Tom Brady often says vegetables are a key part of his success.
The New England Patriots quarterback, who recently won his fifth and record-breaking Super Bowl, is known for his strict diet. Brady does not eat dairy, caffeine, white sugar, white flour, MSG… and the list goes on. He also avoids nightshades (mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers etc.), limiting consumption to a few times a month.
Brady has disclosed his unique food plan to fans before, offering up a $200 nutritional manual and $50 snack packs last year. Both products sold out in record time online.
So when the four-time Super Bowl MVP unveiled a meal kit partnership with Purple Carrot, I requested a sample to test.
Brady's performance meals are gluten-free, high in protein and low in refined sugar. Many of the meals in the TB12 Performance box are inspired by or taken from Brady's nutritional manual. Each week customers will receive three meals for two people for $78, or about $13 a meal.
"The response has exceeded Purple Carrot's expectations," Andy Levitt, CEO of Purple Carrot, told CNBC. "Customer enthusiasm has been really strong, and Purple Carrot is seeing demand across both coasts."
The kit that I received came with three meals: Crispy Turnip Cakes with Tabbouleh, White Lentil Risotto with Roasted Vegetables, and Ramen with Gingered Greens and Broccolini.
When I opened up the box everything was very green, but there didn't seem to be a lot of food. I was a little worried that there weren't enough supplies to make a full meal.
The vegetables, which were the majority of the items in the box, were fresh, save for a small speck of rot on a lone red pepper, and each meal came with a separate package of spices, sauces and smaller ingredients (yes, more vegetables).
I chose to test my culinary skills on the crispy turnip cake recipe, which was paired with a quinoa salad. I'm not a skilled chef — my knife skills certainly leave something to be desired — and I don't have a lot of experience with cooking turnips or quinoa, but it seemed like a fun challenge.
The recipe called for a few items from my pantry that weren't included in the box: salt, pepper, olive oil and vegetable oil.
In terms of kitchen supplies, I needed a small saucepan, a medium skillet, several mixing bowls, a cutting board and knife, a grater, measuring cups and utensils.
Word to the wise, make sure you have a large box grater. Trying to grate turnips on a small handheld cheese grater is time-consuming and makes the cakes a little stringy.
The recipe itself was fairly simple, although there were a few times that I wasn't sure how I was supposed to cut the vegetables. I ended up referring to the finished photo several times for hints.
I really liked that the recipe specified which ingredients would be used in several steps so that I didn't use too much in step two if I was going to need more in step four.
Also, while the recipe notes it will take about 40 minutes to prep and cook the meal, it took me about 50 to 55 minutes.
So, did Brady's meal kit deliver? Yes and no.
In terms of taste, the crispy turnip cakes were delicious and the zaatar yogurt is something I'll definitely make again. The quinoa had very complex flavors, sweet and tart citrus from the kumquats, spice from the pepper, freshness from the parsley and mint and a nice crunch from the cucumber.
However, after the meal, I still felt hungry. The recipe suggests that you make six turnip cakes (3 per person), but one person could easily eat all of them. It would have been nice to have one more element on the plate or maybe one more turnip.
Brady's personal chef has said that about 80 percent of his food is vegetables, the other 20 percent is lean meats. So while the Purple Carrot box does not have meat, Brady does eat it. Perhaps supplementing the meal with some chicken might have made it more filling.
In terms of cost, the Brady box will set you back about $13 per meal. The average meal kits cost $8 to $12 per meal, so the extra dollar isn't a huge splurge. The produce was fresh and the kit supplies you with most of what you'll need for the meal, save for a few kitchen staples.
The box will cost you $78 per week and will provide three meals, so you'll still have to do some grocery shopping for the other days of the week. The USDA reports that the average family of two spends between $88 and $175 per week on groceries.
So, if you are a thrifty spender, the box may be a bit out of your budget. However, many folks who already purchase organic ingredients for their dinners are used to the slightly elevated prices for the quality produce.
The box is very clearly targeted toward someone who is looking for healthy and light food that will give them the protein and energy for a fit lifestyle. I definitely felt a boost of energy after eating the meal but, again, I would have liked to have left the table feeling a bit more full.
The recipe was easy to follow and would be simple to shop for if I wanted to make it again on my own. The pages also have holes in them so you can pop them into Brady's nutritional book if you so desire.