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Sometimes you just can't make it into the kitchen to cook. Dr. Gourmet has reviewed over 800 common convenience foods, ingredients, and restaurant selections so that you know what's worth eating - and what's not. View the Index of all Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

Just Tell Me What to Eat!

Just Tell Me What to Eat!

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Cedarlane Foods

Eggplant Parmesan and Spinach & Feta Pie (Spanatakopita)



We've only reviewed a few items from Cedarlane Foods, but overall they haven't fared all that well. We reviewed their Garden Vegetable Enchiladas to find them a little too salty as well as lacking any meaningful texture. There are so many fairly good Mexican food options out there, why settle for mush? We also had to give their Shrimp and Turkey Sausage Jambalaya a pass, once again on the basis of saltiness and texture: the rice was simply too gummy. Too bad, as their Three Layer Enchilada Pie is good: nice corn flavor in the layers of corn tortillas and firm black beans in the filling, with not too overly much salt.

Cedarlane Foods Eggplant Parmesan ReviewThis week we have two offerings from Cedarlane Foods to try. The first is an Eggplant Parmesan, labeled "with Roasted Vegetables and Sundried Tomato Sauce." That's no exaggeration - the tomato sauce is lightly sweet with a good sundried-tomato scent while cooking. The flavor really comes through in the finished product, as well, with a generous ricotta cheese and roasted zucchini and bell pepper filling that makes the tomato sauce thick and creamy. The thick layers of eggplant rounds are very lightly breaded with a mixture of bread crumbs and spices, including garlic, basil and oregano, and the whole is topped with mozzarella cheese.

Really, this is a marvel of restraint. So many Eggplant Parmesans that come out of the freezer case are essentially piles of cheese with some thickly breaded, fried eggplant on it. This is, however, almost as good as what you might make at home. (Here's my recipe for Eggplant Parmesan.) The one drawback we saw in this dish is that the eggplant is a bit overcooked and is therefore rather mushy. Some of our tasters argued that this is what they want in an Eggplant Parmesan, while others wanted a bit more of an al dente texture to their eggplant. We'll give this a thumbs up based on flavor and leave the question of preferred texture to you. This would make a great lunch, as it's filling but has only 160 calories, a surprisingly low 390 milligrams of sodium (!!), and 3 grams of fiber.

Cedarlane Foods: Spinach & Feta Pie ReviewWe were looking forward to tasting the Spinach & Feta Pie. It has 260 calories and 2 grams of fiber, but the sodium is a little high at 650 milligrams. Still, we reasoned, if it were good it would be a great way to get more veggies.

That is, until we looked at the Nutrition Facts a little more carefully. (Which just goes to show that we here at Dr. Gourmet can get tripped up just like anyone else.) This package is really 2 servings. Which means the entire package (because really, who's going to eat just half the package?) is 520 calories and 1300 milligrams of sodium. Yikes! To be fair, if you read the packaging it suggests that it's "perfect for your next meal or party" [emphasis mine] and it must be baked in a traditional oven for 25-30 minutes, making it impractical for a lunch at work. Shame on you, Cedarlane!

We went ahead and baked it according to the package directions and tasted it. This is a fine Spanatakopita, the Greek name for this dish, and the filo is quite buttery and flaky after baking. The filling is strongly flavored with spinach, onion and mushroom with a creamy feta cheese and nutmeg undertone. Even the layer of filo at the bottom of the dish is fairly flaky. All ruined for our purposes by unrealistic labeling. We give this one a thumbs' down because the numbers are just all wrong. Too bad.

Reviewed: February 10, 2012