Beyonce loves kale (Screenshot via YouTube)
When Beyoncé launched her new vegan delivery service in January, I was immediately intrigued. Maybe all the vegan dishes in her 22 Days Nutrition delivery service wouldn’t make me flawless like Queen Bey, but it doesn’t seem so far-fetched that 22 days of eating vegan could make me a little healthier. But the biggest question on my mind was whether the 22 Days Nutrition food tasted any good.
The idea behind the service is that it takes 21 days to break a habit: the 22nd day is when you’re off to a fresh start. Here the habit you’re trying to break is a meat-centric diet. For the sake of journalism, I decided to try it out. I’m not a vegan or even flexitarian, but I’d like to incorporate more plant-based meals into my diet and this seemed like a good jumping off point. 22 Days Nutrition sent me seven meals to sample, three of which were for breakfast, and four that could be eaten for lunch or dinner (though as an Independent Woman, I made the decision to ignore those rules).
The way the service works is that the meals are delivered to your home once a week. 22 Days Nutrition will deliver anywhere within the continental U.S. You can either buy packages for one, two or three meals a day, with prices ranging from $9.76 to $16.50 per meal.
The meals each came in these black boxes (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist) The meals were delivered to my home in a nifty insulated cooler with a few cold packs to keep the food chilled. I received a welcome letter that said all the food is plant-based, organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free. It also read, “A plant-based diet is good for you and also good for the planet.” Just in case we had any doubts about skipping out on a bloody steak! It also came with a mini-pamphlet on workout exercises they encouraged us to do while on this vegan diet.
Each of the meals come in 8″ by 6″ black boxes with a sticker full of information about ingredients, nutritional facts and expiration dates. The dishes are all extremely easy to prepare and can take from 2 to 18 minutes, depending on whether you heat it in a microwave, stovetop or oven. Some of the items are really simple—like one meal is just a box of loose granola and nuts—and some are home-cooked stews full of roasted veggies, beans and brown rice.
For the carnivores who want to meet the vegan diet halfway with meaty flavor, don’t expect any fake meat dishes here. The star of the show here are the fruits and veggies. Most of the time you can clearly taste which ones you’re eating, though the exception was some of the pureed or mashed up ingredients. Almost all the ingredients are of the healthy variety and minimally-processed kind.
I didn’t miss the flavor of meat, but after a few days, I did miss having texture and crunch in my food. It turns out a lot of the meals were kind of on the mushy side. This also meant the meals weren’t all that photogenic: no Instagram filter could hide the fact the dishes look lumpy and mostly come in different shades of brown.
As for the caloric intake, the breakfast items averaged about 325 calories each and the lunch or dinner items at 540 calories. So, if you ate three meals a day, you would be on a diet consisting of about 1,400-calories. The average daily caloric needs for women ranges between 1,800 to 2,000 and for men between 2,200 to 2,400, according to the USDA. So, basically this works great for a low-calorie diet (perhaps for all the vegan ladies) but probably not for folks who are working out a ton.
I won’t lie: I was hoping for some vegan dishes that would blow my mind, particularly since it’s not a cheap service. You could say I wasn’t Crazy in Love with all the meals. There was nothing gourmet or drool-worthy, but the dishes were palatable, and it was a quick easy way to get a healthy meal. After eating the food though, I felt better. If nothing else, it gave me some ideas about what to cook for myself to get on a healthier path.
I ranked the dishes I tried ranked from most to least delicious:
Baba’s Kidney Beans from 22 Days Nutrition (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
BABA’S KIDNEY BEANS
This is a hearty meal that has some of the more complex flavors of all the dishes we tried. The boiled kidney beans are combined with a mix of other veggies like butternut squash, carrot, cauliflower and eggplant. It’s thoroughly seasoned with cumin and tumeric, like a riff off an Indian curry dish.
Winter Ratatouille Brown Rice Pilaf from 22 Days Nutrition (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
WINTER RATATOUILLE BROWN RICE PILAF
This is the most colorful dish of the lot, and one of my favorites. There are plenty of fresh veggies like zucchini, cherry tomatoes, kale, carrot and butternut squash, mixed in with the rice pilaf, which has the texture of a risotto. There’s actually a crunch when I bite into the zucchini, which is good to know that it’s relatively fresh, and there is a natural sweetness that comes from the veggies. It’s well-seasoned with thyme, rosemary, garlic and basil, but not overly salty like some microwaveable meals.
Country-Style Sweet Potato Lentils from 22 Days Nutrition (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
COUNTRY-STYLE SWEET POTATO LENTILS
I’m normally not a huge fan of lentils, so this dish proves that I can enjoy an entire meal consisting of this legume. The seasoning is a mix of herbs like rosemary and thyme, with the addition of ginger and paprika. I can tell that instead of over-salting the food, the chefs are trying to make it flavorful by using a variety of spices. Mashed into the beans are some freckled bits of broccoli, broccolini and spinach. However, it’s a little disappointing that there are only a couple of chunks of creamy soft sweet potatoes in the mix, especially since the name of the dish starts off with “sweet potato.”
Steaming hot Berry Chia Pudding from 22 Days Nurition (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
BERRY CHIA PUDDING
This is my favorite breakfast dish from 22 Days Nutrition. While I’ve been making my own variations of chia seed puddings, this one is much more complex and flavorful than I’ve ever put together. The dark red color takes a bit getting used to, but it’s a delicious pudding with a variety of berries, coconut milk and maple syrup. They don’t skimp on the chia seeds either, which are usually pretty pricey. Plus, you heat it up and serve it warm; it’s great to eat on a cold morning. It’s actually pretty filling, too.
Scarlet Beet Brown Rice With Kabocha from 22 Days Nutrition (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
SCARLET BEET BROWN RICE WITH KABOCHA
If this weren’t a vegan delivery service, I’d have thought 22 Days Nutrition sent me a package of raw ground beef due to the dish’s bright red color and texture. This is also like the Winter Ratatouille with its risotto-like brown rice. However, the main ingredient are beets, and I could taste the flavor throughout the dish, as the rice is evenly coated in the juices with its almost magenta-like color. There are chunks of roasted beets and kabocha in the dish, and it’s pretty filling. I got full before finishing off the bowl, but I also tired of the beet flavor (and I personally love beets!). On another note, I noticed that in this one, the chefs threw in some nutritional yeast in the mix, which is a great source of B vitamins for vegetarians and vegans, and gives food a nutty or cheesy taste.
Hearty Nut Granola from 22 Days Nutrition (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
HEARTY NUT GRANOLA
When I first saw this one, I thought, “That’s it?!” I was least excited about trying this meal. The box contains some rolled oats, almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds. I was disappointed that the preparation instructions said that you could add non-dairy milk—from coconut to almond and rice milk—but that wasn’t included with the package. Luckily, I had some almond milk on hand, and the granola was surprisingly sweet and tasty. It’s flavored well with vanilla and maple syrup. However, there’s still a part of me that thinks about how I could just buy a bag of granola from Trader Joe’s and it would probably be way cheaper.
Here’s how it looks with milk. I know, very exciting.
22 Days Nutrition’s Hearty Nut Granola with almond milk (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
Banana-Walnut Breakfast Muffins from 22 Days Nutrition (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
BANANA WALNUT BREAKFAST MUFFINS
This is my least favorite of the breakfast bunch, and the one I was originally the most excited about. You get two muffins in a package, and there are bananas and apple sauce in the mix. However, I don’t know if it was a mistake for me to microwave them (even though that was one of the heating options on this package), but they ended up tasting kind of dry and overly chewy.