As a vegetarian, I am constantly on the lookout for cool veggie protein sources. I am extremely picky, however, so when I find something I like I remain loyal. My favorite brand for most meat alternatives is Lightlife. I don't even like the taste of real meat, but somehow I very much enjoy many of Lightlife's wide variety of substitutes. While stocking up on Mori Nu tofu the other day, I found a coupon for $1.00 off of any Lightlife product, so I decided to try something new instead, and settled on Lightlife Smart Deli Pepperoni. At $2.19 ($3.19 originally, minus coupons savings), it didn't break the bank.
Being impatient and starting to get a little bit hungry, I opened the box and tried a couple slices as my friends and I were walking out of the store. Also, I took the slices out and ate them cold, and my friends laughed at me. "Pepperoni is meant to be eaten warm, cooked, heated up! It will taste better then" they said However, they each tried a bit, and said it wasn't bad, but they we agreed that heated pepperoni would be better. I tried it hot once I got home, and they were right. It was pretty good, though I thought it was fine cold too.
It was an acquired taste for me though, as I am not originally a huge fan of pepperoni flavor in general. It definitely has a very strong flavor, though not exactly spicy. The texture is pleasant, not tough to chew. A little stronger than lunch meat slices, but not like actual cuts of meat. These would go great on a vegetarian "pepperoni" pizza, and could possibly fool the carnivores in your life as well (though I am not sure of this as I haven't eaten pepperoni since I was about 3 years old). There is a little bit of an aftertaste, as one might expect from any kind of pepperoni, meat-free or not.
According to the box, there are 4 one-ounce servings of 13 slices each in Lightlife Smart Deli Pepperoni, which isn't bad pricewise, and it brings the price per serving to a mere 55 cents. The slices are about the size of a half dollar, maybe 1.5" diameter. One cool feature of the box is that there is a peekhole in back so you can see what you are getting. If you are using them to top a salad or a pizza, an ounce will be fine. If they are the main protein source on a sandwich or something, or if you are simply snacking on the slices, you may end up eating far more than one portion, or even finishing the box.
If you do happen to be the type to finish the box, you are in luck! Even eating the full 4 servings could be considered a snack. Each 13 slice serving contains only 50 calories, so there are 200 in the box, about the same as an average protein bar. They pack an awesome nutritional punch, with 9 grams of protein in each serving (and what protein bar can boast 36 grams of protein for a mere 200 calories), in addition to just 1 gram of fat (no saturated fat), and 2 grams of carbohydrates (one gram of which is fiber). In addition, each serving provides a whopping 490 mg of potassium, 14% of the RDA. The only thing you may want to watch if you eat more than 1 ounce is the sodium. At 240 mg (10% of the RDA), it can start to add up, especially if you really do end up eating it all (960 mg, yikes!). It is made with all-natural ingredients, is completely vegan, and cholesterol free. One of the first ingredients is wheat gluten, so those with gluten intolerance will need to avoid it.
I may or may not buy these again. Actually, I probably will, simply because they are convenient, good, healthy, and portable. However, unlike some Lightlife products, it was not love at first bite. I think I can chalk that up not to lack of quality, but lack of preference for pepperoni on my own part. I think it will satisfy those who really do like pepperoni, and they even grew on me after the initial reaction.