gardein mandarin orange crispy chicknI quit buying Chinese food a few years ago even before I lost weight. Our go-to restaurants for satisfying our Chinese food kick dropped in quality. It wasn’t just once, but multiple times. I had heard about gardein mandarin orange crispy chick’n and thought it would be my salvation. I didn’t expect it to resemble the oily, fried orange chicken I loved to consume. And that was fine with me as I don’t like greasy food.

You can tell from the photo that the chicken doesn’t quite look like the package. But of course, I didn’t drown the chick’n in the sauce. I prefer to control how much sauce I use. However, I ran into a problem. The bag of sauce had a small hole in it. When I took it out of the warm water, I could squeeze out a little bit of sauce. So I don’t know if water entered the sauce and diluted it. Still, the sauce didn’t taste watered down. It had no sweetness, no orangeness — just like a mild vinegar-based sauce.

Some chick’n had a light crunch and most had a tad chewiness. It depended on the size and thickness of the piece. Decent texture and a notch above blandness. I could eat them without the sauce, but they were just OK. Not bad for a meatless product. I might try it one more time to see if the sauce failed me. But I didn’t see any sauce in the water, so it was unlikely water got in.

Update: I tried this again. This time, I made thawed the sauce at room temperature to ensure no water gets into the sauce. I also cooked it in the pan instead of the oven. Much better with a fuller flavor and improved texture from the pan cooking and a good balance of sweet and tangy in the sauce. Score upped from 3.0.

Nutrition per serving: 150 calories; 7g fat; 0.5g sat fat, 9g carbs; 17g protein; 1g fiber. This doesn’t include the sauce and the bag has three servings. It’s easy to eat the entire bag in one meal, which I did. The sauce has 15 calories per tablespoon.