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Why do I keep doing this? First and foremost because we get a ton of requests asking what people can eat that's fast and tastes OK and is still good for them. And then... it's become a challenge to see if there's anything out there in the freezer case that is worth eating. Every now and then there is, and the review of the Kashi meals two weeks ago was such a pleasant surprise. Kashi is pretty widely available now, but Stouffer's Lean Cuisine is still the granddaddy of the low-calorie frozen TV dinner so I do keep trying. This week it's their Penne Pasta with Tomato Basil Sauce.
Well, I am here to say that the bar has been raised, because not only do I now know that it's possible to have a decent frozen meal (see the Kashi review) but this smelled pretty good coming out of the microwave. Tomatoey, savory, bright....
Well, imagine that, it is pretty good. The pasta is only slightly overdone but not intolerable or gummy and the sauce is bright and flavorful. The basil comes through and so does the sun dried tomato. The extraordinary thing is that this is only 260 calories, 2.5 grams of fat and an amazing 210 mg of sodium. This gets at least one thumb up.
I was thinking that one would never really have a plate of pasta like this without a little parmesan, so I grated about 1/4 ounce of Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top and this really tips the scales in favor of having this in your freezer for emergencies. The cheese adds only about 30 calories and 2 grams of fat. Pair this up with some Pan Grilled Broccoli or Asparagus or Herbed Zucchini and you're good to go for dinner in 15 minutes. Lean Cuisine finally gets one right at the verge of being really good.
Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy life!
Timothy S. Harlan, M.D.
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