Sammy’s Pizza: Making New Traditions

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Sammy’s Pizza

Hibbing Location

106 E. Howard Street

218-263-7574

Website: http://mysammys.com/

Sammy’s is an Iron Range “family tradition” and I think you’d be pretty hard-pressed to find a Ranger that wouldn’t appreciate a delicious slice of their thin crust pizza. Made with a unique sauce, blend of spices, and freshly baked dough- Sammy’s has developed a distinctive pizza, that upon trying,  you will not soon forget.

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The Menu

Sammy’s has more than just pizza. A quick glance at their menu shows a wide array of items including, but not limited to Soups, Salads, Subs, and Pasta. As always, since this is a vegetarian blog, only the meat-free items will be discussed. However, please feel free to check out their website for a full listing of food items.  Click here for more details.

Here are the items on the menu that I found to be vegetarian:

  • The Specialty Salad – A delicious salad comprised of fresh Romaine lettuce, strawberries, mandarin orange slices, chopped pecans, onion, feta cheese, and a poppy seed dressing.
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Close-up View of the Specialty Salad

  • The Pizza – Sammy’s offers a specific veggie pizza, or you can pick your pizza toppings. Feta cheese is one of the toppings you can choose from, and it is surprisingly good on a pizza!
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On one visit to Sammy’s I brought along my own sealed bag of shredded Daiya cheese and requested they make a special pizza for me. Sammy’s obliged- and even made the pizza in the shape of a heart! It was quite delicious!

*On Sammy’s menu, there is an option for cheese ravioli, but I was informed that the spaghetti sauce is cooked with meat – so, you will have to use your own discretion when ordering one of the pasta items.

The Review

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The Specialty Salad

On my most recent trip to Sammy’s I found myself ordering my favorite non-pizza item off the menu; The Specialty Salad. This fantastic menu item came topped with strawberries, mandarin orange slices, chopped pecan, and onion. It was set on a bed of fresh Romaine lettuce and adorned with a generous sprinkling of feta cheese. I always ask to have the poppy seed dressing placed on the side.  In my opinion, this is one of the best salads that Hibbing has to offer.

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Our Wonderful Waitress!

So, if you find yourself in Hibbing and are in search of some delicious vegetarian food, I would strongly suggest trying out Sammy’s. And who knows, maybe it will even become your new favorite vegetarian tradition!

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Spring in a Northern Town: A Tale of Patience

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” – Charles Dickens, Great Expectations 

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Signs of spring growing in my back yard!

Spring in Northern Minnesota can be a very elusive thing, and that is why I love this quote by Charles Dickens. It feels like he is perfectly describing the type of spring we experience here. Looking out the window at the bright sunlight illuminating the landscape, one would expect a warm temperate day to greet them upon setting foot outside. However, the cold chill of the wind will quickly snap that dreamer back into reality. It’s only 38 degrees on The Iron Range today, and with the windchill it feels like 33! Brrrr! A quick look at the ten day forecast shows that today’s high will only be 40 degrees, and in contrast to that, the high for next week will be 61! This is a story I know all too well; it is the fickleness of spring. It’s that time of year when you just don’t know how to dress. It can be hot one minute and cold the next. In times like these layers are a Minnesota girls best friend!  You never know what to expect- but it is Minnesota, so maybe we should expect the unexpected. Well, weather wise anyway 😉

I am hopeful that spring will get here soon, and stick around for awhile. That is what spring is all about, right? Hope. The chill of winter dissipates, and green growth fills in the spots where snow once stood. The long cold nights eventually become shorter and shorter, soon to be replaced by the endless summer days we all remember as kids. I know warmer temperatures will be here soon, but until then I am patiently waiting for spring to grace us with her presence. So, while I await the arrival of spring- and since the premise of this blog is Vegetarianism, I would like to share with you what yummy vegetarian delight I had for lunch today.

Salad with apple cider vinegar dressing, homemade bread, fruit salad, and Yogi Tea.

Salad with apple cider vinegar dressing, homemade bread, fruit salad, and Yogi Tea.

It was a pretty simple lunch to throw together!

The salad is Earthbound Farm Organic Zen Blend. I bought it at our local Superone Foods in Hibbing. I added some chickpeas, radishes, celery and topped it off with some apple cider vinegar. Voila! A delicious, easy and nutritious salad – and Vegan to boot!

Freshly baked rye bread

Freshly baked rye bread

The bread is Bob’s Red Mill Stone Ground Rye Bread Mix. I also purchased this at our local Superone foods. I made it in my bread-maker, and it turned out fabulous. I recommend this product to anyone who has a bread machine. It is super easy to use, and makes for a delicious finished product. It does contain non-fat dry milk, so the product is unfortunately not vegan. I also added a little peanut butter to the bread – delicious!

Leftover fruit salad from Easter

Leftover fruit salad from Easter

The fruit salad I made to share with my family at Easter dinner. I used blackberries, strawberries, grapes, blueberries, kiwi, and banana. The dressing for the salad was made with Jello brand Vanilla Pudding mix, the juice of one whole lemon, the juice of one whole lime, vanilla extract, and almond extract. This salad is vegan because Jello brand vanilla pudding doesn’t contain gelatin.

Oh, Yogi Tea - you are so wise!

Oh, Yogi Tea – you are so wise!

And of course some hot tea to keep warm on this cold Minnesota day!

What’s the weather like in your neck of the woods? Please leave a comment below – I would love to hear from you!

The Rhythm Deli: Vegetarian Lunch Options

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2301 First Avenue

Hibbing, MN 55746

218-293-4545

Website: http://www.therhythmdeli.com/

One of my go-to places for a quick vegetarian lunch is the Rhythm Deli. Located on First Avenue in Hibbing, the Rhythm Deli is a nice little eatery that offers a number of meat-free options.The menu is reasonably priced and includes Sub Sandwiches, Wraps, Paninis, Salads, and Take “n” Bake Pizzas. Since this is a vegetarian blog only the meat free items will be reviewed. However, a full listing of the Rhythm Deli’s offerings can be found on their website or by clicking here.

The Rhythm Deli is located in the same building that used to house The Pizza Mill and Sub Station. Growing up on Hibbing’s West Side back in the 80’s,  I have many fond memories of walking down to the deli’s predecessor during the summertime with my family. We would pick up freshly made pizzas, and bring them home to cook. These are memories that can be found in the simplicity of a warm summer’s night and the first bite of a freshly baked pizza. Slice of nostalgia, anyone?

I sometimes miss those days, but the Rhythm Deli still offers take and bake pizzas as well as a plethora of other options to choose from.

 

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The Vegetarian Offerings:

None of these options are marked specifically as vegetarian on the menu.

  • Avocado and Cucumber Wrap – Avocado, cucumber, green onion, spinach, cheese and ranch dressing combine to make up this delicious wrap.
  • Caprese Panini –  Basil, tomato, and mozzarella panini with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
  • Greek Salad – Greek style salad with romaine lettuce, onion, tomato, black olives, cucumber, green peppers, banana peppers, feta cheese, and a Greek dressing.
  • Caprese Salad –  Salad version of the Caprese Panini except that it also includes avocado and is made with romaine lettuce (panini bread not included).
  • Sub Sandwiches – You can design your sandwich. Just ask them to hold the meat, please!
  • Take “n” Bake Pizza – The Pizza is put together while you wait, so you can request the toppings you would like. There isn’t a vegetarian pizza listed specifically on the menu, but they will make one upon request.
Avacado & Cucumber Wrap with Chips

Avocado & Cucumber Wrap with Chips

The Review:

On this particular trip to The Rhythm Deli, I ordered the Greek Salad and a single serving bag of Sun Chips. I got my order to go, but there are some tables by window to sit at if you choose to eat in-house. The service was very fast and efficient.  I only waited what seemed like a few minutes, and then I was on my way.

Greek Salad and Sun Chips

Greek Salad and Sun Chips

The Greek Salad is by far my favorite offering at the Rhythm Deli. It is comprised of romaine lettuce, onion, tomato, black olives, cucumber, green peppers, banana peppers, feta cheese, and is topped with a tasty Greek dressing. The first time that I tried the Greek Salad I was a little weary of the banana peppers. I had previously only tried the tangy yellow pepper on pizza, but I must say that it makes the salad. It’s a delicious combination!  The salad dressing comes on the side, which I love because you can add as little or as much as you would like. Unfortunately, the picture above doesn’t do the salad full justice since I ordered it sans tomato. However, the salad tasted great -the lettuce was fresh, the veggies delicious, and the feta cheese, sprinkled delicately over the lettuce was just the perfect amount.

The Pizzas:

I recently ordered a Take “n” Bake Pizza from the deli for the first time. Having asked if the pizza sauce used was meat-free, and after receiving a reassuring “yes” I decided to order a cheese pizza with banana peppers. They quickly put together the pizza while I waited, and then I brought it back with me and baked it in the comfort of my home.

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The Pizza was wrapped up neatly and adorned with the deli’s logo and cooking instructions.

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I baked the pizza according to the directions. The large slices of cheese melted nicely over the banana peppers.

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The finished product turned out great! It was a rainy day – so a warm slice of pizza fresh out of the oven was just the thing!

 

All in all, I highly suggest the Rhythm Deli if you find yourself in Hibbing and in search of some meat-free lunch options.This is one of my favorite places for lunch because not only is the service fast and friendly, but they have a number of healthy meatless menu choices.

The Rhythm Deli on Urbanspoon
Have you visited Hibbing recently and eaten at the Rhythm Deli? What did you think? I would love to hear your opinion!

Erbert And Gerbert’s: “V” for Vegetarian

Subs, Soup, and More….

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  Hibbing Location
4130 9th Ave West
Hibbing, Mn 55746

Located in the Hibbing Marketplace

If you happen to find yourself on the Iron Range and are in need of a quick lunch, might I suggest giving Erbert And Gerbert’s of Hibbing a try? Erbert And Gerbert’s or “Erbs & Gerbs” as I like to call it is a great little sub shop located in the Hibbing Marketplace that boasts a wide array of sub sandwiches, soups, and chips. However, considering this is a vegetarian blog, the meat free items will be the main topic of focus.

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The Subs:

Erbert And Gerbert’s offers two Vegetarian Subs on your choice of wheat or white bread; The Pudder, and The Jacob Bluefinger. The green “V” symbol on the menu designates that these items are vegetarian.

  • The Jacob Bluefinger is a classic flavor sub. Provolone cheese, tomato, avocado, lettuce, and mayo combine to make up the filling of this delicious sandwich. I usually ask to have a pickle added to my sub when ordering the Jacob Bluefinger.
  • The Pudder is your typical peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It comes with creamy peanut butter and your choice of strawberry jam or grape jelly. If cheese is something you exclude from your diet, The Pudder might be a good choice… Plus you can’t go wrong with PB&J!
  • FYI ~  Erbert and Gerbert’s is known for scooping out “The Guts” of the bread and placing it directly on top of the sub sandwich. This extra part of the bread can be used for dipping in their delicious soups… or just eating plain – either way it is nice that the remainder of the bread doesn’t go to waste. They even have an online mascot called “Mr. Guts!” You can view his webpage here.
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“The Guts” of the bread!

The Soups:

Similar to the sandwiches, the vegetarian soup options, are designated with a “V” on the menu. Unfortunately, none of their soups appears to be vegan. I’m hoping someday they might decided to add a vegan vegetable soup to their lineup, but until then here are the vegetarian options:

  •   Cheddar Cheese and Broccoli – Vegetable stock soup with broccoli and cheddar cheese.
  • Tomato Basil Parmesan- Tomato, cream cheese, parmesan cheese, and Worcestershire are the main ingredients. I contacted E&G support regarding the Worcestershire sauce on the ingredient list. Traditionally Worcestershire is made with anchovies, and I wanted to be sure that this version was 100% vegetarian. I received a lightning fast response from their menu director stating the sauce is indeed vegetarian. I was very impressed with the fast and friendly reply! 🙂

 

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Cheddar Cheese and Broccoli soup along with “The Guts” of the bread

 The Review:

 This Particular visit to Erbert and Gerbert’s I choose the Jacob Bluefinger sub, Broccoli and Cheddar cheese soup, and Salt and Vinegar chips. I stopped in and ordered my food to go, but you can eat-in, or they do deliver as well. However, the atmosphere is quite nice for a fast food establishment. The service, as usual, was fast and friendly, and in no time I had my food and was on my way.

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The sub was delicious, the bread tasted fresh baked, and the soup was hot and comfortingly satisfying – just the thing on a cold Minnesota evening!

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All in all I do suggest trying Erbert and Gerbert’s Hibbing location when visiting “The Range” and looking for a quick vegetarian bite to eat.

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 Don’t forget to grab a bag of chips…

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…or to try one of their giant pickles!

Please check out Erbert and Gerbert’s website for more information.

Have you eaten at Erbert and Gerbert’s? What did you think? Please leave me a comment! I would love to hear from you! 🙂

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My Vegetarian Awakening

We may start out down the path for different reasons, but at destinations end, we tend to find ourselves in the same place – it’s a kinder gentler place; one of enlightenment and compassion. Whether your journey started for health reasons, the love of animals, or if your conscience simply wouldn’t allow you to eat meat – Hold your head high with the knowledge that you are doing a great thing. Whatever your reasons may be, never let anyone discourage you, and never forget why you started in the first place. My vegetarian awakening didn’t happen overnight, it took me awhile to get there – and it’s still not done- I’m learning and evolving every day. Here is my story:

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My interest in vegetarianism first came in the form of my favorite childhood actor, Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I was thirteen, and he was the “Brad Pitt” of my JR High world. I had the biggest crush on him, and bought every teenybopper magazine that had his smiling face on the front cover. Then one day I read that he was a vegetarian, and my interest was sparked. So, I asked my parents if I could become a vegetarian and it took less than a nanosecond for their response; it was a resounding, “No!” At the time, that reaction wasn’t very surprising because vegetarianism was quite the foreign concept in my family of omnivores. Living in “small town USA” we didn’t know any vegetarians in the community, and no one in our family had ever been a vegetarian…and I don’t think the word “vegan” was even in our vocabulary yet.  Although my parents fully support my passion now, I understand why “no” was the safest response at the time.

Even though I was told “no” regarding my newfound curiosity of vegetarianism, the fire was lit, and my interest in a plant based diet didn’t fade. So, when I got a little older, I slowly started cutting meat out of my diet. I started with bacon because I had read that it was one of the worst things for you to eat, and I began researching more and more into the health reasons for cutting out meat. I read Marilu Henner’s Healthy Life Kitchen, and my main reason for wanting to go vegetarian was for “health” reasons.  I cut out all red meat, and finally found myself in a place where the only animal flesh I consumed was chicken -and not very often either. I found it convenient when going out to restaurants if I ate chicken because I felt that it was too hard to find vegetarian options. It wasn’t convenient. Yes, hindsight is 20/20, and I can now see how selfish that reasoning was.

It was at this point in my life that I adopted a Netherland Dwarf rabbit named, Wednesday. She had originally belonged to my sister who was away at college. She was no longer able to keep her where she was living, so I became Wednesday’s guardian. As I got to know Wednesday, I learned that she was sweet, gentle, and very affectionate; she loved to give people kisses on the nose! Wednesday also loved raisins, and would get so excited when she’d see the box. I quickly learned that just like a person, she had her own unique personality, and likes and dislikes. Every day I would look forward to coming home from work, I couldn’t wait to see my little “Day” bunny, and as soon as I got home she would start running circles around her play pen. She’d jump around until I let her out, and then would hop up on the bed and snuggle with me. She truly was a snuggle bunny and loved to snuggle for hours on end.

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I started to realize that my bunny really wasn’t that different from any other type of pet. I also started to learn more about chickens and how they are sentient creatures, each with their own personality – and it just clicked. Why do we love and cherish some animals, yet find it socially acceptable to eat others? It’s speciesism. Love isn’t just a human emotion – I’ve seen it firsthand and anyone who has known the love of an animal can attest to that. I knew then and there that I could never eat another animal ever again. I made the commitment to go 100 percent vegetarian.

Then one day Wednesday got sick. She quit eating, and that is a medical emergency for a Rabbit. They need to graze continually, or their stomachs are in danger of shutting down. I brought her to the “emergency vet” since it was the weekend and her normal office wasn’t open. I was given some medicine and instructions to force feed her if she didn’t eat. The vet thought she’d be just fine, but the next morning she was looking worse and I could tell she was in a lot of pain, so it was back to the vet. She was in tough shape, and they had to perform a procedure on her. I won’t go into details because it is still, after all this time very painful to relive. The entire day was blur. After the procedure she was in rough shape, so I was given the opportunity to say goodbye to her. I told her that I loved her, and to be strong. I know that she couldn’t understand my words, but something must’ve resonated with-in her because the vet said that she was really fighting to live. Things started to look up, and she was released to go home. We thought she was going to pull through, but after we returned home, she ended up passing away. I can’t even put to words the emptiness I felt afterward.  I was devastated by the passing of my beloved pet; my friend. I know that some of you may be thinking that she was just a rabbit, but really she wasn’t that different than a dog. She was affectionate, kind and loving.

I miss my Wednesday bunny very much, but it helps to think that she came into my life for a reason. She taught me a valuable lesson, and for that I am forever grateful.

When you’re young you go through life not thinking that anything is going to change – but change is inevitable. Values and beliefs evolve as time steadily ticks on.  Not all change is “good” change – friends come and go, but the lesson’s they teach us, and the stamps they leave on our hearts help shape us.

I have since adopted 3 cats – or maybe they adopted me. One of my cats, GiGi showed up on a “Wednesday” which was three days after my Wednesday had passed away. It really felt good to help her, since she was stray in the neighborhood. She needed me, and I needed her.

I look forward to some of the changes that time has in store for me. I hope to learn and grow a little more with each passing year, and one day find myself a vegan. I’ve started my journey, but haven’t quite made it to the finish line yet. My path is long and winding, but that’s ok!

And time just keeps on creeping on…It’s a slow progression, but a hopeful one.

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Tino’s Vegetarian Taco Night!

Taco anyone?

Taco anyone?

Since becoming a Vegetarian, I’ve tried many different varieties of bean burritos, and I have to admit that I have yet to find one that I don’t like! Vegetarian burritos are so satisfyingly filling and packed with protein – you honestly won’t even miss the meat! However, one day I found myself really missing the crunchy texture of a hard shell taco. It had been well over ten years since I last had a “real” taco, so I made it my mission to rediscover the nostalgic “crunch” of the tacos of my youth. I scoured the web for the perfect recipe, but was dismayed to find that there wasn’t a lot of variety out there. I came across a few recipes that called for tempeh, but I needed something with common ingredients readily available in my small town grocery store, and the recipe needed to be easy enough for me to master with my mediocre cooking skills. I finally came across a gem of a recipe for Vegetarian Tacos on food.com. I love that the recipe is easy to make, has ingredients that one can find in any grocery store, and the main source of protein is chickpeas! Chickpeas are my favorite legume, so I had a feeling that this recipe would become a favorite. The recipe can be found here. I modified it for myself. My version is as follows:

Ingredients:

1 (15) ounce can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup of chopped celery

1 cup of salsa                                                                                                                            image

2 garlic cloves (pressed with a garlic press)

Coconut oil

½ TBSP chili powder

½ tsp. Smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

Taco Shells

Spinach

Sprouts

Tomatoes

Vegenaise

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Directions:

Melt coconut oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add garbanzo beans, celery, and salsa. Cook for a minute while stirring. Next press the garlic into the pan and reduce heat to low. Add chili powder, smoked paprika, and salt and pepper. Stir and cook until thoroughly heated. While you are cooking, heat taco shells according to package. When the shells are done heating generously spoon in the taco mixture. Top with spinach, tomatoes, sprouts, and add a dollop of Vegenaise. Anyway, this is just how I simplified and customized the recipe to suit my palate – the original one is great too!

FYI ~

Now, I know that inquisitive minds may be wondering, just who is this mysterious “Tino” that is randomly referenced in the title? “Tino” happens to be a nickname my cross-country coach gave me back during “the glory days” of high school. We were on the bus preparing to depart for an out of town meet. Our coach was in the process of roll call when he unexpectedly shouted out the name, Tino. Everyone started looking around the bus, wondering if a new student had joined the team – as it turned out, he was referring to me! “Mar – teen” or “Tino.” Tomato – tomato, I guess…. Haha and the nickname stuck with me for quite a few years!

All in all, vegetarianism and tacos seem to be a match made in heaven! If you are looking for a yummy meal idea, why not give these tasty tacos a try!

What do you think about meatless tacos? Do you have a favorite vegetarian or vegan taco recipe? please leave me a comment! I would love to hear your opinion!

Vegan Sandwich Love

The makings of a cruelty free sandwich.

The makings of a cruelty free sandwich.

Since becoming a vegetarian, I sometimes miss having a good, old fashioned, hearty fill-me-up type sandwich for lunch. I mean PB&J’s are great, but they tend to get dull after a while. So, while shopping at our local food coop, Natural Harvest in Virginia last week I found myself looking for some new sandwich ideas, and that is how I happened across these two delicious products: Hickory Smoked Tofurky and a Daiya Cheddar Style Wedge. Both products are Vegan, and combined make for a very scrumptious sandwich.

Hickory Smoked Tofurky:

I must admit that sometimes I am a little apprehensive to try a new “meat substitution” product – I’m not exactly sure what it is, but I think if it’s a little too realistic or “meat – like” it tends to gross me out, but I’m a sucker for that “smoked” flavoring, so I decided to give it a try. And I’m sure glad I did because I ended up loving the Tofurky deli slices, they were quite delicious. My cat even tried to steal one of the smoked slices right out from between the bread! I liked everything about this product; the smell, the taste, the texture -and it wasn’t overly “meat-like” where it grossed me out, but just enough where it made for a hearty, fill-me-up type sandwich… if that makes sense?

Daiya Cheddar Style Wedge:

I’ve had the Daiya brand shredded cheese before, but this was my first time trying the “wedge,” and was pleasantly surprised to note that it comes in a resalable package, which I found to be very handy. The package says it slices and melts well. It does indeed slice very nicely, but since I didn’t try to melt it, I cannot comment on that aspect. Maybe later in the week I will try to make a grilled “cheese” sandwich and test it out! Since Daiya is a dairy, lactose and casein free cheese, the taste and texture are a little different than regular cheese – it’s still very good, but if you are used to cheese from cow’s milk, the first time you taste it you might be aware of a notable difference. However, paired with the Tofurky slices, I personally think you can hardly tell. Anyway, it is a small price to pay for a cholesterol free cheese. This is definitely one of tastier vegan cheese options out there. If you are new to the dairy free cheese arena, I highly suggest starting your taste testing with Daiya.

The finished product- Yum!

The finished product- Yum!

I made my sandwich using whole wheat bread, Veganaise, lettuce, Tofurky deli slices, and Daiya cheese. I cut up an organic apple to go along with it, and to drink I had a Dr. Zevia. I think that the only thing that would have made the sandwich better would’ve been to toast it, and maybe added some sprouts and avocado. If you like tomato, that would probably be a welcome addition to the sandwich, as well.

FYI – Quick TIP:  Veganaise is a type of vegan mayo. I had a bottle of it in my fridge, and while according to the expiration date it wasn’t expired, I was a little iffy on the time frame in which it had been opened. So, I did a little research and found out that it is good until the listed expiration date – opened or unopened. Good to know! More information can be found here.

Have you tried Veganaise? Do you have a favorite go-to vegan sandwich staple? Please let me know! Leave a comment and let me know what you think! I would love to hear from you!