Who tried it: Julie Mazziotta, PEOPLE Writer/Reporter
Difficulty: 2/10 (add a couple extra points if cooking is not your forte and you can’t go 12 hours without eating meat)
I need to say something first: I hate Tom Brady. I’m a New York/D.C. sports fan through and through, and I can’t stand “TB12” (insert eye roll) and his strange dance moves. I will fully, painfully admit that he’s clearly one of the best athletes to ever play, but that didn’t stop me from mocking him as I made all three of the (spoiler) delicious meals from his new subscription box with Purple Carrot.
According to their website, Purple Carrot developed the recipes — crispy turnip cakes with quinoa tabbouleh and za’atar yogurt, brown rice noodle ramen bowls with amaranth greens and tahini-nori sauce and white lentil risotto with roasted beets and chermoula came in the first box — with Brady, based on his now-famous diet.
And that diet? It’s 80 percent vegetables and whole grains like brown rice (check), quinoa (check) and beans, according to Brady and wife Gisele Bündchen‘s personal chef, Allen Campbell. The other 20 percent consists of lean meats like chicken, wild salmon and grass-fed organic steak, but because Purple Carrot is a vegan meal service, those were MIA. I’m not a big meat eater, so going without it for a few meals wasn’t a deal-breaker, but for the stereotypical football fan, the lack of meat could be a problem.
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The TB12 meals were also — much like Brady and Bündchen — free of white sugar, white flour, dairy, strawberries, caffeine and nightshade vegetables. I didn’t miss those supposedly inflammatory veggies — tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms or eggplants — in these meals, but I definitely could not go without them for the long run.
But all in all, I enjoyed all three meals. My favorite by far was the ramen bowl, which had a coconut-miso broth that was impressively filling, and a deliciously nutty tahini sauce. Plus, it truly did take me the 30 minutes promised from start to finish. One rotten note: the amaranth greens I was supposed sauté up with ginger had already gone bad by the time I went to use them, two days after getting the box. That was my biggest critique of the service — the box was sent out Monday, but I didn’t get it until Tuesday. With just two ice packs at the bottom of the box, the amaranth greens didn’t stand a chance, and everything else was similarly lukewarm.
I also loved the turnip cakes (though the directions indicated that there would be two turnips, I just received one, and I think the mixture could’ve used more), which tasted like latkes. I doubt that Brady eats anything lightly fried, but who knows. The kumquats in the quinoa tabbouleh gave the entire thing a seriously tangy punch.
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The lentil risotto was my least favorite of the bunch. I’m 100 percent Italian and I immediately recoiled at the vegan “parmesan”— but the dish was still hearty and tasty. A friend who tried Purple Carrot before bemoaned how the meals left her hungry, but that wasn’t the case at all here. As the company tells me, they boosted the protein and calories “to help fuel the higher metabolism needs of active individuals,” and I was full from every serving. Though I won’t be winning five Super Bowls like Brady (but none against the Giants!) anytime soon.