Healthy Choice Frozen Meals

This post is part of a series on low-cal packaged meals. For more, check out previous entries on South Beach Living and Lean Cuisine.

Reviewing the Healthy Choice brand provides me with the opportunity to discuss one particular nutrition claim made on food packages: "healthy." Unlike with many terms slapped onto boxes and bags, a company's product has to meet a set of standards to merit the tag "healthy."

When a company claims this accolade, it's declaring that the food in the package is low in fat, cholesterol, and, significantly for processed foods, sodium. "Healthy" foods also must contain certain levels of essential nutrients, according to the FDA.

From HealthyChoice.comHealthy Choice meals are all relatively low in sodium because of these regulations. For example, Healthy Choice's mac and cheese with veggies has 600 mg of sodium per 9.1-oz serving, which is about 25 percent of the typical daily limit. On the other hand, Stouffer's cheesy mac has 1,395 mg of sodium for an equivalent portion. Good bye, 60 percent of your daily intake!

I like Healthy Choice's creative entrée selections. Like many low-cal brands, they don't stick to fried chicken and Salisbury steak. Healthy Choice also has come up with a new method of heating some meals using steam from the sauce, but I never tried any of those later meals. Nonetheless, it's evidence that this brand aims to innovate, like Lean Cuisine.

Healthy Choice

From HealthyChoice.comCountry Breaded Chicken
I know I knocked fried-chicken meals above, but I have to say, this particular meal became my favorite choice for weekday lunches after I discovered it midway through my second school year. How decadent it feels to eat two fried chicken breast portions (bigger than mere tenders), mashed potatoes, mixed veggies, and a delectable cherry crumble, all in one sitting! The chicken tastes so yummy that you'll wonder how on earth the meal could have only 370 calories and nine grams of fat. One guess: It's not at all greasy.

From HealthyChoice.comChicken Margherita
I may have just said that I've never tried Café Steamers, but I have tasted this particular meal. Healthy Choice has converted several of its old regular-tray offerings into Steamers, so if you want to try the tangy Chicken Margherita, you'll have to plunge into this brave new world. Good luck! The meal features a flavorful balsamic sauce over noodles and chicken with sweet tomatoes and garlic. Mmm! This meal has only 340 calories, though it does not come with a sweet treat.

From HealthyChoice.comPremium Fudge Bars
Fudge Bars definitely don't qualify as a meal, but I love these 80-calorie fudge bars! They taste deliciously chocolate-y in a way most chocolate ice creams can only dream of.

Alas, I can't pinpoint any other meals as particularly good enough to merit recommendation. The others aren't terrible; they're either ordinary or untested. Healthy Choice meals usually cost more than the other brands' offerings, so I bought them less frequently.

Next week, we'll check out meals from Weight Watchers' Smart Ones line!

Photos: Healthy Choice

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