Product Review: Tasty Bite Agra Peas and Greens

Tasty Bite Agra Peas and Greens
Tasty Bite Agra Peas and Greens

Product Review: Tasty Bite Agra Peas and Greens – $3.29+

There is more to my life than just pizza, ice cream, and cookies.  Really, there is.  And the proof is in this blog.  I have an eclectic love of food, even with my dietary restrictions.  I love to try different types of cuisine and often do, as long as the food can safely be made vegetarian and gluten-free.  One of the easiest cuisines to navigate with this specific diet is none other than Indian food.

Now, I have my go-to Indian restaurant here in town.  And I love the food.  I grew up eating this type of food at my neighbor’s home…so Indian cuisine has always been one of my favorite things.  I love the smell of curry.  I love the taste of the spice blends.  I could eat Indian food every night for the rest of my life and never grow tired of it.

It’s all about depth of flavor.

That being said, I have been without my CSA bin for two weeks now, due to being out of town.  Fresh vegetables and fruits are not in my apartment currently.  So…I’m pulling things out of the pantry to avoid grocery shopping and to get me through to Friday when I do get my CSA bin once again.  YAY!  Tonight…the final Tasty Bite meal came out of my pantry.  It was time…

Tonight’s Tasty Bite was the Agra Peas and Greens.  Agra Peas and Greens is basically peas in a creamy sauce of leafy greens and cashews.  I’ll be honest with you…neither my roommate nor I knew what to expect from this meal.  I mean, I like peas well enough, but it just wasn’t jiving with me.  I think my roomie was trying to put off the inevitable…but it reached critical here in the apartment when it came to food.  I don’t know why we were both expecting not to really like this meal.

Anyway, as with all Tasty Bite meals, nothing is simpler.  I cooked up some jasmine rice this morning so that I could just simply reheated it when I got home to serve with the meal.  Then, the little pouch of Indian food goodness is vented with a 2-inch tear and then popped into the microwave for 90 seconds.  And just like that…a warm Indian meal is ready to serve.  It is so easy.  So, I split the rice and the contents of the package between two bowls and dinner was served…in less than five minutes.

I admit, Indian cuisine isn’t the prettiest cuisine out there, but it sure is one of the tastiest.  And despite our initial reluctance to dive into this one…both Cathy and I were pleasantly surprised with how much we liked this.  The peas gave the entire dish a nice hint of sweetness.  It was just what was needed.  This particular dish is very mild, no heat at all in each bite.  I didn’t mind there not being heat this time though, because of the flavors that played across my palate.  Fantastic.  The sauce was awesome.  I could taste the cashews.  I was thrilled with this meal and savored each and every bite until my bowl was completely empty.

The Agra Peas and Greens meal from Tasty Bite is made up of water, green peas, tomatoes, onions, fenugreek greens, cashew paste, spinach, cream, watermelon seeds, sunflower oil, salt, garlic, ginger, sugar, tumeric, spices, and chilies.  Put it all together and a surprisingly delightful entree emerges.

Nutritionally speaking, the Tasty Bite Agra Peas and Greens is a smart choice.  Honestly.  A serving is half of the pouch that it comes in.  This serving will deliver 140 calories and 10 grams of fat.  It seems high in the fat, but a lot of that does come from the cashews.  A serving also provides 3 mg cholesterol, 410 mg sodium, and 2 grams of sugar.  From a serving, you will also get 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein, making it rather filling.

I love that this dish completely caught me off guard.  I was so ready to not like it and found myself loving it more and more with each bite.  It’s a non-spicy, easy, tasty bite…and it’s in your grocery store.  Trust me…you’ll want to pick this one up and try it for yourself.

Tasty Bite Agra Peas and Greens over jasmine rice
Tasty Bite Agra Peas and Greens over jasmine rice

Product Review: Tasty Bite Ginger Lentil Rice

Tasty Bite Ginger Lentil Rice
Tasty Bite Ginger Lentil Rice

Product Review: Tasty Bite Ginger Lentil Rice – $2.49+

Tasty Bite, as many of you know, is one of my favorite go-to quick meals…especially for busy nights/days or just nights where I don’t have much in the pantry/freezer/fridge…or just don’t want to spend my entire evening on my feet in the kitchen prepping and cooking something.

The great thing about the Tasty Bite meals is that they are clean…healthy…and beyond delicious.  I only have a few remaining packages in my kitchen pantry, but they were perfect after returning from my recent trip to Florida.  Without last week’s check in the bank (the boss still has it), my roommate and I are honestly living off what we have in our apartment…and trust me…that means Tasty Bite meals, pancakes, eggs, or pasta.  This is no joke.  And for the rest of this week, the budget purse strings are being pulled tighter than ever to try to recover from our much-needed and totally fun (but expensive) vacation.

So, after disembarking at the Louisville airport on Tuesday…just before noon…we returned home with hungry stomachs.  I do not do fast food.  I can’t.  Not with my food allergies.  And I’m okay with that.  I actually do not miss fast food at all.  Not one bit.  The drive-thru was never my friend anyway…so my dietary restrictions put a total kibosh on them.  No problem.  I’d rather prepare my food anyway.

That being said…with a practically empty apartment food-wise, I was happy to dig out a few pouches of Tasty Bite products.  I’m down to one Indian meal and a couple of rice options.  I opted for a rice option with some added protein…because I’m in recovery mode from my 48.6 mile running adventure.

My choice – Tasty Bite’s Ginger Lentil Rice.

Yes…this is exactly what it sounds like…ginger-infused long grain rice that is tossed with brown lentils and red peppers.  It makes a colorful and flavorful plate…trust me.  The package simply gets put in the microwave for about 90 seconds, and BAM…into a bowl and enjoy!  Totally that easy.  And don’t be dissuaded by the fact that this comes in a pouch on a shelf in the microwave.  It still fits into clean eating.  Observe the ingredients: water, rice, onions, whole brown lentils, red pepper, coconut milk, sunflower oil, ginger, garlic, salt, curry powder, chilies, sugar.  Quick…Clean…Eating.

And the taste…was fantastic.  Seriously.  The ginger, garlic, curry, chilies all provide layers and depth of flavor to each bite.  The lentils add great texture and the rice actually steams up to perfection in that 90 seconds.  All the components work together and make magic with each bite.  Each freakin’ tasty bite.  I used some Glutino Gluten-Free Sea Salt Snack Crackers to scoop up the rice and add a nice crunch to my plate.  It was a magical, quick lunch after returning from the Happiest Place on Earth.  I savored each bite…chewed slowly…and just let the flavors roll over my tongue.  This one is amazing.  It’s not just rice.  It’s rice that is so much more.

Nutritionally speaking, this meal is a healthy choice as well.  One serving is half the pouch.  This serving gives you 190 calories and 3.5 grams of fat.  This serving will also give you 380 mg sodium and 2 grams of sugar.  That is amazing for a processed food.  And a serving will also give you 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.  So it is filling as well.  Loving it.

So, if you’re concerned about Indian food…not sure you’d like it…or just not ready to try something new…then give Tasty Bite a chance through their flavored rices.  In fact…I highly encourage purchasing the Ginger Lentil Rice.  The flavors will wow you…and just might encourage you to give those Indian meals a try after all.

I promise…you won’t be disappointed.

A serving of Tasty Bite Ginger Lentil Rice
A serving of Tasty Bite Ginger Lentil Rice

Recipe: Oven Baked Broccoli Masala

This one time I went to an Indian restaurant…and got the Broccoli Masala.  It was something that I hadn’t seen on any other Indian restaurant menu in the area.  It intrigued me.  I took one bite and declared it the best thing I have ever eaten…which may or may not be true.  HA!

But, it was really, really damn good.

And during these cold winter months, I see a ton…and I mean a ton of broccoli.  For real.  Like…every week.  Last year my freezer was filled with broccoli.  But not this year.  Not this time.  I’ve gotten more than a little creative with the use of broccoli in the past few months.  And I’m proud of that.

But, instead of turning to a pizza crust…or some other culinary magic skill…this time…I attempted to recreate that dish for that local Indian restaurant.  Because, yes…I was craving and didn’t want to drive into Louisville.

With the guidance of the blog Spicy Treats, I did an oven-baked version of this meal, adding it to caramelized shallots (which caramelized down to this beautiful sweet jam) and some Indian-spiced basmati rice.  The results…while not the same as the restaurant…were a very close alternative.  And I was quite happy with it.  I may or may not have hoovered this meal down in record time.

Recipe: Oven Baked Broccoli Masala

Oven Baked Broccoli Masala
Oven Baked Broccoli Masala


Servings: 2
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Cook 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium-sized crowns of broccoli
    1-2 teaspoons olive oil
    salt (to taste)
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
    1/4 teaspoon garam masala
    Pinch turmeric powder
    Squeeze of lime juice
    2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley/cilantro (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Wash and cut broccoli in to small florets.  Drain well and keep ready.

In a large bowl, add broccoli and salt and toss well.  Then add the other spice powders and lime juice and toss everything well.  Finally, add the olive oil and stir well, making sure everything is covered with the spices and oil.

Sprinkle cilantro over the top and mix everything well.

Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and grease it with a few drops of olive oil.  Spread the prepared broccoli florets on the baking sheet and bake it for 15-20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.

ENJOY!!

~*~*~

As I said above, I served mine with caramelized thinly sliced shallots (almost made a shallot chutney) and some Indian-spiced basmati rice.  The meal was amazing and the flavors were really good.  Nothing overpowered.  And it was still mild (because my roomie is a heat wimp), yet had just a little spice to keep each bite interesting.  While it is nothing like the dish I have every time I go to my favorite Indian restaurant…it was close enough and simply delicious.

Taste for yourself!

Restaurant Review: Shalimar Indian Restaurant, Louisville, Kentucky

Shalimar Indian Restaurant, Louisville, Kentucky
Shalimar Indian Restaurant, Louisville, Kentucky

Restaurant: Shalimar Indian Restaurant, Louisville, Kentucky

I need to send out a big, huge, whopping THANK YOU to my darling little sister.  Because if it weren’t for her…it probably would have taken me forever…and ever…and even then I possibly would have put it off…to haul myself out to the Indian restaurant that is consistently voted THE BEST in Louisville, Kentucky.  Normally, I would rave and go on and sing praises for the Indian restaurant I have been going to since co-workers suggested it.  That being Dakshin, also in Louisville.

Oh.  My.  God.

I love Dakshin…but after the experience I had at Shalimar…it is out and Shalimar rightfully is where I want to go for my Indian food cravings.  Forever.  And ever.

Goodbye, Dakshin.

It was fun while it lasted.

Welcome to my Indian cuisine loving world, Shalimar.

I have mentioned quite a few times how my family grew up eating Indian food.  Authentic Indian food.  Our neighbors, who had children the same age as my little sister and my older brother, often invited us over to dinner when they were having curry.  And I loved it.  All the different spices and flavors…it was exciting and exotic.  It was…beyond delicious.  I was hooked at a young age.

So, as my sister’s husband isn’t as outgoing with food choices, when she told me she wanted to come visit me this past weekend, I wanted to get her to an Indian restaurant.  Normally, I’d haul out to the far end of Louisville to Dakshin…but not this time.  No way.  I wanted to take her to the place that Louisville always seems to deem the best.  This was a gamble…since I had never eaten there before.  But…with those kinds of reviews and awards…how could it be a bad choice?  I sent her the menu, although I knew that she’d be ordering the Chicken Curry…and comparing it to the stuff we grew up eating.

The big day, Saturday, came.  And after a fun day of walking around sight-seeing, shopping, and just having a good time, we decided we were starting to get a little hungry.  So…we headed over to Hurstbourne Lane to the strip mall where Shalimar is located.  Two snags.  First…traffic was ridiculous…so we ended up turning around and coming at the restaurant from another angle.  By the time we got there and parked, we realized that the hours posted said dinner on the weekend was 5:30 p.m.  We had about 40 minutes to kill.  We hopped across the way to Half Price Books and just kept making circuits and looking at different books until we couldn’t take it anymore.  Five minutes left…so we slowly meandered out of the store, got in the car, and headed back to the restaurant.

They were now open and people were being seated.  We were given a nice booth at the side of the dimly lit restaurant and allowed to peruse the menu.  I had looked over the menu before, but was going go give it a little more of a look while we had the time.  Our water glasses were filled and we were asked if we’d like anything else to drink.  We all decided to stick with water.  I had spotted something that sounded AMAZING on the menu…so I was now set.  Cathy was still deciding…but finally settled.  When our server returned…we placed our orders.

Cathy went with the Lamb Biryani ($11.95), which is a classic Muglai dish of curried meats cooked with basmati rice.  She made sure to specify that she wanted the spice on it as low as it could go.  The less spice the better.  Wimp.  She also ordered a side of the Naan Bread ($1.95) to go with her meal.  As predicted, my sister did order the Chicken Curry ($10.95), which is chicken that is cooked in a thick curry sauce.  She opted for medium heat.  She hoped it was as good as the Duggal’s.  As for me…I went with the Broccoli Masala ($9.95), which might just be my new favorite thing in life.  For real.  This is simply broccoli cooked in spices.  Except I ordered mine spicy!  I always love some heat with my food…especially when it’s ethnic.  And they promised they would do it up good for me.

Orders in, we talked a lot about growing up with Indian food in our lives…and just having some fun.  We took some selfies in the restaurant.  And…soon…our food arrived.

It all looked and smelled fantastic.  I mean…really, really, really fantastic. I hated that I had pause to take pictures of my food for the blog because I was ready to dive in.  My broccoli masala came with basmati rice, so after the photos were taken, I scooped up some rice onto my plate, then put some of the broccoli over it.  Time to dig in.

FLAVOR EXPLOSION OF AWESOME-SPICY-SAUCE!!

No joke.  If I were to pick something to eat as my last meal…this is definitely one of the front runners.  Honestly, there seem to be no words to properly describe how amazing this dish was.  I know…some of you are thinking that it’s just broccoli and spices…but it was more than that.  It was the perfect blend of spices…with the perfect heat level.  In fact…I probably could have taken it a little spicier.  The broccoli was tender and cooked to perfection.  The sauce…the sauce made it.  The rice gave me some oomph to the meal.  And I was even happier when I added a tomato chutney to it.  It was the perfect meal with the perfect people.

For the record, the Chicken Curry brought back happy memories for my sister.  Honestly.  She was thrilled and said it totally reminded her of the stuff we grew up eating.  And Cathy…loved her Lamb dish.  She’s big on rice…and this was a big heaping pile of rice.  For real.

We were so happy with the food and service that we got at Shalimar.  I don’t think I can bring myself to stray from this restaurant.  This is where you go to get authentic, delicious Indian food.  This is where you go to get the flavors, the tastes, and the experience of Indian cuisine.  This…is why Louisville consistently names this restaurant THE BEST Indian cuisine in the city.

In fact…I’m going back on Friday.  Seriously.

And I can’t wait.

Shalimar's Broccoli Masala with Basmati Rice
Shalimar’s Broccoli Masala with Basmati Rice

Recipe: Roasted Curried Cauliflower

Cauliflower is so versatile.  I have made “bread sticks” from a head of this vegetable.  I have made buffalo cauliflower florets as well.  Pizza crust.  I’ve put it in stir-fries.  I’ve made a tempura batter and fried them up.  But…when my CSA bin delivered me another gorgeous head of cauliflower…well…I wanted to do something different.  I have my go-to recipes…but I just wanted something different.

With the magic of Pinterest and a recipe that I built around from Nom Nom Paleo…I took this beautiful head of cauliflower, mixed it up with some healthy fats and a dose of curry, cumin, and seasoning.  Roasted it up in the oven…then topped it off with some fresh herbs.  And the result…pure magic.  Enough that I want to make it again…soon.  I need more cauliflower.

Recipe: Roasted Curried Cauliflower

Roasted Curried Cauliflower
Roasted Curried Cauliflower

Servings: 2-3
Time: Prep 5 minutes; Cook 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into uniform florets
  • A generous glug of melted coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • Cumin
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley leaves

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450°F and move the rack to the lower middle of the oven.

Place the florets in a large bowl and toss them with a generous amount of the oil of your choice (about 2 tablespoons).

Add the curry powder, cumin, salt and pepper and toss until the florets are coated.

Pour the seasoned florets on a foil-lined baking sheet and cover it tightly with another sheet of foil.

Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove the top layer of foil and continue to roast the cauliflower for 20 more minutes, flipping the florets every 8 or so minutes, until they are softened and browned in parts.

Plate the cauliflower and give each serving a squirt of lemon juice and top off with the minced fresh parsley.

~*~*~

Serious flavor.  Even Cathy was talking about the next time I made this dish.  I was so happy with the way it turned out.  It wasn’t too spicy, which worked in Cathy’s favor.  Just the right hint of seasoning.  Total perfection.  Tender…delicious…and amazing.

Liven up your cauliflower…I dare you!

Product Review: Tasty Bite Paneer Makhani

Tasty Bite Paneer Makhani
Tasty Bite Paneer Makhani

Product Review: Tasty Bite Paneer Makhani – $3.29+

Quick Indian meals are usually my Monday thing.  I mean…I have to get home from work, scarf something down, and get changed and out the door to head to my running group’s Monday meet-up at 6 p.m.  Not easy when construction is going on and often traffic is at a stand-still going across the river.  It can be frustrating.  And when trying to take a little bit of stress out of the day…the best thing to do is have a simple meal prepared.

But this time…this was a Wednesday thing.  I had eaten a big lunch on the way back from Chicago the Monday before I had this…so no food was necessary that evening.  Not a bite.  But…Wednesday marked a big heaping deal of a run.  My good friend, Natalie, was completing her pledged 180th straight day of running to raise money for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.  And she invited the group at the store to run those last miles with her.  She chose 4.15 miles, in honor of the date of the bombings, April 15.

So, that evening sort of ran (heh…no pun intended.  See what I did there?) like a Monday night.  That morning, I cooked up two servings of jasmine rice, let it cool, and tucked it away in the fridge for later.  Upon returning home from work…I heated up the rice, pulled out my next packet of Tasty Bite goodness…and got ready to dive in.

This week…Tasty Bite Paneer Makhani.  Paneer, for those of you not familiar with Indian cuisine, is a soft, vegetarian-friendly cheese.  It can be firm or soft…depending on how it is made.  But it is…delicious.  Makhani is a Hindustani word meaning “with butter.”  So…this is basically Butter Paneer.  Don’t freak out…really it’s these cubes of paneer that are cooked in this fantastic, creamy tomato sauce…spiced just right to give it that Indian flavor.  I love the taste of Indian food.  So yummy.

So…what happens when said entree comes in a microwavable pouch?  What happens when it only takes 90 seconds to heat and eat?  Magic.  Because Tasty Bite knows what it is doing when it comes to these fun little meals.  Honestly.  I wasn’t too sold on the thought of a buttery cheese dish…but…they proved me wrong.

The Tasty Bite Paneer Makhani is just what I described above…home-style paneer cheese in a creamy, spiced sauce.  This pouch is a delicate balance of natural ingredients that are non-GMO, vegetarian, and gluten-free.  Happy dance.  In fact, the ingredients in this particular Indian meal include tomatoes, paneer cheese, water, onion, cream, cashew nuts, sunflower oil, ginger, garlic, salt, coriander, chiles, and spices.  Sounds delicious, yes?  Of course it does.  So, after giving my jasmine rice a quick steaming in the microwave to reheat it…this little pouch of goodness was put in and given it’s 90 seconds to warm through.

I poured the contents over two bowls of rice…and dinner was done in 5 minutes total.

So, we all know that this Tasty Bite Paneer Makhani was easy to prepare…but how did it stack up in flavor and taste?

It was good.  It was really good.  I loved the bit of mild heat from the variety of spices in the sauce itself.  The sauce was the perfect thickness…not too runny, but not too thick either.  Perfect consistency.  I wished I had more of the sauce, honestly.  The cheese was…pretty good.  I love paneer cheese, but this just seemed a bit rubbery.  Probably because it is, after all, in a microwavable pouch.  It wasn’t bad…it was still soft…but it wasn’t the star of this dish like it should have been.  Major props to the sauce.  It saved this one.  I’d probably invest in this variety again…but only if nothing else caught my eye.  The Paneer Makhani wasn’t about the paneer at all.  It was all about that Makhani sauce.

So, let’s talk nutrition.  A serving of the Tasty Bite Paneer Makhani is 1/2 of the pouch.  This serving dishes up 220 calories and 17 grams of fat.  YIKES!!  Some of that, however, does come from the cashews…but most of it comes from the paneer.  That’s…a hefty dosage of fat, I think.  I mean, 150 of those 220 calories come from fat.  That’s…not that great.  A serving of the Paneer Makhani also will provide you with 440 mg of sodium and 3 grams of sugar.  Not bad for a shelf-stable, processed meal, right?  Also, you will be getting 1 gram of fiber and a whopping 10 grams of protein.  Low fiber, high protein…good for running.

So, while the flavor was there in the Paneer Makhani, the paneer cheese definitely fell flat, but the sauce saved it.  I would recommend trying this one, if you are a fan of Indian flavors.  And if you love paneer cheese.  Just know…fresh cheese that isn’t sealed in a pack and kept on the shelf definitely stands up better when used in Indian cuisine.  But when you are an on-the-go kind of person…this definitely works in a pinch.  So…not one of my favorites, but not bad either.  Tasty Bite hasn’t put out a bad product…this one just didn’t wow me like the others have so far.

Tasty Bite Paneer Makhani over jasmine rice
Tasty Bite Paneer Makhani over jasmine rice

Product Review: Tasty Bite Spinach Dal

Tasty Bite Spinach Dal
Tasty Bite Spinach Dal

Product: Tasty Bite Spinach Dal – $3.29+

It’s Monday again.  And you know what that means, right?

It means I use the rice I cooked up last week for Monday…until the world got loopy…and enjoy another quick Indian meal from Tasty Bite.  That’s what it means.  Why?  Because it’s the night I come straight home from work, feed myself quickly, change into my running clothes and then head out to get at least 3 miles in with my friends at my local running store.

I’m currently tapering…3 miles would have been ideal.  Except we did something different tonight, and Patrick (he’s tricksy), somehow got me to climb Dog Hill in Cherokee Park twice.  TWICE!  I hate dog hill…but he said, as we entered Cherokee Park…let’s make this the start of one loop, so we’ll  go all the way around and then when we come back around we’ll head back to the store.  Um…okay?  I guess.  Regardless…I was one of three people who did it.

During taper.

Bad.  Bad me.

But…one thing that wasn’t bad was my dinner.  In fact, I was once again blown away by the authentic flavor and taste that Tasty Bite puts into each of their entrees.  Since I love Indian food with a passion, then I want my Indian food to be good.  I want it to taste like Indian food.  And Tasty Bite accomplishes just that.  It’s incredible how good these little microwavable pouches actually are.  I continue to be impressed, surprised, and happy with my meal.

Today was a new flavor for me.  Today’s pouch introduced me to Spinach Dal.  Dal is lentils.  So, if you like lentils and spinach…well…this is a great opportunity for you to combine the two into one.  The Tasty Bite Spinach Dal entree is spinach that has been cooked down and combined with yellow lentils.  This forms an amazing sauce that is packed with nutrients and protein.  These two components are accented with a variety of spices (including ginger, garlic, sugar, chilies, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, and pepper) as well as water, tomatoes and onions.  What emerges is this great green spinach-y sauce with tons of flavor, seasoned to perfection, with yellow lentils swimming throughout.  The texture is great.  The taste is superb.  You’ll be blown away by it.  I hoovered mine down, which isn’t always a good thing to do before going for a run, but I was hungry…and loving every bite.

Nutritionally speaking, the Tasty Bite Spinach Dal is a powerhouse of nutrients.  One serving is half of the pouch, which dishes up only 100 calories and 5 grams of fat.  One serving also provides 480 mg sodium and 2 grams of sugar.  Not too shabby for a shelf-stable item, right?  And one serving will give you 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein as well.

Once again, Tasty Bite exceeds all expectations and wows me once again with their bold flavors, their ability to replicate Indian food to perfection, and just how easy they are to prepare.  Just a 90 second zap in the microwave and serve.  Add it over rice, eat it on its own or add it to a meal to change it up or turn it up a notch.  I saw a recipe on their Web site where someone placed Spinach Dal on a pizza crust.  Sounds delicious, yes?

The possibilities are endless…and taste oh, so good!

Tasty Bite Spinach Dal over jasmine rice
Tasty Bite Spinach Dal over jasmine rice

Product Review: Tasty Bite Aloo Palak

Tasty Bite Aloo Palak
Tasty Bite Aloo Palak

Product: Tasty Bite Aloo Palak – $3.29+

Indian food is love, yes?

Of course it is.  In fact, this coming Friday I’m heading out to my favorite Indian restaurant here in town with my roomie and my friend Jenn because we are prepping for the trip to Chicago early Saturday morning for my marathon.  Pardon me while I freak out a wee tiny bit here.  Or a lot.  Take your pick.

Ahem.

Unfortunately, I don’t make enough money to afford to feed (see what I did there?) my Indian food habit.  Nope.  I’m a poor, starving, soon-to-be marathoner who loves to eat but can’t always justify the means.  And, I grew up eating Indian food thanks to my neighbors who were from India.  I loved being invited to eat dinner with them because the food was so different and seasoned so different than what I was used to.  It was love at first bite…and continues that path.

So, when I get a hankering for Indian food…or it happens to be a Monday when I need a quick bite before speeding over to my fun run group after work, well, I turn to Tasty Bite.  Because they bring Indian food to my kitchen in the easiest form possible.  Yep.  A microwavable pouch.

Don’t turn your nose up at the microwave.  It has its uses…aside from blowing things up or making butter get everywhere when you’re just trying to soften it…

You can’t mock something until you try it.  And you’ll want to give Tasty Bite a chance.  Especially if you like Indian food.  The flavors are so authentic.  And all the ingredients…they’re natural, not over processed or made of chemicals.  You will recognize every single one of them printed on that little yellow pouch of curried goodness in your grocery store.  Peace of mind…and delicious food?  Yep…it is possible.  Very possible.

Two weeks ago…because I’m behind…yes…two weeks ago, I used the magical microwave powers to heat up and create a delicious pre-run meal…with the help of Tasty Bite.  And this week’s flavor…Aloo Palak.

Those of you unfamiliar with Indian cuisine, Aloo Palak is simply potatoes and spinach that are simmered together with onions, tomatoes and spices.  What might these spices be?  Well…ginger, garlic, sugar, chilies, and turmeric.  That’s not so scary, right?  Exactly!  And the best part is…it all comes together beautifully.

Now, don’t judge me, because I admit I double-starched this meal.  I cooked up two servings of jasmine rice to serve this entree over.  It’s not necessary, but I do love having rice with my Indian food.  So…potatoes and rice.  Consider it…carbing up for the 3 mile run I was going to be doing.

Double starch or not…Tasty Bite’s Aloo Palak is delicious.  It’s filling.  It’s mild…meaning it won’t bother your tummy if you eat and run like I do.  I love my spicy food, believe me…but not 30 minutes before I go for a 3 or more mile run.  Yeah…not good.  But…this one…the potatoes beef it up.  The spinach is creamy and just makes a great sauce for the potatoes to bed in.  The tomatoes and onions give it a sweet and savory feel.  The spices…they give it that Indian flare.  When you eat Indian food, you want it to taste ethnic.  You want to feel like you are in India.  This little pouch of gluten-free, vegan, kosher, culinary goodness delivers that flavor.  No questions asked.  It’s a little taste of India…straight out of your microwave.  No passport required.  Just a spoon.  Or a fork.  Whatever you wish.

I loved this.  I wish I had eaten the whole pouch myself.  But…I don’t want the roomie to starve either…so I share.

Let’s talk nutrition, since I already covered ingredients.  A serving is 1/2 of the pouch of Tasty Bite Aloo Palak.  This dishes up 100 calories and 3 grams of fat.  Each serving will give you 400 mg of sodium and 3 grams of sugar.  That’s not bad for something packaged.  And you get dished up 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein as well.  In addition, this meal is cholesterol free and trans-fat free.  Love it.

If you are unfamiliar with Indian food and don’t want to risk a trial with a local restaurant…make Tasty Bite your first stop.  If you love Indian food, but just can’t justify yet another meal out at your favorite place…make Tasty Bite your next option.  Honestly, Tasty Bite is one of the best heat and eat meals out there…and they do Indian food right.  Transport yourself to Indian food awesomeness in just 90 seconds.  Grab a spoon…and dig in.

Tasty Bite Aloo Palak over jasmine rice
Tasty Bite Aloo Palak over jasmine rice

A quick Tasty Bite of Spinach Channa in one little package

Tasty Bite Spinach Channa
Tasty Bite Spinach Channa

Product: Tasty Bite Spinach Channa – $3.29+

Tasty Bite keeps winning me over.  Honestly.  If there is one thing that this company knows…it is flavor.  And even more importantly…flavor profiles.  Because what Tasty Bite continues to manage, time and time again, is to get the perfect blend of spices and ingredients to work together…in this little microwavable pouch.  Most naysayers would say it couldn’t be done.  But, as they have proven over and over again…it can.

I remember first spotting Tasty Bite products on the shelf of my local grocery store.  Then…I started seeing more (and other varieties) at the other grocery stores I go to each week (which is between 4-6, honestly).  When they went on sale at my grocery store, my roommate and I decided to stock up on the varieties they had…and just hope that they were good.

This was, quite honestly, the best decision we ever made.

You see…we are very busy, very active, very on-the-go people.  And there are certain days of the week where cooking a full meal just doesn’t work.  When we have places to go and appointments to make, there is just no way I can spend that sort of time in the kitchen.  It just isn’t possible.  Take Monday’s for example.  Yesterday…after running in the morning…then working 8 hours…then with my group fun run that evening at 6 p.m…and travel over into Louisville being figured in, I basically had time to either cook up a Tasty Bite meal…or make a grilled cheese sandwich.

I decided to do the Indian food.  Spinach Channa was the next one on the list.  What is Spinach Channa?

I cooked up some jasmine rice the evening before, so you can tell which won out in the end.  It’s basically chickpeas that are simmered with savory spinach, some herbs, some spices, and given a little kick with the addition of chilies.  It sounded great because I absolutely love chickpeas and spinach.  And…chilies in everything makes me a happy girl.  Give me something with a bit of a kick and what you have is one very, very happy gluten-free vegetarian.

One thing that I love about these Tasty Bite packages is how simple they are.  They are good to eat on their own, but if you want to boost the staying power, you can pair it with a protein, pour it over rice, or however else you choose to eat it.  Putting it over rice is always my method.  Anyway, once you decide how you are going to enjoy your Tasty Bite meal…the rest is simple.  Tear a 2 inch slit into the top of the package and pop it into the microwave for 90 seconds.  When done…serve however you choose.  For me…I pour the now steamy warm contents over my jasmine rice and settle in to eat.

So, how exactly does the pairing of various herbs and spices with spinach and chickpeas taste?  Just as amazing as it sounds.  The spinach is cooked down into this green, thick, soup-like sauce.  The chickpeas are scattered throughout that.  And the flavors…they are to die for.  Just the right amount of heat from the chilies.  The rest…it just all blends together.  It makes for one tasty, tasty meal.  I really loved the flavors of this one.  Not as much as the Vegetable Korma…but this one is good in its own right.  Savory…with a small mild heat.  And I mean…mild.  My roommate is a spice wimp and she didn’t say anything about heat level on this one.  So…it’s just enough to give it this added something.  That’s all.

Now comes the science part…the ingredients and the nutritional information.  Ready?

First of all, one thing that Tasty Bite does pride itself on is their ingredients.  They use no preservatives and many of their options are gluten-free.  Take Spinach Channa for example…since that’s what I am reviewing.  The Spinach Channa is gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and kosher.  Everything that goes into the package is an actual food.  No chemicals.  No artificial additives.  Just pure ingredients.  The ingredient list on this one is simple and small: water, spinach, chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, sunflower oil, garlic, ginger, salt, cumin, chilies, turmeric, and spices.  Recognize all of those?  I sure do.  And that is a comfort.

Now…for the nutritional part.  One serving of Tasty Bite Spinach Channa (5 ounces…or half the pouch) will serve you up 130 calories and 6 grams of fat.  For being a shelf-stable option, the 490 mg of sodium isn’t too bad.  It’s on the lower end of most processed foods.  And much lower than some soups out on the market.  Each serving also provides a filling 6 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.  LOVE that.

And, honestly, I loved every bite of Tasty Bite’s Spinach Channa.  It was filling.  It provided great energy for my evening run, with nothing that upset my stomach.  Indian food before a run isn’t everyone’s choice, but with the mild flavors and pairing it with rice, it’s ideal.  Honestly.  Oh…let’s not forget that it tastes AMAZING.  Great flavors, great food, great company.  And a great variety to choose from!

But…when in doubt…go for something simple.  Spinach Channa is a great place to start.

What more could you want?  Except, perhaps, another Tasty Bite…

Tasty Bite Spinach Channa over jasmine rice
Tasty Bite Spinach Channa over jasmine rice

Tasty Bite’s Vegetable Korma a palate-pleasing favorite for Indian food

Tasty Bite Vegetable Korma
Tasty Bite Vegetable Korma

Product: Tasty Bite Vegetable Korma – $3.29+

You will find this dish on pretty much every Indian restaurant menu you go into.  Why?  Because it is just one amazing meal that is so full of different flavors and textures, it’s actually exciting to eat.  This is no exaggeration.  Welcome…to my Monday tradition of easy, fast food…so I can get across the river and go running.

Thank goodness for meals for the busy people in this world.  Tasty Bite has mastered the art of creating not only meals that are ethnic, interesting, and super-tasty…but that are also quick and easy to prepare.  A simple warming in the microwave for 90 seconds and you’re set and ready to eat.  Make it into more of a meal by pairing it with rice or a protein…and dinner/lunch/whatever…is served.

This Monday was like every other Monday prior.  I have a running group I adore and always want to make the Monday fun runs that are hosted from my favorite local running store.  LOVE the people who work there, who run there, and who just come in there.  These are good people.  And missing a run always bums me out.  Therefore, in the limited amount of time I have after getting off work, getting home, getting ready to run…it leaves very little time to actually prepare and eat a dinner.  Besides, before running for at least 3 miles…I don’t want anything too heavy.  Carbs are a must.  Protein is a must.  Time is of the essence.

Tasty Bite seems to fit the description.

And lucky me…I have a pantry full of these easy, quick, and very flavorful pouches of awesomeness.

This Monday…the next flavor on the tasting menu was…Vegetable Korma.

Vegetable Korma is one of the most popular dishes on Indian menus everywhere.  And why wouldn’t it be?  For one thing, it is packed with fresh and delicious varieties of vegetables.  In this case, onion, corn, carrots, potatoes, and spinach.  Lots of vegetables, because they are the star of the meal.  But, with Indian food especially, you have to flavor it…season it…get that right balance of spice in each bite.  And this little meal was heightened by the addition of coconut milk, yogurt, sunflower oil, garlic, chickpea flour, salt, chilies, spices, and turmeric.  Are you drooling yet?

You will be.  What emerges after a short 90 second zap in the microwave is a steaming pouch that contains what has become my favorite Tasty Bite meal to date.  It isn’t much to look at…not really.  The sauce is sort of this light green color (the spinach), and it’s laden with chunks of vegetables (LOVE IT).  But…it’s not always what it looks like that is any indication of what food tastes like.  And that is especially true with ethnic foods.  Indian foods more often than others.  Take it from me…you can’t just a food simply by its looks.  What is hidden inside is what makes each meal sing.

So why did Vegetable Korma overtake every other Tasty Bite meal I have tried to become my favorite?  Well…it has this warming curry flavor to it…and it has the savory taste of the garlic and onion and spices.  Top that off with the earthiness of the vegetables that make up the dish itself.  But what really sets it apart…is that addition of the corn.  You get this fantastic pop of sweet flavor with each bite.

It’s simple.  It’s easy.  And it’s amazing.  I don’t just say that about anything.  As I normally do, I served this over some freshly cooked jasmine rice.  It was just filling enough that I didn’t feel like I’d have it still in my stomach when I went running, but didn’t leave me still feeling hungry.

Perfection.

With that being said, let’s take a quick glance at the nutrition offered up by Tasty Bite’s Vegetable Korma.  A serving is 1/2 of the pouch.  This serving will provide you with 130 calories and 6 grams of fat.  You will also 430 mg of sodium, which isn’t bad for a pre-packaged, shelf-stable meal.  This serving also gives you 4 grams of sugar.  Aside from that, you feel satisfied after eating it thanks to the 5 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein each serving provides.  It’s a nutrient powerhouse.  Even better, this particular product is also gluten-free, vegetarian, and kosher.

LOVE IT!

No, honestly…I do.  As I said, one bite and I was certain this would be my new favorite.  It’s amazing.  It’s incredible.  It’s beyond delicious.  It once again proves that Tasty Bite knows what they are doing when they put these meals together and sell them to the masses.  I keep going back for more, wanting to try the different varieties that I can on a gluten-free, vegetarian diet.  And the best part is…that doesn’t eliminate too many of Tasty Bite’s meals.  Love that.

So, if you have a busy night ahead of you and are in need of something good, yummy, and just awesome to eat…go to your grocery store…find the Tasty Bite packs and pick up one or a couple.  But…if you are choosing just to do one…I highly recommend the Vegetable Korma.  It exceeds all expectations by leaps and bounds.  Honestly good food…one tasty bite after another!

Tasty Bite Vegetable Korma over jasmine rice
Tasty Bite Vegetable Korma over jasmine rice