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Amy's brand projects an aura of healthy food. However, their claims of being made with organic ingredients and being fully vegetarian don't automatically make their products all that healthy. Some of Amy's products are good and we think worth purchasing, but it is about a 50/50 split. We keep testing in an effort to see if they are learning anything about what real health means.
Their Broccoli and Cheddar Bake bowl is a good example. I almost left it in the freezer case because of the amount of salt - 640 milligrams - being towards the upper limit of our preferred range. Generally speaking, I like to see as close to a 1 to 1 ratio of calories to sodium as the first criteria but will stretch this to 1.5 to 1 if the calories are close to 500. This bowl is right at that limit with 420 calories and 640 milligrams of sodium in the single serving (1.52 to 1).
Most of those calories are in fat, because this is one cheesy bowl. The flavor is a bit on the salty side, and if it did not have the added sea salt and used unsalted butter, it would possibly have been spot on. It's rich and creamy, however, with a good sharp cheddar taste and broccoli that is done right to al dente.
Sadly, it's the pasta that lets this dish down. The brown rice pasta is just gummy, and when paired with the creamy sauce the texture of the dish is a bit mushy. Brown rice pastas are not very good in general, and except for Jovial brand we have found them to be pretty much inedible in our taste tests. This is the case here, and had Amy's used a better quality pasta with a bit more texture (and a bit more fiber since the dish only comes in at 2 grams for the serving), it would have been a pretty darn good meal. Good enough for us to overlook the saltiness. Sadly, this is another miss for them.
The Light & Lean Spaghetti Italiano continues that mushy theme. At first it looks promising, with three "meat"balls each a bit larger than a quarter in diameter and a fair amount of broccoli (all florets). "It looks like a decent amount of food," observed a panelist, and at 240 calories, 590 milligrams of sodium, and 5 grams of fiber, it would be pretty filling, too. They're made primarily with quinoa and have a strong, nutty quinoa flavor, which isn't bad by any means. The first taste impression of the meatballs is that they're "almost Asian," with a hint of garlic and enough basil to make them a little bitter. While there's no ginger listed on the package, the panel agreed that the slight note of sweetness seemed in line with ginger rather than other sweeteners.
Worse, the texture of those meatballs is definitely lacking. Instead of having a bit of chewiness as you'd have with a meatball made with meat, this "tastes like you took a piece of whole wheat bread with quinoa in it, squeezed in your fist into a ball, and then dipped it in spaghetti sauce and let it sit to soak up the sauce." (That description was too apt to not share.)
The broccoli are really no better than the meatballs: cooked "pretty well past al dente" and having lost all crunch. Add to that spaghetti that's quite extravagantly overcooked, and what you have is a savory bowl of mush. The sauce isn't bad, with a bright but not too tart tomato flavor, but there are better pasta dishes for this many calories and levels of sodium - leave this one on the shelf, as well.
Reviewed: November 17, 2017