When I was growing up, one of my favorite meals was the Swanson sliced roast beef frozen dinner. We called them TV dinners back then. I believe it came with corn, mashed potatoes, and some kind of yummy crumbly berry dessert, all tucked into separate compartments of the aluminum foil tray.
My mother kept those and a supply of Banquet Chicken Pot Pies in the freezer for us to heat up for lunch during the summer while she was at work.
But years later, I stocked up on Lean Cuisine frozen dinners to eat at work at the chemical plant. I ate so many that eventually just the smell of them cooking made me sick. Despite my previous love affair with them, I've avoided frozen dinners ever since.
So I admit it was with a little trepidation that I agreed to try Healthy Choice's Cafe Steamers.
(Yes, this is another review, and here's the disclosure: I was lucky enough to be chosen as a participant in the Vibrant Influencer Network Healthy Choice campaign, which means I was sent coupons for free products and will be paid to express my honest opinions about them.
Rest assured I am giving you my own opinion.
I signed up for this review because, especially as I've gotten older, I focus on nutrition when making food choices and am always on the lookout for new, healthy products.
Now, on to my experience with the Cafe Steamers...)
I chose the Kung Pao Chicken and Roasted Chicken Marsala because they each had less than 300 calories, whole grain, and lots of veggies.
The "wine sauce" on the Chicken Marsala sounded pretty tempting, too!
Scoping out the nutrition panel, I was a little concerned about the amount of sodium - both of them over 500 mg. But at least the top ingredients were real food. They use chicken tenderloin and real veggies.
TG agreed to be my assistant and share them with me, so I could try both in one sitting.
They were very easy to prepare - pop in the microwave for about 4 minutes, carefully peel back the film on top, pull the steamer basket insert up out of the bigger bowl, dump the contents into the bowl (which contains the sauce), stir, and enjoy!
She and I both decided the Kung Pao Chicken was our favorite...sweet and spicy and the chicken was very tender.
I'm addicted to a certain restaurant's Orange Chicken and I have to say, this would satisfy my craving in a pinch.
The Chicken Marsala also featured tender chunks of chicken tenderloin and real veggies, as well as whole wheat ziti pasta. It was good, but I think the powerful flavors of the Kung Pao Chicken put it at an unfair advantage with my taste buds; it seemed a little bland.
The serving sizes of these were just right. While I wouldn't eat them every day (never again!) I'm going to stock a few to be on hand for a quick lunch.
Here are some of the vegetarian varieties they offer:
Portabella Marsala Pasta: Freshly made whole wheat pasta and rich crimini mushrooms, tossed with a savory Marsala wine sauce and topped with rich fontina cheese.
Pumpkin Squash Ravioli: Tender pumpkin-stuffed ravioli with crisp green beans, sweet butternut squash, and juicy Granny Smith apples, topped with a tasty butter-sage sauce.
Tortellini Primavera Pasta: Four-cheese-stuffed tortellini featuring whole-grain pasta, julienne carrots, and red pepper strips and now includes more tortellini and sauce.
Asian Potstickers: Vegetarian dish served on a bed of rice and covered with a sweet Asian-style sauce. We’ve also added more potstickers and sauce, while making it less spicy, per consumer feedback.
Portabella Spinach Parmesan: Freshly-made whole wheat pasta, and now featuring even more baby portabella mushrooms, red peppers, tomatoes and spinach.
If you try (or have already tried) any of these, let me know what you think!