Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Ilumi // Healthy, Ready Meals




As I am sure you are all well aware by now (especially if you follow me on Instagram) I like my food. I have a real sweet tooth, but if there's something I enjoy just as much - if not more - it's a good ol' healthy meal. Everyone has their own definition of healthy, but from the reading I've done and the response that I get from my body I know that I really benefit from limiting my intake of wheat and dairy. Not ideal when you also happen to be a chocoholic. The good news is that there is a company who seems to be on the same page as me.

Ilumi create ready meals that deliver in flavour, but are free from gluten, milk and nuts. They are prepared with ingredients from a list of approved suppliers, and each batch is taste-tested, which is great news for your taste buds, as well as your body if you suffer from any allergies. All of the recipes are cooked in a pressure cooker, which means that they can be sold in these ready-meal pouches which save on space, don't have to be refrigerated and don't use any unnecessary additives - healthy, on-the-go snack, anyone?

Ilumi really spoilt me and sent along four meals for me to try out from their new Mediterranean range. I'm a bit of a sucker for these sorts of dishes, so I jumped at the chance. These were munched on during the week that I was packing for my big move, so I can confirm that they are super easy to prepare in a short space of time. But enough of this chit chat, I know you're all really here so that you can see the food...


Mediterannean Style Rice with Pork & Chorizo*



On the first day, I helped myself to the rice with pork and chorizo. This was an entire meal in itself, and I was really pleased with the portion size. Not too big, not too small. I love my pork, but was worried that it would be overpowered by too much rice, which I often find boring after a while. I needn't have worried. This had a lovely balance of vegetable bits, rice and meaty chunks which gave it a lovely texture with a bit of bite. The slightly spicy sauce helps to keep the meal flavourful and moist - although if I were making this myself at home I would probably use a bit less sauce to bring out the meat a little better. I suppose that would make it difficult to heat up the ready-meal, though!


Basil & Garlic Chicken Meatballs in a Tomato Sauce*



I was particularly excited about this dish. I love chicken, but it is often served too bland or too dry for my taste. Not in this meal, though! I served mine with gluten-free pasta, and nothing else. I didn't want to mess with the flavours by adding too much, as the recipes really do speak for themselves. This had a gorgeous balance of herbs with garlic, and the meatball itself was beautifully succulent. There's something really luxurious for me about digging into a rich, tomato-ey sauce with something so packed full of flavour!


Peppery Tuscan Style Beef Stew*



Here we have another meal that had me all excited! I don't often make stews, or eat beef, so this was a real treat. The meat was beautifully tender and fell to pieces on my fork. Sometimes I find beef-based dished a little heavy, but the vibrant, peppery taste of the sauce balanced it beautifully, as well as the range of vegetables inside. This begs to be eaten with a crusty white roll on an Italian balcony overlooking Tuscany... I had one of the two. This had to be my favourite meal of them all, especially since such a flavour-some dish would usually take so long to make, and I had mine within three minutes.


Piri Piri Portuguese Style Rice*



I had my Piri Piri rice on my last day before moving, which meant putting it with some leftovers. This actually worked out well, as the rice added some spice and flavour to something that would have otherwise been a little bland. To really get the most out of this dish, I think that you would be better off serving it with some meat as I found the ratio of rice to everything else a little higher than I would have liked. Once again, the rice was a little more moist than I was expecting, but this would have been better balanced out with some meat. I'm thinking next time I'll go for a Piri Piri chicken breast, or perhaps adding the rice to some sort of wrap... the spicier the better!


All in all I think we're onto a winner... The best bit is that if Mediterranean isn't your thing, Ilumi have a whole range of other food choices from all around the world on their website! So, let's not leave all of the fun to those with dietary requirements. If I were you I'd pop over to their website and see what you fancy. Why not substitute that Friday night takeaway for one of these instead? It'll leave your bank feeling much better for it... and your belly, too.

Which meal is your favourite?
What's your definition of 'healthy'?



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