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Note: In this review I reported the nutrition facts that were on the package for both meals, which are obviously different from what is posted on the Blake's All Natural website, where we obtained the packaging images. Clearly there's been a change in the formulation for both products, so we'll keep an eye out for the updated version of the Turkey Shepherd's Pie. If the newer version of the Turkey & Uncured Bacon Cottage Pie truly has 750mg of sodium and 300 calories we won't be tasting it again.
We first reviewed products from Blake's All Natural Foods back in 2012 and 2013. Since then we updated a couple of those reviews in 2017, but until we relocated Dr. Gourmet to Washington, DC, we simply hadn't seen any other varieties.
But with a new location comes new grocery stores and new options, and today we have two gluten-free pot pies - both made with turkey.
The Turkey Shepherd's Pie (250 calories, 290mg sodium, 4g fiber) - indeed, both pies - have some of the least wasteful packaging I have seen in a frozen meal - they're simply a square cardboard tub shrink-wrapped with plastic. To cook them you cut a slit in the plastic and pop in the microwave for 4-5 minutes. (Just be careful removing the plastic overwrap.)
This shepherd's pie comes out of the microwave smelling like Thanksgiving because of the sweet potatoes used to top the pie. My wife took a bite and wondered, "Is there maple syrup in this? These are awfully sweet."
No maple syrup, but Blake's did choose to add sugar to the sweet potatoes. They're not nearly as sweet as they could be, however, and in my opinion are a nice complement to the real star of the dish: the turkey filling. This ground turkey features peas, corn, and diced carrots, and has a rich, umami flavor that's just salty enough to contrast nicely with the sweet potatoes. Honestly, one of the best frozen shepherd's pies I've ever had.
The only drawback to this dish is the ratio of sweet potato to filling, which I estimate to be about 3 to 2. If that ratio were reversed, this would be excellent. As it is it still would make a damn fine lunch with a piece of fruit.
The Turkey & Uncured Bacon Cottage Pie (270 calories, 450mg sodium, 3g fiber) is much more traditional with its topping of plain mashed potatoes. Unfortunately these are a little grainy - and this didn't bode well for the rest of the dish.
The filling here, oddly enough, has more corn in it by weight than ground turkey - and no other vegetables. And although the package says it includes cheddar cheese, we couldn't really find any. It does seem to be the same ground turkey mixture, but in this case they've added uncured bacon - and that's the problem.
This is salty. Really salty. With only 20 more calories, this has an extra 160 milligrams of sodium - likely from both the bacon and the cheese - and you can taste every single one.
To add insult to injury, the ratio of potatoes to filling is more like 4 to 1: to taste both the potatoes and the filling together required "more fishing around in the bowl than should be necessary," as my wife put it. Compared to the other, an all-around disappointment. Leave this one on the shelf in favor of the Turkey Shepherd's Pie.
Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy life!
Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Review posted: June 12, 2020