Frozen almost vegetarian food for the busy almost vegetarian

Welcome to frozen food month. Yes, I’m not kidding. This month is officially frozen food month.

Who’da guessed?

And I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that frozen food doesn’t have anything to do with us almost vegetarians who are trying to eat healthy, right? Yeah, well, tell that to everyone who is battling too many commitments and too little time.

But with frozen, that means a world of preservatives and high fructose corn syrup and chemicals masquerading as food and a host of other nasties, right?

Normally, yeah. But not this week. Because this week I found us a healthy alternative.

A short while ago I posted about my poor husband having the worst cold on the face of the planet (if you want clarity on this, scroll to the bottom of that post and watch the hysterical and totally accurate video), when the ever-groovy Lesley from Lesley Eats drops by and leaves a comment with the magic word: “Amy’s.”

“Amy’s?” I say to a too-bright monitor in my too-dark office.

“________,” says my empty room because, Doh! it is empty. But not totally empty, because I, and I alone (well, plus or minus a few billion people) have the Internet. So I surf over to Amy’s, home of prepacked, healthy foods of the sort you can find at Whole Foods.

“Oh Lesley,” I whisper, not quite clueing into the fact that she is half a country away and I am alone and, hey, I know my neighbors think I’m weird but you try writing all day in a dark office and suddenly you could be talking to your monitor, too, and . . .

Right. Amy’s.

So I get me an idea. This week, I am going to talk about nothing but Amy’s frozen food. And let’s see if it is time for us Almost Vegetarians to enter the time-saving movement.

Mexican quesadilla kids meal
Amy’s says that the tortillas in their Mexican quesadilla kids meal “... are filled with mild organic cheddar cheese and a touch of salsa, then baked to golden-brown perfection.” And it was. Mild, that is. So mild I could barely taste it. Which is more than I could say for the (was there really any in there?) salsa. Still, they hit the spot, especially when you smothered them with the refried beans and Spanish rice and ended the whole experience with the generous piece of cake they so thoughtfully included (Tip: The box says you don’t need to microwave the cake, but if you don’t, you will get a mouthful of teeth-chilling cocoa. Nuke it.).

But what is really tasty about this meal is the ingredient list. Get this:
Organic pinto beans, organic basmati brown rice, filtered water, organic cheddar cheese, organic wheat and whole wheat flour, organic tomato puree, organic onions, organic broccoli, organic maple syrup, expeller pressed high oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil, organic green bell peppers, sea salt, spices*, organic cocoa powder, jalapeno peppers, organic apple cider vinegar, organic garlic, organic wheat gluten, baking soda, organic vanilla extract, organic lime juice.

It is way (way) too long (I like the five ingredients or less lists) but, hey, it sure is a pretty list. So let’s concede right here that Amy sure does have a nice way around ingredients. Nicer than Trader Joe’s, nicer than anyone else I have ever seen (if Amy's is the best, then this one, from Kraft which has one ingredient that is used in sexual lubricants and another used as a hemorrhoid cream, has got to be one of the worst).

Cheese tamale verde meal
Spicier than the bland kids meal, the best part is the rice which has a gentle kick. But I was less fond of the tamales. Sure the green sauce was tasty, but the tamales, well, they were dull. So dull, in fact, that I never bothered finishing them.

As seems to be usual with Amy’s, the ingredient lists are pretty darn good. Sure, there is the odd concern. For example, in this case there is “organic evaporated cane juice.” Made at home, this just would not be an ingredient you would use. But buried closer to the end of the list, you know very little was used and, hey, it’s not like it is high fructose corn syrup. So I’m not all that worried.

Black bean tamale verde whole meal
It suddenly damned on me that the husband, who is responsible for starting this whole thing anyway, is the frozen food connoisseur in this house. So I forced him, erm, begged him, to try the rest of the meals. The comments are his, so send the hate mail to him.

And this man who loves Mexican food fairly indiscriminately, a man who used to seek out Taco Bell and now haunts the taco joint down the street, had this insightful comment about this meal:

“Disappointing. It could use meat.”

We need to talk some more about the whole vegetarian thing, me’thinks.

Santa Fe enchilada bowl
On the bright side, however, the husband liked this one better. He said that the sauce was quite good (actually, he says “Their tomato-based sauces are always quite good”) but the meal was, overall, bland.

“It’s one of those things you don’t regret buying, but you wouldn’t bother to buy again.”

Tomorrow and tomorrow
In my next post, we’ll look at more Amy’s frozen foods, this time from two countries, both of which start with the letter “I.” These countries tended to fare better (if you forgive the pun) than Amy’s Mexico. And in the post after that, we'll look at breakfast and burgers. Yum yum!