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After a peek into breakfast options last week, this week we've returned to our usual lunch (or dinner) fare with two varieties from Healthy Choice's Cafe Steamers Line.
First up is their Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo, which includes broccoli to make it a full meal. This has 280 calories, 580 milligrams of sodium, 4 grams of fiber, and zero flavor.
But let's look at each element, as this is truly a case of the whole being more than the sum of its parts.
After microwaving the dish for 4 minutes and risking steam burns pouring the contents of the internal colander into the sauce, the wide noodles fall out of the colander in one solid clump. What you see in the picture above is after some stirring, but the noodles are not just chewy, they're actually gummy. Baby-food-gummy.
The smallish chunks of chicken are clearly proceesed from leftovers at the chicken plant, being both dry and tough as well as gristly.
The sauce is not as thick as we'd like, but acceptable, and creamy in texture. Too bad it has no flavor whatsoever. The only semi-bright spot in this offense against Alfredo is the broccoli: a bit overcooked, but the florets do still have some crunch.
What's truly impressive about this is that the dish has an extremely long list of ingredients in which there is more potassium chloride than salt - and not only does it not have that awful metallic aftertaste, it doesn't even taste salty. You'd think there would be some flavor - maybe the faintest hint of garlic? - but nowhere are there any seasonings unless "flavorings" counts as a spice.
The Mexican-Style Street Corn looked much more promising, although we weren't sure why it's called "Street Corn" when it's served with chicken, black beans, and red bell peppers.
No matter. This has respectable numbers at 240 calories, 520mg sodium, and 8 grams of fiber. According to the package, the chicken, corn, and beans are served with a "Creamy Cotija Cheese & Lime Sauce", which sounds, yes, like street corn.
Unfortunately, all we can smell, even from just inches away, is the faint soapiness of cilantro.
Once again this is nearly flavorless: yes, the corn is crunchy but its sweetness is somehow muted. The black beans lack that earthy punch that you expect from black beans in a Mexican-style dish. The chicken - well, it's the same chicken as in the Alfredo if a little less dried out.
The only thing with any flavor in the dish are the (mushy) red bell peppers. The sauce makes this dish rather soupy, but it does have a faint taste of lime. The ingredients list in this dish does include onions, guajillo peppers, and garlic, but none of those flavors come through at all.
To add insult to injury, on the back of each package is emblazoned "A PERFECT BALANCE of taste and healthy" (capitals theirs).
These "meals" are so heavily processed that calling them "healthy" is quite a stretch even for frozen meals. Worse, this implies that food that is healthy doesn't necessarily taste good. It says it right there on the box: to eat healthy you must give up flavor. That's simply not true and every single recipe on this website proves it.
NOT a healthy choice.
Posted: February 4, 2022