If you read our blog regularly, you know we are not much for low-fat, low-sugar, low-cal stuff. We use real butter and cream and all that yummy goodness, yes in moderation, but probably more than most people. But now we're in our 40s and the middle-aged metabolism just isn't what it used to be. While we probably won't change the way we cook at home, we can make one good-sized difference in how we eat one meal in particular - lunch.
This is going to be pretty difficult for Chris, because his school has the most amazing culinary program, so he is spoiled at lunch pretty much daily. However, at my school, lunch is your typical school-cafeteria fare and I mostly try to avoid it. It should also be noted that I'm quite picky about lunch. I like hot lunch and am not a big sandwich eater. The time I get for lunch depends on the day, and without going into the complexities of my high school's crazy schedule, I'll summarize by saying that it ranges from 20 to 25 minutes, with 24 minutes being the most common length. In other words, there is not a lot of time to fuss. Leftovers, if we have any, reheated in the microwave, is what I have on a typical day. But when I was offered the chance to try one of Lean Cuisine's "Chef's Picks" through the DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker program, I though, "Why not?" They certainly meet all the requirements I need for lunch these days - quick, easy, and (it goes without saying, right?) lean.
I chose "Glazed Chicken," one of the Chef's Picks from the Culinary Collection. The box describes it very well: roasted white meat chicken in a savory lemon tarragon sauce with rice, green beans and cashews - all things I enjoy. The price at my grocery was $3.50, exactly what a hot lunch at school would cost me. It took 5 1/2 minutes in the microwave, and after carefully peeling off the plastic cover, I dug in.
There were four decent-sized boneless, skinless, white meat chicken pieces (large nugget-sized) in an orange-colored sauce that, for me, seemed to need a flavor boost. I liked the consistency of the sauce and got some hints of tarragon, but the expected zestiness of lemon was lacking. The chicken was tender, easy to cut using only a fork, and not at all rubbery. So far so good. I liked the rice very much: it consisted of fluffy white rice with julienned green beans, and the toasted cashew halves and wheat berries tossed in it gave it a really nice nutty flavor. I ate the whole portion, was satisfied afterwards, and didn't even experience my usual chocolate craving a couple hours later. Quite unusual.
And now, the best part. This lunch was 240 calories. That's it. Other nutritional facts: 5 grams of fat, 45 mg of cholesterol, a little high on the sodium (450 mg - about the same as a bagel or a serving of canned soup, and it didn't taste salty) and plenty of protein from the chicken and nuts (22 grams). Added bonus? They have a "Delicious Rewards" program for frequent buyers. All good things. And, oh yeah...no clean up. Not even a dirty dish!
I'm probably not going to be eating these every single day. However, I was so pleasantly surprised at the taste and quality of my Lean Cuisine meal that I will definitely be including them in my workaday lunch options from now on.
Disclaimer: As part of the DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker program, I received a free sample and stipend from Lean Cuisine. Nevertheless, all thoughts and opinions stated here are my own.
I have partnered with Lean Cuisine through DailyBuzz Food to help promote their new line of Chef's Pick products. I have been compensated for my time commitment to work with this product. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments. Thank you Lean Cuisine!