Thursday, September 15, 2011


Lean Cuisine-A-Day: Steak Tips Portabello

After one bite I literally had to read the ingredients list on the side of the box to figure out if I was chewing steak or mushrooms because it says it contains both, but all the brown parts looked and felt and tasted exactly the same. Wanna know the answer? Both! They must've finally figured out how to genetically engineer a cowshroom and I wish I could say it's as delicious as it sounds, but... don't eat this! The broccoli is just regular mushy frozen broccoli and the "steak tips portabello" is ??? And the burgundy wine sauce? Okay, so I checked that too and yes, while wine is in the ingredients list, it's in that part after it says "Contains less than 2% of..." and that is NEVER enough wine. Plus it's only 150 calories which is a snack at best, malnutrition at worst. Is it tomorrow yet? I think we're gonna try a pizza one to finally determine, once and for all, if you can have pizza and be on a diet at the same time.

Previously: Roasted Turkey and Vegetables.

66 Comments / Post A Comment

Jane. Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Pizza. It's the answer to all problems everywhere.


@S. Elizabeth It is but I always add cheese to it!


The Lean Cuisine spinach-mushroom pizza is pretty good, as these things go. It's a white pizza, which, gross, but it just kind of works in a spongy, garlicky way. I'm not making it sound appealing at all! But I recommend it. Really.


@Layla Yes! That pizza is amazing.


Are you eating these a day in advance? I just realized that if you're in CA.... uh, you can't possibly be eating these at 8am, can you? God I hope you ate this yesterday.


@sox It's 9:25 in San Francisco right now and if you're really really quiet you can hear the tiniest scream coming from the south. The tiniest, hungriest little scream.


When it comes to frozen pizza, I am Tostinos or GTFO.


@parallel-lines Second. If you're going to go, go big.


@parallel-lines Totino's is America's #1 Party Pizza! It says it right on the box!

Lady Pennyface


New Hoarder

@Lady Pennyface What's that?

New Hoarder

@Lady Pennyface Because if you're saying it's beef and mushrooms I'm in.

Lady Pennyface

@New Hoarder In the review Jane calls the brown parts cowshrooms because she can't tell what's cow and what's 'shroom. Cowshroom cowshroom cowshroom. It's my new favorite word. Considering changing my username...

New Hoarder

@Lady Pennyface Attention to detail. =-(


stoffer's frozen french bread pizza. come. to. mama.

Sydney C

@whoaisme That is my absolute favorite hangover food!


@whoaisme If given the chance, I would eat those until I burst.

New Hoarder

@whoaisme I've had 2nd degree burns from that pizza so many times. But that doesn't stop me from buying like 8 when they're on sale.

Nicole Cliffe

I might have been able to keep hacking it as a vegan if I was able to enjoy portabello mushrooms. But the texture never did it for me.


@Nicole Cliffe Ugghhhhhh yes, growing up vegan was THE WORST for me because I was the only vegan in the world who despises mushrooms.


@Nicole Cliffe If you ever feel inclined to give mushrooms another try (like I do every so often with tomatoes, blech!), here's my mushroom tip. If you're just sauteeing them, butter gives a superior flavor, but olive oil gives a superior texture. A half and half mix usually gives you the best of both worlds.

Also, the good old "chop em up really tiny until you get used to them in bigger pieces" trick usually works. My boyfriend's sister hates mushrooms with a passion, so nobody is allowed to tell her that her favorite veggie burger contains them.

What I've learned about trying to like tomatoes amounts to "eat them in something with a lot of mayonnaise and cheese."


I have devised a new amazing, easy diet food. It does not sound as amazing as it is, but I promise, it is awesome.

(1) If you like meat, put a little bit of some kind of mostly lean/trimmed meat into you Le Creuster (You better have one!) and sear. How much? DEPENDS. Also add non-meat protein in the meat section EVEN IF YOU ALSO HAVE MEAT. 1 part meat to 2 parts beans is my protein ratio here.

(2) Add in a little tomato paste, let some of that shit carmelize and get delish.

(3) Add a little brown rice / whole wheat orzo / whatever - some kind of healthy carb. Make sure the ratio of carb:protein matches the total ratio you are going for in your lunches. This is an approximation, not science.

(4) SHITLOAD OF VEGGIES. I mean, you want about the right amount to make your carb:carb:veg ratio right, because the ultimate idea here is a gigantic pot of a casserole/risotto type thing. But you can't over-veg.

(5)While stirring, slowly add water and spices (Any kind! Maybe indian spices? Maybe cumin and a little citrus and vanilla? Maybe hot peppers and vinegar and garlic? Any family of spices!) until the grains are tender and the mixture is delicious.

It will look like an unbaked caserole / almost-no-sauce-curry / super-thick-chili kind of thing. But it will be yummy! And, because it's really easy to google (or if you used frozen stuff, just check the package) and add up the total calories that your giant pot of delish has. Say you made a big ol' pot of stuff that totals to 2500 calories, and you want to limit your lunches to 350? That's 7 servings! So you just split it up into 7 different ziplock baggies, and you have yummy, natural, non-preservative lunches.

Also, this mixture freezes relatively well, so I do a different one once a week (sometimes indian, sometimes mexican, whatever), and keep half in the fridge and half in the freezer - and i have instant frozen lunches.

There you go. 1 hour and you can make enough frozen instant quick-lunches for about 10 days (every other week you make lunches for work!), and it's so much veg / beans that you can even go all organic and keep 10 lunches in the 300-400 calorie range each, be ful, and end up having spent about $2.50/lunch.


@leon.saintjean making batches of food to freeze is on my list of things to do when i'm a proper adult, right after waking up before 11am on weekends.


@leon.saintjean See, I used to do this when I was really broke, and I just thinned it with water when funds ran low, but now I can't stand any sort of bulk-cooked stew/casserole sorta thing, especially if it has lentils or beans or split peas. :(


@leon.saintjean Yes! Also, lasagna can be pretty healthy (instead of all ricotta, use 1/2 ricotta, 1 egg, and 1/2 silken tofu for the filling, swap out some of the noodle layers for sliced zucchini, and add in a shitload of veggies with the sauce. You can also use whole-grain noodles if you want to get really crazy.) and it has very little hands-on time. Plus, you can cut it into squares and freeze them, and then just heat 'em up one at a time for lunch. Mmmm.


@Ophelia Oooh, that's good! I used to make lasagna for lunches and big batches of vegetable-based soups made with an immersion blender. It's impossible to get sick of butternut squash bisque.


@Ophelia let's not forget making your own black bean burgers! so delicious and you can freeze a bunch, so when you're drunk at 3am you heat that up instead of reaching for the nachos. at least, this mostly works for me. sometimes only nachos will suffice.


@parallel-lines True story. I have butternut squash lined up for this weekend, when fall finally comes and it isn't too hot to turn on the stove.

Nicole Cliffe

@leon.saintjean I have a chest freezer with about a billion brown-paper packages of deer in it, courtesy of my good friend's trigger-happy family, and I swear by "dump hunk of deer in slow cooker with handful of carrots, pour in a cup of red wine, cook on low for ten hours, gorge self."


@Nicole Cliffe venison is the best. meat. ever.

Nicole Cliffe

I knowww, right? I also buy a lamb from them each winter, which they withhold the hormone ear-implant from for friends and family. It costs me about $250 bucks for a gorgeous lamb, including a few cents on the pound for butchering and packaging-to-your-liking. I literally get text messages from Montana being all "so, are you thinking more chops, or what?"


@Nicole Cliffe is this the meat appreciation thread? because I would like to chime in my support for caribou backstrap and moose meatballs. and also, that lamb sounds amazing. I have meat envy.


@Nicole Cliffe My little sisters boyf of a million years has a family which loves shooting animals, which they always eat so I'm fine with it.

For the first few years they were "serious" as a couple, he wanted to make a good impression on me (or else I would do my big-brotherly duties and stomp him like a bug), so each winter he'd give me a giant bag of like, 20 pounds of venison parts.

I really hate the fact that my sister and rest of my family love him enough that he no longer needs to impress me, I'm down to about 5lbs of free-deer per annum.


@leon.saintjean Clearly, the next time you see him you must glare and scowl at him the whole time, and when he asks you what is wrong just say, "You know what you did. It's going to be a long time before I forget it, too." Then you can just scare him into giving you more.

Also, ratios? That sounds suspiciously like math.


@Nicole Cliffe Ohhhmy Goddd. That sounds so good! I live in LA, and have no access to such trigger-happy delicacies, but wow! And a lamb! This is making me rethink moving to Nevada, just for the fresh meat. (pun not intended)


@Nicole Cliffe I actually just received a whole bunch of wild game from a trigger-happy coworker (elk, wild boar, maybe some deer?). I will be stealing your recipe.

Nicole Cliffe

@fareby_galore YAY, do it! Be wary if you get antelope from a sagebrush-heavy state, though. They eat so much of it that the meat tastes like you've been marinating it in...sage...for ten years. Basically inedible.


@Nicole Cliffe YES. My dad has gotten smarter in his hunting and tends to look for animals who are in grassier areas. It gives the meat much less of a gamey finish. Growing up I hated game meats because he was hunting the most vile, crap-fed whitetails but elk, oh good lord that is good.


jane, why...why are you doing this?

Sarah Pin@twitter

@plonk I considered doing it with vegetarian hot dogs last year due to reading too many JD Robb "In Death" books, which are about a woman who eats tofu dogs and then solves crimes.

I'm not sure if the two are causally related, but I thought I'd try to find out if there's, like, a specific brand that has that effect.

Does Axl have a jack?

@Sarah Pin@twitter I was doing this with Greek yogurt for a while (I have a whole document with my thoughts saved somewhere!) because I didn't get the hype over said yogurt and was determined to find the one that was apparently making everyone have to change their pants.


@armyofskanks They exist. They are not even a little good for you.


"...if you can eat pizza and be on a diet at the same time."

No, Jane. No you cannot.


@Bebe Why do you hate happiness?


@KeLynn Happiness is not LC pizza. Happiness is a real, cheesy, pepperoni filled slice of delicious fatty greasy pizza. And I love it too much to settle for the fake stuff!


@Bebe If the grease doesn't run down my arm with the first bite, it's not a good pizza.


What a controversy. I'm glad your crossing the picketlines of this hot topic, jane.

I'm a super poor, super busy nursing student with a full time job and I've been wanting to try lean cuisines for lunch. But I haven't because I imagine the selection is 80% miss so I'm glad you are going to pick out the good ones and tell me.

As long as you aren't eating total shit for your other meals, an occasional lean cuisine isn't going to cause breast, lung, colon and uterine cancer to simultaneously take over your body. My boyfriend cooks dinner most nights and we used to both take leftovers, but now we are trying to stretch out the meals to last a few nights and we are left to our own devices for lunch. I eat a good breakfast every morning, but sometimes I get home from class and realize that I've run out of turkey/bread and don't want to eat cheese and crackers. And unfortunately I don't have the time to whip up a burrito or something. so ty ty for doing this lean cuisine thing!

Tammy Pajamas

I can't remember where I read this, but it was somewhere dumb like Cosmo. I think it was meant as something to eat instead if dinner, but I like it as an appetizer and/or when drunk: a piece of turkey wrapped around a pickle spear (get Claussen pickles!). It is a delicious snack or meal if you eat a lot of 'em!

Creature Cheeseman



@Tammy Pajamas That...actually sounds really good.

sceps yarx

@Tammy Pajamas My mom used to feed me a slice of turkey wrapped around a raw carrot, and I thought it was super delish, too. Good elementary school memories!

tea tray in the sky.

@Tammy Pajamas: When I was little I used to wrap balogna around pickles and put toothpicks through them. This was before I knew what a sodium level was.

(Also, a food to eat with toothpicks, bitsy PB&J sandwiches but with banana slices instead of bread!)


Jane, I love you for this (and probably other things but mostly this right now because I'm so hungry).

The pizzas are actually pretty tasty for frozen and/or cardboard pizza! BBQ chicken, margherita, four cheese, and pepperoni are delicious-ish and almost filling; a coworker swears by the roasted vegetable; and you couldn't pay me to be in the same room as the bacon alfredo ever ever ever again.


How about doing: Ask a food person. Like Ask a clean person, it would feature great, and easy as possible, answers to how and what to cook and eat in random circumstances! But it would be anti LC the way Jolie is anti-Swiffer. It would be about doing it right - without pretention and craziness, but right nonetheless. It wouldn't be about "dieting." Just eating in a good way, seasonal fresh food as much as possible, and making the exceptions make logical sense. Eating well to feel great: Ask a food person. (I would be happy to be the "food person" (who, me?) but I would also be very happy to just read the column and chime in on the comments!)


jane, i am so pleased that you are undertaking this lean cuisine research. i am sorry to inform you that i think your inaugural meal is the best in their roster :( the roasted turkey and vegetables is such a delight of a frozen dinner that i honestly sent a photo of it to my only other friend who will admit to eating frozen dinners. i hope for your sake there are more treats in the lineup, and look forward to reading about them all.


Jane I applaud your efforts, this one sounded rigorous. Go try the pizzas, I never had the meat ones but the Margherita one is not bad at all, or the Veggie Deluxe (or some nonsense like that). The key to all these is to douse them in spices.
Oh is this for a diet, because if it is you'll want to slap me when I inform you that the Dumpling Festival is here on Saturday! Good heavens I may go with a wheelbarrow to cart myself home in afterwards...you deserved it I suggest you attend.

Jane Marie

@shenannies oh damn! i love dumplings. guess i moved to LA just in time.


@shenannies LA?!?! No wonder you're doing this. There is no good food there. I have been sporadic in Hairpin visits, this means you'll miss PickleFest too! What were you thinking. Kidding of course, all the best out there. Did you know you can buy vodka in the CVS' there?!? I've been a few times and when I discovered that I vacillated between signing for an apartment that moment or hotfooting it to LAX to get the hell home.


@shenannies where I live all the (chain) drugstores have really quite reasonable liquor and wine sections. But it's Kentucky so not really the same as LA. On the other hand, bourbon!

sceps yarx

@shenannies I grew up in Cali and when I moved to Seattle, I was like, where the hell is the booze?

Tammy Pajamas

@shenannies There is amazing food in LA!

Kaate Goodman@facebook

I love lean cuisines. there is no other way to eat a meal for less than 300 calories that I can think of. (And i just will myself to think of them as a meal...for extreme dieting purposes)

I try to stay away from ANY OF THEM that have bread in them, like pizza, sandwiches, quesadillas...because i dont think bread products should be microwaved.

I also try not to eat any asian inspired ones, unless I have sriacha on hand. Um, and I dont like anything with a chicken breast included....or fruit...or rice.

So actually...only a small selection of lean cuisines are actually good. but the edible ones constitute enough to eat at least a different one everyday for 2 weeks of weekday meals.

The best ones are:

1) butternut squash (SERIOUSLY ITS REALLY GOOD???..there are walnuts in the sauce. add parmesan cheese)
2) any other variation on pasta with marinara sauce. (chicken parmesan, cheese raviolo, five cheese lasagna, five cheese rigatoni)
3) tortilla encrusted fish and parmesan crusted fish. both really good??? crusty stuff actually enhanced by microwaving...it becomes more crusty?
4) steak tips portabello WITH mashed potatoes. dont fuck with nasty water microwaved broccoli. (also 150 cals cant even fool me on a crazy diet days)
5) salisbury steak and meatloaf ones. (the meat in both these foods is already inherently so disfigured it tastes the same in a box as whatever your grandmother would make)
7) santa fe style rice and beans is the most flavorful one. recommended.
8)swedish meatballs (these are actually really good? the sauce is tasty and the balls of meat are good c/o the same principle that makes salisbury steak and meatloaf okay.)

so, despite whatever chemicals are in here...i think theyre a good option for lunch. easy to count calories and nominally delicious and a good way to not eat a putrid turkey and cheese sandwich warm from the car.

Kaate Goodman@facebook


lean cuisines are also the cheapest way possible to obtain lunch. i never buy them for over $2.50 and stock up when theyre $2.00.

although i do not shop at target for groceries EVER...SOMETIMES i will buy lean cuisines there because theyre almost always $2.00.


am i crazy or is the word actually spelled portObello

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