This is a very easy food to cook, you can't go wrong even if you're as bad a cook as I was when I was at university!! You pour the dried Beanfeast into a saucepan or microwave safe bowl and add cold water, the measurements of water to dried ingredient are printed on the packet but I can't remember the figures and know by eye how much to add to give the Beanfeast the consistency I prefer.
If you're cooking it in a saucepan it's important to stir it as much as you can while the mixture is simmering to stop the bean mixture from sticking together, the consistency you need to obtain should be like mince but not so free flowing as mince. The back of the Beanfeast packet gives you all sorts of timings but I don't pay any attention to that because once the water has all been absorbed the Beanfeast is done and you can take it off the heat. If cooking in a microwave it's more important to follow the directions given by Batchelors but remember that all microwaves are different so it's still important to keep a close eye on it as it's cooking and remember to stir at regular intervals to prevent the Beanfeast from drying up.
Over the years I spent at uni I found quite a few different ways to eat this Beanfeast and also the other flavours that were available at that time. My favourite way was to pour the cooked Beanfeast over jacket potatoes because that saved me having to use butter and I could keep the calories down, the Beanfeast is wet enough for the tiny bit of sauce remaining to absorb into the potato and give it a delicious flavour while making sure it's not dry at all.
This is tasty enough to eat alone but if you're just having a plate of Beanfeast I don't think the packet would serve two people and that's more if you're having it as part of a larger meal. I remember cooking spaghetti to go with it and trying to use this as an actual vegetarian bolognese but that didn't work because there isn't enough sauce to wet the spaghetti and I could only eat a few mouthfuls of that without choking!! My friend used to buy the same kind of food as me (like every other student!!) and she learned how nice this was mixed with two spoons of jarred bolognese sauce (like Ragu) and served over rice, that was how I ate mine the other day because my boyfriend came in just as I was cooking the Beanfeast and said he'd like to try it (he'd never had it before) so I had to think of some way to bulk it out to serve both of us and I decided to use rice.
Batchelor's Beanfeast is a vegetarian food product, made from soya. It comes in dried form, to be rehydrated when cooked.
Beanfeast is sold in three varieties - plain savoury mince, Bolognese-style and Mexican chilli style. I bought and tried the Mexican Chilli variety, on which my review is based.
~*~* Ingredients and nutritional information *~*~
None of the Beanfeast varieties contain genetically modified soya ( a change made in 1999 by makers Unilever following customer criticism and the involvement of Greenpeace). Although the product is GM-free and vegetarian, it is important to note it is not a vegan product (as some varieties contain milk powder).
The ingredients in The Mexican Chilli Beanfeast are:
Non-GM Dried Soya Mince (27%), (Contains Colours (Sulphite Ammonia Caramel, Riboflavin), Ferrous Sulphate,, Flavourings, Vitamin B12), Dried Red Kidney Beans, Wheatflour, Maize Starch, Dried Onion, Dried Tomato, Yeast Extract, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Salt, Sugar, Flavour Enhancers (E621, E635), Dried Garlic, Spice Extracts, Colour (Beetroot Red), Citric Acid And Turmeric.
The Chilli variety contains 406 kcals per packet (therefore only around 200 calories per portion). This makes it a perfect low-fat choice (while being a good source of protein and fibre) and is a great convenient option for someone watching their weight.
For those on the Slimming World diet incidentally, Beanfeast contains no 'syns' and can be eaten as a free food on any plan.
~*~* Where to buy *~*~
Each Beanfeast variety costs around 90p for a 120g packet (which is enough for 2-3 servings). Beanfeast can be bought from Sainsburys, Morrisons, Asda and Holland & Barratt.
~*~* Packaging *~*~
Beanfeast is packaged in a pretty distinctive, almost retro green packet with 'Beanfeast' in large white lettering. The Mexican Chilli variety has a scrummy-looking photo of a luscious baked potato topped with rich Beanfeast chilli on the front, while the back of the packet has ingredients and cooking information.
The packet is very lightweight and, being made up of dried non-perishable product, is easy to store in the cupboards before use.
~*~* How to cook *~*~
Beanfeast can be coked either on the hob or in the microwave. I cooked the Beanfeast on the hob - this seems to be a good method for keeping control of the consistency of the meal. Empty the contents of one packet into a saucepan and add one pint of fresh cold water. Stir until well mixed and bring to the boil. Once heated to a rolling boil, simmer for 15 minutes and stir.
Alternatively, the Beanfeast can be cooked in the microwave for 11 minutes on full power.
Beanfeast is, I'm told (by my little sister who loves camping) also popular as a meal for those out camping or hiking, as it can be cooked up with water on a portable gas stove or trangia with no problem! Being neither in possession of a trangia or a willingness to get that close to nature, I will leave this test to a more adventurous DooYooer!
~*~* The taste test *~*~
The product's cooking instructions were easy to follow and made for a rich, thick chilli. I added some chopped green pepper later into the cooking process which helped add some bulk. The chilli was a lovely, traditional red colour and looked much like a meat mince chilli.
The taste was very nice - savoury and with a meaty flavour with a slight bite of chilli and tomato. The kidney beans added to the soya mixture also tasted great and added a pleasant texture and traditional chilli flavour.
I was worried about the mixture being too watery and thin, however this was unfounded - simmering the mixture had reduced it down and given a thicker, substantial chilli.
I found the chilli worked well with freshly cooked rice, complementing it well and i think I will be trying it with baked potato also.
Beanfeast does appear to be quite versatile (and being vegetarian means it is suited for anyone). The plain savoury mince chilli could be used for many other dishes, such as lasagne, shepherds pie or moussaka - however I believe such variety of dishes may be limited with the Mexican Chilli version.
~*~* The verdict *~*~
I have found Beanfeast to be a delicious, easy to prepare and substantial meal that offers fantastic value for money. The Mexican Chilli version can be enhanced with other ingredients (such as more kidney beans, chopped pepper or mushrooms - or just added chilli!) to create a filling and nutritious meal that is low in fat while being high in protein and fibre.
I will definitely be buying this (and trying the other varieties) again and would definitely recommend to anyone looking to try more vegetarian, soya-based or quick and healthy dishes.
After seeing this product in Morrisons for only 90p, I thought I might as well pick it up and give it a go. I was a vegetarian for most of my childhood so know I like soya etc.
** The Product **
The product consists of dried soya mince in a savoury tomato and herb sauce.
** The Packaging **
The product come sin a green packet, on the front there is a picture of the product when cooked with some pasta and fresh ingredients, along with the logo etc, the back conatins loads of information such as ingredients, nutritional information, recipe for Moussaka Beanfeast etc. I think the packaging is very appealing and is fun and informational.
** Nutritional Information per ½ pack **
Energy 828 kj
** Ingredients **
Dried Soya Mince (35%) (Defatted Soya Flour, Colours (Sulphite Ammonia Caramel, Riboflavin), Iron Sulphate, Thiamin, Vitamin B12), Tomato Powder (19%), Maize Starch, Dried Potato, Dried Onion (5%), Yeast Extract, Salt, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Sugar, Dried Green Peppers (2.5%), Onion Powder, Flavour Enhancers (Monosodium Glutamate, Disodium 5'- ribonucleotides), Dried Garlic, Citric Acid, Dried Oregano, Dried Basil, Turmeric, Matural Flavouring, Glucose Syrup Solids, Milk Powder and Wheat Flour.
I know this is a lot of ingredients to read thought it would be useful to add as some may be interested to know what is in this meat alternative.
** The Taste **
I put this product with a jacket potato, I found that on its own the product was quite strong and left a bit of a bad after taste, however once mixed in with the potato it tasted a lot better and left a nice almost sweet after taste. You can smell and taste all the lovely herbs although it is not overpowering. It doesn't taste like meat but the soya mince tastes lovely and has a better texture than mince beef as it is less tough.
** Overall Opinion **
This is a really good product, I didn't really expect to like this product but bought it because I knew it would feed us, however it will now be a regular item on my shopping list. Not only does this product taste good its actually very good for you, it's a good source of fibre and protein and is very low in fat.
The product is very filling, which is great for those how are trying to diet.
I think this product is suitable for all the family (once they get over the fact that its not meat lol. Once sachet serves between 2-3 people depending on what you are putting it with.
At only 90p this product provides great value for money, I cant fault it at all, its another great product from Batchelors.