Let's Eat Gives Dieters Gourmet Choices

TAMPA, FL | Thursday, February 08, 2007

As a diabetic, Dr. Albert Ford of Land O' Lakes turned to a nutritionist who recommended the take-and-bake Let's Eat in Tampa Palms. "To me, it's gourmet food," said Ford, who pays a little extra money to have the meals prepared for him. "That's what I like � the flavor and the taste." Ford said he watches his portion size and tries to reduce sugar in his diet. "I'm trying to lose weight," he said. "It's portion controlled and it tastes good. That's why I am here." Susan Andrews, the owner of Let's Eat in The Pointe at Tampa Palms, said customers may either pick up prepared meals or prepare the dishes in her professional kitchen. Customers may omit various seasonings, oils and ingredients if they choose to accommodate their special diet. Andrews said there are nine Let's Eat businesses in Florida. Executive chef Jessica Raia-Long of South Tampa creates the menus. Andrews said many people like the fact they can control the ingredients in the dishes. If an individual likes capers but does not like garlic, they can alter the recipe posted at the prep stations. "I think people enjoy the atmosphere and a lot of people like the social aspect," she said. Customers reserve kitchen time at Let's Eat. They visit http://www.letseatdinner.com and pick entrees and kitchen time. The ingredients are already chopped and ready for assembly. Some of the January menu items included beef medallions in brandy sauce, coconut encrusted shrimp, Asian beef stir-fry, Caribbean pork and quiche Lorraine. The chicken rustica pasta consisted of bow tie pasta with grilled chicken, olives, red bell peppers, capers, garlic and parmesan cheese. Vegetarians omit the chicken. A 3-ounce serving of the Gasa Puttanesa dish, a white fish with garlic, tomatoes, capers and olives, contains 220 calories, 8 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber and 27 grams of protein. A serving of the minestrone soup has 260 calories, 8 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber and 16 grams of protein. Their homestyle chicken pot pie has 260 calories, 8 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, 16 grams of protein and 2 grams of sugar per serving. In February, she plans to provide beef medallion kabobs with mustard glaze, Thai turkey burgers with a pineapple chutney, chicken picatta and rosemary and apple pork loin chops. Andrews offers a Take 2 Tuesday during which customers may come in between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. without an appointment and prepare one or two family-sized entrees for $20 each. It typically takes 15 to 30 minutes to prepare the meals which feed four to six people, she said. She is now offering a similar Take 2 Fridays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Customers receive instructions about how to bake the meals. On March 2 she plans to host a special cocktail reception and fundraiser for Prevent Blindness Florida. Fifty percent of all proceeds from the day's meal preparations will be donated to Prevent Blindness. For more information on Let's Eat, 17024 Palm Pointe Drive, Tampa, call 615-9303.

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