Friday, April 26, 2013

Product Review: Smart Ones Cheesy Scramble with Hash Browns

I'm always hesitant to post reviews of processed meals... I know people tend to love 'em or hate 'em and many in the gluten-free, whole foods, paleo-ish communities wouldn't touch them with a 10 foot pole. I get that and I applaud those who are able to make all of their meals from scratch!

But in my life.. time is often short. I'm trying to work on my time management skills so that we can eventually eat most of our meals from scratch. However, I don't have a problem with shortcuts when you can find them and they work for you! 

And (in MY opinion) this "Smart Ones" meal is a good gluten-free option for breakfast at work. It's definitely a better choice than McDonald's. (And trust me, I'm a HUGE fan of McDonald's... when you're gluten-free and you need fast choices and options, I applaud any company who can make them available, healthy or not!)

SO let's look at the pros and cons of this product by Weight Watchers:

  • Make sure you are an expert label reader to figure out if a product is gluten-free, especially if it's not a certified GF product. Also, you need to be comfortable emailing or calling companies to ask for details if you're not sure. Many of the Smart Ones products are absolutely NOT gluten-free, so READ THE LABEL! Then read it again! This product does have a lot of preservatives, so you do have to wade through the list of ingredients. However, this company is helpful by highlighting any ingredient that is part of the top 8 allergens. This product in particular highlights: eggs, milk, and soy. 
  • This product contains a cheese sauce, so it's not dairy-free. (While I generally avoid dairy due to a sensitivity, I can tolerate it in small amounts.) This product also uses soy oil for preparing the potatoes, green and red peppers, and onions. However the product does not contain soy protein or hydrolyzed soy protein. If you avoid all soy, (due to the oil) this still won't be a good choice for you. 
  • The breakfast meal isn't officially on the Heinz gluten-free food list, and this website claims that one of the ingredients: "corn maltodextrin" could be questionable for containing gluten... however, from other sources I've found, corn maltodextrin is a safe ingredient that does NOT contain gluten. So if you are concerned about this ingredient, it may not be a good option for you. 

  • It's a super fast and easy gluten-free breakfast. 
  • It's healthier and faster than "fast food."
  • It has 210 calories, 9 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber, and 15 grams of protein (and will keep you full much longer than having a bowl of gluten-free cereal.) 
  • If you are using weight watchers or another version of calorie counting, this product has already configured the "points" value for you. This can be tricky with other gluten-free meals. 
  • This product does use REAL russet potatoes, real green and red peppers, real onions, and real eggs. While there are many processed ingredients in the list, it also contains ingredients you would use in your own kitchen. As far as "processed" goes, this could be a lot worse! 

SO... there you go! Weigh your options and if it would be a good fit for you check it out! Do you buy other gluten-free frozen meals? What do you use? How do you judge if it's a safe product? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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