Monday, April 16, 2018

Beyond Meat Beyond Sausage - Plant Based Sausage Review

While shopping at the grocery store on the weekend, I passed through the meat alternative section and noticed a new product from Beyond Meat called "Beyond Sausage - Plant Based Sausages".  I have experience with Beyond Meat from trying its hamburger patties, which are delicious, but a tangent that I will not diverge into in this post.  As a former carnivore, I used to consume a significant quantity of sausages, bratwursts, wieners, frankfurters, etc., and after moving to a mostly plant based diet, it's been something I have missed.  There are some enjoyable vegan hot dogs out there, but I haven't had a sausage that I liked previously, so I was excited to give these a shot.  There were three varieties, original brat, sweet italian and my selection, hot italian.  Whole Foods was offering them on sale for a heft $7.99, a $1 discount off the post $8.99 price, which I thought was pretty hefty for four sausages but decided to give it a shot.  My plan was to saute fajitas style with bell peppers and onions, so I picked up a red, yellow and green pepper and a red onion as well.

In the evening I busted out my trusty non-stick frying pan, sharp knife and cutting board and got down to business.  I diced up half of each of the bell peppers, the full red onion and a couple of cloves of garlic and tossed in the skillet on medium heat.  I let this cook for a few minutes until the onions started to get soft and meanwhile cut the "sausages" into small rings.  The consistency was actually not that dissimilar to other sausages and you could definitely small the "sausage" herbs and spices!

After about 12-15 minutes of cooking, the kitchen area definitely smelled like pork sausage fajitas!  The food smelled great and as you can see the sausages look very similar to the original.  I actually cooked even more than in these pictures and it browned/blackened up like one would expect that real meat would.

I had already eaten dinner and was preparing food for the week, but given my curiosity I put a couple chunks and some fajita veggies on a plate with white rice to have a taste.  I found the texture to be similar to meat, but definitely a difference could be noted.  The casing did not have a crisp snap and the inside was definitely a bit softer and perhaps more granular than meat would feel.  The taste was very good, there was a juicy quality to the pieces and sufficient spices to make it taste good.  While it was labeled hot italian, I found the spiciness level to be low.  While it didn't taste just like a pork sausage, it was close, and I really enjoyed the small plate I had.  The next day, I had a small portion as a side dish with my meal and found the leftover experience to be delicious as well.

Overall, I give the product a B+ rating for taste, but an A+ rating for delivering an effective meat alternative.  The health statistics (see below) are very favorable vs. real pork sausages and the ingredients are all relatively healthy and natural sounding.  There does not appear to be any odds chemicals or additives so I feel good about consuming these.  I will not be adding this to my regular shopping list, but I could see myself purchasing these every couple of months.

Ingredients: Water, Pea Protein Isolate, Refined Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavor, Contains 2% or less of: Rice Protein, Faba Bean Protein, Potato Starch, Salt, Fruit Juice (For Color), Vegetable Juice (For Color), Apple Fiber, Methylcellulose, Citrus Extract (To Protect Quality), Calcium Alginate Casing.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Tesla Model 3 Electric Car

I have been eagerly anticipating the release of Tesla's "mass-market" sedan, the Model 3.  It is slated to start around $35,000 and most are expected to sell in the $40,000-$50,000 range including upgrades.  That compares very favorably to the approximately $100,000 range that the current Tesla models sell for.  Electric cars are definitely the future, given that fossil fuels are a limited, nonrenewable resource.

The car is very attractive, sleek and impressive, like the rest of the Tesla line.  The performance is definitely going to be lower than the current Model S, but it is expected that the battery should last 200 miles per charge, which is awesome.  Speed and performance will likely be good as well.  If you haven't already put in your pre-order, then you probably won't be getting one of these until 2018, unless you buy off the gray market!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Spring Cleaning

Spring is in full swing here in New England, as temperatures peaked up above 70 degrees in Boston over the weekend.  After a dreadful winter, with historic snow totals, every single citizen of the region is ready for Spring.  An annual tradition, across the globe, is the practice of Spring cleaning.  Out with the old and in with the new.  Or, if you are a Think, Act, Prosper reader, then let's try to make it just out with the old.  If you really need something new, lets carefully consider the options and make sure that it is something you need critically before purchasing, quality over quantity.

Spring cleaning is generally the time when you clean your entire residence from top to bottom, every nook and cranny.  As you go, you will come across a number of items that have long outlived their welcome and need to be disposed of.  Think of it as another time to declutter.  This year, take a critical look at items that you have not used, and likely won't use again.  Even if they have some sentimental value, but literally no practical value, they should probably be purged.  If you see things that could be repurposed, make sure to set them aside!

I like to start with big jobs first, and for my family that is the kitchen and bedrooms.  The kitchen is used every day, since we much prefer to make our own food than purchase take out food.  This means that the oven, microwave, and cupboards get dirty.  Obviously, we spot clean as needed, but the spring cleaning ritual is a great time to do a more thorough cleaning than we typically would.  Next, each person is responsible for cleaning up their bedrooms, and we will aggregate all the items that are no longer needed to dispose of them in the proper manner.  Another perpetual junk collector is the garage, take special notice for items that might have value to someone else, and give them away!

I am not going to put together a guide, because I actually think Martha Stewart's checklist is quite solid!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Local Breweries: Hill Farmstead of Vermont

Last weekend my wife and I made a trip to one of our favorite places in America, Vermont.  My primary desire was to replenish my stores of Hill Farmstead Brewery.  This brewery is widely considered the best in America, and some would say the best in the world.  Sean Hill, the brewer, is not a specialist, he makes world class hoppy ales in addition to sour, dark, farmhouse and everything in between.  He is committed to a sustainable business that can support itself and although he has grown rapidly, there is a target size for the company that he does not want to exceed.  This goal allows him to focus on doing the best possible work he can, which results in amazing beer.  He utilizes growlers so that he can ensure that his beers remain fresh. I much prefer to support a "local" brewery than one of the large conglomerates.  Also, Sean goes to great lengths to respect his community and helps support other local businesses.  He takes great pride in working in a remote area, and although you have to actually go to the brewery to buy his beer, he avoids wasting resources on things like distribution to stores.

The brewery

My haul

Edward - Flagship Pale Ale

Single Hop Pale Ale - Mosaic

Society & Solitude #5 Double IPA

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Repurpose What You Can

Repurposing things is a great way to avoid new purchases and help the environment.  I always try to re-use plastic/paper bags from the grocery store and other shops as many times as possible.  I use newspapers from work as packing material.  I always use a refillable water bottle.  Those are obvious, but here are some of other ideas!

If you aren't buying in bulk already, then you are likely accumulating a ton of packaging from the modern food industry.  One of my favorite repurposing tips is to take the jars that salsa comes in, wash them out, and use for organizational purposes, Mason style jars make great cups as well!

This may be obvious to people, but if you do a lot of mailing, particularly for gifts, you should always seek to repurpose the boxes you receive to save on packaging!  Then you can use newspaper or mailing to ensure the package is tightly packed and the contents safe inside!  While I like to send gifts electronically to avoid the damage of shipping cross country via a courier, sometimes you need to send your homemade gifts to your cousin in Los Angeles!

If you ever purchased CD's in bulk to create your own playlists, repurpose the empty container into a bagel sandwich holder!  Obviously not practical for everyone, but it looks great.

Paperclips are great for wire organization rather than purchasing some plastic doo-hicky.

Repurpose old books as shelves, for a cool antique look

I use broken clay pots as garden markers rather than purchasing some sort of cardboard marker that sticks in the ground.  Aesthetically they are much more pleasing, and it gives new life to your chipped pots!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Frugal Travel: Camping

Camping is one of the best memories I have of my childhood.  It's not that we were poor, but we were certainly blue collar, and did not take any trips to St. Tropez or West Palm Beach.  We made plenty of trips to Orlando, where my grandparents lived, and looped in Disney and other theme park trips with our vacations.  There is just something about camping's rustic charm that I loved and has always stuck with me.  Far from the commercial reaches of the marketing machine in a tent in Vermont or New Hampshire, my family and I spent quality time laughing around a camp fire, swimming in the lakes, and hiking in the nearby mountains!

The great thing about camping is that you aren't engaged in a ton of consumption, other than things you typically would, other than a few additional graham crackers and marshmallows for S'mores!  There are camping areas just outside of every city, numerous places to be explored for years to come.  No one is saying not to take any vacations that require a plane trip, but if you can stay somewhat local and still get that vacation feeling, its a great opportunity.  Also, for those of us with busy lives, a long weekend "away" can do wonders!  Also, no need to get a dog sitter!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Frugal Travel: Airbnb & Local Cuisine

Travel is one of my favorite luxuries.  There are so many astounding places in the world, and yet the vast majority of us spend our time within our homes and workplaces.  Even those of us who travel for work, often are only visiting conference rooms and generic hotel rooms.  Travel is a great alternative to consumption of goods.  The opportunity to visit a new location, take in the history, culture, and cuisine of a location, and add an experience to your life is worth more than purchasing another new sweater or jacket!  Cuisine to me is one of the most important aspects of my life.  I love eating!  I love trying new and tasty foods.  Local specialties are my favorite.  Whenever you travel, avoid the big chains and try something new!

One of my favorite frugal travel tips is Airbnb.  For those of you who aren't familiar, Airbnb is a hotel alternative.  Individuals who have extra space, post it online for travelers to utilize when they come to visit.  The spaces vary from an extra bedroom within someones home for very little money, to a studio apartment/guest house, all the way up to an entire house.  The prices vary accordingly.  This is such a fundamentally amazing idea, as it allows people to monetize their personal real estate, and gives travelers an option other than staying at a boring corporate hotel.  Many hosts will offer tips on the locales they know best which can be invaluable.

There are many ways to find the specialties that are only available at the place you are traveling.  First of all, word of mouth is extremely powerful, so I always tap my network for suggestions when I travel.  Second, we are living in the days of the internet, information has never been easier to acquire.  I tend to utilize websites like Yelp which offer reviews, which I of course take with a grain of salt.  Also, once you are in the neighborhood and find a coffee shop or boutique you like, it helps to ask the owner what restaurants/foods they like.  The shrimp po boy above is a perfect example from New Orleans. You will often get a great answer that you might not find elsewhere!  Personally, I always like to try local beers when I travel, and with the proliferation of the craft beer movement throughout the USA, there has never been a better time.  If you are ever planning to come to Western Massachusetts, these are the beer stops I recommend.  Worcester's Armsby Abbey is pictured below.

Here are some Airbnb highlights (including a castle!)