Well, gang, today is 12/12/12. The last time in your lifetime to see a date like that. So let’s celebrate a last with a first. The first time Atkins has come out with some frozen meals.
I received my review shipment from Atkins last Friday. Since I already had dinner plans I didn’t get to test drive my first one until the following night. I want to start off by saying that I really wish these had been around when I first started my weight loss journey. At that point, I hadn’t turned in to a real food nazi and these would have really come in handy for lunches at the office. They really are a nice convenience when you don’t have time to cook or prepare. Let me also say that now that I eat a Paleo way of eating, these will never make a regular appearance in my menu. There are too many questionable ingredients. Even if you can get past the dairy (I do occasionally throw down some cheese, and butter is a ubiquitous staple in my diet), every stinking one of these meals had soy in them. See the ingredients list below. Beef Merlot even has wheat which means that awful stuff known as gluten.
Now let’s be fair. Atkins has never claimed to be paleo or overly concerned with only eating real, whole foods. They talk about the benefits in their literature, but all of their products include questionable items. I have highlighted the obvious ones in the ingredients pics above, but there are others too. My rule of thumb is that if I can’t pronounce the ingredient, it is probably a science experiment I don’t want going in to my body. The other, less obvious problem with them is that they had to use conventional meat in order to make the price affordable. That means cramped coops for the poultry and CAFO feed lots for the beef. That also means lots of omega 6’s on top of the seed oils they put in the mix. That being said, what Atkins has done well is vastly improve the diets of millions of people by making the whole thing easy. Let’s not fool ourselves….eating an ancestral diet with few if any prepackaged foods can be daunting and challenging. These products would come in handy in any pinch situation. I could even see myself eating one of these (not the Beef Merlot….hello evil gluten) if I was traveling and the only thing I had to cook with was the microwave in my hotel room. So, with the bad out of the way, let’s talk about each meal and how they tasted.
First we will deal with fantasy and reality. The fantasy being what the box said the meal would look like and what it actually looks like. Again, let’s be fair….have you ever eaten a TV dinner where the end result looked like the box? I think not. So here is what the box looks like and what it actually looks like out of the microwave:
See the difference? Anyway, on to taste. The broccoli was a bit limp. I prefer mine crispier, but it did have a good flavor. The meat was exceptionally moist. It seems that they chose fattier cuts, so if you don’t like the mouthfeel of fat, maybe don’t buy this one. I, however, prefer lots of fat in my meat. It is the reason ribeye is my favorite steak. Plus, the fat in the meat helps to keep you fuller longer. So the meat was really good. The sauce was out of this world. You will see that is a theme in all of the meals I tried. They really did a good job on the taste of the sauces. It was rich and creamy and had lots of flavor.
Bottom line: Really tasty, but be prepared for a gluten exposure. This is the meal that had the wheat from the soy sauce.
Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo
This was probably my favorite of the three. I know, I know, it has dairy. Get over it. It also has soy and seed oils. Like I said, if these things are important to you (and they should be) don’t make these a regular actor in your menu. Have them on a night when both kids have activities and you just don’t have time to cook or you didn’t think ahead and forgot to lay out the pot roast you had planned to put in the slow cooker (happened to me this morning. Ugh!). Anyway, here is the box v. reality comparison.
This meal’s broccoli was spot on. The perfect balance between cooked and crispy. One of my concerns with eating a chicken frozen dinner was the chicken being dry. I. Hate. Dry. Chicken. Just about every frozen chicken dinner I have ever had features dry chicken. This one was moist and delicious. I cannot rave about the chicken enough. The sauce was also fantastic. I mean, it was the kind of fantastic that you need to make sure you eat this one alone, because you are going to see just how long your tongue is when you try to stick it in every crevice of the dish to lick up the yummy goodness. Definitely don’t let your kids see you doing this if your goal as a parent is to model good behavior.
Bottom line: Delicious!
Roast Turkey with Pan Gravy
Quickly to the box v. reality:
As you can see, just like the others, it looks somewhat different than the box. Oh well. This was another pleasant surprise in the meat. Very moist and tender. At Thanksgiving, the only meat I will eat is the dark meat because the white meat is just too dry for me. This meat was not at all dry. The green beans were very tasty, but I thought they needed some salt. That is saying a lot for me because I rarely add salt. Just not a very salty dude. The gravy was pretty amazing. Better than a lot of the traditional gravies I have had home made. The flavor profile of this one reminded me a lot of Thanksgiving.
Bottom Line: Another winner!
Well, that’s it. If you are interested in starting down a path to health by reducing your intake of refined carbs, these would be a good first step. As I mentioned, they are not ideal, but maybe Atkins will be for you what it was for me. A tool to lose a bunch of weight that led me to eating an optimal ancestral diet. If that is the case, these guys, along with many other flavors go on sale in Wal-Mart nation wide on December 15, 2012. They will be at many other retailers after the first of the year. Pretty convenient timing for all those New Year’s resolutions, huh?