Today was the first official “celebration day” of my new diet and lifestyle.
I say “celebration day” instead of “cheat day” because I don’t view this particular concession of my diet as an opportunity to cheat. Yes, I am allowed one serving of food that has been “banned” from my day to day diet, but the goal has always been to adhere to my diet as much as possible each and every day.
If I find myself waking up on a holiday, my birthday, or a super special occasion worth celebrating, and I simply cannot take another breath without having one of my “banned” foods… fine. However, I have already made up my mind to be extra mindful about the choices I make on those particular rare days.
However, it is precisely this kind of mindset that got me into trouble at dinner this evening.
When my family decided to celebrate a most joyous morsel of good news, we made plans to once again have dinner at The Cheesecake Factory.
Now, if you were around the last time I had to tackle their incredibly tempting menu options, you may remember how I went a little bit calorie crazy. If you don’t recall reading this particular post, you should totally check it out– especially if you like The Cheesecake Factory and would like some recommendations.
Despite loving their Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps, I couldn’t bring myself to consume another bite of chicken today.
After eating my vegetable and bean soup for two days straight, I cooked some chicken breast to add in. You know, to spruce it up and trick me into thinking that it wasn’t the same exact soup as before. Well, I ended up eating that another two days, so after having a portion today for lunch, I do believe that I’m all chickened out.
At first, I wanted to jump on the bandwagon and order what everyone else was getting– the Herb Crusted Salmon. I hadn’t eaten salmon in awhile and it sounded really good, so I figured that it would be hard to go wrong with this option. After all, I’d just been talking about having a taste for asparagus. Yet, when I started thinking about all the carbs and calories that were probably lurking in the mashed potatoes, I couldn’t bring myself to order it.
At 1,310 calories, surely there was a slightly better choice for me to make. Of course, being a celebration day, I wanted to spend my “food allowance” on something truly delectable and naughty, like actual cheesecake. If I could save a few extra calories with dinner, it seemed as though I would feel less guilt-stricken about dessert.
With my dreams of mashed potatoes sufficiently crushed, I decided to try a selection from their “super foods” menu. If you are not particularly familiar with The Cheesecake Factory or this section of their menu, it consists of five antioxidant-packed dishes. Even though these plates aren’t necessarily low in calories, they feature ingredients that are quite healthy and nutritive, so I was sold.
Upon first glance, I was 100% sure that their Wellness Salad was going to be the choice of the night. Weighing in at 840 calories, it sounded absolutely chock full of… pretty much everything: almonds, avocado, blueberries, broccoli, grapes, kale, onion, roasted pear, salad greens, spinach, and sunflower seeds with a lemon-blueberry vinaigrette. It doesn’t get much healthier than that, now does it?
Then again, I still had a taste for salmon. It crossed my mind to order some salmon to throw on top, but that seemed a bit silly. If I wanted salmon that badly, I needed to simply order something with salmon.
So I did.
At the very last minute before ordering, I ended up spying the Almond-Crusted Salmon Salad. By then, my eyes were hurriedly skipping along the description to catch a brief idea of what the salad contained. Something, something, cranberry. Something, something, quinoa. As long as it had salmon (and no mushrooms), I was satisfied. Fully convinced that it was going to be the best possible choice, I ordered it.
Truth be told, the salad looked and smelled amazing when it arrived. And for 1,040 calories, I was glad that it did! There was a sizable bed of kale and arugula with Brussels sprouts, cranberries, sliced radishes, avocado chunks, quinoa, and a lovely filet of almond-topped salmon accompanying it. Oh, and let’s not forget the vinaigrette!
Quick to jump right in and try it out, I loaded up my fork and took the first bite. Ya’ll, it felt like I was chewing for five minutes straight; it was so dense! Right away, I wondered if I had made the right choice. I mean, sure, the ingredients were definitely healthy, but was it really necessary for it to taste as healthy as it did? 😦
Bite after bite, I struggled to chew through the greenery that filled my plate. I knew after the third bite (and fifteenth minute lol) that there was NO way that I’d be able to finish the entire salad.
Everyone kept asking me if I liked my meal, but as I sat there chewing, I didn’t know exactly what to say. I mean, it didn’t taste bad, it was just… thick. And green. And rabbit-foodish.
Before you get the wrong impression, why don’t I share what I actually liked about the salad?
First and foremost, the salmon was excellent. It was perfectly well-cooked. They gave me a reasonable portion (not too big and not too small), and the almond topping added to the flavor and texture. To be honest, I quite enjoyed everything that was in the salad. Yes, it was a bit of a task to chew through the kale, but kale is a very hearty green. It was wonderfully filling because of this, so it’s a great salad in that regard.
For me, the biggest issue was the lack of dimension. Everything tasted the same, so no matter where I put my fork, whatever I brought to my mouth was sort of boring and flat. Even with the vinaigrette and cranberries (which were a tad bit sparse, in my opinion), the salad lacked adequate acidity and sweetness. Without these two elements, everything was very heavy and lackluster.
Overall, I would have to give this particular salad 6 out of 10 rabbits 🐰 (lol).
Although I didn’t hate this choice, it definitely wasn’t my favorite and I wouldn’t order it again without asking to add some fruit or something additional to it. I really think some orange, apple, or pear slices would have been an awesome thing to incorporate. It would have helped to brighten everything and tie all of the flavors together a bit better.
But hey, what do I know? I’m not a professional chef, I’m just a dang near professional eater. 😂 However, I’m almost tempted to recreate this salad at home and make the adjustments I think it needs. That might be a fun post to share with you guys.
On a side note, I wasn’t completely up a creek with my salad. Even though I mostly picked the salmon and random bits out from the kale before abandoning 75% of my dish, you know I didn’t go hungry. I ended up ordering some of my beloved sweet corn tamale cakes, which were just as amazing as the last time I ordered them.
I also decided to christen my first celebration day with a slice of cheesecake. Despite thinking that I was totally going to enjoy it (this is the longest that I’ve gone without dessert in a loooooooong time), I actually regret getting it. I’m not going to lie to you guys, it does taste good. But even though my tastebuds still work properly, there was a slight disappointment when I bit into it.
It’s hard to describe what I mean. I guess it just wasn’t… as satisfying as it once would have been. There was always this “OMG” moment when I would have stuff like that, but today it felt like a bit of a let down. I kept tasting it and tasting it, as though some alarm was going to go off, letting me know that I was having a great time eating it. However, nothing ever happened.
I ended up tossing the remainder of my cheesecake into the refrigerator, wondering what I should do with it. After all, I can’t have it after today and no one wanted to split a slice with me in the first place (the greed!). If I don’t finish it, it will have to go in the trash because no form of baked desserts are allowed outside of celebration days. Hmm… I wonder if it can survive in the freezer until Father’s Day. 🤔
Oh well. Only time will tell what will become of the cheesecake. But for now, all I know is that I don’t think I’m going to have a taste for a salad or kale for a very, very, very long time.
Yesterday’s Workout: 1 mile speed test on rowing machine: 12 mins, 30 secs ( 😡 Why is it still taking me this long?!? We’ll see how I progress as time goes on. Hopefully, I improve soon.) // 48 minutes. Cardio: Treadmill (5% incline). 1.8 miles. 302 calories burned. // American Deadlifts: 5 sets of 10 (20 lb dumbbells).
Today was Day 74.
RIP Cheesecake 😭
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