Category Archives: Meatless Monday

#MeatlessMonday: More Fun with Gardein: Crispy Tenders

Crispy TendersGardein Crispy Tenders

Welcome back to another #MeatlessMonday.  For this week’s post, I thought I would again review a product from Gardein, who was nice enough to send me several coupons to try their product free of charge.

Now, the WellDone family is quite the connoisseur of vegan faux meat replacements, stemming back from the time that we were vegan or vegetarian.  Even though we have started to eat meat again, we still love faux meats because they taste good, but have far less fat and many fewer calories than the real thing.  That’s a good thing.

So, how did Gardein crispy tenders stack up?

The Good

When grading vegan faux meat products, I tend to grade them on two factors (also known as the BlogWellDone Vegan Meat Product Dual Index Rating System™…okay that’s not true.)  The first factor takes into account how tasty the vegan meat product is overall.  In other words, it measures the product on its own merits.  The second factor is how pleasing a non-vegetarian/vegan would find the product.

All in all, Gardein crispy tenders are probably my favorite vegan chicken nuggets on the market.  Gardein’s chick’n has a nice, sweet flavor like good white meat chicken and it has pretty good texture for not being the real thing.  Plus, the breading that has been deep fried on (yes, I said deep fried) and is slightly salty with a nice hint of pepper.  We cooked them in the oven according to package direction and they were decently crispy, especially for frozen chicken nuggets.  So in the overall factor, they do very, very well.

How do they do as a meal for non-vegan/vegetarians?  Of all the Gardein and Morning Star Farms and other frozen faux meats, the Gardein crispy tenders rate as my fave for non-vegetarians.  In fact, if you serve them with a dipping sauce, most of your carnivorous eaters will have no idea that there’s no meat in them there tenders.

If you’re looking for more recipes that use faux meat and are vegan-friendly, be sure to check out the wide variety of vegan recipes on

The Bad

Actually, there wasn’t that much bad about Gardein crispy tenders.  If anything, it might be the shape.  They’re too long to be nuggets and not long enough to be chick’n fingers.  Visually,  my son was more than able to tell that the crispy tenders weren’t his usual nuggets and this caused a whole slew of issues.  But that’s more my son’s issue than anything else.

In Conclusion

Buy them, they are good.  What, you were expecting something poetic?

In all seriousness, the Gardein chick’n tenders were really good and could be eaten by themselves, in quesadillas, in sandwich wraps, on salads, coated in buffalo sauce, however you like.  They are BlogWellDone approved!

So, yeah, in the end, give them a try.  They are perfect for this Meatless Monday or next week’s or the week after or the week after…

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#MeatlessMonday Gardein Review #1 – Chick’n Good Stuff

chickn_good_stuff_295x350Gardein Chick’n Good Stuff

So for this #MeatlessMonday post, I thought I’d review Gardein‘s Chick’n Good Stuff.  The nice folks at Gardein were nice enough to send me some review coupons for their products.

I was really appreciative of them doing so, so much so that I didn’t even think about the fact that you can’t get Gardein in Kansas City (that I know of.)  So, on a trip to St. Louis, Mrs. WellDone was able to land the mother load of frozen Gardein products.  For this post, I will talk about the Chick’n Good Stuff and in future posts, we’ll talk about the “beef” tips and their “chicken” fingers (both of which were really good.

What is Chick ‘n Good Stuff?

Chick ‘n Good Stuff is basically everything you want in a vegan meal.  They take their garden/plant-based chicken and stuff it with marinara and vegan cheese.  The outside is breaded with a flavorful coating.  You bake, you eat, you enjoy.  End of story.

The Good

Of all the Gardein products I’ve tasted from Mrs. WellDone’s mother load, these are probably my favorite for one reason: the marinara.  Sure, everyone at Gardein just winced a little because I didn’t say the chicken, but that’s not a knock against the plant-based chicken at all.  I really did like how moist and tender it was.  But the marinara was like… amazing.  I would have eaten it all by itself.

Don’t get me wrong, Gardein makes a mean vegan chicken.  It has all of the texture and most of the taste of real chicken.  (Gardein chicken has a slight aftertaste that was less than chickeny, but that’s common to all plant-based chicken products.  It’s also a little harsh because I was paying careful attention to any difference between Gardein and real meat for this review since I think it’s important faux meat products get close to what they are emulating.)  So really Chick’n Good Stuff gets high marks in the flavor and the “I’d drive to St. Louis and buy it again even if it means buying less Match Meat category.”  Two thumbs up.

The Less Than Good

I’m not labeling this “the bad” by any means, but there was one part of the Gardein that was less good than the others: the vegan cheese.  Not that Gardein doesn’t get an A for effort, but as a non-vegan, I could tell it wasn’t real cheese.  It just didn’t feel right.

Is that fair of me to judge Gardein on?  Maybe not, but I rate vegan food on two scales:

1) Would I eat this as a vegan?  The answer is everyday.

2)Would I serve this to my non-vegan friends in order to get them to consider veganism?  This is where the Chick’n Good Stuff stumbles.  I probably would not because of the vegan cheese.  If I had non-vegan friends coming over, I’d make the Crispy Tenders instead because those were almost perfect copies of real chicken.

The Verdict

Buy and try them.  Even if you are not vegan, the marinara is good by itself and the whole experience is worth a try.

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#MeatlessMonday Let’s Talk Risotto

Happy #MeatlessMonday everyone!   Today,

Let’s Talk Risotto

I don’t know if I have ever gone into the risotto making process, but it was a dish I set out to conqueror when I decided I was going to be a serious home chef.  So, it always has that feeling of being really important, even if it’s not that difficult to make.  Even better, it makes a satisfying, hearty vegetarian dish.

You know, I say that it’s not difficult to make, but it’s not entirely difficult to mess it up, either.  The good news is that I’ve made most of the mistakes one can make when cooking risotto and I’ve boiled them down in the following essay I call “Making Risotto.”

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#Meatless Mondays Espinaca at Home

EspinacaAfter my last Abuelo’s incident, I figured it was time for

Espinaca At Home

(Quick side note: welcome back to #MeatlessMonday.  It’s been awhile, but the drought is finally over.)

So, you may be wondering what is this espinaca that I speak of.  Alternately, you may have ordered espinaca before.  Either way, let me assure that cardboard or no, if you have not ordered the espinaca from Abuelo’s, you haven’t had espinaca as good as it can be.

See, most of the time espinaca is a white cheese dip that has been swirled with spinach, spices, and sometimes other vegetables like corn or red peppers.  As is, it’s delicious.  However, Abuelo’s took the concept and blasted it to new heights of flavor when they devised the devilishly delicious espinaca casserole which looks a little like what’s pictured above (and looks exactly like the picture in the other link, which I need not display again.)

Either way, what the good folks at Abuelo’s did was take the original cheese dip concept, add some different flavors, spices, etc.,  top it with cheese and finally bake it.  Yes, there are a few steps to make the dish, but it’s not terribly difficult to execute.

And it’s worth it.

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#MeatlessMonday Grilled Leeks

So, it must be grilling season because now we’re doing

Grilled Leeks

This is a follow up to grilled green onions, a post in which I talked about the Well Done family’s desire to find new foods and grill them.  The inspiration for this little gem struck in the grocery store when we were picking up some green onions.

Suddenly, Mrs. WellDone spots some nice, fresh leeks and asks “Would those be good grilled?”

Which then launched us into the following culinary adventure.

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#MeatlessMonday and Cooking With Your Kids: Apple, Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches

Happy #MeatlessMonday!  Today we’re talking about Cooking with Your Kids and making

Apple, Banana, and Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Yes, this recipe is very simple, but it’s important to know that there are fun, meatless alternatives we can give our kids that aren’t fried or full of sugar.  Sure, some peanut butters are little more than hydrogenated oil and sugar, but this recipe can be healthy if you use the no sugar added peanut butter.

Besides, if you add enough apples, bananas, and perhaps a touch of honey (or agave), they’ll never know the difference!

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#MeatlessMonday Red Wine Braised Tofu and Seitan

323383133_77c05a0ea1_m… and we’re back with another #MeatlessMonday (and only one day late!)

#MeatlessMonday Red Wine Braised Tofu and Seitan

So I got this idea off the Meatless Monday newsletter, which dutifully hits my inbox every week and gives me all kinds of delicious meatless recipe ideas.  On this week’s menu is a recipe for tofu coq au vin, which is mind blowing.

Coq au vin is a traditional French cooking liquid made from wine, lemon juice, lardons (which somehow didn’t make it into the meatless version…), mushrooms and garlic.  This liquid is then used to add a world of flavor to tofu which has been hard seared.  Pretty cool and certainly something I’d never thought of to do. 

So, I was thinking, if tofu could be made coq au vin style, what else could we do with wine and tofy?  And from those ponderings comes today’s recipe.  Well, that and I like seitan.

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#MeatlessMonday Spicy Vegetable Pilaf

Magalie L'Abbe's Poblano Peppers

Magalie L'Abbe's Poblano Peppers

From hunger comes inspiration like

#MeatlessMonday Spicy Vegetable Pilaf

So, as usual, it’s Monday, so happy #MeatlessMonday!!  Hopefully everyone is enjoying their weekly respite on meat.  Or maybe you’re just looking for something tasty for dinner… well look no further.

Anyway, this is a simple dinner that can be done with minimal prep and be ready in about 20 minutes of cook time.  All you have to do is chop up your selection of vegetables, saute them a bit in olive oil, then add some rice and broth.  Cover and come back in 20 minutes.  Boom, spicy vegetable pilaf.

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#MeatlessMonday Vegan Pork Albondigas with Match Meat and Red Gold Tomato Sauce

Vegan AlbondigasBecause I can’t promote just one thing in a post, let’s do

#MeatlessMonday Vegan Pork Albondigas with Match Meat and Red Gold Tomato Sauce

Phew.  That’s a mouthful.  This post is like already like NASCAR car.  It’s just covered in ads.  Hrmm…let’s see how much worse I can make it.

Anyway, this is the promised second post in my Saturday Edition of #MeatlessMonday.  I’ve been doing a little catch up on the #MeatlessMonday tip since I missed  a few weeks.  So that’s why this is a #MeatlessMonday post.

Secondly, this is a recipe for albondigas, which is Spanish for “meatballs.”  But don’t be fooled.  Sure, there are some albondigas recipes which are pretty much like your average Italian meatball recipe or exceptional one’s at Jasper’s.  (By the way, he’s having a from snout to tail pork dinner Thursday.)  Others, though, use Latin ingredients like corn or jalapenos to give them a unique flavor.  I used this recipe as a basis for my albondigas from because it stuffed them with rice.

Third, since I am trying to do this as a #MeatlessMonday, I figured I’d turn to Very Good Butchers since they are my favorite source of vegan meats and I also had a package of ground pork vegan Match Meat in my freezer.

Fourth, most of the recipes you find for albondigas are actually for albondigas soup, which is fine, and it’s how the folks got away with using uncooked rice in the albondigas.  I, on the other hand, didn’t want a soup.  So I found this recipe from for albondigas in ancho chile sauce.  And since the recipe called for diced tomatoes, I was more than happy to use the Red Gold tomatoes that I got in the tin I mentioned yesterday on

So in the end, I took the albondigas recipe and the sauce recipe and combined them together to make dinner.

(Oh, did I mention I went to the Farmhouse for lunch and guest posted on The Bobby Pin?  And congratulations to Chef Michael Smith for his James Beard nomination and to Chef Debbie Gold for being tapped for Top Chef Masters.)

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#MeatlessMonday Le Seuer Pea Pasta with Red Gold Tomoates

Red Gold ProductsFirst of all, Chef Jasper, this recipe was not an attempt to copy your Pasta alla Nanni, though I’d be lying if I said that

Le Seuer Pea Pasta with Red Gold Tomatoes

didn’t take one of its ingredients for your famous pasta dish.  But more on that in a minute.

First thing’s first.  Welcome to the first of two #MeatlessMonday Saturday edition posts.  Yes, yes, it’s been well-documented that having #MeatlessMonday on a Tuesday, Wednesday, etc., etc. is just weird.  But I’m making up for lost time.  I missed a few weeks, but I’m back in saddle just in time for lent.  Just remember, on Fridays when you’re not eating meat, you can eat vegetarian.  You’ll love it.  Promise.

Okay, back to the dish.  As I said above, this recipe is in no way an attempt to copy world famous Chef Jasper Mirabile’s Pasta alla Nanni, though I will admit it was a huge inspiration.  In fact, I hadn’t had Le Seuer peas in years until I went to Chef’s restaurant and he served up a  pasta the Pasta alla Nanni to my wife and I.  Now, they’re back to being a pantry staple in the BWD household.

So, to Chef Jasper I give a nod of thanks and I promise that since you won’t give out the recipe for Pasta alla Nanni to anyone (including BWD, Jr.), I won’t publish any guesses on how to make it.  But I bet I can come close. 🙂

With that being said, there’s another ingredient to our battle.  The secret ingredient.

Sorry, I channeled Iron Chef there for a second.

In all seriousness, a little while ago, Red Gold tomatoes sent me the coolest freaking tin of product.  It had three cans of Red Gold tomatoes (sauce, diced, and diced with green chilies), a recipe book, a refrigerator magnet, and a model Red Gold truck that my son loved so much he wrote me a thank you card for it.  So cool. 

So I’ve been holding those cans for something special when I realized that my Red Gold tomato sauce would be perfect for a recipe like this.  Seriously, if you have been using generic tomato suace, I highly recommend you try a good quality sauce like Red Gold tomato sauce next time .   There is definitely a dfference with good ingredients.

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