Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sweet Potatoes!

Having an infant has reminded me of one important, sometimes-forgotten food: sweet potatoes.  My baby (and as I understand from other moms, *many* babies) love sweet potatoes.  I have to admit that I’ve been thoroughly enjoying sweet potatoes with him over the course of the past several months.  We recently graduated from the mashed/pureed variety to baked sweet potato fries in our house, and I’m quite happy about that too.  Sweet potatoes seem to be the one vegetable I know he will consistently eat and that I will enjoy with him.  If you haven’t had a sweet potato in awhile, I highly recommend it.

So when I picked up the Healthy Choice Rosemary Chicken & Sweet Potatoes, it was with a sigh of baby love.  I do love sweet potatoes.  However, this meal didn’t provide the tastiest example.  I believe this is probably due somewhat to the whole processing and heating of frozen meals, which generally has an impact on the texture and flavor of red potatoes too.  I’m just not sure there can be a foolproof way to capture the true tastiness of sweet potatoes in a frozen meal, though I have to hand it to Healthy Choice for trying.

Regarding the other flavors in this meal:  the other vegetables are yellow carrots and pearl onions.  So it’s like a trifecta of vegetables one rarely eats!  I can’t say that I could really taste the rosemary in this meal, which is somewhat surprising and disappointing; I generally love rosemary in pretty much anything.

Overall, I am really liking the “steaming entrees” from Healthy Choice.  This one was only 180 calories, and while I did supplement my lunch with yogurt and fruit, the meal did leave me feeling sufficiently full.  Don’t get me wrong; it was not a meal with super-duper flavor, but a very healthy meal that contained, according to the packaging, 50% of my daily vegetable requirement.  Not only that, but the meal contained a full 100% of my daily Vitamin A requirement.  That’s pretty impressive, and it is thanks to both the carrots and that newly rediscovered favorite, SWEET POTATOES!!!


Calories:  180
Fat:  2.5 g
Sodium:  500 mg
Notable good nutritional content:  100% Vitamin A
Notes on cooking:  one 4-4 ½ minute single shot
Notes on packaging:  clear plastic tray, recyclable 

Monday, August 1, 2011


I usually feel like frozen meals boasting mushrooms do not contain nearly enough mushrooms.  But I will have to retract that statement in light of the Healthy Choice Portabella Marsala Pasta.  Instead of lamenting the lack of mushrooms, I feel as though I must lament the lack of *other* vegetables, which I do really believe to be of paramount importance to my own sense of fullness and healthiness upon my completion of a frozen meal.  Baby portabella mushrooms are listed as the second ingredient in this meal; again, an impressive amount of mushrooms.  But the only indication of any other vegetables were the flecks of green peppering the meal; a look at the list of ingredients tells me this must be parsley, which is listed far down on the list. 

I was surprised that the MyPyramid.gov information on the package indicated that this meal contains 30% of one’s daily amount of vegetables.  After all, mushrooms aren’t even a vegetable, right?  That prompted a Google search of “Are mushrooms a vegetable?,” which led me to the following

(A) mushroom (is) not a true vegetable in the sense that it does not have any leaves, roots, or seeds, and really does not need any light to grow.

So, these are the things that lead to classification as a vegetable?  I have oft-cited that there was an early American Supreme Court case that determined that tomatoes were “technically a fruit, but legally a vegetable” so that they would/would not be subjected to some particular tariff.  I’ve always loved this little fact about ‘maters.  You’ll have to scroll far down in the Wikipedia article to find the information, but it’s there.  

I suspect there is nothing quite so legalistic as the the Tariff Act of March 3, 1883 challenging the mushroom’s classification as a vegetable in the MyPyramid.gov sense.  However, mushroom’s misclassification goes beyond the botany of fruit vs. vegetable.  Mushrooms belong in an entirely different living *kingdom*, as you may recall from middle school biology class.  While tomatoes will always belong to the Plant kingdom, regardless of fruit or vegetable status, mushrooms belong to the Fungus kingdom.

That’s right.  Fungus.  Yeah, I know we knew that already, but it still creeps me out a little when I say it out loud. 

Enjoy your fungus. 

Calories:  250
Fat:  6 g
Sodium:  500 mg
Notable good nutritional content:  20% Phosphorus / 50% Manganese / 40% Selenium / 20% Copper
Notes on cooking:  one 4-5 minute single shot
Notes on packaging:  clear plastic tray, reusable/recyclable