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According to the Healthy Choice website there are 4 varieties of Power Bowls. We reviewed two other Power Bowls, the Chicken Sausage & Barley Bowl and the Adobo Chicken Bowl, back in August of last year, with disappointing results. To my surprise, that review occasioned quite a bit of comment, with some commenters agreeing with our take, and others noting that, essentially, it could be worse. (To be honest, I'm always a bit surprised to find that people are reading our reviews.)
Today we are reviewing the other two varieties featured on the Healthy Choice website: the Korean-Inspired Beef Bowl and the Cuban-Inspired Pork Bowl. Like the other two bowls from last August, these two bowls include a whole grain component of a mix of rice, quinoa, and barley, plus a vegetable component of a mix of "dark leafy greens:" chard, kale, and spinach. The differences between the various bowls are apparently the type of protein, the additional vegetable or fruit, and the sauce.
More or less at random we chose to review the Korean-Inspired Beef Power Bowl (290 calories, 600mg sodium, 6g fiber) first. Along with the rice/quinoa/barley and the chard/kale/spinach, this has 3/4 inch chunks of beef along with bamboo shoots, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and a "savory gochujang" sauce.
Just out of the microwave the bowl has a light scent of peanut, soy, and ginger. As with the bowls from last August, there's barely a tablespoon of the "dark leafy greens," but the whole grain component is nicely cooked, not being dried out or overly mushy. The bamboo shoots and the beef might look dry at first, but the bamboo shoots lend their sweet crunch to the dish, and the beef is no more dry than you might expect thin slices of braised and reheated beef to be. There's a fair amount of red-chili-related burn to this dish (it's labeled "medium heat," after all) and the carrots and quinoa lend the meal plenty of texture. Overall, the panel gave it a thumbs up with a "spicy caution."
The Cuban-Inspired Pork Power Bowl (340 calories, 600mg sodium, 7g fiber) was by far better than any of the other Power Bowls we've tested. This comes out of the microwave with a soft cilantro and poblano scent. The whole grain component is cooked properly: neither mushy nor overly dry and with good flavor. The pork (and the plantains) are both cut into 3/4 inch chunks and the pork is no more dry than most people expect pork to be (when tasted without any other meal components).
It's interesting to note that there appears to be more than twice the amount of "dark leafy greens" in this dish than there were in all the other Power Bowls we've reviewed: clearly more greens are possible - and Healthy Choice should make note.
With what my wife calls "a perfect bite" (one that includes all of the intended flavor components of a meal), the pork is quite tender and flavorful. The black beans are earthy and savory, the plantains sweet and a little chewy, and the red bell peppers add a sharp bit of sweetness. The combination of sweet pork, cilantro, green chili, and plantain definitely fit the "Cuban-inspired" brief of this meal: it's certainly the best Power Bowl we've had and well worth the money. Buy this one.
Reviewed: February 16, 2018