I don’t buy a lot of frozen meals, but I like to have one or two handy in the event that work gets a little crazy. And I am always looking for new options. While placing my latest Target curbside pickup order, I came across the Tattooed Chef brand of frozen meals.
I must admit – right away I loved their packaging. The design of the box that appeared in my Target app looked cool, hip and everything that you would expect from a brand called Tattooed Chef. Next, I was intrigued by their unique and tasty looking frozen bowl options like the Plant Based Burrito Bowl, Gluten Free Frozen Enchilada Bowl, Buddha Bowl, Pesto Harvest Bowl, Veggie Hemp Bowl and the Plant Based Frozen Egg Roll Bowl. Decisions, decisions.
Unfortunately, all of my top choices were sold out at my Target – which probably should have been a sign of things to come. The only Tattooed Chef bowl option that was available at the time of my checkout was the Plant Based Frozen Egg Roll Bowl. And my Target had a lot in stock too. (Again, that should have been a sign.) So, I added one to my cart and picked it up along with the rest of my groceries last Saturday morning.
Fast forward a few nights later to Wednesday … After a busy day with endless meetings, I came to the conclusion that Wednesday night would be the perfect night to sample the Plant Based Egg Roll Bowl. And that’s what I did.
What’s the Scoop on the Plant Based Egg Roll Bowl?
The Vegan/Gluten free bowl package features a picture of a yummy looking bowl with hefty serving of colorful veggies, plant based crumbles and what looks like a sauce. In the picture, the ingredients are practically overflowing the bowl. More specifically the front of the package includes the following ingredients: plant based beef crumbles mixed with Jasmine rice, riced cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, ginger, cilantro and green onion in a sweet tamari chili sauce. Overall, sounds delicious – right? (Stay tuned for the answer to that.)
I was super excited to dig in to the deliciousness that was pictured on the box. However, when I removed the bowl from the package, I was instantly disappointed. The frozen entree looked nothing like the picture on the front of the package. (My disappointment was almost the same level as when you meet an online date from an app who looks nothing like his picture!). Disappointment aside, I placed the bowl in the microwave oven with a 1″ inch slit for the initial three minutes of cooking time.
While the dish was cooking, I decided to do a deep dive on the nutrients and ingredients. There were a few red flags right away. The first was that the plant based-crumbles featured in this dish are made from soy. I try to keep my ingestion of soy to a minimum; since most soy is GMO and I can only seem to tolerate it in small amounts. The other thing that took me a bit by surprise was the amount of added sugar; the Plant Based Egg Roll Bowl incudes 6 grams of added sugar. And the sources are cane sugar & molasses. These days that amount of sugar is not necessary. Plus, there are so many other healthier sweeteners out there today: coconut sugar, stevia, monkfruit, honey, maple syrup, etc. The last thing that bothered me (only from a grammar perspective) is that plant-based on their packaging really should be hyphenated. (The little things that bother us sometimes!)
What is that Smell?
Well, this bowl does not smell very appetizing. A strange, pungent smell began emanating from the microwave after the bowl was heating for about a minute and a half. After the full three minutes and before I heated the dish for another 1.5 minutes, that terrible smell had taken over my entire small apartment. I was beginning to lose my appetite. However, I was committed to trying this bowl. And quite frankly, I didn’t have the energy to make anything else at that point. So, reluctantly, I pushed forward and continued heating the bowl.
I am happy to report that the bowl tasted much better than it smelled. However, I wasn’t blown away by the flavors. After heating the bowl as instructed, the ingredients cooked down considerably. So, the bowl was not nearly as hearty as the bowl pictured on the package. I also found myself still hungry after I finished the bowl – which is unusual for me after I have eaten a meal. But, on a positive note, I was expecting the dish to be inedible based on the smell alone – so I was surprised that I actually finished the whole bowl. Speaking of the smell, I was literally smelling that horrible bowl smell for a few hours after I finished eating the dish but it eventually dissipated. Based on the smell alone and the red flag ingredients, I will not purchase this again. However, I’m not giving up on this brand yet. In fact, I have a bag of Tattooed Chef Organic Greens (frozen) that are expected to arrive in my Whole Foods delivery order today. If you are looking for an alternative frozen meal option, with best-in-class ingredients, I highly recommend the Primal Kitchen brand (available in Target and Whole Foods). Overall, I would give this bowl 1.5 out of 5 stars.