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This is a salad style lunch that is light on salad ingredients and instead uses bulgar wheat to make the bulk of the meal up. It has chunks of salmon mixed in with the grains, there's quite a lot of salmon but not as much as you'd have for a main meal. I like that the salmon is in small chunks because that makes the meal easy to eat, I like to have at least a little piece of fish in most mouthfuls because it makes my lunch feel more substantial.
The seasoning is nice, it's rich and warm but not too spicy. There's a taste of curry powder in it but it's not overpowering at all and because the wheat has soaked up the flavour every bite has the same rich and luxurious taste. It is luxurious too, I'm not being over dramatic. The wheat is soft and creamy and that goes well with the flakey salmon pieces, the Light Lunch has small pieces of vegetable in it and also chick peas but they're more of a texture than a taste because they don't taste of anything and definitely nothing like fresh veg!
The meal looks quite small but it's very filling, I keep one or two in my desk drawer because they don't have to be stored in the fridge so I know I've always got something healthy to eat if I'm hungrier than usual during the day. It's healthier than reaching for a packet of crisps or a chocolate biscuit and gives me the energy to carry on with my working day. The fork is a bit flimsy so I only use that if I'm going to be eating on the move, I have cutlery at work so use a proper metal fork if I can to make more of a meal of it.
I think this Light Lunch is more filling than others that are in the range and if I eat lunch at midday I don't need to eat again until I've finished work. If I'm being very active that day then I might need a snack later on in the afternoon but a piece of fruit is enough at those times.
The flavours are good and robust so this feels interesting, it's made to be eaten as a cold meal so is a type of salad (only without leaves or boring bits!!) so I'm surprised at how full the flavours are and also how filling it is. My friend eats these and tips the meal onto a plate to microwave it for a minute, I haven't tried this but she does it every time she eats it so it must be good and it always smells delicious when she's eating as the aromas build up better when the meal is hot.
I'm really fond of fish and try to eat it as often as possible. However, there's a limit to how much you can eat a week and not get bored. Also I find some fish in batter impossible to eat because of my milk allergy. This is where John West comes to my rescue with its large range of fish and fish treats. A treat is anything that normally is out of my budget range and this includes the Light Lunch range of snacks. I really love all of these and would eat one every day if I could afford it but they are normally £1.98 each. However, they are on offer at the moment in two stores, with Tesco offering two for £3.50 and the Co-operative at two for £3.00 Naturally enough I snapped up six which won't last me that long but with a long shelf life this doesn't matter.
What is the Product?
If you haven't eaten a light lunch before you might still have seen them among the tinned fish aisle along with other John West products. They are octagonal in shape and about the size of a saucer. The John West logo is prominent on the front and the latest design has gone over to the familiar green and blue of all the John West range. These are foil trays that contain a mixture of different foods with the main item being fish. There are several different types including tuna, but today I'm looking at the Salmon and this is available in the Moroccan style.
I've tried most of their light lunches before, but somehow never managed to find the salmon one on offer. I'm presuming this is because salmon is so expensive nowadays. Most of the light lunches have about 30 to 40% fish, but this one has only 18% but that is one of the main ingredients, the rest being the following;
Pink salmon 18%, cooked bugler wheat 18% potato 11% water chick pea 8% green pepper 7% carrot 7% onion red pepper 5%. This is all in a dressing that's called Harrisa and is mainly sunflower oil, dried apricot, water, leek, celery, chicory, honey, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon zest and chili powder. I've given the list as you can see what a full flavour recipe this is. For people with allergies this contains fish (obviously), wheat, sulfites, and celery and may contain soya, egg, sesame and mustard.
The look and taste test.
First of all the actual food looks richer than the picture on the front. For some reason the new label makes the pink of the salmon look a bit anemic, but this isn't the case. You can also see the bulgar wheat, chick peas, potato and the red and green peppers are quite prominent. On opening this is still the same, though the salmon tends to be flaky and not as compacted as the tuna range. The dressing is unusual and tastes lovely and the small is lemony rather than an anything else. The salmon is boneless which I much prefer and the bulgar wheat is cooked to perfection. For those who struggle like me with cooking bulgar wheat this is a treat in itself. I really love both the mild taste and the texture of this. The chick peas are crunchy, the dressing is mild but full of flavour and the salmon just melts on your tongue. I had expected it to be a bit spicy though I didn't find this on tasting. I wish I could find a word to describe the taste, it's really lovely.
Calories and other stuff.
All the light lunch range is designed to be just that-light in calories but big on taste. The total calories are always just less than 250 across the range and this is 245 for the full 240g snack. The fat is important to me as I watch my cholesterol level so this is not only good fat but also low at 5.3g of which only 0.7 is saturated. This is packed with protein as well, but I have to advise it has 1.0g of sodium, which is really a bit too much. I think it worth mentioning because some people need to know this but it doesn't detract from the healthy aspect as a whole.
It might be low in calories, but the whole thing is quite filling and because there is no sweetener it doesn't leave a nasty taste in your mouth. This can happen with some calories controlled food. But a good balance of protein, essential fat and carbohydrates that keeps you feeling full for longer controls this. The lemon zest gives a nice tang and the dressing is not obvious, though I wish I could replicate it myself.
This is excellent for any dietary needs except for maybe diabetics. There are no artificial colours or flavours and can either be stored at room temperature or placed in the fridge. As with all food, when opened it should be consumed within twenty-four hours. A long shelf life makes this ideal for storing. This is also great for popping in a lunch bag, taking on picnics as it has it's own plastic fork, or taking on a bus or train journey as it doesn't make any mess (unless you are a very sloppy eater).
So whether you are on a diet or just looking for a healthy snack, this really does fit the bill.
Five out of five from me.
Thanks for reading.
©Lisa Fuller 2011.