In my flexitarian pursuits, I’m always on the lookout for a really good meat analog: something that really reminds me of a burger, but is plant-based. I think I may have found my new favorite: the Ultimate Beefless Burger!
Analogs have really come a long way – I haven’t eaten what looked (and possibly tasted like) an extruded plastic hot dog in years – and they’re becoming more accessible, with conventional grocery stores here carrying at least some limited options. I’ve tried all kinds of plant-based burgers: cauliflower, quinoa, carrot, pea, bean, tofu. One of the most convincing was a Quorn burger patty, but I don’t like that it contains palm oil.
Recently, while at a grocery store with a natural foods bent, I was perusing the vegetarian frozen food selections and saw a brand I didn’t recognize: Gardein. The ingredients looked good, so I figured why not try it out?
Right out of the package, the patties looked like burger patties: they were thick, and the color and texture looked right. As they heated in the skillet, they took on the slightly browned edges of a meat patty; after cooking, they maintained their structural integrity (unlike cauliflower patties that turned to mush when heated) and the appearance of a burger patty. So far, so good.
I loaded up slices of homemade sourdough bread with freshly-cut tomatoes, romaine lettuce leaves, and dill pickles. The Gardein patties sat proudly sandwiched between the condiments and additions (it was a tall burger!). And the first bite? Very tasty. The patty was chewy, with a softly meaty texture, and a slight smokiness. Would it fool people into thinking it was real burger? Maybe. It’s savory and has a convincing consistency, but it doesn’t taste exactly like beef. Nonetheless, it’s the best grocery store meatless patty I’ve tried to date.
The Gardein Ultimate Beefless Burger is, according to their website, non-GMO verified, trans fat-free, certified vegan and kosher, and a complete protein (containing all the essential amino acids). One 85 gram patty comes in at 140 calories, 15 grams of protein, and 5 net carbs. I’ll definitely be trying some of their other products!
Gardein offers many more meatless options – additional reviews to come in future posts!