Quorn-tastic and not so Quorn-tastic

Hamburgers, "Quorn Style."
Hamburgers, “Quorn Style.”

As Meg and I continue our search for more Quorn products as part of our new “healthy” eating regime we have actually found some Quorn things we don’t like. But before we venture into that territory, I would like to say that we love the hamburger patties that we found.

They look sort of like “fast food” burgers and taste excellent. Almost like having a McDonald’s or Burger King, which does kind of make you wonder just what they are really putting into the BK and Mickey D burgers. With or without garnish (we use lettuce and cucumber) they are a tasty  meal that  makes you feel like you’re indulging in a forbidden treat.

So a big “thumbs up” for the faux hamburgers.

I’ve already said about the bacon substitute so I’ll just reiterate that it tasted more like baloney and not like bacon at all. It had a tendency to burn when cooked (although to be far, it was our first time at preparing the stuff) and only had any real taste when it was piping hot.

We have resorted to using the Tesco’s healthy option bacon. This is middle bacon with all the fat removed except for the tiniest sliver on the edge. Now I will point out that this is Dutch bacon. You can’t seem to get the healthy option in British bacon which is disappointing.

I don’t know if any of you have seen how they “raise” pork in Holland, but it is very off-putting. I am not an avid animal rights activist or anything, but even I could see that the way they treat the pigs is cruel. So we are kind of putting our favourite treat on hold for the moment until we can find a viable substitute. In other words, one where the bacon has not been grotesquely treated when it was still on the hoof.

Not to be mistaken for food.
Not to be mistaken for food.

Now for the Quorn product which failed the taste test abysmally. The “shaped lamb” cutlets smelled great (when cooked) and had been flavoured with Rosemary and Mint.

Unfortunately, the aroma was the only thing that these cutlets had going for them. Meg pointed out that the finished (cooked) product resembled tree bark. I had to agree that it did look an awful lot like a huge slab of tree bark.

Meg took one mouthful and after making the sort of facial contortions associated with the Bush Tucker Trials on the I’m a Celebrity show, swallowed the stuff and declared, “I really don’t like it.” After which,  she moved the offending tree bark to the edge of her plate. She later removed it completely and it was relegated to her napkin for the remainder of the meal.

I did not have quite as strong a reaction to it. I ate mine, but did not really enjoy it, and wound up eating hers as well. The only thing I did not like was the amount of Rosemary they had infused the cutlet with. Very overpowering and not at all pleasant. So needless to say, we will not be getting those again.

The final verdict on Quorn thus far is this: if it is  chicken or beef replicated products, the manufacturer wins hands down. If it is pork, that would be a (insert buzzer sound here) no. So in future if we decide to try any new products, they will be of the chicken or beef variety.

The lamb will not be tried again either, whether it is in the shape of a cutlet or not. Although I did manage to choke down both portions, it was not enjoyable and eaten mainly because I could not bear the thought of all those starving Chinese children. *See ma! You did scar me for life with that phrase!*

But all joking aside, we are not just eating healthier, we are living healthier. We walk more or less daily (Meg slows her pace to match mine after she realizes that I am no longer reacting to her conversation as I’ve fallen too far back) I am still too afraid of doing any weights, no matter how light, until the doc says my chest bones have healed.

I’m also a bit leery of walking too damn fast in case I blow out my aorta. I am sure that I’ll be full of confidence after I meet with my surgeon again.

The most important bit is that I do feel healthier each day and I am able to walk faster and further each time I go out. Of course this is not due to a meat free diet. I have  been eating meat as well in the form of tuna sandwiches (with light mayo) and since my return home we had one Kentucky and one Burger King.

I don’t count Chinese food from Michael’s Kitchen (a healthy restaurant that cooks everything in olive oil or non saturated fat oil). I don’t know if I am allowed cookies or ice cream but I eat both, although the ice cream is low fat.

I would have had a lot more to write about in the way of recipes today, but work has reared its ugly head. I won’t go into what is going on at the moment as it is all very up in the air. The moment I find out anything interesting or, at the very least, amusing I’ll be sure to pass it on.

Français : Un MacDonald's, un KFC et un Pizza ...
Death on a plate? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To Quorn or not to Quorn…

Well, so far in our experimental voyage into Quorn territory we have made a few discoveries. Firstly we’ve found that Quorn make really good fake chicken and fake hamburger (mince). The jury is out on their pork products as the bacon was not really a full “fail” but damned close. We haven’t tried their ersatz sausages yet. The sausages might be great thus increasing their score on the fake pork front.

Delicious and nutritious tasks just like chicken…

For the record we’ve enjoyed everything that was chicken or mince related. We had the coujons the other night and they were a run-a-way success.

Although we got robbed of one coujon. Our packet only had seven. I can only assume that someone on the assembly line got hungry. We tried the chilli again last night and it too was just as tasty and satisfying as the last time we cooked it.

Tonight we are trying the chicken style and leek pies with rice and vegetables.

So far so healthy.

We’ve got two more Quorn products in the freezer patiently waiting for their culinary debut. Hamburger patties and “pork style” sausages. Those will be eaten later in the week and I’ll report on whether or not they passed the taste test.

In terms of cooking I know that the kitchen doesn’t smell of grease and when I do the washing up — by hand of course, we must be the only house in Suffolk that doesn’t have a dishwasher — there is no greasy residue left in the wash bowl. Another by-product of our new diet is the absence of that, “I’m so full I can’t move,” feeling. You know the one, where you have to let your meal settle before you can even think of moving around.

And apart from the beans in the chilli having their usual effect, indigestion has vanished from the Smith household. In the stakes of cutting down our meat consumption and increasing our vegetable intake we are definitely winning. But just the sight of the word stake, makes my mouth water for a medium rare steak.

Quorn Road
Quorn Road (Photo credit: Mykal Shaw)

As we continue our trial and error attempts at eating healthily via the Quorn route I’ll continue to pass on any new recipes and products that we try and like or don’t like.

Whether Quorn turns out to be our main non-meat product is open for debate. I had at least one suggestion by a reader about trying some of Linda McCartney‘s non-meat products. So far I have resisted the urge to try the late Linda’s fare. I do have my reasons.

I have noticed over time that whenever a product has a celebrity’s name on its packaging, the price rises accordingly. That’s not to say that the McCartney products aren’t worth it, but I know that most of their “vegetarian” substitutes for meat are made up of glutens and other cereal products. Not to mention good old soybean.

To be honest if I wanted to eat soybean, I’d just cook everything with tofu in it. At the risk of sounding facetious, I’m not changing my diet because I cannot bear the thought of “poor innocent animals” dying so I can eat. In my opinion that’s what animals are here for (some of them anyway) and I like meat, damn it.

But for health reasons I’m forced to change my dietary habits of a lifetime. Anything that at least tastes like meat and looks like meat is going to come up trumps in my search for a sinewy substitute. But I don’t want to chow down on a plate full of glutens and cereal and soybean. Not unless I have to.

Besides I am not cutting out meat entirely. I still plan on having the odd rump steak sans fat, of course. I want my arteries to stay as open as possible but I don’t want to eat like a monk to get them that way. I’ve given up some of my favourite things, sour cream being at the top of the list.

Luckily I have always liked most vegetables, with the exception of eggplant or aubergine if you have a university degree, so increasing my consumption will not be too difficult. Just as cutting down on the richer deserts will not pose too much of a problem. I do have a sweet tooth, but not a “sickly sweet” one.

I’d love to go on about my inner thoughts on Quorn and whether or not it’s the answer to my culinary quest for heart healthy repasts, but I’ve got Quorn pies in the oven and must keep an eye on them.

Bon Appetit!

Chicken Style and Leek Pies….Yum!

Quorn, Pasta, Mushroom, Pepper and Cheese Treat

So last night we decided to try a variation on an old favorite. When Meg was sharing a house with a young lady named Emily, she was introduced to one of the tastiest and easiest meals in the world.

Dead simple to make and extremely tasty.

It doesn’t have a name although you could call it Emily’s Pasta Dish. The main ingredients for the original dish are bacon, flat mushrooms, green and red pepper, pasta and cheese.

Now just in case you didn’t notice the bacon –which I helpfully highlighted in italics and bold print– I’ll point it out again. This lovely delicious treat has artery hardening, cholesterol raising, heart attack inducing bacon in it.

We decided to substitute the real bacon with Quorn bacon.

Now I don’t know if you remember or not, but I did say in another post that my first introduction to Quorn was not a roaring success. The texture was wrong and it didn’t taste quite right. Interestingly enough it was ham, another pork product, and I had a similar problem with the ersatz Quorn bacon. Meg noticed immediately that it looked more like bacon shaped baloney. I hasten to add it was shaped like English bacon. I had to agree.

Further more, to me at any rate, it tasted like baloney. I consider myself a bit of an expert as I used to dearly love fried baloney sandwiches. I know, you are sitting there thinking, “And this man is surprised that he had a heart attack?” But if you notice the operative part of the sentence is the phrase, ‘used to.’

Now the more crunchy portions of the Quorn bacon did taste a bit like bacon, but the less crispy bits did not. The dish was still enjoyable in many ways, it just did not taste as good as the rest of the Quorn dishes we’ve tried.

I guess there really is no perfect substitute for good old greasy, crisp bacon.

The recipe is as follows –if you are still interested:

4 slices of bacon (real or substitute)

3 – 4 flat mushrooms (by all means use organic ones if you wish)

1 green pepper

1 red pepper

2 – 4 bowls of cooked pasta (we use the twist aka Fusilli pasta, again you can use whole wheat or any variation)

1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

grated light cheese for topping.

If you use American style “streaky bacon” you won’t need to add any oil to your frying pan.

First start slowly frying your bacon in a pan big enough to hold your bacon, mushrooms and peppers.

Start boiling your water for your pasta

While you’re boiling and frying, cut your flat mushrooms into medium-sized pieces and then do the same to your peppers. (I’m sure everyone knows this already but, don’t forget to get rid of the seeds)

Once your bacon is cooked to your level of satisfaction (crispy or not) add the cut mushrooms and peppers.

Continue to cook the bacon with the mushrooms and peppers until done.

Once your pasta is al dente enough drain the water from the pan.

Now drain the excess liquid from the frying pan.

*If you time it right, the pasta and the other ingredients will all be ready at the same time.*

Add your bacon, mushrooms and peppers to the cooked pasta and stir.

Once you’ve plated up the dish, add the grated cheese to taste.

This is a great recipe for students or someone who doesn’t want to spend a long time preparing a delicious meal.

With real bacon or fake bacon and lovely dish.

Please excuse the blurriness of the photo, I was starving and had a hard time holding my phone still!

There is one thing I need to mention. The Quorn bacon might not have tasted like real bacon but, the dish was a lot “cleaner” with it. Making the dish with real bacon is “yummier” but “greasier.” It’s really up to you whether or not you use real Porky Pig bacon or not.

If you try it out, let me know what you think of it. Is it better with real bacon or did you prefer the imitation bacon.

Quorn Korma Another Healthy Heart Meal

So last night we had Quorn Korma. It was, as expected, delicious. I can also point out that it was easier to make than our usual chicken korma. I did not have to cut anything into small pieces apart from the mushroom that is a staple ingredient of most of our favorite dishes.

Quorn Korma. YUM

Admittedly it tasted much better than it looks in the picture. After I had taken a couple of snaps of the finished product, my daughter Meg looked at the pictures and said flatly, “It looks like dogfood.”

After surveying the pictures for a moment I had to agree, but to me it looked like more than dogfood. It looked like dogfood on rice.

This is so easy to make that you don’t really need a recipe unless you want to make the whole mess from scratch. We will be attempting a “curry” type dish from scratch later, but for now we took the easy way out.

The ingredients are simple. Well, simple if you live in the UK. We took one jar of Tesco’s finest Korma cooking sauce, –which is probably chock full of all kinds of heart attack inducing ingredients, but hey, we wanted to see what it would taste like– some mushrooms, –organic is you want to be really healthy–  and rice.

While we cooked the Quorn fake chicken in the korma sauce with our added mushrooms, we made the rice. In roughly 15 – 20 minutes the meal was made, dished up and put on the table.

It’s funny how differently you see things after you’ve had a “near death” experience. Before my tremendously exciting eventful day on the 30th of August this year I could not understand why anyone would prefer a meat substitute for the real deal.

Like Meg, I was of the opinion that Quorn, or products like it, was a sort of westernized Tofu. A strange sort of soybean curd thing that took the flavour of whatever it was cooked with.

Wrong.

The stuff isn’t made from soybean and it doesn’t absorb the flavour of what you cook it with.

The other opinion we share was our misunderstanding of why people would become vegetarians but still want meat flavoured substitutes. After the necessary changes to my diet, we can both now understand why. We are both eating healthier but are not having to live without “meat.”

So we now have a better understanding of vegetarians. The same cannot be said of Vegans. These rather eclectic “holier than thou” food snobs are completely beyond me.

Back to the recipe for a minute, I am sure that wherever you live a sort of cooking sauce exists that can be used instead of our Tesco’s finest korma sauce.

We are continuing our excursion into healthy eating the Quorn way. We are still experimenting with other vegetable type dishes and it’s on the calendar for us to attempt to do “homemade” sushi.

I will point out that I do still miss my meat, but I don’t miss the grease and the after-smell. Tonight, if the store has any, we will be trying the Quorn bacon in one of our favourite dishes.

It remains to be seen if this fungi bacon will satisfy my craving for the crisp real bacon that I adore. But, like all the other “new dishes” we’ve tried since my heart attack, I’ll let you know how it turns out.

On a completely different note, I will be putting my grimacing mug at the top of all my blog posts for awhile. Since my problem with the thumbnails the other day, I’ve had the odd person say that they liked my picture on the top. So until a lot of people complain at my apparent narcissistic tendencies, I’ll leave it up as my blog posts “calling card.”

Who is that handsome man??