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I discovered Luvo Foods on the shelves of our local Fresh Market. I hadn't heard of them before, but what particularly impressed me about their packaging is that in addition to the usual calories, fat, and sugars you so often see on the front of frozen meal packages, they also include the sodium. As if they didn't think that their sodium levels were something to hide!
Indeed, their company website states specifically that "we keep the sodium and calories low...." And it does seem that they do. Both of the meals we're reviewing today have under 500 milligrams of sodium, and their flatbreads, at least according to their website, all have.... less than 50 milligrams of sodium per serving? Can that be right? We'll just have to find some and test them for you to find out.
The instructions for the frozen meals direct you to place the paper pouch inside the box unopened on a microwave-safe plate. Then you microwave the unopened pouch for 4-5 minutes. Once done, the instructions say to "hold pouch by the corners and gently shimmy entree onto plate. Be careful not to tip pouch too much or contents will mix." That made so much sense that we decided to skip the shimmying altogether and just open up the pouch and eat it from the pouch (on the plate).
We starting our tasting with their Orange Mango Chicken. Both the sliced kale and the broccoli are indeed steamed perfectly. They still have some crunch and each has its distinct flavor. The "whole grains" listed on the front of the package are in fact brown rice and quinoa. Artisan Bistro could take notes from this: the rice is slightly overcooked, but the quinoa still provides plenty of crunchy texture. The flavor of green tea is present but light, not overpowering.
The chicken chunks are surprisingly juicy and flavorful, and comes with mango chunks in an orange sauce that other companies would have made overpoweringly sweet. Here it's slightly tart and complements the green tea flavor of the rice and quinoa mixture nicely. Overally, a really great meal, and the numbers are really good, too: 420 calories (would make a great dinner!), 380 grams of sodium, and 4 grams of fiber. Wow. Could all of their meals be this good?
Maybe. Their Chicken Chile Verde certainly might be. Remember last week when we had that poblano sauce from Artisan Bistro that looked and smelled right but had no flavor? Again Luvo delivers with a mildly spicy green chile sauce bright with chile flavor and a hit of lime. There's somewhat more chicken here than in the Orange Mango Chicken, but it's basically the same juicy chunks.
The chicken comes paired with nicely firm black beans served with diced red bell peppers and polenta cake topped with chopped green chiles, cheese and pepitas. The polenta has great sweet corn flavor and the chiles provide a nice burn. The polenta sits on top of a slice of tomato, and at first I thought it might be an afterthought, but the sweetness of the cooked tomato cuts nicely through the tart and savory green chile sauce on the chicken and the smokiness of the beans. We'd be happy to get this meal in a Mexican restaurant.
With this kind of flavor and these numbers (320 calories, 470 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber), this is one of the best frozen meals we've ever had. There's just one drawback, and it's a big one: these are expensive by the standards of frozen meals. At $5.99 each, you may want to save these for a dinner meal when you'll have the time to really enjoy them. But you'll definitely enjoy them. We're looking forward to testing other meals from Luvo Foods.
Reviewed: May 9, 2014