Purple Carrot TB12 Performance Meal Kit Review – May 2018
Purple Carrot is a meal kit subscription box that specializes in 100% plant-based vegan dishes. In addition to the standard plan, they also offer a high-protein line called TB12 Performance Meals curated by plant-based pro-athlete Tom Brady!
Similar to our other Purple Carrot reviewer, Anna, I’m not a vegan, but I do incorporate vegan meals into my diet multiple times per week and 70+% of what I eat is plant-based. As I’m sure many vegetarians and vegans can relate to, I struggle to incorporate enough protein into my diet, which is something I’m especially aware of as a runner and backpacker. My husband is additionally a triathlete and mountain biker and he forfeited a fully vegetarian diet to feel properly fueled for his long-distance endeavors, but is always looking for satisfying ways to revisit vegetarianism and/or veganism. So, that’s where we were coming from as we tried these three meals!
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Purple Carrot believes in the healing power of plants, as well as the fact that many plants are less stressful on the environment than meat production. They demonstrate their eco-friendly values in their recyclable boxes and non-toxic ice packs (with recyclable plastic wrapping). Their site states that “the vast majority of our packaging is reusable, recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable.” The TB12 Performance line brings you recipes that are high in protein, gluten-free, and limited in their use of soy.
My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
About Purple Carrot TB12 Performance Vegan Meal Kit Delivery Service
The Subscription Box: Purple Carrot TB12 Performance
The Cost: $13.00 per serving or $78.00 per week
Good to Know: You can skip or pause shipments so long as you do so by the deadline each week. You can see several weeks worth of menus ahead in your account so you can conveniently set your schedule. Note that unlike other meal kit subscriptions, everyone gets the same three meals each week. (Subscribers can’t pick and choose from several recipes.)
The Products: Everything you need to make three vegan dinners that are high in protein each week! Purple Carrot expects you to have several basic tools and ingredients, including olive oil, salt, and pepper. They supply the rest, plus an easy-to-read recipe card for each meal!
Ships to: Contiguous US
Purple Carrot TB12 Performance May 2018 Review
Purple Carrot TB12 Performance Vegan Zucchini Casserole with Fresh Basil and White Bean Arugula Salad
Prep & Cook Time, According to Purple Carrot: 35 minutes
Actual Prep & Cook Time: About 35 minutes
There’s no denying that casseroles make great weeknight meals, and I’m always looking for fresh ideas for this type of dish. If you’re wondering about the bread, it’s gluten-free! I often keep Ezekiel bread in my freezer, which is delicious but way less satisfying than this very convincing deli-style bread. I love the idea of dicing up a few slices to sort of “fill in” a casserole, though, so I might have to carry this idea forward in future recipes.
A quick thing to note is that Purple Carrot gave me 1 head of garlic to use throughout the three included recipes. I’ve photographed the same garlic in all 3 ingredients shots since it was included in every meal!
The recipe suggests cooking the zucchini and other veggies in a skillet, then transferring them to a separate casserole dish to bake. To save myself a little clean-up, I just cooked my veggies in a cast iron skillet and popped the skillet right into the oven. It worked great!
I’m a reeeaaal arugula-lover and often make myself arugula salads with a few root veggies and some beans, so I felt right at home preparing this salad! I’ve never thought to shave carrots (usually I just roughly dice them), but now that I’ve been given the idea, I may not ever go back! Having the carrots shaped more similar to the greens makes them remain mixed in instead of sinking to the bottom, and keeps the consistency a little more, well, consistent. The only drawback is that it takes longer to prepare the salad this way. I got pretty bored with using the vegetable peeler to shave my carrots and switched over to using a mandoline slicer instead, which sped things up a bit.
Here are my freshly prepared, pre-plated dishes for this meal! Another awesome casserole suggestion in this recipe is adding dollops of vegan cream cheese and sprinkles of vegan parm cheese on top. The zucchini casserole was a bit spicy, so the vegan cream cheese added really nice balance. And it was just an exciting, kind of fancy-feeling new thing to try! I also really, really enjoyed the flavor of the fresh basil mixed throughout.
Here are the salad and casserole right before I dug in! My husband was busy on the evening that I made this meal, so I dined alone. The salad was dressed with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Light and delicious! Since I knew I wouldn’t finish the salad in one sitting, I dressed it on my plate and left the rest un-dressed so it wouldn’t get soggy in the fridge overnight. The casserole was hearty without making me feel weighed down—I think perhaps the spice from the paprika and cayenne slowed me down and forced me to eat a little more slowly. The next day, I ate my leftovers for lunch and they were just as delicious as they were fresh! I absolutely loved this meal and found it to be very satisfying. I felt well-fueled by this meal through my after-dinner yoga practice and sustained for a few hours after lunch the next day.
Purple Carrot TB12 Performance Vegan Falafel Lettuce Wraps with Oregano Fries and Cilantro Chutney
Prep & Cook Time, According to Purple Carrot: 35 minutes
Actual Prep & Cook Time: About 40 minutes
I was just noticing the other day that I hadn’t made falafel in a long time! I’ve never made it with chickpea flour, only ever using whole chickpeas from a can, so I was curious to try this new-to-me technique and see how it might stack up. I also rarely think to make meals with lettuce wraps—usually, I’ll use corn tortillas—so yet again, I felt excited about the new approach.
The first thing the recipe card had me do was add water to the garbanzo flour and let it sit. I don’t know what the sitting step’s purpose was—it didn’t really rise like bread dough would, but maybe it gave the water a chance to thoroughly moisten the flour.
I’ve made baked fries before, and while they certainly aren’t as satisfying as “real,” fried fries, they are a good way to eat a ‘tater! I actually had a sweet potato of my own lying around in my fruit/veggie bowl, so I added it to the recipe to increase my chances of having leftovers. So, what you’re seeing above is double the amount of sweet potatoes this recipe would normally make. I didn’t line them up all nicely like the recipe card showed, so I just made sure to shuffle them up about halfway through their cook time.
I knew somewhere in the back of my mind from my previous falafel-making endeavors that a food processor would be necessary, but I guess it didn’t really occur to me until I was prompted by the recipe card. Turns out, Purple Carrot assumes you’ll have a food processor and a blender in your kitchen, which I didn’t realize going into it. Luckily I have both, but I didn’t always! Sometimes if I don’t want to get my food processor dirty (it’s such a pain to clean!), I’ll go old school and just use a bowl and wooden spoon. It’s less efficient but usually suffices just fine, so that’s an option for folks who don’t have this appliance. Above, I’m combining the hydrated chickpea flour with the onions, garlic, parsley, and spices that go into falafel.
Here’s another point where I took a moment to call upon my previous falafel-making experience and act accordingly…you have to do some frying, which means your house and clothes are going to smell like oil, and you might even want to toss an apron on or change into something that won’t be ruined if it’s splashed with oil. I changed into machine-washable clothes, tied an apron on, and also pulled out the splatter screen I keep in my kitchen. Granted, it’s not like you’re cooking these patties in more than a couple Tablespoons of oil, but I still like to play it safe. How yummy do these look?
Here she is all ready to be enjoyed! And, enjoyed it was. The oregano on the fries was an awesomely flavorful touch. Turns out the chickpea flour was an excellent improvement to my falafel recipe, as it made for a nice smooth patty. The cilantro chutney and tahini yogurt (which you have to whip up quickly using ingredients they provide) added a huge flavor boost, which kind of made this meal. And, the romaine lettuce wraps, while not the neatest vehicle for the saucy patties, were very fresh-tasting and good. I would say that despite having 9 more grams of protein in it, this meal left me feeling less satisfied fullness-wise than the zucchini casserole did. If I were to make it again, I might add some hemp hearts on top, or even make some lentils to have on the side. After eating my falafel wraps, I had a ton of dirty dishes waiting for me, between the food processor, the bowl in which I mixed the sauces, the cookie sheet on which I baked the fries (though I did cover it with foil to help move things along), and the oily pan for frying the patties. So, warning: this meal really isn’t a quick one.
Purple Carrot TB12 Performance Vegan Cajun Roasted Broccoli Bowls with Wild Rice & Lemon Garlic Tahini
Prep & Cook Time, According to Purple Carrot: 30 minutes
Actual Prep & Cook Time: About 25 minutes
This is the meal I was least excited about this month. I love kale, but prefer the curly variety over dinosaur kale. I was also a bit skeptical of the wild rice included—it’s a long grain variety with the dark hulls intact. I believe the hull is where a lot of the nutrients are held in rice, so I decided to give it a go despite my consideration of replacing it with some brown rice or quinoa that I have in my pantry.
I love cooking with beets and part of the reason is because of their absolutely gorgeous color. But, if you’ve never cooked with them before, know that said gorgeous color has a way of getting everywhere. Beet juice can definitely stain clothes, too, so this is another meal that I used an apron for. The recipe suggests shredding the beets on the largest side of a box grater, but that was kind of messy and inefficient, so I pulled out my mandoline slicer again. Worked great!
By the way, I had my broccoli in the oven and my wild rice cooking on the stovetop while I was preparing these other ingredients. I set my oven to 425 instead of the suggested 400 and it sped up my broccoli’s cook time by about 8 minutes. I also halved the florets so they weren’t such gigantic bites.
The dressing for this salad (I guess it’s called a “bowl” because it includes some warm ingredients) is a tahini-based sauce that tasted really similar to the drizzle for the falafel wraps. Similarly, I had to mix a few provided ingredients together to make it.
After adding all the components together, here’s how it turned out! The recipe suggested massaging the dinosaur kale leaves with oil and that was actually a great suggestion because it softened them up a bit (part of what I don’t love about that type of kale is how stiff it can be). And, while this meal is unquestionably healthy and filled with really good, colorful ingredients, it was the consistency the held it back from being a real hit for me. Between the stiff-ish kale, the crunchiness of the root veggies, and the coarseness of the rice, I felt like each bite kind of just sat in my stomach. Quite honestly, I didn’t feel awesome after eating it. My husband, on the other hand, absolutely loved it and said it was more or less his perfect meal; that it felt very balanced. He ate it before a long run and said he felt fantastic. I was glad to have his perspective!
Verdict: My first time trying Purple Carrot TB12 Performance was awesome! While I didn’t absolutely love every single meal, I thought they offered great variety and unquestionably healthy ingredients. My assessment of the “high-protein” aspect of it is that it’s just so-so. My largely plant-based diet has taught me all kinds of tricks for sneaking extra protein in (like adding hemp hearts, chia seeds, beans, nuts, or eggs) that I felt this box could have easily done. With those little protein boosts, I really would have been convinced on performance spin on these meals. Otherwise, I’d say they’re good but not great for endurance athletes. I do, however, love how accessible these vegan recipes are to those who might be newer to the diet. These aren’t obscure recipes that are hard to access if you already keep a generally healthy diet. For this box, servings are $13.00 a plate, and given that we (my husband especially) generally have ravenous appetites, each meal truly did serve 2 without leftovers. I’d say the value seems spot-on for vegan meals you’d buy in a restaurant, but maybe a little steep for the same things made with ingredients bought at the grocery store.
To Wrap Up:
Coupon – Save $20 off your first Purple Carrot order with code NEWCARROT! (Discount is not applicable to the TB12 Performance plan)
Value Breakdown: Each serving costs $13.00, meaning this box cost $78.00.
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