The Noochy Noodle

a world beyond the blue box

Tag Archives: daiya

Candle Cafe Frozen Mac n’ Cheese

I had been pretty excited when I heard that Candle Cafe was going to be launching a line of frozen entrees that would be available at every Whole Foods across the country by the end of June. Then I straight up nearly passed out when I heard they would be including vegan mac n’ cheese! I was certain that Candle Cafe had invented some sort of innovative and amazing mac n’ cheese recipe that would change my life forever. I live about 4 blocks from a Whole Foods, so I faithfully scouted out the frozen section for weeks.

And nothing happened.

July 1st came and went and I was very disappointed. I waited a few more weeks  before finally catching a glimpse of the mac n’ cheese and ravioli nestled at the bottom of the freezer case. I was sad that they didn’t have the stir fry or seitan picatta. Despite the sticker shock, I purchased both immediately. These little frozen meals are are $7 each!

When I got home it occurred to me to have  a look at the ingredient list. I was not happy to discover that it was basically pasta, Daiya, water and tomato paste. Really? Really. That’s your ‘A’ game Candle Cafe? I still maintained some hope that it might somehow be delicious, so I threw it in the microwave.

As you can see the Daiya is just sort of hanging out on top there. I had to stir and microwave, stir and microwave like crazy to get all the cheese melted and evenly coating the noodles. That’s a lot of work for a frozen convenience meal! I probably could have whipped up an easy nooch sauce in the same amount of time.

When it was finally ready I was pleased to discover I liked it much better than the Amy’s frozen mac n’ cheese. I think that the tomato paste and added water help with the texture and flavor quite a bit. It wasn’t too slimy or sticky, and I was able to eat my entire meal without grimacing! Good job Candle Cafe! You’ve cracked the code to mass producing mac n’ cheese with Daiya.

While the Candle Cafe mac n’ cheese appears to have far fewer calories than the Amy’s mac n’ cheese (500+) it also seemed to me to be a much smaller portion size. I think it has to do with the density of the pasta. Amy’s uses macaroni so you can squeeze more noodles into the same size carton than you can with fancy-fancy spiral-y pasta. It certainly didn’t fill me up at all, and for seven bucks a pop, I better be able to get real full and have leftovers.

While I actually kind of, sort of enjoyed this mac n’ cheese I would be pretty hard pressed to want to buy it again due to the price and portion size. For seven bucks and about the same amount of calories I can get a gigantic Gardein Asada burrito at the Whole Foods burrito bar, so I’ll just go with that.

Los Angeles Tour de Macaroni

After finals were over my boyfriend and I took a trip to LA. It seemed like every restaurant had macaroni and cheese on the menu! You would think I would be in heaven and never want to leave, but you would actually be wrong because quite a few of the macaroni and cheese I encountered was made with Daiya (or even Follow Your Heart once!) and/or quinoa pasta. I hate quinoa pasta (brown rice pasta is where it’s at!) and I hate Daiya (and FYH cheeses!). So my excitement tends to immediately turn into extreme disappointment if I see either of those words. But you know what? I’m a dedicated blogger so I order it anyway. I suffer for you people.

When we arrived in LA we headed over to Madeleine Bistro for dinner. It was their final weekend in business so we wanted to make the most of our meal. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had a macaroni and cashew cheese with quinoa pasta , so I ordered that as a side dish. At $6 for about half a cup of macaroni I had high expectations.

While I thought the cashew cheese sauce was really good, even getting up there with my favorites like Homegrown Smoker and Homeroom, the flavor of the quinoa pasta really overpowered the rest of the dish. I totally understand and support wanting to provide options for gluten free patrons, but I know that there are gluten free pastas out there that don’t taste weird! Use those instead please!

The next morning we went for brunch at Sage Organic Vegan Bistro in Echo Park. I just about had a total psychotic break when I saw you could order mac n’ cheese for brunch. And smoked macaroni and cheese with a biscuit and walnut sausage at that! It’s like my childhood dream had finally come true! I’m an adult! I can have whatever I want for brunch! Hooray!

It was as amazing as it looks. The flavor was unique; the smokiness, while subtle, really helped the dish stand out against the dozens of of other vegan mac and cheese dishes you can get in LA. Highly recommended!

I would have ordered the Daiya based mac n’ cheese at Native Foods when we went for lunch, but it was on the kids menu and they have a strict (I’m not really sure how strict, actually) 10 and under policy. So, I got to dodge that bullet! Phew.

For first dinner Saturday evening we went to Stuff I Eat, a soul food restaurant in Inglewood. Alex and I shared a Soul Food Platter.

Now, I say first dinner because neither of us were very into it. The macaroni and cheese is just made with melted Follow Your Heart. Do with that information what you will, but I could not eat it. If melted FYH is your thing then go for it! Ignore everything I’ve said! The rest of the food was a bit underwhelming, and we both already don’t like yams, so we just decided to have second dinner.

Second dinner was at Veggie Grill! And hey, what do you know? they have gluten free macaroni n’ cheese made Daiya! I ordered a Santa Fe Chickin’ Sandwich with a side of the Mac-n-Cheese.

As I expected, it tasted like Daiya! I will say some nice things. The texture here was much better than other Daiya based mac n’ cheeses I’ve tried; It didn’t stick to the inside of my mouth or coat my tongue as much! And this time the pasta tasted better since it was brown rice instead of quinoa. That being said, I only took a few bites.

So in review that brings us to 3 macaroni and cheese dishes ordered on Saturday with two being kind of gross and one being really awesome! You can’t win them all, I suppose.