Diet Microwaveable Meals, Savor or Skip?

January 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
It's the New Year and many of us have resolved to lose weight and eat better. Could adding diet microwaveable meals to the menu help?Americans spend more than two billion dollars a year on prepackaged frozen meals. No wonder store shelves are full of them.

Consumer Reports Jamie Hirsh said, "The last time we tested these meals, on average they weren't that good. A lot of them had rubbery veggies, mushy pastas, and a general lack of wholesome, fresh ingredients. But things are changing."

Consumer Reports' tests of diet entrées included 24 meals from names like Weight Watchers, Healthy Choice, and Lean Cuisine.

"We rated the meals based on taste and overall nutrition - including saturated fat, dietary fiber, and sodium, which tends to be higher in prepackaged and prepared foods," said Hirsh.

Now there are entrées like lemongrass coconut chicken and butternut squash ravioli. But how do today's meals taste?

Two Hormel shelf-stable meals were disappointing - tasting very processed, with bland vegetables.

But more than half of the meals rated very good for taste. Testers found Kashi's 290-calorie chicken florentine fresh-tasting and flavorful.

For beef-lovers, try Weight Watchers Smart Ones Home Style Beef Pot Roast Bistro Selections. At 180 calories, it has real beef-stew taste.

For a meatless meal, consider Lean Cuisine Santa Fe Style Rice and Beans with its flavorful cheesy sauce.

Be aware that not all of these entrées have enough calories to replace a full meal. You may want to add a healthy salad or some veggies or even a side of fresh fruit to help round out the meal.


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