We tried the new Weight Management Salads at The Cheesecake Factory. Here's the scoop...
1. Um, who decided to call these things "Weight Management" salads?What a lame idea that was.Sorry, Cheesecake -- talk about a buzz kill.
2. These salads are all under 590 calories each. This seems very high to us, especially after getting the salads and seeing that there isn't much to them at all.And we're not exactly thrilled with the high fat counts, either.
3. We talked with a manager there and found out that the dressings are all made ON SITE and that the salads are all portioned out precisely (specific amount of nuts, exactly 4 oz. chicken, etc.).This is good to know.The dressings all have under 11 calories per tablespoon, are sweetened with Splenda and made with VERY little oil, and taste GREAT!We still recommend ordering the dressing on the side and dipping, because they typically DROWN their salads in the stuff! (They DO include the dressing in each salad's nutritionals, but we still find it to be a bit much.)
4.While we appreciate the idea of these salads, there are sooo many unnecessary ingredients -- like candied pecans, rice and sugary pears.With just a tiny bit of effort they could have swapped these ingredients with healthier ones and given us larger portions.In fact, you may be better off just special-ordering some of their regular salads -- skipping the fatty stuff --and requesting the Weight Management dressings on the side.
5.All three dressings are great -- the Spicy Vinaigrette (more sweet than spicy), the Sesame-Soy Dressing (with a spicy kick andchopped cilantro), and the Mustard Vinaigrette (tangy and dijon-y).Two yums up for all!
What's in it: Grilled chicken, romaine, snow peas, carrots, bean sprouts, green onions, crispy noodles, almonds and sesame seeds tossed in a low-cal sesame-soy dressing.
What we think of it: While this salad has lots of lettuce and a decent portion of tasty chicken, it definitely could use more snow peas and carrots.It also contains a HUGE amount of cilantro (mysteriously absent from the menu description), so if you don't like that stuff you may have issues with this salad. The "crispy noodles" (made from baked wontons!) are fun and delicious-- and a really good idea.
Overall score: 7.5.We'd think about ordering this again.But we're not dying to.
Whats in it: Grilled chicken, roasted poblano peppers, red and yellow peppers, fresh corn, black beans, onions, rice and cilantro served with mixed greens and low-cal spicy vinaigrette.
What we think of it: This so-called salad is basically just a medium-sized breast of fairly bland chicken over a small portion of rice with a side of lettuce.Aside from the dressing, this meal's pretty dry. All in all it's pretty embarrassing, not at all spicy and doesn't hold our interest.FYI -- this one also has TONS of cilantro.
Whats in it: Grilled chicken, endive, radicchio, arugula, butter lettuce, roasted pear, bleu cheese, candied pecans and tomato tossed with low-cal vinaigrette.
What we think of it: This salad is pretty skimpy on everything except the lettuce, and it's not that satisfying. Part of the problem here is the decision to use candied pecans and roasted sugary pears. With additions like that, even in small doses, the calories add up FAST.Using fresh fruit and regular nuts could have solved that problem easily.While this salad tastes pretty good, we're not quite on board with the ingredients and the portion size.
Whats in it: Grilled chicken, romaine, bacon, bleu cheese, tomato, fresh beets, asparagus and hard-cooked eggs tossed in a low-cal mustard vinaigrette.
What we think of it:We like this salad the best.It's HUGE and colorful with a nice amount of chopped chicken, bacon, bleu cheese, tomato, beets, asparagus, and eggs.It's also basically a Cobb salad, so it left us wondering why they don't just call it a Cobb salad.Any way you slice it, though, it's large and delicious and contains many fun ingredients.Yay!
Overall score: 8.5.We like you despite your unappealing name, Weight Management California Salad.
Whats in it: Fresh chilled salmon or fresh rare albacore tuna with mixed greens, green beans, red and yellow peppers, tomato, radishes, hard-cooked egg, kalamata olives and capers tossed in a low-cal vinaigrette.
What we think of it: We ordered the tuna version of this salad; the tuna (6 pieces) is seared & pepper-encrusted.Nice!The peppers come marinated in some sort of oil or dressing which likely adds some unnecessary fat to the salad.While we aren't huge fans of fancy greens (it's hard to beat romaine!), the radishes, capers and olives add a nice touch. All in all, this is a pretty ok salad.
Overall score: 7.5.We love seared tuna.Therefore, we enjoy this salad.