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Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

Manini's Gluten Free

Mac & Cheese, Stuffed Shells, and Lasagna Roll-ups

Dr. Gourmet reviews Mac & Cheese from Manini's Gluten Free

Gluten-free frozen meals continue to proliferate, and as a person with Celiac myself, I can't complain (much). It's nice to know that I have nearly as many poor options in the frozen foods market as those who can consume wheat gluten.

Today's meals were spotted in a local specialty grocery store (think Whole Foods Market, Bristol Farms, or Balducci's), but for those living outside the areas these grocery stores serve, these frozen meals are also available for delivery via Amazon Fresh.

There's a significant problem here, however: all of these frozen meals are actually 2 servings. Take the Mac & Cheese, for example: A cursory look at the label says it has 425 calories, 11g fat, 7g saturated fat, 215mg sodium, and 0 (zero) fiber.

Mac & Cheese from Manini's Gluten Free, after cooking

But those numbers are for half the package.

There isn't a person in the world who is going to eat only half of this 11 ounce package, so double all of those numbers. To be fair, 430 milligrams of sodium for an 850-calorie meal is still pretty impressive, but zero times 2 is still zero: how is it that this product carries a 100% Whole Grain seal with zero fiber? That seems unlikely to me - we've queried Manini's for an explanation and will update if they respond.

At these numbers, this should be a pretty decadent, cheesy mac and cheese, but it just doesn't measure up: the pasta is mushy (it has hardly any fiber, after all) and the cheese sauce is more reminiscent of a less-salty Kraft Mac & Cheese than any more artisan mac and cheese - and it tastes much sweeter than even Kraft. Zero fiber and zero bang for your caloric buck: leave it on the shelf. There are other high-calorie macaroni and cheese meals that are much more worth your time.

Next up were the Stuffed Shells.

Dr. Gourmet reviews Manini's Gluten Free Stuffed Shells

Once again, at 295 calories, 225mg sodium, and just 2g fiber per serving (580 calories, 450mg sodium, and 4g fiber per package), this is simply pathetic.

Dr. Gourmet reviews Manini's Gluten Free Stuffed Shells, as cooked

The fiber is clearly from the sauce, not the pasta - this is the same Ingredients list as the Mac and Cheese with respect to the pasta. It actually reminds me of a lot of pasta joints from the 80's, with its overly sweet and basil-one-note pasta sauce. Sure, this is plenty cheesey - there's ricotta, fontina, parmesan, and mozzarella in the stuffing, but combined with the overly sweet sauce and the mushy pasta we could only say Just. No.

Dr. Gourmet reviews Manini's Lasagna Roll-ups

The Lasagna Roll-ups have identical Nutrition Facts as the Stuffed Shells, and for good reason:

Dr. Gourmet reviews Manini's Lasagna Roll-ups, after cooking

This is the same dish as the Stuffed Shells, but with different pasta. It might not be quite as sweet and gooey as the stuffed shells (although there's no empirical reason for it), but the pasta is just as gummy. We can't recommend any of these.

(Update: Manini's responded to our question regarding the 0g fiber in the Mac and Cheese with "Our apologies. We have some bands misprinted and are correcting this. Like all our meals, the Mac & Cheese contains 2G fiber per serving.")

Posted: November 13, 2020