Thursday, May 12, 2016

Is Jenny Craig for You?

The unopened box: what's inside?
Dieting is not my usual way of losing weight, I step up my exercise, or cut out alcohol and lose a few pounds. I also have a sensitive tummy so frequent stomach viruses also keep the weight off.
But I know that that’s unusual and as I get older, I’m finding that keeping weight off gets harder. So I was eager to try the Jenny Craig five day kit starter kit,  exclusively at Walmart.

The kit, which retails for $44.98, includes 5 days of prepackaged meals. There is a lot you have to add, which means you get plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. So it’s not cheap, but it’s very convenient, particularly if you are also cooking a meal for your family or bringing lunch to the office. Actually, it’s cheaper than going out to lunch.

The contents of the starter kit
The kit also includes a free month of consulting with Jenny Craig diet experts, $50 in coupons for future plans, and $25 off for both you and a friend if you get a friend to sign up.

The packages are color coded - yellow is for breakfast, green for lunch, orange for dinner, blue for snacks and magenta for dessert. 

A disappointment was that the kit, which includes 20 meals, has limited vegetarian choices. The starter kit is a sampling, and of the five dinners, three had meat. And the sole vegetarian option was the same thing, twice, cheese ravioli.

The ravioli with sautéed spinach and chopped fennel
However, it was quite good ravioli, and I was surprised that cheesy ravioli, in a tomato sauce, could be part of a weight loss program. 

In the accompanying literature, it mentioned that the dinner should also include a half cup of green vegetables. I thought my idea of sautéed spinach was unique, but that is actually the serving suggestion on the box. However, I enlivened mine with chopped fennel fronds to give it a little Mediterranean flair.

Make your salad fun
One of the lunches was canned chicken, which you have with a garden salad and applesauce. I made this for my mom, stuffing the chicken into a couple of tomatoes and using some of the applesauce in the dressing.  It looked so good I made my own vegetarian version with canned tuna instead of chicken.

Garden salad
2 Campari tomatoes
1 1/2 cups greens -I used spinach - or swap out 1/2 cup of the greens for 1/4 cup chopped celery (1 stalk) and 1 small chopped carrot

Core the tomatoes and remove some of the flesh. You want to create a cavity for the chicken or tuna. Chop the tomato flesh and add to the greens.

Pack the chicken or tuna into the tomato cavities and serve with the greens. Drizzle the dressing over everything.


2 tablespoons applesauce
1/2 teaspoon miso
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk everything together or blend with an immersion blender. Makes enough for 2 salads

For the cereal breakfast, I used 2 strawberries from my mid morning fruit snack, and about half a cup of nonfat Greek yogurt.
What’s for breakfast?
The starter kit had 5 days of breakfast, all things a vegetarian can eat. But, each meal included 8 ounces of skim milk. I can barely choke down the milk needed to moisten cold cereal, so I figured nonfat Green yogurt would be a great substitute. A container of Greek yogurt (5.3 ounces) has about 97 calories, and a glass of skim milk has 90.

I did have my milk with the apple cinnamon oatmeal; rather than make it with boiling water, as suggested on the package, I added milk and microwaved it. It was filling and delicious. And I used some of my milk allotment in my coffee.

Lunch time
Four of the five lunches had meat, but I did try the tortellini soup. With this you eat a huge 2 cups of garden salad, with dressing. 

I made kale salad, figuring it takes longer to eat, so you seem for full.  I marinated the chopped kale in dressing for 2 hours to soften it, and added some roasted broccoli and cauliflower.

Easy roasted vegetables
Cut up a bunch of broccoli and a head of cauliflower.
Spray a roasting pan with a light film of olive oil. Add the veggies, spray with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with smoked salt.

Lunch; you make your own garden salad
Roast at 425 for 35-45 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your vegetables.  Can serve hot, or at room temperature with salad greens.

There is certainly enough food with the Jenny Craig diet. I really liked that you have snacks between meals, and even dessert. The daily morning snack was what I usually have: a serving of fruit and 6 ounces of non-fat plain Greek yogurt. So yes, I was double dipping on my Greek yogurt.

Dessert: the s'mores bar was nice and chocolatey, and only 140 calories
Mid afternoon snacks varied: string cheese one day, fruit, string cheese and almonds 2 days, fruit another day and fruit and string cheese another. I haven’t had string cheese since my kids were little but it’s handy to portion out the right serving size.

The included Jenny Craig desserts - called after dinner snacks - were just enough to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Note: I was provided a free Jenny Craig Weight Loss Starter Kit. Opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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