your blog :)

JennShaggy said...

Hahahaha oh just made me laugh out loud. I actually have no idea!

Thank you for the b-day/week wishes :)

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine what it's like being allergic to peanut butter! PB=My life. Sorry about your bro :( But it's great that he can have other nut butters. They do get expensive. But it's worth it sometimes.

Vegan On Stage said...

hey! thanks for stopping by!! yea it was so wonderful to recieve those goodies!!! Hope you get to order from her.. shes wonderful