I wish I could cook every night, or go out for some delicious yet nutritious meal at a wonderful restaurant, but I can’t. Cooking, which I do frequently, takes time and consideration and creativity – things that I don’t always have at my disposal. As a result, two or three times a week I look for a quick fix; and a healthy, protein heavy frozen meal that I can pair up with fresh salad is one of my meals of choice. The best brands I’ve found are Healthy Choice Steam Bowls, Lean Cuisine Comfort, and Smart Ones, who have just released a new line of even better looking frozen dinners called Smart Made – touting less weird additives, less salt, and subtle ingredient switches that make for wiser choices. A pretty impressive row of interesting flavors lead me to try something classic – Chicken With Spinach Fettuccine.
Let’s not sugar coat this – a frozen meal is a frozen meal and it can only be so good. In fact, it’s not something I would ever think to review but this line is so new that I couldn’t find any opinions on them so I thought I would give it a shot. The aspect that most appealed to me about this entree was its nutritional stats – 220 calories, 6 grams of fat, 19 grams of carbs, and 22 grams of protein – pretty damn solid. Additionally, the Smart Made sous-chefs swapped a regular Alfredo cream-based sauce for one made with ricotta and white bean puree, which sounded interesting and delicious. So, how goes it taste?
As with most calorie-cautious microwave meals the serving is pretty small, but what’s inside actually tastes pretty good. They used a thicker spinach fettuccine that was less gummy and weird than a lot of frozen noodles. Not quite aldente, the noodles held a firmness that meshed with the roasted tomatoes and spinach well, holding onto the thick creamy sauce that you would never guess didn’t have tons of cream in it.
The chicken, while still a little too salty, didn’t have that odd overly wet texture that more processed meat can often have. It had a nice light charred taste to it and was easily the best chicken I’ve had from a black plastic container. The whole experience mirrors that of a fettuccine alfredo but slightly lighter and less cheesy. The “meal” does come out as sort of a strange zapped ball, but once you separate the pieces and back it up with some fresh veggies it’s not a bad choice for something fast and easy.