August 18, 2011
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I had been pretty excited when I heard that Candle Cafe was going to be launching a line of frozen entrees that would be available at every Whole Foods across the country by the end of June. Then I straight up nearly passed out when I heard they would be including vegan mac n’ cheese! I was certain that Candle Cafe had invented some sort of innovative and amazing mac n’ cheese recipe that would change my life forever. I live about 4 blocks from a Whole Foods, so I faithfully scouted out the frozen section for weeks.
And nothing happened.
July 1st came and went and I was very disappointed. I waited a few more weeks before finally catching a glimpse of the mac n’ cheese and ravioli nestled at the bottom of the freezer case. I was sad that they didn’t have the stir fry or seitan picatta. Despite the sticker shock, I purchased both immediately. These little frozen meals are are $7 each!
When I got home it occurred to me to have a look at the ingredient list. I was not happy to discover that it was basically pasta, Daiya, water and tomato paste. Really? Really. That’s your ‘A’ game Candle Cafe? I still maintained some hope that it might somehow be delicious, so I threw it in the microwave.
As you can see the Daiya is just sort of hanging out on top there. I had to stir and microwave, stir and microwave like crazy to get all the cheese melted and evenly coating the noodles. That’s a lot of work for a frozen convenience meal! I probably could have whipped up an easy nooch sauce in the same amount of time.
When it was finally ready I was pleased to discover I liked it much better than the Amy’s frozen mac n’ cheese. I think that the tomato paste and added water help with the texture and flavor quite a bit. It wasn’t too slimy or sticky, and I was able to eat my entire meal without grimacing! Good job Candle Cafe! You’ve cracked the code to mass producing mac n’ cheese with Daiya.
While the Candle Cafe mac n’ cheese appears to have far fewer calories than the Amy’s mac n’ cheese (500+) it also seemed to me to be a much smaller portion size. I think it has to do with the density of the pasta. Amy’s uses macaroni so you can squeeze more noodles into the same size carton than you can with fancy-fancy spiral-y pasta. It certainly didn’t fill me up at all, and for seven bucks a pop, I better be able to get real full and have leftovers.
While I actually kind of, sort of enjoyed this mac n’ cheese I would be pretty hard pressed to want to buy it again due to the price and portion size. For seven bucks and about the same amount of calories I can get a gigantic Gardein Asada burrito at the Whole Foods burrito bar, so I’ll just go with that.