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A few weeks ago we reviewed a couple of Healthy Choice's Lunch Express meals, which are designed to not require refrigerating. Those were pastas and we had a split decision, with the sauce on one being too sweet but the other still pretty good.
Microwaving dried pasta is one thing, however. Microwaving pre-cooked, dried rice is a whole different story. I fully expected the rice in today's two dishes to taste a lot like Minute Rice.
The panel started with the Sesame Teriyaki. This is billed as a "savory sauce with pineapple, chicken and water chestnuts & rice." As with the pasta, you add water to the rice in the bottom portion of the container and microwave it for three minutes, then allow to stand for one minute. The sauce comes in a separate plastic container that you can choose to heat for 30 seconds (we did) and then add to the rice.
As you can see from the picture, there's quite a lot of sauce. While the packaging directs, "Mix desired amount of sauce with rice," I can't imagine why most people wouldn't just pour the whole thing into the rice. Who are they kidding?
As I expected, the rice ends up like Minute Rice. But the panel was a little dismayed by the sweet scent and the oddly uniform chunks of chicken in this dish. They are so uniform, in fact, that one taster said it reminded her of her dog's wet food. The good news is that despite looking like rubber erasers, they don't have that texture. They're pretty tender, in fact. The bad news is that the sweet scent was a giveaway: this is sweet. Really sweet. So sweet that the overall consensus was that this is actually a dessert (and not a good one) in a lunch package. One expects teriyaki to be a little sweet, but this is excessive. Savory? Not at all.
The Sweet & Sour, an "asian style sauce with chicken, peppers and pineapple & rice," is even worse. Not only is this dish overly sauced to the point of being in fact a soup, it's sweet. SWEET. Tooth-numbingly sweet. There are the same chicken bits and a few green and red bell pepper chunks, but nobody should eat this. And after looking at the Nutrition Facts, I can see why it's so much sweeter than the teriyaki - it contains 29 grams of sugars as opposed to the 19 grams in the teriyaki. (A milk chocolate Hershey bar contains 24 grams of sugar.) Sure, the sweet & sour might have less sodium than the teriyaki, but who cares? You can't taste it anyway through the impossibly sweet sauce and the metallic aftertaste. The panel had but one word for this mess: "Nasty."