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We're always on the lookout for fish or shellfish meals so that you can incorporate fish into your diet more easily. Unfortunately, they just don't stand up well to the kind of treatment required for frozen meals - which is essentially being cooked twice.
The good news is that it looks like companies are making an effort to offer fish and shellfish meals, because today we have two brand new fish meals from Healthy Choice to review. That said, Healthy Choice doesn't have a great track record in terms of fish or shellfish: way back in 2007 was when they debuted their Cafe Steamers line, and the first dish we tried, Cajun Style Chicken and Shrimp, was perfectly awful. Their Lemon Pepper Fish was overbreaded and bland, and the Garlic Herb Shrimp suffered from a watery, flavorless sauce (not to mention the paucity of shrimp). I could go on, but why? Everything we've tried from Healthy Choice that comes out of the ocean has failed for one reason or another.
And yet hope springs eternal. The "New!" emblazoned on the packaging might have something to do with it, but the truth is more that the numbers on the two meals we have today are so very surprising.
These are both breaded fish meals, so I'll state right away that they are a bit overbreaded for my taste. Of course the microwaving doesn't help, as the steaming that the meals are subjected to in the microwave ensures that the breading becomes somewhat mushy. However, I was encouraged by the savory scent of our first meal, from Healthy Choice's Modern Classics line: Golden Crusted White Fish. This is, in fact, a filet of actual fish (as opposed to processed, pressed fish) in a crust with cornmeal, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and flaxseeds, all of which contribute to the 6 grams of fiber in the meal as well as adding a nice texture to the fish. A little bland, but the breading allows the flavor of the fish to come through. The fish comes with a side of brown rice with a scattering of green onion and a nicely cheesy sauce. Do be sure to stir the sauce into the rice, because otherwise the rice can be a bit bland. The green beans are, as I expected, properly steamed and still crunchy, with good flavor. Overall, not a bad meal at all, and the numbers are even better, with 360 calories for what is a pretty good-sized meal and only 390 milligrams of sodium. Clearly Healthy Choice is making progress!
However, the Herb Crusted Fish did not fare as well. The herbed breading has good flavor, with garlic and onion powder predominating. The sides really condemn the dish - I actually had to check the box to see if there was a sauce on the whole wheat pasta. After seeing the sauce described as "a Tomato Basil Sauce," I could just discern the faintest basil aftertaste. If you like eating plain whole wheat pasta, this is for you. The green beans here are mixed with a modicum of julienned carrots that unfortunately become mushy. I have to give this one a thumbs' down. If the breading on this fish were paired with the rice from the other dish, we'd have a real winner. At least we do have an acceptable fish meal to post in the Healthy Choice options.