For years, my girlfriends have teased me about my wacky eating habits. They'll tell you I live on dill pickles and toothpicks (I actually prefer graham crackers), Altoids and cereal (Special K without milk, of course).
And until recently, they were right! Terrified of changing sizes, I've tried some bizarre diets - usually of my own invention - to keep the pounds in check. But all too often, these schemes sacrificed nutrition along with calories (guess I won't be writing that diet book after all).
That's why I was eager to try new Simply Sensible refrigerated meals. Besides being low in calories, these fully prepared, "better-for-you" entrees are endorsed by NBC's popular The Biggest Loser reality series and certified by the American Heart Association.
Chef Calvin Harris
Created by Chef Calvin Harris, a Texas native, these flavorful, healthy lifestyle options blend spices, herbs and sumptuous sauces for a more gourmet taste experience. They're made fresh, not frozen, and prepared using the Sous Vide method, which involves slow cooking inside a sealed bag that locks in flavor. In addition to enhancing the taste, this technique prolongs shelf life with less sodium and no preservatives.
· Lasagna with Meat Sauce
· Zing Chicken with Brown Rice
· Pot Roast with Mashed Potatoes
· Mediterranean Chicken with Bowtie Pasta
· Beef Tips and Brown Rice
Perfect for sharing, each of these entrees contains two healthy servings of less than 250 calories each. They had our interest at Lasagna but Bob and I wound up testing the Zing Chicken with Brown Rice (you can't be too choosy when it's free!)
This dish deserves top honors for fast, easy preparation. The box includes two plastic pouches, one holds boneless chicken breast with rib meat in a sweet-and-spicy, Asian-style sauce; the other includes brown rice.
Although you can use the microware or your stovetop, we went the stovetop route to warm our dinner, mixing in one cup of steamed, chopped broccoli. (The package recommends adding a one-cup serving of fresh, steamed vegetables to make an approved Biggest Loser meal.) Ten minutes later, we were ready to eat.
We paired the Zing Chicken with multi-grain bread from Costco's bakery. Although we wondered if the chicken would have a rubbery, "processed" texture, it was surprisingly tender, tasting much like home baked. Since I'm addicted to condiments, I especially enjoyed the tangy ginger sauce. Yum! It perked up my taste buds and there was plenty to coat the chicken, rice and broccoli in zesty goodness.
This Simply Sensible meal merits two forks up from the Boomer Brief. The Zing Chicken combines great taste with easy preparation, portion control and a nutritional edge (high in protein - 16 grams - but low in saturated fat and cholesterol). It makes an excellent lunch or dinner, especially when you're short on time.
Introduced in January, Simply Sensible meals are available for about $6.99 in the refrigerated section of grocery stores nationwide.