Last Friday a representative from Qrunch Foods contacted ATOB about doing a TV segment on “meatless dishes at summer barbecues.” Sara was out of town for her birthday, which meant the task fell to me since we bloggers never pass up potential publicity opportunities.
From the wording, I thought they wanted me to show up and taste test some Qrunch veggie burgers. While I am not vegetarian, I love vegetarian dishes. In undergrad, I brought vegan black bean brownies to potlucks and made vegan oatmeal cookies for my roommates. I also occasionally buy vegetarian burgers at the grocery store, so I was excited to try Qrunch burgers.
Here came the twist:
They wanted me to talk about the veggie burgers on the news segment. As in, just me.
Uh, come again?
Then I envisioned myself, poised, a male Martha Stewart on Good Morning, Richmond! (a nonexistent TV show until I make it one) walking the anchors through how to prepare sizzling, juicy veggie burger for the grill at your next neighborhood barbecue. And then, in three months, touring America in a Qrunch Foods publicity van hailed as the “new Jared” – except minus the child molestation charges.
Me to representative: “Totally. I’ll do it.”
Thus began a crash course in Qrunch burgers. (My Snapchat followers got dragged along on the journey since I storied every step of the journey. My apologies. Not really.)
What sets Qrunch burgers apart from your regular veggie burger brands are that they’re soy-free. They’re also organic, gluten-free and vegan. But if you follow health at all, you know soy can be a suspicious substance. Now I enjoy soy milk in my iced coffee (I call it coy), but I do wonder if there are harmful hormones I’m ingesting. Always better to play it safe, right?
Enter the Qrunch burger.
The Qrunch burger’s distinctive ingredient is quinoa, which is a supergrain celebrated for its high protein content and fiber. I was provided a packet of publicity info that further elucidated the quinoa craze: Quinoa contains a full amino acid profile, is a natural appetite suppressant, and can lower blood glucose levels in diabetics, and can relieve hypertension. Wouldn’t I sound so intelligent citing all that on live TV?
Oh, I forgot that bit:
This segment would be live.
If I flubbed, it was to YouTube I was destined. And quinoa is a difficult word to pronounce. I always want to say "kwi-noah."
The makers of Qrunch burgers created the burger when they saw a need in the market for convenient, tasty gluten-free and soy-free products. I actually believe them on this because it is not easy in general finding convenient healthy foods.
Because of the short turnaround on this story – 36 hours from my acceptance to when we went live – it was on me to buy the Qrunch burgers and prepare them for the segment. If you’re in Richmond like me, you can find Qrunch burgers at your local Kroger in the Natural Foods aisle. I made the mistake of going instinctively to the vegetarian aisle where I found all the competitors, but no Qrunch burgers. There was a brief panic where I texted Sara,
THEY’RE OUT OF QRUNCH BURGERS.
Except they sort of were. Qrunch Foods has five burger flavors. The Kroger I went to had one: Spicy Italian. Pity, because I wanted to try the Classic Curry for a stir-fry (doesn’t that sound good?!). I suspect the Richmond foodies had stocked up on the other flavors. I bought some boxes and went home to try Qrunch burgers.
I put a slice of cheddar cheese on my Spicy Italian Qrunch burger and ate it just like that. It tasted, for lack of adjectives, good: Definitely fibrous, almost nutty (it contains millet), but there’s definitely a flavor profile. Of course it doesn’t taste like an actual burger, but I think vegetarian foods are at their best when they’re not trying to mimic a meat product.
For the actual segment, I woke up at 6 am so I could prepare some dishes for the show. These included a Southwestern Qrunch burger, an egg McMuffin and then a stir-fry, which I concocted myself since that recipe is not on their website. I thought the stir-fry was fitting since technically the other two options were not completely vegan, but that stir-fry was. (I used sesame oil for cooking the vegetables, cut up the burger, and then dribbled some Lite Soy Sauce, Kroger Brand, on the vegetables and burger. Bon appétit!)
Of course you might not want to use Spicy Italian Qrunch burger for the meals above. However, I didn’t mind it.
The TV segment went smooth. I was surprised how few people were in the studio even though it was the Sunday morning news. I asked the person who showed me in when the news started.
Woman: “8 AM.”
Me: “Ah, okay. I don’t watch the news.”
Why the heck did I say that?
She walked away.
My interviewer and the anchor for the morning news, Darrielle Snipes, asked me if I was nervous.
Me: “Not really. (But yesterday I wanted to throw up all day.)”
Weatherman: “Don’t be nervous. You’re just having a two-minute conversation.”
But live, sir. Live.
Then again, I guess every conversation is live.
Watch my TV appearance on WRIC's site. And have a Qrunch burger for every time I try to act casual, but I'm not sure where to look or put my hands.
After the show, I ate my vegan stir-fry and waited for Sara to eat more Qrunch burgers. When she finally came back from her birthday weekend, I whipped her up the Southwest burger for dinner. It was surprisingly well-received by someone who often doesn't truly appreciate the vegan options. She was so pleased, she even snapped this shot of dinner.