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It's been at least three years since we last tasted products from Good Food Made Simple. Our first encounter was with a couple of their breakfast bowls, and then almost a year later, a Turkey Meatball pasta as well as a Pad Thai - none of which garnered the company negative reviews.
This week we found two more meals, a gluten-free Chicken Black Bean and a Lemon Chicken pasta dish.
You could argue that the Chicken Black Bean (370 calories, 650mg sodium, 5g fiber) is disappointing - once the product is cooked and stirred according to package directions, it certainly doesn't look much like the picture on the front of the box.
It actually bears a very strong resemblance to what my wife ends up with on her plate at a Mexican restaurant: she likes to mix her side of refried beans and her side of Spanish rice together, ending up with something not dissimilar to a dog's breakfast.
And that's quite similar to what you end up with here: slightly overcooked brown rice, black beans with the texture of refried beans, what tastes like enchilada sauce (the "salsa"), and some pulled chicken.
But don't get me wrong: this would be darn near perfect if the "salsa" were a little less vinegary and Good Food Made Simple cut back on the salt by at least 150 milligrams.
In fact, I would suggest that you get 3 good taco-sized corn tortillas and wrap 1/3 of the contents of this bowl in each tortilla. Add a little shredded lettuce to each one, and not only will you have a full meal at about 500 calories, the corn tortillas and lettuce will help cut the vinegariness and saltiness.
The Lemon Chicken bowl, on the other hand, was disappointing, and the numbers are just ok at 390 calories, 630 milligrams of sodium, and 5 grams of fiber.
This comes out of the microwave with a "very lemony" scent - and unfortunately the flavor is much the same. It's simply not well thought out.
On the one hand, most of the individual elements are fairly good: the pasta might be a little more chewy than al dente, the (pulled) chicken has decent chicken flavor (although the texture is a bit grain), and there's plenty of cheese.
On the other hand, whoever created this dish took a tart/bitter flavor (lemon), added a vinegary/bitter flavor (kalamata olives), and mixed in a bitter flavor (kale) along with (again) a little too much salt.
Which results in (wait for it) - a dish that's simply ruined by its bitter sauce. (The random chunks of woody, inedible kale stem just added insult to injury.)
A last note: the product image we acquired from the Good Food Made Simple website states that the Lemon Chicken is gluten-free: the version we tested is NOT gluten-free. We emailed the company asking about the discrepancy, and they got back to us within just a few hours to explain that they are in the midst of transitioning to entirely gluten-free products: the new, gluten-free Lemon Chicken would be on the shelves of our local grocery store as soon as that store ran out of the non-gluten-free stock.
We can tell you that we don't recommend the older, gluten-containing version of the Lemon Chicken bowl. We'll have to test the newer version ourselves to have an opinion on it, but it might be a while before we do.
Posted: March 5, 2021