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Every time we review one of these Cafe Steamers from Healthy Choice I wonder all over again why we do it. I can certainly understand the product development team's thinking: steam the meal's sauce in a bowl set below the bulk of the meal, which is held in a colander: the bulk of the meal ends up steamed and theoretically the product tastes fresher than foods simply microwaved from frozen.
But all the nifty product development in the world won't help if your food just isn't very good.
The Chicken Linguine with Red Pepper Alfredo sounds like it should be good. It has 250 calories, 520 mg sodium, and 5 grams of fiber in a dish of linguine, chicken breast, broccoli, and a red pepper sauce.
The reality is, sadly, about what you'd expect for a frozen meal: The pasta is a little overcooked. The overprocessed chicken is a little too smooth in texture (but at least it's not dry). There are more broccoli florets by weight than the chicken (per the nutrition facts) and like the chicken, they are only a little overcooked. Pretty flavorful, though. The sauce is... unremarkable (the picture is after stirring the meal).
It's not bad, but it's not very good, either, and this is even more true when you consider how much plastic is in one meal.
Their Four-Cheese Ravioli & Chicken Marinara isn't as good, however, despite its similar numbers at 250 calories, 510mg sodium, and 4g fiber.
There's certainly a lot more sauce, but the dish has a metallic scent and an unacceptably sweet flavor in a too-thin sauce full of diced tomato and tiny bits of spinach.
There are a few stray bits - perhaps 2/3 the amount - of basically the same chicken as in the Chicken Linguine, along with 9 raviolo, half of which are as chewy as old rubber bands - the others, a little less so. Perhaps ravioli weren't meant to be steamed?
Both of these are well-intentioned, but if Healthy Choice were to ask me, I'd suggest that they ditch the extra plastic and focus on the recipes. These aren't all that much more expensive than most frozen convenience meals at about $3 each, but I just can't understand why Healthy Choice wouldn't put the cost of all that plastic into the food itself.
Posted: December 11, 2020