REVIEW: Purple Carrot Vegan Meal Kits

Deborah and I (but mostly Deborah) signed us up to receive these mail order vegan meal kits from Purple Carrot. It was a bit of a pain in the arse at first, because once you sign up, they'll keep automatically sending you boxes of food kits unless you tell them to stop. It's pretty easy to tell them to stop (or reduce) the mailings online, but you have to remember to go do it. And if you only want to reduce, you have to select what recipes you want.

So those are the down sides. The product itself is actually pretty cool. They send you the recipes along with all the necessary ingredients to make the recipes (except salt, pepper, garlic powder, olive oil, and nutmilk, which are considered kitchen staples everyone should have, according to the PC developers). The ingredients have been consistently very fresh and the recipes are not ridiculously difficult for amateur cooks.

We had to reduce the frequency of shipments and the number of meals per shipment (the minimum is three), because 1. we are often too busy or too tired to go through the effort of making the meals (30-60 minutes required to make AND eat them) and 2. we (but mostly I) sometimes like to cook my own meals with my own store-bought groceries. That being said, we are going to take some of the meal kits up to the cottage with us sometimes, so we can make and eat them there and share with family.

4/5 stars.


A Recipe: WFPBNO Thai Coconut Pineapple Peanut Butter Curry

I have made this Thai coconut peanut butter curry recipe a few times. It's addictive. But it's also easy to make and very healthy from a WFPBNO perspective. It is a staple in our home. Delicious!

1. Make the coconut peanut butter curry sauce first. In a large bowl, combine the following ingredients:

-One can of full fat or light (if you're dieting) coconut milk
-1/4 cup of all natural peanut butter (smooth or crunchy, it makes no difference)
-2 TBSP of soy or tamari sauce
-2 or 3 TBSP of red curry paste (depending on how spicy you like it)
-1 tsp of curry powder (optional for even more warmth)
-1 TBSP of minced ginger root
-1 tsp of powdered ginger (use 1 TBSP of powdered ginger if you don't have minced)
-1 tsp of dried basil (Thai basil is optimal, but regular will work just fine)
-2 TBSP of coconut palm sugar (optional for sweetness...but this will make it non-WFPBNO compliant)

2. To a wok on high heat, add a half cup of vegetable broth and an assortment of the type of vegetables* you like in Thai curry, chopped up. Stir the veggies around in the simmering broth for about 3 to 5 minutes, adding more broth if needed to prevent scorching, until the vegetables begin to soften a little.

3. Pour in the coconut peanut butter curry sauce from Step 1. Reduce heat the medium when it starts to simmer. Stir frequently for another 3-5 minutes until the vegetables are cooked to your liking.

4. Near the end of cooking, add a cup of chopped up pineapple chunks to the curry and mix it in to blend the flavors. It doesn't need to be cooked.

5. Eat over rice, noodles, or as a standalone dish.

*Note: Some good options are onion, peppers, broccoli, snow peas, mushrooms, potato, sweet potato, butternut squash, eggplant, zucchini, etc. I have also added frozen peas at the end, giving them just enough cooking time to thaw.

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A Recipe: Tofu Cacciatore with Mushrooms - Vegan Whole Food Plant Based with No Oil and No Salt

This is a whole food, plant based, no oil/salt version of one of my favorite Italian meal recipes. It's conventionally made with chicken but super firm tofu works just fine because the flavor actually comes from the thyme and mushroom wine sauce. The end result is delicious.

1. In a large bowl, combine a half cup of whole wheat flour and a half teaspoon (tsp) each of the following dried herbs: leaf or ground thyme, leaf rosemary, and garlic powder.

2. Rinse (but don't dry) one block (~15 ounces) of super firm,* high protein tofu and chop it up into one inch cubes.

3. Add tofu to the large bowl containing the flour and herbs mixture and toss until tofu is lightly coated. Then remove the coated tofu chunks to another container and discard any residual flour mixture.**

4. In a large skillet, add one cup of veggie broth and one cup of red or white cooking wine, along with the same quantities of the herbs used in step #1. Bring this to a simmer on medium heat.

5. Add the lightly breaded tofu to the simmering broth and turn the heat to medium low. Note that the breading on the tofu will begin to thicken the broth. If it gets too thick and starts to scorch or stick, add more veggie broth to dilute as needed. Stir occasionally. Meanwhile...

6. In a separate frying pan, add a half cup of veggie broth and a half cup of red/white cooking wine, along with a half tsp of leaf thyme only. Bring this to a simmer.

7. While the broth in step #6 is heating up, chop up half an onion and about 8 ounces of mushrooms (white or baby bella work well). Add these to the simmering broth in step #6 and cook until onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes.***

8. Pour the mushroom sauce generated in step #7 over the tofu in the large saucepan and turn off the heat to the saucepan. Mix everything up a bit and let it sit about 5 minutes to blend the flavors.

9. Enjoy this as a standalone dish or serve over rice.

*Note: Super firm tofu is the dense, high protein kind that is firmer than extra firm and doesn't crumble. Extra firm tofu will probably disintegrate in this recipe. Seitan (wheat gluten) or textured vegetable protein (soy protein) would also work in place of tofu in this recipe.

**Note: The tofu can be cooked in the wine broth without breading it. However, this will result in a thinner, more runny broth. Some cornstarch can be added to the mushroom sauce near the end of cooking to thicken it up before adding it to the tofu in the saucepan. Experiment!

***Note: You can also use a mixture of diced zucchini and mushrooms to add more whole food vegetable content to this dish. Simply reduce the amount of mushrooms used relative to the amount of zucchini. Another variant is to add a diced roma tomato to the mushroom sauce, if you want to add more of a classic Italian tomato  sauce flavor to this dish.