This past Sunday, we braved the madhouse that Whole Foods is during the weekend, with terrific toddler Phil in tow. We found trays of Southwest Style Beyond Chicken Strips and Grilled Beyond Chicken Strips in the refrigerated "alternative meat section."
At the frozen aisle, we found the Beastly Sliders. I was disappointed because I couldn't find any of the other Beyond Meat products such as their "meatballs" and "beef" crumble.
That night, I decided to try both of the Beyond Chicken Strips. Regarding the tray packaging of the "chicken", the plastic sealed the contents perfectly; however, one layer of the plastic came off while another layer remained as my grubby fingers peeled away. Note to Beyond Meat: I really wished that this packaging was resealable. There were a lot of strips in the box, and I planned on consuming them throughout the week, not in one sitting.
At first glance, these strips looked 85% like real chicken, and they would be even more convincing if they weren't cut into such perfect, rectangular strips. (Real chicken strips look a bit jagged.) There's also an eerie paleness and gluey-ness to the strips. Some people complain of the strong smell; I don't think the smell was that strong, or odiferous. The scent of these strips reminded me of peas, beans, and tofu, and they felt like hard tofu when I squeezed them.
I pan-fried the strips (a mix of the Southwest Style and the Grilled ones) with a thin layer of olive oil on the pan. I added a dash of sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I planned to make a grilled "chicken and cheese" sandwich. (Cheese= Daiya Cheddar "Cheese" Shreds). The strips did not stick to my pan as some people say they tend to, but maybe it's because we have an amazing and sturdy *Cusineart Nonstick skillet that we've used for two years now.
I have to say, when cooked, the strips look even more like real chicken thanks to the complex layers of "Beyond Chicken meat" (imagine chicken flesh and its multiple layers), the browning, and the crispiness of the top layers... It even smelled like real chicken. When I bit a strip and masticated (yes, I love that word), it reminded me of chewy, dry and tough bean curd... Chicken? Not so much, not until I incorporated them with other foods.
The Southwest Style strips were zestier and just a tad more flavorful than the Grilled version; being a makeshift chef, I always add my own seasoning to my ingredients and changed up their from-the-tray taste, so I don't have a favorite between the two.
Phil & Mama's Grilled "Chicken and Cheese" Sandwich
Prep time: 10 minutes and serves two
- 8 pieces of Beyond Chicken Strips (any flavor, depends on your preferences)
- four slices of sourdough bread (or replace with any other type of bread you like)
- Vegan cheddar cheese (we used Daiya Cheddar shreds)
- Hummus (optional) or hummus mixed with Sriracha for a spicy kick (also optional!)
1. Pan fry the strips in a lightly oiled pan, about two minutes each side, and while waiting, toast the bread. You can also put the toasted bread in the frying pan.
2. Sprinkle cheese directly over the hot chicken strips and/or the toasted bread in the pan, and let the cheese melt a bit.
3. Optional: Spread hummus (or spicy hummus) over one side of the sandwich bread.
4. Layer chicken and cheese on the bread, make the complete sandwich, and serve while still hot! Close your eyes, savor the taste, and you might be convinced that you're eating real chicken! Delicious!
(I love my *Box Appetite lunch box! It's dishwasher and microwave safe and has compartments.) Easy to wash and sturdy glass.
While I'm not 100% in love with Beyond Chicken Strips, the product has grown on me (not literally, because that would be freaky) and I see myself as a forever-fan (meaning that when I run out of Beyond Chicken, I would buy more, continuously.) The strips are like blank-canvas-foods; you can sneak them into your favorite meals, dress them up as you please, and they will work very well with different pairing and preparation. In salads, the strips are craveable, and makes me feel good knowing that there's a filling source of protein in my salad.
I'm also happy to report that Beyond Chicken Strips are toddler approved! Phil loved, loved, loved Beyond Chicken and kept asking me for more.
As for the Beastly Sliders
I freaking love them. (100% in love, honest!) I haven't had a beef burger for a while now, and while the thought of beef burgers nauseate me a bit nowadays, I have an intense craving for Beyond Meat's Beastly Sliders. I can't wait to try their burgers! I didn't mind that the "meat" was a bit spongey and airy (hard to describe, you have to try it yourself). It just tasted so darn good!
Lightly oiling both sides of the slider, I pan-fried the little "Beast" for about five to seven minutes. I added garlic powder and pepper, and Daiya cheese on both sides. I can't have a slider without ketchup (and nowadays, Sriracha is my best friend), so I squirted on some ketchup and that yummy hot sauce.
I ate the slider by itself without burger buns, because frankly, that's how I had always eaten my burgers, without the buns, LOL. AND I LOVED IT. I liked it so much more than Boca veggie patties (which are way too mushy and pale!).
I wondered if instead of having Beyond Chicken Strips in my salad or sandwich, I could just have natural, non-engineered foods such as portobello mushrooms, bean curd, tofu, and real peas and beans. (Beans are hard for me, because though they're good for my heart, they certainly do make me ... pfff...)
I figured that as I progressively reduce my consumption of meat, I will begin to miss chicken and beef, and that's when Beyond Meat's products will help fill that gap and quell my meat cravings. I really think that this company, and others like it, can help more and more people embrace plant-based living and reduce their consumption of meat.
At just a little more than five dollars a box, it's really an amazing deal, especially when I can fill a week's amount of salads with Beyond Meat chicken strips. Beyond Meat has a lot of potential (Bill Gates endorses the company!), and I can't wait to try more products from them, and see more products from them, such as Beyond Bacon (!!!), Beyond Seafood (BEYOND LOBSTER PLEASE, PLEASE!), and Beyond Ham or SPAM (LOL).
Phil and Mama's Beyond Meat Score:
Beyond Meat has mastered the craft of creating fake chicken that looks like chicken, and fake "beef" sliders, that look like real beef sliders. Beyond Chicken strips by themselves (and when cooled, especially), however, have a slightly off-putting taste and texture (when chewed). The mission behind Beyond Meat is honorable and there is "indeed a better way to feed the planet." Reducing real meat consumption is their goal, and they've made a fan and believer out of me.
I give Beyond Meat 4 out of 5 pandas. Phil gives Beyond Meat 7 out of 5 pandas because he can't count yet, and he loved the Beyond Chicken Strips...
My friends, how many pandas would you give Beyond Meat?
Back story and disclosure: Thank you to Ethan and Team for sending me samples of Beyond Meat to review. Other than receiving the samples to review, I was not financially compensated for this 100% honest post. The opinions I've published are completely my own, based on my experience.