“ Brand: Tesco / Type: Beef „
I am a cook by heart and so prefer to concoct my own meals and to be honest a firm believer that the only truely healthy food that you can eat is that you actually make yourself so not only can you guarantee exactly what ingredients are used but also the quality of the produce you decide on. I often fill my freezer up with these pre prepared meals for emergencies and this particular one cost me 50pence from the reduced shelf (current price £1.00) in Tesco.
Well on a plus side it is a filling meal. There is plenty of pasta all quite soft when cooked without being mushy. The beef is ground and mixed into the pasta and is very few and far between. The beef has been ground so finely and mixed into the tomato sauce that you can not really tell it was there at all. On the rare ocassion i happened upon a piece of beef it was chewy, like a small ground piece of fat (very off putting) Personally I did not think it had much flavour either. A tomato flavour was there but not a strong rich flavour, more a hint in the back ground and as for spice, well perhaps I was unlucky but there wasnt any (unless of course my tastebuds had ceased to function). What I was expecting was a fairly rich tomato sauce with a good dose of chilli spice which there plainly wasn't. I appreciate that to keep a general appeal they have to tone the heat down but there was not even a hint of chilli which lets the dish down.
As a quick one off meal it is ok. It certainly fills you up, mainly due to all the pasta and the carbs it keeps you going without feeling peckish but personally I think it could be better. A bit more flavour and some better meat would improve this meal dramatically. Add some seasoning and a touch of chilli and top with some parmesan flakes and it turns this meal into something much better!
Cooked Pasta (46%), Tomato, Tomato Purée, Onion, Water, Mince British or Irish Beef (5%), Carrot, Red Pepper, Cornflour, Garlic Purée, Demerara Sugar, Red Chilli, Beef Stock, Vegetable Oil, Salt, Cumin, Smoked Paprika, Black Pepper, Cooked Pasta contains, Water, Durum Wheat Semolina, Beef Stock contains, Beef stock, Salt
Nutrition (per 100grams):
Calories 115, protein 4.8g, carbohydrates 20.6g, sugar 1.9g, fat 1.4g, saturates 1.3g, monosaturates 0.3g, polyunsaturates 0.7g, fibre 2.2g, sodium 0.1g, salt 0.3g
Oven (20-25 minutes) and microwave (4-5 minutes)
add 15 minutes extra for oven from frozen or 5 minutes from frozen in microwave
A Healthy option?:
My definition of a healthy meal is one that provides the body with a healthy balance of nutrients which I really don't think this does. In comparison to other pre prepared meals this does not offer (for me anyway) a great enough reduction in the elements that are not good for you to warrant terming it a "healthy option" and there are certainly no additional benefits to eating it that I can tell. I think healthy options is a slightly miss leading heading and would be better called lower calorie which is predominently what they seem to be.
Watching your weight and eating healthily in our everyday lives is difficult, and yet the majority of us do it. Trying to find foods that we enjoy and that are on the healthier side can be a total chore, but thanks to Tesco I an now pop down to the chillers and pick up a last minute microwave meal that I know will be filling, tasty and not put inches on my already pretty extensive waist! Okay, so ready meals aren't exactly the greatest of foods in the world, but sometimes it can't be helped - luckily there are a selection of these blasted microwave dinners that are a little better for you than the rest for the times when you forget to bring your own lunch to work, or simply don't have time to cook for yourself!
This 'Light Choices Spicy Beef Pasta' meal is only available to purchase in Tesco supermarkets as it is part of their own 'Light Choices' line. 'Light Choices' is a range of low calorie and low fat foods produced by Tesco for their customers that are looking to eat healthily, reduce their intake of fats and calories, or simply looking to switch some of their fatty, calorie laden foods for healthier options. One of the handy features of 'Light Choices' products is that they come ready stamped with a 'Weight Watchers' points value - making it much easier for us Weight Watchers to make 'at a glance' decisions on foods without the hassle of working out the points.
You will find the 'Light Choices Spicy Beef Pasta' in the chiller section of the supermarket in the aisle which houses the ready meals. Tesco do produce and sell a lot of different chilled ready meals, but this product is easy to find as all the ready meals in the 'Light Choices' chilled range are kept together on the shelves. They're usually sitting right next to the Weight Watchers range of chilled ready meals, but are carrying a smaller price tag!
You can pick up this 'Light Choices Spicy Beef Pasta' for a pretty acceptable £1. When it comes to 'microwave meals', I'm not one to like to pay a ridiculous amount for them as the portion size is generally pretty measly and the actual meal is never all that great. However, I do find the £1 price tag to be pretty decent for the size of the portion in this meal as it is rather substantial and pretty tasty to boot!
All Tesco Light Choices products have a similar packaging to enable customers to spot them on the shelves as part of a range. This 'Light Choices Spicy Beef Pasta' is no exception. The meal itself is housed inside a black plastic tray which is sealed with a thin transparent film lid. The container is covered by a slip-on cardboard sleeve. The front of this sleeve carries the large Tesco Light Choices logo, beneath which is placed the name of the product. There is a few healthy facts about the product beside a large 'serving suggestion' photograph of the pasta, below which you will find the nutritional information at a glance, the cooking time and the symbol for suitable for freezing. The back of the packet carries much more information, again stating the name of the product and giving a brief description of what's inside. The full ingredients list and nutritional information is also listed on the back of the packet along with the cooking times and information and the storage instructions.
Cooking the 'Light Choices Spicy Beef Pasta' really couldn't be easier. The meal can either be baked in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 190C/375F/Gas 5, or if like me you can't wait around for convenience meals to cook in the oven, you can pop the meal in the microwave for around 5 minutes from chilled.
To look at, before being cooked, the 'Light Choices Spicy Beef Pasta' looks pretty boring. Creamy, yellow pasta spirals covered in a somewhat mediocre looking sauce. That said, the sauce itself looked pretty substantial in texture, as usually microwave meal sauces tend to be watery, partially seperated and thin. After cooking in the microwave for the allocated time, and having been given a stir, the 'Light Choices Spicy Beef Pasta' meal looked that bit more appetising! The sauce had become thicker and richer during cooking, and the pasta spirals looked fresh and soft - not hard and crunchy like they tend to be after being nuked in the microwave. There were some small chunks of vegetables visable in the sauce - carrot, onion and flecks of peppers - which is always encouraging as usually microwave meals lack any sort of substance!
Whilst cooking, the smell of the meal filled the kitchen and to be honest it was rather delicious. It reminded me somewhat of a cottage pie cooking in the oven. Yum! After cooking and peeling back the film lid, the smell of the meal was pretty delicious, meaty and vegetable-y and inviting. Again, I'd liken the smell to the meaty/veggy innards of a cottage pie - rich and comforting! Definitely not bland or watered down.
I was a little dubious as to how flavoursome this 'Light Choices Spicy Beef Pasta' was going to be - as microwave meals are renound for lacking in flavour and being rather watery. During cooking, the meaty sauce appeared to have thickened up a little more, and the appealing aroma did encourage me to tuck straight in. The pasta spirals had managed to stay soft and springy, unlike a lot of other pasta microwave meals which always tend to shrivel up and go hard during cooking. There was no flavour to the pasta spirals alone, but this is the norm for pasta. The meaty sauce generously covered the pasta, and did have a lovely rich flavour. The best way to describe the sauce is somewhere between bolognese and cottage pie - a lovely, deep meaty flavour with the odd spark of vegetables shining through. I polished off the lot, and had no problems with the meal lacking in flavour at all - a first for microwave meals!
As for the spice, I wouldn't really say this meal was 'spicy' at all. Okay, maybe there is a small hint of a little heat, but only the tiniest, withering, almost died out ember of spice! This could just be me, as over the last few years I have hammered my spice detecting taste buds with a concoction of different chillis and a whole truckload of jalapenos on a weekly basis! If in general you can't handle 'spice', I think you'll be safe with this one, as the spiciness really isn't all that!
Overall, I'd say this 'Light Choices Spicy Beef Pasta' is pretty decent, for a microwave meal! After all, we can't really come to expect anything gourmet from a meal cooked in a plastic tray in a microwave - can we? Compared to most other microwave meals I have tried, this one is pretty decent. The pasta stayed soft and edible, the meaty sauce was flavourful and the portion size was enough to fill me up. The only downfall I could see with this is that the name is somewhat deceiving when it comes to the 'spicy' description. As I stated earlier, this could simply just be my worn out tastebuds that have become immune to spice, but for me, the heat was simply lacking. I'd have no problem buying this 'Light Choices Spicy Beef Pasta' microwave meal again, especially as it only cost £1 and did keep me pretty full for quite some time. Much better value than splashing out on a similar Weight Watchers meal and getting less for my money. It's a good option if you have no time to prepare anything 'proper', or you simply need a hot dinner on the go.
Cooked Pasta (46%), Tomato, Carrot, Tomato Puree, Water, Minced British or Irish Beef (5%), Mushroom, Onion, Red Pepper, Cornflour, Wheat Flour, Garlic Puree, Beef Stock, Vegetable Oil, Red Chilli, Salt, Black Pepper.
Cooked Pasta contains: Water, Durum Wheat Semolina.
Beef Stock contains: Beef Stock, Salt.
Nutritional information per serving :
Energy: 2035kJ (480kcal)
mono unsaturates: 2.5g
*Salt Equivalent: 1.8g
Allergy advice: Wheat & Gluten. May contain traces of nuts.
Weight Watchers Points: 7.5
** Can also be found on Ciao under the username little_feets88 **
Although I love to eat sandwiches and toast and the occasional bowl of soup sometimes my body craves a hot meal. My Mum does most of the cooking in our house and er, well it's not great to be honest so I try to skip it which means from time to time I do need to prepare myself something and not being much of a cook (I inherited that from my Mum lol) I do buy a ready meal of some type to shove in the microwave!
Although I have a rather unhealthy diet I work myself out to an inch of my life daily so I can afford to and luckily I'm a healthy size 8. However I am aware that I could be fitter and work less hard at the gym if I stopped my love of all things junk! Which is why I purchased this on a recent shopping trip to Tesco!
The meal itself comes in a black squarish container with a clear film on it. Over that there is a white sleeve and on that there is a picture of the meal and I'm told it is Tesco 'Light Choices Spicy Beef Pasta 'Spiralli pasta with a spicy beef sauce' and that it contains less than 50% fat than Tesco Spaghetti Bolognaise, is low in sugars and saturates, and contains no added artificial preservatives, flavours, colours or hydrogenated fats. I am also told that this is recommended by Rosemary Conley, the price is clearly on there (£1.00), I'm told to keep it refrigerated and the best before date is shown and finally there is an at a glance nutritional chart on there. On the back of the sleeve there is a full nutritional chart shown, ingredients, allergy advice and cooking instructions are all given, storage details and the size is shown (350g), contact details for Tesco are given and finally I'm told this is a 7 1/2 point value meal if following Weightwatchers. Nice enough informative packaging this is and I know how useful it is to be shown the points value for Weightwatchers if following the plan cos I did do it!
Me And The Pasta:
Well to cook this you have two options. You can either pop it in the the oven from chilled for 20-25 minutes or from frozen for 35-40 minutes or do as I did and cook it in the microwave from chilled in about 5 minutes or 8 minutes from frozen.
Like I always say though if you have a microwave why wait so I slammed it in there simply forking the film. Before it was cooked I could see plenty of spiral shaped pasta and a hefty amount of sauce. By the time it cooked though it did look a bit more appealing!
The orangy coloured sauce had thickened up slightly and it all had a slightly beefy, vegetably, spicy aroma to it. I could see tiny lumps of beef clinging on to small pieces of pasta and could also see slithers of onion, red pepper chunks and small flakes or carrot.
However although it looked and smelt nice enough this wasn't all that interesting. The pasta was stodgy and a bit tough, The beef was chewy, well what there was or if. the vegetables in this made it taste like shepherds pie mixed with pasta and as for the spices, well I failed to detect those really. All that is meant to give the spice in this is red chilli and garlic but I really couldn't taste them at all and to me this simply wasn't spicy!
Filling it isn't really and it tastes ok but really it is a bit bland and rather dull! I don't like tough pasta! Low fat meal this may be but low in taste too!
Nutritional information Per Pack:
Contains: Wheat, Gluten
Recipe: No nuts
Ingredients: Cannot guarantee nut free
Factory: No nuts
Only available in Tesco stores and there are other meals available in this range at varying prices.