This is a guest post by Ellen.
I like healthy and easy to prepare food so much that for my recent birthday, I was gifted with a giant box of Aldi vegetarian and vegan easy meals. The assortment was so daunting that I decided to begin my journey by going for the item first to expire: the Green Giant Fresh Pad Thai Bowl with Carrot Noodles, with Thai Inspired Sunflower Butter Sauce. These ALDI Finds (Special Buys) are vegan friendly and gluten free.
Check the date on these bowls before you load up. On the day I received it, which was the day it was purchased, it had three days left before the best by date.
The directions are located on the bottom of the container, so it’s a good idea to read them before taking the lid off the top. The instructions are pretty easy: Remove film and add sauce to veggies; Microwave 2–3 minutes; Let stand 2 minutes in microwave; then it’s time to stir and eat.
Items required? Microwave, fork, and scissors.
The first thing I noticed when I opened the package is that the dish consists entirely of noodles made out of carrots. Did that seem obvious to you? I suppose the title should’ve given it away, yet somehow the Pollyanna in me had hoped for at least a little bit of parsley or onion or something other than a big mound of noodle-y carrots.
To prepare the dish, you first add the sauce that comes in a plastic packet. I found that by hand all I could get by tearing at the packet was a tiny little opening in the corner, so if you take this to work — and it’s packaged nicely for a work lunch — be sure you have scissors at the ready.
The sauce is thick and comes out of the bag nicely once the whole top is cut off. You can’t really mix the sauce with the carrots when it’s cold.
There was nothing in the instructions about keeping the bowl covered while heating, but I did. I have a plastic, ventilated microwave cover and used that. There didn’t seem to be any splattering during heating so it probably would be okay either way. For my money, though, I’d rather cover than have to clean the microwave.
I’m not much of a rule follower, but since I knew I’d be writing about my experience I did actually wait the recommended two minutes before taking my lunch out of the micro. My guess is that the two minutes is part of the whole thing about how stuff that we heat up gets hot and if you handle it when it’s too hot that’s not wise and you could get hurt. For me and for my microwave, I thought the two minutes was too long to wait and the meal wasn’t as hot as I would’ve liked by the time I got it out and stirred it up and started eating.
Once heated, the sauce spread easily and there was enough to coat all the pseudo noodles, aka, carrots.
On to Eating
First off, remember that all the calorie and nutrition information on the back of the bowl? I didn’t realize until later when I turned my empty bowl over that the dish is designed to contain two servings. My plan to eat it for lunch meant that I ate the entire thing, as that was all I was having.
First bite observations: nice, with a very light flavor to the sauce. The carrots were cooked through yet still delightfully crunchy. The savory sauce was a nice counterpoint to the sweetness of the carrots.
After a few bites, it became a bit monotonous and the carrots started to taste too sweet for my savory-leaning palate. Overall, the flavor was a bit bland and I was wishing for a bit more contrast in texture. I ended up adding a handful of salted peanuts and the added salt and texture did wonders. I finished the bowl and it did keep me full until mid-afternoon.
As I looked at the ingredients more closely (AFTER I finished, since I ate it out of the container and the info was on the bottom), I saw that the product contains 6 grams of added sugar per serving. I don’t think it’s necessary. Carrots are naturally sweet enough for me.
Would I buy the Green Giant Fresh Pad Thai Bowl with carrot noodles again? Probably not. Ultimately, it was too sweet for me, and at the same time, too bland. I already eat a lot of raw carrots, so I don’t feel the need for more carrots in my diet. I’d rather have a noodle bowl made out of noodles, with no added sugar. Adding some salted nuts enhanced the flavor and gave it a bit more personality; however, it added more sodium to the 800 mg per serving already there.
Since I ate the whole thing myself, I got way more sodium and sugar than anyone needs in one meal. If I did buy it again, I think a better idea would be to make two meals out of it and have it as a side dish with something else.
Other than the added sugar, the ingredients are fairly clean. I’m curious to try some of the other bowl flavors and see how they compare.
Ellen is a human who is easily distracted by shiny things and really likes to eat easy, healthy, vegetarian food.