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Flavor Magic

People send me stuff all the time. Some of it is good and some not so good. Sometimes they write and ask if they can send samples, and we always warn them that they may not particularly like the review. I even have been contacted after we have tested and reviewed something, to see if I am interested in further information. I don't mind any of this; it's tough to get noticed in the marketplace and when you have what you feel is a great product, it's good to increase awareness.

It's kinda cool getting the packages: it's a bit like Christmas. Not only are the arrivals sometimes unexpected, one is not always sure what's inside. One of the most recent arrivals was Flavor Magic Portion Control Sheets. These came with more promotional information than almost any product we've received. They are described by the manufacturer as "innovative sheets" that "teach consumers how to practice sensible protein portion control."

Dijon Honey MustardEssentially they are 3 by 4 inch plastic sheets that have been covered on one side with a "gourmet dry marinade." The idea is that by cutting the protein portion of your meal (fish, meat or poultry) to the size of the sheet, you will then have the proper portion size. You then moisten the food with water and position it on top of the sheet. After letting the food "marinate" in the fridge for 30 minutes or more, the sheet is discarded and the food cooked normally. Hmm… a great idea.

There were two flavors in the package: Dijon Honey Mustard and Riviera Tomato & Basil. We've tested similar flavoring products, such as the Seasoned Planks and Seasoned Skewers that I found at the Fancy Foods Show a few years back. I loved the skewers and the planks and the addition of the portion control aspect is a great twist.

But that doesn't matter if the food doesn't taste good. Which it doesn't.

Riviera TomatoWe tested both flavors on both salmon and chicken breasts cut to the right size, and these don't taste bad... they just don't taste. (Mind you, the recommended marination time is 30 minutes or more, and we marinated these for over 3 hours.) The honey mustard is slightly mustard flavored and any honey taste is absent. The same is true for the tomato and basil. Some basil flavor, but no tomato whatsoever. There's not very much salt in these, only about 120 mg sodium per sheet, and I'd like to think that this could be the problem, but I don't think so.

And these flavor sheets aren't cheap. Each sheet will set you back about 60 cents, and each package contains 15 servings that expire within two months of opening the package. Spend your money wisely: purchase a jar of coarse ground Dijon mustard and a jar of honey. Place a teaspoon of each in a bowl, add 1/8th teaspoon of salt and a few twists of fresh ground black pepper and spread that on your fish, chicken or meat. Likewise, 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil, 2 teaspoons of tomato paste, 1/8 teaspoon salt and a bit of pepper to replace the Tomato & Basil sheets. Total cost: about 20 cents a serving.

What about the concept of the "innovative sheets" helping with portion control? Answer: buy a scale. You've heard me say this before. A great quality scale is only about 20 dollars (the cost of 3 packs of Flavor Magic sheets plus tax).

These Flavor Magic sheets are a great idea, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Better to go the DIY route.

Reviewed: February 19, 2010