Sometimes you just can't make it into the kitchen to cook. Dr. Gourmet has reviewed over 800 common convenience foods, ingredients, and restaurant selections so that you know what's worth eating - and what's not. View the Index of all Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews
Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP has counseled thousands of his patients on healthy, sustainable weight loss. Now he's compiled his best tips and recipes into a six-week plan for you to learn how to eat great food that just happens to be great for you - and if losing weight is your goal, you can do that, too.
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I actually find the idea of specifically created "functional foods" rather mystifying. Fresh, properly prepared food already performs its function (to nourish your body) admirably: creating a "functional food" seems like nothing but a marketing ploy. In the last few months we've beaten up pretty hard on Fit Wrapz and their version of functional foods, first with their notably not balanced Green Chili Chicken Burrito and Barbecue Seasoned Chicken Burrito, then with their truly appalling breakfast burritos.
We repeatedly compared Fit Wrapz' burritos to those of Sweet Earth Natural Foods. When I saw that Sweet Earth had gotten into the "functional foods" act as well, I thought it only fair that we review them. There are four varieties: two of which we'll review today, the Protein Lover's and the Lighten Up, and another two that we'll save for the future.
The Protein Lover's burrito has 20 grams of protein to go with its 260 calories, 550 milligrams of sodium, and 5 grams of fiber. Some might think that a "protein lover's" burrito would be some sort of Atkins-style high protein, very low carbohydrate item, but it's not: there's a quite respectable 28 grams of carbohydrates, most of which undoubtedly come from the tortilla. As with all of Sweet Earth Natural Foods' burritos, that tortilla is whole wheat, with a tender texture that's studded with flax seeds.
We were especially impressed with its performance in the microwave: after two minutes (turning over halfway through), it's a burrito that you can truly pick up in your hand. The Protein Lover's is a breakfast burrito that includes egg whites, cheese, and the company's "savory grounds," a seitan that includes flavorings designed to make it taste like pork. It also contains their "benevolent bacon" (vegetarian bacon with smoke flavorings) as well as quinoa, diced green bell peppers and onions, and roasted tomato. The overall texture of the filling was reported to be soft - "as you'd expect a breakfast burrito to be, I guess," but with a bit of crunch from the quinoa. Panelists described this as having a "smokey bacony flavor with some roasted tomato." Not much cheese or egg could be seen or specifically tasted, but the panelists felt this wasn't necessarily bad: "it's all mixed together anyhow." If you're looking for a little more protein with your breakfast burrito, this actually has its "macro and micro nutrients in line."
The Lighten Up burrito is a bit lighter on the calories, at 190, but you should be aware that it's higher in sodium: much higher, really (590 mg). The Protein Lover's has a sodium-to-calories ratio of 2.1, while the Lighten Up's ratio is 3.1. It does, however, have more fiber (7 grams) and much less protein (only 10 grams). That said, the panelists actually preferred this one over the Protein Lover's in terms of sheer flavor. With the same whole wheat tortilla, the first ingredient in the ingredient list is the salsa verde, a tangy blend of tomatillos, onions, poblano peppers, and jalapeno that gives this burrito a real zip. That ingredient list also identifies the type of seitan used in this burrito: Sweet Earth's Chipotle Seitan, which has a smokey chipotle-in-adobo flavor and a slow-burning heat. This burrito comes with black eyed peas, spinach (and lots of it), red bell pepper, and onion for an overall "great meaty texture" and a table-wide thumbs up.
Functional? I guess that depends on what you think your food is going to do. These burritos deliver flavor in a tasty and satisfying hand-held format that includes whole grains, protein, quality carbohydrates, and plenty of vegetables. Sounds functional to me.
Reviewed: September 16, 2016