QUICK REVIEW: Lean Cuisine Honestly Good Honey Citrus Chicken

Lean Cuisine Honestly Good Honey Citrus Chicken

Purchased Price: $3.99 (on sale)
Size: 10 1/8 oz.
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Honestly good. Chicken was surprisingly a little moist and easy to cut through with a fork. Honey citrus glaze was mildly citrusy and sweet, and not overpowering. Pasta was cooked well. Half the entree was veggies, which were lightly seasoned. No artificial ingredients or preservatives. Hardest word to say in ingredients list was “radiatore,” which I learned is a pasta and not Italian for car radiator.
Cons: Honestly pricey. Chicken was a bit small. It appears there’s a lot of sauce in the packet, but much of it disappears after microwaving it. Broccoli get a bit shriveled after being nuked. Instructions are slightly more complex than most other frozen entrees.

Nutrition Facts: 320 calories, 7 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 3.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 500 milligrams of sodium, 600 milligrams of potassium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 27 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Lean Cuisine Asian-Style Chicken Salad Additions

Lean Cuisine Asian-Style Chicken Salad Additions

Contrary to a review history which leans towards a diet based exclusively around breakfast cereal and fast food, I do not hold anything against the vegetable food group. I count Larry the Cucumber among my favorite recording artists, have been known to munch on frozen peas as if they were beer nuts, and might, according to my grandmother, even transform into a vegetable one day thanks to hours spent watching college sports on TV.

So no, I’m not a veggie-phobe by any means, and I certainly wouldn’t spurn the chance to nosh on a salad that could increase my lifespan.

But here’s the thing: vegetables are complicated. Buying them, cooking them, and even knowing which part to eat are all tricky. Also, if I want to add a totally chic “lean protein” to the salad, I have to wield a knife and totally risk salmonella with my careless Millennial kitchen hygiene habits (not to mention risk chopping off a finger).

Of course, I could go the convenience route, but that can be expensive. Last I checked, Panera had a rockin’-looking Asian chicken salad. But $7.09 plus tax is pricey. I mean seriously. That’s like seven and a half small Wendy’s Frosty desserts forgone. If you really want me to eat my vegetables, then get me something cheap, not complicated, and something which won’t go bad should I, you know, put off the whole veggie eating thing in favor of those Frosty desserts for a few days.

Lean Cuisine meals might not be aesthetically pleasing, but they aren’t complicated. Taking something out of the freezer and heating it up in the microwave oven is, based on numerous test runs, pretty simple. A head of lettuce? Well, aside from exercising restraint and resisting the cereal aisle at the grocery store, that actually seems relatively painless as well.

Also, ‘Asian style’ food isn’t complicated. I’ve never been one to even try to understand what separates Korean, Chinese, and Japanese cuisines, but throw some carrots and broccoli in there, dress it up with something gingery and soy-based, and my white person American taste buds are totally basking in the idea of ethnic food.

Lean Cuisine Asian-Style Chicken Salad Additions 3 Packets

Lean Cuisine’s new Salad Additions look to engage my yearning for de-complicating veggies by combining the miracle of refrigeration with some good old fashioned step-by-step heating instructions, all the while keeping me well away from knifes.

After keeping the ethos of Asian-style and picking up a head of green leaf lettuce and some spinach at for a combined $2.73 at my local Lotte plaza, I made sure to follow the directions by placing my sesame-ginger vinaigrette in room temperature water to thaw. It didn’t. At least it didn’t within the three and a half minute microwave window the box told me to nuke the vegetables and chicken for, and it still didn’t thaw completely after I stood around and inhaled the smell of bland lettuce for five minutes after that.

This was a most disheartening wait given that the vinaigrette passed from a consistency bordering on root beer float popsicle to that of diarrhea, all the while waiting to be drenched on a hodgepodge of cut up colors that provided little truth in advertising to the juicy pieces of pineapple and grilled chicken breast that the package photo displayed.

Lean Cuisine Asian-Style Chicken Salad Additions Made

Finally reaching a vinaigrette consistency that might fool you for an actual vinaigrette, I decided to make my salad pretty. Despite an art background which includes numerous preschool awards for staying within the lines, I was unable to make my salad appear exactly as it was on the box. The salad tastes like what you’d expect from a mediocre fast food attempt to make a similar salad.

Lean Cuisine Asian-Style Chicken Salad Additions Chicken

The chicken doesn’t really taste like chicken, but with ten ingredients to make “cooked white meat chicken,” that might be expected. The chicken strips ranged from gummy to dry and were mostly salty with a bit of that gelatinous gunk you sometimes encounter with canned chicken.

Lean Cuisine Asian-Style Chicken Salad Additions Closeup

The broccoli and edamame would best be described as terribly bland. However, I can accurately report the orange and yellow carrots tasted like absolutely nothing. Compared to absolutely nothing, bland might as well be chocolate cake. I believe, but cannot confirm, I received one or two small slices of pineapple, which tasted canned and were cloying, like the dressing. However, I do appreciate that dressing as well as the crunchy noodles. Together they contributed salt, sweetness, crunch, and a bit of fat, albeit in a very McDonald’s salad kind of way.

Lean Cuisine’s new Asian Chicken Salad Addition is not very complicated, not very Asian, and not very good. But because it’s also not very expensive and not very horrible, it leaves me feeling significantly less guilty about my purchase than an overpriced and not very good salad from say…McDonald’s. It also leaves me less likely to purchase something that will significantly decrease my lifespan, and leaves me with a buttload of leftover lettuce. And you know what they say when life gives you a bunch of lettuce?

Yeah, I don’t really know either. I just hope it doesn’t involve buying more Lean Cuisine Salad Additions.

(Nutrition Facts – 260 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 gram of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 510 milligrams of sodium, 400 milligrams of potassium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 17 grams of protein.)

Other Lean Cuisine Salad Additions reviews:
Brown Girl Next Door
Texas Type A Mom

Item: Lean Cuisine Asian-Style Chicken Salad Additions
Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 7.2 ounces
Purchased at: Weis Markets
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: No fuss vegetables. Tasty vinaigrette. Noodle strips. Cheaper than most ‘Asian-style’ fast food salads. Fitting in with the middle aged women at the office lunch table. Forces me to buy lettuce. Turning into a vegetable via too much college sports watching.
Cons: Gives vegetables a bad name. Insipid two-carrot mix. Not very many vegetables. “Grilled” chicken that doesn’t taste much like chicken, and contains nine ingredients which aren’t actually chicken. Vinaigrette looks like frozen Dr Pepper.

REVIEW: Lean Cuisine Broccoli Cheddar Dip with Pita Bread & Lean Cuisine Spinach Artichoke Dip with Pita Bread

Lean Cuisine Casual Cuisine Dip with Pita Bread (Broccoli Cheddar and Spinach Artichoke)

Do you work in an office? Do you work in an office but don’t actually HAVE an office? If this is the case, you have probably eaten, or witnessed a co-worker eat, a Lean Cuisine lunch. They microwave fast, there’s nothing to assemble, and they’re usually on sale for pretty cheap. The perfect lunch for a cubicle monkey with a slim wallet and a half-hour to eat.

Unfortunately, for all that convenience, you sacrifice on flavor. I have eaten many a Lean Cuisine in my day; some are just bad, and some are, well.. acceptable. I have never eaten one where I went, “Wow, this is actually good!” They’re bland, but they keep you from starving for the rest of the day.

This is why I strongly recommend you assemble a Condiment Station in one of your desk drawers. (It should probably be right next to your Snack Station. What, you don’t have a Snack Station? Get thee some Cheez-Its and chocolate-covered espresso beans, stat!) My big three are Tapatio hot sauce, Sriracha, and soy sauce. These will bring flavor to just about any variety of frozen meal.

When I saw that Lean Cuisine had started a new line of snacks, I was intrigued. Not satisfied with blandifying your lunch, LC now strives to dominate your snack break, going up against Big Vending Machine. According to their website, “LEAN CUISINE® Snacks let you savor your snack time in so many ways! Enjoy creamy and cheesy in three flavors with our new dips, served with warm pita wedges.”

The dips come in three flavors: Spinach Artichoke, Broccoli Cheddar and Garden Vegetable. I chose the first two because I cannot resist trying any spinach artichoke dip and I also cannot resist broccoli cheddar soup. I’ve been burned before on both counts, but I’ve also had some delicious experiences. I quietly turned away from Garden Vegetable, because the word “vegetable” makes me break out in hives. I have to say “partially hydrogenated oil” three times whenever I see the word.

Each box comes with two snacks. Each snack consists of a small plastic cup containing the dip and a small half of a pita wrapped in plastic. Cooking couldn’t be easier – slit the plastic cover of the dip cup and microwave for 1 minute 45 seconds (for an 1100 watt microwave; add 30 seconds for a 700 watt), remove, stir, slit pita wrapper, pop in microwave for 20 seconds (30 for 700 watt), BOOM! A warm snack in just over two minutes, no outside containers or utensils required. Well, I guess you need something to stir the dip. Eh, grab a coffee stirrer. Or live on the edge and stir it with your pita. Get creative.

The mechanics make it sound like Lean Cuisine Dips are a fine substitute for a boring bag of Fritos out of the machine, but is the execution really there? And what about taste? Let’s find out.

Broccoli Cheddar Dip with Pita Bread

Lean Cuisine Broccoli Cheddar Dip with Pita Bread

My microwave has to be “special” and operate at 900 watts instead of 700 or 1100, so I adjusted the cooking time accordingly. Both the dip and the pita came out perfectly; the dip was hot but not tongue-scorching, and the pita was comfortingly warm. I was surprised at how soft the pita was; it tore easily and was fluffy but thick enough to support dip. It wasn’t very flavorful, but that was okay; I considered it merely a humble vessel to carry the dip. It had just the right chewy consistency to compliment the dip as I tore off the pieces and shoved them in my mouth.

As for the dip, my first thought was, damn, this is a small cup. However, I had to remind myself that this was intended as a snack, not a meal. I would have preferred a wider but shallower cup, however, as the dip was quite chunky, which made dipping into such a small opening a little bit challenging and messy at times.

Speaking of chunky, I was surprised at how large the pieces of broccoli were in the dip. They also had a bright, fresh broccoli taste and just a bit of crunch, which was perfect. The cheese itself had an overly processed flavor that I tolerated, but I also willingly eat Easy Cheese, so others might not be so kind. It tasted more like Velveeta than like real cheddar cheese. I’m a little creeped out by Velveeta. It’s like a squishy, foil-covered brick of unnatural orange goop. Don’t ask me why that’s somehow more disturbing than unnatural orange goop that squirts out of a can.

There were some little red bits mixed in that I couldn’t identify; Lean Cuisine describes the dip as “cheddar cheese, broccoli and onion in a creamy cheese sauce”, but their website says they use white onion, so I don’t know what the red bits were. I deemed them “Mystery Food Confetti”. Regardless, there was a hint of onion on the back end, which was nice, but I would have liked a little bit more of it while I was chewing.

While in a deceptively small cup, there is a fair amount of dip for a good-sized snack. I found that the pita-to-dip ratio was almost spot on, although I’m not one to be stingy about the amount of dip that gets piled on the pita vessel. I was disappointed that some of my dip burned and got fused to the side of the cup, which is odd, since the rest of the dip wasn’t even lava-hot after I nuked it.

Overall, I was pretty pleased with both the pita and the broccoli cheddar dip. The cheese did taste processed and it did burn a little, but it cooked fast, came out just the right temperature for immediate consumption, and the broccoli was spot-on. And, hold on to your hats people, Lean Cuisine actually managed to add some goddamn salt to one of their products, which goes a long way in bringing out the flavor.

Spinach Artichoke Dip with Pita Bread

Lean Cuisine Spinach Artichoke Dip with Pita Bread

A lot of what I said in regards to the Broccoli Cheddar Dip applies to the Spinach Artichoke Dip, too. The pita bread was once again fluffy but largely flavorless, the dip was hot but not scorching, and there was some dip that got burned onto the cup. This dip was smoother than the Broccoli Cheddar, so there was less of an issue with big chunks and messiness.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Lean Cuisine really hit the spot on this one. This is one of the best frozen spinach artichoke dips I have ever had. The spinach was nice and creamy, there was a lovely touch of garlic, and while the artichoke bits were smaller than I’ve experienced in other dips, it works because of the small cup size. With smaller bits comes a little less flavor, but they were still welcome.

The real belle of the ball here was the Parmesan cheese sauce. Unlike the cheddar in the Broccoli Cheddar Dip, this cheese tastes totally authentic and is bursting with flavor. There is “American cheese spread” listed in the ingredients, but what really comes through is a lovely, creamy texture and the bold taste of Parmesan. I could even taste a hint of asiago. The Parmesan and the garlic together were fabulous. It was like two hot chicks making out in my mouth. I’m…not entirely sure that’s the right analogy, but I’ll go with it.

I went pretty easy on the Broccoli Cheddar Dip, praising Lean Cuisine for creating a food that actually has flavor and seasoning. After having the Spinach Artichoke Dip, however, I feel that Lean Cuisine could have done much better with the cheddar. The broccoli was great (despite the pieces being a little too big for the cup), but the cheese makes the dip, and that fell short. That said, if you want a warm snack and can’t find Spinach Artichoke, Broccoli Cheddar still beats the sad bag of Bugles that’s been sitting untouched in the vending machine for two months.

As for the Spinach Artichoke Dip, sign me up as a fan for life. Great spinach, delicious Parmesan cheese, and just the right amount of garlic, salted well and ready with a capable pita delivery system in-box in under three minutes. Perfect for the seriously lazy or the cubicle monkey with a short break and the mid-afternoon munchies. My only complaint is that there’s always a portion of the dip that burns and fuses to the cup – I’ve already eaten both servings of both dips, and the scorch fusion happened all four times.

I expected Lean Cuisine to take me on the usual trip to Blandsville, but I was instead routed to Flavor Country, which contains a small town called Holy Balls There’s Salt in This Thing. (Locals just call it Holy Balls, which makes for some interesting small talk with visitors.) They’ve actually got me intrigued enough that I might actually try the Garden Vegetable Dip. Crap, I said the V-word.

Partiallyhydrogenatedoil. Partiallyhydrogenatedoil. Partiallyhydrogenatedoil.

(Nutrition Facts – Lean Cuisine Broccoli Cheddar Dip with Pita Bread – 1 Pita Pocket & 1 Dip – 200 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 420 milligrams of sodium, 330 milligrams of potassium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 7 grams of protein, 2% vitamin A, 20% vitamin C, 10% calcium and 10% iron. Lean Cuisine Spinach Artichoke Dip with Pita Bread – 1 Pita Pocket & 1 Dip – 200 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1 gram of polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 460 milligrams of sodium, 290 milligrams of potassium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 7 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A, 2% vitamin C, 15% calcium and 10% iron.)

Other Lean Cuisine Dip with Pita Bread reviews:
If You Give A Girl Chocolate

Item: Lean Cuisine Broccoli Cheddar Dip with Pita Bread & Lean Cuisine Spinach Artichoke Dip with Pita Bread
Price: $2.99

Size: 2 snacks (8 ounces)

Purchased at: Safeway

Rating: 6 out of 10 (Broccoli Cheddar)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Spinach Artichoke)

Pros: Fast, warm, filling snack. Hot chicks making out. Pita was soft, thick and just the right size. Conquering Big Vending Machine. Broccoli was flavorful and had good texture. Mystery Food Confetti. Spinach Artichoke Dip was creamy and had great Parmesan and garlic flavors.
Cons: Part of dip consistently burned onto cup. Rebellious microwave wattage. Cheddar in broccoli dip too processed-tasting. Blandsville. Cup too small for size of broccoli chunks. Having OCD over the V-word. Admitting Lean Cuisine made a great Spinach Artichoke Dip.

REVIEW: Lean Cuisine Casual Cuisine Spring Rolls (Fajita-Style Chicken, Garlic Chicken and Thai-Style Chicken)

Lean Cuisine Casual Cuisine Spring Rolls

According to the Lean Cuisine website, they’re promoting their new Casual Cuisine Spring Rolls as snacks. But, I’ve never thought of spring rolls as a snack. These potato chips I’m eating that are making my keyboard greasy while I’m typing this is a snack. This candy bar I’m also eating that makes my keyboard sticky while I’m typing this is a snack. These cookies I’m also eating that leave crumbs on my keyboard that find their way between the keys and cause them to jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaam is also a snack. But spring rolls…no.

I’ve always thought of springs rolls as an appetizer, or as the French say, hors d’oeuvres. They’re also usually the only menu item I can pronounce without offending anyone at Vietnamese or Thai restaurants.

The Lean Cuisine Casual Cuisine Spring Rolls come in three varieties: Fajita-Style Chicken Spring Rolls with white meat chipotle chicken, corn, black beans, bell peppers and onions; Garlic Chicken Spring Rolls that contain white meat chicken, garlic, spinach, onions and parmesan cheese; and Thai-Style Spring Rolls that contain white meat chicken, shredded cabbage, julienne yellow carrots and spicy red coconut curry.

Lean Cuisine Casual Cuisine Spring Rolls Outards

Each spring roll measures 4.25 inches long and about an inch wide, and they really don’t look like what’s pictured on the box, thanks to the burnt ends. But then again, what product in the history of frozen microwaveable foods looks like the picture on the front of the box. Each box comes with two servings of three spring rolls, and each serving comes with its own crisping sleeve, but no dipping sauce. The effectiveness of the crisping sleeve varies. They do a good job of crisping the ends of each roll, but the middle, not so much. Also, once prepared, the exterior is a little greasy.

Lean Cuisine Casual Cuisine Spring Rolls Innards

The chipotle chicken in the Fajita-Style Chicken Spring Rolls has a smidgen of heat and a decent flavor. The black beans and onions were also noticeable, but despite being able to see chunks of corn and bell peppers, I couldn’t distinguish them from the other ingredients, and, although I’m not a lawyer, I think they’re just in there so they can legally be called “Fajita-style.”

After reading the front of its box, I thought the Garlic Chicken Spring Rolls would be really good, creating a spinach dip-like flavor. The garlic and parmesan cheese were the strongest flavors, but the combination of all the ingredients created a weird amalgamation of flavors that destroyed my hopes for these spring rolls and made them my least favorite of the three.

As for the Thai-Style Spring Rolls, I was equally as disappointed with them as the Garlic Chicken variety. I expected the spicy red coconut curry to be a strong flavor and for it to be spicy, but it wasn’t. The carrots stood out for some strange reason, which is fine for rabbits, but not for me. Also, with each bite, I didn’t taste the curry at first, but after chewing several times, the curry flavor starts to come out. It’s as if the curry needs the enzymes in my saliva to activate.

I can’t say I was blown away by any of these Lean Cuisine Spring Roll varieties, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be the Fajita-Style Spring Rolls because it’s the only flavor doesn’t taste a bit off. The other two flavors aren’t god-awful, but I don’t think they’re worth getting my keyboard greasy because of them.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 spring rolls – Fajita-Style Chicken – 200 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 3.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 2 grams of monounsaturated fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 580 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 15 grams of protein. Garlic Chicken – 200 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of sugar, 0 grams of trans fat, 3.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 2.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 580 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein. Thai-Style Chicken – 200 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 3.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 2 grams of monounsaturated fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 580 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.)

Other Lean Cuisine Casual Cuisine Spring Rolls reviews:
Foodette Reviews
Tasty Lies – Thai-Style Chicken and Garlic Chicken
I Ate A Pie

Item: Lean Cuisine Casual Cuisine Spring Rolls (Fajita-Style Chicken, Garlic Chicken and Thai-Style Chicken)
Price: $3.79
Size: Six spring rolls
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Fajita-Style Chicken)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Garlic Chicken)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Thai-Style Chicken)
Pros: Two packs of three spring rolls per box. Fajita-Style Chicken was the best tasting of the three. Contains polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Being able to order something at a Thai restaurant without offending anyone.
Cons: Garlic Chicken and Thai-Style Chicken taste a bit off. Spring rolls aren’t snacks. Exterior is a little greasy. Crisping sleeve doesn’t do a thorough job of crisping. Curry flavor in Thai-Style Chicken takes awhile to come out. Garlic Chicken has a weird garlic flavor. Keyboard keys getting jammed due to crumbs.

REVIEW: Lean Pockets Pretzel Bread Sandwiches Grilled Chicken Jalapeño Cheddar

Lean Pockets Pretzel Bread Sandwiches Grilled Chicken Jalapeno Cheddar Box

I’ve always generally regarded Hot Pockets as the fast and easy food favored by stoners and people who pee into empty Mountain Dew bottles so they don’t have to leave their computer chair and risk missing part of their guild’s raid.

On the other hand, I’ve always regarded Lean Pockets as the fast and easy food favored by cubicle monkeys who don’t really care what they eat during their 30 minute lunch break but would like to at least pretend whatever bland food they cram down their maw is mildly healthy. Added bonus: no utensils required.

Lean Pockets has introduced several different products throughout the years in an attempt to keep your taste buds a little less bored as you sit in the break room trying to ignore the loud smacking sounds coming from the sweaty guy in accounting sitting across from you at the table. There’s Stuffed Quesadillas, Culinary Creations, Seasoned Crusts, and now Pretzel Bread Sandwiches.

From Lean Pockets’ website: “Why dip a soft pretzel when you can stuff it? Premium meats, veggies, and cheese wrapped in warm, soft pretzel bread. Hello, amazing!”

I can’t ever imagine calling any Lean Pockets product “amazing”, but hey. They seem pretty proud of themselves. I won’t burst their bubble until I’ve tried it. I find the stuffing over dipping a soft pretzel angle interesting. I imagine what they’re going for here is something along these lines: “Hey, you like Auntie Anne’s pretzels at the mall, right? Enjoy dipping them in those little cups of sauce? Well, you’re at work, and the mall is too far away, so you’re going to have to settle for this enjoy this amazing Pretzel Bread Sandwich!”

It’s a thin premise, but I’ll go with it. The Pretzel Bread Sandwiches currently come in two flavors: Grilled Chicken Jalapeño Cheddar and Roasted Turkey with Bacon and Reduced Fat Cheese. I went with the former because I’m a tool and I still think I can find a fast or frozen food that actually delivers on the Jalapeño heat. The latter seems kind of all over the place: turkey is always considered the healthy white meat, the cheese is reduced fat, and yet there’s bacon, generally considered delicious but nowhere near healthy. I prefer my lunches less…schizophrenic.

What the Lean Pockets website has to say about Grilled Chicken Jalapeño Cheddar: “You can’t have a soft pretzel without the spice of tangy Jalapeño cheddar. And why not add grilled white meat chicken while you’re at it? (Oh wait, we did all that.)”

Many people would probably disagree with the first sentence. There are lots of different dipping options for soft pretzels. Lucky for Lean Pockets, I agree with them on that point. “Why not” is a bit of a slippery slope…”Why not add the chewing gum I found on the bottom of my shoe last week? Why not add the nuts and bolts I found under the bread-baking machine?” Okay, I’m being a little outrageous. But that’s what makes slippery slopes fun!

Lean Pockets Pretzel Bread Sandwiches Grilled Chicken Jalapeno Cheddar Frozen

The Pretzel Bread Sandwiches come with the classic crisping sleeve. One sandwich takes 2 minutes and 15 seconds to cook in the microwave. The sandwich seemed a little small to make a full lunch. In frozen form, you can see the large crystals of salt on the sandwich, a staple of soft pretzels. After being cooked, the salt crystals melt into the crust. I was surprised to see that the crust was indeed golden brown. The smell was exactly like that of a soft pretzel you’d get at the mall or maybe a stadium. I was surprised at how fragrant and authentic it smelled.

Lean Pockets Pretzel Bread Sandwiches Grilled Chicken Jalapeno Cheddar Inside

I was disappointed when I cut the Lean Pocket open, however. It looked like a bunch of pale mush. I decided to butterfly one of the halves to really get a good look inside. There were some bits of red and green pepper, but it still didn’t look that encouraging.

I have to say, had these ingredients been inside a regular Lean Pocket pouch, my general review of the sandwich would have been “Hey, there’s actually some heat from the Jalapeños in here. The cheese is creamy. Otherwise, blandsville.” The chicken was completely flavorless and basically just acted like filler. The cheese was your typical Hot/Lean Pocket cheese, creamy but generally flavorless. What actually made these Lean Pockets stand out was the pretzel shell. It tasted just like a soft pretzel, salty and flavorful. I hate to agree with such a silly premise, but having a pretzel shell that really tasted like a pretzel made the cheese and the Jalapeños taste a lot like a pretzel dipped in Jalapeño cheddar sauce. The chicken could’ve just disappeared; even the texture of it was mushy enough to be barely noticeable.

I would have classified the Lean Pockets Pretzel Bread Sandwiches Grilled Chicken Jalapeño Cheddar as just another bland but acceptable lunch option, but the pretzel shell and the Jalapeños really saved the day. The peppers aren’t hot enough that you’d need a glass of milk, but they make themselves known with the perfect amount of heat. The texture of the cheese works with the pretzel, which makes its lack of flavor more forgivable. The sandwich was a bit small and chicken itself could disappear and I never would have noticed, but overall these Pretzel Bread Sandwiches are a step above the usual boring Lean Pockets fare. It’s a small step, but a step nonetheless.

On a side note, I happened to look at a Hot Pockets review I wrote a while back and found something interesting — Lean Pockets Pretzel Sandwiches Grilled Chicken Jalapeño Cheddar has more calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol (over 200% more) and sodium than the Hot Pocket SideShots, and both boxes are nine ounces. That doesn’t seem very lean to me.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 piece – 280 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 890 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, 13 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A, 15% calcium and 10% iron.)

Item: Lean Pockets Pretzel Bread Sandwiches Grilled Chicken Jalapeño Cheddar
Price: $1.99 (on sale; normally $2.50)
Size: 2 sandwiches
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Delicious, soft pretzel shell. Fun with slippery slopes. Perfect Jalapeño heat. The word “blandsville.” Fast and easy to make.
Cons: Mushy, flavorless chicken. Food-smacking co-workers. Bland cheese. Unhygienic computer gamers. Not exactly “lean” Pockets.