Review: Chef Richard's Latest Whole Food Plant-Based Creations!
Sneak Peak Of Chef Richard’s Latest Creations!
The Harvest Boxes have been getting great reviews from our customers. While these offerings are still fairly new to the company, Chef Richard is already experimenting with new meals for the menu.
It is my sincere pleasure to tell you about the latest meals coming to your door as well as share some tips on eating and using the meals and snacks in different ways!
CUCUMBER & ARUGULA WILD RICE
Once again, Chef Richard introduces another flavor extravaganza, balancing together unlikely ingredient combinations to palate perfection. This time he blends perfectly-seasoned fresh cucumbers, crunchy pepita, sweet dates, and slightly-garlicky wild rice. I found the Sesame Ginger dressing to be perfect for this meal. The ginger and dates together reminded me of when I used to love drinking carbonated ginger ale soda. Adding a helping of greens makes this meal complete.
BANANA CACAO HARVEST BITES
After taking my first bite, I thought these Harvest Bites tasted like banana bread. It has a very strong banana flavor with just a hint of chocolate. The chocolate flavor seems more pronounced after chewing it for a while. When I ate the second one (because I always eat two Harvest Bites), I began reminiscing of my childhood days, going to my grandparents’ house and eating homemade banana ice cream with chocolate syrup.
The next time I ate a couple of these, I heated them in the microwave for 20 seconds. They tasted EXACTLY like banana bread when I ate them warm!
BLACK BEAN DIP
This dip has the perfect Mexican flavor for dipping or as a spread for tacos, burritos, or wraps. I am a fan of the flavor, texture, and amino acid profile of Ezekiel 4:9 bread. I toasted two slices, tore them into bite-sized pieces, and dipped them in the Black Bean Dip. It is hard to find oil-free chips for dipping, so I eat chips sparingly. I suggest finding whole grain chips as much as possible to maximize fiber intake.
This was also great as a spread for a Mexican wrap, using a whole-wheat shell, avocado, corn, salsa, tomatoes, lettuce, pinto beans, black olives, and Spanish rice. Yes, this requires a little bit of prep. I encourage you to experiment with simple whole-food concepts like this and make them your own. Eating predominantly whole plant foods can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.
RED PEPPER DIP
This is a tomato-based dip that is not too spicy. Again, I initially dipped Ezekiel 4:9 toast to get the basic flavor. After eating a few bites, I decided on another wrap, (Italian-themed this time) which worked great. I spread some Red Pepper Dip on an Ezekiel 4:9 shell. (Any whole-grain shell will do.) I began with a few greens from the Harvest Box. I added some halved grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, sliced mushrooms, red onions, sprinkled in a little oregano, and added some Harvest Italian Vinaigrette. (Adding nutritional yeast is optional, which gives a cheesy essence and essential Vitamin B-12.)
TOASTED PEPITA HARVEST BITES
These new Harvest Bites taste a little nutty - even a little bit like sugar cookie dough. As Chef Richard’s food continues to remind me of my childhood, eating the Toasted Pepita Bites reminded me of making Christmas cookies with my sister when I was a boy. I love every Harvest Bite that he has offered.
ROASTED TOMATO CAPELLINI
As it is with all of his pasta dishes, Chef Richard’s marinara is as good as any that I have had in the finest Italian restaurants. This was a basic pasta dish, with the capellini being a little bit thinner than spaghetti noodles and a little bit thicker than angel hair pasta. This allows you to get pasta, Italian-seasoned grape tomatoes and onions in every bite.
While most of you may prefer to heat this up with some greens on the side, I chose to first sample half of it cold - eating it like a pasta salad, adding Harvest Italian dressing both before and after adding the greens.
Then, I gently heated the other half. The tomatoes taste sweeter when eaten warm. As with all pastas and other Italian-themed meals, adding nutritional yeast provides a cheesy essence and essential Vitamin B-12.
SPICED CARROT & RAISIN PARFAIT
Carrots, raisins, dates, cinnamon, and steel cut oats together!!!??? Yes, he did, and it tastes just like carrot cake!!! Chef Richard does not skimp on the raisins. The shredded carrots give a crispy texture. This meal is so sweet that I would rather eat this for breakfast than donuts. Eating this with 8 ounces of soy milk filled me just enough and energized me for my morning workout. This would be a great dessert as well. If you eat the Spiced Carrot Parfait after meals, it could easily be two servings. Hot or cold, this is now one of my favorite parfaits!
MISO CARROT PENNE
The Miso Carrot Penne is complete with a lot of carrot chunks, sesame seeds, and perfectly-cooked penne pasta (al-dente) glazed in a miso sauce topped with sweet yellow peppers. This is another palate-pleasurable combination of flavors. I think that either Harvest Sesame Ginger or Harvest Italian dressing works for this meal. I prefer to eat this cold with greens.
For another option, gently heat the Miso Carrot Penne and eat a salad on the side. Consider using the provided greens with added shredded carrots, sliced mushrooms and either Harvest Sesame Ginger or Harvest Sweet Soy. As always, Chef Richard seasoned the Miso Carrot Penne perfectly, allowing earthy flavors to come through. When adding greens, this was just so much food!!!
PEPITA BEET QUINOA
The Pepita Beet Quinoa is complete with earthy beets, sweet dates, crisp shredded carrots, and crunchy pepita, on a bed of seasoned quinoa. Like magic, the Harvest Vinaigrette enhances Chef Richard’s meals more than any other dressing. Try eating a bite with a little bit of each ingredient. It is a perfect combination of flavors!
I prefer to eat this cold, like a quinoa salad, with a few added greens. I find this to be the most flavor-balanced meal that is perfectly satiating. I could eat this one every day!
MISO VEGETABLE SOUP
Chef Richard always makes chunky soups that are filling like a meal. The Veggie Miso Soup contains cubed carrots and potatoes, lima beans, and onions. The seasoning reminds me of the flavor of the potatoes and carrots my family often ate for our Sunday dinners.
It has been a cold spring in the midwest so far. This was a perfect, light lunch. I ate two slices of Ezekiel 4:9 toast with the Red Pepper Dip on the side. (Choose your favorite whole-grain bread, crackers, or chips, but be conscious of added sodium and oil.) I chased it with an orange and then two Harvest Bites. I feel energized and ready to complete the day without feeling weighed down by a heavy meal.
That is all for now until the next round of meals are ready and in need of a review (I hope it’s soon!). If you take anything from these reviews let it be that you can customize these nutritious meals as much or as little as you like, fitting them to your lifestyle and not the other way around.
Make eating healthy an adventure and every bite a form of self-care.