The Cruelty-Free Review

A review of compassionate products, foods, and recipes

Lunch Express

on August 24, 2012


Two reviews for the price of one! How lucky are you readers? 🙂

Last week I posted my haul from Nooch and a couple of the items I picked up were Dr. McDougall’s microwave lunches. I’ve posted my love for easy (read: microwave) lunches in previous posts so it’s just par for the course that I would start off my reviews of the cool vegan stuff I got with these products. I’ll begin with the ramen.

Since going veg my cravings for greasy burgers, pink-centered pork chops, and bologna sandwiches have long since faded. Okay the cravings for bologna faded long before that, but that’s beside the point. I don’t physically desire meat anymore but every once in a while I’ll smell a food that triggers a (happily) long-forgotten memory of my omnivore days.  I had one of those moments recently when co-worker cooked up a Chicken Cup-O-Noodles. There was just something about the smell that put me on edge and had me desiring the classic poor college student meal.  Now, I used to eat ramen noodles like they were going out of style when I was younger. Part of that is because ramen was (and still is) very, very cheap and at times that was all my mom could afford. I could eat them every day and not get tired of them. Even as adults Robert and I have had our fair share of ramen dinners just because they are so easy to make. Becoming vegetarian didn’t slow me down much, thanks to the “oriental” flavor, though I have no idea exactly what flavor it’s supposed to represent. I’d eat them when I was sick, to satiate late-night hunger, and when I was too lazy to make anything else. It is a comfort food to me but of course I’ve been looking for a suitable replacement.   How lucky it was that I’d made this purchase just a few days earlier! Almost as if I foresaw the craving coming.  As the noodles were cooking I had a moment of doubt that they would live up to my expectations but I should have known better. The ‘chicken’ flavor was so similar to what I remembered and the noodles were just as slurp-worthy. The noodles here are baked, not fried, resulting in only 1 gram of fat compared to the 13g (7g saturated) found in the Nissan brand.  The best part is that Dr. McDougall’s doesn’t have nearly the amount of sodium as Cup-O-Noodles (680g vs. 1480g) and I didn’t bloat up like a balloon when I was done eating. I’m happy to have been able to quiet that little mental omnivore that still inhabits a small part of my brain 🙂

Now on to the masala lentil pilaf. I love Indian food. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t try it until 2 years ago, but now I know better! Indian food had the best combination of savory and sweet flavors, which is my personal favorite combination 🙂 Plus it is probably the most vegan and vegetarian friendly cuisine that I know of.  It is from Indian food that I learned that spices can make or break a dish, especially when it comes to vegan cooking.

Here, lentils and rice create a base for a hearty meal that hardly tastes like microwave fare. Fragrant cumin and cardamom bring to mind all the classic flavors of the traditional masala dishes while adding a little kick of spice. The lentils stayed firm so it didn’t taste like a cup of mush.  The raisins add a much welcomed pop of sweetness that helps temper the spice. With 8g of protein and only 280 calories this cup of deliciousness makes for a filling lunch; I was full for about 4 hours before I even started feeling a rumbly in my tumbly. Throw some veg or tofu in there and you will have a perfect meal.

I know it’s easy to find Dr. McDougall’s products at Whole Foods; I’ve passed them up many a time while shopping. I guess it just took having a few varieties highlighted on Nooch’s shelves for me to take notice. They have a ton of flavors of noodles and soups and even some oatmeal that I really want to try. It’s nice to have a variety of healthy, easy to make meals with the cooler months coming up. Check out the entire line of Dr. McDougalls’ foods here and pick up a few good sounding ones for go-to meals on the days you want to put more effort into your cocktail than dinner 😉


6 responses to “Lunch Express

  1. Barb says:

    I didn’t know the top ramen brand oriental ones were vegan! I had checked the other brand once (Maruchen, or something) and that one had beef- I sometimes buy those for Jason for “cheater pho”- guess I’ll have to switch to top ramen!

    I have one of those “entrees” in my drawer at work- I think it’s pad thai. It’s just waiting for a day when I need a little something warmer than my usual salad 🙂

    • Their chili flavor one is also vegan. There’s a lot of conflicting information about how vegan the Top Ramen ones are on the internet, but right on their website they say which contain no animal ingredients. I also googled all the suspicious sounding ingredients and from what I can tell, they’re good. But again, you do have to make sure you get the Top Ramen brand, not the Maruchen. Or, you can go with a tried and true vegan option like Dr. McDougalls 🙂

  2. Great reviews! I’m always nervous re: packaged meals because of the sodium. Thanks so much for showing us the nutritional information!!!

    • Thank you! I’m going to try and do that with all my food reviews. I think it’s helpful to see that info before even considering buying something new, especially if you have a particular food sensitiviy or ingredient you’re trying to avoid.

  3. Yum! I love that ramen. I havent tried the pilaf, but my lunch at work for a long time was either the McDougal’s miso or the “chicken” ramen. I loved how few calories were in them, and they were pretty filling. A person at the health food store where I bought one once said “do you KNOW how much sodium is in these?” Basically slapping my wrist for buying them. And I could only think, “if they are so bad, why is your store selling them??” But honestly, the sodium never bothered me. I don’t have hypertension and I dont salt my food.

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