Product Review: Healthy Choice Four Cheese Ziti Marinara

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Since getting married and in reality, since graduating from college, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve eaten a frozen meal on a consistent basis. However, my husband and I made a trip to Publix a few weeks ago and I noticed these products were on sale. Being one to take advantage of a good deal (~$2.00/meal), I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try them out and provide a little review 🙂

Behold the Healthy Choice Four Cheese Ziti Marinara. One of the first things I noticed on the box was that it boasted a “BAKED” taste as well as being preferred over Smart Ones Three Cheese Ziti Marinara (*based on a national taste test). 20130402_172623

In terms of taste, I actually really enjoyed it. This dish was advertised to have a freshly-made ziti pasta and hearty tomato marinara sauce topped with mozzarella, parmesan, romano, and asiago cheeses. Compared to frozen meals I had during my college years, I feel like this particular dish was an appropriate portion size and fairly filling for a convenience meal. Usually with pasta dishes I like having some type of meat involved but the taste of the sauce and cheese was flavorful and allowed the meal to be contained at 310 calories.

20130402_172615 (1)As far as nutrition goes, the pasta dish had about 11 grams of protein, which as an average female (not pregnant, lactating, an athlete, or vigorously trying to lose weight, etc.) is pretty appropriate considering I only need about 45 grams of protein overall for the day. I try to encourage my patients to make sure their meals and snacks have a great source of BOTH carbohydrate AND protein, especially since protein assists in keeping you full for a longer amount of time (more on that in a future post…).  The carbohydrate content is pretty  amicable as well with 46 grams of total carbohydrate (5 of which is dietary fiber- also contributing to making the dish filling). Now, I don’t know about you, but usually with frozen meals and processed foods in general I have concerns with sodium content and other preservatives. Healthy Choice labels their products as being free of preservatives. With that said, I found the sodium content for the baked ziti to be fairly decent at 560 milligrams. For anyone who has concerns about sodium content and preservatives in a frozen meal, you want to try to purchase items with less than 600 milligrams of sodium. Now, if you have sodium restrictions to your diet due to chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, etc., remember that “fresh is best” when it comes to nutrition and you’ll likely need to consume a diet of less processed foods in order to meet the sodium recommendations prescribed by your physician, dietitian, or other health care provider.

20130403_093405Lastly, I really like how Healthy Choice (and other brands) lists the exchanges for each meal based on the Exchange Lists for Diabetes created by the American Diabetes Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The exchange list system has been really helpful for a lot of my clients that prefer a simplified way of tracking their diabetic lifestyle vs keeping track of grams of carbohydrate for each meal and snack.

VERDICT: For someone who’s looking for a little back up meal to have at work in case you don’t have time to go out or pack something from home that morning, this is a great option. Personally, I would recommend having a serving of fruit alongside the meal to round out your food groups and provide opportunity for some additional vitamin, mineral, and fiber content to your meal 🙂

Overall, I would buy the product again (if it’s on sale 🙂 )

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obviously I had no problem finishing it 🙂

What do you guys think? Do you have a favorite go-to frozen meal as a back up in your work or home fridge?

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