Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Guess what? The good folks at Sun Basket were generous in every sense of the word to send me a box of three meals to prepare, test, and review. And boy, do I have a story to tell you!
A wonderful surprise to come home to! Look at how cute the box is!! It’s so happy!
It started with a Facebook group about food. There was a post about the trend of meal kits. I must say, the comments were pretty-much split on positive and negative—but, most of the negative comments were written by food snobs and food purists. I had an idea and reached out to Sun Basket!
How do I feel about meal kits? Well—my feelings are basically this. If it is a good, and I mean a good kit (I sound like The Barefoot Contessa here with the good vanilla and olive oil), with fresh ingredients and detailed instructions, meal kits can be an immense help to both experienced and inexperienced home cooks.
Take Millennials. Many of them are literally working over 12 hours a day. I know this. My three Millennials are workaholics. And this demographic likes the best in everything. (Oona just purchased a Sous Vide and is all over me as to why I never got one.) Regardless. Between work, business trips, and the social life, when is there time to go and buy all the ingredients needed for a decent and fresh meal?
Millennials. A great many are just too busy working and making money—especially with the cost of student loan debt to pay off. But–this is a group that could do very well with the meal kits!
But— I also want to focus on our demographic. The older and more mature demographic. How would this kit work for empty nesters who may want to try something new now that the kids are out of the house and time is spent cooking only for two? What about older people who may not be able to get out as often? What about older folks who want to try something different?
Yes. And many empty-nesters and older folks love to have fun, and travel, and enjoy good food–doesn’t Bonaparte look like an older version of Anthony Bourdain?
And so today when I arrived home from work a huge box was awaiting me. I was excited because I was intrigued about the whole kit and caboodle movement.
And caboodle it was.
Ingredients for three meals included these bagged and packaged for the pulled pork..
…for the salmon. And look how cute everything is packaged…
…and for the shrimp!
And look! Instructions for recycling. How could you not love this?
The recipe book–with lots of fun extras!
Look. I’ll be cooking three meals over the next three days, I’ll give my honest thoughts on the instructions, the process, and the result.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
I couldn’t wait to get home and start dinner. It didn’t just rain today, it stormed and the thought of sliders with slaw and corn gave me a feeling of comfort food. Can I let you in on a secret? I’ve never had pulled pork before. Swear to you. I’ve had barbequed chicken at the Salt Lick in Texas, but pulled pork is just one of those things that have eluded my palate.
Recipe book on the counter, ingredients gathered I was ready. I followed instructions, which were extremely easy to follow. This recipe is a great one for a beginner cook! Water on the burner for the corn. Pork heating up in the vinegar sauce, with a bit of the sauce put aside and I was ready to make the slaw. I’m weird when it comes to slaw. I’m very fussy. In fact, my favorite slaw is made by my girlfriend, Marybeth DiBiase. Her slaw rocks! She should sell her slaw!
Recipe book opened, I was ready and eager to follow the very simple and clear instructions.
The meat, as well as other ingredients was well-packed!
Easy as one, two, three!
Slaw prepared while the meat was cooking and the water for the corn boiling!
The only change I made to this recipe was, in fact, with the slaw. Rather than oil, I used mayo—only two teaspoons was called for so that’s all the mayo I used. The remainder of the vinegar sauce was poured into the bowl with the slaw makings and mixed.
The portion size was PERFECT. And Bonaparte finished off the four sliders in no time!
Time to assemble! I gave Bonaparte 4 sliders and I had two because I’m trying to stick to my diet.
Finger lickin’ good–note the corn juice on my chin. Hey–it’s the only way to eat a good pulled pork and corn dinner!
Verdict—a winner! Finger-licking good! Bonaparte thought the slaw could have used a bit more mayo but I don’t like a very “wet” slaw. The slaw was very, very good.
The pork was tender and the sauce was great—had it been just a tad less sweet, it would have been excellent! And leave it to a Frenchman to comment on the slider buns. He loved them!!!
Overall, this was a great weeknight meal. The serving portions and the amount of food calculated by Sun Basket were perfect!
I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s meal!
Thursday, August 3, 2017
Bonaparte is working late this evening. He’s got a late client meeting so I’m on my own. Because he doesn’t like cooked salmon (But he does love salmon rillettes—it’s like loving crab cakes but not liking crab), I am going to make the Salmon with Snap Peas, Carrots, and Red Pepper-Almond Salsa. I’ll be able to take the remainder to work tomorrow for lunch.
What’s in my bag? All these goodies for a delicious dinner!
An added bonus is the nutrition per serving. This should be an essential for every printed recipe in publication.
Salmon remained fresh.
The recipe, again, was concise and easy to follow. But as I started prep work, I noticed that the nutritional value per serving was also included. I quickly took my Weight Watcher’s calculator out and went to work as a points mathematician.
This dinner was 15 Smart Points per serving. On an allowance of 30 PP per day, this wasn’t bad at all. I went back to calculate last night’s meal and at 22 Smart Points per serving, this warrants strong willpower of making sure you aren’t snacking during the day.
So, I did the prep work, which took absolutely no time at all. And the Mint-Cilantro Chutney that is included–can I just say that Sun Basket should sell this on its own. I kept sneaking little tastes. There would be no more for dinner if I kept this up!
This. Mint-Cilantro Chutney. Addictive. Just. Addictive!
The fact that the ingredients were still incredibly fresh after receiving them on Tuesday was very impressive. I cut the veg, and didn’t add oil to the salsa. In fact, the recipe did have a little tip to make it leaner—omit the oil in the salsa!
Ingredients for the salsa chopped..
Mixed and chutney added, I had to walk away or else I would have picked at it until it disappeared!
Carrots peeled and cut.
Oil was also not added to the carrots and snap peas. I added a bit of water to the pan instead and the vegs were cooked just the same.
But look at the tip! OK–so it was to omit the oil from the salsa–but you get my drift!
Salmon in the pan and searing!
The salmon—the cooking time stated was 4 to 5 minutes on one side and 2 to 4 on the other. I like my salmon like my steak—rare! I only cooked the salmon maybe a total of five minutes. Period!
Plated and dinner tout seul—all alone. Oh. My. God. This was definitely a winner! This was better than last night’s pulled pork! The chutney on the salsa and veg and salmon was such a great burst of aromatic favor! The salmon was fresh, moist, and flaky. The salsa—I’m making Bonaparte go to the store and buy everything that was in that salsa because I’m making a huge batch!!
Look how colorful and healthy this is. And the taste. I honesty felt as though I had gone out to a good restaurant. This food is very high-quality!
Sun Basket gets an A+ on this one!
Friday, August 4, 2017
Tonight’s dinner brings the taste of Brazil to the palate! Brazilian Shrimp Moqueca with Yuca Mash. This was the meal I was most excited to make. I love Shrimp and I love Cilantro. I’m not familiar with yuca; I had it once many, many years ago but can’t really remember it all that well. Anyway, since it was Friday, and Bonaparte insists on his aperitifs on Friday and Saturday evenings, my one concern was “How long is this gonna take to prepare and cook”?
Yes. This would be me on a Friday evening pre-dinner apertif enjoyment!
Well, time-wise, it wasn’t even an issue. Everything went smoothly. In fact, Bonaparte was a huge help in peeling the yuca. I’ll be transparent with you. He can’t stand shrimp so I was on my own again—and my challenge was making sure I didn’t eat the entire two servings if I liked it!
Sun Basket had me at Cilantro and Coconut milk!
Who writes the instructions for these recipes anyway? I want to kiss him or her for making the wording so easy to follow!
And the shrimp remained fresh!
Once again, the ingredients were fresh. And just enough. The amount of coconut milk, the garlic, everything in perfect portion, I’m still perplexed, though, as to how Sun Basket managed to send an onion that didn’t make me cry!!! Thank you for keeping my mascara in place so that I looked pretty during dinner!
My eyes remained the same after peeling and slicing the onion. Usually my face is striped–not my clothing, when I’m peeling onions!
Sliced and ready to go!
At the boiling point–and I’m not gonna lie. I was a bit concerned that the amount of coconut milk may have not been enough–but it was, in fact, the right amount!
The yuca with the coconut milk cooked down and reduced wonderfully!
The yuca took the longest to cook. However, after it came to a boil, I turned the burner down to the lowest setting, put a top on the pot and enjoyed two Kir royals. By the time we were finished with the drinks, the yuca was nice and tender and ready for mashing.
Once again, I did not use the oil to cook the veg. I placed about a quarter-cup of water into the pan and let the veg get nice and tender. The water evaporates and the veg still cooks without added calories.
Veg cooking in the water…
Reduced nicely with no oil.
Shrimp added and I’m getting hungry all over again!
Yuca mashed, veg and shrimp cooked, adorned with seasonings and cilantro, I couldn’t wait to try this.
As soon as I get to maintenance, I’m buying some yuca!
I’ll tell you one thing; I cheated with the yuca. I tasted the mash before adding everything else to the bowl. OMG!! Yuca is manna from Heaven. But it is starchy. It didn’t matter—it was so good, I could have eaten about five pounds of this. Thank you, Sun Basket, for providing just the right amount—you saved me from gluttony!
The shrimp, refrigerated, was still the acme of freshness after the third day. The mix of the onion, pepper, tomatoes, and garlic was not overbearing either. Everything blended very well to make this an enjoyable event of flavor! The yuca at the bottom of the bowl was like a buried treasure!
The plated or bowled dinner! And I was “bowled” over at how delicious this was!
While I was enjoying my dish, Bonaparte kept looking over at me and repeating in his heavy French accent “Ohhhh, zuh smell of zhat eez soooo nice.” “Perhaps you weehl give me a test ov eet eef ou don’ mine “He was a sorry Frenchman—sorry he didn’t have a serving. And he couldn’t enjoy a serving because I dug in for a second helping!
Yes Bonaparte. I DO mime–I mean, mind if you try to take more of my delicious dinner. I’m territorial!
This was my favorite meal from the box. Whew! Aromatic and not overly spicy. I would make this every Friday evening. I’m not kidding either. A ++++
The meal was so great that I started dancing the Samba on our deck!
18 Smart Points per serving brought my total up considerably because I went in for a second serving. Hey. Sun Basket is to blame for my weakness because the meal was that good. OK? I’m not taking responsibility for my naughty behavior. Sun Basket did not save me from overeating tonight!
Now that the three meals have been prepped and cooked and enjoyed, what’re my thoughts?
I highly recommend. I’m telling my kids about Sun Basket. I think all three could benefit given their devotion to their careers and little time for shopping. In addition, Oona is doing the “Whole-30” and I think she would love Sun Basket’s Paleo offerings.
To all my Atypical60 friends—Visit Sun Basket’s website and check it out (And NO I am NOT receiving a compensation for recommending. I am recommending because this is a great subscription. You know I keep it honest and real! This company has great product.)
Would I subscribe/join Sun Basket. That’s a great question. Yes. I would. Not at this moment though. And the only reason is that I’m trying so hard to stick to my Weight Watchers point allotment. And while the meals run the gamut of around 13 to 22 points per serving, I would really, really have to manipulate much lower points between breakfast and lunch. Especially on the weekends when Bonaparte’s aperitifs are calling.
But—Sun Basket would be epic for maintenance and I’m giving this earnest consideration.
I’m going to research the Paleo, Vegetarian and Glutton-free choices because I think they could be an asset during my particular weight-loss journey. We’ll see—it’s just that I’m so used to counting points that it could be difficult for me to go out of the box—so to speak!
At a price of around $11.49 per person, per serving, this is a very good value. Hold on. Coming in at less than $70.00 for two people, the classic plan, this is an excellent value. The value is even greater for the family plan.
For two people, Sun Basket’s Classic Menu Plan is a great choice! And pragmatic too!
What I’m really astounded by is that that there is absolutely no waste with the amount of food provided. The servings are perfect portions. Trust me, I go into Wegmans to do my grocery shopping and the pre-cut and peeled vegetables cost from five up to over ten dollars for a plastic-wrapped, Styrofoam thingy—and how much of that will be wasted? I’m big on no waste and believe me, Sun Basket gets a standing ovation (with me stuffing more yuca mash into my mouth) from me on that! I’ve even managed to save the little containers the extras come in. They are great for keeping spices and other odds and ends.
Standing ovation for an A+ product!
One suggestion I do have for the people at Sun Basket is why not create exclusively foreign meal plans. It would be awesome to open a box and have makings for old school French recipes, Middle-Eastern meals—dishes that people are intimidated to try making on their own, but may cook if they had the ingredients on hand. This idea could also be a good one for our immigrants who may not have access to the ingredients they miss from their homelands.
Also, I would give up my Longchamp bags if Sun Basket could collaborate with Weight Watchers—those frozen WW meals are nothing but sodium disguised as processed food. I have many Weight Watchers cookbooks and truth be told—I’m too lazy to go out and shop for the ingredients. Sun Basket would be my best friend if they could do Weight Watchers kits and I believe would be wildly popular!
Sun Basket is one of the few kit companies that is USDA-Certified Organic in their ingredients. Justine Kelly and Adam Zbar did good on this one when they christened Sun Basket in 2014.
Youse did good!
And that’s it! I want to give a special shout-out to Sean Timberlake of Sun Basket. Many companies are not running out of the gate to have the over-60 demographic test and review. Sun Basket is not ageist. And I love and respect that—a company with a social conscience that welcomes the older demographic group. Thank you, Sean. Thank you, Sun Basket!
Many thanks. Sun Basket is a winner!
Since my favorite meal was the Brazilian dinner, I have the need to play a Samba! One of MY favorite singers, Laurent Voulzy and “Spirit of Samba”