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We are finding a lot more frozen meal offerings under 700 milligrams of sodium, and even under 500 milligrams. Back when we started doing frozen food reviews (over ten years ago) these meals were few and far between, and even then often didn't taste very good. Frozen meals in general seem to be improving at least, those that contain a reasonable amount of sodium. Even now I often see meals with as much as 1,200 milligrams of sodium per serving. (Can these even be edible?)
In contrast to those early years, when I might pick up 8 or 10 meals before finding something within our sodium requirements, nowadays I can usually count on new products being within our parameters. That's quite a step forward.
From Weight Watchers Smart Ones we have what I would consider a lunch meal and a dinner meal, at 280 and 410 calories respectively. Our panel considered the lunch meal, first. This Sesame Noodles with Vegetables looks like a vegetable lo mein dish, and indeed these are lo mein noodles. We were initially concerned that the noodles wouldn't hold up well to five minutes in the microwave (total), but they come out nearly perfect - just a little over al dente. As one panelist pointed out, "When was the last time you had an Asian noodle meal when the noodles weren't overcooked?"
There are a lot of vegetables in this meal - snap peas, red bell peppers, broccoli and even peas. The snap peas, along with all the vegetables, suffer from the extended cooking time, but they retain their bright color and flavor. The sesame sauce is really fairly good, the panel agreed, with a stronger sesame/soy flavor and just a hint of sweetness. The numbers are good, with 280 calories, 430 milligrams of sodium, and an amazing 7 grams of fiber. All in all, a vegetarian meal that noodle lovers will enjoy.
The dinner meal is part of Weight Watchers' foray into what I call "pouch cooking." Although there are directions for cooking the meal on the stove top, why bother (and dirty another pan) when you can put the entire bag in the microwave and then pour it out onto a plate, complete?
This Parmesan Chicken Marinara is 410 calories, with 640 milligrams of sodium and 5 grams of fiber. There are 5 generously-sized chunks of breast meat chicken that remain surprisingly tender and juicy. They come in a savory tomato-parmesan sauce with notes of oregano. This sauce isn't overly sweet, either, and covers penne that, like the noodles in the Sesame Noodles meal, are just a little overdone. But not much! The panel agreed that this one we should definitely recommend. Serve it with a side salad and you have a quick meal for those nights when you just don't have time to cook. Two for two, Weight Watchers!