Every year Chow, Baby makes the same New Year’s resolution: Get onto The Price is Right. As a kid I always wanted to bid one dollar more than the highest bidder and win. I never got my moment on TV, but at least I never had to suffer the indignity of reaching into Bob Barker’s pocket to pull out a crumpled hundred-dollar bill.
I’ve given up on that pipe dream. Instead, this year I’ve made a vow to change my gluttonous ways. I tend to eat like a pack of starving javelina, and I never exercise. I’m not trying to become an underwear model. I just don’t ever want to have to roll into a restaurant riding a Rascal scooter.
The old me would have turned its nose up at pre-packaged gourmet diet meals. I’d rather have a body like bread dough than eat anything made by Lean Cuisine or Weight Watchers. So I’d pretty much resigned myself to an agonizing diet of rabbit food and my own tears when a friend told me about Simply Fit Meals (3020 W. 7th, Ste. 220), a grab-and-go meal mini-chain that just opened a new storefront near the West 7th development. My pal gave it high praise: The meals didn’t taste like cardboard. I figured I had nothing to lose but a few clothing sizes.
Inside Simply Fit’s wall of refrigerators were some interesting-sounding options in Tupperware-looking containers. The ingredients, according to the in-house propaganda, are all natural, grass-fed, free-range, mostly gluten-free, with no antibiotics, hormones, or added sugar. Every meal is low in fat and has its nutritional information listed on the package. The old me would have run straight to the nearest soft-serve machine and stuck my head under the nozzle rather than try the stuff. But this is the new, open-minded, 2015 version of me.
I stocked up on dinner and breakfast stuff and practiced what I’d say to my beloved, who doesn’t really need to diet. The meals take only 90 seconds to heat up –– a point in their favor. Neither of the entrées are what you’d call filling. But both, I’m happy and a bit shocked to report, were tasty. They weren’t restaurant good by any means, but a damn sight better than the pre-fab meals in the frozen-food section of your local grocer. They also cost quite a bit more, but I found the dinners were well worth the extra $4 or $5.
The spiced coconut curry cauliflower with peas ($8) had a lovely semi-sweet, sort of spicy balance and only 245 calories and six grams of fat –– far less than my normal intake of 474 million calories and roughly the fat level of a stick of butter. The turkey ragu with penne pasta and shredded bits of mozzarella cheese ($8) was the closest thing to restaurant quality of the lot. I’d eat the chunks of turkey swimming in tomato sauce regardless of how thin I’m not. And it had only 350 calories and nine grams of fat.
The breakfasts were a different story. Maybe eggs don’t keep as well, but my huevos rancheros ($5) with black beans were bland, tasting like they indeed had only 249 calories and four grams of fat. The ancho chicken migas ($7) weren’t much better, though the chicken was reasonably tender. Both brought back unfortunate memories of dorm-cafeteria scrambled eggs made in a pan the size of a toddler’s crib.
The place also sells healthy juices and snack foods. Though Simply Fit is better than any diet food I’ve ever had, it still can’t replace a restaurant menu. But if I keep eating there, at least I’ll be able to “come on down” under my own power if I ever get on that game show.
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