Jordan's Page of Useless Babble

Healthy Choice Gourmet Steamers Cajun Chicken & Shrimp

You know what? I've been feeling a little doughy lately. Maybe it's because of all the fatty foods that get reviewed here. Maybe it's because of all the soda. Maybe it's sitting in a chair for hours on end and feeling my ass grow wide like the mighty prairies. Whatever the cause, it's got to stop. I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!

But what to do? I'll be damned if I'm going to start exercising, and changing my lifestyle just ain't going to happen. No, I'll do what millions of housewives before have done. I'm going to eat me some diet food!

What does it mean?
What does it mean?

Ok, ok, I know it's a bit of a cop out, but damnit, it's going to be interesting and you're going to like it. Got that? Good.

So, for the next little while, I'll be trying out diet-food, 'healthy-options' and all the frozen food that's supposed to be good for me. Will it work? Well, only one way to find out. But first, as always, the rules:

  • Rule #1:
    I must follow cooking procedures exactly as they're shown on the container. I will not deviate from those instructions in any way, and I must prepare food in the fastest manner presented to me.
  • Rule #2:
    I must consume everything that comes with the meal. No hiding of disgusting parts will be tolerated. (In the unlikely event of bones or other inedibles, allowances will be made).
  • Rule #3:
    To make sure my palate is completely free of obstructions, I may only be allowed either water or alcohol. Alcohol does not include fancy-pants fruity girly drinks.
  • Rule #4:
    All food will be graded by smell, taste and mouthfeel, with less offensive qualities receiving higher marks. At the end, each part is receives an average score. The full meal is graded by the average score of each component. Appearance of the food is not graded because, let's face it, they all look pretty bad.
Wow...that looks...bland.
Wow...that looks...bland.

So, walking through the grocery aisles, these Gourmet Steamer things caught my eye. I had been meaning to review one of them, and now I had an excuse. See, the food is placed in a colander, and the sauce is in a bowl beneath. By cooking in the microwave, you're supposedly steaming the food inside the package. Does it work? Only one way to find out!

The cooking process is pretty straight forward, which is pretty rare, considering some of the other wacky instructions I've had to deal with in the past. Just put food in microwave, press button, come back in a few minutes. The only bit of specialness I have to deal with is mixing the sauce with the food. Easy as pie...if pie was made with rice, chicken and shellfish, and didn't have a crust.

So, I selected the Cajun Chicken and Shrimp variety.

And now it looks like leftovers from a Saw movie.
And now it looks like leftovers from a Saw movie.
Confession time: I hate shrimp. I hate the way it smells and I hate the rubbery feel when I bite in it. The taste is ok, kind of like crab, but crappier. Haven't been able to be tortured in a while, so I suppose it's about time.

The fat content is pretty low compared to some of the other stuff I've had to deal with. So, how do they get the taste in there? The answer is sodium! S-O-D-I-U-M! A whopping 570 mg, about what you'd expect to find in six pieces of fried chicken. I hope it's not too salty.

Cooking the bowl brought on a second wave of my second sight warning me of doom. The instructions said that the steam inside might make the film covering the top pop. No pop. Then, when opening up the package, I found a distinct lack of steam. One would expect to find steam in a package that uses the word. Now, I'm starting to have serious doubts.

Chicken, or chicken-shaped cardboard nugget?
Chicken, or chicken-shaped cardboard nugget?

Chicken? I'm not convinced. I'm pretty sure it's some kind of soy/cardboard/styrofoam combination. It's not the worst chicken I've ever eaten, but it's pretty darned close. It has a wet smell, which I guess it should if it's been steamed, and I'm not totally sure it was. It's very dry. It crumbles on the fork and sticks to the teeth like it doesn't want to get eaten.

Taste? We don't got no taste. We don't need no taste. This chicken doesn't have to show you no steenkin taste!

Put all together, the chicken has all the appeal of a production of Hamlet starring Andy Dick where he turns into a robot half way through and battles sparkly vampires with Kathy Griffin.

Smell: 4/10
Taste: 4/10
Mouthfeel: 3/10
Total Score: (3.6/10)

You are one ugly motherfucker.
You are one ugly motherfucker.

Ahhh I loathe you. The silverfish of the sea. Disgusting little creatures. It's a good thing there aren't many in here.

Ok, so the shrimp don't smell the best. I think they might not have been fresh when they went into the bowl. Hope they don't make me sick. The taste is slightly shrimpy, not horrible, but it's very muted. There's hardly any flavor there. I think I'm starting to see a pattern here.

As for how it feels, the shrimp is somewhat tough, but not rubbery. That's good. I hate when my bad-smelling and tasteless shrimp is rubbery. 'Cause that would ruin the entire thing.

Smell: 3/10
Taste: 4/10
Mouthfeel: 4/10
Total Score: (3.6/10)


Rice. It's pretty hard to fuck up rice. It's got a neutral smell, which is good. It's got a neutral taste, which I guess is alright. We're not talking about perfumed or seasoned rice. It's just plain, white, Uncle Ben minute kind of rice. Strangely enough, this is about the only thing I've had so far that hasn't been absolutely dried out by the 'steaming'. Strange how that works.

Smell: 6/10
Taste: 5/10
Mouthfeel: 7/10
Total Score: (6.0/10)

What was once rice, vegetables and sauce now resembles week-old roadkill.
What was once rice, vegetables and sauce now resembles week-old roadkill.

There are all kinds of veggies scattered throughout the rice. I see some green and red peppers, onions, and celery in there. The package says that there should also be some tomatoes, but I think that's just in the sauce. Veggies are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Why? Probably because they cost more than chicken wings when you want to get them deep fried and slathered with cheese and bacon.

The vegetables here smell great. They smell like they ought to...fresh and just cooked. The taste however could best be described as neutered. If flavor were a pair of testicles, these vegetables would all be eunuchs, singing in high pitched voices and unable to make babies with the rice.

Oddly enough, while the rice they lie in is quite moist, these vegetables are desiccated. They're drier than a damned desert. Fruit can be dried and still be quite good. Celery though? Well, it won't be replacing raisins any time soon.

Smell: 7/10
Taste: 4/10
Mouthfeel: 2/10
Total Score: (4.3/10)

Damn, that's a lot of sauce.
Damn, that's a lot of sauce.

Finally, we come to the sauce. The instructions say to mix the rest of the food in with the sauce, and for good reason. It's the only thing that has any fucking flavor to it! It's a tomato sauce with some mild seasoning that claims to be cajun, but is closer to the midwestern equivalent to Mexican food. There is no spiciness here, but a little tang.

Now, for a bad version of cajun, this isn't horrible. The flavor just isn't quite what it claims to be. The smell on the other hand, could be described as 'meth lab in the middle of a tomato patch'. It's pretty sharp and quite unpleasant. One plus: the sauce is actually a smooth sauce. The cooking hasn't dried it out or made it into a paste, so it mixes quite well with everything else, which is good, because without it, this food would be like eating a bowl of wet newspapers.

Smell: 3/10
Taste: 6/10
Mouthfeel: 8/10
Total Score: (5.6/10)

The Totals:

Smell: 4.6/10
Taste: 4.6/10
Mouthfeel: 4.8/10
Total Score: (4.7/10)

That's a shit-ton of trash for one meal.
That's a shit-ton of trash for one meal.

Wow, for all the sodium in here, you'd think there was some flavor, but nope. It's neutral all the way. I really hope the rest aren't all like this. I might just have to kill myself to relieve the boredom. This meal truly was a steaming pile.

Bottom line is this: According to Healthy Choice - flavor = fat. If you remove all the flavor from your diet, you should become boring, unhappy and depressive, but at least you'll look good. And can somebody get me some fried chicken or something? I'm starving.

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