I am not a vegan. Hell, I’m not even vegetarian. I grew up in a hunting and fishing family in Wisconsin, so meat is a fairly permanent staple in my diet. Outside of a brief two years in high school (where my poor, imbalanced diet made me terribly anemic), I’ve never really given a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle much thought. However, I’ve gotten quite involved in a variety of pole fitness and ballet fitness classes over the past year, and wanted to get my diet on track as well.
I’m messy in the kitchen, so I’ve always hated cooking for just myself. I knew meal prep wasn’t something I’d be able to make myself commit to, so I began looking into meal delivery services in Seoul. In this search, I came across fellow blogger The Toronto Seoulcilite‘s write up on Sprout Natural Healthy Whole Food Service and decided to check it out.
After poking around through their website and seeing their meal options, I decided to dive in head-first and commit to a month of meals with Sprout. Since I receive a decent lunch at work, I decided to go with the 3-day-a-week meal plan and eat my three lunches as three extra dinners. I got to choose 6 main dishes for lunches/dinners, 3 breakfasts, and 3 snacks/desserts.
This all cost me 285,000KRW, which comes out to 11,875KRW per day, or 71,250KRW per week. I was already spending 10,000 most evenings buying fast food on my way back from fitness classes, and when I did buy groceries, I always ended up tossing things out because they would go bad before I got around to cooking. My current eating habits were wasteful, unhealthy, and just as (if not more) costly, so a month of Sprout seemed like a worthwhile investment.
After placing my order, I immediately received a confirmation email from their GoogleDocs confirming everything. I was a bit confused by the form and sent an email for clarification through their contact form, and received a reply almost immediately from Jon explaining everything. With my order all set, all I had left to do was wait until Sunday to go pick it up at their location in HBC.
There are a few different buses you can use to get up the mountain to the top of HBC, so I’ll save all directions and location info for the very end of this post. Needless to say, it wasn’t too difficult to reach their shop and my bag of items was quite manageable to bring back home across the city. Without further ado, let’s get to the food! Here’s a quick guide on how I “rated” things:
- 5 = Awesome, loved it, would order repeatedly
- 4 = Great, really enjoyed it, would definitely order again
- 3 = Good, but maybe not the most memorable
- 2 = Just okay, nothing special, not my favorite but didn’t dislike
- 1 = Disliked, not a fan, but would be willing to possibly try again
- 0 = Hard pass
Monday: French Ratatouille Casserole & Caramel Chocolate Chip Chickpea Brownie
The French casserole was the first container I had opened when laying everything out, and it seemed pretty appealing. Why not have it as my first meal, too? I heated this up in the microwave for a few minutes and mixed it before serving. Everything seemed to heat well–the veggies still felt fresh and not soggy or squishy. The dish is described by Sprout as “made with eggplant, peppers, zucchini, potatoes, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic and beans cooked into a hearty tomato sauce.” There was some kind of lentil or grain in the bowl as well that made everything really filling, too! Not too tomato-y, and honestly tasted like something my mom would cook back home back in Wisconsin.
When I hopped online to look up the description for the brownie, I actually laughed. I had just messaged a friend saying that it was good, but “definitely tasted like vegetables, particularly chickpeas.” I actually really love chickpeas (I’m a huge falafel fan), but they still don’t classify as “dessert” in my book. The brownie was dense and moist and had a nice bit of sweetness from the chocolate. Considering I’ve pretty much hated every vegan dessert I’ve ever tried, this was actually pretty good. I didn’t dislike it, but it personally wouldn’t fall in my “dessert” category.
Tuesday: Thai Vegetable Curry Bowl & Pineapple
This was another major hit for me! Sprout describes this dish as having Thai red curry sauce over brown rice, mixed bell peppers, carrot ribbons, mixed leafy greens, chopped purple onions, cherry tomatoes topped with crushed peanuts. It has a great kick to it, though if you dislike spicy food, you probably want to pass on this one. It had lots of other spices and flavors as well, though the and overall I’d definitely order it again. I had some pineapple from my local grocer in my fridge, so I tossed a few slices on the side for dessert since I wasn’t hungry enough to have one of the desserts–the curry was too filling!
Pineapple: Also good on pizza
Wednesday: Spicy Mexican Lentil Stew with Mixed Veggies & Toast
I was going to try and have one of the breakfast bowls as a dessert tonight, but these meals are way too filling for me, haha. (See Friday’s post for the review of that!) I heated up this stew and decided that I wanted to toss something else solid on my plate, so I ended up making two plain pieces of whole-wheat toast. I ended up sort of eating the soup sort of on the toast, and it complimented it really well. While there’s a bit of spice in this, I wouldn’t really consider it “spicy”–definitely not as hot as the Thai curry I had yesterday. This stew is made with tomatoes, carrots, onions, celery, red lentils, jalapeños, mixed bell peppers. It was a little more simple than the previous two dishes I’ve tried, but left me with a warm, home-cooked feeling.
Toast: Uuuh, because who doesn’t love toast?
I went out for pizza. It was delicious.
Friday: Coconut Breakfast Bowl & Creamy Vegetable CHowder
Since I get off of work a bit early on Fridays, I came home and had the breakfast bowl I had intended to eat on Wednesday as a late-afternoon snack. It’s described as having a creamy coconut consistency with nuts, seeds, and chocolate chips. It pretty much tasted exactly like that, haha. It had little grains of some sort in it and was pretty weighty and filling. The coconut was definitely present but not overwhelming with a touch of cocoa.
The chowder was actually a bonus item that the staff gave me when I came to pick my order up. Something had spilled in the bag and they felt bad for making me wait while they repackaged it–totally not a big deal, but super nice of them! The chowder is described as being made with potatoes, sweet potatoes, daikon radish, corn, onions, celery. The radish was new to me in terms of consistency (I could tell it wasn’t a potato or celery), but blended well with all of the other ingredients. The chowder itself had a sweetness to its flavor, which was interesting. All in all it was decent, but not quite as filling or exciting in flavor as some of the previous dishes I’ve had.
Coconut Bowl: 5/5
Saturday: Cinnamon Millet Breakfast Bowl, Burrito Bowl, & Chocolate Avocado Cake
I started my morning off with another breakfast bowl since I wasn’t rushing out the door for work today. I had been cautioned by some friends that the cinnamon breakfast bowl was intensely cinnamon-y and and a bit overwhelming, but I actually really enjoyed it. It was well-balanced in terms of flavor (the cinnamon wasn’t overpowering!) and quite hearty like the coconut bowl was. It has millet, nuts, seeds, and raisins in it. I had been keeping mine in the freezer for the week as per Sprout’s recommendation, so as you can see it looks a bit chunkier and “fluffier” compared to the coconut bowl. I heated it a tiny bit to break up the ice chunks and I think it would be creamier if it hadn’t been frozen, so I’ll try that next time.
Later when I came home, I decided to have the burrito breakfast bowl with salsa and the avocado chocolate cake for dinner. I had been advised to keep the burrito bowl in the freezer as well, so in the morning before I headed out I took this out, chopped up the frozen bits as much as I could, and moved it into the fridge instead. I wasn’t expecting too much from this, but I was really impressed by not only how filling it was, but how much it tasted like it had real meat! It’s described as having cilantro lime brown rice, stewed lentil meat, savory black beans, corn, shredded purple cabbage, and mixed Greens with a side of homemade salsa.
I was actually kind of full after the burrito bowl, but I was determined to have some of the chocolate cake. Some friends had also warned me about this, saying that when they had ordered it, it was extremely dry with a slice of avocado basically stuck on top. This was NOT the case for my cake, which was incredibly dense, moist, and chocolatey. It had a very thick layer of chocolate frosting on top, and the cake itself was very creamy. There was a slice of avocado hiding in the middle, but everything honestly melded together wonderfully.
Cinnamon Bowl: 4/5
Burrito Bowl: 5/5
Sunday: Almond Joy Chocolate Chia Pudding, REd Lentil Coconut Curry, & Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese
This one was rough for me. The great flavor of the pudding is honestly the only thing that salvaged it for me, because the consistency and texture was tough to choke down. It’s my first time having chia-anything, so I didn’t really know what to expect. A friend of mine put it perfectly when she said, “Your brain says ‘chew,’ but your mouth says ‘chew what?'” I’ve been told that throwing nuts into the mix helps, so I’ll be trying that next week since I have two more chia breakfast cups coming.
The curry, however, was fantastic and really delicious. It was about as spicy as the Thai curry that I had on Tuesday, which was perfect for me. It had a good kick to it and a nice blend of spices. It was a little bit thinner in comparison, though, because the lentils aren’t quite as chunky as some of the other ingredients in the Thai curry.
My friends had talked up the carrot cake, so maybe that’s what led to my overall feelings toward it at the end. In general it’s quite good and I would order it again–the cashew frosting was particularly tasty–but it wasn’t quite as moist or flavorful as the chocolate avocado cake I had yesterday.
Chia Pudding: 1/5
Bonus Meal: Spicy Peanut Soba Stir-Fry & Nacho CHeese Dip
I don’t know why, but for some reason when I first opened all of my bowls at the beginning of the week, I thought this soba was super dodgy. I think I saw the purple cabbage and saw it mixed in with the peanut sauce and grey noodles and didn’t really know what to expect. I unconsciously avoided it for the week, I guess, because it ended up being my leftover dish this week. However, I was pleasantly surprised! It’s a bit more mild in flavor, like the chowder, so I wasn’t as in love with it as I was with some of the other dishes. I would order it again if there weren’t other favorites of mine on the menu, though, because the peanut sauce was yummy and the veggies in it gave sort of a unique ‘sweet’ taste to it.
So along with the chowder I had on Friday, Sprout staff also gave me a taste of the nacho cheese dip to try. I was genuinely surprised at how cheese-like this was! It was definitely spicier than any of the main meals I’d tried this week, so if you don’t like spicy foods, stay away. But honestly this was shockingly tasty. I had it on a bunch of Tostitos Scoops that my parents sent from the states and I was more into it than my main dish!
So that was my first week with Sprout! I’ll be completely honest, I’m genuinely impressed by how tasty everything was, especially some of the desserts. My past experiences with vegan food haven’t been stellar, so I’m glad I’ve been able to experience a menu like this.
Coming next week:
- African Peanut Stew
- Italian Vegetable Stew
- Chickpea Korma Curry
- Ginger Sesame Brown Rice Stir Fry
- Caribbean Quinoa Bowl
- Mexican Fiesta Bowl
- Chocolate Breakfast Bowl (repeat)
- Peanut Butter Cup Chia Seed Pudding
- Cafe Mocha Chia Pudding
- Raw Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Pie
- Matcha Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing
- Baked Blueberry Crisp
If there’s anything in particular you want to recommend to me (to try or to avoid) please drop it in the comments below. I still have two more weeks of selections left to make!
Sprout Contact Information
서울특별시 용산구 용산동2가 1-54 (old style)
서울특별시 용산구 소월로20길 32-2 (new style)
1-54 Yongsan-dong 2-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul (old style)
32-2 Sowol-ro 20-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul (new style)
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The purpose of this post is purely to share my own personal experience and provide relevant links to others interested in similar services.