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Hungry Girl Today: 03.16.07


We tried the new Weight Management Salads at The Cheesecake Factory.
Here's the scoop...

Overall Observations:

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 and chopped cilantro),
and the Mustard Vinaigrette (tangy and dijon-y). Two yums up for all!

(574 calories, 39g fat, 68g carbs, 20g sugars, 39g protein = 14 Points)

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.

(490 calories, 14g fat, 61g carbs, 7g sugars, 33g protein = 10 Points)

What’s 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.

Overall score: 5. Thumbs down, Cheesecake!

(500 calories, 23g fat, 50g carbs, 18g sugars, 28g protein = 11 Points)

What’s in it: Grilled chicken, endive, radicchio, arugula, butter lettuce,
roasted pear, bleu cheese, candied pecans and tomato tossed with low-cal

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.

Overall score: 6.5. Eh!

(560 calories, 28g fat, 43g carbs, 15g sugars, 38g protein = 13 Points)

What’s in it: Grilled chicken, romaine, bacon, bleu cheese, tomato, fresh
beets, asparagus and hard-cooked eggs tossed in a low-cal mustard

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.

(w/ tuna: 520 calories, 22g fat, 39g carbs, 9g sugars, 43g protein = 11 – 12
(w/ salmon: 566 calories, 35g fat, 39g carbs, 8g sugars, 51g protein = 13 –
14 Points)

What’s 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.

Chew on This:
March 16th is National Artichoke Heart Day. One large artichoke contains
around 80 calories, virtually no fat, 600 milligrams of potassium and nearly 9
grams of fiber! Plus it's a good source of vitamin C, folate and magnesium.

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