When I heard about Taco Bell’s new Power menu, I got excited. It’s super loaded with protein apparently, which can typically translate into two words:
Upon further examination of the menu at tacobell.com I found that it really is anything but low carb (like so much Mexican food is, sadly), however it looks to me like it is very easily adaptable to a low carb lifestyle. So when my mother texted me asking if I wanted anything from the place affectionately known in my family as Taco Hell, I figured “hey, why not?” and did a quick search online and saw their Cantina Power Bowl. Looked perfect, lettuce, chicken, sour cream and guac, all on a bed of rice and beans and topped with pico de gallo.
All right y’all, hold your low-starch pellet-fed horses here for one minute, I told Mama to tell them to leave off the rice and the beans. And then I added back in the beans. Because I love me some beans, and they’re almost 50% fibre, can’t be that bad right? But the rice stayed off and so did the pico. The rice, because it likes to DESTROY my blood sugars (in addition to just being plain nasty) and the pico because it just so happens that raw tomatoes make me recreate the projectile vomiting scenes from the Exorcist.
After a little calculation, I figured that my quasi-low carb fast food dietary delight would run me about 24g of total carbohydrates, and I sat in my room giddy with anticipation of my salad’s arrival. I’ve never been a huge fan of guacamole nor avocados, but I was even excited about those too, with all their healthy fats omm nom nom. So excited, especially since Lord Imp really likes Taco Hell and it’s difficult for me to find something that I can eat there that won’t leave me hungry an hour later.
So imagine my disappointment when I opened the bag, dug out my salad, and clearly saw red specks in my salad. Upon closer inspection: tomatoes. Son. Of. A. Bitch. All that excitement and a unit and a half of insulin for nothing. They didn’t even include the damn avocado ranch dressing. My mother tried talking me into not eating it but damnit, I was hungry. So I grabbed a fork, scraped off everything I could find that had come into contact with the tomatoes (which sadly included most of the sour cream and the guac, two things I desperately needed on that salad due to their fat contents and compounded by the fact that it was missing its damn dressing).
The salad sure as hell needed that dressing – it’s bland as shit without the pico. So I grabbed a bottle of chipotle pepper sauce that I use when making Susie Gibbs’ TO DIE FOR 2-minute enchilada sauce (seriously, go make it, your life will never be the same again), and dumped it on. That saved it somewhat. Unfortunately, the lettuce got limp on the drive home so when all was said and done it became an inedible mess. If I ever order this again, it will be when I’m in the restaurant, I won’t be bringing it home. To-go salads are never a good idea when they have a large amount of hot items on them like this one does, anyway.
All in all, the salad was good – ish. I really wish I could have gotten the dressing to give it a full review, but so far it gets an A for its adaptability to the low-carb lifestyle. The added guacamole (which they claim is made from real Haas avocados and I will blindly believe because I am already disappointed enough right now), sour cream and cheese fill the dish with fats and I’m sure the dressing would have contributed to that as well. I have no doubt that the lettuce was crispy when it was put together, and the beans were tasty because beans are just tasty. I just wish I could have kept the most important parts of the salad on it and I wish I didn’t have to spend five minutes picking diced tomatoes out of my damn dinner. In the end, I couldn’t finish the salad, probably due to the fact that I’m incredibly riled up and my appetite tends to dwindle when I’m riled up. It’s now sitting next to me here on the bed, a mushy mound of lettuce that looks like it was passed through a 90-year-old with severe digestive issues. The good news is, it still ended up destroying my blood sugars (I’m sitting at 160 right now after about 45 minutes) so I’m not in danger of going low at this point in time (no guarantees about later though, since I left about a third of it). However, the next time I get this, the beans are sadly going to be left off as well. 😦
Now that I’ve finished telling my story and opinion, let me just take a minute here to appeal to all you working in foodservice. Honey, I know where you’re coming from, I worked fast food for almost 7 years. I know the job sucks, the pay sucks, you get no benefits, you’re tired and you hate everyone. You especially hate people who decide that they want specific things done to their orders, and you don’t give a shit when you accidentally make something not the way the customer ordered it. The quick and easy way is to pick the stuff off and hope they don’t notice. But here’s the thing: often, people don’t order things a certain way because they’re hipster assholes looking to be ahead of the trend without realising that their interests are so 20 years ago. Often, people order things the way that they do because of their dietary needs. Dietary needs which, in this case, have the potential to at best create a rather long night, at worse become a medical emergency. People like me, we are very in tune to what we’re eating; we don’t blindly dig into a dish without thoroughly examining it first, especially when we’ve asked that things get left off due to distastes or medical reasons. Being a diabetic and knowing that a certain kind of food makes you vomit, you have to make a very conscious effort to avoid those foods. Because once you’ve taken that insulin, you had damn well better eat those carbs and keep them down or it’s lights out. And when you’re someone like me who eats low carb and only keeps low carb options in the house, save a bag of Butterfinger minis for emergencies, trying to cover a 24g meal becomes a real difficulty, and I severely dislike making a meal out of candy bars (that’s why I keep minis around, I have lost my taste for them and avoid them at all costs). Admittedly, it was my fault for taking the insulin before examining the dish for any issues, and I give y’all props for at least leaving off the rice as that would have been another major problem food for my blood sugars. But seriously – when someone asks that something is left off their dish, you leave it off. And if you accidentally put it on (it happens to the best of us), you ditch it and make a new one. No matter how busy you are, no matter how many cars are in the drive thru, no matter how many people are in the lobby. You remake it. End. Of. Story.