Those of you at the Allergy Show last weekend can’t have failed to notice the huge presence by ilumi, a new brand of nut, dairy and gluten-free ready meals. I covered their launch, but having only tried two of their products, I was curious to try more.
They very kindly sent me some samples, which included the vegetable tagine. Regular readers of this blog will know that I don’t normally eat ready meals, but I was honestly trying to keep an open mind as I tried it.
Firstly, let’s go through the nutritional credentials:
- 308 calories per pack
- 9.5g fat (1.4g saturates)
- 41g carbs (15g sugars)
- 8.8g protein
- 1.05g salt
It’s actually pretty decent for a ready meal, and I think it would make a good lunch if you’re in an office with a microwave. It’s nut, dairy, egg and gluten-free. The list of ingredients is reassuringly home made, consisting of vegetables, spices, chickpeas and brown rice.
The big downside (for me) is that it is meant to be microwaved, and I don’t have one. It’s not because of some holier-than-thou moral judgement against the microwave as a tool of our dwindling connection with food, I just don’t really have space for one (and the Vitamix and KitchenAid MUST stay!). This means that I heated it up on the hob, so I added a little water to stop it sticking. So mine came out a little mushier than it would do from the microwave.
Let’s have a look at the packaging:
I’ve got to hand it to them, they’ve done a great job with the branding and packaging. It doesn’t look like some sad little Free From ready meal, it looks modern and enticing. It’s incredibly appealing to me that the ingredients are listed on the front of the pack.
If you’ve never cooked a ready meal on the hob, you may not realise how gross they all look before they are heated up.
There’s nothing much you can do about this except plop it in the pan and add a little water. Somedays I really wish I had a big enough kitchen for a microwave!
Luckily, it improves greatly upon heating:
So how did it taste? Well, pretty good! One thing I can commend ilumi for is their use of spices and herbs which makes for a good depth of flavour. It was perhaps a little sweet for my liking but Moroccan food is traditionally very sweet, as anyone who has tasted their mint tea will agree on! (In Marrakesh I was served a small glass of mint tea with 5 – yes, 5 – teaspoons of sugar in it! The reason they use so much is allegedly because they use gunpowder green tea, which has a bitter taste).
Overall I was impressed with this meal, and think it would be rather good for lunch at the office (you know, the imaginary office I no longer go to). At £2.50 it’s cheaper than many lunch options in supermarkets and on a par with some of the sadder looking sandwiches. If I could wave my magic Sam wand and change anything, I’d probably take out the brown rice. Totally personal, but I would prefer to mix it in with freshly cooked rice.
8/10 – jolly good show ilumi!