by Marianne Plunkert
Overall rating: 4.0 of 5.0
Meal Description and Cooking Instructions
The sweet and sour chicken meatball dinner entrée came packaged in a 2-compartment plastic tray with 6 reasonably-sized meatballs and what amounted to about one chopped-up stalk of broccoli in one section and 1/8 cup of mashed sweet potatoes in the other.
The heating instructions called for microwaving the meal on high for 1 ½ to 2 minutes. My standard procedure of adding 15 seconds to the stated time provided me with a meal that was nice and hot.
I was instructed to provide a fruit and a nonfat dairy product to accompany the meal. I opted to add some blackberries and some low-fat cheddar cheese.
Sweet & Sour Chicken Meatballs, Broccoli Florets, & Sweet Potatoes
My General Impressions
There were a variety of colors on the plate, which made it very inviting. The serving of sweet potatoes looked a bit paltry, though.
The “broccoli florets” in the title is a bit of an overstatement. There was one large floret and a couple of miniscule florets, but the majority of the broccoli side was comprised of pieces of broccoli stems. In fact, when I first arranged the meal on my plate, I had thought they must be chunks of pineapple that were part of the sweet and sour chicken.
They were very light green, and they were coated with some of the blush-red “sweet and sour” sauce, so I couldn’t actually discern their color initially. It wasn’t until I started eating that I realized they were chopped broccoli stems. Although the coating of sauce was very light, it made the broccoli appear less than fresh. Happily, the vegetable retained a good, crisp texture.
Maybe whoever assembled the meal was confused by the appearance of the broccoli, too, because according to the list of ingredients, this entrée was supposed to have contained some pineapple. There was not a single chunk of anything on my plate that tasted even remotely like pineapple.
The meatballs were nicely seasoned. They were very flavorful and had just a little bit of zest to them. But they weren’t sweet and sour, by any stretch of the imagination. Like the broccoli, they had a light coating of the blush-red sauce, which had a couple slivers of carrots visible in it, but was flavorless. I even dipped my fingertip in it to taste it by itself. Nothing. It could as well have been omitted from the meal.
Seventy of this entrée’s total 280 calories are from fat—exactly 25%. It contains 19 grams of protein. Total carbs are higher than I prefer, at 32 grams, and there are 12 grams of sugar. This is over half of the daily sugar intake recommended for women by the American Heart Association. Dietary fiber is a reasonable 4 grams.
It is a very vitamin-rich meal. It supplies 100% of the daily average recommended intake of Vitamin A and 90% of the Vitamin C recommendation. It also provides 8% of the daily calcium requirement and 10% of the iron requirement.
The sweet potatoes and broccoli provide at least one serving of vegetables, and the blackberries I supplied equate to 1 serving of fruit. My 1-ounce wedge of cheddar cheese is a serving of dairy. The meatballs are the primary source of protein in this meal, although eggs were also used in the preparation of the meatballs.
I am giving this meal a rating of “4” on a scale of 1 to 5. It was good, even if it wasn’t quite “as advertised,” which I find a bit disturbing. Perhaps the missing pineapple partially explains why the “sweet and sour” sauce was tasteless. Nevertheless, the meatballs themselves were properly moist and very flavorful.
The sweet potato side was trifling and nondescript. It tasted like mashed sweet potatoes–nothing more, nothing less. The broccoli didn’t appear all that fresh and looked a tad overdone, but its texture was surprisingly good.