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It's really unusual to find frozen meals containing beef, and I'm not sure why. I would guess that the price of a decent cut of meat might have something to do with it. Or maybe it's because cooking it, freezing it, and microwaving it turns the average piece of meat into rubber.
Needless to say, today's Barbecue Seasoned Steak with Red Potatoes from Healthy Choice's Cafe Steamers line was a bit of a surprise. (Even more surprising was the sodium: only 550 milligrams to 330 calories and 4 grams of fiber. ) I don't like the waste of all the plastic used in these meals (rest assured; here at Dr. Gourmet we recycle), but I made an exception just to find out how this beef would turn out.
Another thing I don't like about these meals is the risk of burns. After microwaving for four minutes or so, you are to remove the plastic film on top, then pour the food in the plastic colander into the underlying bowl. You don't want to wait for the meal to cool enough to touch or the sauce in the underlying bowl will congeal, so be careful! I really wouldn't want children to be cooking these meals without adult supervision.
You can really smell the molasses and Worcestershire in this barbecue sauce. It's not really spicy but it does have a good bite. One tester reported a bit of a chemical aftertaste, however. The big chunks of red potatoes are just the right size to turn out tender rather than dry. Contrary to the image on the carton, there's not a lot of meat in this dish - maybe an ounce or a little more. But what's there is fairly tender, if not the best cut of meat. The panel agreed that there really ought to be more vegetables, but the corn adds a little crunch and the red bell pepper cuts through the sweetness of the barbecue sauce.
Overall, not bad. Not really good, either. We'll give this one a passing grade.
I was expecting a good review for the Grilled Chicken Pesto with Vegetables. This has good-sized chunks of yellow squash and zucchini along with spinach, and it smells invitingly of basil and parmesan. At first the sauce looks a little thin, but it does thicken up a little as you stir the pasta into the sauce. There's definitely more chicken in this meal, and it's nice and juicy.
Those are the good points. Unfortunately, the pasta is thoroughly overcooked and actually breaks apart as it's stirred into the sauce. Whole wheat pasta would have held up better here. Our tasters reported that the dish is more basil and parmesan scented rather than flavored and that the spinach was the strongest flavor in the dish.
Too bad. As my wife likes to say, "great concept; poor execution." You don't need to know what the numbers are on this one: it doesn't pass.