Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Reality Bites: My Favorite Convenience Foods

Yes, it's been 1,000 years since I've posted. I realize this. I've come to terms with it. Let's just all move on, shall we?

HAPPY 2012, everyone! 2011 was full of more amazing food and here's to another year of delicious comestibles to come. I'm stoked. I hope you all are too. The food scene in Orlando is booming with lots of fantastic new restaurants (and some not-so-fantastic ones). Some new faves: Bull & Bear Steakhouse ($$$ out of 3), Tako Cheena ($), Pancho's ($), Dylan's Deli ($$), and many more I'll mention in the future. We're also all awaiting the opening of the Cask & Larder by the Petrakis' of Ravenous Pig fame. Can't wait for that one.

I just want to say a few words about reality. You know, that thing we all spend our childhoods pushing away and then, one day in our adulthood, we find ourselves acquiescing to it, slouching in our cubicles in front of our computers without any time to take a lunch break. Yeah, reality bites.

However, in the time I've had to get used to the reality that's pinning me to my desk in my career in magazine publishing, the industry that never sleeps or stops checking its email, I've run into a few convenience foods that I really enjoy.

I'm lucky enough (at least for the next two months) to live 5 minutes away from my office, so most days I get to go home for lunch. For the past two weeks or so, though, that's been an unrealized fantasy. Luckily (again) for me, there's a Publix (our regional grocery store) in the same complex where I work, so fresh foods are just a short walk away. Hooray!

Here are a couple of my favorite frozen and fresh foods I like to grab on the go. They're healthy, delicious and only a couple of minutes from devouring:


1.  EVOL Bowls - Teriyaki Chicken ($4.99)
     For a girl who loves nothing more than a steaming bowl a brown rice and some kimchi for a meal, this bowl of free-range chicken (that actually looks and tastes like chicken!), steamed veggies and brown rice is a home run and costs way less than a value meal.


 2. Kashi Steam Meal - Roasted Garlic Chicken Farfalle ($4.59)
    Whole-grain bow-tie pasta, chicken, spinach, veggies and a basil sauce. I don't think you can go wrong with this one and it tastes super fresh - like something I'd cook up at home for myself. It's a perfect portion for 280 calories.


3. Amy's Kitchen Light & Lean - Soft Taco Fiesta ($3.99)
    I used to say that Amy's was the only frozen food line that didn't make me feel like less of a human being. Since I've found these others, though, Amy's still has my heart. The Soft Taco Fiesta fulfills my Mexican food craving (salsa verde? yes, please) and fills me up with fiber for only 220 calories.

4. KIND PLUS Fruit & Nut Bars ($1.79)
    So I can't stay away from my Starbucks, but I often like a treat with my coffee. And, while Starbucks did put some effort into offering some smaller, less-caloric treats, they're still full of sugar and - to be honest, having worked at a Seattle's Best - you're never sure how long they've been out. Luckily, Starbucks carries these little beauties right next to the cash register. They're all-natural, delicious, full of whole foods, and tons of options for flavors. My current fave is Blueberry Pecan.


5. R.W. Knudsen Very Veggie ($1.39)
    I'm a V8 devotee since childhood, but this stuff's less processed and got tons of good, fresh flavor. I really love fresh juice at home, but when I'm running out for lunch, I don't have all that much time to clean the damned juicer. This is a really delicious, lemony option, and the whole 8 oz bottle is only 50 calories. Eat that, Mountain Dew.

6. Garden Lites - Butternut Squash Souffle, Zucchini Portabella ($3.99)
    Confession: These were sent to me gratis by a PR rep but OMG they are delish. I actually eat them for breakfast since the souffles are fluffy and have a healthy amount of egg whites which fill me up. They're each around 100-120 calories, whole foods and taste fabulous. The only thing, 3 minutes isn't enough time to get them from frozen to fab. They'll take more like 6 full minutes. Then you'll need to wait a few before they're cooled off enough. But once it's ready - oh, man. So good, gluten-free and the zucchini entrees are vegan.

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