Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Review: Lean Cuisine Simple Favorites Sante Fe-Style Rice & Beans

I know it seems like all I review on that blog are bars, yogurt and ice cream, with the occasional veggie dish thrown in, but I'm trying to branch out more and do more reviews of "typical" food products that are angled more toward the calorie watching crowd.  I've done some Weight Watchers product reviews, but this is my first Lean Cuisine review and I'm focusing on on of their Simple Favorites collection of products in this Santa Fe-Style Rice & Beans.  I have no idea what "Santa Fe-Style" means specifically, but I'm guessing it means that this is a Mexican dish.  Regardless, I picked this meal up at Meijer on sale for $2.00 and in the 10 3/8 ounce entree, there are 290 calories.  Since these products are for the calorie counters, it scores a seven on the Weight Watchers Plus points scale.  There's no preservatives in here too and since this is a frozen meal, I'm not sure how that is possible, but whatever.

The packaging says that you can prepare this in a conventional oven or the microwave, but seriously, who wants to wait forty five minutes for a conventional oven to cook one of these things?  So, I obviously chose the six minutes in the microwave preparation method and the picture above is what I got.  Included in this mash of ingredients was rice, black beans, pinto beans, corn, chili peppers, onions, tomatillos, green chilies, jalapeno puree (part of the sauce), cilantro, cheddar cheese and sour cream, among other things.  Based on this, I'd guess Santa Fe-Style means that there's a ton of stuff thrown together and that's it.  Actually, now that I think about it, Santa Fe-Style means that there are green chilis in the dish since New Mexico is famous for its green chilis.  See, I just wrote myself through that one...the education of the Crazy Food Dude continues!

As I worked my way through this, all I could think of was a Taco Bell burrito because this mix tasted incredibly similar to something that Taco Bell would just glop into a tortilla shell, charge you 89 cents and then call it a day.  I'm not saying that's a bad thing because Taco Bell does have a few good menu items, but that's the thought that I had while I was eating.  The mix was a bit spicy, but not overpowering.  It actually had a strong chili powder type tang (and smell) to it.  The sour cream itself was not overly powerful either, which I appreciated since I'm not a fan of sour cream itself.  Actually, I would say that the sour cream was mild and I actually enjoyed that mixed with the cheddar cheese in the mix.  All in all, the best way to describe this is that it is a semi-Mexican dish piled into one big cheesy-type mess that has a little bit of spice.  Not the greatest thing ever, but also not bad.

Buy It or Fly By It?  Despite this not being the greatest thing ever, I'm going to give it a BUY IT rating because it's also not bad.  For a frozen and low calorie Mexican meal, you could do a lot worse and in a way, this is actually kind of tasty.  I think it was the cheesiness of the sour cream that did it for me, because if that had not been there, I think this just might have been bland and tasteless.  In terms of size, this makes for a decent, light meal but don't go counting on this to be your main meal for the day.  It'll get you to your next meal, but it's not going to fill you up.



  1. For a Lean Cuisine meal, this looks and sounds surprisingly decent.

    The nutritional stats aren't bad at all, especially for an entree that appears to be pretty heavy on the cheese.

  2. My wife buys an assortment of the Lean Cuisine meals from a local discount grocer. This meal being one of them. I have to say it is my favorite and I tell her to always be sure to buy this one.


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