Green Chef Gets the Green Light

There is truly nothing more satisfying than a home-cooked meal but sometimes we fall into a rut, making the same easy, go-to meals for lack of time or energy. There’s always trusty takeout and the thrill of trying new eateries but having local restaurants cater for dinner every day isn’t exactly feasible. There’s a ton of hype now about meal kits, but still few promising options for those with alternative diets, and vegans especially. Green Chef’s plant-powered meal plan strives to switch that script. I recently tried a week of this approach to home cooking, and I’m glad I did.

Green Chef is a meal kit delivery service that caters to specialty diets, including vegan and vegetarian. They send organic, pre-portioned ingredients and easy to follow recipe cards that take the stress out of the typical dinner rush. Every week, they have a number of different recipes to choose from, so you can cherry pick exactly the flavors you’re craving. All the ingredients are pre-measured, so there’s less food waste. No more forgotten heads of kale left to rot in the vegetable crisper, or full bottles of obscure spices you’ll only want to use once.

My first experience using Green Chef was actually with a friend of mine who, shall we say, isn’t exactly a skilled chef! She was able to follow the recipe and make the meals without too much trouble, and more importantly, was excited to take away some fundamental skills she had never previously attempted. Simple things like how to roast vegetables or cook quinoa; I take these things for granted, but if you have less experience in the kitchen, this is the next best thing to a personal cooking lesson from a chef.

The first meal from my box was an Israeli Salad. This was a favorite of mine- All of the herbs and spices included were so fresh, so bold, so vibrant! It had a crisp tomato and cucumber salad, creamy tahini sauce, and aromatically spiced chickpeas. The dish was filling without being too much, and all of the flavors and textures complimented each other perfectly. Green Chef is a USDA certified organic company, and sends produce sourced from local farms. A big plus for me was that each recipe was enough for 2 meals. My life can be a little hectic, so knowing I have some tasty leftovers in the fridge for lunch really makes my day a lot easier.

Next up were the Jackfruit Sloppy Joes and Carrot Fries. This was not something I would ever order off a menu or attempt to make from scratch, but I was very happily surprised by the results. The plant-based take on the classic sloppy joe was delicious, and I put my own spin on the carrot fries by cooking them in my air fryer to prevent heating up the oven to roast them as originally instructed. This made them extra crunchy on the outside and even sped up the cooking time.

I love middle eastern-flavors, so I also enjoyed the Green Pea Falafel. It was paired with roasted red pepper couscous and kale cucumber salad, all drizzled in a spiced tahini sauce. Like most of the recipes, there were quite a few components to cook, but worth the extra effort for the ultimate flavor payoff.

I made the same tweak for the Grilled Zucchini and Orzo salad. The zucchini went into the air-fryer for an effortless touch of char-grilled goodness, but I still wasn’t overly impressed with this recipe. The only suggestion for the side of chard was to toss with salt and olive oil (not included), so I had to add a lot of my own seasoning. Definitely not my favorite, this meal felt a bit haphazard and really didn’t come together in a compelling way.

My biggest complaint with Green Chef is that the recipes are a little lengthy. They all took around 40 minutes to make, which is a considerable chunk of time for someone accustomed to whipping up 10 minute meals. The other major drawback was that each preparation called for a lot of pots and pans to cook all of the components, which meant a lot of washing up afterwards.

Green Chef is a particularly promising option if you’re new to veganism or new to cooking in general. It takes the fear and frustration out of meal planning, if you’re trying to eat healthier but struggle to set yourself up for success. I especially love that most of the packaging is recyclable or reusable. On top of that, all the produce was very high quality, and I love having the recipe cards, so I can recreate the recipes at a later date. Green Chef got me out of my dinner rut, all while stoking the flames of inspiration for new dishes to come!

If you’d like to give Green Chef a try for yourself, you can follow this link to get $75 off for a limited time.
Advertisements

Plant-Based Meals that Deliver

Meal delivery services have proliferated faster than amorous rabbits in recent years, expanding from an obscure, niche business model to one as common as the standard grocery store. There’s something for everyone, they promise with bright, inviting graphics, splashed across the screen with tempting photos of various dishes. If you like to cook, you can get bundles of ingredients with recipes. If your expertise in the kitchen ends at the microwave, you can have finished dishes ready to heat and eat land on your doorstep with just the click of a button. For those feeding a family, still more options abound for bulk meal prep. Don’t even get me started on all the specialized diets, from paleo to gluten-free, sometimes available all on the same platform. How does one begin to pick apart the best choices, given such a superabundance of promising meals- And seemingly endless deals?

While most enterprises now offer at least a handful of plant-based entrees, as is the trend, only a select few boast a fully vegan menu across the board. Veestro is one that can claim that distinction, inspired by the need for organic, healthy, and above all else, tasty food that fits into a fast-paced lifestyle. For their part, the stated goal is provide more plants for anyone hungry for a healthier alternative to takeout, appealing to the omnivores among us as well.

Sign up for a meal plan to save on the bundle or cherry-pick just a few dishes a la carte to supplement your standard rotation. Deliveries arrive frozen, conveniently packaged for further storage in your freezer or immediate thawing and consuming.

Here’s where I must sheepishly admit that I first tried Veestro many months ago, but as a testament to fervent following, these proven crowd-pleases are still delighting eaters all the same today. Such is the case for this Three Layer Scramble, which stacks up with a base of quinoa, smothered by a soft tofu scramble with black beans and topped by shredded dairy-free cheese. Reminiscent of enchilada filling without the heat of chilies, the ranchero-style sauce definitely erred more on the mild side, but that’s nothing a dash of sriracha can’t fix. Emphasizing the whole grains with a generous portion, it’s a very filling morning meal that would be just as enjoyable at lunch or dinnertime, too.

Perhaps the Breakfast Burrito was designed to be a more handheld, grab-and-go option, but the piquant sauce on the side is what truly makes this dish. Pour it on with abandon to make it a “wet” burrito, with a fork, knife, and plate required. Light and bright, it revives the slightly parched interior and adds volumes of flavor. Though labeled as hot sauce, it’s really more like a smooth, blended salsa. Wrapped up in the grilled tortilla, you’ll be pleased to find tender, toothsome, black beans, tofu, and potatoes. Served separately, lightly seasoned hash browns seem a bit redundant given this combination, but certainly aren’t unwelcome here. Who could say no to a supple, buttery potato, though?

If an urgent call should go out for some homey, uncomplicated comfort food, the Shepherdless Pie has got your number. Creamy potatoes with quinoa make up the bulk of this dish, slathered with a savory mushroom gravy that leads with the distinctive cheesy taste of nutritional yeast. Though slightly grainy after a harsh freeze and thaw, that textural shortcoming is easily forgiven when mixed into the main meal. Very much reminiscent of a pot pie without pastry, this easy entree presents familiar and uncomplicated flavors for widespread appeal.

There are no downright failures on this menu, but admittedly, some small disappointments. Thai Chicken Stew combines a thick, rich tomato base with incredibly meaty chicken strips, complete with a boldly charred, grilled essence, but I struggled to find any sort of Asian influence. Not a hint of curry, lemongrass, or coconut could be found. Although it looks like fried rice on the side, don’t be fooled; it’s just plain brown rice with peas and carrots. If simply re-titled without a reference to more exotic cuisine, it would be worthy of a reorder, but promises more on paper than it delivers in person.

Also available as a full “detox” plan, juices can be added a la cart, with a classic green juice predictably leading the pack as a top seller. Apple juice as a stand-alone beverage lost its appeal around kindergarten, so admittedly, I was not particularly enthusiastic to find the diminutive plastic bottle of Johnny Appleseed Juice in my sampler box. Clearly not just plain apple, as the dark green hue would make obvious at a glance, the initial smell is of grassy celery. Thankfully, it plays more of a supporting role in the overall flavor, which was definitely vegetal, but mellow and mostly sweet. More than mere veggies, this blend boasts a decent amount of protein thanks to the addition of sacha inchi, giving it much more more than just straight sugar for a quick energy boost.

As much as I love cooking, one of the greatest luxuries in life is allowing others to take the reins, and simply be fed. Knowing that those meals are of reliably high quality, healthy, and ready when you need them makes Veestro a strong contender for anyone who wants a night off from kitchen duty. Best of all, since they ship frozen, you can stock up and save them for times of need.

Have you tried any other prepared meal services? There are new plant-based providers sprouting out everyday, or so it seems, and I’m curious to try them all!