17 August, 2009

Healthy Frozen Meals: Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers - Sweet & Spicy Orange Zest Chicken

When I picked this up at the supermarket the other day, I thought it would be pretty good. I love getting Orange Chicken at those Chinese fast food places in the mall, so I was thinking of something like that, but, well...healthy, I guess.

I was terribly, terribly wrong.

I chucked it in the microwave for the five minutes the package called for and as it steamed itself, I went and did other things that needed to be done. When I passed through the kitchen, I noticed the faint smell of mint, and while I thought that it was kind of odd, didn't pay too much attention to it.

When the microwave beeped after my five minutes had passed, I pulled the plastic wrap off of the top and was hit in the face with the strong smell of mint.

I flipped the package over and re-read it. Odd. Mint wasn't anywhere on the ingredient list, and if it had been I wouldn't have gotten it. (Mint in food always gives me heartburn.)

But I decided that it was probably just my imagination, because if there's no mint in the ingredients, there couldn't possibly be any mint in the actual product. So I dumped the contents of the steam tray into the sauce, stirred it up, and took a giant bite of rice and veggies.

And all I could taste was mint. There was no spicy, no sweet, no orange goodness. Nothing but mint.

The only thing that didn't taste like mint was the chunks of chicken, which were the same as the other chicken bits I had gotten in the last Healthy Choice meal: beefed up with soy protein, a bit chewy, and speckled with fake grill marks. But that was the best part of the whole ordeal.

The veggies in this one were all overdone. The peas were overcooked to the point of mushiness, while their strings were too tough to chew. The finely cubed carrots and bell peppers were also overdone to mush, while the rice managed to come out just a little on the underdone side. (Not that it mattered much, because the whole thing was inedible.)

I got through a few bites before having to get rid of it. It was seriously that bad.

Calories: 300
Calories From Fat: 40
Sodium: 380 mg; 16% DV

TOTAL PREP TIME: 5 minutes

Dave adds:

I thought Lynnafred was kidding me when she called me up and told me about the heavily minted flavor in this meal, but I got a taste later and she wasn't kidding. Tasted like it was made with toothpaste. Nasty. I wonder if there was some kind of mistake made on the manufacturing line...no other food blooger has noted this flavor in any other online review.



lufkinlawyer said...

I wholeheartedly disagree with this review. I have tried every flavor thus far of the cafe steamers, including the Sweet & Spicy Orange Chicken. I have no idea how you smell/taste mint in this. Also, mine cook pretty well each time. Perhaps your microwave has a bit more juice than your typical one? Try for 4.5 mins?

Dave said...

As I said in my edit of the review, no other review I've found online has mentioned the mint. And yet, in the meal we sampled, it was there.

We plan to revisit the Sweet & Spicy Orange Zest Chicken again, because we feel that there might have been a mistake on the production line.