Friday, May 28, 2010

Worst meals and drinks in America

Seeing as how it's Memorial Day weekend - and swimsuit season is rapidly approaching (or in some cases, already here!) - you might want to avoid these foods and beverages.
Men's Health recently came out with a list of the "20 worst drinks" in America. At the same time, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has given out its "Xtreme Eating Awards" for 2010, choosing the nine most fatty and high-calorie meals from chain restaurants. In the words of Joey Lawrence...woah!
Here are a few of the highlights from the two lists:
* The Cheesecake Factory's Pasta Carbonara with Chicken (2,500 calories, 85g saturated fat)

* P.F. Chang's Double Pan-Fried Noodles Combo (1,820 calories, 7,690mg sodium)

* California Pizza Kitchen Tostada Pizza with Grilled Steak (1,680 calories, 32g saturated fat)

* Chevys' Crab and Shrimp Quesadilla (1,790 calories, 63g saturated fat)

* Outback Steakhouse New Zealand Rack of Lamb with garlic mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables (1,820 calories 80g saturated fat)

* Starbucks Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha with Whipped Cream - 20 fl oz (660 calories, 15g saturated fat)

* Dairy Queen Caramel MooLatte - 24 fl oz (870 calories, 19g saturated fat)

* Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Soda - 28.6 fl oz (960 calories, 25g saturated fat)

* Cold Stone PB&C - 24 fl oz (2,010 calories, 68g saturated fat)

Can you believe that? To put just one of the meals/beverages into perspective, the Cold Stone PB&C has the sugar equivalent of 30 Chewy Chips Ahoy Cookies. And in terms of saturated fat, it equals about 68 strips of bacon. And we wonder why there's an obesity epidemic in this country!

So pretty please, folks, use some common sense when eating and drinking, especially if you're trying to lose or maintain weight. After all, to exceed all of your calories for the day in a single sitting is pretty ridiculous. On a different note, have a wonderful - and safe - holiday weekend!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

That makes me salty!

Seeing as how I had a big glass of V8 Spicy Hot Vegetable juice only a few hours ago, this news is pretty disheartening. Health.com has posted a fascinating article on the 25 Surprisingly Salty Processed Foods. What's the surprise, you say? Well, it's that so many of them are supposed to be healthy options, such as a Lean Cuisine frozen entree, light salad dressing, a meatless black bean burger and low-fat cottage cheese.
The average person in the U.S. consumes 3,500 milligrams of sodium a day. That’s equivalent to almost 9 grams of salt, or nearly 2 teaspoonfuls, which is way more than the 2,300 milligrams per day suggested by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
But the majority of excess salt, or 77 percent, isn’t spooned into food...it comes from processed foods. The FDA recently announced a plan to gradually scale back on salt in processed foods, which may be the end of the line for super salty products.
Until then, I guess I won't be digging into a bowl of Raisin Bran anytime soon!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Craving some sweets

For the past four days, I've dutifully hit the gym and chowed down on only healthy foods. But it's not like I had a choice. After a decadent, long weekend at a friend's out-of-town wedding, it was suddenly tough zipping up my pants Monday morning. Yup, we ate and drank like rock stars and my waistline suffered because of it...hence the good girl behavior this week. And I will totally continue to keep up my healthy ways for the near future! But you know what I'm really, really craving right now? A sucralose-sweetened Breyers Carb Smart Almond Ice Cream Bar! Along those lines, I thought I should mention a few of my other favorite, low-calorie desserts. After all, it's a question I am asked on a regular basis. So the next time you come down with a wicked case of the sweet tooth, try one of these options before hitting your local ice cream shop or bakery.

Weight Watchers Ice Cream Bars

Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches

Smart Ones Sundaes

Betty Crocker Warm Delights

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Berry, berry good...


There are very few fruits that I don't like. Each one of my brown bag lunches is typically accompanied by a rotation of oranges, bananas, grapes, berries and peaches, depending on the day of the week. But if there was one fruit that I could take every day - one that I'd never get sick of - I'd say it's strawberries. J'adore strawberries! Whether it's on top of a mixed green salad or dipped into yogurt, strawberries always taste so dang good. Plus, think about all the health benefits!
Strawberries serve as potent antioxidants. Their unique phenol content makes them a heart-protective fruit, an anti-cancer fruit, and an anti-inflammatory fruit, all rolled into one. For example, in one study, strawberries topped a list of eight foods most linked to lower rates of cancer deaths among a group of over 1,000 elderly people. Those eating the most strawberries were three times less likely to develop cancer. Also, remember how your mom told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child? Well, it appears fruit is better for the sight in adulthood. Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating three or more servings of fruit per day may lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Still not sold? How about this: the vitamin C-rich fruit also helps protect against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis.
And finally, when it comes to nutrients, strawberries are a good source of manganese, potassium, folate, riboflavin, vitamin B5, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, vitamin K, magnesium, and copper.

So here are a few quick strawberry-related serving ideas, courtesy of the George Mateljan Foundation for The World's Healthiest Foods.

* Dress up any green salad with sliced strawberries, slivered almonds and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
* Top your morning cereal, lunch time yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh strawberries.
* Layer sliced strawberries, whole blueberries and plain yogurt in a wine glass to make a parfait dessert.
* Mix chopped strawberries with cinnamon, lemon juice and maple syrup and serve as a topping for waffles and pancakes.
* Blend strawberries with a little bit of orange juice and use as a refreshing coulis sauce that goes well with poached pears.
* Add strawberries to breakfast shakes to give them a more vibrant taste and texture.
* For an easy, elegant dessert, blend fresh or frozen strawberries with a spoonful of honey and some soy or cow's milk or yogurt. Freeze for 20 minutes, then spoon into serving cups and decorate with a sprig of mint.

Along those lines, here are three sucralose-sweetened recipes featuring the splendid strawberry.

Banana Strawberry Shake
Fresh Strawberry Pie
Very Strawberry Shortcake

On a goofier note, long-time readers might remember my love for the old Strawberry Shortcake line of dolls. I dicussed it at length in this 2008 post. And now that I've gone and mentioned Strawberry Shortcake again, I think it's time for a special song. Take it away, boys!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Mommy Dearest

Please be nice to your mama this weekend. In case you forgot - and I really hope you didn't - Sunday is Mother's Day. If you're struggling to find a gift for Mom this weekend, there are always the usual suspects: a mani/pedi/spa package, flowers, jewelry, food or a gift card to her favorite store. And, of course, you might really make Mom happy by letting her put her feet up for a change. Clean the house for her so she can watch a movie, take a bubble bath or delve into a new book. Then make her a nice meal. If you go the food route, here are a couple low-cal recipes sure to put a smile on your mother's face.

Shrimp and Corn Salad with Basil
Scallion and Habanero Marinated Pork Loin
Lofty Lemon Meringue Pie

And the piece de resistance, sugar-free mojitos!

Ingredients:
2 ounces Light Rum
1 ounce Lime Juice
1 teaspoon Splenda
2 sprigs Mint leaves
4 ounces Soda Water
Directions:
Place Splenda and a large pinch of mint in a pint glass. Use a muddler to lightly press mint and dissolve Splenda. Add a splash of soda water. Squeeze the lime into the glass and add rum. Stir and fill with ice. Top with soda water and garnish with mint sprig.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Una celebracion!

The past few years, I've spent Cinco de Mayo at an Irish bar. Why? Well, because I've also spent the past several St. Patrick's Day fiestas celebrating in Mexican restaurants. I hate dealing with big crowds! This year, however, I was forced to go to an Irish bar on St. Patty's Day...which means I will be visiting my local taqueria tonight. I'm bracing myself for the masses of people who adore margaritas but don't understand the story behind Cinco de Mayo. By the way, if you're under the impression that Cinco de Mayo is merely a celebration of Mexico's Independence Day, you would be mistaken. It actually commemorates an initial victory of Mexican forces over French soldiers in the Battle of Puebla back in 1862. It is also not a federal holiday in Mexico - most banks, government buildings, offices, restaurants, etc. remain open.
Still, I'm going to put on a brave face tonight and have some chips, salsa and perhaps a cerveza (or dos) with my friends. And because I love you, here are some yummy, low-fat, sucralose-sweetened recipes in keeping with any Mexican-themed party.

Chicken with Red Mole

Coconut Horchata

Mexican Bread pudding

Also, because I love movies, here are cinco films made in Mexico: (Fun in Acapulco, Desperado, Like Water for Chocolate, Treasure of Sierra Madre and Y Tu Mama Tambien.) Enjoy!