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Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

Grainful

Mushroom & Chicken and Chana Masala

Dr. Gourmet reviews the Mushroom & Chicken bowl from Grainful

This week we have another company that's completely new to us: Grainful. [Edit: I was wrong: we discovered Grainful back in 2018. ] According to their website, they're a small company based in Ithaca, New York, "crafting amazing, affordable meals made with gluten-free whole grains."

For example, the first item up for review, a Mushroom & Chicken bowl, is made with whole grain oats. Savory oatmeal? After having a savory oatmeal at fine restaurant in the UK, I've often toyed with the idea, but have never really pursued it for recipe development. After today, I think I'll have to.

Dr. Gourmet reviews the Mushroom & Chicken bowl from Grainful

This bowl comes out of its 5 minutes in the microwave with a rich, umami mushroom scent. It smells like nothing so much as the mushroom risotto I sometimes make for my wife and I that includes one of my favorite ingredients: porcini dust.

And no wonder - porcini mushroom powder is towards the end of the ingredients list (the first three ingredients are water, oat groats, and mushrooms). This turned out to be a good sign: the Mushroom & Chicken bowl is rich and savory, full of luscious mushroom and parmigiano flavor. The oat groats that are the foundation of this dish are chewy and nutty, making this plenty satisfying (it has an impressive 7 grams of fiber).

Small points: the chicken is cut into fairly small pieces and can be a bit chewy, but it has true chicken flavor. I could wish for another one-third cup of peas for more color and a little less salt (560mg of sodium for 330 calories), but really - that's splitting hairs. This is the best frozen meal we've reviewed in years: like a really hearty mushroom risotto.

Dr. Gourmet reviews the Chana Masala from Grainful

The Chana Masala bowl is even more impressive: with only 150 milligrams of sodium for 310 calories, this has bags and bags of flavor. Bright, lightly sweet tomato sauce spiced with coriander and cumin is mixed with firm chickpeas and punctuated with peas. (Once again, it could use more peas.)

the Chana Masala from Grainful, after cooking

Here the grain base is a blend of oat groats, quinoa, and sorghum, giving the dish a hearty 8 grams of fiber. The box is labeled "medium spice" and it's accurate - enough zing to make it interesting, but not enough to be the least bit uncomfortable. It's as good as any restaurant chana masala I've ever had - and I ate the whole thing.

Folks, these are the new industry standard - the two best frozen meals we've had in years. We'll definitely be looking for Grainful's other products.

Remember evol? When we first discovered their products we also thought they were the new gold standard. Unfortunately, they were successful enough that they were bought by a larger frozen food company - and not only did they broaden their product lines, they started adding far more salt to their products. I hope the same doesn't happen with Grainful.

So before that happens, go the store and get their Mushroom & Chicken Bowl and their Chana Masala. Not just good - great.

Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy life!

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet

Review posted: July 17, 2020