Sometimes you just can't make it into the kitchen to cook. Dr. Gourmet has reviewed over 800 common convenience foods, ingredients, and restaurant selections so that you know what's worth eating - and what's not. View the Index of all Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

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Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

Tastefully Plated

Paleo Meals: Cajun Style Shrimp and Grilled Chicken Breast

Dr. Gourmet reviews the Cajun Style Shrimp from Tastefully Plated Paleo.

It might go without saying that I think the Paleolithic diet is silly. The idea that we should be eating like our "ancestors" without having quality data about what they actually consumed simply makes no sense. Likewise, the Paleo diet presumes that we have not evolved - which we clearly have.

But the Paleo diet appeals to people for some reason. Looking across the internet, the majority of those are body builders and people who think that by not eating grains they will somehow build more muscle. There isn't much evidence of that either way, but why let facts get in the way of a good theory? Facts tend to ruin perfectly good theories after all, so best to not pay too much attention to them.

There has been an explosion of Paleo foods coming on the market and we have reviewed Paleo meals from Tastefully Plated previously. We liked them, so we decided to try a couple more. The Cajun Style Shrimp with Root Vegetables, Corn Relish, and Plantains seemed a dubious proposition, however. Cooking shrimp in the microwave is a challenge, so if they could pull it off, that would be great, right?

The packaging is both funny and wasteful at the same time. There is a square plastic plate with the clear plastic covering vacuum packed and compressed on top of the meal. It looks a bit like Han Solo frozen in Carbonite. The plastic covering puffs up as steam is created during the 3 1/2 minutes in the microwave on high. Peel back and you have what looks like a soggy, soupy mess with about 1/4 cup of liquid in the bottom of the plate.

The hot mess resulting when you microwave Tastefully Plated's meals

And a hot mess it is. There are a whopping four small shrimp (shrimpy shrimp if you will) and they are both tough as rubber and salty as heck. They also have a bit of an off flavor to them. I am lucky to live in New Orleans where we get really fresh shrimp, but this meal tastes anything but fresh - more like the shrimp is a day or so past its prime. They are accompanied by a cloyingly sweet corn relish with a sauce that has some hint of Cajun spice. Worst of all are the mushy (also cloyingly) sweet plantains.

There is nothing tasteful about this dish.

Dr. Gourmet reviews the Grilled Chicken Breast Paleo meal from Tastefully Plated

Next up was the Grilled Chicken Breast with Chimichurri Sauce, Plantains and Petite Green Beans. Same cooking method with the same results, and, consequently the same 1/4 cup of water in the bottom of the plate. Weird. Maybe it's a Paleo thing.

Recently I was having a conversation with a friend about convenience meals and the challenge of manufacturers creating consistent product. There just is not a brand that you can trust will be good every time, and this is a good example. We liked the previously reviewed meals, but both of these are pretty awful. The chicken is so tough you have to be a caveman to cut it, the green beans are not great, but most interestingly, the very similar plantains in this dish are nothing like the ones in the Cajun Shrimp. These are not mushy or overcooked. They are, in fact, pretty good with a firm texture and not too sweet flavor - like they should be. The lack of consistency makes one think that the day the shrimp dish was made everything was a few days past prime and they decided to use the overripe plantains and day old shrimp anyway rather than throw them out.

Lastly, because I find the Paleolithic diet craze so amusing, I have to mention that the Cajun Shrimp package is labeled "Grain Free" - yet it contains corn (a whole grain). Likewise, the chicken dish is served with green beans (legumes), yet most Paleo purists shun both grains and legumes. One of three things is at play here - the folks at Tastefully Plated don't know that corn is a whole grain and green beans are legumes, or they don't know anything about the Paleo diet, or they simply don't care. Either way these dishes just add up to failure.

Reviewed: August 11, 2017