Sunday, June 7, 2015

Purple Carrot Review v2.0

A few weeks ago, I posted about The Purple Carrot, which is a vegan meal [ingredient] delivery service. According to their website, it's "All the raw, pre-measured ingredients and recipes you need to cook healthy, delicious vegan meals and snacks at home - just $59, delivered!" As I noted in my previous post, I was skeptical of the value of these ingredient delivery services, but I've found they do a good job of forcing me to eat healthier. This is the third time I've ordered from TPC, and each time I used a 50% off promo code. In that case, for $30, you get the ingredients to make two four-serving meals and a snack. On sale, I feel like it's slightly cheaper than going to the grocery store, plus it's pre-measured and shows up at my apartment.

My complaint the past two times I've ordered was that the recipes weren't well tested and the food didn't taste exceptionally good. I might be getting better at choosing (you select two meals out of four offerings), but I was much happier with the meals this time.

First up, Quinoa Power Bowl with Adzuki and Spinach:

This was quinoa, adzuki beans, roasted sweet potatoes, and spinach, with a dill cashew cream sauce, topped with almonds. The recipe is pretty self explanatory. As written, it made four servings at 726 calories each. I divided it up into eight servings instead, since I've been trying to eat smaller meals.

This is a solidly nutritious meal and it's amazingly delicious. I will definitely be making it again, though I'll add more spinach and sweet potatoes next time. But seriously, it's so delicious!!! 

Next up, Speedy Teriyaki Noodles:

This is another fairly  simple recipe, with brown rice noodles, carrots, celery, broccoli and edamame in a teriyaki sauce, garnished with green onions and sesame seeds. It came together pretty quickly, and again, I made the four servings into six.

This is good. It's not great and keeping with my normal complaint, the recipe should have been better tested because the carrots were undercooked by adding them at the end. But it's still fairly tasty and was quick and easy to make. 

I didn't take any pictures of the snack, Blueberry Chocolate Trail Mix Bark. It's exactly what it sounds like -- dried blueberries, peanuts and pretzels with melted chocolate chips. I made this into 12 breakfast servings and it's so delicious. Every morning, I consider eating a second piece because I just want more salty, sweet, crunchy, chewy chocolate. It's a recipe from Robin Robertson, so I wisely trusted that one. 

Here's the total haul: 12 breakfasts, eight lunches and six dinners for $29.50 and a few hours of cooking.

Oh, and an hour of cleaning up the kitchen. I normally attempt to clean-as-I-go, but I severely slacked this time. Ooops:

After three times, I stand by my opinion that The Purple Carrot is a great value when you can find a promo code and it's a good way to ensure you'll eat healthy food if you don't have a ton of time or energy (you still need SOME to cook everything, but you'll save the meal planning and grocery shopping step).

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Cheesecake Dreams (aka Daiya review)

Cheesecake was always my favorite desert, even when I was a kid and the only "cheesecake" I'd ever had was Jello No-Bake with cherry pie filling on top. Fast-forward a few decades, and I consider myself something of a connoisseur enthusiastic-consumer of vegan cheesecake. Metro Detroit Whole Foods stores sometimes have slices from the Chicago Diner that are FANTASTIC. I buy one whenever I see it, but at $5 a pop, that gets pricey. 

I'd heard about the new Daiya cheesecakes and was excited to finally see them in the freezer case. The Detroit Whole Foods had both chocolate and New York Style on sale for $6.99 the last time I was there, so I figured I'd give it a try. The downside is that it has to thaw 4-6 hours, but I'm a genius glutton, so I bought a ready-to-eat Chicago Diner slice AND a frozen Daiya one.

The verdict? Delicious! It's not exactly an 'authentic' cheesecake (like the Chicago Diner version), but more like a tangy, thick mousse, which is also delicious. I attempted to exercise self-control in this picture, but ended up eating the rest straight out of the plastic container over 24 hours. I also want to try the NY Style, but I knew better than to have two of these in my apartment at the same time!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Sophie's Kitchen of Disappointment

I've mentioned before that I have an inexplicable affinity for mock seafood. I wasn't a huge seafood fan before, but maybe it seems like the last frontier of veganization? Sophie's Kitchen makes a wide variety of vegan seafood (shrimp, calamari, fish sticks) and for a while, I tried every variety I saw. Ultimately, I realized I didn't miss seafood and would rather eat my hippie food. But when I saw a variety of tuna at Whole Foods, I had to try it. One of my favorite things to eat pregan was Kraft mac & cheese with tuna and peas. Now that Earth Balance makes a vegan mac and cheese that tastes exactly like Kraft's (in my mind, at least), it was a no-brainer to attempt a vegan version. Behold the [theoretical] tower of processed perfection: 

I tried the Meatless Select vegetarian tuna a couple years ago and remember it being pretty passable in appearance. When I opened the Sophie's kind, it reminded me A LOT of cat food:

It tasted kind of weird, but I persisted and made the mac & cheese and peas, then mixed it all together. I set it down on the table (a great habit I picked up during 2014 MoFo!) and walked away to get a drink. When I turned around, my cat had jumped on the table and was vigorously attempting to bury my dinner, which is what she does with HER food. Action shot:

I've only tasted cat food once, when I mistook the gravy from cat food for gravy from the vegan shepherd's pie I was eating (don't ask). I can assure you, this did NOT taste like cat food. That said, it didn't taste particularly good, either. The tuna had a weird texture and made the dish too salty. I love that EB mac and cheese so much that I ate it anyway, but it would have been better without the $4 can of fake tuna. I portioned out some leftovers, which I will also eat, but only because I REALLY hate wasting food.

Sadly, the quest for vegan tuna will continue.