Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mas margaritas, por favor!

Yesterday was GORGEOUS, ya'll! As in, 70-plus degree weather and blue skies. So to celebrate the perfect conditions, a group of us went out for Mexican last night and sat outside on the patio. Icy cervezas or margaritas, tacos, chips and salsa, a warm breeze and great conversation...it just doesn't get much better than that!

Still, I know some folks feel like they can't enjoy Mexican food without weight-related concerns. Fortunately, we've got resources like Hungry Girl to help us out. Here are several low-cal, sugar-free recipes from South of the Border. Enjoy!

Twice-as-Nice Guapo Taco

Exploding Chicken Taquitos

Cheesy Beefy Quesadilla

Margaritas

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chocolate + Caramel = Delicious

I'm a huge fan of chocolate and peanut butter. I seriously don't think there is a better combination than that, at least when it comes to satisfying my own personal sweet tooth. But my second favorite combo - and believe me when I say it's a very close second - is chocolate and caramel. I LOVE that mixture of yumminess. So I definitely plan to have a little treat tonight in honor of National Chocolate Caramel Day.

Here are two low-cal, sucralose-sweetened recipes that feature chocolate and caramel. Have a great weekend!

Choc-Oat Caramel Chewies
Ingredients
1¾ cups quick or old-fashioned oats
1½ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend, packed
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter or margarine, melted
1 (12 ounce) package NESTLE® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts
½ cup caramel ice cream topping
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine oats, 1½ cups flour, SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Stir in butter; mix well. Reserve 1 cup oat mixture; press remaining oat mixture onto bottom of prepared baking pan.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with morsels and nuts. Mix caramel topping with remaining flour in small bowl; drizzle over nuts to within ¼ inch of pan edges. Sprinkle with reserved oat mixture. Return to oven; bake 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack; refrigerate until firm. Cut into bars.

Chocolate Caramel Chiller
Ingredients
1 packet SPLENDA® Flavors for Coffee, Caramel
¾ cup skim milk
2 tablespoons chocolate flavored instant pudding mix
1 cup Ice, as desired
Directions
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Chill in refrigerator 5 minutes. Remove from refrigerator. Stir and pour into a tall glass with ice.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

'Tis a good day to be Irish!

Saint Patrick was a gentleman who through strategy and stealth,
Drove all the snakes from Ireland, here’s a toasting to his health.
But not too many toastings lest you lose yourself and then,
Forget the good Saint Patrick and see all those snakes again.

Irish Toast

Happy St. Patty's Day! If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you already know that this is one of my favorite holidays. So what, may you ask, is my plan for the big evening? For starters, I'm hoping to leave work at a reasonable hour...I know, craziness! Then I'd like to swing by Mickey D's for a delicious Shamrock Shake. Finally, I plan to meet up with friends for a little celebration of all things Irish. Anyway, I'll only be indulging in one or two pints of light beer. But for those of you planning to get your drink on tonight, here are some good tips from Hungry Girl. Remember, if you're trying to lose weight, liquor can wreak havoc on the calorie count. So please drink responsibly!

* Moderation is the name of the game. Overdoing it with any type of alcohol is a fast way to derail a weight-loss (or maintenance) plan. Not only do the calories in alcohol add up, but if you're tipsy (or hung-over), fattening food may be tougher to turn down.

* A bottle of light beer or a glass of wine typically has about 100 calories. (There are exceptions, of course.)

* A shot of most clear-ish alcohols -- like vodka and rum -- has about 100 calories.

* Calorie-free sodas are great mixers. Seltzer and club soda are also good, but tonic has almost as many calories as regular soda.

* When you're out, order a club soda with a single shot of fruit-flavored vodka and just a splash of fruit juice. If the bar has fruit (orange slices, pineapple chunks, etc.), ask for a piece in your drink. That super-fruity sipper will likely clock in with no more than 120 calories.

* Avoid frozen drinks like daiquiris, mudslides, piƱa coladas, and margaritas... especially ones served in glasses the size of salad bowls. They are high in calories!

* Steer clear of sweet creamy drinks (like a White Russian) and mega-cocktails made with a ton of booze (like Long Island Iced Tea, which has five kinds of alcohol.) Those are loaded with calories.

* Most Important Cocktail Tip Ever! If you're drinking anything alcoholic, be of the legal drinking age and do not get in a car unless someone sober is behind the wheel.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Top of the muffin to you!

Have you ever seen that Seinfeld about the muffin tops? To recap, Elaine's old boss starts a muffin top business and turns to her for advice selling the concept. Well, I enjoyed the episode because I'm totally that person that eats icing rather than the cake and pulls the top off the muffins, leaving the stump behind. Anyhoo, all others with similar eating habits should prepare to smile. Much to my great joy, I recently discovered some 100-calorie muffin tops made by Vitalicious. And they are awesome, y'all! So on this busy, dreary Atlanta day, I heated up a muffin top and a sucralose-sweetened cup of Caramel Hazelnut Black Tea and sat down for a midafternoon snack. My frown is now officially upside down. Hope the same goes for the rest of you. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Food Overload

I'm not gonna lie. I haven't been particularly healthy the past week. But what's a girl to do when two of the hottest neighborhoods in town are hosting "restaurant week" simultaneously? I mean, it would be rude not to participate when the celebration involves three courses of food for anywhere from $15 to $35! Plus, with my skinny wallet, this is one of the few times that I can dine at some of the city's nicest restaurants without breaking the bank. Want to know what I've been eating the past few days? Fried chicken with mac-and-cheese, pasta with an arugula-almond pesto sauce, butternut squash soup, black-eyed pea hummus with sweet potato chips, carrot cake and chocolate tart. And it's not over yet...This Friday, I will be hitting up one of the most prestigious steak spots in town. And on Sunday, I'll be dining at another restaurant headed up by a top chef. Still, I've made a conscious effort to up my activity level at the gym this week and eat healthy breakfast and lunches between all of those rich meals. And once I get through Sunday, you better believe I'll be back on the low-cal diet again. Until then, though, you'll find me digging into a flatiron steak. Oh happy days!

P.S. See these two sucralose-sweetened recipes? This is what I ate for breakfast and lunch today. So I'm not entirely bad!

Chai Banana Smoothie

Baby Spinach 'n Bacon Salad

Friday, March 05, 2010

Don't deceive me or mislead me!

Seeing as how I pretty much always have to count calories to keep my girlish figure, I'm thrilled that the FDA is cracking down on misleading nutrition labeling. Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration notified 17 food manufacturers that the labeling for 22 of their food products violates the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The action follows an October 2009 statement by Commissioner of Food and Drugs Margaret Hamburg, M.D., encouraging companies to review their labeling to ensure that they were truthful and in compliance with FDA regulations. In an open letter dated March 3 of this week, Dr. Hamburg underscored the importance of providing nutrition information that consumers could rely on. "Today, ready access to reliable information about the calorie and nutrient content of food is even more important, given the prevalence of obesity and diet-related diseases in the United States," she said, also expressing her hope that the warning letters would clarify the FDA's expectations for food manufacturers as they review their current labeling. The violations cited in the warning letters include unauthorized health claims, unauthorized nutrient content claims, and the unauthorized use of terms such as "healthy," and others that have strict, regulatory definitions. Companies that received warning letters - which include Nestle, Beech-nut, Gorton's Inc. and Dreyers Grand Ice Cream Inc. - have 15 business days to inform the FDA of the steps they will take to correct their labeling.
The warning letters are the FDA's most recent action to help improve consumers' ability to make nutritious choices. The idea is that many consumers fall into the trap of misleading food labels. This is especially true for products that catch attention with promises of "healthy" self-endorsements, but mislead with calorie counts and serving sizes. The deceptive labeling leads consumers to think they are getting fewer calories or more health benefits than they actually are. The FDA soon will propose guidance regarding calorie and nutrient labeling on the front of food packages and plans to work collaboratively with the food industry to design and implement innovative approaches to front-of-package labeling that can help consumers choose healthy diets.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Potassium and Pound Cake

Well, it's a good thing I had mashed potatoes last night for dinner, a banana for breakfast and salad for lunch today, huh? According to a group of Italian researchers, eating plenty of potassium-rich foods such as leafy greens, potatoes and bananas may reduce the risk of stroke and coronary artery disease. Other foods high in potassium include soybeans, apricots, avocados, plain non-fat yogurt, prune juice, dried beans and peas. The findings were presented Wednesday at the American Heart Association's Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism conference in San Francisco. The new analysis was based on 10 studies published between 1966 and 2009 that included almost 280,000 adults. During follow-ups that ranged from five to 19 years, investigators found there were more than 5,500 strokes and almost 3,100 coronary heart disease events. Higher potassium intake, however, was associated with a 19 percent lower risk of stroke and an eight percent lower risk of coronary heart disease. The findings support global recommendations for people to increase their consumption of potassium-rich foods in order to prevent vascular disease. I'm just glad to know that so many of my favorite foods fall into the potassium-rich category!
On a completely different note, but also involving one of my favorite things, today is National Pound Cake Day! Just last week at a friend's birthday celebration, I bypassed the rich chocolate cake for the lemon pound cake. Dee-lish! Anyway, here are three low-calorie, sucralose-sweetened recipes that won't have you busting out the larger pants anytime soon. Enjoy!

Velvet Pound Cake

Lemon Pound Cake

Sour Cream Pound Cake