First Look: The V-Box, a vegan meal subscription service by V-Grits

Vegan

V-Grits – Louisville’s only Vegan Food Truck – is launching a new vegan recipe subscription service called the V-Box. They are still finalizing the details, but the V-Box will come delivered to your door on a weekly basis, filled with a delicious recipe and all of the ingredients needed to make it.  We were selected to test the V-Box before launch.

On our doorstep was a box from V-Grits, and inside were 3 unique recipes, with all of the ingredients needed to make them. Everything inside was measured and labeled with the recipe that the ingredient went with, making it extremely easy to select our first meal and get it started.

The recipes for the test box were:

  • Orange Cauliflower with Red Quinoa
  • Mediterranean Sweet Potatoes with Greek-Dressed Arugula
  • Fusilli with Sundried Tomato Tapenade and Roasted Kale

For our first meal, we chose the one that looked the most complicated: Fusilli with Sundried Tomato Tapenade and Roasted Kale. The ingredients were all top-notch, fresh, and organic when available. The instruction sheet, filled with step-by-step photos and instructions grouped together, was easy to follow, and we had a lot of fun working together on a recipe that we’ve never tried before. The instruction sheet also included preparation & cook times, both for novices and for experts, which were pot on with how long it took us.

Once finished, we sat down for the meal, and it was delicious! The tapenade had an excellent, robust flavor that really carried the dish, and the roasted kale was better than any we’ve made before.

The V-Box is launching later this winter – follow V-Grits on Twitter to keep up!

PEAKSgiving: Uplands PEAK Sanctuary – Indiana. November 2015.

Vegan

Uplands Peak is a farm animal sanctuary in Southern Indiana. In it’s short existence, it has already rescued seven pigs (Andy, Annie, Brandi, Erica, Isaac, Lucy, and Tulip) and four goats (William, Twiggy, Benny, and Greta).

PEAKSgiving is their annual fundraiser, where like-minded people can get together to share a vegan meal (including chick’n & dumplings from V-Grits) at the sanctuary and help raise money to help in the upkeep of the grounds and animals. A silent auction, Magbooth photo booth, tables from vegan-friendly groups, and live music made this a great afternoon.

Besides the delicious food for a good cause, what was my favorite part of the event? Watching the animals enjoy their PEAKSgiving meal – fresh pumpkins that were donated to the sanctuary.

Uplands Peak Sanctuary is located 45 minutes outside of Louisville, KY in Salem, IN. Visitor info and more can be found on their website: UplandsPeakSanctuary.org

New Vegan Wraps at Heine Brothers’ Coffee! January 2015.

Vegan, Work

Note: Originally posted on the Heine Brothers’ Coffee website, where I am the Marketing and Technology Manager.

One of the most-requested items that we get from customers isn’t a coffee from a certain growing cooperative, or an exclusive pastry from one of Louisville’s many great bakers – but a good, hearty wrap that is full of flavor, made with ingredients that are wholesome and natural. We talked to Najla Asward, owner of Najla’s Cookies, to begin exploring what this would look like coming from them.

Several things were important to us in this. Using natural ingredients – if we have to Google an ingredient, it is probably not something we want in our food. Offering options that everyone can enjoy, from vegans to meat-loving carnivores, is also high on the list. Easy preparation, so that our baristas can quickly prepare the item to help you get to your next stop on time, is important as well.

Najla came back with 2 different items, and they both knocked my socks off. Both are animal-free products, and as the lone vegan on our leadership team, I was excited to see the reactions from the rest of the group. They LOVED them! Najla listened to what we wanted, experimented in her kitchen, talked to other culinary professionals in Louisville, and brought us something even better than we could have expected.

We’re excited to launch these new pocket wraps in all Heine Brothers’ and Vint locations this week. Heine Brothers’ is committed to sourcing as many products as possible from local vendors, and through building these relationships, offering you the best that is out there. More varieties of the pocket wraps are in the testing phase (including non-vegan and gluten-free items), so stay tuned for those.

From Najla:

Creating these vegan wraps has been a labor of love. When the opportunity came to resume production I was not sure what the final product would look like. At Najla’s, our mission is and always will be to create premium hand-crafted specialty foods that don’t contain high fructose sugar, preservatives, trans fats , etc. We were challenged because to source ingredients without a lot of these over-processed ingredients required a financial commitment to pay more for better ingredients. Our commitment is to toast each tortilla by hand. Why do you ask? Because our tortillas contain 5 ingredients – flour, water, oil, salt and sugar and most of the other significantly cheaper options contain more ingredients I can not pronounce. We chose to squeeze fresh limes because we believe you can and should taste the difference in our Special Sauce for the Breakfast Wrap. We use organic tofu, organic ketchup and organic salsas and non-GMO canola oil because it really matters to us. We thank Stanley Chase from the Louisville Vegan Jerky Company for his creativity and Amanda from Strecker’s Vegan Foods for her vegan advice. We hope you enjoy what we have created as much as we have enjoyed making them. Even if you are not a vegan, we hope you will try them. We mean it when we say, “we are proud of what’s inside.”

Thank you for your trust in us.
Najla

Finding the perfect soy milk for espresso drinks

Vegan

I manage a fair-trade / organic coffee shop, and part of the job is making sure that every drink that goes to a customer is the best drink possible. With our quality espresso and trained baristas, that usually isn’t a problem. One thing that I (as well as several of the baristas I work with) am not happy with is our soy drinks. We currently use Silk Vanilla. It has an ok taste, but it doesn’t foam well – and who wants just a cup of hot soy milk with espresso added? The texture of the milk is a main part of espresso drinks, and its something that I would like to see improved with our soy drinks.

Because of this, we decided to try out some other soy milks. I went to 2 local natural food stores, and bought a variety of soy milk products. The only requirement when selecting them was that it had to be organic (our current, Silk Vanilla, is “natural”, not “organic”, which they changed somewhat recently).

We had 6 people rating the drinks. We rated them all on a 1 (bad) to 5 (amazing) scale, both in taste and in foaminess. The results were not too surprising, there are definitely some better soy milks out there for foaminess, and some worse soy milks out there for taste. We did find one that we all agreed was best on both ratings, and we are hopefully going to be able to switch to it in the near future.