Archive for the ‘Product Review’

Beast Burger: Best new veggie burger? Maaaaaybe…not?

April 04, 2015 By: Megabeth Category: Product Review

20150321_151910One of the things I’ve always professed is that as a vegetarian I’m not trying to find things that replicate the taste of meat. I basically just want things to taste good and convey great flavor and not have to mimic any sort of animal taste. The veggie burger industry is an ever-growing market with so many different flavors out there to choose from.

When I saw the news that a new veggie burger was coming from Beyond Meat that looked rather “sizzly” and juicy, I was intrigued and had to try it out. I bought the Beast Burger from the local Whole Foods and set to work to provide a review for you, my dear Veggin’ readers.

The frozen patties were stuck together right out of the package, but I let them sit for a few minutes (while doing some multi-tasking dishwasher unloading). After a few minutes, the patties popped right off each other.

P1110036I made the burger per package directions for stovetop – spritz a little oil in a skillet and heat it up.

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I served the burgers on a toasted kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato and a bit of dijon mustard. And, the results are….

P1110066Pros

  • I like the addition of the little grill marks. Kind of gives some veggie burger street cred to the patties when you throw it on the grill.
  • Nutrient dense is an understatement. The nutritional content of these patties really pack a punch – 42% of your daily protein can come from one patty. You can also get 30% of your Vitamin B12 and 25% of your Vitamin B6.
  • The sizzle! The patty sizzled on the pan. I get giddy when I can cook things that made noise – onions frying up give me thrill. So, when the patty sizzled and popped as it cooked I was in auditory heaven. And, the smell was really good, too, like a charcoal grill wafting through the kitchen on a cold winter’s day.
  • The patties, while thin, are pretty dense and do fill you up.

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20150321_151919Cons

  • I think I had set my expectations up a little high because I was really hoping for a great bitey and “to the teeth” texture. Something juicy. But, it failed to deliver. The In-House Taste Tester also was a bit disappointed in the palate that the burger delivered. We were definitely thinking it was going to be “something more” but it delivered a flat patty with an okay taste. Was it bad? No. Was it awesome? Meh.
  • The price. I bought the patties at Whole Foods which tends to be a bit high priced anyways, but the price per patty was a little higher than I wanted to pay.  I think it was about $7.00 for a box of two patties. Fortunately, Beyond Burger has a $1.00 off coupon available on it’s website so that helps take the sting out of the price.

Final Judgement: If you’re looking for a mid-week meal to hit some of the nutrients you may be missing because you’re eating on the run, go for these burgers. And, the taste was okay. For the price, I was hoping for a better taste…but you can’t beat the nutritional wallop these patties bring. However, as far as I’m concerned, a veggie burger shouldn’t rely on the condiments to make it taste better – a veggie burger should be the main attraction. While I didn’t grill these in this taste-test, I think these would be good to bring to a backyard BBQ to slap on the grill and hear them sizzle.

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Vegan Prawns: A Product Review…So You Don’t Have to.

August 29, 2013 By: Megabeth Category: Product Review, Recipe

veganprawns6Sometimes I try things so you don’t have to. In this case, it’s vegan prawns. I was all excited to be able to report back to you, my dear Veggin’ readers, that this product was fantastic, divine, tasty, incredible or even edible. But, I can’t. I just can’t say any of those things. I’m getting ahead of myself so let me start from the beginning.

I saw these vegan prawns, by Sophie’s Kitchen,  at my local organic market in the freezer section and I immediately thought, “Ooooh, I can make shrimp scampi!”

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The product is 100% vegan and soy free. Primary ingredients include konjac powder, potato starch, and carrageenan (a seaweed based gelatin).

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The product is vacuum packed and meant to be kept frozen and defrosted before use.

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The shrimp are first thawed, and then cooked by sauteing them for a few minutes on each side. I whipped up a quick scampi (recipe below) to cook them in and nestled the shrimp atop some freshly made quinoa that had some lemon juice squeezed on it.

One bite of the vegan shrimp, and I knew the review was over. The feeling of biting into the shrimp reminded me of a rubber bicycle tube filled with old deflated squeaky balloons. Not that I’ve ever bitten into a rubber bicycle tube filled with deflated squeaky balloons but that’s got to be what it feels like.

I tried another bite, hoping that perhaps I was tasting and sensing things wrongly, but no, the second bite was just as bad as the first. The shrimp itself had a very mild salty flavor but the sensation of biting into it just couldn’t be overcome. Meanwhile, the in-house taste tester was quiet. I asked him what he thought. His reaction was just a simple, “um, no.”

Before you say, “Riiiight, Megabeth, you cooked it in a yucky sauce, perhaps that’s why it tasted bad.” I say, nay. The sauce was super good. Once I pushed all the shrimp off the quinoa and dug in, I was a happy camper.

Perhaps if the prawns weren’t so big and dense they wouldn’t be so rubbery and hard to take. I’m not quite sure. All I know is, I didn’t like it.

Look, I’m pretty nice here at Veggin’ and really don’t like having to post a bad review. So, before I write off Sophie’s Kitchen’s entire line of vegan seafood products, I would like to say that there are some other interesting products in their line that I am going to try, if I can find them. The vegan crab cakes and vegan smoked salmon look intriguing enough to try out.

If interested, here is my recipe for the vegan scampi sauce that I used. Poured over the quinoa, it was delicious. Perhaps I’ll try it with another vegetarian protein, but I know I won’t be using these fake shrimp again.

Recipe: Vegan Scampi Sauce

By: Megabeth

Summary: A quick sauce for quinoa or vegetables

Ingredients

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

Instructions

  • Heat butter in skillet over medium heat.
  • Add garlic and cook until softened.
  • Add vegan shrimp (if cooking with them), wine and lemon juice until shrimp are browned (about 2 – 3 minutes each side).
  • If not using shrimp, just cook sauce until reduced slightly.
  • Add parsley, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper right before serving.
  • Pour over rice, quinoa or vegetables.

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Diet type: Vegan

 

 

The Banana and the “Clearly Fresh Bag” Experiment

August 26, 2012 By: Megabeth Category: Article, Product Review

As a vegetarian household, we naturally tend to keep around a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables around the kitchen. I’ll admit, though, I’ve been known to be wooed by the selection at the farmers market and then not get around to using the produce before it goes bad. I truly need the help to extend the life of vegetables so it doesn’t all go to waste. Apparently, I’m not alone. It has recently been reported that up to 40% of food is wasted and thrown away by Americans.

I have really been working on my produce over-purchasing habits so I don’t buy too much. (I think sometimes I have more motivation to cook when I’m at the store, but then life gets in the way.)  Of course, the folks in the “storage technology field” have put their heads together and figured out ways to extend the life of vegetables sitting on your counter or in your fridge. So, I have used everything from the little disks that you put in your vegetable to the life extending zip-top bags. And, from what I can tell, they do work.

Several months ago, I received some samples of these produce extending bags from the kind folks at Clearly Fresh Bags.

These bags have some sort of “BreatheWay” technology that pushes the carbon dioxide out while keeping the right level of oxygen in. That balance helps fruits and veggies last a little longer.

Armed with these bags, I wanted to figure out if they really worked. So, I channeled my inner 7th grader and came up with the classic science project to test the bags: “Will a Banana Last Longer in a Clearly Fresh Bag or Outside of It?”

I selected two bananas of the same ripeness. Placed one in the bag and one was just left to the elements next to the bag. I used the gallon sized bag which could comfortably fit a bunch of bananas and not just one.

And then I let the march of time go on…

And, on…

You can see the difference, even starting at day four, that the banana in the bag had fewer brown spots on the outside. By day seven, that became even more noticeable.

But, what you can’t see in the picture above is that the bagged banana grew a little fuzzy hairdo on the top of the stem. Um, ew. Fortunately, it didn’t make it down to the fruity part, so, luckily, the taste test could go on as planned. (I am nothing but brave for my dear readers, but not going to chance it with fuzzy fuzzy mold bits…)

I peeled the skin and noticed that the insides looked almost the same. Both had slight discoloring and were a little mushy to the touch in a few areas. But, after biting into each, the biggest different was that the bagged banana did taste a lot fresher than the un-bagged banana.

Do these bags work better than other brands? I can’t really say. But, in this particular experiment, they did work to keep the banana fresher than the banana that stayed outside the bag. I’ve been able to keep lettuce, beans, strawberrys and broccoli a little longer in unscientific experiments using the bags. So, I can say that at $3.99 for 10 re-useable bags, they really are not much of an investment to keep your fruit and veg around a little longer. And, perhaps, with products like these, we all can work towards throwing out less food.

 

 

Book Review: Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide

April 15, 2012 By: Megabeth Category: Article, Product Review

I’m not a hard-core athlete by any means, but I do bike a lot and a few months back I started running again more seriously. So, it’s time to also shape up my nutrition, too. There are plenty of nutritional supplements, gels, and foods that are vegan. But, what about the rest of the day? How does a vegan or vegetarian get enough nutrients to perform well in our sport of choice?

In comes Brendan Brazier, a professional athlete and vegan. His book, Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life outlines what to eat and how to eat to help maintain lean muscle, help reduce body fat, improve sleep quality among other healthful benefits.

Thrive is an easy yet informative read. Brazier is conversational in tone and does not talk down to the reader nor does he become preachy. Instead, he educates the reader to make good choices in their diets and explains how these choices can impact their sports performance.

In the Veggin’ household, we had been looking to eat less processed food. This book has become a great resource for us.  Brazier provides a comprehensive outline on whole foods that are good to fuel a workout and then aid with recovery.  Brazier aims to get folks out of their comfort zones when using ingredients by providing a great explanation of the basic diet staples. Flax seed, hemp, spelt, teff are just a few of the ingredients Brazier describes how to prepare, cook and incorporate into our meals. It was because of this book that I know find myself sprinkling chia seeds on my salad (whilst singing the jingle “ch-ch-ch-chia”, of course).

There are over 100 recipes in the book all wheat-, gluten- and soy- free. Most of the recipes are easy to make, don’t require a lot of ingredients and really pack in the nutrients. You can tell that Brazier really enjoys the food, and has road tested every single on of them. In his descriptions he also provides background and gives suggestions to add variety,  describing when he likes to eat it and providing suggestions for variety. For example, in his homemade energy bar section he states,

“I eat a bar or two a day, so I make a big batch at one time, usually about once a month. I individually wrap each bar and store them in the freezer, easy to grab as I head out the door. Also, these bars will not freeze solid, so you can eat them straight from the freezer – no thawing required. This is an added bonus when taking them along for winter sports, like skiing: These bars stay supple and chewy, whereas many commercial bars freeze solids. On a hot day, a cold bar is as refreshing as ice cream.”

Sure, some of the ingredients may be difficult to find or could be expensive, but the book provides a lot of alternative suggestions on how to incorporate this healthier eating into your lifestyle. The meal plan can also be a bit daunting to prepare as each day requires new recipes to be prepared and some can’t be really made ahead of time. Just realize, in the end, you might not follow the meal plan down to the letter.  Instead, this book provides one of the best compilation of vegan recipes designed for sports performance beyond just the smoothie.

Never fear, Dear Reader, I have road tested a few of the recipes including the pizzas, which I look forward to featuring here on Veggin’ soon.

Oh, also, another bonus about this book…the preface is written by Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman. (Mmmm, Hugh Jackman.)


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