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After last week's less-than-stellar visit to Zatarain's, the panel was delighted to see that the subjects of this week's reviews are from Sweet Earth Natural Foods.
We discovered Sweet Earth Natural Foods over a year ago, in the breakfast items section of the frozen foods aisle. Their Big Sur Breakfast Burrito and Baja Breakfast Burrito were big hits with the panel - at least one member now keeps Baja Breakfast Burritos on hand in their freezer for emergencies.
Today we chose to cook all three burritos on a plate rather than wrapping them in a paper towel. One thing we did notice is that Sweet Earth Natural Foods has omitted the conventional oven instructions from the packaging, including only microwave instructions. According to the panel member with Baja burritos at home, that's too bad; he felt it was by far the best cooking method, yielding a drier tortilla more suitable for holding one-handed. Further, the packaging is now a plastic overwrap rather than butcher paper, so microwaving the burrito in the wrapper is no longer an option (unless you like soggy burritos and plastic in your food, I suppose).
All three of the burritos we reviewed for today shared important similarities with the Baja and Big Sur burritos: tender tortilla, a substantial amount of filling that goes all the way to the end of the burrito, and seitan protein. The three varieties were all quite different in flavor, however.
The Curry Tiger Burrito is "basically curried lentils in a burrito," which is no bad thing at all. Green lentils, peas, and chunks of carrots and potatoes all have great texture - the peas are almost crunchy while the carrots are firm. There's a soft curry flavor with a pleasant aftertaste of cinnamon and cardamom and a hint of jalapeno spice. Some of the panelists thought the flavor could be a little more assertive, but others liked its softness because it allowed the flavor of the lentils and peas to come through. Thumbs up all around. (320 calories, 350 milligrams of sodium, 7 grams of fiber - wow!)
The Kyoto Burrito was the big surprise of the tasting session. Adzuki and soy beans (edamame) are mixed with what appears to be shredded or even minced bok choy and spinach along with brown rice, julienned carrots, and sliced shiitake mushroom. The beans give this a nice "munch" and the mushrooms give it a big umami flavor. It has a tasty ginger/garlic/soy sauce flavor to go with the toasted sesame oil. "Who knew that stir fry in a burrito would work so well?" said one astonished panelist. (280 calories, 490 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of fiber)
By comparison to the previous two burritos, The Anasazi Burrito seemed almost mundane. It's not, however, unless you think that a burrito with anasazi beans (they look like small red kidney beans, but with appaloosa red-and-white markings), butternut squash, corn, barley, and chipotle-flavored seitan is mundane. The butternut squash lends an unexpected note of sweetness to the smokey chipotle flavor of the seitan, but it's not too sweet, by any means. "This has... more of a traditional burrito flavor," the panel agreed, "with a nod to Native American foods." Overall, this is "good, but not earth-shattering." (310 calories, 450 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber)
To be fair, if we'd tasted the Anasazi burrito along with some other brands we've tried, we'd probably rave about it. Compared to the excellent Kyoto burrito and the very good Curry Tiger burrito, this is just not quite as spectacular. All three, however, get thumbs way up from the Dr. Gourmet tasting panel. Sweet Earth Natural Foods also makes veggie burgers, we saw on their web site. We'll have to look for those.
First posted: July 24, 2015