For some foodies the rudimentary idea of calorie counting, dieting, and eating healthy is an unfathomable notion. These words and phrases in the foodie community can be met with the ire of a grandmother that just heard their innocent little angel drop the C-word, and you all know what C-word, I am talking about, THE ONE AND ONLY C-WORD! The thought that any meal that is good for you, simply could not taste even half-way decent, is extremely widespread throughout the foodie community. So, as I got older, and my pants got tighter, I thought my days of being a foodie were over. I grieved longer that Artie Lange did, when he found out that Hostess Cakes went out of business, thinking I would have to eat turnip salads with okra nuggets for the rest of my life. Fortunately, I learned through necessity that this notion is and always was completely untrue. Not only can healthy food be just as delicious as unwholesome food, but one can splurge every now and again on bacon wrapped bacon bites, as long as it is not every day.
For those of you who still are under the impression that nutritious food can’t tantalize your palate I suggest that you make a voyage to Muscle Maker Grill and check out their healthy yet scrumptious offerings. I will pause for a moment to allow the grumpy cat fan club grumble and murmur about chain restaurants, and how they destroy the very fabric of foodie culture, and blah, blah, pretentious know-it-all gibberish, blah. Are you good now haters? You got that out of your system? Can we move on? Sure, Muscle Maker is a chain restaurant, but my problem with franchises has nothing to do with the idea of them ruining some silly pompous notion of the epicurean elite, I have always found that they tend to scrimp on ingredients, forget about freshness, and serve calorie laden unimaginative meals, once they turn to the dark side of the gastro-force. Thankfully, this is not the case with Muscle Maker Grill. The Muscle Maker Grill that I chose to visit for the purpose of this review is located at 14-29 River Road, in Fair Lawn, NJ, but that is the beauty of franchises, you can search to find one closer to you.
Before ordering from Muscle Maker, Kat and I went for a rather vigorous two hour hike and neither of us was in any mood to cook, so we decided to get take-out, before we started Googleing recipes that involved cooking and eating our dogs and cats. (Relax PETA people, I am joking, I love my pets like family. Furthermore, why are you reading a foodie blog? Go eat some kale that is dressed with your salty tears because you are crying about how the pesticides that treated your organic shrubbery that you are eating most likely killed a dozen bugs.) Kat and I inspected the menu and found that the selection at Muscle Maker was much larger than we expected, and to add to the robust selection, when ordering most of the menu items, you can choose the type of protein you would like to have in your meal. In addition, every menu item lists the caloric intake for the entire world to see, unlike many other “fast food,” restaurants that conceal the nutritional information of their food, as if they were protecting Carmen San Diego.
Kat and I both chose the El Mexicana, which is described as fajita grilled chicken breast or steak, sizzling onions and peppers, reduced fat cheddar cheese, and salsa over brown rice and beans, garnished with tomatoes and scallions for $9.99. Kat decided on the chicken breast, while I chose to upgrade my order, and went with the shrimp. As I was on my way to pick up the order, I began to have orders’ remorse, I was very nervous that healthy merely meant small portions that are designed to fill up a dainty bird like lady, not a large land mammal such as myself. I fretted and worried the entire drive over to the establishment, and then even more while I fidgeted with my phone at the counter while my food was placed into bags. With our Muscle Maker Grill in hand, I raced back to the house, filled with apprehension and foodie anxiety.
As I removed our meals from their plastic confines, I was relieved to see that my trepidation was all for not. The food not only smelled and looked fantastic, which is a feat in amongst itself while be housed in take-out containers, but the portion size was extremely generous. I began to eat my entrée and observed that the ingredients all fused together flawlessly to create a tremendous amalgamation of zesty flavor. There was no one ingredient that overpowered the dish, and half way through eating it I completely forgot that this flavorsome meal was low in calories and chock full of nutritious morsels. I don’t know if I necessarily agree with the menu, that each of these entrees is large enough for two servings, but I was definitely full when I was done with my meal.
All in all, Muscle Maker Grill provides healthy food at the speed of most fast food joints, and the prices are sensible to boot. As the heartless cold nights of winter give way to the warm embracing days of spring, even foodies have to begin to think about shedding some of the winter weight their hibernation has welcomed. So, next time you are too tired to cook, don’t grab a Big Mac or some Lo Mein; give Muscle Maker Grill a whirl, your belt and pants will thank you.