Cover: The Purple Carrot: Plant-based / vegan food delivery subscription service
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull
A little over 2 1/2 years ago, we adopted a plant-based diet at home. While we eat either pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan out, we are fully vegan at home.
After reading The China Study and watching the Forks over Knives documentary, we committed to a mostly plant-based diet. The research behind the China Study shows a close correlation between eating animal products, including dairy, with heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer and bowel cancer. Forks over Knives has similar findings.We mostly use the term plant-based instead of vegan because, let’s face it, potato chips and Coke are vegan. In addition to eliminating meat, we also restrict oil, salt, and sugar as much as possible.
Background covered – let’s get to The Purple Carrot.
The Purple Carrot
While writing an article last week, I decided I should check social media (otherwise known as work escapism) and saw an ad on Facebook for The Purple Carrot. I never click on Facebook ads, but I was intrigued and clicked through.
The Purple Carrot is a plant-based / vegan meal delivery service launched by Andy Levitt who, according to his bio, is from Boston and has a dog named Yawkey (so he must be a good guy – go BoSox). Mark Bittman, the former New York Times columnist who wrote Eat Vegan Before 6, joined The Purple Carrot in November 2015.
The Purple Carrot concept is simple – they offer two meal plans, one plan that includes 3 meal kits for 2 people for $68 each week or a family plan of 2 meal kits for 4 people twice a week for $74 a week and the shipping is included. They currently only ship to the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and West Coast.
The meal kits are pre-selected – i.e., they choose what you get – and include all the ingredients needed to assemble the meals except for water, salt, pepper and olive oil.
I decided to give it a try. I read through The Purple Carrot FAQs and it was all pretty straightforward and you can cancel online at any time. The offer when I ordered on the website was $20 off your first shipment using promo code “NEWCARROT,” which I used, although afterwards I saw a different one on their Facebook page for $25 off using “FRESH25.”
Each week you receive an email advising what the meals will be for the next week.
If you don’t like the selections or if you are going to be out of town, you can logon and either skip the week or pause the subscription until you want it to resume. You have to skip or pause before Thursdays at 11 PM EST the week prior to the delivery. Otherwise, your credit card is charged on Sunday and you get your shipment on Tuesday (at least that’s when ours came).
In the upper right-hand corner where my name is shown, clicking on subscription takes you to a screen to Skip, Pause or Cancel. I personally believe that having the ability to cancel online shows belief in your product or service and treats customers with respect.
The meals we would receive were Chilaquiles with Edamame Guacamole and Pickled Carrots, Aloo Paratha with Mustard Seed–Scented Eggplant, and Whole Wheat Fusilli with Mushrooms, Fennel, and Pecans.
Clicking the links on each of the meals leads to a “cookbook-style” page with the ingredients and preparation instructions with photos.
The Purple Carrot Meals
I received an email on Monday that our order had shipped and the shipment arrived on Tuesday evening about 7:30.
The box was packed extremely well, with the food wrapped in insulated bubble wrap with frozen packs underneath.
Each meal was packaged in a bag containing most of the ingredients for that dish, and the box also contained recipes/preparation instructions for each meal.
The Purple Carrot Meal 1: Chilaquiles with Edamame Guacamole and Pickled Carrots
The next evening I decided to begin with the Chilaquiles with Edamame Guacamole and Pickled Carrots.
I removed everything from the bag and began working through the step by step instructions. This was the most complex of the three meals to prepare and, honestly, I don’t usually make meals during the week that require chopping, grating, and a food processor.
The recipe said the prep time would be 40 minutes and it took me a little over an hour – granted there was wine, tweeting and Jeopardy involved during the process.
But, the result was worth it. We both loved the finished dish and it was fun to try something new.
The sauce was spectacular with complex flavors and the pickled carrots really gave it an interesting pop of flavor.
The Purple Carrot Meal 2: Whole Wheat Fusilli with Mushrooms, Fennel, and Pecans
The next night I selected the Whole Wheat Fusilli with Mushrooms, Fennel, and Pecans, which was by far the easiest of the three meals.
This one required very little prep – simply chop the fennel and mushrooms and cook, boil the pasta, and top with the herbs and pecans. I was right on the estimated 30 minute prep time.
We both liked this one too – not quite as much as the chilaquiles – but the pasta was quite good. It was a hearty meal, so we ended up with about a third of it left over as well which, combined with a salad, made a nice lunch the next day.
The Purple Carrot Meal 3: Aloo Paratha with Mustard Seed–Scented Eggplant
Greg joined me in preparing meal three which was Aloo Paratha with Mustard Seed–Scented Eggplant.
Not typically a fan of curry, I tend to avoid Indian food, so this one was far from anything I’d ever prepared. The estimated prep time on the recipe was 40 minutes – we were talking and drinking and tasting, so I honestly have no idea how long this took. It was a Friday evening, what can I say?
We loved this one. It was flavorful and fun and went great with a crisp white wine. I’d make this one again in a heartbeat. The only thing I’d change – we both thought there was a tiny bit too much lemon in the aloo filling.
The Purple Carrot: We like it
What we liked the most about The Purple Carrot
- It introduced innovative meals that I never would have made on my own. If I’d have seen a recipe titled “Aloo Paratha with Mustard Seed–Scented Eggplant” I would have skipped it, but now I will make it again.
- The vegetables were very fresh and of high quality.
- The instructions are easy to understand with photos.
- Full recipes are provided, so meals can be repeated on your own.
- The pasta and tortillas were whole wheat.
- Pausing the service is simple, so when we travel, we can stop then start it again when we return.
What we liked the least or changed
- The recipes contain quite a bit of salt, so we omitted about half of it.
- We also reduced the oil and just used a light spray of the pan instead.
- Some of the prep time could be reduced if they sent pre-chopped onions, etc.
Is it worth $22.67 per meal? For a busy couple, I’d say yes. No shopping, no waste, it arrives at your door, and it’s a restaurant quality meal – that’s worth it to us. I could see how a family of four might feel differently but, for us, it works.
Next week, we are looking forward to:
- Mu Shu Seitan with Homemade Hot Mustard
- Catalan Vegetable Stew with Crisp Fideos
- Shakshuka with Tofu Dumplings over Kasha
Sounds like fun! And then, we will pause a week while we are gone.
Learn more on The Purple Carrot website
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