Boca Bruchetta Tomato Basil Parmesan Veggie Patties

March 16, 2009

boca_bruschettaSo once again I succumbed to the ever-excitable “new!” flag and picked up the Boca Bruchetta Tomato Basil Parmesan Veggie Patties.  At first I laughed, thinking maybe the length of the name was a sort of Napoleonic complex to make up for the lack of meat.  To be completely honest, I’ve never understood vegetarians.  Nothing excites me more than the prospect of going out for a steak dinner, and my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving for all the obvious reasons.  In fact, the entire idea of a veggie patty kind of freaks me out.  Why not just eat a burger?  But since I’m on this little health(ier)-food kick though (and more importantly, I have nothing to grill a burger on), the juicy deliciousness of a double bacon cheeseburger was not on the books for lunch today.  So when I saw the Bruchetta Tomato Basil Parmesan Boca Burgers out of the corner of my eye, I inspected the box with interest.  Boca described them quite appetizingly as containing “oven-roasted tomatoes, basil and Parmesan cheese—it’s all the best flavors of Italy packed into a wholesome veggie patty”  I like tomato.  I like basil.  I like Parmesan.  I love bruchetta.  So these meatless wonders must be a hit, right?

Needless to say, my foray into the world of vegetarianism was not bad!  I nuked the patty, toasted myself a bun and topped the whole thing with cheese, diced onions and tomato (a la bruchetta).  The whole ensemble actually made a very good-tasting lunch, and it seemed drastically more substantial than my usual turkey sandwich (yet somehow calorically equivalent).  Unlike the mouthful of a name, the patty is unfortunately on the thin side and kind of an unusual dark orange color.  This may be true for all veggie burgers; I really wouldn’t know.  All together the sandwich was delicious!  I detected a pleasant little bit of heat in the burger, and an inspection of the ingredients revealed paprika.  I was surprised to see oats on the list as well, since I didn’t really taste any.  The balance of tomato and onion was perfect, and the texture was closer to that of a beef burger than I thought it would be.  The only part that I really missed was the juiciness.  These were disappointingly dry and didn’t give me the experience that biting into a real burger affords.  All in all, though, these are a welcome addition to my lunch rotation.  I don’t think they’re quite savory or large enough to be a dinner, but they were a filling and satisfying lunch.  Nutrition-wise, I was pleasantly surprised.  While it was a little high in sodium, it was also high in protein and fiber and contained both calcium and iron.  To top it off, it was only 70 calories!

Next time I think I will top one off with a little marinara or pizza sauce, some mozzarella cheese and some diced tomatoes and onions.  I think the sauce will make up for the dryness of the patty.  Even better, some toasted Tuscan bread and some homemade bruchetta topping would take this Boca burger from good to absolutely delish.

So for all you vegetarians out there, the good folks at Boca have now made a believer out of me.  I won’t be giving up my love of eating meat (ever.), but since I can’t reasonably eat a burger every day, I will no longer scoff at the notion of a veggie burger.  I actually think I’m going to have to try other kinds now!

Stars: 4/5

Nutrition FactsServing Size: 1 Patty.  70 Calories.  1.5g Fat.  0.5g Saturated Fat.  0g Trans Fat.  5mg Cholesterol.  290mg Sodium.  9g Carbohydrates.  3.5g Dietary Fiber.  0g Sugar.  10g Protein.  15% Calcium.  15% Iron.  1 WW Point

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Healthy Choice Tomato Basil Penne

March 16, 2009

tomato-basil-penneSince I’m always on the lookout for new things to try, I tend to notice boxes with bright red “new!” flags on them more than those without.  In the case of Healthy Choice Tomato Basil Penne, it was also the modernized packaging.  I have to admit that I was a little disappointed when I saw that the streamlined green and white box was not, in fact, an entirely new brand of frozen dinners (but Healthy is now spelled Hea!thy, which I guess will entice us to buy it).  At any rate, I couldn’t pass this one up.  For a long time I’ve been skeptical about Healthy Choice’s ability to deliver a decent-tasting meal, but ever since trying their Cafe Steamers Chicken Marghertia (delicious by the way, review to come) my opinion of the brand has improved substantially.  Not to mention the fact that this frozen meal claims to be “all-natural”.

So what is this new line by Healthy Choice?  They describe the all-natural meals as high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins A and C, low in saturated fat and cholesterol and free of preservatives and artificial flavors.  Ever since reading the article in Women’s Health about the truth behind the ingredient list in frozen dinners, I’m always on the lookout for items that are preservative-free.  The other items in the line are Portabella Marsala Pasta, Portabella Spinach Parmesan, Pumpkin Squash Ravioli, Sweet Asian Potstickers and Mediterannean Pasta.  I figured if they could get the Tomato Basil Penne right, the other ones would be worth a try.

In their words: “Wholesome nine-grain penne pasta topped with tomatoes, onions, sweet basil, and mozzarella cheese is prepared with 100% extra virgin olive oil for a great-tasting meal with just 280 calories and 7 grams of fiber”.

I must admit, reality came pretty close!  I nuked the dinner according to their directions and in under 7 minutes it was nice and steamy and ready to eat.  The first thing I noticed was the portion size.  Despite being only 280 calories, this seemed like a well-sized meal.  Unlike Lean Cuisine’s rabbit-sized Cheese Ravioli, this pasta looked like it might fill me up.  Tasting revealed to be a pleasure.  While the penne is clearly whole-wheat (and I always prefer regular pasta), the flavor actually added to the dish instead of detracting from it.  While I couldn’t really taste much cheese, the basil added a nice note and the sauce was plentiful and tomato-y.  I even detected a hint of a brown sugar giving the meal a hint of sweetness.  Even though there was 600 mg of salt in the dinner (a large amount, although less than a lot of frozen meals), I still needed to add a little more.  Mrs. Dash’s salt-free tomato basil seasoning would’ve done the trick, too.  While it wasn’t the absolute best frozen pasta dish I’ve ever had, it’s still one that will be going on my weekly shopping list!

Stars: 4/5


Nutrition Facts: Serving size: 1 Meal.  280 Calories.  60 Calories from fat.  6g Fat.  2.5g Saturated Fat.  0g Trans Fat.  15mg Cholesterol.  600mg Sodium.  39g Carbohydrates.  7g Dietary Fiber.  6g Sugar.  13g Protein.  2% Vitamin C.  10% Vitamin A.  10% Iron.  20% Calcium. 5 WW Points.

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Marie Callendar’s Pasta Al Dente Tortellini Romano

March 3, 2009

marie-callenders-tortellini

While browsing the frozen food aisle because I was too lazy to actually cook anything, I came across Marie Callender’s new Pasta Al Dente “steamed to perfection” pasta dishes. Who was I to turn down perfection? Especially when what is promised are cheese-stuffed pillows of heaven covered in a creamy marinara sauce topped with basil and Parmesan cheese. And on top of all that, it contains no preservatives and is “authentically Italian!”. Since apparently the frozen dinners aisle had turned into a free flight to Italy, I quickly snapped up the Tortellini Romano.

I popped it in the microwave later that night to see what perfection tasted like. The dish comes with the tortellini and tomatoes inside a colander-like basket nestled inside a plastic bowl containing the sauce at the bottom.  While it seemed a little elaborate for a frozen dinner, the system worked wonderfully.  After letting the dish set for the recommended 2 minutes, I dumped the tortellini in the sauce and mixed it all together. While it was no Hungryman mega-meal, the serving was fairly substantial and satiating. The tortellini actually steamed nicely with only one or two pieces being just a little harder than the others and the tomato pieces were decent-sized, tasty and not soggy. While I would’ve liked to see a little bit more cheese inside and the sauce was a little more watery than creamy, altogether the meal was flavorful and satisfying.  If you’re craving an easy, quick, tasty pasta dish, this is a keeper.  Definitely one of the better frozen meals I’ve ever had.  Keep in mind, though, that this is just tortellini.  If you’re looking for some sort of a meat portion to your meal, you’re better off going with something else.

Stars: 4/5

Nutrition Facts: Serving Size: 1 meal. Calories: 460. Calories from fat: 140. Total fat: 15 g. Saturated Fat: 7 g. Total Carbohydrates: 62 g. Dietary Fiber: 7 g. Sugars: 7 g. Protein: 19 g.  10 Weight Watchers Points

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