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The sodium levels are often so high in frozen foods that I actually hesitate to look at wholly new products. I spotted these Boomerang's Handheld Aussie Pies in our local Whole Foods the other day and was intrigued by the idea of savory foods in a pie crust, but I sort of held my breath until I saw the fairly reasonable sodium levels. Granted, I do expect the frozen foods available at Whole Foods to be a little healthier, but on the other hand there are brands they offer that still tend to be heavy on the salt.
The story behind these pies is that they're traditional Australian fare. The founder of Boomerang's, Jack Fennell, was living in Sydney, Australia when he and his wife started enjoying them, then when they moved to Austin, Texas they started a restaurant to serve them. They've since branched out to the frozen food aisle.
The pies come individually wrapped in plastic, two to a package, and can be cooked either in the oven or in the microwave. Although we usually will choose to cook our frozen meals in the microwave when that option is available, today we chose to test our pies cooked both ways in case one method was definitely better than the other.
The first one we tried was the Spinach & Mushroom Pie. We baked it in a 350° oven for 25 minutes (the directions call for 25-30 minutes), then allowed it to rest for three minutes (again, per instructions). I expected the pie to be too hot to even pick up, but this wasn't the case. This is a solid, hefty little pie with a thick and crispy crust. The crust is thick enough to hold the filling, but nice and light with a good crumb and a buttery flavor. What's more, the crust doesn't become doughy on the inside, where it meets the filling. And the filling! This is a very generous amount of rich, meaty-tasting spinach, sliced mushrooms and red bell peppers in a sauce made creamy with Monterey jack cheese. WOW. This is good. Really good. This is everything you'd want a hand-held meat pie to be, with only 350 calories, 540 milligrams of sodium and 2 grams of fiber.
The second pie was their Curry Veggie Pie, and this one we cooked completely in the microwave. As I mentioned, we usually cook our test foods in the microwave because most of the time these foods are eaten at lunch in the workplace, where it's unusual to have access to a conventional oven. These pies, however, do not do nearly as well in the microwave as they do in the oven. The crust still has the same flavor, but in the microwave it becomes mushy - not crispy at all. You really can't pick these up to eat because of it. That said, the filling is once again excellent, with lots of peas, carrots, broccoli and mushrooms in a tangy yellow curry sauce. This vegan pie has 310 calories, with 450 milligrams of sodium and 3 grams of fiber.
Either one of the pies would make a great lunch or dinner paired with a side salad, and your kids will love both the flavor and the fun of eating them. We'll be testing the other varieties soon. The bad news? These are currently only available in Whole Foods stores in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas. The good news? Boomerang's will be happy to ship them to you. Visit BoomerangsPies.com to get your own Aussie Pies - just take the time to bake them in the oven. You'll be glad you did.
Reviewed: January 27, 2012