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Food Craze 2/2/14

Want a healthy dinner in a snap? What about a microwavable, steam-cooked meal?

The packaging suggests they're better for you, and that the flavors are "unlocked by steam!" Some even cook in a separate steamer basket. But is it truly a cooking revolution -- or just a lot of hot air? Consumer Reports put 10 steam-cooked meals to the test. From Kashi, Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, and Marie Callender's. "Cooking with steam can be healthy, but we found that these meals weren't very different from frozen meals that have been around for years." If you're watching your waist, read labels carefully. Of those tested, the Marie Callender's meals were highest in calories and fat. Roasted Garlic Chicken weighs in with 17 grams of fat per serving! A lower-fat option is the garlic chicken from Lean Cuisine - which stood out for it's flavorful veggies and large white chicken pieces. Kashi's Sesame Chicken is also quite tasty -- and offers a nice mix of multigrains, veggies, and white meat. But there's a caution with almost all the steamable meals. Linda Greene "We found that the meals didn't cook very evenly. At times in the chicken dishes, the chicken was dry and in the pasta dishes, sometimes the pasta was hard." The tastiest stuffed pasta is Marie Callender's Three Cheese Tortellini. It has a soft filling and a decent tomato sauce. While steamed meals may not be innovative -- throw in a salad and some fruit and you've got a fast, tasty, and healthful dinner.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright ©2014 Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

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