Fast Times

Perfect Fit Meals Are Definitely Fit, But Need Perfecting

I am a big fan of grab-and-go meals. I rarely hit the drive-thru and am always on the lookout for prepared meals that only need a quick zap in the microwave. If I'm feeling really fancy, I might do the freezer-to-oven thing, but most of the time I like something that can be ready in minutes, and that I can eat in front of the computer while I work.

After trying Snap Kitchen and My Fit Foods, I noticed a new healthy, grab-and-go option at my local Kroger the other day: Perfect Fit Meals. When it comes to fast food, these "fresh" prepackaged options are among my favorites, so I had to give Perfect Fit a try. I selected the Protein Pancakes for breakfast, the Stacked Enchilada (turkey) for lunch and a four-pack of mini-muffins (lemon/blueberry) as a snack.

Breakfast: Protein Pancakes As this dish heated in the microwave, a big wave of cinnamon-and-spice aroma began wafting through my kitchen. I did not heat the small portion of blueberry syrup that came packaged separately on the side, though I suppose you could. I dug in quickly, and the cinnamon aromas delivered on flavor, imparting a kind of cozy, homemade feeling to the dish. The pancakes are heavy and dense, and there are two of them so you'd better be hungry; I didn't finish mine. The whole-wheat, multigrain pancakes could use more than the small portion of syrup provided -- after a few bites I added a big dollop of vanilla yogurt for more moisture.

The "protein" portion of the dish is a disc of egg white and a disc of turkey sausage, just like you might find on a breakfast sandwich. Theoretically, you could put them between the pancakes and add the syrup over the whole thing, but I ate savory and sweet separately. On the plus side, the sausage is very spicy and flavorful -- not boring at all -- but on the negative, it's also quite dry. Oddly enough, the egg white disc is fluffy and moist, and eaten together the textural experience is quite improved over consuming either individually. At 310 calories (6 g fat, 41 g carbs, 23 g protein, 6 g fiber), this is a really healthy, filling meal that I could see myself purchasing and eating again, if only to try out my sandwich theory.

Snack: Lemon Blueberry Muffins

I like snacks, I like them to be carbs, and I like lemons and blueberries, so I couldn't resist these mini-muffins. The flavor is good, but the texture is extremely dense. There are very, very dry bites, while others are softer and moister -- particularly where there is a big, juicy blueberry present. These muffins do have a good amount of fruit, so they aren't overly dry. I am not much of a cook but I am a pretty good baker, and I know that if Perfect Fit played with the flour proportions, they could achieve a much more pleasant consistency.

Whole-wheat flour is great for upping the health factor in baked goods, but it ruins the texture when you go 100 percent whole wheat. A percentage of all-purpose flour, or maybe something like bread or barley flour, would smooth out the rough edges. The bright lemon flavor comes through, though, so on flavor they deliver. I might buy these again, for a road trip or something, but as I am a pretty good baker, I think I could make these myself and do better. You know what's weird, though? I ate the first two the day I brought them home and the second two the next day, and the muffins I ate on day two were softer and less crumbly. Head-scratcher.

A four-muffin portion is 272 calories, 8 g fat, 48 g carbs, 4 g protein, and 9 g fiber -- I might be able to make better-tasting muffins, but I don't think they would be healthier.

Lunch: Turkey Enchilada Casserole Things fall apart at lunch -- literally and figuratively. In this dish, everything is dry except the soggy tortillas, which are positively moist, and in the "ew, I hate the word moist" kind of way. The sad thing here is that there are actually good flavors present, but the bad texture ruins them.

The dish is nice and spicy, well-seasoned with onion, chili peppers and a slightly smoky flavor that may come from spices or from the peppers, I can't be sure. The whole thing crumbled dryly (except the tortillas, which crumbled wetly -- which is possible?), so the casserole ended up being better eaten with a spoon than a fork. While I'm not going to knock the dried-out, unmeltable cheese -- it's fat-free cheddar, which by definition does not melt -- I will say that it's unnecessary. It doesn't add flavor, and it doesn't add texture, so all it's really adding is that mental "I need cheese" thing.

The calories would be better spent on a spoonful of low-fat sour cream, in my opinion. The best part about this dish was the fresh corn kernels sprinkled throughout, which added little pops of sweetness in an otherwise forgettable meal. I would not buy this entrée again, but I am willing to try another savory lunch option to see what else they've got.

The Turkey Enchilada Casserole has 290 calories, 8 g fat, 31 g carbs, 26 g protein, and 6 g fiber.

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Christina Uticone