Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Kirsty’s New Ready Meals Review

Back in 2010, single mum Kirsty, impressed two Dragon's Den members, Duncan Bannatyne and Peter Jones with her range of frozen desserts. With a son who suffered from intolerances and allergies, Kirsty developed desserts suitable for those who can't tolerate wheat, gluten or dairy.

With the dragons' backing, she went on to develop a range of award winning ready meals which are nutritionally balanced, include at least one of the ‘five a day’ and have healthy levels of sugar, fat, saturated fat and salt. Kirsty’s aim is to produce high quality, delicious, nutritious and allergen free alternatives to a range of food products. All meals are under 400 calories.

Recently I was sent two new Kirsty's meals to try out. They were Beef Lasagne and Thai Chilli Chicken with Rice Noodles.

Although I try to cook most meals from scratch, I like to know I've got the odd ready meal in the freezer for those days when I’'m just not inspired to cook anything. I know ready meals receive a lot of bad press due to high fat, sugar and salt content. But some people have to rely on them from time to time, so it's good to know that there are healthier choices out there.

In my case, my kids are always pretty happy when I say it’s a ‘ready meal night’. Doesn’t say much for my cooking I guess!

The first meal I cooked was the Beef Lasagne. I'm not a fan of pasta, but my family love the stuff. Although you can freeze these meals, they need to be defrosted before cooking. For this meal you need to peel off the clear film lid and put the whole plastic tray into the oven for 20-25 minutes. It can also be cooked in the microwave if you're in a hurry.

Kirsty's Beef lasagne with bolognese sauce
Kirsty's Beef lasagne with bolognese sauce
Once the time was up, the edges were bubbling nicely, but the middle of the topping remained quite anaemic looking. It could have been grilled to look nicer, however, that's not possible while still in its plastic tray.

I served the lasagne up with decent portions of vegetables and split it between three people. It's only meant to serve one person, but I always split ready meals for one between two. In this case, I was also cooking another Lasagne for comparison.

I had a taste of the Bechamel sauce and the meat content. The sauce is made with soya milk rather than dairy milk. The meat and tomato sauce filling was rich and tasty with pieces of red pepper, mushrooms, carrots and tomatoes. The Bechamel sauce was mild tasting and quite thinly covered over the top of the pasta, but it was just the right amount. Everyone else was very happy with it and there were no complaints.

A week later I served up the Thai Chilli Chicken with Rice Noodles. Its description is: ‘Marinated chicken, soya beans, shredded carrots, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts and red peppers in a hot & spicy sauce with rice noodles.’
Kirsty's Thai Chilli Chicken and Noodles
Kirsty's Thai Chilli Chicken with Rice Noodles
This meal can be cooked in the oven or microwave, though in this case, the instructions recommend microwaving for best results. This I duly did.

After piercing the clear plastic film a few times and leaving it to do its stuff in the microwave, we soon detected a lovely, aromatic smell in the air. Giving it a bit of a stir, I served it up between four of us alongside lots of steamed veggies. Although the pack says it serves one, there is plenty for two per pack if you add more vegetables.

Peeling off the film and taking a look, there are plenty of edamame beans, which I love, as well as a few red peppers and chunks of chicken. Trying to camouflage themselves amongst the red peppers, were a few sliced red chilli peppers. This gave me my first inkling that the dish may be quite spicily hot.
Kirstys Thai chilli Chicken and noodles
Kirsty's Thai Chilli Chicken and Noodles
I adore Thai food, but tend to steer clear of the hot green and red curries. Or when I make them myself, I use just the amount of spices to keep the heat down. Unfortunately, this one just didn't quite hit the spot for me. For one, it was too spicy. Even avoiding the chillis, the only real flavour I could taste was chilli. I couldn't detect any undercurrents of lime or lemongrass which I so love about Thai food. I also found the whole meal a bit watery.

One of my daughters also found it too spicy but liked the chicken. My husband, on the other hand, thought it was very tasty and found the heat about right. He'd be more than happy to have it again.

At the time of writing, Kirsty’s range consists of seven ready meals that can be found in the chiller aisles at Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Ocado, Budgens and Asda. The range includes; Spanish Chicken with Brown Rice, Cottage Pie with Sweet Potato Mash, Moroccan Vegetables with Quinoa, Sausage with Sweet Potato Mash, Chicken Tikka Masala with Brown Basmati Rice, Thai Chilli Chicken with Rice Noodles and Beef Lasagne with a Rich Bolognese Sauce.

If you’re a follower of the 5:2 diet, the meals have been recognised by the 5:2 diet as the healthiest ready meals on the market.

You can find Kirsty’s ready meals in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Ocado, Budgens and Asda.

Nutrition information per meal 400g (Lasagne): 352 calories, 8.4g fat, 4.8g saturates, 38g carbohydrates, 4.4g sugars, 27g protein, 8.0g fibre, 1.6g salt.

Nutrition information per meal 400g (Thai Chilli Chicken): 296 calories, 6.8g fat, 3.6g saturates, 31g carbohydrates, 1.6g sugars, 26g protein, 5.2g fibre, 1.2g salt.

These are the awards Kirsty’s Ready Meals have won:

Find out more at: www.kirstys.co.uk

Related Post:

Kirsty's Healthy Ready Made Meals Review: Read POST

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