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Calorie Count Blog

Food Reviews: Lean Cuisine Fish Dinners


By tanyapt on Apr 06, 2010 11:00 AM in Tips & Updates

By Tanya Taylor, PhD

I like to keep a few frozen meals on hand for those occasions when I need lunch in a hurry and don't want to make it a fast food eatin' kind of day. This week, I decided to give a few Lean Cuisine fish meals a try. I picked up the Lean Cuisine Tortilla Crust Fish and Lean Cuisine Lemon Pepper Fish.

Lean Cuisine Tortilla Crusted Fish

Lean Cuisine Tortilla Crusted Fish is described as “tortilla crusted fish with rice, poblano peppers, corn and red peppers in a sour cream sauce topped with cheese. “ The fish is actually Alaskan Pollock - according to the ingredients listSee a photo of this meal.

(1) Describe the taste
Lean Cuisine did a good job. The fish was moist after microwaving for the suggested 3 minutes and 30 seconds, and the breaded crust imparted flavor along with a little spicy kick – mild but still quite a pleasant surprise. The rice had a flavorful sour cream & cheese sauce, and was just the right amount.

(2) Describe the texture
The fish was firm yet broke apart easily (not too crumbly though), but the texture of the rice was a bit mushy, especially when mixed up with the cheese & sour cream sauce. In the last few frozen meals I've had, they used orzo, and so I may be spoiled now as that's my starch of preference for these types of meals.

(3) What did you like about it?
I was pleasantly surprised that the fish was so good, and it was a decent size for this small meal.

(4) What did you not like about it?
The rice was probably my least favorite part of the meal, and the taste or added texture of the vegetables was almost non-existent. But the meal was still quite enjoyable – just could have been a little better.

(5) Did it satisfy your hunger or did you want something else as well?
This Lean Cuisine Tortilla Crusted Fish is part of the Cafe Cuisine line – which is a little smaller (8 ounces), so I paired it with Green Giant Simply Steam Baby Vegetable Medley which left me quite full for a few hours.

(6) How does this food compare to similar and competing products?
I enjoyed this almost as much as the Lean Cuisine Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce and Lean Cuisine Salmon with Basil (both reviewed at Iateapie.net).

(7) Summary
I could easily see myself buying this again, especially since I got it on sale at 2 for $4.00.

Lean Cuisine Lemon Pepper Fish

This meal is described as, “Lemon pepper fish with rice,broccoli and red peppers in a lemon herb sauce.” Again, the fish is Alaskan Pollock, as seen on the ingredients list.

(1) Describe the taste
After following the directions of putting it in the microwave for 3 minutes and 45 seconds, everything was hot except for the broccoli. I put it in for an additional 30 seconds, waited for it to cool, then sampled the fish. It was delicious, but it tasted very similar to the Lean Cuisine Tortilla Crusted Fish, which I had the day before. But that's not a bad thing as both were good in my opinion. The rice and broccoli combination was solid with the lemon herb sauce, which added a mild flavor.

(2) Describe the texture
The texture of the fish was flaky without being too dry, but the rice was slightly soft and mushy, but not as much as with the Tortilla Crusted Fish meal.

(3) What did you like about it?
The fish was my favorite part of this meal, and I much preferred this version with the rice & broccoli, to the Lean Cuisine Baked Lemon Pepper Fish which contained broccoli and cheese (the broccoli took much longer to get hot than the fish).

(4) What did you not like about it?
I can't really identify one thing I didn't like, because although the rice was a little soft, it was still good. I would say this is a solid meal which, while I didn't go "Wow!", I still enjoyed it.

(5) Did it satisfy your hunger or did you want something else as well?
My hunger was satisfied, but I did add vegetables to make sure that I would be.

(6) How does this food compare to similar and competing products?
Both the Lean Cuisine Tortilla Crusted Fish (8 ounces) and the Lemon Pepper Fish (9 ounces) provide 290 calories, 12% - 14% of the daily value for total fat, 10% of the DV for saturated fat, 2 grams of fiber and 12 – 15 grams of protein. If you would like a LC meal with less fat, try the Lean Cuisine Ginger Garlic Stir Fry with Chicken which also provides 290 calories, but only 5% of the DV for total and saturated fat, as well as 4 grams of fiber and 17 grams of protein.

(7) Summary
This is another solid meal from Lean Cuisine, like the  Lean Cuisine Tortilla Crusted Fish and I would purchase both again.


Question for you....

Have you tried any of Lean Cuisine's Cafe Cuisine line?  What do you think?


Tanya Taylor founded Iateapie.net in 2004 while working on a PhD in Food Science and Nutrition at Auburn University (Alabama). Shortly after graduation (in August 2006), she moved to Ann Arbor, MI and started working as a Food Chemist.  She recently  relocated to New York where she continues to run Iateapie.net, along with IntheGym.net, which features workout playlists.

 

Calorie Count follows About.com's Ethics Policy when it comes to reviewing products.



Comments


Even though the lean cuisine meals are super convenient (and low in calories) I had to stop buying them once I noticed how high the sodium is.  One meal contained a day's worth of sodium.



^You're right. The sodium is rediculious, but I keep them in my freezer "just in case". I've had them in there since fall and still have a few boxes left over.

I like to buy veggies by each time I go to the store and freeze them. It's easy and quick to steam them and add some basil for taste.



I sometimes eat Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones, or Healthy Choice Cafe' Steamers, or Healthy Choice meals for lunch during the week.  Although I enjoy the Lean Cuisine and Smart Ones, they contain more sodium than the Healthy Choice meals; the Healthy Choice Cafe' Steamers list less sodium and, in my opinion, are more flavorful.



I love the Lean Cuisine Tortilla Crusted Fish. The rice is just ok, but it's better than most microwave dinner rice I've had in the past. The fish is definitely the best part. The first time I had it, I was surprised that it wasn't dry. The tortilla crust adds a lot of flavor.



I used to eat Lean Cuisines ALL the time. They were so good. Then I watched a news clip about a lady finding a dead mouse in hers.

Although the chances are slim, it grossed me out enough to never eat one again.



Seriously? How can you write about Michael Pollan one week then give this processed garbage a platform the next?!?!?!?!?



I grew up with my mother constantly on and off "Lean Cuisine" diets and work with a few women now who constantly eat these things.  They are disgusting.  Real food is ALWAYS worth a little extra time in the kitchen.  



the problem with the steamers is that there is SO MUCH unnecessary plastic! i can't throw out that much plastic on just one meal, so i stick to lean cuisine when i don't have time to prepare something.  Also - just a tip- I find that if you let the lean cuisine warm on the counter top or fridge for a few hours instead of heating it directly out of the freezer, there is less water/ice, hence the rice becomes less mushy.  i usually go for the chicken ones cause they're only around 190 or 210 calories and avoid the pasta cause its closer to 300 cals. hey, save them up when you can eh?

 

hahah i just realized i said eh....so Canadian lol



I normally buy lean cuisines to eat for my lunches, but just yesterday I realized- most of what I have in the freezer is pasta, and I am not a huge pasta fan.  So nothing sounded good. I don't like the flavor or the Healthy choice meals- maybe because they have less sodium.  But I have decided to try and eat more like I did when I was a kid- and was thin.  I ate a sandwich for lunch, not a hot meal. And that will drop my calorie count significantly.



Of course fresh home made non-processed  meals are better, but for those of us who live a ridiculously busy schedule home made everything is not necessarily a reality.  Frozen choices are better than the alternative grab and go meals in a lot of cases.

I'm not a big lean cuisine fan but I really like the Presidents choice blue menu individually frozen meals.  They taste better, they are less expensive, and you have a lot of choices that are under 250 calories.



@heathervotechek - couldn't disagree more. A peanutbutter sandwich on whole wheat bread is better than any of this stuff, and takes just as long to make. Hummus, pita and cucumbers on whole wheat pita. Spinach salad with mozzarella and cherry tomatoes. I've got lists and lists of stuff that takes less than five minutes to make.

This stuff is "food" only if you compare it with McDonald's or Taco Bell. And just barely, at that.



I aggree with these people. The sodium content in both lean cuisine and healthy choice are insane. Amazing how they didnt take that into consideration when they wanted to make healthy eating.



I aggree with these people. The sodium content in both lean cuisine and healthy choice are insane. Amazing how they didnt take that into consideration when they wanted to make healthy eating.



-cchristinyc-Thank you for your reply and I'll take some of your suggestions into consideration, but in the long run we will have to agree to disagree on our lifestyle choices. As a wife, mother, full time Psychologist and full time student in a doctorate program, time is not always something you can count on.  And I only bring this up because I know there are thousands of people in the same boat as me.  When your child refuses to get out of bed in the morning and you're already late there is no time for a peanut butter sandwich, or when a client has an emergency and you're stuck at the office until 8pm there is suddenly no time to get to a grocery store that week.  Now obviously this amount of stress is not constant and there are weeks that there is time to shop, cook, plan, and even waste time writing on blogs about frozen meals :)  But there is nothing wrong with being prepared and keeping a couple frozen lunch meals in the freezer at the office or at home for times of instability.

The reason why I am so adament about this issue is that the message needs to be sent to people that it is OK to not have the ability to live up to the occasionally unrealistic expectations that diets and dieters impose.  Both personally and professionally as a Psychologist I encounter people on a regular basis that are overwhelmed by the guilt they feel for this exact type of unnecessary expectation (having a discussion about the taste of a frozen meal and then having another individual jump down their throat because you have the audacity to eat a frozen meal).  If you have the ability to make all your meals fresh I applaude you.  But to the man who works 14 hour days, woman caring for an aging parent, the the single mother stressed to the max, the widower who doesn't know how to cook...it's OK to get by in whatever way you yourself define as a reasonable healthy lifestyle.  A healthy choice frozen pre-packaged meal is better than ordering in or making a meal from a dry mix package.  I hope I have not offended you cchristinyc as that is not my intention, I just thought I would try out standing on this soap box for a little while to address an issue I commonly see on these blogs.  All the best.



We were eating lean cuisines a while for lunch until we started increasing the intensity of our workouts.  I do the spin classes three days a week, and need something low-cal but substantial to keep me from crashing mid-workout.  The lean cuisines, while tasty, had the effect of making me extremely dehydrated AND starving by the time the class was halfway done. 

Now we buy Oscar Meyer's Deli Creations sandwiches religiously.  I haven't looked at the sodium content, but I can say they don't make me dehydrated at all during the workout.  They also stick with me all through the workout and beyond, so that I'm not in a starved panic halfway between lunch and dinner.  The best sandwiches are the ones with focaccia bread and the fewest calories---namely, the turkey and parmesan or the ham and provologne.  Lots of energy in those, thanks to the bread.  I'd avoid the DC sandwiches without the focaccia bread, though.  That bread is too light and sugary to keep me going through a spin class.



heathervotechek : while i understand what youre saying i'd prefer to be ready with a bag of frozen mesquite chicken breast grilled patties, a few bags of different frozen vegs, fruit and other items, put them together and microwave em. Theyre a lot more nutritious , less salt and just takes a few extra minutes.

 



I like the tortilla crusted fish as well. I actually like the rice, better than the orzo.



@heathervotechek - no offense taken at all. :-) And I actually DO see where you are coming from. I admit, I am passionate about fresh foods, and I think that many people (not necessarily you) think they have far less time than they actually do. But then, I tend to be, perhaps, a very proactive person and have a naturally high-energy personality. Which isn't to say that I am not as busy as you seem to be.

And, of course, it's your choice to eat what you will; I just found it disheartening that a site that ostenisbly claims to be about health would even open a discussion about Lean Cuisine. I mean, it's 2010 - not 1989. What's next, advocating SlimFast? But, it is, after all, called Calorie Count. Guess, in the end, if it's 250 calories that's all that really matters here, rather than what comprises those 250 calories.

I actually don't ever "diet" - I just try to eat real food most of the time. It never pays to worry about what others "expect" of you, even yourself. In that respect, you are absolutely correct. I wish you the best. :-)



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Yea, to everyone that says "Homemade food is better" &/or "oh this is quick & on the go". People, this is just a survey descirbing the taste of the food. It's not telling you to eat this only or not to. It's just advertising to people who seem curious or want to try this product. Sure, people have their opionion to saying what they want to say but don't get confused as to the purpose of this article.

& also I see people talking about the sodium that's contained in these products. Well what if that's a dinner, or if the person doesnt have lots of sodium throughout the day ( hint hint me) so these meals are perfect to make you have some sodium in your diet.

Please don't take this comment negativity, i'm just giving my opionion just like everyone else.



No offense taken from the sodium comment gaarafangirl54.

 

The point is that there are plenty of foods people eat that already has some good amount of salt throughout the day for us to get. The only salt i think we should be getting is iodized table salt and using that a bit every day however lean cuisine and healthy choice and others are loaded and i mean loaded with salt to the point that its in "high blood pressure" pushing mode.

Theyre supposed to be healthy for low fat and calories but kill you with salt.

I think it might even be even harder for people who eat a low sodium diet and then get the salt overload from one meal. Im just saying.

 



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