Thursday, April 21, 2011

Potstickers 101

I’ll just begin by saying: awesome.  A new favorite.

Today’s meal is Healthy Choice Asian Potstickers.  I am not all that familiar with potstickers myself.  I know I have eaten them before, but they’ve never been something I’ve deliberately selected from a menu.  That said, I may not be the best authority to assess this particular item; I certainly can’t compare against any other potstickers.  I can, however, respond to the fact that I found this meal incredibly yummy.

For anyone else unfamiliar, you should know that potstickers are essentially Chinese dumplings.  Unlike wontons (also often consider a Chinese dumpling), potstickers are not served in broth and they have a thicker, chewier skin.  In this meal, the potstickers are on a bed of rice with a sweet and spicy sauce.

These are vegetarian potstickers – though I’m surprised that the box doesn’t deliberately highlight this.  Instead of meat, there is tofu in the dumplings.  Even though I spent a couple years as a vegetarian, I never really embraced tofu and usually avoid it. But the tofu in this meal had the texture of chicken, not the spongy unpleasantness I’ve come to expect from tofu, so it was actually enjoyable.  Other ingredients inside the potstickers include rice, water chestnuts, green beans, onions, carrots, and soy sauce. The red peppers and carrots contained in the rice bed are like *actual* slices of red pepper and carrots – hearty, flavorful, and the same size as the picture on the box shows. 

At any rate, this one will be on my grocery list again because of taste alone.  Not too bad on the nutritional content either!

Calories:  340
Fat:  4.5 g
Sodium:  560 mg
Notable good nutritional content: 30% Vitamin A / 20% Vitamin E / 25% Folic Acid / 50% Manganese
Notes on cooking:   2 minutes, rotate potstickers and cover with sauce, 1 ½ - 2 minutes
Notes on packaging:  black tray, recyclable 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Baby Food for Thought

You’ll have to trust me on this one, but in order for me to write about today’s meal, I need to tell you a little bit about baby food, the other major category of food in my life. 

I’m pleased to report that I make most of my baby’s food, thanks to an incredible little baby food processor on loan to me by my incredible friend Mary Kate.  I should mention that this appliance can both steam and process the food, making cleanup a breeze. 

I get an incredible satisfaction out of making baby food because it makes me feel like I am making conscious, healthy choices about what is going into his body.  Additionally, I can begin to introduce him to flavors that he is going to eat during the coming years when I make his big boy meals for him.  And as an additional benefit for myself, making baby food has forced me to learn a little bit about the nutritional value of the food I presently consume (and make into baby food...). 

I am not a hater of pre-made baby food.  I have a stash in my cupboard for when I run out of homemade baby food (which, coincidentally, is almost never because of the amazing little phenomenon of freezing ice cube-sized portions of homemade baby food and then thawing them out as needed…but I digress).  But two things do bug me about pre-made baby food:  1) the texture is sort of unreal, not representing any likeness to the texture of the grown-up version of the same food, and 2) in most varieties, the flavor of the pre-made baby food is much blander than the real thing. 

So why all the jabber about baby food?

Smart Ones Lemon Herb Chicken Piccata

Today’s meal is the Smart Ones® Lemon Herb Chicken Piccata. The front of the box describes it as “grilled white meat chicken in a tangy lemon sauce with rice & spring vegetables.”  Really?  Well, the sauce was definitely not tangy and only marginally lemony.  And do green beans really count as spring vegetables?

I think I am just about done with Smart Ones® frozen meals.  Why?  Well, I think I could pop one into the baby food processor and turn them into the equivalent of pre-made baby food with ease.  Texture?  Blah.  Taste?  Double blah. 

The one redeeming quality of this meal is that it has a remarkably low number of calories and fat grams.  But with no notable positive nutritional content to speak of, and a long list of other frozen meal options out there, I believe I’m going to pass on these Smart Ones® from now on. 

Calories:  230
Fat:  1.5 g
Sodium:  540 mg
Notable good nutritional content:   :(
Notes on cooking:   2 ½ minutes, stir, 1 minute
Notes on packaging:  black tray, recyclable