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Trader Joe’s Vegetable Panang Curry $2.99

Trader Joe’s Vegetable Panang Curry

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As usual, Trader Joe’s uses nothing but natural ingredients in this dish. The result is delicious, spicy, vegan… and packed with calories and fat.

I absolutely love curry, so I’m willing to try just about any version. And this version definitely has its quirks. Because it has no meat, pieces of vegetables were used instead. Some go well (asparagus, green beans, and spinach), and some are out of place (zucchini and baby corn). That’s just my opinion of course, but I found myself picking things out. On the plus side, this dish was nice and spicy – possibly more so than some people would like. But I applaud the effort to go authentic & bold. I also liked that they didn’t just have white rice – it was a blend with brown rice. I recommend they do away with the white rice completely and just use brown. What I didn’t care for was that something tastes like soap – it’s either the lemongrass or the kaffir lime leaf, but I think they need to go easy on that stuff.

Preparation has one problem. Because there is more rice than veggies & sauce, you have to put the sauce onto the rice rather than the other way around. That’s problematic because the two sections of the container are rather deep, so there’s no way to pour the sauce onto the rice. If you use a fork, there is no way to get all of the sauce over there – you’ll have to use a spoon (which still may not get it all) or else pour everything into a separate container, which is wasteful. It’s already bad enough that the food is in a plastic container, inside a cardboard box, shrinkwrapped with more plastic.

The nutrition is a surprise. Something that strikes me odd about a lot of vegan foods is that they seem to pack on the calories, despite the lack of meat. What they lack in cholesterol they make up for with fat and carbs. No offense, but all I can think is that vegans are underfed. Despite the wholesome ingredients, this thing is packed with calories (590) and saturated fat (75%DV!!!). It’s none too healthy for total fat (35%DV), sodium (43%DV), or carbs (28%) either. At least it has some fiber (16%DV), but I was surprised that even the vitamins were relatively low. Although it doesn’t say on the package, Panang curry is frequently fried (rather than boiled) in coconut milk, which could explain things.

I reluctantly have to give this dish a thumbs down. Although I loved the taste, I felt there were too many problems to recommend it. They need to find a way to lighten the saturated fat (which will lower calories), change up the veggie mix, put less soap-tasting stuff, go for just brown rice, and redo the packaging. But if you’re an underfed vegan, you should definitely pick this up.

Calories per container: 590 (Caloric Density: 1.64)

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3 Comments

  1. That “soap-tasting stuff” is called cilantro. It is very common in Thai dishes and also some Mexican dishes. Now that you know what it is called, you can look for it on ingredients lists or ask restaurants to leave it out.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/24/why-does-cilantro-taste-bad-like-soap_n_7653808.html

    • Cilantro is also called coriander – that appears to be how it is listed on this product.

  2. Overly sweet. Nothing like a genuine curry. Awful. Not edible for me

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