By Joan Namkoong
Advertiser Food Editor
Sometimes healthy can mean tasteless.
In the case of Zippys Shintani Cuisine, theres flavor, but it could stand a bit of spicing up. Realizing, however, that these dishes are low in sodium (salt) and designed to appeal to a wide range of tastes, I can appreciate the intent.
The two-bean chili is made with textured vegetable protein, black and kidney beans, tomato sauce, vegetable broth, garlic, onions, celery, green pepper. Seasonings include chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Served with brown rice, it is filling and has good flavor but, as inventor Dr. Terry Shintani himself says, this dish could use a little zip. A sprinkling of chili pepper water or Tabasco would help and, if youre not watching your sodium consumption, a little more salt.
The new whole-wheat soft tacos were pretty good, according to a vegan co-worker who sampled them. I agree: The filling is tasty, and you know youre getting "healthy" with the whole-wheat tortilla.
Two suggestions for Zippys: Serve more of that zippy tomato salsa and use ripe tomatoes. That would improve the flavor a lot.
As for the Soba Noodles With Oriental Vegetables, its a mixed bag. The "oriental vegetables," it turns out, are wakame or seaweed, some bamboo shoots and I couldnt tell what else. So what I thought might be a stir-fry combination wasnt, and the soba noodles were a little gummy. More dressing would have added to the flavor, but that no doubt would have put the sodium count askew. It wasnt bad, and it might appeal to some tastes.
The Mushroom Marinara was pretty tasty, with a robust tomato flavor. Id be happy with this over pasta but Id have to have a little cheese. The Savory Stew had good flavor, but I couldnt get past the glossiness and texture of the natural starch used to thicken it.
While Shintani Cuisine might not be the most flavorful, I would certainly consider ordering these dishes when weighing them against the nutritional cost of beef stew with two scoops rice and macaroni salad. Its nice to have the choice.
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