Purple Carrot Subscription Box Review + Coupon – March 2016
The Purple Carrot is a vegan meal subscription service from Mark Bittman, a cookbook author and former New York Times food columnist. My fiancé and I became fans of Mark Bittman’s after having used some of his cookbooks. What we like are that the meals – especially in his How to Cook Everything Vegetarian – aren’t odd or unappealing like a lot of other vegetarian cookbooks. His recipes are actually for things I would want to eat! So we were super excited to hear he was associated with a meal subscription service. (There’s no picture of the box because this arrived in a plain brown box with no logo.)
My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
There was some protective foil-lined bubble wrap inside and there were also some cold packs at the bottom of the box. (One nice thing about a vegan food box is there is no dairy or meat spoilage to worry about…)
The Subscription Box: The Purple Carrot
The Cost: $68 for three meals a week for two people; $74 for two meals a week for four people
COUPON: Save $20 off your first order with code NEWCARROT!
Good to Know: You can skip shipments or pause your subscription by logging into your account. There is a deadline each week but it is clearly stated when you log in.
The Products: Everything you need to make three vegan dinners a week! (Just supply your own cooking oil, salt, and pepper.)
Ships to: Various locations along the East Coast, in the Midwest, and a few places in the South, as well as some locations on the West Coast. Click here to see if your area is covered. (You can put in your ZIP code if you’re not in a covered area and they will let you know when they start shipping to you. It took maybe 3-4 months before they started shipping to Atlanta after I entered my ZIP code.)
Please Note: They ship FedEx and they say a signature is not required. I had this sent to my office so it wasn’t sitting out in the sun on my front porch. And also because my FedEx guy has his own ideas about whether he needs to get a signature or not.
Check out lots of meal prep boxes in the Food Subscription Box Directory and make sure to add Purple Carrot to your subscription list or wishlist!
Three meals are sent each week (you don’t get to choose – you either take all of them or none). The first one we prepared was “Unstuffed Cabbage,” which was The Purple Carrot’s nod to St. Patrick’s Day!
There was a full color card for each meal. On one side was a photo of what it will look like when done as well as a description and some basic nutrition information. On the other side (not shown because there are already way too many pictures in this review) were step-by-step directions for preparing the recipe, including photos of some of the stages. This dish had 647 calories per serving.
Here are all the ingredients for this dish. I’m a fan of Muir Glen tomatoes and happy to see premium brands included!
One thing I really enjoyed about this box was the chance to use fresh herbs. I would never buy this many fresh herbs at the supermarket in the same week. The package sizes are too big and I end up throwing so much out. This recipe called for dill.
We don’t like chopping garlic so we used our garlic press!
First we lined the bottom of a skillet with cabbage leaves. Some chopped cabbage was placed on top of that.
Then we stirred chopped dill, garlic, quinoa, tomatoes, smoked paprika, and pepper, salt, and olive oil in a bowl. Everything was provided in the box except the pepper, salt, and oil.
We added the mixture from the bowl along with some water to the skillet with the cabbage leaves. We brought it to a boil, covered it, and left it alone for awhile.
Meanwhile, in another skillet, we crumbled and browned the tempeh. Ours looked a little browner than the photo but we don’t have a ton of experience cooking tempeh – it’s kind of expensive so we usually don’t buy it.
When the cabbage and quinoa were done, we drizzled it with a bit of vinegar. I love that it was included in a plastic baggie. (No leakage, by the way.)
Then we put the tempeh mixture on top of the dish and garnished with a bit of parsley.
I really enjoyed this dish, even though it is rather different from the sorts of things we normally cook. (We eat a lot of quinoa and tomatoes, but rarely buy cabbage or tempeh.) The tempeh added a meaty flavor and I thought this meal had a nice balance of protein (31 g), carbohydrates (58 g including a lot of fiber), and fat (36 g).
North African Orzo Risotto with Raw Fennel Salad was the second dish we prepared.
Here are the ingredients for this dish. (The head of garlic is the same one from the previous photo. We used a bit of it in each dish.) The ingredients for each dish were packaged together in larger plastic baggies so it was easy to find what we needed.
We thinly sliced the fennel and tossed it with some lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Then we let it sit while we prepared the rest of the meal. (Please note: We were provided with one and a half fennel bulbs. I believe this was to keep the serving size and calorie count uniform. The cut part of the half fennel bulb had browned a bit but we removed that part and proceeded with the recipe.)
We added pimentos, coriander, cumin, chipotle, garlic, some dates, and a bit of salt to a food processor, then pureed all of this with water. We used our 7-cup Cuisinart but probably a mini food chopper would’ve been better…This made harissa, a common North African condiment. (I liked it better than jarred harissa, too!)
Next we chopped the leeks and cooked them in a bit of oil.
Next we added some whole wheat orzo and the harissa and cooked it risotto-style by adding a bit of heated water at a time.
We garnished with mint and parsley and served. I think this might’ve been my favorite meal of the three, but it is hard to say. I loved using whole wheat orzo. I stopped eating white flour when possible some years ago, and stopped eating white rice at the same time. So it is hard to make risotto-like dishes (you can use hull-less barley but that takes 90 minutes to cook). But the orzo opened up a whole new suite of possibilities! We found more at Whole Foods yesterday so we are definitely going to do something like this again.
Also, last time I had fennel (from a Raw Spice Bar recipe), I didn’t care for it a whole lot. But it worked really well in this salad – I guess because of the thin slices (and also perhaps better quality fennel?).
This was higher in calories, with about 849 per serving. It was much more skewed towards carbs (145 g, with 18 g of protein and 25 g of fat).
The third and final dish was Jackfruit Enfrijoladas with Coconut Crema. I would eat Mexican food every day of the week if I could, so I was happy to see this one.
Here are the ingredients for the third meal. Note: the scallions looked good on Wednesday when this arrived, but were in bad shape by Saturday when we cooked this. Scallions are something we always have on hand so we just substituted in a few of our own. (And for what it’s worth, we needed some of the chipotles for another dish this week, and we didn’t have to buy any because there were extras here. So it all worked out in the end.)
First we cooked the onion in oil, then pureed it with black beans (including their liquid), garlic, and spices in the Cuisinart. (This time, a larger food processor was helpful.)
Next we prepared a few of the ingredients. I had never had jackfruit before. It looks a little like shredded meat (when canned – it’s different looking when fresh) but it is way softer.
Next we coated both sides of some corn tortillas with the bean mixture, stuffed each tortilla with jackfruit, and rolled it up. The recipe had you doing this part in a cast iron skillet, but we don’t have one so after preparing the food up to this point, we transferred it into a glass baking dish. The rest of the bean sauce was poured over the top and then we baked for about 15 minutes.
Here is the finished dish. This plate is my fiancé’s because I am not a cilantro fan. The white stuff is the cream from coconut milk whisked with lime juice. This was an interesting dish. The salad (shredded chayote squash with scallions in lime juice) was almost like a slaw and the freshness and crispness of it was a nice counterpoint to the soft, more cooked texture of the enfrijoladas. Even though I would normally eat a meal like this loaded with cheese, I didn’t really miss it here!
This one was also high in calories (871) with 27 grams of fat, 143 grams of carbohydrates, and 24 grams of protein.
Verdict: I absolutely loved my first shipment of The Purple Carrot. It has a similar price point as some of the other meal subscription services (which are usually $10-12 per serving). It has premium ingredients (Muir Glen tomatoes, tempeh, fennel, and other expensive items). Although the scallions didn’t make it until Saturday, everything else did. And the dishes were delicious and unique. Plus I could eat all of them (I’m not vegan, but I have been vegetarian for 22.5 years). And they weren’t loaded down with mushrooms. (I don’t care for mushrooms and a lot of the other food prep services have vegetarian options that prominently feature mushrooms.)
You may have noticed the calorie counts for some of these meals were a bit high. I am counting calories this year (have lost 17 pounds so far) and we made these work within my limitations. If you are looking for smaller dinners, though, most of these meals would do all right if you refrigerated a portion and ate it as leftovers the next day (use some common sense about when to stop the prep – for example, don’t pour the coconut crema over the enfrijolada and then refrigerate, but keep them separate until serving), which would be one way to decrease the overall calorie count.
What do you think of The Purple Carrot?