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Amy's says that that their Light & Lean meals were made in response to customers who said that they "prefer to 'eat light.'" Accordingly, the meals from that line "are low in fat and calories, yet tasty and satisfying." It's worth noting that there's no mention of sodium levels in their product line description.
Honestly, I'm not sure how today's meals fit into the Light & Lean category when as far as the numbers go they look just like many other meals. The Light & Lean 3 Cheese Penne Marinara has 270 calories, 590 milligrams of sodium, and 2 grams of fiber, along with 5 grams of fat (2.5 grams saturated fat). That's just par for the frozen meal course here at Dr. Gourmet, although I realize there are plenty of frozen meals that are higher in all of those numbers.
That said, this is a good lunch option. The marinara sauce isn't too sweet (indeed, there's no added sugar in this dish) and has a soft tomato flavor enhanced with a touch of garlic and onion. The pasta is just slightly overdone - chewier than I'd like, but acceptable. The panel noted that what cheese is included in this dish tends to get mixed into the sauce, making the whole have a nice creamy mouthfeel. I would have liked Amy's to use whole wheat pasta to add a little more fiber, but as it is, have this for lunch with a piece of fruit both to add fiber and to make it a more complete meal.
The Light & Lean Sweet & Sour Asian Noodle is both vegan and gluten-free, with 250 calories, 610 milligrams of sodium, and 4 grams of fiber (which is great for something with rice noodles!). There's a lot of vegetables in this dish, nearly outweighing the rice noodles: it includes broccoli, green onions, red bell peppers, green beans, bok choy, and julienned carrots, with diced tofu as the protein. While the broccoli might be a wee bit overcooked, the carrots, bok choy slices, green beans, and green onions hold up nicely to microwaving and add plenty of texture to the slightly sticky noodles. The rice noodles don't break up in cooking as happens in many rice noodle dishes, and the sauce is lightly sweet and tart with a good umami hit of soy sauce. This is truly one of the best gluten-free dishes we've had in a while and a much better choice than ordering Chinese take-out at lunch (and it won't have any MSG). You can tell your friends that Dr. Gourmet heartliy endorses this one.
Here are some rice noodle recipes you can make at home and take for lunch if you like Asian cuisine at work. They'll taste better, are cheaper per serving than eating any frozen meals, and you'll get a lot more volume in your meal.
Reviewed: January 10, 2014