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This week we have offerings from two different companies. We prefer to review at least two items from one company every week, but sometimes a single new item pops up and this was such a week.
A few weeks ago we discovered Sukhi's Grab 'n' Go meals, which we found in the prepared food case (not the freezer case) at our local Whole Foods Market. We gave the meals excellent reviews, although we noted that at $7.99 apiece, they could hardly be considered a bargain. Still, the numbers were exceptional, with sodium levels under 500 milligrams per serving.
Except they're not.
We should have been clearer about this at the outset: these Grab 'n' Go meals from Sukhi's are two servings per package. Now, is anyone going to eat just half of this package? Hardly. The truth is that practically speaking these packages are one serving, and having the Nutrition Facts Box giving the nutrition information for just half the package is egregiously misleading.
So today's review of the Chicken Coconut Curry with Basmati Rice is of a product that in actuality contains 460 calories, 14 grams of fat (with 8 grams of saturated fat), 680 milligrams of sodium, and 2 grams of fiber. Not nearly as impressive as we had thought (and it's still $7.99 per package, which is a lot).
Both the good news and the bad news is that the food is still good: tender rice, only slightly dry chicken (and there's a lot of it), and a truly exceptional coconut curry sauce: it's savory with curry and has just a subtle coconut flavor - it's definitely not sweet. Only slightly spicy, the black mustard seeds in the sauce provide a tiny crunch from time to time. That said, it's still far more cost-effective to make your own Indian-style food - far, far more cost effective. Here are our recipes for Curried Chicken, Massaman Curry, Chicken Vindaloo, Tandoori Style Chicken, or Tandoori Shrimp. Save yourself tons of money (and get way more food by volume).
On the other hand, the Bean & Mango Cubano from Sweet Earth Foods is definitely one serving, and its numbers really are impressive: 360 calories, 490 milligrams of sodium, and... 14 grams of fiber. Fourteen? Wow.
I'm not sure that we've ever reviewed a single-serving frozen food meal that contained 14 grams of fiber. "That's definitely a record for me," said a long-time panelist.
When you look at the ingredient list, however, it's no surprise that there's so much fiber: the first three ingredients are black beans, quinoa, and mango - remember that by law the ingredient list must be listed in descending order by weight. Black beans and quinoa are protein and fiber powerhouses, to be sure, and it's worth noting that this is one case where the ingredient list truly has nothing but real ingredients - real food - listed. Not a "potassium chloride" or similar sorta-kinda-familiar-but-still-a-chemical-not-a-food-name listing in the bunch.
That's all very well, of course, but what about flavor?
The black beans have a very firm texture that leads us to believe that these were cooked from dried beans, not canned (which can be mushier). Diced onions and very finely diced red bell peppers dot the beans, and their flavor is of lime, cilantro, cumin, and oregano with a gentle-but-definite jalapeno bite.
The quinoa might retain just a touch more liquid than we might wish, but the beauty of quinoa is that it's tough to overcook: it still lends its crunch to the dish and its nutty flavor is unaffected. And there's just the right amount of diced mango salsa to cut through the spice of the black beans with hits of sweetness.
Even better: "You eat this whole thing, you are full for the afternoon," opined a panelist, and the rest agreed.
Honestly, one of the more well-balanced meals - in terms of flavor - we've seen in a while. While we can't recommend Sukhi's Grab 'n' Go meals wholeheartedly until they correct the Nutrition Facts, this Bean & Mango Cubano Bowl gets an enthusiastic thumbs up.
Reviewed: November 3, 2017