Wow, you guys! I can't believe I've been writing this thing for three years as of today! One hundred and thirty reviews. That's a lot of fake meat consumed.
I spent some time trying to think of something that would be worthy of a third-anniversary post, and I'm going to take the suggestion of my lovely wife - she thought it would be good to give you all a list of the fake meats that I (still a staunch omnivore) have eaten, even after writing the review. I decided, after thinking about it, to break it down into a few categories.
First category: foods that I buy and eat regularly (usually when they're on sale). These are two items that are actually in our freezer at the moment, and one that would be, if my local store didn't stop carrying them. But when they were available, I ate a bunch of them.
The first item is something that I have had for breakfast multiple times this past week: Morningstar Veggie Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Biscuits. Man, these are still so good. I've got the cooking of these down to less than 4 minutes, but with oven-quality results. How, you ask? Well, 30 seconds in the microwave, and then 3 minutes in my toaster oven. Piping hot with a nice crunchy biscuit. Hard to go wrong with this breakfast.
The other one currently in my freezer is Morningstar Italian Herb Chik Patties. Once again, rather than sacrifice quality by cooking it in the microwave, or take lots of extra time by baking in the oven, I do a combination - about 30 seconds in the microwave, just to get it started, and then about 3 minutes in the toaster oven to crisp it up. I do usually just eat this on a plate with a fork, but the last time I ate it (last week) I melted some mozzarella on it and ate it with some leftover linguine and tomato sauce. Yum!
My other would-be regular, if my local Target still carried it, is Yves Veggie Corn Dogs. I ate a lot of these back when I could get them, and I still pine for them. I saw them during our last fake meat stock-up trip, but we were already getting more than a dozen fake meat items, so my wife said we shouldn't get them. But at least if a major corn dog craving hits, I know where to find these.
The second category would be foods that we have eaten again, but that we don't pick up very often.
The first thing in this category would be Lightlife Smart Deli Pepperoni. We make a lot of pizza at our house - usually about once a week. On the rare occasion I get a hankering for pepperoni, this is what I generally use. Now, just to clarify - my own personal preference is for real-meat pepperoni. There's something about how the pepperoni curls up, with crisp edges, and that little puddle of grease in the center of it that appeals to me on a very weird level, as long as I don't think too much about it. My wife, however, does not have that weird grease-appreciation level, so we don't get to eat a lot of pepperoni. But with this fake pepperoni, we get to enjoy the pepperoni flavor but without the grease puddles that if I'm honest with myself, I shouldn't be eating anyway.
Next up in this category would be Morningstar Hickory BBQ Riblets. This could have potentially fit into the first category, as we do have a box of these in our freezer, but they've been there a very long time, so I decided to put them here instead. I'm not the biggest fan of the whole barbecue experience, so we mostly have these for my wife. She LOVES them, when she actually remembers to eat them.
The other two things I'd put in this category sort of go together, as far as explaining why they're here. These are sort of the best-in-show items for their respective categories, at least so far. When I want a hamburger-like veggie burger, I go to Boca All-American Flame Grilled Burger and when I'm looking for a fake meat crumble, I pick up Morningstar Crumbles. It's not terribly often that I choose a veggie burger for myself over a real-meat burger, or fake ground beef over real ground beef, unless I'm testing a product for review purposes, but when I'm feeding vegetarians, these are what I go for.
The final category I decided on is items that I would (or should) eat again.
First up would be a couple items by the same brand: Vegetarian Plus Vegan Black Pepper Steaks and Vegetarian Plus Vegetarian Chicken Drumsticks.
Let's cover the steaks first. I genuinely enjoyed eating these - I didn't eat them all in one sitting, so for a few days they sat in the fridge with the mashed potatoes. Once I finally got back to them, I didn't have terribly high hopes for them. However, they were still quite tasty, and I think I enjoyed them even more the second time. And when I think back on it, I kind of wish I had more. If I could remember where I saw these, I'd definitely go buy more and eat them.
For the drumsticks, I gave them a crappy score. I was informed in the comments (and I honestly don't know why this didn't seem hugely obvious to me at the time) that the microwave is the worst way to eat these. I did say in my review that once the rubbery texture faded from my memory (which it has) I'd be willing to try them again, but with another cooking method. So once I find the black pepper steaks, these will probably be nearby, and I'll pick up another box.
The next product that I'd definitely eat again, if I made it to a Trader Joe's more often, would be Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala Burger. I savored the heck out of each one of the patties from the original box, and whenever I think about them, my mouth waters. I really want more of these. It's just a special trip to TJ's away…
And finally, I wanted to specifically mention this homemade seitan pepperoni. This was not only a tasty recipe, but it helped clarify the entire purpose of fake meat for me, so it has a special place in my memory. I'd definitely make this again, but probably only if I couldn't find the Lightlife Pepperoni, or if I were really trying to impress someone. I mean… making your own pepperoni is really something special.
So those are my favorite products I've encountered over the past three years of writing this blog. It's been a long and crazy ride, with lots of disasters along the way, but some delicious highlights as well. I can't promise I'll be able to keep doing weekly reviews, what with this baby on the way (due in October!), but I'll do my best for you all, and keep putting my taste buds on the line for science!
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