Review: Smart Made Grilled Sesame Beef & Broccoli

The Shameless Consumer is a well known philanthropist and connoisseur when it comes to smart things made smartly by smart people, so when the new brand Smart Made by Smart Ones smartly struck the Smart Mart where the Smartful Smartsumer partakes in what less smart people might refer to as “shopping for groceries,” he couldn’t smart up the opportunismart for a smart meal with smart smartgredients. Can someone smart me a smartbulence? I think I’m smarting a stroke.

Smart Made by Smart Ones is a new brand offshoot looking to capitalize on the whole “ingredients you can pronounce” craze that’s sweeping the nation’s 7th grade reading level, words that don’t have too many syllables and sound just foreign enough to be exotic without sounding too foreign. You don’t want to go frightening everyone in WalMart. The first product I’ll be looking at is grilled sesame beef and broccoli, a meal made only with products I can pronounce like “vegetable blend,” “cooked brown rice,” and “seasoned cooked grilled sirloin beef steak strips and corn starch product.” Gotta love that corn starch product. I can pronounce all of those, I can even partially spell them.

Smart Made describes this product as “grilled sirloin beef with broccoli, roasted red peppers and onions over brown rice lightly tossed in soy sesame sauce.”

Despite all of its boasting about simplicity, Make Good’s cooking instructions include five steps. Step one is to vent, which following a thirty minute long tirade on the statistical health benefits of gradually adding Kraft cheese powder to the public drinking water, the only thing I’d accomplished was that the meal had started to thaw and leave beef condensation on my unopened copy of Copout on VHS. In the name of time, I decided to finish up step one and throw the dish into the microwave, punch in the odd symbols, and cook the bastard like yesterday’s yogurt.

Smart Made Sesame Beef & Broccolli by Smart Ones is a smart deal, and cooks up rather nice to boot. What you get is a healthy dose of steak, veggies, and rice, and just the right amount of sauce. Not so little that you’re desperately licking the sides of the bowl, but not too much that you can’t take a mid-meal nap without worrying about drowning.

The broccoli and snap peas were all kinds of crunchy, like running over a hard shell taco on a gravel driveway crunchy, and there was a surprising amount of beef considering how much the frozen food industry likes to skimp out on the meat. I did not notice a quantifiable number of sesame seeds on my beef, but I’m holding out hope that they’ll show up thanks to a somewhat misleading phone call to the police and the resulting amber alert sent out at 3am for a ‘Sasamay Se’yad.” I know someone is going to call me out for abusing emergency services, but unless you’re one of the eight, max nine phone calls that the 911 operator told me I’d tied up before giving up and doing what I said, you’re just complaining for no reason.

Frozen dinner technology has made great strides over the years, with the end result being that vegetables come out of the microwave with an impressive level of crunch and flavor. We’re quickly hitting a point where it’s getting hard to tell the difference between home cooked and flash frozen, although in my case the latter leaves me with my eyebrows intact and the apartment smelling less someone burned their eyebrows off. Just think of how far we’ve come since Soviet scientists completed groundbreaking tests back in 1964, successfully flash freezing a German Shepard named Beef Stroganoff only to later unfreeze him with scientists remarking that the tests were 100% safe and could be replicated with a low sodium soy sauce.

The sauce itself falls into the usual category of ‘could use some pepper.’ There’s not a whole lot of variety in soy sauce mixed with pineapple juice, but the meal makes good of it nonetheless. The fact that the vegetables have their own flavor definitely brings this meal out as something worth eating.

The only shortfall is exactly where you’d expect in a meal counting calories, it probably won’t fill you up. Still, the Smart Made by Smart One uses good ingredients, it tastes good, and it’s probably good for your in some understanding of the concept of healthy. It definitely will stave off starvation, and I’m pretty sure the test results will lean toward that being a good thing.

Verdict: 4.5/5 – Better ingredients, tasty corn starch product.


Review: Smart Ones Strawberry Shortcake

Whenever I think of Weight Watchers Smart Ones Desserts, my mind drifts back to a theoretical board meeting where some guy, let’s call him Harry, is being carried around on the shoulders of his well dressed and normally businesslike partners, while they all sing “for he’s a jolly good fellow.” You see, Harry has just come across the greatest idea since disproportionate photographs in advertising. Instead of shopping their desserts in their intended role, the middle pocket in a Hungry Man frozen dinner, why not sell them by themselves for $1 a piece? Harry gives himself a pat on the back as his coworkers carry him out of the board room, completely oblivious to the fact that in ten minutes he will be thrown over the balcony of the Weight Watchers tower in the bloodiest coup since General Mills led his troops to capture the great cereal empire. Unless my history is wrong, that is.

Weight Watchers, named so to advertise to someone like myself who might casually glance at the nutrition facts while I eat the entire box, is generally associated with a more health-conscious type of consumer, and in the worst way possible: Tiny portions. In order to cram something moderately dessert-like into a 120 calorie, 4 grams of fat package, that meant removing most of the strawberries. And the shortcake.

What is left is a product slightly longer than the length of a gameboy advance cartridge. For comparison, the amount of space contained by the food is about the length of your pinky finger. Each cake has 210mg of sodium, or about a third of a loaded potato skin from TGIF. The box also claims 2% Vitamin A and 4% Calcium.

After eating most of the box, I still cannot figure out from what depth of mass production hell that the whipped cream came from that after a short trip in the microwave simultaneously melted and then turned into a frothy curdle which I can only compare to the texture of those Yoplait Yogurt whips. The strawberry filling is exactly what you’ll find in a package of strawberry shortcake filling. The “moist yellow cake” has been pushed deep into the tray so that almost all of the air is let out, which in hindsight is probably a blessing as what I assumed would be a soggy mess actually kept its form during the cooking and eating process. The whipped cream, for what it is worth, adds to the taste and the overall flavor and texture is appealing.

Like any other Smart Ones dessert, the Strawberry Shortcake is only “satisfying” if you are a small child or have the appetite of a small child. Alternatively this is a great product if you fit the Weight Watchers stereotype of women who treat dessert like a heroin addict treats his next fix: Just enough to satisfy your habit but not enough to fall into a full blown dependency. Otherwise, this is about as satisfying as paying a dollar for one of those sample cups of sausage they hand out at the supermarket.

Pros: Can be eaten in about two scoops, thus is great if in a rush. Is not filling at all, and thus is not an impediment to your hunger.

Cons: Is not filling at all. Isn’t necessarily billed as “healthy for you” as it is “not as bad as the alternative.” Should really be considered a shortcake vitamin.