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7 Green and Grain
Feb 5th, 2013 by donuts4dinner

When we’re not enjoying gut-busting tasting menus, I keep my figure girlish with a low-carb diet, while my boyfriend eats low-calorie to remain a bronzed glamorboy. And since we don’t cook, much of our evenings together are spent laboring over what to order for dinner. I want burgers on English muffins; he wants sushi. I want steak; he wants salad. I want comfort food; he wants adventure. It’s not fun. But luckily, his adventure-seeking led him one evening to find on our favourite delivery app, Seamless, a brand new restaurant called 7 Green and Grain.

I’ll admit that I basically had to be forced to order from the place. It seemed too light, too healthy, not at all comforting. In the end, it was exactly light enough, so delicious I forgot how healthy it was, and as comforting as a bowl of pasta. It’s not pretty, but it’s delicious.

You start with one of their “Be the Chef” meals, a create-your-own-entree sort of thing where you select from proteins like cage-free chipotle chicken, char-grilled chile lime shrimp, turkey meatballs, and General Tso’s tofu. Next, you choose a base grain like couscous, wild rice, or quinoa. Then, you add what they call a “tasty texture”–stuff like roasted corn and edamame, hot pepper and onion relish, or dried fruit and nut chutney. You also get a side vegetable like steamed kale, golden beets, or caramelized cauliflower, and then you top it off with a dressing like ginger soy, yogurt mint, or miso peanut.

7 Grain and Green NYC

Here, I had the turkey meatballs with quinoa, hot pepper and onion relish, caramelized cauliflower, and the yogurt mint garlic dressing. It doesn’t look like much when it arrives, but once you stir it all together, it becomes this saucy, spicy, vegetal, meaty mix that’s interesting but comforting, hearty but not so dense that you’ll need a nap when you finish it. I have quite the appetite, but this always satisfies me and actually leaves me feeling good about what I’ve eaten.

My boyfriend and I agree that the turkey meatballs are the thing to get. They’re really well-seasoned–when you cut them open, onions and herbs stare back–and I like the way you can crumble them into the grain (or healthy low-carb seed, in the case of quinoa) and make sure every bite has meat in it. We also agree that the hot peppers and onions are the #1 Tasty Texture, because they’re finely chopped, mix in easily, and ensure that the grain won’t be bland. When you mix the spicy peppers with the cool mint yogurt dressing, it’s a delight.

7 Grain and Green NYC

Our second or third time ordering, my boyfriend decided to branch out and got the chicken with quinoa and kale. The chicken is flavorful without being too spicy and isn’t dried out at all. For me, the kale is pretty boring and needs salt, but he seems to be able to forgive that because it’s so healthy.

7 Grain and Green NYC

The vegetable bean chili is great when dumped all over the grain like a sauce, but it doesn’t cut it as a stand-alone dish. It’s almost entirely beans, and doesn’t have any of the deep, rich, developed flavor you expect from chili. They should probably call it a bean soup so you expect the brightness and thinness of the broth.

Rating One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarBlank Star

The cons:

• Steamed vegetables are pretty awful when you know sauteed vegetables exist.
• The dinner portion is $13 to $17, which is waaaaay too expensive for what mostly amounts to grain or seeds. The lunch portion is much more reasonable at $9 but is also smaller.

The pros:

• The number of choices in each category is bound to please nearly every palate.
• It’s healthy.
• It’s complex and delicious.

7 Green and Grain
875 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10022 (map)

Muscle Maker Grill – Healthy/Sandwiches – Tribeca
Dec 2nd, 2011 by donuts4dinner

I know it’s awful to talk about dieting on a gluttonous food blog, but the truth is that when I’m not shoveling sweets into my piehole at fancy restaurants, I’m trying to avoid carbs at home. Not being much of a cook, it can be rough trying to find anything for lunch, so I was pumped to randomly type “low-carb” into Seamless.com‘s search function and find Muscle Maker Grill. With a menu full of items made from lean meats and low-fat cheeses and served on low-carb and whole wheat wraps, this is the kind of place that makes me feel guilty about the food I’m eating until I remember that it actually fits into my diet.

Muscle Maker Grill Rocky Balboa Wrap
Rocky Balboa wrap

With grilled chicken breast, turkey meatballs, reduced-fat mozzarella, and marinara, this is like a pizza in a wrap. And pizza is the thing I miss most while low-carbing, so this is one of my favourite items. I would never guess that the cheese is low-fat, and the marinara is present enough to flavor the wrap but not so obvious that I feel like I’m eating a bunch of sugary tomatoes.

Muscle Maker Grill Turkey Meatball Parmesan Wrap
Turkey Meatball Parmesan wrap

I ordered this on my friend Ash‘s recommendation and found it to be a great substitution for the bready meatball parm sandwiches I love so much. It was so gooey-cheesy and well-seasoned, and they didn’t skimp on the meat at all. I actually didn’t like this as much as the Rocky Balboa nor the XXL Cheeseburger wrap, though, because both of those have two different kinds of meat, so every bite is diverse. (The XXL Cheeseburger with its turkey bacon and BBQ-esque sauce is my very favourite thing to order.)

Muscle Maker Grill Turkey Meatballs
turkey meatball side item

All of the wraps come with a side of baked potato, brown rice, cucumber salad (cucumbers with herbs, Ash says), steamed broccoli, pasta salad, rice & beans ($1 extra), turkey meatballs ($1 extra), or turkey bacon ($1 extra). I love the option of broccoli but sometimes don’t feel like being quite so healthy, so the meatballs are a favourite. They’re well-seasoned, a little spicy, and a lot better than most of the meatballs I’ve had from non-healthy restaurants downtown.

Rating One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarBlank Star

Muscle Maker Grill is one of those places where you eat the food and think, “Why am I paying $10 for this? I could make it at home for much cheaper!” But you can’t, and you won’t. All of the ingredients are much more flavorful than you’d make them, and you’d never know that the cheese is low-fat nor the bacon is turkey here. On a scale with every restaurant everywhere, I’d obviously want to eat at the places with more butter and more sugar, but I have to give this place four donuts for making healthy food craveable.

My only problems with it are that they charge extra for low-carb wraps ($.79) and delivery ($1.50). I know that neither of those amounts is significant, but I find it pretty audacious to charge for delivery when I can only name one other restaurant in the city that does. It bothers me enough that I only let myself order from Muscle Maker once a week; I wouldn’t order from them at all on principle usually, but the food is just too good.

Muscle Maker Grill
10 Murray Street
New York, NY 10007 (map)

and

92 8th Avenue #1
New York, NY 10011 (map)

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