Thursday, January 27, 2011

Too much chocolate cake!

Eggs. Eggs are in chocolate cake. And milk. Oh goody! And wheat. That's nutrition! Bill Cosby: Himself (1983)

Ugh. Apparently, the best way to get over a cold and sore throat is NOT to gobble up two bowls of chili and follow it with a slice of chocolate cake. Thanks to an office luncheon this afternoon, I’m now feeling worse than ever. Actually, I can’t blame it on work – I’m an adult, I should have been able to walk away from the buffet without overindulging. But after three days of nothing but chicken noodle soup, saltines and ginger ale, I was craving some real people food today. Plus, did I mention it just happens to be National Chocolate Cake Day? Sigh. Maybe if the cake had been sweetened with sucralose instead of sugar, I might not feel so icky now. So for those of you that don't mind making your own lower-calorie cake tonight, here are a few chocolate cake recipes courtesy of Splenda.com.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Bundt Cake
Died and Went to Heaven Chocolate Cake

Speaking of chocolate cake, do I have any Bill Cosby fans in the house? Anyone remember the wonderful "Bill Cosby: Himself" standup from years ago? Here's a highlight: "She said, "WHERE DID THEY GET CHOCOLATE CAKE FROM?" And I said, "They asked for it!" And the children who had been singing praises to me... LIED on me and said, "Uh-uh! We asked for eggs and milk... AND DAD MADE US EAT THIS!" And my wife sent me to my room... which is where I wanted to go in the first place."

Hilarious!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Championship Dreaming

Our father, who art in Chicago, football be thy game. Let Forte run, another Super Bowl won, on earth as it is in Soldier Field. Give us Sunday a playoff VICTORY and forgive us our penalties, as we defeat the Packers who play against us, and lead us not into the late season and deliver us to Texas. For thine is the D-line, Urlacher, Briggs, Tillman, Hester and Peppers forever. Amen! - Anonymous Bears Fan

Do you know what Sunday is? If you're a Chicago Bears or Green Bay Packers fan (or even a, sigh, Steelers or Jets fan), chances are you do. By Sunday night, we'll all know which two teams are playing in the 2011 Super Bowl. And as a long-suffering Bears fan, I sure hope my boys are in it. For those familiar with the Bears-Packers rivalry, this weekend's NFC championship game is huge. Chicago and Green Bay have been playing each other around twice a season since the 1920s: the Bears lead the all-time series 92-83, with six ties. But before Sunday, the two squads have only met once in the post-season - a 1941 rout by the Bears just a few days after the Pearl Harbor bombings.

Anyway, I'm throwing a party on Sunday in honor of the big game. As much as it disgusts me, I've even invited a few of my Packers buddies, although we might not be friends by the end of the game. In addition to the typical game day grub - beer, buffalo wings, burgers and chips and salsa - I'll also have some lower-calorie fare. This includes fruit salad, veggies with low-fat ranch dip and hummus and a few sucralose-sweetened desserts. After all, I don't want to look like one of the infamous beefy linemen playing on Sunday!

For any other game day party planners, here are two more healthy recipes - courtesy of Hungry Girl - that won't add to the waistline.

Chicken Taquitos

Sweet Caramelized Onion Dip

Enjoy. And Bear Down!



Friday, January 14, 2011

Feeling "punchy" today!

I used to LOVE Hawaiian Punch as a kid. Between the sugary taste, the bright red tongue that occurred after drinking the beverage and the product's awesome old-school mascot (aka Punchy), Hawaiian Punch was very popular within my group of grade-school friends. Now, years later, news reports show the Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc., which owns Hawaiian Punch, is giving both the drink and the iconic mascot a 21st-century makeover. To help meet today's health concerns, Dr Pepper has unveiled a new Hawaiian Punch formula that utilizes sucralose. The Light Hawaiian Punch is now a mere 10 calories, while the original Hawaiian Punch will see a 25 percent reduction in calories. And Punchy's new three-dimensional surfer look, to be featured on packaging now being shipped and in Internet campaigns starting in February, will try to appeal more to the drink's target audience of 13-year-olds, who have grown up watching Pixar-animated cartoons. While I haven't had a bottle of Hawaiian Punch in ages, this sucralose-sweetened news might be just the ticket to getting me back on the Punchy train!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Thin Mints, Tagalongs and Trefoils, oh my!

So one of my resolutions was to avoid eating too many sweets this year - especially ones that are NOT sugar-free. And yet, here we are on Jan. 7, and I’ve already broken that resolution. But how am I supposed to say “no” to America’s favorite group of cookie sellers? That’s right, y’all..‘tis the season for Girl Scout cookies. I think I received three e-mails from friends this week, asking me to purchase cookies to support their daughter’s troop. Not to mention there are multiple order forms currently cluttering the lunchroom in my office.

Sadly, the sugar-free and more nutritious Girl Scout cookie offerings unveiled in recent years did not last and we’re now back to only the full-calorie versions. But some are less rich than others. For example, Do-Si-Dos rank lowest in calories and saturated fat. Slightly higher in calories is Thank You Berry Much, while Trefoils, Thin Mints, Samoas, Dulce de Leche and Tagalongs all pack more of a calorie punch. OF COURSE. My two favorites just happen to be Tagalongs and Samoas. However, comparing by the calories is somewhat misleading, since the numbers reflect differing serving sizes and cookie weights. So take a good long peek at each cookie's nutritional information before making your purchase.

And if you want to find some sugar-free cookie alternatives, here are some Splenda-sweetened recipes to tide you over until the Girl Scout cookies arrive in the mail.

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies

No-Sugar Sugar Cookies

And for Friday giggles, here's a funny snippet of The Addam's Family movie featuring Girl Scout cookies. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

New Year, New Resolutions...


Well, hello again! If you’re like me, you might be starting 2011 a few pounds heavier. After nearly two weeks of holiday-related food and beverage excess, especially thanks to a family wedding in Texas, I’m jonesing to get back into a healthier routine. It’s just hard finding the motivation this week, especially since my local gym is currently packed with all those New Year’s resolution folks, who are making it very hard to get into a fitness class or to even find an unused elliptical machine. After all, this is the time of year when many people gear up to lose weight -- typically only to drop it by the time February rolls around. Please don't be one of those people. This year, stick to those healthy lifestyle resolutions. USA Today has a great article offering practical advice on how to shed some of those pesky pounds and commit to those goals. Here are a few highlights:

1. Set a realistic weight-loss goal. Most experts recommend aiming for half a pound to 2 pounds a week.

2. Keep track. Dieters who keep track of everything they eat lose twice as much weight as those who don't, research shows.

3. Motivate yourself. Get a pair of jeans or pants that are too tight and hang them in the kitchen instead of the closet to keep yourself inspired.

4. Keep produce on hand. Place a bowl of vegetables such as broccoli, snap peas, cucumbers or carrot sticks in the refrigerator. You can eat them as a snack or when preparing meals to take the edge off your hunger

5. Move it to lose it. Research shows that people who do physical activities such as walking or biking for two to four hours a week during weight-loss efforts lose an extra 3 to 5 pounds over a year.

6. Pay attention to portions. A 3-ounce portion of meat, poultry or fish is about the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards; 1 teaspoon of butter or margarine, a standard postage stamp; a cup of cold cereal, berries or popcorn, a baseball; 4-inch pancake or waffle, the diameter of a CD.

7. Clean out your pantry and refrigerator. Get rid of the foods that sabotage your weight loss.

8. Avoid hunger. Eat regular meals and snacks. Make sure you have some protein foods such as yogurt, tuna, beans or chicken for most meals. Some research suggests that protein helps you feel full longer.

9. Make some stealth changes. That will get everyone in the family eating healthier. Buy low-fat 1% or skim milk, low-fat cream cheese and reduced-fat cheese instead of the full-fat versions. Use them in recipes to cut the fat and calories.

10. Treat yourself occasionally. If your chocolate craving is getting to you, try sugar-free hot-chocolate packets. If you need a treat, go out for it or buy small prepackaged portions of ice cream bars. If you love chocolate, consider keeping bite-size pieces in the freezer.