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Marks and Spencer''s ''Count On Us'' ready meals offer lower calorie choices than their standard and luxury ranges. This chicken and asparagus risotto comes in at a very reasonable 365 calories and for that you get a great taste and a meal that will actually satisfy and not leave you ravenous and ready to eat the walls again about 10 minutes after finishing it as with some lower quality ''diet'' ready meals.
The Risotto contains strips of moist, juicy chicken, with peas and asparagus all in a rich and creamy risotto that''s full of flavour. If you were judging by taste alone you''d never suspect that this was supposed to be part of the ''healthy'' low cal range, it can definitely pass for a more indulgent option.
The chicken tastes like its pretty good quality, its not dry or stringy like the chicken in lots of ready meals, its really succulent and tender, and soaks up the juices from the risotto brilliantly. The green veg is flavoursome too, not boiled to oblivion, or floppy and lifeless, it tastes almost as good as if you''d cooked it from fresh. The rice is pretty much as you''d expect to be honest, decent enough risotto rice that holds in the juices that give the whole thing its flavour.
This risotto can be cooked in the oven, and it will taste better if you do, but its also absolutely fine in the microwave and doesn''t go chewy or tough or crispy. Its great for taking to work for lunch if you have a fridge and microwave available on your lunch break. The portion size is generous, and it smells lovely as it comes out of the microwave.
The only downside is that, like a lot of M&S food, its a bit on the pricey side. Keep an eye out for special offers though as the Count On Us range is often included in multi buys and that''s a good opportunity to stock your freezer with tasty, healthier ready meals for those days when convenience is more important than cooking from scratch.
I try to eat as healthily as possible and my evening meal is generally something low fat (well, about 80% of the time anyway). Usually I make something from scratch but tonight I was out shopping and was feeling too lazy to make anything, so I popped into M&S to get a ready meal.
I love M&S food and was so tempted by some of the more unhealthier meals, but I had my sensible head on and so plumped for a Count On Us meal. I am also trying not to eat wheat at the moment, and was pleased to see that this meal was wheat-free.
M&S say that their Count On Us range has been 'specially developed to be low in fat (less than 3%) and calorie controlled' - and this meal has 325 calories and 2.7g of saturated fat.
The packaging is the usual plastic tray containing the food, with a cardboard sleeve. The cardboard sleeve is white, with the M&S and Count On Us logo on it and a photo of the food on a white plate.
I heated this up in the microwave for 3.5 minutes and then put it onto a plate. The photo on the packaging is representative of what the meal looks like when you 'cook' it - pale creamy risotto rice mixed with the green of the asparagus tips, and the white of the chargrilled chicken. The sauce is pale and flecked with green, as it contains asparagus puree, spinach and grana padano cheese. It's nothing very exciting to look at.
Taste-wise, it is a lot better. The asparagus is slightly crunchy, and it tastes fresh and of a high quality. The rice is soft and creamy, and the chicken is good quality breast meat - no nasty brown bits which I hate. Some might find it fairly bland, but I love vegetables so I didn't mind too much.
When I first poured the meal out onto the plate I did think that it didn't look very much, but I found it very filling and was more than satisfied with the portion. 3 hours later, I do feel a little bit hungry but that's maybe just me being a bit greedy ;)
I would buy this again, but if something with a bit more spice or flavour was also available, I would go for that first. Personally I liked this meal, but some might find it bland or not filling enough.
This costs £3.50 for a 385g pack.