The Best Products (I’ve Tried) of 2012

Can you guys believe we’re just a little over two weeks away from a new year? Craziness. When it gets to be this time of year, all I’m thinking about is how excited I am for Christmas, enjoying my time off from school and all the things I accomplished over the past year.

And if you’re a foodie like I am, you might also be reminiscing about the new food you’ve tried over the past 12 months…I know I am! With that said, here are a few of the best things I’ve tried since January 2012!

Zevia

zevia ginger root beer

Before I sucked it up and finally bought my first (overpriced) can of this amazing stuff in May, I’d heard lots of good things about it. I’ve never been a big soda fan, but I used to enjoy diet sodas on occasion. So having an all-natural diet soda was a definite treat! Since then, I’ve tried the ginger root beer, cream soda, cola, orange and lime cola (the orange is the only gross one) and I can’t wait to try more. Like a lot of things I love, these are very pricey so I buy a 6 pack when they’re on sale or maybe once a month at most and make them last.

Kabocha squash

kabocha, peanut flour sauce, coconut flour micro muffin crumbles, frozen grapes, dark mint chocolate, justins vanilla AB

This was another blogger-hyped product that I was on the lookout for since last fall. I didn’t find one until this October and haven’t found it very often since (but I stocked up on two last weekend!), but it’s my favorite squash by far (other than delicata). I prefer the texture and taste over any other and it’s delicious with peanut flour paste, almond butter or ketchup.

Larabars

pineapple upside down cake larabar, fresh pineapple, baby carrots

I’ve seen these around for awhile, but because of my previous fear of fat, I never gave them a try until March but they’ve become my bar of choice since then. I love the flavor variety and the fact that they’re made from whole foods, like dates and nuts. My favorite flavors are cappuccino, pineapple upside down cake, peanut butter chocolate chip, chocolate chip brownie and the Uber banana bread.

Vega products

vega cocoa kissed saviseed

Can you believe I never tried Vega products until earlier this year? Vegan blasphemy, for sure. They have good quality (though expensive) protein powders, simple protein bars and I’m obsessed with their latest product, the dark chocolate-covered saviseed which is packed with protein and Omega-3s.

Cashew cream

raw key lime 'cheesecake'

This stuff is incredibly versatile, and easy to make. Basically you just soak raw cashews overnight or for several hours, and then it’s ready for blending. I’ve made a raw cheesecake (see above), nacho ‘cheez’ dip, mascarpone ‘cream’ and savory cashew cream filling–it really is good for anything!

Coconut milk ice cream

so delicious nsa chocolate

Even if you eat dairy, you need to try this vegan ice cream, it is out-of-this-world good! The healthy coconut fat makes it incredibly rich but not overly indulgent, and stores like Whole Foods carry a million and one flavors so you don’t have to feel limited to chocolate and vanilla. So Delicious and NadaMoo are my favorite brands, but there are definitely more out there–there’s a variety for everyone!

Kale

kale wraps

I think I actually tried kale for the first time last year (it was when I first tried the Whole Foods salad bars) but I didn’t fall in love with it until this year. I know a lot of people say it’s bitter, and it can be, but I’ve found lots of ways to make it tasty and craveable. Homemade kale chips (they’re best made in the dehydrator), crispy sauteed kale, ‘pizza’ kale (kale cooked with pasta sauce and olives), raw massaged kale salads, kale/almond milk smoothies…I’ll eat it almost any way, and I try to eat it at least once a day! Bonus: it’s an amazing superfood.

Coconut flour (or really, coconut everything)

coconut flour carrot cake

I used to say I hated coconut, partly because I didn’t like the texture of shredded coconut but also because I was deathly afraid of the fat in it. I avoided saturated fats like the plague but once I became pretty much 100% vegan, I realized that plant-based saturated fats were totally healthy and necessary. One of the first coconut products I bought was coconut flour–I wasn’t sure if I’d like it but I do! I really love it mixed with baking powder and almond milk and microwaved for a minute to make a crumbly coconut flour muffin but I also want to experiment more with it in baked goods. It’s hard to bake it into things without using eggs but I want to try it out.

Kelp noodles

coconut curry kelp noodle stirfry

If you’ve ever seen these before, they’ve probably grossed you out just a little. They weirded me out too the first time I bought them but I really wanted to try a raw noodle substitute and I’d heard good things. Unlike shirataki noodles, these are made from a seaweed so they’re more of a whole food, they don’t smell weird and they soak up the flavors in anything. They make the perfect low-cal sub for pasta and I especially love them mixed with pasta sauce, nooch, a crumbled veggie burger, kale and olives. I also included them in a stirfry the other night and they were amazing–recipe coming soon!

Garden of Life RAW protein powder

pumpkin chip cinnamon roll with vanilla chai protein frosting

I’ve tried a lot of vegan protein powders, from the (not-so-good) cheapo soy-based powders to the delicious but expensive Vega and Sunwarrior. But I think Garden of Life is my fave. First, it’s made from a blend of raw sprouted plant-based proteins, like quinoa and sunflower seed. It’s also pretty high in protein (17 grams per serving) and is a bit cheaper than some other higher-quality brands, it’s sweetened only with stevia but best of all, it’s delicious. I love both the chocolate and vanilla chai (only available at Whole Foods) flavors and the lovely team at Garden of Life was nice enough to send me some samples of the regular vanilla too so I can’t wait to try that one! Look for a review soon and possibly a giveaway in early 2013!

Figs

A delicious new breakfast: sprouted grain French toast topped with fresh fig and raw vanilla chai protein powder.

It actually makes me really sad that fig season is over–it became my new favorite fruit over the past few months. It pairs so well with both sweet and savory things and though they are a bit expensive, they’re worth every dollar. They’re out of season now but at least I can settle for dried figs!

What are some new foods you’ve tried (and loved) in 2012)? What’s your favorite squash variety?

WIAW: Award Season

Can you believe it’s already the second WIAW party of the year? Um, nope, neither can I! If the year’s already going by this fast, that’s a good sign. The first few months of the year always tend to drag on, which isn’t fun. I already can’t wait for summer break, which is pretty pathetic 😛

Peas and Crayons

Anyways, the very sweet and beautiful Kat just tagged me in the Lactose Free Lizzie Food Award. It is award season, after all, with the Golden Globes and SAG Awards and the Oscars all coming up within the next month or so!

“The blogger that is tagged must host an award thing-ama-gig about FOOD. Yes, food (it’s the food awards). Anything related to it. A food blogger, a company, a favorite meal, or even whatever you like to sprinkle on your popcorn. After you are finished you tag 3 other bloggers to host a Food  Award ceremony (aka a post). But remember, you may only focus on the positive aspects of what you are awarding. No negativity is tolerated, especially if it will hurt someone’s feelings). Also, you are ALL winners in my book, even if you are not mentioned   xoxo Lizzie”

Nominees for Best Greek Yogurt Flavor

  • Oikos superfruits
  • Siggis orange & ginger
  • Fage mango guanabana

Winner–Oikos! I’ll admit that I’m a diehard Oikos fan (the original Stonyfield organic kind, not the new Dannon variety), so all of their flavors are winners in my book, but the superfruits takes the cake!

Breakfast: turtle sundae voluminous overnight oats (topped with banana soft serve, small Medjool date, chopped pecans), unpictured spicy veggie sausage

Nominees for Best Veggie Burger

  • Sunshine falafel burger
  • Gardein ultimate beefless burger
  • Amy’s low sodium California burger

Winner–Gardein! I actually love all these veggie burgers, but the Gardein has the most protein, 17 grams in one burger. Not too shabby!

Lunch: random snack plate of steamed edamame (with mustard for dipping), the thickest peanut flour paste I've ever made, fresh pineapple

Nominees for Best Nut Butter

  • MaraNatha natural honey almond butter
  • Whole Foods bulk crunchy almond butter
  • Archer Farms almond peanut cashew butter

Winner–Archer Farms almond peanut cashew butter! Obviously, almond butter is my hands-down favorite nut butter, but this one has the creamiest texture and a great mixed nuts taste.

Afternoon snack: peanut flour paste, fresh pineapple, frozen black grapes, teaspoon of homemade cookie butter

Nominees for Best Use of Sweet Potatoes

  • Alexia sweet potato tater tots
  • topped with nut butter and cinnamon
  • the base of a baked good

Winner–Alexia sweet potato tots! I love these crunchy little nuggets of sweet potato goodness. They’re much healthier than typical tater tots, because they’re baked not fried and cooked in just a little olive oil. Definitely my favorite way to enjoy my favorite veggie!

Dinner: homemade vegetarian spicy chili, iced unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze (first time trying this brand of AM and I'm hooked!)

Nominees for Most Versatile Product

  • Medjool dates
  • Oats
  • Peanut flour

Winner–peanut flour! All three of these are staples in my daily eats, but I can’t deny the amazing-ness of peanut flour. It’s a great sub for flour, is delicious as a protein powder, works well in microwave mug cakes and (my personal favorite) is beyond yummy mixed into a paste with water! It’s like a higher protein version of nut butter!

Dessert: Raw carrot cake bite with peanut flour 'frosting'

I’m passing the award onto… Aja @ Writing and Recovering, Chloe @ LightOnMyFeet and Lena @ Fit on the Rocks!

What’s your nominee for most versatile product? What is one food you’ve been obsessed with lately?