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
Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP has counseled thousands of his patients on healthy, sustainable weight loss. Now he's compiled his best tips and recipes into a six-week plan for you to learn how to eat great food that just happens to be great for you - and if losing weight is your goal, you can do that, too.
Get the prescription for better health as well as healthy weight loss, including:
We do our best not to repeat reviews for our frozen convenience food section, but after ten years it does become a little harder to find things that are both acceptable in terms of sodium levels and fairly broadly available. (Yes, we realize that not everybody has access to a Whole Foods Market, but at least they are - now - a nationwide chain.) I'd thought we'd already reviewed the Whole Foods 365 Vegetarian Lasagna, but it turns out it was their Vegan Lasagna, which we'd reviewed almost exactly a year ago.
Their Organic Macaroni & Cheese, on the other hand, we have indeed reviewed before - over ten years ago. A lot can happen in ten years in the food industry (and has), so we took it to our tasting panel for a new review. It got 3 1/2 forks when we were still ranking on a scale of one to five forks: would it still be fairly good?
In short: yes. This is a pretty generous serving of whole wheat macaroni pasta which stands up well to cooking. It has a good bite, almost chewy, and the sauce is smooth and creamy. There's plenty of it, too, to please the cheese-lover in your house. That said, the sauce is (still) more subtle than the cheese sauce in other brands (one taster said it was "more like mild cheddar than sharp cheddar."). I'd far rather my children ate this with a little salad than anything that involves cheese powder for sure.
What's even more interesting about this meal is the difference in nutrition information. While the older version has 321 calories, 11 grams of fat, 673 milligrams of sodium, and 5.1 grams of fiber, the new version has 410 calories, 5 grams of fat, 600 milligrams of sodium, and only 3 grams of fiber. Less fat, more calories, less fiber, less sodium. Overall, I'll take it, although I do have to wonder where the other 2 grams of fiber were in the ten-year-old version of this meal.
After a positive experience with the Mac & Cheese, we turned to the Vegetarian Lasagna. When we reviewed the Vegan Lasagna, we'd said, "The tomato sauce has a faint metallic tang, while the ricotta cheese (made from tofu, according to the ingredients list), tastes like.... plain tofu."
The good news is that their Vegetarian Lasagna has dairy-containing ricotta between each noodle layer, and plenty of it. There's a good, cheesey flavor here with notes of spinach and broccoli along with chunks of carrots. The tomato sauce has a subtle oregano and basil note. The down side of this meal is the whole wheat lasagna noodles. These noodles are everything that used to be bad about whole wheat pasta: they're extremely thick and chewy and have a strong wheaty flavor. It's like your favorite whole wheat bread: you might enjoy it for its wheat flavor, but for many people (and, it seems, most children) it's just too strong. Good, but approach with caution if you're going to serve it to your kids. What's great about it is that it's 450 calories with a whopping 13 grams of fiber (very satisfying!) and only 200 milligrams of sodium.
On the whole, two thumbs up this week for Whole Foods.
Reviewed: March 15, 2013