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Vegetarian Journal July/August 2001

PRODUCT REVIEW

Guide to Vegetarian Frozen Entrees

By Reed Mangels, PhD, RD


What will it be tonight? Italian? Mexican? Chinese? Indian? Thai? Dinner is only a quick spin in the microwave away if you buy vegetarian frozen entrées. Yes, they're convenient, and for many of us convenience is very important. Many of these meals provide generous amounts of vitamin A and vitamin C as well as fiber—all good things. On the down side, they're often quite high in sodium and sometimes are as fatty as a fast food burger. We'll help you choose the best of the bunch and give you some ideas for evaluating vegetarian frozen entreées.

Looking for a vegetarian frozen entrée? We've had good luck finding them in natural foods stores and in the natural foods sections of supermarkets. Check the ingredient listing to see if the ingredients are vegetarian or vegan. We did find one seemingly vegetarian product that contained oyster sauce. Products made for the natural foods market are more likely to omit artificial colors and flavors and to use cheese made without animal rennet. Many companies are using organically produced ingredients, something many of us support. Look for brands like Amy's, Celentano, Cedarlane, 3 Square, Chef Ahaska's, Cascadian Farm, and Imagine if you want to buy products containing mostly organically produced ingredients.

If vegetarian frozen entrées are a very occasional treat (a couple of times a month or less) and you're not on any special diet, buy whatever looks good to you. However, if frozen entrées are something you choose often, it pays to look for those that are not too high in sodium and fat and that have generous amounts of vegetables. The table accompanying this article can help you choose. We've highlighted some of the top choices, but you can find other acceptable ones. Identify products that meet your standards. Let companies know that you're looking for products without so much sodium and fat. Does a product really have to have close to half the sodium that you should eat for a day to taste good?

Vegetarian teens may turn to frozen entrées for meals when the rest of the family is eating meat. Since teens need generous amounts of iron and calcium, it's wise to identify products that have significant amounts of these nutrients. Most products that contain cheese will supply calcium; vegan products providing calcium and iron are listed in the sidebar accompanying this article.

Cooking times for frozen entrées vary. Generally, with a microwave, they can be ready in two to 10 minutes. Heating them in the oven can take as much as an hour, depending on the product.

You do pay for convenience. Many meals cost $3-$4 per serving, which is still cheaper than eating at a restaurant. If you're trying to save money, buy entrées on sale or make your own frozen entrées.

Which of these products sounds more appetizing?

A) Skim milk, cooked enriched macaroni, pasteurized processed American cheese (whey, sodium phosphate, whey protein concentrate, skim milk, milkfat, salt, annatto color), bleached wheat flour, cheddar cheese, soybean oil, salt, modified cornstarch, cheddar cheese flavor, sugar, whey, dried onions, butter flavor, annatto coloring —Stouffer's Pasta Shells with American Cheese

or

B)Organic enriched penne pasta, organic tomatoes, eggplant, organic zucchini, squash, organic onions, organic canola oil, red bell peppers, salt, garlic, spices —Celentano Penne with Roasted Vegetables

If you picked B, maybe you should consider trying a vegetarian frozen entrée.

Vegetarian Frozen Entrées

Products are categorized by the percent of calories from fat. Within each category, products are ranked according to the amount of sodium in a serving. Products identified as having no more than 30% of calories from fat, no more than 120 milligrams of sodium per 100 calories, and some organic ingredients, are listed in blue.

Product Calories Protein Fat Fat Sodium vegan? organic?
19% or fewer calories from fat: (gm) (gm) (% cal) (mg) *
  • Ethnic Gourmet Veg Teriyaki Rice Bowl
  • 350 7 3 8 210 yes no
  • Mon Cuisine Vegetarian Grilled Steak in Mushroom Gravy
  • 250 18 3 11 210 no yes
  • 3 Square Potato Curry Sandwich
  • 250 8 4.5 16 230 yes yes
  • Cedarlane Less Fat Vegetable Pie
  • 390 12 8 18 250 no yes
  • 3 Square Mushroom Barley Sandwich
  • 240 8 4.5 17 340 yes yes
  • 3 Square White Bean & Basil Sandwich
  • 260 8 5 17 370 yes yes
  • Cascadian Farm Moroccan Veg Meal
  • 310 13 5 15 410 yes yes
  • Mon Cuisine Veg Spaghetti and Meatballs
  • 360 29 4 10 440 no no
  • Mon Cuisine Vegetarian Moroccan Chicken
  • 280 20 4 13 440 no no
  • Cedarlane Rice & Veg Teriyaki Veggie Wrap
  • 280 9 3 10 480 no yes
  • Celentano Vegetarian Lasagne Primavera
  • 420 17 5 11 480 no yes
  • Cedarlane Beans, Rice & Cheese Burrito
  • 260 13 1 3 490 no yes
  • Thai Chef Thai Sweet & Sour Vegetables
  • 346 6 5 13 490 yes no
  • Taj Gourmet Bean Masala
  • 330 11 6 16 490 yes no
  • Woodstock Organic Power Lunch Veg Stew
  • 140 6 1.5 10 500 no yes
  • Seapoint Farms Szechwan Veg Rice Bowl
  • 420 13 4 9 510 yes no
  • Chef Ahaska's Florentine Casserole
  • 240 18 3.5 13 540 no yes
  • Taj Gourmet Channa Bhaji
  • 330 9 5 14 550 yes no
  • Healthy Choice Stuffed Pasta Shells
  • 370 18 6 15 570 no no
  • Cedarlane Couscous and Veg Veggie Wrap
  • 220 14 3 12 580 no yes
  • Cascadian Farm Veggie Bowl Caribbean Veggies & Rice
  • 280 7 5 16 580 yes yes
  • Amy's Teriyaki Stir-fry Skillet Meals
  • 320 9 2.5 7 590 yes yes
  • Cedarlane Garden Vegetable Enchiladas (2)
  • 270 16 2 7 600 no yes
  • Cascadian Farm Veggie Bowl Pasta Marinara
  • 180 11 3 15 600 yes yes
  • Celentano Vegan Lasagne Primavera
  • 220 10 2 8 610 yes yes
  • Cascadian Farm Veggie Bowl Szechuan Rice
  • 210 7 1.5 6 630 yes yes
  • Cascadian Farm Veggie Bowl Japanese Noodles & Vegetables
  • 180 9 2.5 12 630 yes yes
  • Ethnic Gourmet Schezuan Vegetarian Chicken Rice Bowl
  • 350 16 6 15 670 no no
  • Cedarlane Garden Vegetable Lasagna
  • 280 21 2 6 680 no yes
  • Amy's Asian Noodle Stir-fry
  • 240 12 4.5 17 680 yes yes
  • Amy's Veggie Loaf
  • 260 8 5 17 690 no yes
  • Chef Ahaska's Pasta au Gratin Casserole
  • 270 18 5 17 700 no yes
  • Celentano Spinach & Broccoli Stuffed Shells
  • 200 11 2.5 11 710 yes yes
  • Celentano Broccoli Stuffed Shells
  • 260 12 5 17 740 no yes
  • Celentano Spinach & Broccoli Manicotti
  • 220 12 4 16 750 yes yes

    Product Calories Protein Fat Fat Sodium vegan? organic?
    (19% or fewer calories from fat, cont'd) (gm) (gm) (% cal) (mg) *
  • Chef Ahaska's Corn & Bean Casserole
  • 270 15 5 17 770 no yes
  • Amy's Chili & Cornbread
  • 320 11 6 17 780 no yes
  • Celentano Manicotti Florentine
  • 280 12 6 19 790 no yes
  • Chef Ahaska's Tortilla Casserole
  • 310 20 6 17 910 no yes
  • Seapoint Farms Kung Pao Veg Rice Bowl
  • 430 15 8 17 950 yes no
  • Cedarlane Veggie Chick'n Szechuan
  • 440 14 6 12 1020 no yes
  • Seapoint Farms Teriyaki Veg Rice Bowl
  • 430 14 4.5 9 1130 yes no
  • Cedarlane Veggie Chick'n Teriyaki
  • 440 14 6 12 1160 no yes

    20 to 29% of calories from fat:
  • Taj Gourmet Tofu Samosa
  • 160 6 5 28 140 no yes
  • Ethnic Gourmet Pad Thai w/Tofu Rice Bowl
  • 390 13 9 21 160 yes no
  • Mon Cuisine Italian Stuffed Shell Pasta
  • 220 13 5 20 250 no no
  • Mon Cuisine Breaded Chicken Style in Mushroom Sauce
  • 300 17 7 21 270 yes no
  • Melrose Sweet Noodle Soufflé
  • 420 8 10 21 270 no no
  • Amy's Vegetarian Pizza Pocket Sandwich
  • 250 11 6 22 360 no yes
  • Ethnic Gourmet Vegetable Paneer Wrap
  • 320 10 10 28 380 no no
  • Mon Cuisine Veg Salisbury Steak in Gravy
  • 320 37 7 20 430 no yes
  • Mon Cuisine Veal Style Schnitzel in Sauce
  • 300 24 8 24 440 yes no
  • Amy's Cheese Pizza Pocket Sandwich
  • 300 14 9 27 450 no yes
  • Mon Cuisine Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage in Tomato Sauce
  • 250 26 6 22 470 no no
  • Amy's Roasted Veg Pocket Sandwich
  • 270 6 8 27 480 yes yes
  • Taj Gourmet Eggplant Bhartha
  • 300 8 7 21 480 yes no
  • Imagine Indian Veg Curry Pocket Sandwich
  • 230 6 7 27 480 yes yes
  • Ethnic Gourmet Vegetarian Lo Mein
  • 410 19 10 22 490 no yes
  • Amy's Shepherd's Pie
  • 160 5 4 22 490 yes yes
  • Amy's Vegetable Pie Pocket Sandwich
  • 300 8 9 27 490 no no
  • Amy's Black Bean Vegetable Burrito
  • 320 9 8 22 540 yes yes
  • Amy's Bean & Cheese Burrito
  • 280 10 8 26 540 no yes
  • Amy's Bean & Rice Burrito
  • 270 9 6 20 550 yes yes
  • Tofutti Macaroni and Better Than Cheese
  • 194 7 5 23 552 yes no
  • Ethnic Gourmet Veg Peanut Satay Wrap
  • 380 15 11 26 570 no no
  • Amy's Country Dinner (Vegetarian Salisbury Steak)
  • 380 11 12 28 570 no yes
  • Cedarlane Roasted Veg & Cheese Burrito
  • 330 14 8 22 590 no yes
  • Amy's Vegetable Pot Pie
  • 320 7 9 25 590 no yes
  • Amy's Soy Cheese Pizza Pocket Sandwich
  • 270 9 8 27 590 no yes
  • Taj Gourmet Palak Paneer
  • 320 13 7 20 610 no no
  • Cascadian Farm Veggie Bowl Pasta Primavera
  • 270 11 8 27 620 no yes
  • Cascadian Farm Veggie Bowl Teriyaki Rice
  • 270 9 7 23 630 yes yes
  • Cascadian Farm Szechuan Vegetarian Meal
  • 340 14 9 24 680 yes yes
  • Celentano Porcini Risotto with Roasted Vegetables
  • 190 4 6 28 690 yes yes

    Product Calories Protein Fat Fat Sodium vegan? organic?
    20 to 29% of calories from fat, cont'd: (gm) (gm) (% cal) (mg) *
  • 260 8 8 28 780 yes yes
  • Seapoint Farms Vegetable Fried Rice Bowl
  • 220 11 5 20 950 yes no
  • Cedarlane 3 Layer Enchilada Pie
  • 430 26 14 29 1190 no yes

    30 to 39% of calories from fat:
  • Taj Gourmet Subzi Samosa
  • 150 3 5 30 85 no no
  • Taj Gourmet Aloo Samosa
  • 170 4 6 32 170 no no
  • Celentano Penne with Roasted Vegetables
  • 290 7 12 37 350 yes yes
  • Amy's Cannelloni Whole Meal
  • 330 16 12 33 390 no yes
  • Amy's Thai Stir-fry
  • 270 7 11 35 420 yes yes
  • Amy's Pasta & Veg Alfredo Skillet Meals
  • 220 11 8 33 460 no yes
  • Imagine Szechuan Veggie Delight Pocket Sandwich
  • 230 7 8 31 470 yes yes
  • Amy's Macaroni & Soy Cheese
  • 360 16 14 35 500 no yes
  • Imagine Spinach & Feta Pocket Sandwich
  • 260 9 9 31 510 no yes
  • Imagine Broc. & Cheddar Pocket Sandwich
  • 270 8 10 33 520 no yes
  • Taj Gourmet Vegetable Korma
  • 340 8 12 32 540 yes no
  • Celentano Spinach Tofu Ravioli with Tomato Sauce
  • 330 14 11 30 550 no yes
  • Amy's Mediterranean Veg Pocket Sandwich
  • 270 8 10 33 560 no yes
  • Amy's Country Vegetable Pie
  • 370 12 16 39 580 no yes
  • Amy's Spinach Feta Pocket Sandwich
  • 250 11 9 32 590 no yes
  • Amy's Macaroni & Cheese
  • 410 16 16 35 590 no yes
  • Amy's Tofu Vegetable Lasagna
  • 300 13 10 30 630 no yes
  • Cascadian Farm Veggie Bowl Cascade Veggies au Gratin
  • 170 9 6 32 630 no yes
  • Whole Foods Bean & Rice Burrito
  • 350 9 12 31 670 yes no
  • Amy's Cheese Lasagna
  • 310 19 11 32 680 no yes
  • Amy's Cheese Enchilada Whole Meal
  • 330 15 14 38 680 no yes
  • Amy's Vegetable Lasagna
  • 280 14 12 39 680 no yes
  • Whole Foods Bean, Rice, & Cheese Burrito
  • 370 10 14 34 700 no no
  • Melrose Broccoli Soufflé
  • 240 12 9 34 780 no no

    Product Calories Protein Fat Fat Sodium vegan? organic?
    40 to 49% of calories from fat: (gm) (gm) (% cal) (mg) *
  • Natural Touch 9 Bean Loaf
  • 160 8 8 45 350 no no
  • Natural Touch Lentil Rice Loaf
  • 170 8 9 48 370 no no
  • Green Guru Channa Masala
  • 180 7 8 40 380 yes no
  • Cedarlane 3 Cheese Pasta with Broccoli
  • 430 21 19 40 410 no yes
  • Celentano Roasted Vegetable Lasagne
  • 170 4 9 48 430 yes yes
  • Amy's Country Cheddar Skillet Meals
  • 250 9 11 40 480 no yes
  • Cedarlane Santa Fe Pot Pie
  • 490 13 26 48 560 no yes
  • Amy's Vegetable Pot Pie
  • 420 9 19 41 590 no yes
  • Amy's Broccoli Pot Pie
  • 430 11 22 46 630 no yes
  • Green Guru Manchurian Dumplings
  • 230 4 12 47 690 yes no
  • Whole Foods Cheese Enchilada
  • 400 17 21 47 710 no no
  • Cedarlane Eggplant Parmesan
  • 320 14 16 45 780 no yes
  • Melrose Potato Kugel Soufflé
  • 400 8 20 45 800 no no
  • Celentano Eggplant Wraps with 3 Bean Filling
  • 200 6 10 45 830 yes yes

    50% or more calories from fat:
  • Green Guru Palak Aloo
  • 70 2 5 64 150 no no
  • Green Guru Dal Rajastani
  • 65 1.5 4.5 62 175 yes no
  • Natural Touch Dinner Entrée
  • 220 19 15 61 380 no no
  • Celentano Vegan Eggplant Parmigiana
  • 340 6 24 64 450 yes yes
  • Cedarlane Mediterranean Pot Pie
  • 490 13 29 53 590 no yes
  • Celentano Eggplant Rollettes
  • 210 7 13 56 640 yes yes
  • Celentano Risotto with Eggplant, Tofu & Spinach
  • 340 7 19 50 660 yes yes
  • Celentano Eggplant Medallions with Garbanzo Bean Filling
  • 260 6 16 55 700 yes yes
  • Taj Gourmet Shahi Paneer
  • 410 2 24 53 730 no no
  • Amy's Cheese Enchiladas (2)
  • 420 20 24 51 880 no yes

    Vegan Frozen Entrées that are High in Iron and Calcium

    These vegan entrées provide at least 20% of the US RDA for iron (they have 3.6 or more milligrams of iron in a serving):

  • Amy's Black Bean Vegetable Burrito, Asian Noodle Stir-fry, and Black Bean Vegetable Enchiladas
  • Cascadian Farm Veggie Bowl Pasta Marinara, Moroccan Vegetarian Meal, and Szechuan Vegetarian Meal
  • Celentano Lasagne Primavera, Spinach & Broccoli Medallions, and Spinach & Broccoli Stuffed Shells
  • Ethnic Gourmet Pad Thai Rice Bowl
  • Taj Gourmet Bean Masala
  • 3 Square Mushroom Barley Sandwich and White Bean & Basil Sandwich
  • These vegan entrées provide at least 9% of the US RDA for calcium (they have 90 or more milligrams of calcium in a serving):

  • Amy's Shepherd's Pie
  • Cascadian Farm Veggie Bowl Pasta Marinara and Szechuan Vegetarian Meal
  • Ethnic Gourmet Pad Thai Rice Bowl
  • Imagine Szechuan Veggie Delight Pocket Sandwich
  • Seapoint Farms Kung Pao Vegetable Rice Bowl

  • Excerpts from the July/Aug 2001 Issue


    The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone wanting to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.



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