Posts Tagged ‘Snacks’

You Scream, I scream

May 11, 2011

Spring for me doesn’t just mean warmer weather and days spent enjoying the outdoors.  It also means ice cream.  This is going to sound crazy, but there’s something about sunny days that makes me want ice cream.  Doesn’t matter the flavor or whether it’s hard or soft serve, full fat or low-fat, I just desire a big bowl of it everyday.   Yes, folks, ice cream is my Achilles heel.

Sure I could buy the low-fat or sugar-free kind and eat a 1/2 cup serving each day, but the problem is, if there’s a container of it in my freezer, I rarely ever can stop after one scoop.  It draws me back one spoonful at a time and before I know it, it’s all gone.  And this cycle happens every time I buy it.  I try to convince myself that “This time I make it last,” but it never does.  And there’s no way I’m quitting it, so here’s the solution I’ve come up with that seems to work.

Instead of buying a pint or half-gallon, I buy single serving products.  I find I can more easily turn down a second or third serving if things are packaged separately.  Must be some kind of weird mental thing, but it works.  It also doesn’t hurt that those single servings cost more and so I’m more inclined to make them last.

You know what?  I think it’s time for some ice cream!  Right now I’m loving the Starbucks Ice Cream Bars…mmmmmm!

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The Chia Pet Diet

January 25, 2011

Consider me floored after reading that chia seeds are good for you and considered a viable food source.  You know…chia…as in the chia pet!  I always thought those tiny little seeds that you soak and then spread on that little terra cotta figure were just a weed.  Apparently not. 

One serving of the seeds (about 28 ounces) packs 4 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber.  Who knew?!

Turns out, a lot of people.  Health food stores do a brisk business in selling those mighty little chia seeds as a weight-loss supplement.  But before you go out and stock up on Chia Hippos and Chia Obamas…is there any truth to these claims?

Sadly, like all good things…it’s too good to be true.  Check out this New York Times article that debunks the chia myth.

Still…those little guys are cute!

Ch-Ch-Chia!

Good Halloween treats are a trick

October 28, 2010

It used to be that Halloween was the one time of year we could enjoy copious amounts of candy guilt-free.  That’s no longer the case.  Watch your local newscast or open your daily paper and you’re sure to find an obscene amount of info about which Halloween treats are the healthier choice.  I think it’s all ghastly advice.

Look, I like pretzels and graham crackers and carrots as much as the next person, but I don’t want those things anywhere near my trick-or-treat sack.  The point of Halloween is candy.  And it’s actually a tradition that goes back to the middle ages.  Back then, people would go around and beg for food in exchange for prayers on All Soul’s Day (which falls the next day).  But I digress.

Yes, eating all that candy in one day isn’t good for you.  But if you read this blog often enough, you  know that I’m all about moderation.  Halloween is the perfect time to practice.  Pick out your favorite pieces and then indulge in one or two a day.  As for the rest of it?…pack it up and bring it into work to or just (gasp!) throw it away.

But for those of you who insist on knowing which candies are the “healthier” choice (even though we all know no candy is actually good for us)  here are a few tips:

* Skittles and Caramel Twix have more sugar than Milky Way and Baby Ruth bars.

* A snack size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup checks in at 110 calories.

*Laffy Taffy, Starburst, Twizzlers, Nerds and Mike and Ike’s are all low-calorie options with about 50 calories or fewer per serving.

Happy Halloween!

The Mr. Potato Head diet

October 1, 2010

Talk about putting your money where your mouth is.

The head of the Washington State Potato Commission (believe it or not there is such a thing) is so upset over people claiming potatoes are junk food that he’s vowing to eat only potatoes for the next 60 days.

No chips or fries for this guy.  Nope…he plans on eating 20 plain (no cheese or bacon bits) potatoes the entire time.

He claims he’ll be fine since the spuds are packed with protein, potassium, fiber and Vitamin C.

I don’t think he’ll last that long, but if  you’d like to follow his progress, you can at 20potatoesaday.com.

Snack Wars: Carrot Cake

September 8, 2010

Carrot cake is by far one of my favorite desserts.  The name, however healthy it sounds, is deceiving considering a slice of carrot cake packs 300 calories, 16 grams of fat and 27 grams of sugar.  You’d be able to eat 5 1/2 cups of chopped carrots for those calories! 

Not just for Easter!

So why is carrot cake so calorie dense?  There are two things to blame.  The cream cheese frosting and the 1 1/2 cups of oil used in the batter.  But there is a better way.  Instead of using full fat cream cheese in the frosting, switch to 1/3 less fat neufchatel.  Cut down the butter called for too by half.

When it comes to the batter, substitute all but a 1/4 cup of the oil with a mix of sugar-free applesauce and plain, low-fat yogurt. 

Another trick…instead of making a layer cake (which requires a lot of frosting), bake the cake in a square cake pan and just frost the top. 

I had a cake that followed this recipe this weekend and let me tell you I didn’t think it was a low-fat cake at all!  And when I found out it was, you know I helped myself to another piece!

Snack Wars: Tea

August 25, 2010

We’ve all heard the hype about how drinking tea is good for our health.  You’ve likely seen it too.  Scan the refrigerated drinks section at your local deli and odds are you’ll find half a dozen brands of tea touting their rich antioxidant content. 

Antioxidants, as you know, are believed to do everything from preventing cancer to slowing down the aging process.  Naturally, we’re suckers for anything that claims to help us live longer and so tea sales in the U-S are about seven billion dollars annually.

But you know what?  If you’re looking for high doses of antioxidants grab the tea bags instead of the bottled tea.

A new study by WellGen, Inc. — a biotechnology company — found bottled teas contain an average of 30 milligrams of polyphenols (the good stuff) per 16 ounce bottle.  A cup of tea you make at home has about 50-150 milligrams.  (DISCLAIMER: WellGen is working on a black tea product it says will help reduce inflammation.)

In other words…you would have to drink 20 bottles of tea to get the same benefits found in one cup of home-brewed black or green tea. 

Let’s also not forget that many popular brands of bottled tea contain a lot of sugar, i.e. empty calories.

Another advantage of home-brewed tea…it’s a lot more economical.  We’re talking pennies for a bag, versus the couple of bucks you’ll drop on a 16 ounce bottle.

So it the war of tea versus tea…opt for the home-brewed kind on a daily basis and leave the bottled beverage as a once-in-a-while treat.  And while I’m at it, the same can be said for diet and regular soda.

Snack Wars: DIY Microwave Popcorn

August 18, 2010

Mmmm...pop

I love microwave popcorn.  Not only is it tasty, it’s good for you too.   Three cups (roughly half a bag) of a popular light butter brand packs only 150 calories, 3 grams of fat and 1.5 grams of fiber.

What I don’t love about microwave popcorn is the price.  That same popular brand costs about $4.29 at my local grocery store.

Enter the website instructables and their step-by-step process for making your own microwave popcorn.

Not only can you season it to taste, it’ll set you back only about 10 cents a bag.  Follow these instructions and enjoy!

Snack Wars: Breakfast Battle

August 4, 2010

I love waffles.  Not so much pancakes.  But when I tell people of my preference, there’s always the inevitable follow-up question, “What do you mean you don’t like pancakes!?”  This is often paired with a look of disdain.  It’s the same look I get when I admit I don’t like cheesecake either.  And I’m sure you can guess what question always follows that admission.  I had this in mind when thinking about this week’s Snack Wars.  I want evidence that my waffle preference is actually the healthier alternative.  So here it is…the pancake/waffle showdown.

In the morning...I'm making waffles!

Round One: Calories

For this battle, we head to the breakfast mecca that is Ihop.  One of their Belgian waffles (no butter, no syrup) packs 390 calories.  One pancake is 110 calories, but no one ever eats one.  A stack of three will set you back 330 calories…add a pat of butter and 2 tablespoons of syrup and you’re talking 444 calories.  Granted if add those extras to the waffle you’re talking about a 504 calorie breakfast…a quarter of the daily recommended caloric intake.

Round Two: Fat

This round goes to pancakes again.  Three buttermilk pancakes have 9 grams of fat (again without butter and syrup).  That waffle I prefer packs a whopping 19 grams of fat.

Round Three: Carbs

Granted, if you’re watching your carbs you’re likely going to order steak and eggs instead of pancakes or waffles, but if you’re looking for the lower carb treat…get the waffles.  One Belgian waffle has 2 less carb grams than the three pancakes.

The Winner

Ok, so it looks like I lost this battle.  Pancakes ARE the healthier option.  And just to prove I’m not a sore loser, I’ve got a tip for you pancake lovers.  If you find yourself breakfasting at Ihop, steer clear of the healthier sounding Harvest Grain N’ Nut pancakes.  One of those fellows packs 180 calories and 9 grams of fat.  Eat three and you might as well have ordered the waffle.

Snack Wars: Baked Good Battle

July 28, 2010

Food Fight!

By now I’m sure you’ve heard that when faced with the decision of grabbing either a muffin or a doughnut for breakfast, you should reach for the doughnut.  It’s said a muffin is just like eating cake.   Now, I’m not saying you should eat either, but  it got me to thinking…what if it’s a choice between a muffin and a cupcake?  In this match-up, we’re pitting a chocolate cupcake from Starbucks against the ever popular blueberry muffin, also from Starbucks.   Let the battle begin.

Round One: Calories

The winner here is the muffin which packs in 360 calories into it’s dense 4.6 ounces.  That’s the equivalent of scarfing down 2.5 cups of plain, cooked oatmeal for breakfast.  As for that cupcake, it’ll set you back 420 calories.

Round Two: Fat

Not really a surprise here…the muffin has about half the amount of fat as the cupcake (11g as opposed to 27 grams).  This makes sense considering all the butter that goes into making the cupcake batter and the frosting.  Muffins, on the other hand, usually require just some oil to get the batter right.

Round Three:  Fiber

We all know that a breakfast high in fiber is good because it keeps us fuller, longer.  The best way to get it is by eating fruits and whole grains, but if you’re running out the door in the morning, grab the muffin.  It’s got a measly 2.5 grams of fiber, but that’s better than the .5g you’ll get from eating that cupcake.

The Winner

So it looks like the muffin is mighter that the cupcake.  It can take back some of the dignity it lost in that famous match-up against the doughnut.  As for those of you who may be curious how the doughnut and cupcake stack up against each other…you’re still going to want to reach for the doughnut.

Snack Wars: Sherbet vs. Sorbet

July 21, 2010

So after posting yesterday’s June Bug recipe, I got to thinking about sherbet.  Namely, how does it compare to it’s fancier cousin sorbet.  Both are a sweet summer treats, but which one will wreck your diet more?  Let the battle begin.

                             VS.

 

 

 

 

Round One: Calories

A scoop of rainbow sherbet packs 160 calories.  The same size serving of lemon sorbet contains 155 calories.  So really, this round is a draw.

Round Two: Sugar grams

That same scoop of sherbet has a whopping 34 grams of sugar.  The sorbet has 33.8 grams.  So again, a draw.

Round Three: Fat grams

This round is where sherbet and sorbet really shine over ice cream.  Sherbet has a measly 2 grams of fat per serving.  Sorbet…none.  The reason for this is because sherbet often contains dairy products, sorbet does not.

The Winner

Once again, this battle comes down to perference.  I prefer sorbet over sherbet.  Especially if I can mix that sorbet with some premo vanilla frozen yogurt.