All of These Nuggets Are Not Like The Others

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Quorn Chick-n Nuggets

Which came first? The chicken or the mycoprotein?

Many, many (and I mean many) years ago, Mike and I went to Panama City Beach for spring break.  Being the cheap responsible young adults that we were, we opted to stay with my cousin instead of along the infamous strip.  My cousin was a health food nut way before her time.  Mike, as you can imagine, was the extreme opposite.  If I complain about his diet now, it was atrocious back then.  I’m pretty sure he thought the ketchup on his Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese counted as his daily allotment of vegetables.

One night Connie was kind enough to make us a home-cooked meal: lasagna.  Mike had seen her pantry, and had good reason to be concerned, but upon deep inspection of the lasagna he found it to be acceptable.  No mushrooms or big chunks of tomatoes.  No sneaky vegetables.  He ate it and went back for seconds.

Poor unsuspecting Mike never thought to question whether the meat was actually meat.  And in true Connie fashion, it was decidedly not meat.  It was TVP (textured vegetable protein, or soy meat).  As soon as he found out he couldn’t eat another bite, and it may have scarred him for life.  He’s learned now to not only ask what’s in a dish, but to ask if the meat is really meat.  Don’t you just want to have us all over for dinner?  (Side note: our dear friends the Martins can answer that for you.  Just ask them about the Great Bison Debacle of 2010 sometime.)

I knew it would mess with Mike, but at the same time I couldn’t believe that he couldn’t tell it wasn’t really meat.  I guess all those years of eating McDonald’s “beef” had ruined him.  Sure, I could stomach some TVP now and then, but to have it pass for meat, both in taste and texture?  Yeah, I don’t think so.

Fast forward 16 years and I get a request from the nice people at Quorn.  Would I be interested in trying some of their new meat-alternative products?  Shortly after, a giant box of frozen food appeared on my doorstep. I didn’t have high hopes, but I’ll eat anything once.  Running late for work one day, I threw the Kung Pao Chick’n in my bag and hoped for the best.

It was better than just good.  It was really, really good.  My co-workers eating Taco Bell looked longingly at my lunch. I moved on to the others over the next few weeks – Chick’n burritos and Chili – and was equally pleased.  I don’t typically buy a lot of frozen foods, but it was nice to have the option.  And then to have them taste good and not be loaded with crap?  I could be swayed.  Soon there was just one remaining: Spaghetti and Meatless Balls.  Go ahead, just appreciate that name for an entree for a minute.  And then be prepared to actually enjoy it.  The people at Quorn have found a way to replicate the taste and texture of meat.

How do they do it?  Quorn products are made using Mycoprotein, a naturally-occurring, high-quality, healthy form of protein.  You might hear “myco-” and think it means mushrooms, but Quorn doesn’t contain actual mushrooms.  It is, however, derived from fungi.  If that makes you squeamish, you’ve been warned.  If it doesn’t bother you, the upside is that unlike soy, these meat alternatives actually taste and chew like meat.

It wasn’t enough to convince Mike.  I love him too much to experiment on him, even though I’m positive he couldn’t tell that the Grounds weren’t really ground beef in something like a spaghetti sauce.  I have no qualms about testing stuff out on the kids, though, and I’m happy to report that they both ate the Chick’n Nuggets and never even said, “Are these different?”

Would I switch to mainly buying these meat-alternative products?  No, it’s not our thing.  Would I supplement our meals from time to time with Quorn products and feel good about it?  Absolutely.  I’m sure a lot of you are like me – you’d be willing to give it a try, but you’re not down with randomly buying strange things at the market in hopes that they’ll be good.  Quorn has been kind enough to offer a few of you the chance to try their products risk-free.  One reader will win a prize pack of the 5 new entrees, the Chick’n Nuggets, the Grounds and 3 free entree coupons.  Three readers will win a prize pack of 4 free entree coupons.

To enter, just leave a comment telling me the strangest thing you ever tried to sneak into a meal.  The giveaway will end Sunday, October 14th at 11:59 p.m Eastern.  Winners will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen.

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Comments

  1. Generally I don’t try to sneak things in a meal…well, not in the sense that I lie about it. My family always asks and I always tell. That said, I may try to sneak in a mycoprotein product should some show up on my doorstep.

  2. I’ve learned that food processors are amazing – if you chop anything small enough and add it to a sauce, people are none the wise of the vegetable they are enjoying! Just don’t tell my fiance… he still doesn’t know that my meat sauce for spaghetti is not actually meat… :)

  3. We are participating in a CSA this fall and I plan on hiding turnips in mashed potatoes tonight. Wish me luck!

  4. I don’t try to sneak things into meals, but I do bake healthy desserts and serve them to my family without telling them they’ve been healthified! For example, baking with chickpeas or black beans or applesauce…m family loves the product, but would refuse to even try it if they knew those ingredients were used lol

  5. I tried to pass spaghetti squash off as real spaghetti. Roger still barks about that and it’s been over 8 years.

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