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This week we have two new (to us) meals from Healthy Choice: Beef & Broccoli, that standard of Chinese restaurants, and Spaghetti & Meatballs. Both are impressively low in sodium (for frozen meals) and have reasonable amounts of fiber.
The Beef & Broccoli has 270 calories, 520 milligrams of sodium, and 3 grams of fiber. Wow! Brown rice!
The brown rice might be a tiny bit overcooked, but it adds great texture to the dish.
The thinly-sliced strips of beef are a bit chewy, but to be fair, that's what you might expect from the type of beef most people use to make Beef & Broccoli.
The sauce has a good soy and ginger flavor, but for our taste is a bit sweet. The broccoli is more of an afterthought than an important ingredient: compare the picture on the package to the actual meal. Tiny bits abound, but texture? Flavor? Not much of either.
Yes, those are a lot of "buts". Worse yet?
On the back of the package it reads, "Our Beef & Broccoli is made with real ingredients that are minimally processed and have no artificial... well, anything!"
Did they think nobody would read the Ingredients List?
Strangely enough, the beef ingredient is described as "Seasoned cooked beef strip and binder product (emphasis ours) (beef, water, sugar, potassium chloride, potato starch, sea salt, isolated soy protein, flavorings, olive oil).
Any product that contains "binder product", potassium chloride, and isolated soy protein is highly processed. Period. This might taste OK but we just can't recommend something with a lie emblazoned on the product.
We had higher hopes for the Spaghetti & Meatballs, with 280 calories, 410 milligrams of sodium, and 4 grams of fiber.
After 4 and a half minutes in our microwave and a gentle stir (per directions), however, the spaghetti broke up into 1-inch pieces. What? This is something we are used to seeing with gluten-free pasta, not pasta made from wheat.
So the pasta is a bit overdone.
The good news is that the 6 included meatballs are pretty good: they have a fine pork-ish flavor (they are made from both beef and pork, FYI) and they're firm yet tender. Certainly their contents have been pureed to death, which makes them a bit rubbery, but for frozen meatballs, not bad (and actually rather good).
The bad news is that the tasting panel is still trying to figure out how one might make a marinara sauce BLAND.
At first we thought it might be too sweet, like a tomato soup. Its scent tends toward the sweet, but nope. It's not overly sweet in flavor.
We were shocked to conclude that this actually suffers from a lack of seasoning. Anyone who watches the UK TV show "Master Chef" likely knows that when John Torode or Gregg Wallace say something is "underseasoned" they really mean that there isn't enough salt. For once, this may be the case.
That said, there's precious little flavor to this tomato sauce than thin tomato. Marinara, it is not: no flavor of basil, garlic, oregano, or anything else that might be in a tomato sauce. The whole is just disappointing.
Read all our reviews of Healthy Choice meals »
Posted: September 24, 2021