The Newest Good-For-You Frozen Meals

Local Bellsio Foods has teamed up with Eating Well Magazine to create the frozen dinners. Food critic Jason DeRusha puts them to the taste test.

Did you know there’s a giant frozen foods company based in the Twin Cities and it isn’t General Mills? And it’s teaming up with a magazine company to launch a new line of “great-tasting, better-for-you” frozen meals?

I’ll be honest: I approached this with some skepticism. First of all, what does Meredith Corporation (publisher of  Parents, Better Homes and Gardens, and SHAPE Magazine among others) know about creating food? Second, it’s frozen food.

Bellsio Foods is huge in the frozen food area. They make Michelina’s, Eat!, and frozen foods under the Boston Market, Chili’s and Atkins brand names. Eating Well is a huge magazine and website – the web reaches more than four million unique visitors per month. So it’s a brand that people know.

The EatingWell line of frozen entrées includes eight meals including Cherry Port Pork, Indian Inspired Chicken, Vermont Cheddar Mac & Cheese, and Korean Inspired Beef. The meals each start with one cup of vegetables; 13 or more grams of protein; chicken, beef or pork raised without antibiotics; and whole grains. Each meal is on trend with the no, no, no approach: no artificial colors, no artificial flavors, no preservatives, MSG, nor hydrogenated oils.

I tried the creamy pesto chicken which has orzo pasta made with 9 grains, along with roasted succhini, red peppers, and kale. 310 calories, 22 grams of protein, and it took about 5 minutes to cook. And guess what? It was pretty good. I mean, I probably overcooked it by 30 seconds – one of the hazards of using the microwave at WCCO radio, but the orzo had a nice nutty flavor, the chicken wasn’t dry, and the vegetables were bright and tasty. I don’t know a lot about frozen entrees, but that’s pretty good, right?

EatingWell frozen entrées are now available in more than 5,000 retail stores across the nation: you can find them here at Lunds & Byerlys and HyVee stores.