As Tesco had Innocent Veg Pots for sale half price last week I bought five of them to review on my blog. Only one in their range isn't vegan, so I was excited to find a selection of readily-available vegan ready-meals that I could eat on the go at work or for dinner when I was feeling lazy or not too peckish. They are all advertised as low calorie (around 300 cals a pot) and certainly do pack a lot of healthy veg and pulses into one serving. I've just finished the last one, so here's my verdict!
The Thai Coconut Curry pot was the first one I opened. I was a bit apprehensive about this one as it seems to have quite a few negative reviews on their website. Some people even described it as being overpowering, tasting like Lemsip! I can imagine, however, that these people probably don't eat Thai curry very often and may have been put off by so much lemongrass. I love lemongrass, so that isn't a problem for me! I really did enjoy it - it tasted quite fresh and authentic for a readymeal, with lovely crunchy water chestnuts and filling split yellow peas and edamame beans. I'd definitely have it again. The smell from the kitchen at work was divine!
I wasn't very impressed with their Thai Vegetable Sweet Chilli though. To me, it lacked flavour. It seemed a bit watery and wasn't spicy enough or sweet enough... very mediocre indeed, although it did fill me up adequately and was still quite enjoyable. If I'd have tasted this one first of all, however, and had not already bought more of the range, I don't think I'd have been that keen to try the others, especially if it had been at full price (€3.99) instead of €1.99.
My faith was restored when I tried the Mexican Sweet Potato Chilli pot. This was definitely one of the nicest. I absolutely adore sweet potatoes and this pot was packed with them! The flavours really complimented eachother and it was just as tasty as any Mexican dish I have made at home. I love that pinto beans were also thrown into the mix and not just the usual kidney beans, and that the rice was brown.
The Portugese Piri Piri was another hit as well. Lovely sweet red peppers, potatoes that were not fluffy or soggy, and again a good mix of different beans, such as black turtle beans, which I would not normally expect to see in a ready-meal. I think that this pot could have done without the added demerera sugar though, as the chilli sauce had plum purée in it which would have sufficed for sweetness.
Finally, I had the Indian Vegetable Massala, which smelt very appetising and attracted Gerry to my side as soon as I plonked my bottom into my chair! Fantastic combinations of flavours and vegetables in this one - I love aubergines, carrots, lentils and chickpeas so it really appealed to me from the offset. This is another I'll definitely be having again soon. It would have been nicer if there were more than two spinach leaves, though!
So on the whole, I really do recommend Innocent's range of veg pots. I'm still not sure if I'd pay full price for them, but if I was stuck somewhere and unable to find a vegan lunch in a supermarket then I'd definitely consider one instead of a sandwich, seeing as nowadays in Ireland even a dull, boring, wrap can be almost as expensive and not half as nutritious or flavoursome. They really do fill you up and it's great that you get your five a day in one pot. I'd say if more omnivores packed a couple of these in every now and again they'd be a lot better off, seeing as many meat eaters I know seem to not eat as much veg as they should! One let down, however, was the amount of sauce. I feel that even though the pots are sold as low-calorie, they could have been made even healthier by cutting down on the sauce and upping the amount of veggies and pulses, and adding less sugar. You have to bear in mind that, even though they are sold as a healthy snack, they are still technically ready-meals and should not be consumed on a regular basis in place of good, decent home cooking!
I'd love to try the Indian Daal Curry pot and the Moroccan veg pot with giant cous cous (pictured below), but Tesco does not seem to stock them!