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Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

Sweet Earth Natural Foods

Big Sur Breakfast Burrito and Baja Breakfast Burrito

Until now we've largely avoided entering the breakfast food portion of the frozen food market. Early this year we reviewed two breakfast meals from Amy's because one of my patients said that she liked to eat them for lunch, and would I review them? Sweet Earth Natural Foods is another company that makes only vegetarian (lacto-ovo) foods and is based in Northern California. (Their packaging states, "The burrito abides," which may well tell us all we need to know about their company.)

Dr. Gourmet Reviews Sweet Earth Natural Foods Big Sur Breakfast BurritoUnlike most burritos, which come wrapped in plastic, these come wrapped in brown paper (a lot like butcher paper) that is waxed or otherwise coated on the inside. The web site instructs you to just loosen the wrapper and microwave for 1 minute per side, but the packaging states that "for best results" you should wrap them in a paper towel before microwaving. Our first burrito, the Big Sur Breakfast Burrito, we chose to wrap in a paper towel.

So many burritos that we review seem to be 80% tortilla (or other outer wrapping) and 20% filling - If that. We were surprised to see that these seem to be, well, a lot like a burrito made by hand in a restaurant: the filling actually comes to the end of the burrito instead of having a giant mouthful of plain tortilla at the end. And the amount of filling here is more than adequate - these are satisflyingly big bites full of filling, not tortilla.

And that plain, wheat tortilla tastes like a real tortilla - soft and a little chewy, as you'd expect from a burrito that's been microwaved. No jaw-bustingly thick chunks of tortilla here! And the filling is just as tasty. These are 1/4-inch chunks of potatoes with the skin on amid equal-sized chunks of tofu and chipotle seitan (a wheat-based protein; no, I couldn't taste these, sadly). There's just enough roasted red pepper to add a sweet and spicy tang, but overall this burrito is pretty mildly flavored. "Not bland, but soft," they said. One panelist thought that if you didn't know it, you might think this was made with hard-scrambled eggs rather than tofu. Good stuff, for breakfast or any other time: 280 calories, 540 milligrams of sodium, and 4 grams of fiber.

Dr. Gourmet Reviews Sweet Earth Natural Foods Baja Breakfast BurritoThe second burrito we tasted was their Baja Breakfast Burrito. For this one we simply loosened the wrapping and microwaved, discovering just why the paper towel method is recommended: the coated paper keeps the moisture in and leaves you with a sticky tortilla that's not particularly suited for holding in the hand, as the Big Sur Burrito was. Like the other burrito, this one's filling also comes to the end, although the folds in the tortilla are a little more apparent.

The amount of tortilla doesn't really matter, however, as this is another winner of a burrito. With the same flour tortilla and the same amount of filling, it's much spicier than the fairly sedate Big Sur: along with actual scrambled eggs, this includes roasted tomatoes, pinto beans, Anaheim chili peppers, cilantro (just a touch), and both Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses. Compared to the almost Asian flavors of the Big Sur, the Baja Breakfast Burrito's flavor profile is more stereotypically south of the border. "This is good," one panelist said with her mouth full. "Like, Juan's Flying Burrito good" (Juan's is a beloved local taqueria). (370 calories, 540 milligrams of sodium and 4 grams of fiber)

Of the two, the panel preferred the Baja burrito for its more robust and complex flavor, saying that the Big Sur was "more obviously vegetarian" with its undertone of tofu and roasted red pepper. Both burritos were a big hit. The company makes several other burritos; we look forward to finding more, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

First posted: October 3, 2014