a RAWky road

Food, health and fitness advice while vegan in a sad, S.A.D world.


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Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders

Gardein is a wholesome range of tasty plant-based foods with a meaty texture. It’s made from soy, wheat and pea proteins, vegetables and ancient grains (quinoa, amaranth, millet and kamut®). It’s free of cholesterol, trans and saturated fats. Gardein is also animal and dairy free, meaning all Gardein products are vegan and certified by Vegan Action. They also only use ‘identity-preserved’ soy protein (which basically means, it helps to ensure us that our soy protein is not genetically modified). That being said, I was intrigued to try these faux chicken tenders.

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Ingredients:

gardein: water, soy protein isolate*, vital wheat gluten*, expeller pressed/canola oil, organic ancient grain flour (kamut ®, amaranth, millet, quinoa), natural flavor (from plant sources), modified vegetable gum, yeast extract, sea salt, organic cane sugar, potato starch, onion powder, garlic powder, pea protein, vinegar, carrot fiber, beetroot fiber, extractives of paprika and turmeric. seven grain breading: wheat flour*, water, rice flour, oat bran, oats, salt, sugar, spices, millet flour, amaranth flour, quinoa flour, kamut®, leavening (sodium bicarbonate, cream of tartar), yeast, extractives of paprika. *Non-genetically engineered soy and wheat.

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We chose to bake these in the oven to avoid having to fry them in a shallow pool of fat and they cooked up beautifully. I was impressed that the breading actual was crispy and the texture of the “meat” was fibrous/stringy (like chicken) and moist, it definitely feels like you’re chewing on the real deal. They are very lightly seasoned, so not overpowering at all, which I think would allow them to be used in a variety on dishes. My only qualm, and it’s one I have with just about all meat substitutes, is that there is a substantial amount of sodium and fat and this is to make them flavorful. A serving size, 2 pieces, has 4.5 grams of fat and 240 mg of sodium. That’s all dandy when you abide by the suggested serving size, but let’s face it, one can easily take down the bag in one meal.

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I would totally recommend these, but this, like most meat alternatives, is a special occasion item and should be eaten sparingly. If you’re worried about your protein intake eat more leafy greens.

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Field Roast Hand-Formed Burger Review – Giving Meat Eaters No Excuses – Again!

Gone are the days of cardboard cut-outs and mushy, squishy, fall-apart patties, these burgers are a “meat eater’s delight.” You know what I’m talking about. That’s not to say that those bean burgers and veggie patties aren’t delicious, but in no way do they successfully mimic the real deal in flavor or texture… unlike Field Roast’s Hand-Formed Burgers!

Girl……………. These straight up taste just like a real hamburger! Do you remember those? However, instead of consuming fear, antibiotics and hormones from a decaying animal carcass (sorry for the visual, but it’s so true), you’re sinking your teeth into a juicy, vegan, hand-formed burger.

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This was our 4th of July treat and hot damn they’re amazing! We baked them in our oven and served them al fresco on the patio, while enjoying the warm, summer weather.

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My first impression upon opening the package was of disappointment from the amount of solidified fat surrounding the patties. So, I took a towel and cleaned off the excess gunk, similar to the effect of towelling off a slice of pizza… Hey, every little bit helps.

These patties are dense, as in they are heavy and hold their shape. We don’t own a grill, so into the oven they went and once heated up they maintained their form even when held up by one end or tugged on; my initial disappointment was beginning to fade. Then came the tasting sample, I bit into that sucker like a caveman. What ensued was a flood of memories and emotions coupled with sheer elation!

“Holy fucking shit! This taste’s like a fucking burger!” I proclaimed while shoving the remainder of the patty into my eager to taste, yet not eager enough to choke, husband’s face. He took the patty from my hand and proceeded to calmly take a bite while giving me his best “I highly doubt that” face. Meanwhile, I was retrieving the packaging from the garbage to inspect the ingredients as disbelief had taken over that what I had just tasted was indeed plant-based and not animal.

“Oh, my God!” I heard my husband moan behind me. “Oh, my God!” I turned to see his eyes rolling into the back of his head the way… well, you know. “Oh, my God!” He scanned the empty kitchen, as if looking for someone to shake and yell “You’ve gotta try these, man!” Unfortunately, we were the only ones standing in the kitchen that afternoon, wide-eyed and dumbfounded by the discovery of the Holy Grail!

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Try them out! They’re hella expensive, but you shouldn’t be eating them on the regs anyways.

Try them!

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Field Roast Deli Slices Review

Well, here I am again with another review on Field Roast products. Yes, they’re super processed, packed with sodium, fat and protein, but they can be so good in calculated moderation. If you haven’t read my review on their sausages, check it out here. This time we’re diving into their deli slices.

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There are three flavors:

  • Wild Mushroom – an earthy combination of Shiitake, Champignon and Porcini mushrooms accented with imported balsamic vinegar. This flavor is the strongest of the three and rather similar to beef. I think it would be great in a Philly Cheese Steak or in a Stroganoff.

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Ingredients: Filtered water, vital wheat gluten, mushrooms, expeller pressed safflower oil, barley malt, naturally flavored yeast extract, irish moss (sea vegetable) extract, balsamic vinegar, shitake mushrooms, onion powder, porcini mushroom powder, yellow pea flour, sea salt and spices.

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  • Smoked Tomato – an exquisite blend of tangy tomatoes, deep, rich smoky notes, hearty red wine and a wonderfully complex mixture of spices. This flavor reminds me of salami and pepperoni (and it’s just as greasy) and would be great for pizzas, paninis and, because of its strong flavors, Ruebens!

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Ingredients: Filtered water, vital wheat gluten, tomato paste, expeller pressed safflower oil, red wine, garlic, barley malt, naturally flavored yeast extract, paprika, granulated garlic, sea salt, lentils, natural liquid smoke, organic wheat flour, irish moss (sea vegetable) extract, spices.

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  • Lentil Sage – seasoned with fresh garlic, zesty lemon juice and pungent rubbed sage. This particular deli slice is much more subtle than the other two, reminiscent of chicken. I think it would make a delicious Saltimbocca sandwich or tossed into a pasta dish.

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Ingredients: Filtered water, vital wheat gluten, expeller pressed safflower oil, barley malt, naturally flavored yeast extract, garlic, granulated garlic, onion powder, carrots, lentils, sea salt, lemon juice, irish moss (sea vegetable) extract, spices, rubbed sage.

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Hot Sauce Review

As promised in my hot sauce haul

Huy Fong Foods, Inc. Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce

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Probably the most currently popular hot sauce in America, if you’ve never tried this hot sauce you’ve been living under a rock! It’s a classic and you’ll find it in just about every asian restaurant nowadays. Loads of people think this stuff is spicy, but years of Caribbean and latin food has rendered my heat receptors useless. Nonetheless, this hot sauce is super flavorful and manages to pair well with just about everything.

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It’s fat-free, protein-free and 1 teaspoon provides 80 mg of sodium, so it’s relatively low in that department. I will say that if you are sensitive to chili peppers and garlic, this isn’t the hot sauce for you, but then again, not many are.

 Four Seasons Gourmet Foods Fresh Green Sriracha

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Due to the cult status of Huy Fong Foods, Inc. Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce many companies are coming up with their own concoctions, Four Seasons Gourmet Foods being one of them. I really dig this hot sauce because it’s super fresh thanks to the jalapeños in it. It’s the perfect fusion of Mexican and Thai flavors.

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It’s fat-free and protein-free with a low sodium content of 20 mg per 1 tsp. In regards to heat, it’s similar to a medium-hot store-bought salsa and very tasty.

Busha Browne’s Spicy Jerk Sauce

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I remember growing up in Jamaica there was always a bottle of Busha Browne’s Pukka Hot Pepper Sauce next to the salt and pepper on the dinner table, but I have not seen it since. However, I have found their Spicy Jerk Sauce and the flavor takes me back instantly. If you’ve never have Jamaican jerked anything then it’s rather difficult to describe. It’s an exotic blend of herbs and spicy with a bit of heat that is undoubtedly West Indian in a nut shell.

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Fat-free and protein-free with 70 mg of sodium per tsp. It has a more “vinegary” flavor than jerk seasoning and reminds me of typical american steak sauces, but that’s because this is a sauce intended to be added after cooking (tough it can be used during).

Wild Thymes Thai Chili Dipping Sauce

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Less of a sauce more of a jam, this stuff is a garlic lovers heaven on earth. It’s sweet, slightly spicy and packed with chucks of garlic. I think this would be wonderful to top of a bowl of polenta with roasted vegetables. If you’d prefer to stick with its native flavors, you could add it to salad rolls or in salad dressings. It is a beautiful sauce and would go phenomenally with peanut butter.

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It’s fat-free and has a 1/6 of a gram of protein and about 8 mg of sodium per teaspoon. It has a beautiful balance of sweet and savory.

Earth & Vine Papaya Chili Pineapple Grilling and Dipping Sauce

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I would say this is more of a marinade than a hot sauce because it’s far less viscous and has virtually no heat to it. It is however brimming with exotic, fruity flavors and as a result is right up my alley.

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At 1 mg of sodium per teaspoon it’s practically sodium-free, whilst also being fat-free and protein-free. I’m digging this sauce and I think it may be my favorite out of the lot.

Got any recommendations?


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Karam Lebanese Deli & Catering

We don’t often go out to eat, but when we do we utterly spoil ourselves. My husband was “starving” and we were both too lazy to make something to eat. Lately, we joke that we should go out to a restaurant, or buy some sort of vegan something, or make some elaborate concoction all in the name of a RAWky road. “It’s for the blog,” we’ll say to try to convince ourselves to devour something new or review an oldie, but a goodie.

We caved and decided to try Karam Lebanese Deli & Catering. We knew of KLD&C previously as they sell a variety of flavors of hummus at our local Whole Foods Market and now New Seasons Market (congrats!). To be perfectly honest, it’s the only hummus we ever get because it’s the best! Each flavor (and there are many) are so delicious and excellently made that we won’t even try other hummus’ now, we’re set for life.

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Karam Lebanese Deli & Catering is a family run business located in Beaverton, Oregon, and serves passionately prepared, fresh Lebanese cuisine. The menu is not entirely vegan, but they do provide many, many plant-based food options (clearly labeled as vegan), which you’ll see soon.

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We were very excited to go and we arrived at the perfect time. They had just gotten through their lunch rush and the place was all ours. It’s spacious and there are plenty on tables and chairs both indoors and outdoors. The restaurant itself is beautiful and spotless.

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The kitchen is open, so you can see into it and there are two large glass cases filled with goodies, one for desserts and another for the savory items.

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There were so many desserts, sadly only one vegan option. According to their website, the Pastry Chef is part of the family and a distinguished French pastry chef. 

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They’re all incredibly beautiful and we wished there had been more that we could have tried. My husband has the most insane sweet tooth and he would have gotten one of everything.

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I prefer savory items and there was a glass case filled with various hummus’ and hand foods that I just couldn’t wait to try. We all eat with our eyes and KLD&C know how to display their food in the most scruptious way. There came a point were we needed to quit staring and start ordering, we ordered everything on the deli menu that was vegan, except for the lentil soup. I’ll warn you that I may get repetitive while describing what we got because everything was so flavorful and if we went back we would order it all again.

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 Veggie Combo (V) (GF)

 Tabouleh, hummus, Mihshi (stuffed grape leaves), falafel. (Vegan, Gluten Free)

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We love us some combo platters and this one does not disappoint. It also came with house-made pita bread, but I forgot to snap a picture of it. The hummus was as it always is, spectacular, and the tabouleh was just the way I like it (lots of parsley and tomatoes). I’ve had tabouleh in the past that was more cracked wheat than anything and I can’t stand that, here, however they make is perfectly.

Mihshi (V) (GF)

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Delicious stuffed grape leaves, stuffed with rice and a unique combination of herbs and spices. It’s sweet, savory, tangy and highly addictive.

Falafel (V) (GF)

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Lot’s of places ruin falafel in so many ways, too dense, too crispy, not crispy enough, flavorless and the list goes on, this is not the case for these delectable balls of heaven. When you don’t even want to dip them in the accompanied tahini sauce then you know their good.

Falafel Sandwich (V) 

Original hummus, their exclusive falafel is made from scratch, served on their house pita bread, topped with lettuce, tomato, parsley, and garlic tahini sauce. (Vegan)

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This was my husband’s favorite wrap as he fell head over heels in love with the falafels on the combo plate. The tomatoes and lettuce really freshen and otherwise rich, yet devine wrap.

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Hummus Sandwich (V)

Their traditional Hummus or your choice of flavored hummus, served on their house pita bread with roasted red pepper, grilled eggplant, tomato, and parsley. (Vegan)

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I preferred this particular wrap because I’m a huge fan of roasted vegetables and my only complaint is that I wish this one had more in it. That’s just me though, I’ve always been a fan of loading vegetables into my wraps to the brink of bursting. The eggplant and roasted red bell pepper were awesome, I was smiling the whole way through this one.

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Mnaqish biz-Za’tar (V)

A blend of Middle-Eastern herbs, toasted sesame seeds, and olive oil, generously spread over their house made dough and baked in their wood stone oven. (Vegan)

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This pizza-like goodness was out of this world. Baked to order and tossed in their wood stone oven, damn this was good and consequently, my husband’s favorite thing on the menu. It was crispy, chewy, savory and the diced tomatoes freshened each slice. Don’t even think about coming here and not ordering the Mnaqish biz-Za’tar!

Fatayar (V)

Their special recipe spinach stuffing wrapped in a dough triangle and baked in their wood stone oven. (Vegan)

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I can’t decided on what my favorite thing on the menu is, but whatever it may be it’ll compete with this. Baked to order, the best way (we were told) to eat this is hot. I loved it! The crust is crispy, yet chewy and the filling is a slightly tangy, spinach-lover’s dream come true.

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Chocolate Halva (V) (GF)

The lone vegan dessert, Chocolate Halva, is like the lebanese version of a peanut butter cup (my husband’s favorite thing in the world), but instead of peanuts they use tahini and instead of a little cup you get a full-on slice garnished with pistachios. I’m not going to lie, this is dense, but man is it tasty. One slice was enough for both of us.

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Now, I know this post is rather long, but I don’t want to finish without addressing one of the most admirable things about this place. The service here is like nothing else. We literally felt like the doors to a family’s home had been opened to us and we were the main guests, invited in to share an intimate meal among family and friends. It’s rare to see such attention to detail and customer service in one place, but it exists here in Karam Lebanese Deli & Catering. This isn’t just any restaurant you’re stepping into, it’s a microcosm of a warm and passionate culture, with wonderful people and kick-ass food!

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 Joelle, the most adorable girl you’ll ever meet. She just happened to be hanging out at her family’s deli.

 I don’t know what more to say, other than GO! You won’t regret it.

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Treeline® Treenut Cheese

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New York based line, Treeline® Treenut Cheese, provide a dairy-free cheese alternative to those of us that miss the texture and flavors of well crafted artisan cheese. Their cheeses are made of fine Brazilian cashew nuts, cultured with non-dairy Lactobacillus Acidophilus. Their site provides a good amount of information on why it’s best to go dairy-free, as well as meat-free and links to other sites for additional reading material. 

We found the two of the Treeline® cheeses at our local Whole Foods Market, Scallion French-Style Soft Cheeses and Herb-Garlic French-Style Soft Cheese. The hard cheeses were not available and we were very interested in trying those.

Herb-Garlic French-Style Soft Cheese

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Ingredients: Cashew nuts, filtered water, L. Acidophilus, sea salt, dried scallions, lemon juice, white pepper, garlic and onion powders, dried parsley, basil and oregano.

Scallion French-Style Soft Cheese

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Ingredients: Cashew nuts, filtered water, L. Acidophilus, sea salt, dried scallions, lemon juice, onion powder. 

We set these out on a cheese platter for a small gathering we had this weekend, accompanied by some fruit and crackers. Everyone was really intrigued and excited to try these cheeses. Someone said that they were similar to bourisn cheese and another person chimed in that the Scallion French-Style Soft Cheese smelled like Pringles Sour Cream & Onion.

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I’m not the biggest fan of fatty foods and there’s no exception here. I just never feel very good after eating too much fat, i’ll bloat, my stomach will ache and I often feel weighed down and lethargic. However, I did want to try these because I wanted to give my personal opinion on them.

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I found both of them to be a bit to tangy for my liking. I’m sure many people would enjoy the flavor, but personally I don’t. They’re both very creamy and spread well on a cracker (like a goat cheese would). The Scallion French-Style Soft Cheese did remind me of the sour cream and onion flavor in chips, which was pretty funny.

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The Herb-Garlic French-Style Soft Cheese was okay, but I think the flavor would have been better had they used fresh herbs instead of dried. I think these cheeses would be better used lightly spread on cold sandwiches or in wraps and as a dip for vegetables. That way it doesn’t overwhelm your palette like it did mine just spread on a cracker.

I wouldn’t buy these again, though I do want to try the hard cheeses (if I can find them). I do suggest you give them a try because they are very similar to soft cheeses and, if you can get past the tangy tang flavor that I’m not too keen on, you may really enjoy them. I also really appreciate that Treeline® is providing the world with more vegan options and spreading the news too.


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Field Roast Sausages

Discovered last year in our local Whole Foods Market, I will begin by saying that Field Roast is ahead of game when is comes to vegan meat substitutes. Their story begins in 7th Century China when vegetarian Buddhist monks experimented with wheat flour, thus discovering grain meat (a chewy, protein-rich substance) and providing an additional option to tofu. Over the years grain meat made its way to Japan where it was seasoned with traditional Japanese flavors and given the name Seitan. Soon enough European practices, as well as regional flavors were gaining interest, as well as a culture built on a foundation of grains. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that Seattle chef David Lee combined the traditional grain meat techniques of Asia with the flavors of the West and Field Roast was born.

These are not your regular vegan sausages, they’re freaking artisan! However, being a meat substitute product, it comes as no shocker that these sausages are packed with fat and protein. We try to eat these sparingly, usually no more than half a link a day each, but they are so damn good that we have gone all out in the past. I’ll be sure to do a recipe using them soon.

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There are three flavors:

  • Smoked Apple Sage – a savory combination of apples and sage, anchored with Yukon gold potatoes with a subtle hint of hickory smoke. To me, this has a deliciously subtle flavor and the natural hickory smoke flavor really does shine.

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Ingredients: Vital wheat gluten, filtered water, expeller pressed safflower oil, non-sulphured dried apples, Yukon gold potatoes, naturally flavor yeast extract, onion powder, barley malt, garlic, natural hickory smoke flavor with torula yeast, sea salt, spices and rubbed sage.

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  • Mexican Chipotle – a spicy-hot blend of smoked Chipotle peppers, Chili de Arbol peppers, fresh chopped garlic, sweet onions seasoned with cumin seed and oregano. It’s not too spicy, if you’re worried about that kind of thing and so flavorful!

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Ingredients: Vital wheat gluten, filtered water, expeller pressed safflower oil, onion, garlic, apple cider vinegar, naturally flavor yeast extract, chipotle peppers, onion powered, granulated garlic, brown sugar, spices, sea salt, barley malt, black pepper, chili de arbol peppers, cumin seed, paprika oleoresin and oregano.

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  • Italian – made with fresh eggplant and packed with fennel, red wine, garlic and sweet peppers. I love how clearly the fennel come through in this sausage, it really waves that Italian flag around on the palette.

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Ingredients: Vital wheat gluten, filtered water, expeller pressed safflower oil, red wine, eggplant, onions, naturally flavored yeast extract, garlic, barley malt, dried red bell pepper, fennel seed, granulated garlic, spice and sea salt.

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Have you tried these? If so, let me know what you thought and if you’ve got some dynamite recipes for them. I’d love to hear any and all suggestions, but don’t ask me to try Tofurky, that stuff makes me yak!