Product: Beyond Meat Southwest Style Chicken-Free Strips – $4.99+
Something happy happened to me the other day when I was in Whole Foods. Something that I had been hoping for for a very long time.
I discovered…gluten-free vegan “chicken.” Normally…any vegan/vegetarian protein has some sort of ingredient that contains gluten, normally used for texture purposes. Sure, it can be left out, however, that is what the leading brands will tell you…it is for texture. So, for these past two years, save for the Health Is Wealth Gluten-Free Vegan Not Chicken Nuggets, my not chicken food habits have been non-existent. And…to top it off, my grocery store no longer carries the Health Is Wealth Gluten-Free Vegan Not Chicken Nuggets because they were told they were discontinued. I think I cried…no…I did cry when I was told that.
But then Whole Foods saved the day.
The brand…Beyond Meat. Their objective is simple – to become the market leader in the development and introduction of new plant protein products, specifically focusing on perfectly replacing animal protein with plant protein. And to be able to pull this off cost effectively…not just for the company, but the consumer.
Beyond Meat was founded by Ethan Brown, who learned all about animal-based agriculture at his father’s dairy operation in Western Maryland. As he grew up, he developed a career in the clean energy sector and contemplated whether the world would continue to raise and eat animals in such staggering numbers if a plant-based replication of the meat existed. So, he began searching for a way to do just that. Along the way he met Fu-hung Hsieh and Harold Huff at the University of Missouri, and after several years of collaboration, Beyond Meat was born with the sole purpose of driving innovation and progress on meat-free plates around the world.
Enter my little happy dance of joy…because not only is Beyond Meat’s products vegan…but they are also gluten-free. And they come in three varieties: Lightly Seasoned, Grilled, and Southwest Style.
I grabbed the two kinds they had. And I already had a dish in mind. I was going to make my mom’s famous Mexican Chicken Casserole…but do it with the vegan chicken product and vegan cheese. These strips were actually perfect. And with the fact that it was a Mexican sort of dish, the Southwest Style Chicken-Free Strips would be ideal. The Grilled was the other version…and those got tucked into the freezer for the time being.
So…how does this stack up?
For a gluten-free and vegan meat alternative…this is actually quite palatable. The texture reminded me of the Quorn variety I ate before having to go gluten-free. And the flavor was just as good…maybe more on the Morningstar level for taste…but that’s not bad. In fact, I could actually, despite it being in a casserole, taste the not-chicken strips. And what I loved about the Southwest Style variety was that little kiss of lime flavor you got with each bite. It was a really nice surprise and a great addition of flavor to the entire dish. These chicken strips didn’t turn to mush when they were cooked in the casserole. In fact, they remained in full strips as real chicken would. I was very impressed. Both with the taste and the texture. This is definitely a substitute I would do again.
Nutritionally speaking, the Beyond Meat Southwest Style Chicken-Free Strips have 4 servings per container. Each serving dishes up only 130 calories and 3.5 grams of fat. That is awesome!! A serving also contains only 370 mg of sodium and no sugar. That’s always nice to see. And, you will also receive 2 grams of fiber and a whopping 20 grams of protein. Yes…20 grams of protein in each serving. How amazing is that?!
So…what are these not-chicken strips made out of? Well…the basics are water, soy protein isolate, pea protein isolate, amaranth, vegan chicken flavor, expeller-pressed canola oil, soy fiber, carrot fiber, and they contain 0.5% or less of: white vinegar, salt, lime juice concentrate, garlic, black pepper, chili powder, onion, sugar, cumin, coriander seed, sodium alginate, dipotassium phosphate, titanium dioxide (color), calcium sulfate, oregano, paprika, red and green pepper powder, cayenne pepper. If anything looks confusing to you, the website for Beyond Meat lays out what each unfamiliar ingredient may be. It takes any guess work out of it. And you’ll be happy to know…those couple of chemical sounding ingredients aren’t chemicals but things that appear naturally in nature. Yep. I learned something too.
If you are looking to cut back on meat, or perhaps are vegetarian or vegan, Beyond Meat is a fantastic choice. While there is a literal sea of vegan/vegetarian meat alternatives out there, very few of them on the market are gluten-free. Beyond Meat finally brings the protein back to the gluten-free vegan/vegetarian plate. And for that, I am forever grateful.
With how much I enjoyed the Southwest Style Chicken-Free Strips, I am totally anticipating giving the Grilled ones a try too. These were just what I needed!