Thursday, October 13, 2011

Convenience Food!

I love to cook, but I'm no Martha Stewart. I don't have time to make EVERYTHING from scratch. Some days, I need something quick and easy. So when Vegetarian Plus offered to send me samples of their frozen vegan meats, I said, hell yes.

As far I know, our Whole Foods doesn't carry this brand. But I'd read about it in VegNews and was quite anxious to try the soy-based fake meats. A cooler arrived at my office a few weeks ago, and I ripped it open to find four boxes: two packages of frozen Vegan Kung Pao Chicken and two packages of Vegetarian Ginger Chicken.

Now, the vegetarian chicken had whey protein in it, so I couldn't eat that. But I gave it to my vegetarian managing editor Susan, who also edits our newspaper's food section and maintains the Hungry Memphis food blog. She generously offered to write a review, which you can find later in this post.

I didn't inspect the packages closely, and I assumed they were all single-serving frozen dinners. Imagine my surprise when I was ready to eat the Kung Pao Chicken, only to find that it makes four servings! You're supposed to mix the meat with veggies and such to make a meal. So earlier this week, I stir-fried the thawed "chicken" with some bok choy in one pan and steamed some squash and broccoli in another. Then I served it all over brown rice:

Wow! The "chicken" has a super meaty texture that's way more realistic than any seitan I could make from scratch. The kung pao sauce was the perfect blend of spicy, sweet, and slightly oily (but oily in a good way!). The only complaint I have are the chili peppers. I loved the spicy flavor they lent the dish, but the pepper pieces were really tough to chew. Maybe it was the freezing that made the texture weird, but I ended up picking them out.

In case you're wondering, the "chicken" is made with soybean fiber, soybean protein, and lots of spices. Yet it has more of a gluten-like texture. Similar to Gardein, but maybe a little meatier.

If I can ever find this stuff around here, I'll surely buy it again. It made a quick week night stir-fry so much easier.

Now, here's Susan's review of the Vegetarian Ginger Chicken:

As Bianca can attest, every day around lunch time, there’s generally a line to use the microwave, and it’s usually something like: Frozen Meal, Frozen Meal, Bianca’s Lunch, Frozen Meal, Frozen Meal, etc.

In my early 20s, I subsisted on frozen meals (that and Diet Coke and Dentyne) but pretty much haven’t had them at all for about 15 years. Then, recently I bought a whole bunch in a 10-for-$10-fueled frenzy. And ... I didn’t think they tasted all that good. Bianca says her issue with most frozen meals is that they aren’t filling.

So that Vegetarian Ginger Chicken Bianca gave me to try? Good and filling.

The ginger-basil sauce, covering the large bits of soy chicken, is excellent. There are generous bits of real ginger in the sauce, and I’ve never encountered a processed meal that dared be so bold with its spiciness. Delicious all around.

Now about that filling part. I turned over the box to check out the nutritional info and saw that each serving is a mere 190 calories. Then I notice that there are 5 servings per 10-ounce box. In the movies, this is the part where they cue the sound effect of the needle being dragged across a record.

I suggest splitting it in two for dinner and lunch. The box suggests serving it with a salad, but I think some steamed broccoli would be just the thing.


Kittee Bee Berns said...

hey bianca,
so the kind you tried was gluten-free? i wanna try it!

Jeni Treehugger said...

That is one plate of deliciousness right there and YAY for convenience foods, I'd be lost without it sometimes.

The Health Sleuth said...

throw away the microwave!!!!

Anonymous said...

Coincidence! I just picked up the vegan Kung Pao at my Whole Foods this weekend. While I liked the texture I did NOT like the sauce. I actually ended up throwing away half the box because the smell of the sauce was not at all appetizing to me.

Sheridan said...

Whoa! Your bowl of kung pao "chicken" and veggies looks damn tasty! Sometimes you need convenience foods. Drew and I should check our Whole Foods for this! And.....I GET TO SEE YOU TOMORROW! WOOO!

Allysia said...

Totally agree that frozen meals are typically not filling. I haven't had one in so long, but I remember tiny portions and sad-looking food - and 190 calories for a lunch is pretty meager. The kung pao chicken looks super tasty!

Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day said...

That looks great!.. I'm not normally one to want fake meats, but for some reason it's looking super good to me

amy said...

The vegan pepper steak by that company is unbelievable. I was sad when I saw Whole Foods in Memphis didn't carry it. Maybe if a bunch of us contacted them, they would?

T said...

Cool, I'll try it when I come back to the USA!

Nico said...

you should totally veganize this, seeing as how they've stolen your name!