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I made the decision to go vegetarian a couple of months ago for various reasons. Firstly because I wanted my breast milk to be of high quality and after finding out how many chemicals (eg antibiotics and steroids) are injected into and fed to animals, I didn't feel that eating meat would be doing much good. The information that I disovered about animal protein after watching a documentary promoting vegeterianism also concerned me and I vowed never to eat meat or drink cows milk again. I've been doing really well so far and have not touched any meat other than to prepare it for my boyfriends meals - it doesn't appeal to me at all any more, however I have found myself becoming quite bored just lately with my meals. I make 99 per cent of my meals from scratch and usually I am quite happy with a big salad and jacket potato or a nice stir fry, but I decided the other day that I couldn't be bothered to cook and a salad really didn't appeal as I'd had such a busy day and was tired, so my boyfriend drove me to Tesco and we had a quick browse to find something quick, tasty and of course suitable for veggies.
I initially picked up a macaroni cheese but after seeing the calories and ingredients I decided against it and headed off to the frozen meals aisle - an aisle I usually avoid, but as I had seen a number of veggie meals advertised in the Tesco price drop magazine I figured it was worth a look. I eventually came across their 'meat free' range which was tucked away near the ice cream and there was not a huge amount of choice - only a small selection of very similar looking meals - veggie fingers, bean burgers and so on. I absolutely love bean burgers and make them my self when I get the time, so I decided to try the bean burgers. There were a couple of choices available - plain or Mexican style. Although the Mexican style appealed to me most as it sounded tastier, I ended up picking up both to try as they are on long-term offer - buy any two products from Tesco's meat free range for £3. Alternatively you can buy one pack for £1.99. I think £3 is a good price for two packs as each pack has four quarter pounder burgers. I was going to stock up on them, but decided to try them first to ensure that I actually liked them, which I'm glad about, as I am not keen unfortunately!
Tesco describe these quarter pounder Mexican style bean burgers as ' vegetables and spicy beans coated in herby breadcrumbs.' The burgers are obviously meat free and the burgers are very spicy, as indicated by the red circle with three chilli's on the front of the pack. Spices include cumin, chilli, coriander and black pepper. The four burgers come in a rectangular cardboard box which has a green colour scheme. The pack has all the info you need written on it clearly, for example the brand and product name, a brief product description, cooking info, calorie content, ingredients and so on. Allergy info is also included and shows that these burgers are not suitable for anyone with a wheat or gluten allergy. The list of ingredients is quite lengthy with red kidney beans being the main ingredient. Vegetables - sweet corn, potato, carrots, pureed tomato and green pepper are also included along with various seasoning ingredients such as onion powder, salt and oil.
The burgers are bread crumbed and are circular in shape. They are generous in size and quite thick, and one burger is more than enough for one person. The burgers have a pleasant scent to them even when un-cooked and smell oniony and you can tell that they're full of spices due to the whiff they let off. I found that cooking the burgers was quite a simple process and I followed the instructions which were easy to understand. They should be cooked from frozen and you simply need to place the burgers onto a baking tray and cook at 190 degrees for 12 minutes, although depending on your oven it may take a little more or less time. My oven is very fierce and it took around 15 minutes until they were cooked all the way through. They crisped up nicely and smelt amazing - really fresh smelling and they really do smell like Mexican food. They didn't stick to the baking tray, nor did they fall apart (like a lot of bean burgers do) when transferred from the tray to my plate.
I served the burger with a fresh salad and tucked in. I was impressed to find that when I cut it in half, lots of vegetables were visible - most noticeably the sweet corn and carrot. The potato obviously makes up a majority of the filling and has a thick consistency. I really enjoyed my first few mouthfuls. The breadcrumbs were lovely and crispy and the spiciness was just right - I usually don't like spicy food but it was well balanced due to the potato filling. The vegetables were fresh and tasty - not watery, tasteless or mushy. Once I'd eaten a majority of the burger and reached the middle though it started to taste a little strange - really fake tasting, with a strange sweet undertone and it didn't taste properly cooked and was a little 'soggy' tasting. I ended up throwing it away as it didn't taste right and the rest of the burgers are in my freezer uneaten as I don't particularly want to eat them now as the weird sweet taste put me off and made me wonder if they're as healthy for me as I thought. For less health conscious people this may not be an issue, but for me it was.
The bean burgers are reasonably good calorie wise and each 101 gram burger contains 231 calories and 11.4 grams of fat. Considering how filling even half of one is, I think this is reasonable. I would of given these burgers five out of five stars as they're reasonably healthy and affordable, as well as quick and easy to cook, however the fact that the middle was soggy and they had a sweet, strange undertone lets them down, and I award them three out of five stars.
Summary: Better than meat but I wouldn't purchase again