cooking, Just bitchin'

A Tasty Fake: Lean Cuisine’s Salad Additions Asian Style

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As promised, my quest to recreate the now defunct Lean Cuisine Salad Additions continues…

After my last blog, Getting Mad; Getting Busy appeared, the folks at Lean Cuisine got in touch. They were very nice. I am told I may continue to push my versions of their salads as long as I make it crystal clear that they in no way support or have any connection with me, my blog, or my recipes. In fact, they suggested I post this ‘prominently’:

Nestlé does not sponsor, authorize or endorse my blog or these recipes.

Done.

Now, let’s move on to my second favorite Lean Cuisine Salad Addition…Asian Style.

I’m tweaking the ingredients a little to make it easier for non-cooks like me who shop in normal, everyday, un-gourmet markets. This is an adventure for me, because I start each quest by searching for the same things Lean Cuisine used to list as featured ingredients on their Salad Addition packaging.

For instance, Asian Style touts both yellow and orange carrots. After a long and arduous hunt, I did find a store that sold small bags in the produce section labeled ‘Rainbow Carrots.’ There were indeed yellow ones tucked in amongst the orange, an unusual reddish version, and a rather bleak-looking grayish-blue. And they were quite pricey.

No thanks.

So my Asian Style facsimile will use only the trusted and beloved orange carrot you can find anywhere.

The same went for the crispy noodles that Lean Cuisine uses in lieu of croutons. Sure, there are crispy noodles in the Asian aisle. You know, the aisle that also has Mexican, Italian, Indian and Kosher, with a sprinkling of exotica from other nationalities, like the British treacle. (Still not sure what treacle is, but my mind conjures visuals that are best left unexplored.) Anyway, the noodles I saw were too thick and heavy. So I chose something from the salad dressing aisle where croutons and toppings reside. Crispy wonton strips.

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So. Ingredients assembled. Here we go…

 You’ll need:

2 oz. broiled chicken breast meat

61 grams (about 8 pieces) canned pineapple chunks

50 grams frozen, shelled endamame

1 oz. carrots, sliced or julienned

2 oz. broccoli florets

2 tablespoons of a ginger/sesame/soy salad dressing (I use Paul Newman’s Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing)

7 grams wonton strips (I use Fresh Gourmet Wonton Strips)

Lettuce to taste

Put the pineapple chunks, frozen endamame, carrots and broccoli into your trusty microwave-safe bowl. Cover. Nuke on high for 2 minutes 30 seconds for an 1100 watt oven. Adjust time up or down depending on your microwave’s wattage. While the toppings are cooking, prepare your lettuce. Toss with the cooked ingredients. Drizzle with the dressing and add the wonton strips last.

Voilà! A really tasty Asian style salad that gives the extinct Lean Cuisine version a run for its money. This recipe clocks in at 263 calories as compared to Lean Cuisine’s 260 calories. Good enough.

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If you set up an assembly line type production, you can put the cooked chicken, pineapple, endamame, carrots and broccoli in freezer bags. For a convenient, healthy, delicious meal days or weeks later, empty the contents of the freezer bag into your microwaveable bowl. Cover. Cook for 2 minutes 40 seconds for an 1100 watt oven. Then add to the lettuce, dressing and wonton strips.

Enjoy!

And at this point I’d like to appease the Lean Cuisine folks by again boasting that:

Nestlé does not sponsor, authorize or endorse my blog or these recipes.

But I wouldn’t put it past them to try this at home themselves… hehehehehe

Next up: the Lean Cuisine Salad Additions Cranberry and Chicken!

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cooking, Just bitchin'

Getting Mad; Getting Busy

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Nestlé does not sponsor, authorize or endorse my blog or these recipes. They told me so. And said I better make that very clear on each and every blog about them.

The kitchen is not where I belong.

So when I find something convenient and palatable that takes a minimum of prep time, I stick with it. I embrace it. I engulf it. It becomes my staple.

So it was with Lean Cuisine Salad Additions.

Until…they disappeared.

I searched the local market for a year. Gone. No more.

Finally, I contacted Lean Cuisine themselves and asked what had happened. They replied that the sales didn’t justify the shelf space. In other words, people would rather buy gummy entrees like macaroni and cheese, or ones that imitate their unhealthy cousins, like beef steeped in sour cream, than make a salad.

I’m not surprised. My outrage for the eating habits which the advertising and food industries encourage continues to grow.

But I loved Lean Cuisine’s Salad Additions. So I determined to enter the foreign territory of the kitchen and see if I could duplicate them. I contacted the Lean Cuisine folks again and asked them if they’d mind my blogging the simple, tasty recipes for those who miss Salad Additions. They replied that my request had been sent to the appropriate department. That’s where it ended.

I haven’t heard back and I can’t blame them. If the product wasn’t profitable, why would they waste time responding to inquiries about it? That’s not good business when the bottom line isn’t health, but profitability.

So I’m posting the first of my favorite recipes for anyone who wants to fill the gap Lean Cuisine left wide open.

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You’ll need a small, kitchen scale you can get at most grocery stores, and a microwaveable bowl you can cover (I use a microwaveable plate as a cover).

This is my replication of Lean Cuisine Salad Additions Greek Style.

 

You’ll need:

2 oz. broiled chicken breast meat

3 pitted black olives, sliced

33 grams (approximately 1/8 cup) of canned garbanzo beans, drained

1 oz. carrot, sliced or julienned

1 oz. broccoli florets

1 oz. sliced red bell pepper

2 tablespoons of a cucumber/dill salad dressing (I use Safeway brand Tzatziki Cucumber Dressing)

Lettuce to taste

Greekdressing

Place the olives, garbanzo beans, carrot, broccoli and bell pepper in the microwaveable bowl. Cover. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, 15 seconds for an 1100 watt microwave oven. Adjust the time up or down a few seconds for different wattage. While it’s cooking, put your lettuce in a bowl or on a plate. Slice the chicken meat. Toss the lettuce with the chicken and the microwaved veggies. Top with the cucumber dressing. The salad toppings and dressing weigh in at 240 calories.

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It’ll taste delicious. You won’t miss Lean Cuisine at all.

After doing this twice, I was comfortable enough to make several servings at once. Put the veggies and chicken in freezer bags; one serving per bag. Whenever you want a healthy salad, empty the chicken and veggies into that microwaveable bowl, cover, and heat for 2 minutes, 30 seconds. Add your lettuce and dressing and thumb you nose at the food industry.

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If you do go the freezer route, it’s best if the chicken isn’t overcooked when you broil or grill or bake it. If you do overcook it’ll just be a little tougher texture than otherwise when you microwave the frozen meat. It’ll still taste great, though, in my opinion.

So, from a non-cook who’s outraged that the salad was discontinued and an ad just popped up on TV for a burger layered with a hotdog and potato chips…and the reason given for this revolting concoction is “Because…AMERICA!” ….bon appetit!

 

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Unless Lean Cuisine makes me stop… Next up: The Asian Style Salad Addition (yum…that one has pineapple in it!)

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