When self-described meat eater Kahleigh Wiest picked up a sample from a table handing out food in Armstrong Student Center on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at first she thought she was eating chicken.
But it was tofu. And, even better, she liked it.
“I was very surprised because I don’t like tofu, like, at all,” said Wiest. “They told me I ate tofu and it didn’t taste like tofu. It tastes like chicken!”
For the first time, Wiest was encountering rootberry. It’s an entirely plant-based brand based mostly out of St. Louis, but its food is sold in various places around Missouri, Illinois and Wisconsin. With their recent arrival to Oxford, Miami University has officially become their first Ohio location.
The brand has sneakily been starting to appear across the Miami campus this semester. It started with two innocuous desserts in the refrigerator case of Emporium — blueberry oat bars and chocolate chip cookies — and has, just last week, spread to a variety of meals in both Emporium and Market Street at MacCracken.
For instance, in Emporium, plant-based eaters can find entirely vegan tikka masala and macaroni & cheese in the freezer case located in the back left corner of the market.
This sudden appearance of an entirely plant-based brand in multiple spots on campus is a welcome addition to Miami’s previous vegan and vegetarian options. I am no stranger to struggling to find vegetarian (or vegan) food on campus, and I was thrilled to see Miami adding more for its plant-based students.
And, on Feb. 22, rootberry took over a space just outside of Armstrong’s first-floor food court to hand out delicious samples of five of their plant-based meals: the teriyaki bowl, Aztec enchiladas, macaroni & cheese, tikka masala and the fajita bowl (as well as samples of both aforementioned desserts).
As The Miami Student’s resident Food Editor and plant-based foodie, I naturally had to try all seven samples.
Out of the five meals, in my opinion, the tikka masala took home first place. The tofu was well-cooked without being mushy, it looked good, it tasted good and it had a kick without being too spicy.
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This was then followed by the fajita bowl, the macaroni & cheese, the teriyaki bowl and, in last place, the Aztec enchiladas — which were good, sure, but the other ones were all better. Plus, I’m not a big fan of tortillas in microwave meals — they’re never quite as good as fresh ones — but, hey, as far as microwaved tortillas go, these were pretty darn good.
As for the two desserts, both were delicious. The chocolate chip cookie was literally just a tasty cookie — it was hard to tell it was even plant-based! — and the blueberry oat bar packed a flavor punch of berry yumminess. I’m not often a fan of oat bars, but this one is something I will be buying again.
Even better, as the Food Editor, I got the chance to take home and sample four more Rootberry products: the baked vegetable ziti, the kung pao cauliflower, the fettuccine alfredo and the chocolate brownie. Of these, the cauliflower and fettuccine are not nut-free and both contain cashews.
The kung pao cauliflower mixed spicy and sweet in a balance that I thought was just perfect — it also had rice in it, and you can never go wrong with rice. I also quite enjoyed the fettuccine, which had mushrooms and broccoli mixed among the pasta, although the sauce was not particularly creamy. As for the brownie, it was a bit dry for my taste, but I’m also very picky about my brownies — and the flavor was decent.
But the baked ziti blew the rest out of the water, packing a punch of smoky vegetable goodness and topped with creamy “cheese.” If they stocked it in the markets at Miami, I’d get it at least once a week, if not more. Alas, I don't know if rootberry has plans to sell it at Miami anytime soon.
It’s safe to say that, whether you’re plant-based on the regular or not, those rootberry meals which are stocked here in Oxford will be a delicious option for your Miami meals in the future.
When asked if she would purchase rootberry meals from the Miami markets in the future, Wiest responded immediately with yes.
“Those fast, quick meals are really helpful for stressful nights,” Wiest, who enjoyed samples of the Aztec enchiladas, the tikka masala and the fajita bowl at the rootberry pop-up, explained. “Especially, like, this week — I might just stop in Emporium and just get one for dinner tonight because I’ll probably be in studio late.”
Welcome to campus, rootberry! From plant-based students and meat eaters alike, we hope you stay awhile.