Anti-gravity food. That’s my long-term solution to the obesity crisis. It will probably be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and cooked by an indigenous tribe that can’t drive a stick shift. Some people say that they already have the solution to obesity and send me daily e-mails about it. They also assure me that I have won $3 million in a lottery I didn’t enter, and they see me as having the right qualities of character to help them get $20 million out of some country that is so oppressive that it makes theft illegal.
Stay with me here.
I think there are a few years of development remaining for the wonder cure, and in the interim I am looking for more conventional ways of losing weight. Imagine my surprise when Taco Cabana sent me coupons for free “4 Under 400 Calories” Cabana Bowls.
It wasn’t so much that they were free, so much as the fact that a major fast food chain was focusing their advertising on fewer calories. Why, just last week the Wall Street Journal reported that McDonald’s is introducing a burger in Japan that contains more calories than were used erecting the Empire State Building. Some of the Taco Cabana selections are way under the 400 count. The Veggie 400 has only 280 calories. The other three all contain meat but offer a choice of beef or chicken, with the chicken variant having slightly fewer calories in each case. In order to achieve the 400 calorie target, Taco Cabana dropped the taco shell from the recipe (the filling is put into a Styrofoam dish) and the number does not include any condiments that you add.
The problem with de-calorizing (new word) food is maintaining the flavor. So I approached the Cabana bowl test with a jaundiced eye. Here are the company’s descriptions and calorie counts for each and my take on each one. I tried the beef version of each one that contained meat.
The bowl is filled with rice, black beans, a fresh blend of lettuce, pico de gallo, sour cream and salsa roja, with a choice of steak (390 total calories) or chicken (370 total calories). $4.95.
My take: Steak was real chewy but the sour cream was tasty.
This option contains a fresh lettuce blend, pico de gallo, shredded cheese and salsa ranch, with a choice of steak (370 total calories) or chicken (350 total calories). $4.95.
My take: For those who don’t like beans. The salad-intensive option.
This bowl includes black beans, a fresh blend of lettuce, shredded cheese, pico de gallo and salsa roja, with a choice of beef (370 total calories) or chicken (330 total calories). $3.95.
My take: Great taste of spicy ground beef, beans and cheese. Best of the lot.
This option features black beans, a fresh lettuce blend, pico de gallo, shredded cheese, sour cream and salsa roja, for a total of 280 calories. $3.95.
My take: Only just filled me up. Black beans are tasty. Salad very conservative.
The verdict. Good value for midweek lunch and a lot tastier than I expected for low-cal fast food.