The Beyond Burger Goes Beyond Expectations

I have to be honest, I have been excited about this burger since I heard about it a year ago. I have been waiting patiently, or not so patiently, for it to be available in my area. The marketing has wooed me and I have been dreaming of a vegan burger that can draw in omnivores. When I saw this was available at my local whole foods, I became diligent in trying to get my hands on a box or two. It was hard since they were selling like vegan hotcakes. When I got my hands on a package, I decided to make a cheeseburger on a gluten free bun, with onions, vegan mayo, and BBQ sauce. If I would have had pickles in the house, they would have been on top as well.

BB package

I had read reviews that my house would smell of meat when I cooked the burger and that I should be prepared to be disgusted by the look of the burger. Neither of those things happened. My home smelled delicious, but not of meat- it was more like a grilled veggie smell. The pinkness of the burger did not upset me because it still didn’t look like meat to me. I was a bit taken back by all of the oil in the burger and the calorie count. I knew this would only be an occasional treat for me. Fast forward to dinner and my first bite and I loved it! The texture was a bit “meaty”, but not anymore than other veggie burgers that are intended to imitate meat.  It has been decades since I’ve had meat and this reminded me of a good veggie burger. It had an aftertaste of what I remember Boca burgers tasting like, only better. I am very excited for the omnivores in my life to give this a try at their next BBQ. This seems like a great burger for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores.

beyond burger on plateBeyond burger on plate

Overall Grade: A

Product: Beyond Meat, The Beyond Burger

Pros:

  • This burger becoming more available in stores across the country. Right now it is in Whole Foods and Safeways.
  • It is packaged like meat to entice omnivores.
  • It is vegan, gluten free, soy free, and delicious!
  • It has no cholesterol
  • It has 20g of protein!
  • This needs its own bullet point, it is DELICIOUS!
  • It does well on a pan and on the grill.
  • It looks like a burger to entice omnivores.

BB cooking

Cons:

  • It is pricey! Whole foods sells it for almost $6 and there are two patties equaling a quarter of a pound. If we want to entice omnivores, this product needs to be cheaper or comparable to two meat burgers.
  • It is too fattening for me. The amount of grease that came out, was a bit much for me. I don’t mind this food on occasion, but I can’t do this on a regular basis. The calorie count was also a bit high for my tastes.
  • The plastic packaging is a bit much and seems wasteful. The container could be smaller.
  • Most veggie burgers are offered in packages of 4 or 6. Two patties is just odd. We have a family of three, so we have to buy two packages for almost $12!!

BB in package

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Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Happy Cinco de Mayo from Veggie Product Reviews!  It seemed only fitting that today we review a frozen taco.  Yes, a frozen *taco*.  I was going to get another box of Carla Lee’s Nut Balls, and right next door I saw Carla Lee’s Nut Tacos.  I’m easily enticed by anything taco and anything mini, so I picked up a box.  I really wanted to love them. Unfortunately, I just didn’t.

Product: Carla Lee’s Nut Tacos

 

nutTacos

Carla Lee’s Nut Tacos with vegan cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and hot sauce.

 

Overall Grade: C+  These were just ok and probably got the + just because they were so darn cute.  I was also a little annoyed by the fact that I had to use a spoon to push down the filling so there was room for toppings.  This is frozen food, it shouldn’t be that much “work”.  Yes, I know that’s lazy, but when I’m cooking prepared food from the freezer it’s because I’m feeling lazy.

Pros:

  • Small and easy to eat
  • The shells crisped up nicely
  • The shells didn’t crack too badly
  • The tacos were more filling than they look.  Those 4 tiny tacos with the toppings really were enough for dinner for me.
  • I recognize all the ingredients, so no scary stuff

Cons:

  • The filling didn’t get a crisp on it like the nut balls, so even for me it was a little soft
  • They’re a little greasy
  • The shells got super hot (obviously) but by the time they weren’t burning my fingers, the filling wasn’t hot enough
  • The heat level was weird.  It was too hot to be mild, too mild to be hot, too hot with the added hot sauce.  And, I like the flavor of my hot sauce better than the heat here)

Overall, I think the problems I had with the nut tacos could be solved by just selling the taco nut meat as crumbles and letting you cook it on the stove top for your own shells. You’re already doing the toppings anyway.   Or, if they’re really excited about the mini tacos, package the shells to go in the oven and the filling to go on the stove top and let you assemble.

 

 

 

 

 

From the Freezer Case: Carla Lee’s Nut Balls

I finally got around to making zucchini noodles last week and I wanted just the right thing to go with them.  I’ve been eagerly awaiting the Beyond Meat “meatballs”, but I haven’t seen them in stores yet. I did come across these while I was checking for them.

Product: 
Carla Lee’s Nut Balls

 

Carla Lee's Nut Balls #vegan #glutenfree #xgfx

 

Carla Lee's Nut Balls served with Zucchini Noodles and Arugula Pesto #vegprodrev #vegan #glutenfree #xgfx
Carla Lee’s Nut Balls served with Zucchini Noodles and Arugula Pesto

 

 

Overall Grade: B+ I really enjoyed them.  If I were the only consideration, I probably would give them an A.  I knocked it down just a little bit in consideration of our readers who aren’t gluten/soy free like I am.

Pros: 

  • Flavor is savory, but not overpowering to other items on the plate
  • I can pronounce all the ingredients and regularly have them in my kitchen.
  • Gets a nice little crisp on the outside
  • Fewer than 10 minutes from freezer to plate
  • They don’t really require quite as much oil as the directions say.  But do be sure to continue to turn them and not just let them sit on one side for too long.  They’re more likely to stick.

Cons: 

  • A little spendy.  But then I realize that I’m getting 3 servings and they’re natural ingredients and that helps balance this out. (plus, Carla Lee’s website says they give 50% of the net proceeds to feed humanity)
  • The name is a bit misleading. They’re called nut balls, but the first listed ingredient is brown rice.
  • Even though they get a nice crisp on the outside, they’re a little soft.  I foresee this being more of a problem for those of you who eat gluten / soy products.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faux Seafood, A Sophie’s Kitchen Adventure

It’s been a while since we’ve written out reviews. Please forgive us, the reviewers have been up to a lot. Rest assured, we have been testing a lot of products and need to find the time to write them up. Stay tuned for more reviews!

Product: Sophie’s Kitchen- Breaded Vegan Coconut ShrimpBreaded Vegan Coconut Shrimp Box

Vegan Shrimp in a bowl

Overall Grade: C+. I wouldn’t recommend this product to non-vegans and would caution vegans in keeping an open mind before buying or tasting this product. The texture is strange. I don’t remember what shrimp tastes or feels like, but it could also have a strange texture. Either way, this product won’t be a regular on my shopping list.

Pros:

  • It is a breaded seafoodless product. There are not many seafood imitations out there.
  • It is different from the other seafoodless products out there. There are “fish fillets” made by other companies, but this is one of the few products that imitates shrimp.
  • It is easy to cook and doesn’t require anything besides putting the shrimp on a tray in the oven.
  • It is gluten free and soy free.

Cons:

  • It is a seafood imitation product. I think there is a reason there isn’t a lot of faux seafood on the market. Seafood tastes and smells strange to many people and this product has an odd squishy texture.
  • I’ve never had coconut shrimp, but I expected to taste the flavor of coconut. The breading was nice, but I didn’t get much of a coconut taste.
  • It is quite greasy. I prepared it in the toaster oven and didn’t add any oil.
  • In order for it to be tasty, I had to make a vegan mayo based sauce and cover it in the sauce.

 

 

 

 

Shiver Me Timbers! Gardein Golden Fishless Filets

In the days of my youth, my parents would occasionally treat me to the only places that turned fish into a highly unhealthy meal choice, either Long John Silver’s or Captain D’s.  I wonder what the D stood for?  Anyway, I remember how delicious the batter was, as it sweated grease that turned whatever paper container it was in translucent, and if I was really lucky, the smiling food server would dump a pile of “crispies” in my bag for good measure, just in case the fish itself weren’t enough to ensure a heart attack by age forty.  Nevertheless, I remember the fish being really good, and if you have a hankering for a much healthier but still very tasty version of this Long John’s or Captain’s fare, well Veganswashbuckler has a remedy for you, matey: Gardein Golden Fishless Filets!

gardein_frz_FishlessFilet_US_Sm1-225x238

Now, these are frozen and very authentic tasting, and the package may say something about baking being an optional cooking method.  If you want to go down that path, I’m sure you’ll have a fine tasting result, but I’ve never done anything other than pan saute mine.  When pan sauteing this and similar frozen items, I recommend using a tablespoon at least of oil and cooking over medium heat.  To prevent getting oil all over your range top, I would put the oil in the pan, then your filet, then turn the burner on.  This way the iciness thaws and splashing is much less than if you were to just stick a frozen filet in hot oil.

A great way to enjoy these beauties is in faux fish tacos.  Here is how I recommend you go about doing this.

What you’ll need:

  • Gardein Golden Fishless Filets, sauteed then sliced into strips (if you’re gluten-free, Sophie’s Kitchen makes a similar product that’s available in the freezer at Whole Foods)
  • Soft tortillas, either corn or flour
  • Shredded cabbage
  • Cheddar or pepperjack Daiya
  • Salsa, your favorite store bought brand or homemade
  • Cilantro

These are a breeze to make.  If you want your Daiya to melt, you’ll want to throw your filet strips into the tortillas while still hot and add the Daiya right away.  To assemble, simply cover your tortilla in a damp paper towel then nuke it for about 20 seconds to make it soft and easier to work with.  Take it out of the microwave then pour some salsa down the center, top that with filet strips then Daiya, but don’t get too overzealous, as it will be impossible to eat if it’s overstuffed.  Top that with shredded cabbage and cilantro then fold it over, and voila!  Faux fish tacos that will satisfy any landlubber!

20151102_120011    20151102_120158

Like I Need Another Reason to Go to Ikea

I have a problem. I’m slightly addicted to Ikea.  I’ve often said we should have one close by, but I fear if we did my slight addiction would become extreme.

Whenever I’m on the road and am going to be near an Ikea, I try to schedule a stop.  After all, there is so much you can’t through their website (I’m looking at you, cute dishes and throw pillows).

But earlier this year, as if I needed another reason to stop by, Ikea introduced GRÖNSAKSBULLAR, a vegan option in place of their traditional meatballs.  I expected, as in most places that carry faux meat products, to be disappointed by the presence of gluten and soy.  But, no, not here.  In fact, the strength of these veggie balls as that they are just that…a veggie ball.  They aren’t trying to pretend they’re meat.  Their simplicity is their strength.

 

20151004_112802

 

GRÖNSAKSBULLAR has a firm texture without being chewy, and the little chunks of vegetables allow you to taste some of the individual veggie flavors.  The seasoning is Goldilocks savory…not too bland, not too strong…just right.

And get this, they’re less expensive than the traditional meatballs.  In Woodbridge, VA* a plate of 10 with a sauce and a side is $4.49.

The sauce is like a thin sweet potato chili.  It’s good, but not my favorite.  The side is seasonal vegetables.  On this day, that was a mixture of green peas, (slightly dried out) kidney beans, yellow beats, and green beans.  Again, not my favorite, but I ate most of it.  In fact, I’m a beet hater, and these were edible to me.  I guess I should give Ikea a little credit for that. But, let’s face it, I was only there for the GRÖNSAKSBULLAR.

 

20151004_112755

If you go to try them out, make sure to take a thermal bag if you don’t live close by because they’re available in the food market.  A 2 lb+ bag was $7.99 (again, less expensive than the meat option).  The sauce isn’t available for sale.  I’m ok with that.  I’ve tried them at home with barbecue sauce and with yellow mustard.  So far, I like them best all by themselves. The yellow mustard is currently in 2nd place.

Photo Credit: ikea.com

Photo Credit: ikea.com

 

 

Even if you’re not a huge fan of assembling your own furniture or of those adorable little guest towels, you should swing on into Ikea for a little lunch.

Thanks, Ikea for thinking of us!

 

*The Woodbridge, VA cafe will be closed for the next 3 weeks for remodeling.

Rise and Shine! It’s MoFo time! Day 1

Good morning and welcome to Vegan MoFo 2015! We at Veggie Product Reviews are so happy to be participating! This is our first year as a group; however, two of our bloggers have participated individually in previous years on personal blogs. We are excited to be blogging as a group and think that you will enjoy our different writing styles, food preferences and humor. Many of our posts will fall into the MoFo themes. To start off the MoFo month, we are sticking with the day 1 theme- Breakfast!

I’m a new mommy to a 7 month old and when I was pregnant, I got in the habit of eating the same thing every morning- a gluten free English muffin, vegan cream cheese, SoL patty and a tomato slice (if in season) or a squirt of ketchup. Along side this is a cup of coffee. (What? Like you’re surprised?) I like this breakfast so much that I still eat it now that I am no longer pregnant. The only difference is that I only eat a half of the muffin, instead of the whole thing. Nom, nom, nom!  Breakfast SoL PattiesLately, I’ve been liking vegan meat analogs and SoL patties are high on this list! I started eating the patties in pregnancy since they offer 7 grams of protein per patty. They also have a great taste and are not too salty and when cooked properly have a good texture (if they are under cooked, they can be sticky). I usually zap them in the microwave, but if I’m feeling fancy I’ll warm them up on a pan on the stove. If I’m feeling frisky on the weekend, I’ll make a tofu slice or The Vegg Scramble and have a sandwich with a slice of vegan cheese.

Breakfast Before going vegan, I was a vegetarian teenager and the SoL patties remind me of the patties I used to eat. My grandfather abstained from meat for religious reasons three times a week and I enjoyed eating with him on those days. My grandmother would make us delicious vegetarian meals throughout the day and a veggie sausage patty was usually included in breakfast. Having these patties remind me of my grandfather and how he made me feel a bit normal when I felt like I lived in a sea of weird.

At some point I plan to vary up my breakfasts a bit, but it is just so easy with a baby. Happy Vegan MoFo’ing!