Delivering the latest buzz on fitness, nutrition and wellness for Syracuse University students.
by Amanda Waltz, blogger
Well, Guinea Pig readers, it’s a new semester— I’ve decided to take this blog in another, more edible direction. Testing out all those all-natural health and beauty products took a toll on my grocery budget, and the looks I got from fellow Wegmans shoppers as I partook of every single lotion in the healthy living aisle weren’t exactly welcoming.
So instead, I’ll be giving my views on all-natural and organic food for the student soul. In other words, stuff you can cook and eat quickly while you’re cramming for mid-terms or on the way to class.
For this first entry, the focus is on TV dinners (or Hulu dinners, depending on your schedule). These microwave meals have a bad reputation, as they’re often high in sodium and preservatives, and low in nutrition. But there are some healthy and affordable options available.
Amy’s Bowls – Brown Rice and Vegetables Bowl, $5-6
Frozen meals always run the risk of turning out badly. If you don’t eat them fast enough, they succumb to freezer burn. Plus, the inaccurate cooking directions often leave the food undercooked, too dry or just downright nasty.
Amy’s Kitchen has a lot of widely available organic frozen meals that include microwave burritos, snacks and whole entrees (I can’t wait to try the low sodium meat loaf with mashed potatoes). In terms of catering to certain dietary needs and restrictions, they really have it covered. This bowl, for example, is dairy-free, glutton-free, vegan and kosher, among other things.
I could have cooked it in the oven, but the real challenge was nuking it. It also served as a practical decision, as most dorm rooms are fitted with little more than a mine-fridge and microwave. “Let’s see if you can survive this!” I laughed maniacally as I set it to the longest recommended cooking time. When I removed it minutes later I was surprised to find that it did, indeed, survive. Even the rice on the outer edges remained unscathed. But how would it taste?
On first bite, I noticed that the vegetables, especially the broccoli, still retained firmness. The brown rice was a little sticky, but not paste-like, so it still had a nice texture. The sauce had a very light, brothy flavor, not too salty and with a hint of spice. A variety of vinegars—apple cider, ume plum, grain—gave it a bit of tang, but I wouldn’t say that it tasted vinegary.
The only downside was that the tofu felt a tad rubbery, but not to the point that it ruined my lunch. I would also warn all you onion lovers out there that, while red onion makes an appearance, it adds very little to the show. The few slivers of it just kind of lay there.
In terms of portion size, I found myself feeling full and satisfied for a long time after eating this. With these types of dishes, I feel that they usually overload on the rice, but this time the contents managed a balance between the starch, the vegetables and the tofu.
The Verdict: A tad pricey, but totally worth it. But, I mean, c’mon! Freezer or no freezer, it’s a yummy organic vegetarian meal for $5. That’s tough to find.
Next week, I’ll be in junk food territory when I take on tortilla chips. So get your salsa and guacamole ready!