Posts Tagged ‘frozen meals’

It’s no secret around these parts that I love quinoa. I am still unclear as to exactly what the hell it is, but it’s weird and kind of crunchy and kind of AMAZING. Oh, and it’s good for you, so it’ll balance out my new diet of cakes, Double Stuf Oreos, and all savory foods covered in ranch. It’s a slippery slClark Griswold Saucer Sledope to the holidays, kids, and at this point, I’m like Clark Griswold on the saucer sled, greased with EZ cheese, racing toward a fluffy pile of cheesy potatoes. Pants…barely fitting.

CedarLane Natural Foods recently sent me their amazing new Quinoa & Vegetable Enchiladas to sample, and these babies are tasty and delicious. They come frozen, so they’re super easy to pop in the microwave and enjoy al desko. They’re filled with quinoa, black beans, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese, with roasted Anaheim peppers, tomatillos, corn, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, yellow squash, black olives, and zucchini. Oh, and they’re topped with a crazy yum Poblano Crema sauce and more cheese! More cheese is my favorite, guys.

Quinoa-Enchiladas

Quinoa Enchiladas

They clock in at 340 calories with 12 grams of protein, 15 grams of fat, 7 grams of fiber and are vegetarian and gluten-free, for those of you who care about such things, which, fortunately, I do not.

Quinoa Enchiladas (2)

I think one of my favorite things about these (besides their overall deliciousness) is that they have black olives. I’ve been known to enjoy a good black olive or two in my day, ever since I was a little kid, stealing them from the relish tray at holidays, popping them onto the end of my fingers with my partner in crime, my brother. Black olives are where it’s at.

CedarLane Quinoa Enchiladas

So – the hard question – would I recommend these enchiladas to my gracious and loyal 2-4 readers (Hi, Mom!)? Yes!! Definitely. They are super good, and I didn’t miss the meat whatsoever. They’re really scrumptious and the sauce is delicious – not too spicy, but with a little kick. They have a ton of vegetables and good ol’ quinoa, so you’ll feel better about eating these than an entire pack of Double Stuf Oreos in less than 30 hours by yourself. Ooops.

For my Chicagoland peeps, you can find CedarLane Natural Foods at Jewel and Mariano’s, and there’s a store locator on their website. To keep up with their social stuff, follow them on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. Oh, and while you’re at it, if you want to keep up with my adventures in food, go ahead and follow ME on Instagram. I’m on there, hashtagging the ever-loving crap out of all the food I’m eating…it’s a LOT of food and a LOT of hashtags.

Disclaimer: CedarLane Natural Foods sent me their Quinoa & Vegetable Enchiladas (in a lovely box to my work) to sample, but all opinions are my own. Disclaimer Dos: Cedar Lane is also really great song by one of my favorite bands, First Aid Kit:

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I don’t think it’s exactly a secret the grocery store is one of my favorite places. Having grown up the daughter of a grocery store manager, it only makes sense that I feel quite at home in the aisles of Jewel. I like to think all that time spent in the supermarket gives me a sixth sense about new products I’d like to try, and there’s no aisle I’m more familiar with than the frozen “Meals for One” section. Since adhering mostly the Weight Watchers Simple Start/Core Foods program, I’ve tried to eat more fresh foods and rely less on frozen meals for lunch, so these days I’m typically zooming through this aisle, past the green Healthy Choice boxes, the red Smart Ones and the white Lean Cuisines.

Recently I noticed a new line of products (just past the sea of green, red and white) from Jimmy Dean that looked pretty good, and sold me with their low calories. Additionally, for the most part, they used mostly Core foods ingredients, so I didn’t have to worry that I was veering too far off the nutritional course.

Jimmy Dean Delights

Jimmy Deans Delight Golden Roasted Turkey

I had a chance to try three of the new varieties of the Jimmy Dean Delight bowls, including the Southwest Style Grilled Chicken, Hickory Smoked Ham and Golden Roasted Turkey. I really liked the Hickory Smoked Ham and the Golden Roasted Turkey, and for 250 calories or less, there’s a lot to love. I think one of the highlights was the sauce in each of these dishes – not overwhelming in quantity, but delicious and certainly added to the flavor. I love ham, peas and potatoes together, and ham is not a protein usually featured in frozen meals.  The turkey dish seemed like the filling of a pot pie, and was my favorite of the three meals. The Southwestern Chicken was good, but not as good as the other two. If I bought it again, I’d definitely jazz it up with hot sauce and sour cream.

Jimmy Dean Delight Golden Roasted Turkey

 

In the realm of Healthy Choice, Smart Ones and Lean Cuisines, I think the Jimmy Dean Delights line is a serious contender. Inventive ingredient combinations and well-executed flavors make these frozen meals worth a try, and I’ll be adding them into the rotation.

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Smart Soup? You might as well just call this soup brilliant. At the beginning of the year, the wonderful people at Smart Soup reached out to me to see if I would be interested in trying their line of flash-frozen soups in conjunction with their (also brilliant) campaign to donate “Meal for Meal” to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Until February 28, 2015, Smart Soup will donate the cost of a meal to the GCFD. Great soup for a great cause – of course I was excited to try it.

And just like that, a box of soup arrived to my office!

Smart Soup Variety Pack

Yay soup! Soup is great, but what I noticed right off the bat is how amazingly low in calories these soups are. For the consistently “on a lifestyle change” blogger, low-cal lunch options are my favorite. All of the varieties of Smart Soup are 160 calories or less, and are 3 grams of fat or under. The line of soups was created by Anne Chong Hill, who was inspired by her childhood in Brunei where she grew up eating flavorful ethnic dishes. As an adult, Chong Hill was diagnosed with hypertension and sought to change her lifestyle by creating healthy meals she and her family would enjoy. Each flavor of Smart Soup is inspired by Anne’s childhood and travels, and all of their products are vegan, gluten-free, all-natural with no preservatives and are American Heart Association Certified. Definitely smart.

The first flavor I tried was the Vietnamese Carrot Lemongrass.

Smart Soup Vietnamese Carrot Lemongrass

The soup has sharp, layered flavors with vegetables – potatoes, carrot, edamame, ginger and coconut. The flavors are fantastic, and unique – I wish I could cook like this at home for so few calories and fat. I paired this with a side salad, but the portion is generous enough to eat as a lunch alone. The pureed soup is thick and satisfying. Definitely zippy, zingy, and I didn’t need to use my trusty salt shaker.

The next flavor I tried was the French Lentil:

Smart Soup French LentilThe lentil had definite curry undertones, and didn’t have the zip of the carrot soup, but was still flavorful and also didn’t need the salt shaker.

The next flavor I had was the Greek Minestrone:

Smart Soup Greek Minestrone

Totally delicious, super low in calories (110!) and full of veggies and flavor.

Next up was the Santa Fe Corn Chowder:

Smart Soup Santa Fe Corn Chowder

This soup has so much flavor, and was my personal favorite. I love Mexican-inspired food, and I think this would be even better with a touch of cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

The last flavor I tried was the Thai Coconut Curry:

Smart Soup Thai Coconut Curry

Really bright flavors in this red curry soup made with coconut water. The bamboo shoots and water chestnuts give it great texture and crunch, and the bits of mini corn on the cob will remind you of the movie Big (or at least they always do for me).

I highly recommend this soup for anyone watching their weight. In fact, because these soups are all vegan, they fit in seamlessly with the Weight Watchers Simple Start plan! So eat up, Simple Starters, and calorie-counters alike!

Smart Soup is available in Chicagoland at Costco. Remember, for every unit purchased until the end of February, they’ll donate the cost of a a meal to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

To learn more about Smart Soup, visit their website or connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

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I’ve finally become the famous blogger I hinted I’d be in November 2013. A mere year later, I’ve been quoted in the November issue of Health Magazine as part of a frozen food review feature. The section I’m quoted in deals with how to turn frozen food into five star meals.

Health Magazine November 2014

Bring on the speaking engagements; I’ll clear my schedule. I think maybe, quite possibly, this is the push I need to finally reach the bare minimum Google AdSense cash out threshold. That’s still $50, right? Looks like someone’s retiring early!

Dining at my Desk Health Magazine November

In all seriousness, it is exciting to be recognized for eating a TON of frozen meals-for-one over the years. I actually take my own advice if I’m eating a frozen meal for dinner – at the office it’s harder to make a frozen meal much more than it is. At home, you can perk up a frozen meal with whatever you’ve got on hand to make it a bit more enticing. It may not be clear from the Health blurb, but my advice is to is to take a frozen meal that may work as a lunch for one, and make it a side dish for two paired with a protein. For example, that same calorie-conscious macaroni and cheese frozen meal-for-one works great as a dinner side when you’re making dinner for two. Instead of serving a box of mac and cheese with your chicken breast or pork chop, you’re way ahead of the calorie curve if you split an already portion-controlled meal, and you’ll save time.

Now these are the types of pro tips that make you famous.

 

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Who here watches Top Chef? Oh, all 3 of my loyal, very patient readers? Perfect. Well, then I’m sure you remember Kristen Kish‘s revamped Crustless Chicken Pot Pie in Season 10. It rang a vague, dim bell for me in the frozen meals aisle of my local Dominick’s, when the Healthy Choice Steamer line was on sale 4/$10. I hadn’t seen this particular Steamer in the store before, so I figured I’d better pick it up with the intentions of blogging about it, then eating it at my desk and totally not blogging about it when I got home in lieu of watching reruns of Vanderpump Rules. Side note, I think we can all agree Bravo has the best programming lineup ever, am I right?

But…I feel inspired by this Healthy Choice Crustless Chicken Pot Pie Steamer – not because it’s really all that good, but because I’m curious about this Google Authorship business. I’ve been spending some serious time at work updating my company’s Google+ profile because I’m pretty sure it’s going to do great things for its SEO, and I’m pretty sure adding authorship to my blog content will also skyrocket me to instant success! Job offers will pour in, I’ll be booking speaking engagements and press tours in no time and will have to write my labor of love memoir/cookbook, which I imagine will be a cross between Sonja Morgan‘s toaster oven cookbook and Teresea Giudice’s “Fabulicious!”. Perhaps should stop watching so much TV.

Back to the topic at hand – this Crustless Pot Pie Steamer. Meh. I mean, you should try it, and I will actually probably try it again, just in case I actually do like it, but I was underwhelmed. This was the Top Chef Season 10 Elimination Challenge winner in Episode 9, “Past Suppers“? I’m sure Healthy Choice got a hold of it and it went something like this:

Healthy Choice executive: “Kristen, this dish is nice and all, but have you thought about using a bland, mildly revolting, translucent sauce as your base? I’m just saying…. Oh, and have you thought about adding pearl onions? We really like pearl onions around here.

Healthy Choice Crustless Chicken Pot Pie

Yeah, the translucent sauce is the base of this Steamer, but it does seem to have a better flavor this time around. Described by Healthy Choice as ” juicy chicken breast tenderloins with carrots, corn, peas, and tender dumplings, all in a savory pot pie sauce,” one instantly hones in on “tender dumplings” and gets oneself pretty pumped for this crustless crust. And then oneself is pretty damn disappointed, because the tender dumplings taste like the outside of a Wow Bao, and we all know the best part of the Wow Bao is the bbq pork inside. You wouldn’t just eat the outside of a Wow Bao, would you? The answer is no, you would not.

I would like to say the corn was really excellent in this Steamer. It seemed fresh and delicious, and the chicken wasn’t in the least bit disgusting. It just overall lacked flavor, but I’d be willing to give it another try, just to make sure. In the meantime, I’m going to get back to these DVR’ed episodes of I Dream of Nene. Oh, and if someone stumbles across this blog, it seems I’d also be willing to get famous writing reviews of Bravo reality shows.

Healthy Choice Crustless Chicken Pot Pie Nutrition Facts:

CALORIES: 300

FAT: 6g

FIBER: 5g

PROTEIN: 20g

SODIUM: 560mg

CARBOHYDRATES: 40g

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It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the urge to blog. It happens. But inspiration hit while eating a brand new (to me) Lean Cuisine.  Almost nothing excites me more than finding a new Lean Cuisine that I love, so please allow me to share my thoughts on this one with you.

Lean Cuisine Ranchero Beef

Clocking in at 6 Points Pluses, this Lean Cuisine Culinary Collection Ranchero Braised Beef is described as “braised beef in a spicy red chile sauce served with a side of chipotle mashed sweet potatoes.” Mmmm, frozen meal quality beef – one of my favorites! Seriously.

Lean Cuisine Ranchero Braised Beef

While this might not look like much (and let’s be honest, there were like 4 chunks of meat in this), it tastes DELICIOUS! The whole thing actually has tons of flavor – the weird beef is fantastic with a bbq-like spicy sauce with weird chunks in it (onions? chiles? who cares!) and the chipotle mashed potatoes are sweet with a bit of a smoky kick. Because I can’t get enough carbs with spray butter, I sprayed the potatoes and added salt. It wasn’t totally necessary, but I have an itchy spray butter finger.

I’ll definitely be adding this to the lunch roto, provided I can find Lean Cuisines on sale (yeah, I’d never pay $4 for this).

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