I have a vegan daughter, so in my journey to try all meal kit companies, I decided to give Purple Carrot a try. It was a total disaster. She did not like any of the three meals she got, and ended up not eating more than a few bites from each. This is a child (well, teen) who realizes that since she adopted a vegan diet, she does not get to be picky on what she eats – but Purple Carrot failed to meet even her very low standards.
In all, I cooked three meals in one week. I got a $30-off your first week deal, so I ended up paying $42 for this box ($14 per kit or $7 per portion). Money very badly spent as most of the food went to waste, even the dog wouldn’t eat it.
When you subscribe to Purple Carrot you will get a weekly box with three 2-serving meal kits, for $72. You can choose a so-called “plan,” high protein, quick & easy or chef’s choice, but that only determines which meals you will get sent by default if you don’t make choices in a given week. Shipping is free.
Purple Carrot also sells a variety of breakfast and lunch kits that you can add to your order.
Purple Carrots offers six vegan meal choices a week. Proteins are usually tofu, tempeh, beans or legumes. My daughter is a big fan of “fake” meats – in particular fake chicken -, so she wasn’t thrilled that these were not offered. The recipes are modern and sound like the sort of things you would get at a mid-priced restaurant here in California. As you could expect, there is an emphasis on vegetables and whole grains, and many of the recipes have Mediterranean, Mexican and Asian influences.
The ingredients were mostly fresh and of good quality, but the garlic came damaged, as you can see. I’ve never seen garlic turn this way, so I’m not totally sure what happened to it. I did e-mail Purple Carrot and got a $5 credit for my next order – which will never happen.
The ingredients came organized by kit/recipe in plastic bags – with some larger ingredients (the bok choy shown here) on their own bags. The garlic came on its own as it was supposed to be used in the other recipes.
The Shipping and Delivery
The box came the day it was supposed to come and during the day. I had an e-mail the week before letting me know when I’d be getting it, but no reminders nor a tracking number.
The kits came inside a cardboard box. Unfortunately, not a particularly well sealed cardboard box. Fortunately, all the contents were fine (save for the garlic).
Inside there were recipe cards, and the ingredients, with freezer packs at the bottom. Everything was crisp. I don’t believe the lining was recyclable but I’m not sure. The freezer had to be thrown on the trash.
This dish might have been OK had I not added the cilantro chutney. As it was, it was so spicy that it was totally inedible for my daughter.
The issue here was texture. To my daughter, the zucchini noodles looked so much like pasta that she was expecting them to eat and feel like pasta – the strange texture threw her off and not in a pleasant way. She also disliked the texture of the “meatballs”.
Finally, this dish suffered from being tasteless. Not only was the tofu pretty insipid – something which my daughter has come to expect – but so was the quinoa pilaf.
Despite our experience, Purple Carrot seems to be liked by many people, and given the lack of vegan meal kits out there, it’s probably worth your while to try it for a week if you are vegan (just remember to unsubscribe after you get your box to avoid paying for a second week – in case you don’t like their fare).
Eating out – or getting take out – with a vegan is no easy matter, at least here in San Leandro (L.A., though, is another matter altogether). So I’m starting to ask restaurants what vegan dishes they offer previous to taking my daughter to the restaurant.
These four dishes are always vegan at Favorite Indian, Hayward. I’m sure that’s true too at the other branches, but you may want to confirm.
Vegetable Pakora, veggies coated with seasoned chickpea flour and fried.
Dal Curry, a yellow lentil curry. I tried this at the buffet, and it was pretty good.
Aloo Gobi, potatoes and cauliflower cooked with spices.
Bhindi Masala, okra cooked with spices and onions.
Chana Masala, chick peas cooked with spices. Alas, my daughter is not too fond of this.
In addition, Favorite India can make the following dishes vegan. Simply ask them to make them with no cream when you order them:
Eggplant roasted in tadoor and cooked in a cream and tomato sauce
Vegetables, nuts & cheese cooked in a mild sauce (asked them to hold both the cream and the cheese/paneer)
Mushroom & green peas cooked with onion & tomatoes
Whole black lentil & red kidney beans cooked in a creamy sauce.
They may have other vegan dishes at their buffet, so it doesn’t help to ask. The restaurant manager/owner – the young woman who is often at the reception desk – is very knowledgeable as to the ingredients.
This year, I made a beautiful chocolate tart for dessert for my Christmas Eve dinner – and that meant I had to make a vegan alternative for my vegan daughter. This recipe had great reviews, so I decided to make it for her. It took some doing, as the recipe called for Medjool dates and a specific brand/type of chocolate, which the recipe-maker insisted was just the best. Only after I’d searched for and found the chocolate (at Walgreen of all places) I realized that her post was actually sponsored by that chocolate brand. As it turned out, this chocolate was probably too dark for this cake. It would have probably worked best with 50-60% cocoa content chocolate. Just make sure you look at the ingredients to make sure it’s vegan.
Medjool dates are a particularly sweet type of dates that cannot be substituted by regular ones. Neither of my local supermarkets carried them but I was able to find them at Trader Joe’s (I think).
As other chocolate tart, this tart is beautiful when topped with fresh berries and mint leaves – which also provide a nice light tart contrast to the very rich chocolate.
For the crust:
- 8 pitted Medjool dates
- 1 cup peeled almonds
- 1 oz semisweet vegan chocolate, chopped and melted
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
- pinch of salt
For the filling:
- 3.5 oz semisweet vegan chocolate, chopped
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 8 pitted Medjool dates
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Put the dates and almonds in a food processor and process until the mixture is very fine. Add the melted chocolate, melted coconut oil and salt and process until they are fully incorporated.
Press the mixture onto the bottom and sides of a tart pan. Place in the refrigerator and cool until the crust has set.
Meanwhile, make the filling.
In a small saucepan, melt together the chocolate and coconut oil. Mix in coconut cream. Transfer to a clean food processor bowl. Add dates and vanilla extract. Process until all ingredients are combined and have a smooth, pudding-like consistency.
Add the filling to the crust. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
Top with berries, mint and whipped coconut cream, if desired.
Adapted from Regina’s recipe at Leelalicious
To my great amazement, several commercial puff pastries are vegan – so once I decided to make Beef Wellington as the main dish for my 2018 Christmas Eve Dinner, I knew it wouldn’t be hard to find a vegan version of Wellington. There were actually many different versions, with all sorts of fillings, but this recipe for mushroom Wellington looked and sounded amazing – and my vegan daughter is very fond of mushrooms. She was very, very happy with it and ate all the leftovers.
I followed the recipe closely, though I used a very small amount of baby spinach, given that she doesn’t like it. If you want to follow the recipe exactly, use 10 1/2 oz (though really, that’s way too much even if you like baby spinach).
- 4 large portabello mushrooms
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 large onions, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- a handful of baby spinach leaves
- leaves from 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 sheet vegan puff pastry
- 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
- 1-2 Tbsp vegan egg wash
Clean mushrooms and trim the stalks. Set aside.
In a large saute pan, heat 1/2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the chopped onion and reduce heat to low. Season with salt and pepper and saute until the onions are golden brown, around 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a slotted spoon remove onions from the pan and set aside.
Add the spinach to the hot pan and cook until wilted, a minute or two. Remove spinach from the pan and let cool.
Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and increase heat to medium-high. Add the mushrooms top-side down and cook until they start to brown, around 5 minutes. Remove mushroom caps and place, top side up, on a thick stack of paper towels to cool – they will release A LOT of liquid.
Refrigerate the onions, spinach and mushrooms until cool.
Flour a working surface and rolling pin and roll puff pastry sheet until it’s the desired thickness and length – long enough to accommodate the four mushroom caps. Spread half of the onions in the middle of the pastry sheet, leaving a 3/4″ border on the top and bottom. Place half of the wilted spinach on the onions. Spread dijon mustard over the mushroom caps and season with salt and pepper. Place mushrooms, tops down, on the spinach. Sprinkle thyme leaves on the mushrooms. Cover with the remaining spinach and onions. Carefully, roll the pastry on top of the mushroom mixture, forming a log. Press down on the edges to seal. Turn over and brush with the vegan egg wash. Envelope the log in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 400F. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet. Unwrap the log and place it on the parchment paper. Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350F and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Adapted from Nicole’s recipe at Delicious Every Day.
I made this vegan egg wash to brush on the mushroom Wellington I made for Christmas Eve Dinner. It worked beautifully. The aquafaba is the water from a can of chickpeas. You can use the chickpeas as a snack.
- 1Tbsp aquafaba
- 1 Tbsp unsweetened almond or cashew milk
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp maple syrup or brown rice syrup
Whisk all ingredients together. Brush over pastry requiring an egg wash.
Adapted from Nicole’s recipe at Delicious Every Day.
- 3 Tbsp vegan butter or olive oil
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 rib celery , finely chopped
- 1 onion , finely chopped
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 12 ounces cooked chestnuts
- 1/4 cup unsweetened soy, almond or cashew milk
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat butter or oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the carrot, celery and onion, reduce heat, and saute over medium-low heat until very soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the vegetable broth and stir. Add the parsley, ground clove, bay leaves and chestnuts. Stir, raise heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Remove and discard the bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Alternatively, transfer to an electric blender and puree – you may need to do this in batches. Return soup to the pot and add the soy milk. Stir well and warm over medium-low heat.
Taste, season and serve.
Adapted from Jolinda Hackett’s recipe at The Spruce Eats.
I forgot to cancel or skip Gobble after my first week trial, so I found myself getting the default meals for this week. Of course, I had to pay full price for them (minus the $15 credit I got because they had sent me the wrong meat last time). Given my previous experience with Gobble, I wasn’t altogether upset at my error and I was happy to get a kit that I assume is vegan.
Gobble distinguishes itself from other meal kit companies by delivering kits that can be prepared in 15 minutes (maybe 20 for those of us who are slow in the kitchen). They do this by pre-dicing and pre-cooking some ingredients and including prepared sauces/spice mixes (other meal kit companies do the latter). In this case, the rice came pre-cooked and just needed to be heated up in the microwave, and the tofu came pre-cubed. I still had to trim and cut the green beans, slice the garlic, remove the stems from the basil leaves and, had I used the chilies, I’d have had to slice them.
While I prepared the veggies, my teen daughter actually cooked the meal and she found it to be quite simple to put together. She doesn’t like peppers, so she didn’t use them in this dish. She was quite happy with the results, and particularly loved the rice. The tofu, alas, tasted like tofu, but she hasn’t encountered a recipe in which it tastes of anything else (e.g. where it actually absorbs the sauce).
The only concern we had about the meal is that it wasn’t a big enough portion for two people. She ate more than half for dinner (the photo shows the leftovers which she had for after-school snack the next day).
From my perspective, the main issue with this kit is that it’s really expensive for what you get and not distinctive enough. My daughter has been making herself stir fries with just as much ease for just a few dollars. Also, while this meal might have been vegan, Gobble doesn’t offer enough vegan/vegetarian meals for vegan/vegetarians to have choices every week.
Cooking for my vegan daughter is always a challenge, so I was happy to see that Sun Basket offered several vegan meal kits. Unfortunately, I have a picky vegan who doesn’t like felafel or chili – the two other vegan meals available this week. She thus was left with salt-and-pepper tofu stir-fry with glass noodles as her only choice. She makes a lot of stir fries for herself using tofu, so she wasn’t super excited about this recipe, but food is food and food that mommy makes is better than food that you have to make yourself.
All in all, she was “OK” with this meal kit. She liked the noodles and the stir fry sauce, though she wished there had been a greater variety of vegetables. To be fair, I omitted the red pepper that came with the kit because she doesn’t like red peppers. She wasn’t too happy with the tofu itself – mostly because she’s sick of eating tofu. Tofu, she says, always tastes like tofu, no matter what you do to it. She’d like it if some of these kits came with other fake meats.
All the ingredients for this kit arrived fresh and were still usable a couple of days later when I actually made the meal – but I don’t think they’d have lasted much longer.
They were good quality ingredients, and the meal was rightly portioned. She was full after eating half of the meal-for-two and is happy to have leftovers for today.
I paid a discounted price of $11 for this meal, and it might be worth that – but I don’t think it was worth the $24 regular price for the kit. Of course, time is money so your millage may vary.
Meal Kit Hacks: HelloFresh Sesame-Crusted Tofu with Spicy Peanut Butter Sauce & Garlic Bok Choy + PB Sauce RecipePosted: October 22, 2018 | Author: marga | Filed under: Meal Kits, Recipes | Tags: Hello Fresh, meal kit hacks, rice, sauces, tofu, vegan | Leave a comment »
HelloFresh does not have many vegan meals, so I was happy to find this recipe for Sesame-Crusted Tofu with Spicy Peanut Butter Sauce & Garlic Bok Choy that I could hack for my vegan daughter. While it wasn’t a complete dinner – we have yet to find a way to make tofu taste like anything but tofu, outside of deep frying it -, my daughter loved the peanut sauce and enjoyed the coconut rice, I’ll be making both of those again (see recipes below). She hadn’t had bok choy before, and she won’t again – she found this vegetable utterly tasteless, even with the peanut sauce. Fortunately, there was extra broccoli from our meal for her to eat. Most importantly, she totally appreciated that I made her food. Given that she’s the only vegan in the family, she often is on her own as far as cooking goes, so any time I cook for her it’s a treat.
Making this meal at home was rather cheap, as most of the ingredients are those you are likely to have in your pantry (peanut butter, rice, soy and hot sauce, sesame seeds), and those you don’t are cheap to buy. In all, I spent under $6.50 in this meal for two people. HelloFresh charges $20-$24 for the same food.
|HelloFresh Ingredients||My Ingredients||Cost|
|1 block tofu||1 lb tofu||$2|
|2 baby bok choy||2 baby bok choy||$2.60|
|1 Tbsp sesame seeds||1 Tbsp sesame seeds||pantry|
|2 Tbsp peanut butter||2 Tbsp peanut butter||pantry|
|1 can Lite Coconut Milk||1 can Lite Coconut Milk||$1.25|
|1 cup basmati rice||1 1/2 cups Jasmine rice||pantry|
|2 cloves garlic||2 cloves garlic||pantry|
|1 lime||1 lime||$0.50|
|1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs||1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs||$1 (for 8-cup ox)|
|1 tsp hot sauce||1 dash siracha||pantry|
|2 Tbsp soy sauce||2 Tbsp soy sauce||pantry|
If you’d like to subscribe to HelloFresh use this link to save $40 off your first box, and I’ll get a $30 credit – which I probably won’t use as I’ll be unsubscribing form HelloFresh shortly to try a different company.
Coconut Jasmine Rice
- 1 1/2 cups Jasmine rice
- 1 1/4 cup light coconut milk
- 1 1/4 cup water
- dash of salt
Rinse rice. Put coconut milk, water and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add rice, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.
Peanut Butter Sauce
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 2 Tbsp peanut butter
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp sugar
- squeeze of lime juice
- a dash of hot sauce
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.
My oldest daughter is a vegan and I always find it challenging to know what to cook for her – or even to want to cook for her at all (fortunately, she’s learned her way around a wok). So I was very curious to see how these meal kits would work for her. Alas, while HelloFresh – the meal kit subscription I’m currently trying – seems to offer three vegetarian meals a week, they don’t really do vegan food. No matter, some of the recipes can be easily made without the diary. This recipe for Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Crema and Cilantro, for example, only uses diary in the crema – a blend of avocado and sour cream with lime zest and juice -, and it was easily enough to just omit the sour cream altogether and turn the crema into a simple guacamole.
As this kit did not contain any meat, all the items came inside a paper bag. My first week with HelloFresh, I just put these paper bags in the fridge without bothering to open them. But after reading about wilted and missing items in HelloFresh kits, I decided to check whether all the items were there and in the right condition.
That was a good idea, as I found out that part of the cilantro was wilted and that the avocado wasn’t ripe. I was thus able to discard the spoiled cilantro, keeping the leaves that weren’t yet gone. It turned out that the only item in the kit that needed to be refrigerated was the small sachet of sour cream (which I wasn’t planning to use anyway), so I was able to just keep the kit inside its paper bag in the pantry, which allowed the avocado to ripen quicker than it would have otherwise.
All in all this kit was “OK,” but not one that I would buy again
The overall flavor of the food was underwhelming. My daughter liked it well enough, but wouldn’t be eager to have it again. Note that as a vegan, she is not particularly picky.
There was too little food. The kit has six tortilla, but enough filling for just 4 tacos – and this despite the fact that I used the whole box of black beans, and not just half as the instructions called for. Two vegetarian tacos (and these are a little larger than those at your average taqueria) are just not enough food for dinner, without rice or something else to accompany them. Fortunately, I had made the whole kit for my daughter thinking she’d have leftovers for the next day, so she was able to eat a third taco and not go hungry. But had she had to share this whole meal with someone else, she would have been.
The avocado wasn’t ripe when the kit arrived. Had I wanted to make this meal kit that day, I’d have had to go buy another avocado. Fortunately, by the time I decided to make it, two days later, it had ripened enough to use it.
The avocado was too small. Really, it reminded me of the tiny avocados you can get in the California cost for 5-for-$1. There just wasn’t enough to cover 4 tacos.
There wasn’t enough cilantro and part of it came wilted. I threw those parts away, but it left very little left. Fortunately, this was the only non-fresh item I’ve gotten from HelloFresh.
The meal is greatly overpriced, not just in comparison with what it would cost to make this meal at home, but in comparison to the cost of tacos at taquerias (not that sweet potato tacos are that common). And those generally come with free chips & salsa.
In all, because I bought this kit with a discount (and you can find an ever greater one by following my referral link) and only paid $7.50 for it, I wasn’t too disappointed. It was cheaper than what I’d spend at a taqueria. However, I’d be horrified if I’d bought it at the regular price ($22-24). For that amount of money, you can have something much better at a top gourmet Mexican restaurant.