I was approached via Chicago Bites to try out a new meat substitute product from a company called Gardein. I thought, “Sure, why not! I’ll give it a try.” I was sent some coupons and then the challenge was on to find a good variety of product at one of the stores near me.
Gardein meat protein replacements are made from soy protein and wheat gluten with a long list of “other stuff” depending on the flavor you purchase. If you want to only eat food you can pronounce, well, the list is all food I recognize – however I’m pretty sure there is quite a bit of science behind compiling it all together into something you’d want to eat. If you have food allergies, read over the ingredients carefully, it’s a pretty long list.
I picked one of each frozen package they had in the store (4 total) and brought them home. What I was most surprised to find is that there are no microwave directions. I was certain this would be a microwave product. One package has instructions for baking, and a couple of the others just require heating it up in a skillet. Since last week was a major heatpocalypse here in Chicago I started with the “Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n” that required only the skillet. I stirred it up in the pan and added a bit of left over rice. The bits of chicken were decidedly not crispy. The sauce was very tasty and helped to mask the rubbery texture of the “Chick’n”. It might have tasted better if it actually did get crispy. By far more of a texture issue than a flavor issue.
The other one I tried was the “Chick’n Scallopini” I served this up with some pasta that I threw together. There are four patties in a package. I cooked up two of them. Again, not at all the texture of meat. As for flavor…well, it tasted fine. But it’s that indescribable flavor that isn’t really chicken, but it’s not much of anything you’ve tasted before so you say it tastes like chicken cuz you just can’t place it. Yeah, that’s what this tastes like.
If you never ever want to eat meat, this would be fine. The Chick’n Scallopini is only 90 calories per serving. The Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n is 150 per serving (the package says there are 3 servings… I’m not buying it.) I have never tried Seitan so I can’t say how this compares. But compared to tofu, this is about the same in texture.
Overall, I’ve got some hesitations on eating something like this. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan focus on eating more vegetables and liking vegetables. Don’t go for the meat substitute because you miss eating meat. Embrace the vegetables, love the vegetables and stop reminding yourself about meat. You’ll just crave it more.