We’ve talked about Trader Joe’s reduced guilt offerings before. In fact, we talked about one earlier this week. As I mentioned then, the problem inherent in “low cal” versions of fattier food, is that they tend to negate themselves. In general, if I’m going to eat a creamy, sugary, salty brownie or whatever, I have steeled myself to the fact that I’m blowing my diet, if at least for the moment. But I’m willing to do it, because it tastes so damn good. Or I at least hope it tastes that good. The problem with our reduced guilt guacamole, or whatever, is that by taking out all the fat and sugar, you’re taking out all the stuff that makes it taste so good. The result is that I’m left sitting there, scooping watery psudeo-guac into my mouth, still getting fat, just not as quickly, but not enjoying myself nearly as much.
So almost always when I see the “diet” version of an otherwise unhealthy food I immediately assume I’m not going to enjoy myself. However, there is a tricky little bit of math here. On the graph of healthfulness vs. tastiness, every now and then there’s a diet food that manages to fall just on the right side of the curve. The “Inner Beans” snack we explored yesterday managed to do this (debatably). Can Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Chicken Salad do the same?
To cut to the chase – no, it doesn’t. This new salad is a classic case of close, but not quite. And really, that shouldn’t be a surprise. Often times these “reduced guilt” formulations offer underwhelming health benefits like “15% less sodium!” or “Now only 72% fat by volume!”. Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Chicken Salad swings for the fences, offering an insane reduction in both calories and fat. On the label it proudly states that this chicken salad has 85% less fat and 60% fewer calories than their regular chicken salad. An 85% reduction in fat and less than half the calories – from 19 grams of fat per serving to 2.5, and down 250 calories to 100. That’s insane. You’d think you’re getting a tub with about a teaspoon of chicken salad in it but nope, they’ve filled it all the way to the top.
How did they achieve this miracle? In this case, the answer is they took out all the mayonnaise and replaced it with low fat greek yogurt. It’s a bold, crazy move – and it doesn’t really pay off. While the calories might be reasonable, there’s not tang or zip to the salad. Instead it just tastes flat. The chicken is there, the chopped vegetables are there, but there isn’t much beyond that. The result is something that tastes like a chicken vegetable soup without enough salt in it.
For some people this is probably not a deal breaker. If you’re looking for an interesting cracker topping, or a healthy side to have with lunch this will fit the bill. For me,however, this chicken salad just isn’t quite interesting enough to justify future purchases.
Would I Recommend It: Yeah… I guess so. Healthy chicken salad is probably worth a nod.
Would I Buy It Again: No, I thought it was a little too mushy and boring.
Final Synopsis: A very low cal, if bland, chicken salad.