Thursday, June 25, 2009

Who wants a taste?!


So one of my favorite festivals is about to begin. And unfortunately, I won't be able to attend thanks to expensive airfare and a lack of vacation days. (P.S. A special thanks to many of my out-of-state friends and relatives, who all decided to get married within a few months of each other this year - leaving me with no vacation time to spend on myself.) Anyhoodle, what festival might I be babbling on about? It's the annual Taste of Chicago, of course, which kicks off tomorrow and runs through July 5. For those unfamiliar with the event, it is the world's largest food festival, drawing up to 3.6 million visitors from across the globe and featuring food prepared by Chicago's most popular restaurants. In addition to dozens of tables of tasty treats, there is also an international arts & crafts market, a wine garden, beer tent and concerts from both local and big-name performers. Good times, I tell ya!
While I'm bummed I can't be there this year, I suppose my waistline is thanking me. Plus, I just found a few sucralose-sweetened and low-cal variations of Taste staples. I mean, it ain't Chicago-style deep dish pizza or polish sausage...but these options are still pretty good!

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

Korean Steak

Pig on a Stick in a Bacon-Wrapped Blanket

Slow Cookin' Pulled Chicken

Mmmm-azing Moo Shu

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Must.Have.Milkshake


I don't know how hot it's been where you live, but here in Atlanta, it's been crazy humid the past week or so. And since my roommate and I are both determined to save money by NOT running the A/C, it's made for somewhat of a stifling environment inside the apartment the past few days. Needless to say, I've been craving the cool treats: ice cream, frozen yogurt, ice water or sweet tea...or perhaps a chilled glass of white wine? Yes please! Most of all, though, I've been jonesing for a milkshake...particularly of the vanilla variety, which is my favorite. So how convenient that Saturday just so happens to be National Vanilla Milkshake Day! I'm going to try to hold out until then, but just in case, I already dug up a healthy milkshake recipe. Thanks to Hungry Girl for this 155-calorie, sucralose-sweetened variation!

Chilla in Vanilla Milkshake

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Breyers Double Churn Free Creamy Vanilla fat-free ice cream
1/2 cup light vanilla soymilk
1/2 tbsp. Coffee-mate Sugar Free French Vanilla powdered creamer
2 no-calorie sweetener packets (like Splenda or Truvia)
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup crushed ice or 5 - 7 ice cubes
2 tbsp. Fat Free Reddi-wip
Optional: maraschino cherry

Directions:
Place powdered creamer in a small dish, and add 1/2 tbsp. very hot water. Stir until powder dissolves, and then transfer mixture to a blender. Add all other ingredients except the Reddi-wip to the blender. Blend at high speed until completely mixed. Pour into your favorite glass and top with Reddi-wip. If you like, finish it off with a cherry!

Oh and P.S. Atlanta-area Chick-fil-A restaurants are running a Father's Day gift for dads - one free milkshake. Fathers who go to any of the 132 metro Atlanta restaurants on Saturday, June 20 from 10:30 a.m. until closing time with their children will get one free 14-ounce milkshake. The limit is one per customer.

Happy eating y'all!

More Splenda recipes here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Listen to Your Body

I've been thinking a lot about the body and how it can signal to your brain when you're lacking certain nutrients. Lately, for example, I've been insanely thirsty. I drink water by the gallon...I'm not even exaggerating. I've also had a hankering for fruit - a giant bowl of mixed berries, cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew sounds like my dream meal at the moment. Think my body is telling me something? Absolutely! For any of you who ignore these types of cues, think twice. Nutrients in our diet are important for the body’s functions. Sometimes your body signals the absence with a craving - which tends to be my case. In other situations, the body might offer up clues to what is missing from the diet simply through appearance and function. I recently read an article that described some of the more physical ways this can surface. Check it out...
Thinning hair: Lack of iron. Natural sources of iron can be found in red meat, liver, canned tuna, spinach and many fortified cereals.
Eyesight problems: Lack of vitamin A and C. Carrots, green leafy vegetables, fruit and sweet potatoes are all good sources of vitamin A. Vitamin C can be found in oranges, kiwi, citrus fruits and berries. Fresh vegetables also provide vitamin C.
Cracking at the corners of the mouth: Lack of Riboflavin (B2) and B6. B2 can be found in whole grains like brown rice and bread, cheese, fortified breakfast cereals and green leafy vegetables. B6 can be obtained from bananas, chicken, fish and baked beans. These two vitamins complement each other in the body.
Rough, dry skin: Lack of vitamin A and E and essential fatty acids. Oily fish (mackeral, salmon and herring) and seeds are good sources of essential fatty acids, while carrots are a great source of vitamin A. Vitamin E can be found in oils, nuts and some greens.
Brittle or split nails: Lack of calcium. Low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt, beans and greens are sources of calcium.
Stretch marks: Lack of zinc. Good sources of zinc can be found in lean steak, nuts, wheat germ and egg yolk.
Cellulite: Lack of vitamin C and fiber. Citrus fruits and berries contain vitamin C, while brown rice, whole grains, beans and oats can provide fiber.
Varicose veins: Lack of bioflavonoids. These nutrients can be found in dark-colored fruits and berries such as plums, purple grapes, blueberries and cranberries.

If that wasn't enough dietary news for you today, here is a little more food for thought...The American Dietetic Association says that eating fruits and vegetables with a variety of colors is important in order to consume nutrients needed by the body. Research increasingly shows that foods with color and rich flavor contain more phytochemicals – plant compounds that aid in disease prevention and health maintenance. When planning your meals, think about the color spectrum:
* Red foods like tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit contain lycopene, which may aid in the prevention of cancer.
* Orange foods like pumpkins, carrots and oranges contain beta-carotene, which aids in the prevention of cancer.
* Yellow and green foods like squash and broccoli aid in the prevention of cancer and vision loss.
* Blue and white foods like onions, garlic and leeks can help prevent heart disease and cancer.

Now, having said all that, here are a few colorful, nutritious and sucralose-sweetened meals bound to keep you happy and healthy this weekend. Happy Friday!

Copper Penny Salad

Watermelon Fruit Salad Bowl

California Broccoli Salad

Friday, June 05, 2009

Jonesing for Gingerbread

Any gingerbread fans out there? If you're like me, gingerbread might be more of a favorite sweet treat on a chilly autumn or winter day...but since today happens to be National Gingerbread Day, who am I to debate the best time to dig into a plate of the spicy dessert? Either way, I love me some gingerbread, whether it's in the form of flavored coffee or the tasty ginger snap cookies gracing the shelves of the local Trader Joes.
Fortunately for all you calorie counters out there, a number of sugar-free gingerbread recipes are now available. Here are two, courtesy of www.Splenda.com.

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread Cake

And if you're worried about a little gingerbread impacting your waistline before hitting the pool this weekend, you can take comfort in the fact that ginger provides a number of health benefits. For one, it has a long tradition of effectively alleviating symptoms of "gastrointestinal distress" - i.e., it's a nice cure for that belly-ache. Modern scientific research has also revealed it has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects...all good news!
Another fun fact. According to the Guiness Book of Records, the world's largest gingerbread man weighed more than 372 pounds and was made by the chefs at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Vancouver back in 2003. It was also nearly 14 feet tall and two inches deep. And while today's youth might not be familiar with the old Gingerbread Man fairy-tale -- remember "Run, run, run as fast you can! You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"? -- they surely know Gingy from the Shrek movies.

Speaking of, here is a cute clip featuring the animated fan favorite.