Product Type: John West Ready Meals
Newest Review: ... is the French style. Tuna, pasta, potato, sweetcorn, red pepper and french dressing all for less than 90 calories and under 2g of sa... more
The Catch of the Day.
John West Tuna Light Lunch
Member Name: QueenElf
John West Tuna Light Lunch
Advantages: Tasty, quick and easy.
****The Catch of the Day****
I think if you asked a cross-section of people which company you thought of with regards to tinned fish, the answer would probably be John West. The company has certainly had a colourful history since the man, John West, first started the original cannery business, though he actually set it up in Oregon, USA in 1868. A native of Scotland, he thought of the advantages of canned fish to the people of the UK who couldn't afford the fresh fish itself.
But it was up to two Liverpool merchants, Pelling and Stanley to put together the companies that eventually became known by Lever Bros (later to become Unilever). As many companies do, it kept the original founder's name, but was acquired by Heinz in 1997 and now comes under the banner of M.W.Brands.
What I like about the company is their dedication to serving the customer with the best quality foods, whilst also being dedicated to sustainability of the ocean's fish stocks. This is good news to those of us that are concerned about the environment and the pursuit of keeping over-fishing down. Their methods of fishing is also dolphin friendly, another reason to trust this brand.
****Fish for Health****
In today's busy society we often eat the wrong types of food and this results in poor health and a worrying rise in obesity. Fish is a natural source of Omega 3 oils which help to reduce high cholesterol levels in the blood. There are other added benefits, such as healthy eyes, general improvement of circulation to the heart resulting in better skin, glossier hair and all-round health. But not all people like the taste of the oilier fishes, such as Mackerel, herring and pilchards. Salmon is a good source, as is Tuna, but it can be hard to encourage people to eat fish on its own. That's why John West have brought out several ranges of different ready meals that can tempt even the most obstinate of people to try some of their foods.
Tuna lends itself to many recipes, which can be found on the John West site, but today I want to write about one of my favourite ready meals.
****Tuna Light Lunches****
This is a range of ready-prepared meals with Tuna as it's main ingredient, but nutritionally balanced and tasty as well. There isn't any point in trying to eat healthy if the product doesn't tingle your taste buds, is there? Currently there are four varieties in the range, but I am reviewing my own personal favourite; the French Style.
The product comes in a handy octagonal-shaped cardboard and foil container and is small enough to fit in an average lunch-box or to pop into a medium sized handbag. It's quite robust, as proven by a colleague of mine who kept his in a briefcase and once sat on it.
There's an attractive picture of the contents on the front of the container, with the famous John West fish logo and the words, "low fat, less than 250 calories and no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives." That puts my mind at rest. On the reverse is all the information you need on: ingredients, Nutrition information, best before date and where to write to in the unlikely event of finding something wrong with the product. There is even a handy plastic fork with this, though I do find it is not that easy to put together.
****Ingredients and the taste Test****
This is described as Tuna, sweetcorn & red pepper pasta with French salad dressing. But there is slightly more to it than this. Tuna is the prime ingredient at 31%.Then comes potatoes (diced) at 17%, onions, red peppers 8%, pasta shells at 8% followed by the contents of the salad dressing. I won't list it all, but it does contain wheat egg and mustard in case you are allergic to these ingredients.
The tuna is actually much more tasty than the thin pieces normally found in the tins alone. They are more thick slices than chunks and look pink and appetising. The potatoes are diced and reasonably firm, the pasta al dente and the sweetcorn crunchy. You can't actually see any onion and the red pepper is thinly chopped, but the overall appearance is excellent. I like the colour balance, though that might sound peculiar, it does have a lot to do with how likely people are to be drawn to a product.
I find the taste is much better than some of the heavier versions of the Light Lunches. By this I mean those with thicker sauces. How do I describe the French dressing? Piquant comes to mind. I would also say that its slightly sweet, rather than spicy. That makes the whole meal as it doesn't distract from the other flavours. If you haven't eaten a Tuna steak before, then this will give you a taster. It's moist but not bitter or oily, the texture is firm and extremely tasty.
Potatoes taste much the same in any dish, though the bland taste is offset by the slight "bite" of the whole grain mustard. The small pasta shells are pleasant and can be eaten by children. The Sweetcorn is firm and colourful, while the small pieces of red pepper add an interesting all over look and delicate taste. In short the whole meal is both tasty and filling.
I don't like just reeling off a list of energy values etc, but I can see how this can make a difference to people on a diet, or parents wondering if this is meal enough for a young child.
One complete serving is only 221 calories, so great for people on diets. It's also balanced enough for a child, blending protein with carbohydrates and a small amount of the good fats
(6.2 of which 0.6 is saturated). There is 18.9 g of protein, 2.3 fibre and just 0.5 sodium and that's all natural. (no added salt).
My grandson is also fond of this, handy for him as both his parents are strict vegetarians who are allowing him to make his own choices. Like me, he usually eats this with a spoon, rather than a fork. Who cares when you are enjoying what you eat?
Definitely a five for both taste and appearance. I used these meals once when dieting to replace a midday meal. Along with a calorie controlled diet and gentle exercise I lost two stones in two months. I never felt hungry either. I do need to eat a lot of fish and I am lucky that I enjoy fish, but it's so hard to get fish without bread or batter nowadays. My cholesterol is high so I take fish oil supplements, though I'd rather eat these meals. I never tire of the taste either, but they are very expensive. The normal price is £1.78 per meal, but Tesco has an offer on these at the moment so I bought 8 for just 86p each. They also have a very long sell-by date. Not that they last more than a few weeks with me.
I hope I have convinced you that these can be much more tasty and filling than a can of tuna in brine or vegetable oil. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, but I know that it does put some people off Tuna completely. These ready meals are so convenient as well, that if you can afford them they are ideal for summer outings. They don't need to be kept in the fridge and are sealed against any bacteria.
They can also be recycled, which counts a lot with me. Of course you can always wash the foil container out and use it for holding various objects. Odd buttons, cotton reels, children's toy characters, bits of play dough.
Now I'm feeling hungry so I'm off to find another low-calorie treat before dinner. Well I did have to eat my Light Lunch a while back to remind myself how good they are.
© Lisa Fuller February 2008.
Summary: Tuna with attitude.