Monday, August 16, 2010

Eat This

I have been seeing a lot of David Zinczenko lately on the talk show circuit. You may also know him as the Eat This, Not That® guy. If you’re not familiar with that, it’s a book series that shows that fast food has amazingly high amounts of sugar, fat and calories and offers a healthier alternative.

After seeing a number of segments where salads have been the focus, I decided to do my own Eat This, Not That challenge this week. He often shows how salads from restaurants can be loaded with calories and fat. Every time I see it, it reminds me of the gyro salad I have seen on more than one menu recently. Now, I don’t need David Zinczenko to tell me that a gyro salad is not a healthy one, but that does not keep me from wanting it all the same. I’m not a big meat eater, but something about salty gyro meat on a cool, crisp bed of vegetables sounds really appealing. All the same, I have not yet ordered it.

I decided to make my own healthier knock-off to see if I could really be satisfied as I imagined I would be with a gyro salad. Instead of “gyro” meat, I would substitute the next best thing in my mind, the Trempealeau walnut burger. This delicacy hails from the Trempealeau Hotel in, you guessed it, Trempealeau, Wisconsin.

I have never visited, but am lucky enough to have access to the walnut burgers in my local grocery store, Woodman’s. If I wanted, I could buy them onsite, or online, but down the street seems to work just fine. And although I may have raved about the beet burger a few weeks ago, it is nothing compared to the walnut burger.

Of course it tastes nothing like a burger, but has a nice spicy salty taste, which is balanced by walnuts and cheese. At 310 calories and 23 grams of fat, it’s not something I eat every night, but I figure the walnuts give it some redeeming value in the form of omega 3 fatty acids, and so I allow myself one every once in a while. And compared to the gyro, which after doing a quick online check for nutritional value has about twice as many calories and fat, it seemed like I was already coming out ahead.

As I fried the burger in non-stick spray I assembled my salad ingredients: romaine lettuce, a half of tomato, a half cucumber, reduced-fat feta cheese, and a little plain non-fat yogurt. When the patty was thoroughly browned, I broke it up into small pieces and mixed it in with the other ingredients.

Although, I can’t compare since I’ve never had one, I have to imagine this salad was as good as any gyro salad I could order anywhere else. The salty, slightly mushy walnut patty was a perfect contrast to the crunchy vegetables and creamy yogurt. And at what I guessed was less than 500 calories total, it seemed to be the clear winner in my own Eat This, Not That challenge.

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