In one word: Meh.
Once upon a time, before Charlotte had its first Earth Fare (and waaay before Whole Foods), Trader Joe’s was a cause for much vegan and vegetarian excitement. Lots of veg products! Inexpensive veg products! Tasty veg products!
At least we thought they were tasty – maybe we just didn’t know any better.
Or maybe anything tastes good if you’ve had enough two-buck Chuck.
So, even though I am a Gardein girl, I was intrigued by the Chicken-Less strips.
My plan was simple – a basic stir-fry. First, I browned the “chicken” in a little oil, then removed from heat.
Appearance: Definitely looks like chicken!
I nibbled a piece, and was surprised how bland it was. It didn’t taste like chicken. It didn’t taste like anything at all! Surprising, since the ingredients included “…spices, sea salt, garlic powder, onion powder, red bell pepper flakes, parsley flakes …”
Not a big deal, though, since I was going to be adding my own spices – including garlic and ginger pastes, and fresh onion.
I stir-fried the veggies and spices, then added the “chicken” back into the mix for a few minutes at the end of cooking. It certainly looked pretty!
Unfortunately, while the veggies were flavorful, the “chicken” STILL had no taste!
Taste: Bland, very bland. The strips absorbed very little flavor from the spices and, in fact, almost seemed to be repelling flavors!
Worse than that was the texture – tough, rubbery. The smaller pieces even got hard! It reminded me of trying to stir-fry with Beyond Meat Chicken Strips (which also get, erm, “extra chewy” very, very quickly). The two products share some common ingredients – pea protein, carrot fiber – which makes me wonder if there’s a connection to all this rubberiness.
Texture: Don’t serve it to Great Grandma and Grandad unless you have lots of Poligrip handy!
Pass on this one. There’s better options – such as Gardein. Yes, the Trader Joe’s brand is cheap, but so is extra-firm tofu – and the tofu will do a beautiful job of absorbing the flavors and spices.
Nutritional Information: 110 Calories per serving, 1.5g Fat, 330mg Sodium, 20g Protein, 35% RDA Iron. Contains soy and wheat gluten.