Every now and then I go gluten-free sleuthing at the grocery store. That means I randomly pick up products and start reading the ingredients to see if they might be gluten-free. I’ve found several things that were gluten-free, but not labeled as such when doing this. I’ve also found items that were labeled gluten-free, which is extra exciting for me. It’s likely that I might be flagged as one strange shopper at Publix. Most people don’t pick up thirty items, read the labels and walk out of the grocery store with only two things, after all.
Last week, I went grocery shopping with my husband and that’s not the best time to go gluten-free sleuthing. He’s a “get whatever is on the list and get out” kind of shopper. I’m whatever the opposite of that is. As I wandered rather aimlessly down the frozen food case aisle, the bright red Smart Ones boxes caught my eye. When I pulled the Santa Fe Style Rice & Beans out of the freezer, I noticed that the words “Weight Watchers” were listed above the product name. The ingredients were on one end of the box and the font was extremely tiny, but I thought I saw the words “GLUTEN-FREE” on the lower right side below the ingredient list. I assumed my eyes were playing tricks on me as I didn’t have my cheater glasses on so I pulled them out and sure enough, the product donned those magical two words – gluten-free.
Into the cart my new gluten-free find went, even though the ingredient list was longer than any product I’ve seen in a while. The meal is 6 Weight Watchers points and has 310 calories. There is 16% of the RDA of fiber in it, but it contains 660mg of sodium. Yikes! Overall, I would not put this meal in the category of healthy products. However, in a pinch, it’s always good to know what convenience foods are readily available on the shelves of mainstream grocery stores. And as one who knows that gluten-free replacement foods often contain too much fat, sugar and calories, having a low cal meal with that much fiber (that cooks in the microwave) might come in handy every once in a while.
So, how was the actual taste of the Santa Fe Style Rice & Beans meal? I’m happy to report that it was surprisingly good. In fact, if it were not for the number of hard to pronounce ingredients in it, I’d probably keep it on hand in the freezer. It was a very flavorful meal and was quite filling, though it could have been spicier. We went through Santa Fe once and enjoyed some of the best Mexican food of our lives. This meal pales in comparison to the food in the city from which it gets its name, but it was tasty none-the-less.
When I contacted Heinz, who owns the Smart Ones line, they sent me a list of all of their gluten-free products. To my surprise, there were six other gluten-free meals in the Smart Ones line up listed. In addition to the meal I bought, the following meals are also gluten-free:
- Smart Ones Broccoli & Cheddar Potatoes
- Smart Ones Lemon Herb Chicken Piccata
- Smart Ones Fiesta Chicken
- Smart Ones Chicken Santa Fe
- Smart Ones Cranberry Turkey Medallions
- Smart Ones Honey Dijon Chicken