Friday, May 29, 2015

Feel Good Foods Gluten-Free Asian Meals Review

Asian food is one of the few ethnic culinary dialects that is somewhat conducive to gluten-free dining. However, when dining out, there still exist gluten-free danger zones, namely the presence of gluten-filled soy sauce and other glutenous ingredients. 

As a busy college student with a shortage of gluten-friendly restaurants in town, I have come to rely on Feel Good Food's vegetable egg rolls as a staple meal in my collegiate dining rotation. 

Feel Good Foods brings the deliciousness of Asian cuisine right to your freezer, and serves up a side dish of peace of mind as all meals are gluten-free and designed to be free from preservatives or artificial additives. Recently, they expanded their line to include Asian meals and other favorite dishes. Eager to put them to the test, I made sure to load up on a recent Whole Foods trip and came home with pad see ew, mu shu chicken, and vegetable dumplings.

Starting first with the dumplings, which are the first gluten and dairy-free ones on the market, the preparation method (pan-frying) was a little new to me, but explained well on the packaging. Simply add oil and water to a nonstick skillet and the dumplings will literally pan fry themselves as the water evaporates. My first go at cooking the dumplings, I must admit did not go too well as I tried to cook too many dumplings in the size pan I used. I also made the mistake of trying to flip the dumplings mid-fry which resulted in ripped open, stuck together dumplings (see below).



For my second attempt, I used a wider, not-as-deep pan, which resulted in perfectly cooked dumplings: doughy on one side, crunchy on the other. In both instances, even though my first trial was not as picture-perfect, I loved the taste of the dumplings, whose vegetable filling reminded me of the vegetable egg roll filling I adore. I love the flavorful ingredients that include finely shredded cabbage and carrots, thin vermicelli, and mushrooms. The doughy encasements are chewy (in the best possible way), but are super sticky, so have to be eat fork-n-knife style. These vegetable dumplings really impressed me, and will definitely be a staple of dorm cooking this fall.



Moving next to the mu shu chicken entree (stir-fry chicken and vegetables) I was eager to see how this Asian twist on tacos would fare in my taste trials. Less complicated in its prep method (oven bake or microwave), I really did not like the packaging because the "pancakes" (think: rice tortillas) were packaged in a bowl with the filling. Per the instructions, I had to slice open the packaging, remove the pancakes, then microwave the filling and pancakes separately. As it happened, the pancakes were frustratingly hard to remove and still frozen, they snapped into several pieces with minimal effort. I was able to salvage two of the three, but the odd packaging did not make a great first impression.

Luckily, the entree took no time to change my opinion back the other way. The chicken, cabbage, mushroom filling is wonderfully flavored with notes of soy sauce, garlic, ginger, green onion, and pepper. I equate it in taste and texture to the filling for lettuce wraps you might find at an Asian restaurant. I would totally eat it on its own without the pancakes, and would definitely like to experiment in the future by serving the mixture over brown rice for another twist. The pancakes were super messy to consume, but added an element of fun to the meal. The tortillas really could not hold too much of the vegetable mixture before splitting apart along the fold, but they did taste good, as pancakes (again, tortillas) go.



While last in this line up, the pad see ew (broad noodles with chicken and Chinese broccoli) is certainly not least. This time, I prepared it via the oven method, as I've found that I prefer it over microwaves when cooking noodles. The dish takes 50 minutes to cook, but when it emerges, you're instantly transported to a fine Asian restaurant with the smell and taste of the dish. 


The thick, flat noodles are supple and cooked to perfection, twirling effortlessly onto a fork. They are joined by tender chicken and pieces of Chinese broccoli, which seemed more bitter to me than the traditional produce I'm familiar with; however this bitterness was not a turnoff, but instead added complexity to the sweet, sour, and savory flavors. The whole mix is coated with a wonderful sweet and sour sauce that draws from the flavors of garlic, lime, cane sugar, and soy sauce- among others- to create a delicious, perfectly portioned entree. This dish really impressed me, and earned top marks for being the least labor intensive to prepare. 


All of Feel Goods Products earn my seal of approval. They are the perfect gateway to enjoying Asian cuisine without having to risk cross contamination at a restaurant, much less leaving the house. I'm so glad to have gotten hooked on them at the Natural Products Expo East, and have been able to rely on them as a freezer staple both at home and at school.

I have found Feel Goods Foods' products in Orlando at Whole Foods and Hoover's Market. In Baltimore, I have found Feel Good Foods products at Whole Foods, Mom's Organic Market, and Wegmans. For more information on Feel Good Foods, their history, commitment to gluten-free food, store locator, and full product line, click here.

Disclaimer: This review is current to the original publication date. Updates will be noted. Ingredients and manufacturing processes can change without notice. Each product should be reviewed for individual nutritional needs. Feel free to to contact me with any questions or comments. This review is a reflection of my own personal opinion and has not been influenced in any way. 

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