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I've been really hard on Lean Cuisine, but the truth is that they do have a pretty good track record here at Dr. Gourmet. The problem is that out of so very many meals they have on offer, few of them meet our standards for fiber and sodium. This week's two meals actually surprised me with how (comparatively) low in sodium they are and how (comparatively) high in fiber.
We started with Lean Cuisine's Lemongrass Chicken. The box is labeled "New Recipe," which is what caught my eye. Then the "5g of fiber!" right next to it. "Hmmm... with only 550mg of sodium this is either going to be terrible or I'm going to be pleasantly surprised," I thought.
Hurrah! Pleasantly surprised. This dish calls for being microwaved for 4 and a half minutes, which made me suspect that the chicken would end up with the texture of rubber bullets. Nope. The chunks of chicken tenderloins end up quite juicy and flavorful - a real coup for microwaved chicken. The lemongrass-ginger sauce is well balanced and tasty, if a little strong, while the baby corn and broccoli are still crispy. Add to it whole wheat vermicelli with some nice body to it and you have an all-around winner with a whopping 5 grams of fiber. I'd definitely keep this one in my freezer for lunches. For dinner, just throw together a little salad to go along with this and you have a meal that's flavorful and satisfying.
After such a good start I lowered my expectations for their Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Chicken. This dish's pasta is not whole wheat pasta (and thus has only 4 grams of fiber), and all too often pasta sauces are way too sweet. I was again pleasantly surprised to find that the sun-dried tomato pesto, while maybe a tiny bit sweet, was still not at all cloying and the parmesan came through nicely. Once again the chicken chunks were cooked properly, and I finally figured it out: Lean Cuisine is putting larger pieces of chicken in their meals so that they don't end up overcooked. Good thinking, Stouffer's! The black olives might be canned, but the zucchini still has crunch. Overall, another good offering with only 570mg of sodium.
Good news and good work from Lean Cuisine. I just wish that more of their meals had more moderate levels of sodium and more fiber like these.
Reviewed: February 26, 2010