I reached out to the fine folks at The Vegan Garden to see what it was all about. After telling them I write a plant-based food blog, they agreed to send a box of food. Some of the food items were my choices, and others I left up to them.
The food came frozen in a Styrofoam container with some dry ice. The smoothies come in a drinkable pouch, and the size is enormous.
The timing for receiving this generous food package was good because the Edible Musings kitchen was undergoing renovation. We had a working microwave and oven and, of course, my electric appliances like the Insta-pot and crockpot. But, we didn’t have an actual cooktop. After 5 weeks without it and having to work on particle board countertops, this was getting old. Update: kitchen is finished as of this posting and I’m doing a little happy dance.
Back to the food, and my review of each product.
Cocoa Power Smoothie. About the size of these smoothies….12 oz. is double the size of a smoothie that I would normally make for myself. The pouch is a cool design, and comes ready to enjoy with a screw top, after thawing the smoothie a bit. This one, Cocoa Power is a whopping 239 calories, and contains 35 grams of sugar, which is 10% of the entire package. Smoothies are never a meal replacement for me; only a treat once in awhile. The good news is that each of these 12 oz. smoothie packs will translate into at least 3 treats for me, as I mix in additional spinach or other greens and cut the sugar with water and/or ice cubes.
Blueberry Beat Smoothie. Clever name, and the color is gorgeous and rich, but my comments about this one and the Pina Colada smoothie remain the same as the Cocoa Power.
Coco Mess Cookie had to thaw. First bite imparted an oily, coconut taste in my mouth, and I thought for sure it had to contain coconut oil. Coconut was listed on the ingredient label, as well as vegan butter, along with peanut butter. I thought the vegan butter in this delicious cocoa rich cookie was unnecessary, but the flavor was good.
Potato O’Brien. Made this as a mid-morning breakfast. Package says the plastic is microwaveable, but I’m not a fan of that, so I defrosted it a bit first, then opened the package to put the contents in a bowl. In doing so, I see a lot of oil in the food, and lining the plastic packaging. But, the label doesn’t indicate any oil in its’ ingredient list. However, the nutrition part of the label reads the total fat is 15% (10 grams) of the entire contents which adds up to almost 60 calories of this single serving is made up of fat. I know for a fact, 60 calories of fat is NOT coming from potatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers or onions. While the flavors are good in this simple dish, the fat and sodium content is too high, and thus, disappointing.
‘Beef’ and Broccoli. First ingredient is just listed as “beef”, without information about it being soy or wheat gluten based….odd, to say the least. Good size portion, and the flavoring was decent and ‘true’, but again, sodium content way too high. Also, 16 g of sugar is really questionable as a necessary ingredient.
Lemon poppyseed scone. After an attempt to slightly defrost it in the microwave, the poor little scone just fell apart and crumbled upon opening the package. This made me sad, because the few little bites we had were crazy delicious.
Lasagna Napoletana. Great Italian flavor and ample portion size, but didn’t resemble the photo on their site.
Enchiladas de Colorado. The color was bland, and visually unattractive. Thankfully, the flavor made up for it. We really enjoyed this dish, even though we don’t typically eat processed vegan cheese (maybe that’s why we enjoyed it)!
Summary: I appreciate the good people at the Vegan Garden for sending me this boxful of food to try. I know they are all hard-working folks and I respect that. The vegan and other food and meal delivery business has become very competitive over the past 5 years, so each of these companies must be on top of their game, from every standpoint. The packaging wasn’t great, and I still question the validity of their listed ingredients.
The Vegan Garden website is lovely and appealing. They offer many food options as well as delivery packages, meal plans and specials.
If you need or want meals delivered for a short period of time, or even on an intermittent basis, my recommendation is to do your due diligence and research each service out there. Write or call them with your questions about the food, portion sizes, nutrient content, additives, and anything else that may be important to you.
I get my nourishment and nutrition from mostly whole, plant-based food, non-processed, and with limited oil, salt and sugar. That’s why I’ll stick to buying and cooking my own meals!