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:
This week we're continuing our revisiting of older reviews with two from Weight Watchers. The Fettucini Alfredo was reviewed back in 2011, with an overall poor showing: we knocked that one for its thin sauce and lack of flavor, although the broccoli and pasta were actually pretty good.
The Spaghetti with Meat Sauce dates back even further - to 2008 - and we noted that the sauce wasn't overly sweet and actually had a good balance of herbs: this got a thumbs up.
The tasting panel's rule is that we don't reread the old reviews until after the current tasting in order to avoid any preconceptions. Today this was an especially good idea.
The Fettucini Alfredo (250 calories, 560 milligrams of sodium, and 8 grams of fiber) comes out of the microwave with a "lightly cheesey" scent. The panel noted that there is a fair amount of broccoli, and in contrast with other meals containing broccoli, was exclusively florets. They're actually al dente, with a firm crunch: "as if it was just... frozen broccoli!" marveled a panelist. The pasta also has a good bite, and despite some initial concerns about breakage, holds up well to the sauce.
The only down side of this dish is the sauce. One of the panelists described it thus: "It's not an in-your-face Alfredo," said a panelist, "it's pretty subtle, actually." This led to a bit of a discussion about whether a "proper" Alfredo sauce should be subtle, but eventually the panel returned to the topic at hand and decided that the sauce was OK but there simply needed to be more of it. The overall vote was for a thumbs-up for this meal for the texture and quality of the ingredients, with a minority holding that this dish really needs more sauce. Keep that in mind if you try it - depending on how you like your Alfredo sauce, this may not be to your taste.
The first thing a panelist said when the Spaghetti with Meat Sauce came out of the microwave was "Cafeteria food." It has a slightly sweet scent and is rather soupy, with thicker spaghetti noodles. (Yes, it does remind me a bit of my military school days.)
This has easily two or three times the liquid shown in the image on the package and the flavor is as thin as you would expect: a "boring marinara" with a faint tomato flavor and an undercurrent of red bell pepper. While you can see the oregano in the sauce, panelists reported that they couldn't taste it, nor could they taste the garlic that is listed in the ingredients. Worse yet, the little chunks of meat are "gristly" and "taste a little like pork." (Evidently calling it "meat sauce" is a case of truth in advertising: the ingredients list includes "seasoned meat crumbles [beef and pork, water, salt].") Finally, the pasta matched the sauce in its offensively inoffensiveness: "kind of chewy, but not bad." Definitely leave this one on the shelf - the panel was unanimous on that point.
Reviewed: October 14, 2016