Healthy Eating

Healthy Choice Top Chef: Really Top Quality?

Healthy Choice brand recently launched their new variety of frozen meals inspired by the TV show Top Chef.

I saw a coworker bring one for lunch, and was pleasantly surprised by the ingredient list.

I just had to investigate.There are 8 different varieties of Top Chef Healthy Choice Frozen Meals, but I only evaluated two of them.

Nutrition

The first one I reviewed was the grilled vegetables with Mediterranean ricefrozen meal.

The ingredients are mostly brown rice and vegetables with only a few additives. But, then I investigated the chicken pesto flavor, and here is what I discovered:

Ingredients: COOKED ENRICHED PASTA (WATER, DURUM, WHEAT FLOUR, EGG WHITE, NIACIN, FERROUS SULFATE [IRON], THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), COOKED CHICKEN TENDERLOINS (CHICKEN TENDERLOIN, WATER, OLIVE OIL, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: ISOLATED SOY PROTEIN PRODUCT [ISOLATED SOY PROTEIN, MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, CORN STARCH, CARRAGEENAN, SOY LECITHIN], DEXTROSE, SALT, SUN DRIED TOMATOES, POTASSIUM AND SODIUM PHOSPHATES, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, FLAVORING, ONION, GARLIC, CARAMEL COLOR), WATER, GREEN AND YELLOW ZUCCHINI, SPINACH, CHARDONNAY WINE, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: OLIVE OIL, BASIL, GARLIC PUREE, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, PARMESAN CHEESE (PART SKIM MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES), ONIONS, PARSLEY, SALT, CREAM, CHICKEN SEASONING (CHICKEN MEAT AND NATURAL JUICES, SALT, CHICKEN FAT, SUGAR, HYDROLYZED [CORN AND WHEAT GLUTEN, SOY] PROTEIN, DRIED WHEY, MALTODEXTRIN, YEAST EXTRACT, NATURAL FLAVORING, DISODIUM INOSINATE AND GUANYLATE, EXTRACTS OF TURMERIC AND ANNATTO), SHALLOTS, SUGAR, DRIED CANE SYRUP, SPICES, FLAVORINGS, SOYBEAN OIL, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES WITH DATEM, SEA SALT.

There are so many ingredients. Just looking at that gives me a headache!

Mystery Ingredients

  • Potassium and sodium phosphates: Meat preservative that is now used so they don’t have to use potentially cancer-causingnitrites.
  • Potassium chloride: Naturally derived salt substitute used to improve flavor.
  • Hydrolyzed soy protein: A soy protein that has been broken down by an acid to become a flavor enhancer.
  • Disodium inosinate and guanylate: Another flavor enhancer that is not vegan or vegetarian friendly because it can be made from animal products.
  • Datem: An emulsifier used in dough or baking.

Calories

Most Healthy Choice frozen meals are about 230-330 calories on average and up to 6 grams of fat. They are required to keep the sodium levels at 600 mg or less (which is still high, but not as bad as other brands).

That is one thing I like about Healthy Choice. You are always guaranteed that you won’t pick up a meal that is 1000 mg of sodium!

Would I Buy this Again?

I rate Healthy Choice meals, even the Top Chef variety, second to frozen meal brands like Kashi and Amy’s.

The taste is so-so, and so is the nutritional quality. But, it is still better than fast food for those in a pinch.

Do you eat frozen meals? If so, what kind do you like?

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