Chow Bella

Vegan in a Hurry: Kashi's Black Bean Mango

We're pretty sure no one has the time to make three meals every day from scratch, but it can be a real challenge to find healthy, good quality convenience foods, especially when dietary restrictions are added to the equation. So, we're keeping an eye out in the grocery stores to see which vegan packaged foods make a great lunch or snack.

First we tried Trader Joe's Spicy Lentil Wrap, a tasty and filling option, but it requires a trip to a specific grocery store. A quick vegan convenience meal that can be found in most markets is Kashi's Black Bean Mango frozen entrée. The box boasts that it's all natural and packed with 37g of whole grains, 8g of protein, and 7g of fiber. As great as that might sound, it's not going to be worth the $3.99 unless it tastes as good as it is for you.

There's a lot of great tasting stuff in the mix, including carrots, bell peppers, roasted red onions, mangos, jalapenos, cilantro, ginger, and garlic - plus the main ingredient, Kashi's pilaf mix of brown rice, rye, winter wheat, buckwheat, barley, and sesame seeds. The mangos are a particularly nice addition, adding a little sweetness and "fresh" flavor (y'know, as far as frozen food goes). Altogether, this frozen entrée offers up a delicious mix of healthy ingredients loaded with vitamins A and C with only 340 calories, 8g of fat, 380mg of sodium, and 11g of sugar.

But, then there's the downfall. This would be a staple freezer emergency meal if it wasn't for the overpowering flavor of the jalapenos. The most annoying part is that it's not even very hot; your eyes won't water, your tongue won't burn, and your nose won't run. The jalapeno is just over the line enough to where it starts to mask the subtle tastiness of the other ingredients. While Kashi's Black Bean Mango frozen entrée is still a good convenience food pick, it would definitely be better if the flavors were cleaned up a bit...and if it was $1 cheaper. The final verdict? It's a healthy, fairly satisfying item to pick up when on sale.

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Dominique Chatterjee