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Cute name: Beetnik Foods.
Looking online we found that this company specializes in shipping organic, free range, and grass fed meats direct to your door. They even sell fish and some gluten free and specialty products. Their story looked pretty cool and the frozen meals an interesting departure from the ordinary mac and cheese.
The first package looked promising too with the Peruvian Seasoned Chicken Stew coming in at only 130 calories. Then I figured out why. These are labeled Paleo Friendly. The silliness of the paleo diet aside, 130 calories isn't much and the dish only contains 240 mg of sodium and the package is also labeled Gluten Free.
The flavor is really quite good. Rich and spicy with good texture to the sauce. There are teeny, tiny pieces of chicken (that are slightly stringy), tomatoes, peppers and onions seasoned with cayenne, cumin and garlic. The package is labeled MED with two peppers (presumably this means medium spiciness). For some this will be too spicy, but it does (in my opinion) fall in the medium range, not overpowering the flavor of the chicken and vegetables.
The Chili Made with Grass Fed Beef is labeled MILD (with only one pepper) and this, too, lives up to the package description. The beef is seasoned with cumin, cocoa powder, oregano, garlic, jalapenos, and ancho chili powder. This is mild and very flavorful, and best of all, not too salty at only 210 milligrams of sodium. The texture is what lets this dish down. The flavor of the beef is good, but the texture is completely awful. Every bite has a gristly, tough texture just like rubber bands. Some of the bites are a bit like chewing on the cartilage of a chicken bone. (I guess that is the paleo part of the meal.) Given that these folks sell beef online I am assuming that they said, "What if we took all the scraps from the beef we trim including gristle, tendons, and meat too tough to actually eat, and made a frozen meal out of it?"
Their chili comes with one of the most resounding thumbs down that we have ever given and is essentially inedible by any reasonable human of this day and age. The Chicken Stew is OK and might be saved by the addition of perfectly decent carbs – some brown rice or beans would improve the texture, taste great, and would help to remove the paleo diet stigma from the meal. It would also add some much needed fiber, as these meals come in at only 2 grams of fiber each.
Given that Beetnik Organic knows nothing about choosing quality beef but that the chicken stew was OK, we decided to give them a third, tie-breaker, chance with their Grass Fed Beef Meatballs. Maybe it was the fact that it, too, was labelled Paleo Friendly that helped us make this decision.
The silliness of the paleo diet aside (again) this dish started out well. The sauce is a slightly spicy marinara with flavorful veggies and it doesn't suffer from the too bright flavor that a lot of tomato sauces in frozen meals have. Once again, this meal is let down by the meat. The beef meatballs are nicely spiced, but the texture is dry, dry, dry. Eaten by themselves without any sauce they are pretty terrible. Having them with the sauce makes them a bit moister, but all in all this just doesn't work. These meals have a good cook behind them but a bad shopper.
I suppose that this is what it means to eat the paleo diet. Good sauces and recipes spoiled by tough, inedible meat and no carbs. It's no wonder we evolved to eating a better diet. Even Paleolithic man had to believe that it just wasn't worth living for.
Leave these in the freezer case for our descendants to find and wonder why we would ever make meals like this.
Reviewed: December 11, 2015