Fast Times

Fast Times Freezer Back-Up Plan: Kashi Steam Meals a Solid Solution

At my house we have this saying: Man plans, dog laughs. My 12-year-old, high-maintenance, Very Expensive Yellow Lab runs our lives -- and that's fine, most of the time. Sure, it's cost us a fortune in special diets, vet fees, surgeries and airfare change fees, but what the hell -- she sure is cute and snuggly!

So when I came home last week with a Homestyle Asiago Ranch Chicken Club sandwich from Wendy's, I really should have known better than to leave it on a stool while I changed my clothes and put away the groceries. Because even after two ACL repair surgeries, and with a herniated disc in her neck pinching a nerve, Sandy managed to reach the bag, tear it apart and eat every single thing inside, including chewing open and cleaning out the condiment packages.

In lieu of a (human) review of the Asiago sandwich -- in case you were wondering, canines seem to love it -- I dug through my cupboards and freezer to see what other fast options I had on hand to review. In the freezer I happened upon a Kashi Roasted Garlic Chicken Farfalle "Steam Meal."

The description: "Natural White Chicken, Asparagus, & Spinach over Kashi 7 Whole Grain Farfalle Pasta with a Roasted Garlic, Tomato, Red Wine, and Basil Sauce."

Frankly, my taste buds were all set for the Asiago sandwich, so I wasn't all that excited. That said, the smells emanating from the microwave were somewhat promising -- I could actually identify "tomato" and "asparagus," specifically. I zapped the bag for the prescribed four and a half minutes, let it sit for one and tore it open to see what would happen.

For about five bucks and fewer than 300 calories (280, to be exact), you could do a lot worse, especially in the pasta department. Usually microwave pastas are positively disgusting, but Kashi does a good job of keeping its version from straying into the "mush" category. We aren't talking al dente here, but the pasta is far from gummy. There is a good bite from the garlic, the asparagus has a nice, fresh snap, and the tomato/wine sauce is quite rich and delicious -- I sopped up the leftover with a piece of bread. The least delicious aspect of this is the chicken, which is rather dry and had a bit of that "from the freezer" aftertaste, which had me wondering how it compared to the Asiago chicken breast my dog stole out from under me.

What I love most about this Kashi Steam Meal is that it is perfectly portioned for one and easy enough to jazz up with a little bit of parmesan cheese, or even leftover veggies from last night's dinner. I'm happy enough that I added this to my grocery list for next week -- I think I might fare better with the vegetarian Spinach & Artichoke pasta meal -- but I still yearn for my Wendy's Asiago Chicken Sandwich. Until next week...

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Christina Uticone