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How Smart Are Smart Ones Satisfying Selections?

If I may be frank, diet food has always made my butt twitch. I hate it that when my friends and family think of it, they cringe. I hate that they associate “going on a diet” with deprivation and focus on all of the foods that they think they can’t have. After all, eating well is all about piling in the good stuff—without going hungry or losing your brain over something as simple as a pizza craving. That’s why I was intrigued to try the new Weight Watchers Smart Ones Satisfying Selections. I figured the company that encourages people to eat many zero-point foods (veggies and fruits!) had to bring the good stuff in its frozen meals. At $2.99 (before tax) they were decently priced, so the smarties had two points before I even had the opportunity to test them out.

And it’s not like it’s a tiny bag. The new packages brag about offering Weight Watchers “satisfying selections” (hence the name) that offer 30 percent larger portions with heartier pieces of meat, vegetables and good doses of whole grains. I seriously thought I had found possibly the perfect dinner option for those nights when the stove is my enemy and the kitchen my torture chamber. Then I tried them and my bubble burst—a bit.

I tried the Sesame Chicken first and enjoyed it. I gobbled it up with no problem and was actually nice and full. But then I looked at the package. It had a good dose of protein (25+ grams!) and fiber, and a sane calorie count of about 350 per meal (nine points, if you’re counting those), but it also had a shocking amount of sodium. When my boyfriend read the back of the package and screamed out, “Daaaaaaaang!” at the 490 mg, I knew Weight Watchers had come far in the frozen-food market, but not far enough. I could see myself eating something like this occasionally, but not more than once a week. I’m a stickler for sodium.

If sodium were these entrees’ only fault, I think I might still give ’em a B+, but I tried the Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo and all bets were off. Overall, the meal was bland and the chicken left much to be desired. I kept finding gristle, too. (Have I ever mentioned before that I gave up all meat for a couple of years because gristle texture had grossed me out so badly I went extremely wiggy? True story.) The first time I got a bite of bad chicken, I chalked it up to a fluke, but then I had two more pieces in my bowl. Third times a charm, apparently, because I couldn’t keep eating after that. The meal had 660 mg of sodium though, so I didn’t feel too bad that I couldn’t finish all of it.

Now, there are other varieties in the Smart Ones Satisfying Selections lines that I didn’t try: Chicken with Broccoli and Cheese, Ziti with Meatballs and Cheese, and Chicken Teriyaki Stir-Fry. So maybe those are hit-it-out-of-the-ballpark taste-wise, but for me, I’d prefer to fire up that stove and cook—unless I was really, really tired and hungry.

What are your thoughts on diet foods? Eat ’em? Avoid ’em? —Tish

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