You can call me Edith (weizenwind) wrote in vegancooking,
You can call me Edith

Review of VegeUSA products

VegeUSA has recently started selling frozen "entrees" in the Seattle area. A few are vegan (the website makes it impossible to tell which ones, but the boxes are very clearly labeled), and I've tried the black pepper steak and the citrus spareribs.

Calling these things entrees is really a stretch. In the box you get about a dozen roughly McNugget-sized chunks of fake meat in a generous amount of sauce. The box claims that that represents four servings, which is just ridiculous. When I added vegetables at least equal to the contents of the box and served all of that over a starch, I got two good-sized adult meals out of it. There is plenty of sauce to complement the vegetables as well, though this is of course where most of the hefty amount of sodium is, also. If you want to cut back on the sodium you could hold back some of the sauce without seeming too skimpy. Packaging is just about as minimal as it could be (a single, easy-to-open plastic bag inside a cardboard box), and the dishes don't take long to cook in the microwave or on the stove. I got them on sale at the co-op for $3.89 each, but typically I think they're around $4.50.

As far as taste goes, I'd give a big thumbs-up on the citrus spareribs. Nice, bright flavor in both the chunks and the sauce, which manages to avoid being cloying in the way that such sauces often are. I also like the chewy texture of the "pork," but it's realistic enough that those who don't like realistic fake meats might be turned off. I made these with green beans and served them over rice vermicelli with cashews. Eating half the package of this will give you 1060mg (!) of sodium and 16 grams of fat. It would also provide 24g of protein and 420 calories.

I'm less excited about the pepper steak. I added sauteed eggplant and portabello mushrooms, and served all of it over brown rice. The pepper makes it slightly spicy, but I wouldn't even give it one star at a restaurant. I find the sauce and the "steak" to have a kind of odd chemical taste. It's probably the pepper and/or a mushroom essence they use, but it's not really the elements flavor I'd want to highlight in a pepper dish. I guess there are limits to frozen cuisine. Eating half the package will give you 800mg of sodium and 16 grams of fat, aside from whatever else you add. It would also provide 26g of protein and 340 calories.

Nutritional disaster aside (though I expect these are typical of the sodium levels you'd get at nearly any Asian restaurant), I like how these offer pre-seasoned protein elements that are easy to build around. Rather than starting with tofu and taking time to marinate or bake flavor into it, you just need to warm this stuff up and add the veggies that you probably don't want to be in the box anyway. Living by myself, I can make it for dinner and have a good lunch leftover for the next day.
Tags: -product reviews-meat analogues
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