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Hungry Girl Today: 09.30.11
GIRLS BITE OUT
When The Cheesecake Factory launched its new SkinnyLicious menu, we knew we HAD to check it out. Read on for our take on what's worth it, what's not, and what we're a tad suspicious of... And thanks, CF, for all of the new options!
HG FYI: The Cheesecake Factory provides stats for calories, saturated fat (not total fat), sodium, and carbs. That's why the breakdowns above aren't as complete as those we usually provide and don't include PointsPlus® values. And now you know!
SkinnyLicious Shrimp Summer Rolls
PER SERVING (entire order): 410 calories, 1g saturated fat, 1,493mg sodium, 61g carbs
YUM! These rice-paper-wrapped rolls were INCREDIBLE -- filled with veggies, shrimp, and just a few rice noodles. Of the two sauces that were served, the crowd favorite was the peanut sauce. Overall, this app is reasonably light and definitely a decent pick.
Charred Shishito Peppers
PER SERVING (entire order): 140 calories, 1g saturated fat, 867mg sodium, 15g carbs
Very yummy and a totally smart pick! We got about 20 of these Japanese peppers in our order, along with a sweet, soy-like dipping sauce. At first glance, the peppers looked a tad oily; but they really didn't taste oily, so it may have just been moisture. Shishito peppers aren't too spicy, by the way -- so fear not, spicy-food phobics.
Mexican Chicken Lettuce Wrap Tacos
PER SERVING (entire order): 250 calories, 3g saturated fat, 1,017mg sodium, 14g carbs
THE FIND OF THE DAY! Not only would this be a fun app to share with two buddies (there are 3 "tacos" per order), but it could also easily double as a main meal for one! The (gorgeous!) tacos are actually leaves of lettuce filled with chicken, veggies, avocado, roasted corn salsa, and a creamy sauce; plus, they're served with another salsa on the side. There are Asian and Mediterranean versions too -- these are higher in calories but still reasonable. We'll have to go back and try them...
HOME RUN, CF!!!
PER SERVING (entire order): 250 calories, 2g saturated fat, 692mg sodium, 19g carbs
PER SERVING (entire order): 250 calories, 1g saturated fat, 1,288mg sodium, 12g carbs
These apps have nearly the same ingredients and calorie counts -- the difference is all in the ratios. The Ahi Tartare is more or less equal parts raw tuna and avocado, with large wonton crisps on the side for scooping. The Ahi Carpaccio consists of a LARGE, thin layer of raw tuna -- you can really taste the quality this way -- drizzled with a creamy aioli and served with a few slices of avocado and some sunomono-like cucumber salad. The carpaccio costs more, but ordered for one person, it could absolutely be a meal; for two, it's a spectacular starter. Calorie bargain of the century. CARPACCIO WINS, HANDS DOWN!
The Flatbread 411
We ordered two of the flatbreads -- one Margherita and one Wild Mushroom. The Margherita option (330 calories, 6g saturated fat) is a solid pick for anyone trying to fulfill a pizza craving, and it's not too high in stats for what it is (a cheese-topped carby dish). But the Wild Mushroom version? It has 140 more calories than the Margherita and twice the saturated fat; those mushrooms seemed to be loaded with oil. WHY? CF peeps, if you're going to go through the trouble of making a lighter menu, do it right -- don't load up your veggies with needless amounts of oil. (Reasonable request, right?)
Salads: Love 'Em or Leave 'Em
LOVE! SkinnyLicious Factory Chopped Salad
PER SERVING (entire salad): 570 calories, 10g saturated fat, 1,479mg sodium, 33g carbs
We liked that this salad was very large and yummy -- the chicken, blue cheese, bacon, and apple really brought the flavor punch. However, the salad came pre-tossed with dressing... and it was a bit much for us, combined with the cheese and the avocado. We recommend this, but suggest ordering the dressing on the side.
LEAVE! Mexican Tortilla Salad
PER SERVING (entire salad): 560 calories, 5g saturated fat, 1,853mg sodium, 51g carbs
Possibly the most confusing menu item we saw all day. The salad came topped with a large haystack of visibly greasy tortilla strips, which were not listed in the menu description. The chicken and black beans were UNDERNEATH all the lettuce and veggies, sitting on top of a seemingly fried (yet soggy) tortilla. The salad also arrived topped with vinaigrette dressing, salsa, sour cream, AND avocado cream sauce. In truth, it didn't taste bad at all -- but the reported calorie count on this one left us completely skeptical as we added up all the components in our heads. Chew with caution...
HG Pop-Up Tip: To cut sodium in restaurant meals, get the sauce/dressing on the side; then don't use it all.
Sip 'n Tell: Skinny Cocktails
Being pros when it comes to whipping up low-calorie cocktails (click for proof), we requested the two most popular Skinny drinks: the Margarita and the Mojito. Both of the 150-calories-or-less beverages were super-sweet (in a good way) and didn't seem to be too heavy on the alcohol. Our pref? The Mojito!
Entrée If You Dare...
DELICIOUS! SkinnyLicious Grilled Chicken
PER SERVING (entire order): 560 calories, 2g saturated fat, 1,252mg sodium, 20g carbs
An AMAZING meal option. For one thing, the dish was so big, it almost looked like a family-style order. Loads of flavorful chicken and veggies that were NOT slathered in oil! The tomato-arugula mixture on top tasted like a bruschetta topping -- it was great. Our ONLY complaint? It came "garnished" with rice -- just a weird, sad little pile underneath the chicken. We think it's time for restaurants to be bold enough to skip the starchy carbs when they're not needed...
DISAPPOINTING... SkinnyLicious Veggie Burger
PER SERVING (entire order): 530 calories, 3g saturated fat, 1,288mg sodium, 85g carbs
This thing gets props for being large and made with interesting ingredients like farro (grains similar to barley) and black beans. But the patty itself was a little too soft in texture, practically spoonable. The addition of beets to the patty gave it a quirky touch and nice sweet flavor. But the BIGGEST problem with this burger is how it's served -- on a huge buttered bun, smeared with mayo. WHY? If you're putting together a calorie-conscious menu item, doesn't that seem silly? (CF: Nix the butter and mayo... Don't make us special order from the light menu!)
What do you mean there's NO SkinnyLicious dessert menu!? Sigh...
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*The PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe, or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark and SmartPoints® trademark. For more info on the new PointsPlus® program, visit weightwatchers.com.
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