Friday, May 28, 2010

Delicious Discovery

Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken


My advice to those of you who don't live near a Trader Joe's: 1. move or 2. drive to the nearest location where ever that may be and bring a really big cooler. I digress.  



The latest find at my favorite grocery store...Mandarin Orange Chicken.  Think Chinese restaurant orange chicken--only not incredibly bad for you.  At 230 calories and 8 grams of fat per cup you can't beat it.  It is so good and actually faster and easier than ordering takeout.  You can find it in the freezer section of the store.  Just open the bag...cook the chicken, heat the sauce and voila!  




I highly suggest you make it soon...and don't tell anyone it came from the freezer!




NOTE: There will be no post on Monday due to the Memorial Day Holiday.  See you on the 2nd!




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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Trim Down Tip

Cereal


Walk down the cereal aisle at any grocery store and you will more than likely be overwhelmed.  There are so many options.  How do you know what to choose?  Here are a few facts that should help you navigate the breakfast aisle.


1.  Food manufacturers pay stores extra to have the best spot on the shelves.  The spot that is eye level for most adults is coveted...as is the spot that is eye level for most children.  Next time you walk down the aisle, take a look at which cereals are lowest (think lots of sugar) and which are right in the middle...think big brands like Cheerios and Total.  


2.  Look for cereals with less than 200 calories per serving, less than 12 g of sugar and less than 1 g of saturated fat.  


Kashi GOLEAN Crunch! Cereal, 15-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 6)3.  Fiber, fiber, fiber.  Look for cereal with at least 3 grams of fiber.  The more the better.  And no, not all high fiber cereals taste like cardboard.  Some do...but not all!



Top Cereal Choices


Kashi Go Lean Crunch - I love a crunchy cereal and this one is just that.  It stays crunchy while you are eating and fills you up fast.


Cheerios - The old favorite is just that for a reason.  It's good for you and yummy.  Stick with the original version for the best healthy choice.  


Trader Joes Toasted Oatmeal Flakes - they taste like Frosted Flakes...except they aren't loaded with sugar.  Just 110 calories per serving too. 


Fiber One - This is a great choice as a cereal mix-in.  I like to add it on top of my cereal de jour for a huge fiber boost (14 grams per 1/2 cup).  Plus it's only 60 calories a serving.



Barbara's Bakery Puffins - I love this cereal.  Personally I only like the Original variety...but I know others who have strong feelings about the Peanut Butter and Cinnamon kind.  Either way...low calorie, adequate fiber and very delicious are all check marks in my book.


Barbara's Bakery Puffins Cereal, 12-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 4)There are a million cereals out there...these are just a few of my favorites.  Next time you head to the store take some time to read the labels and more importantly...try something new!




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Monday, May 24, 2010

Foods to Ponder

Lemons


Lemons.  Not a food most people will eat just for fun...although some people swear they are delicious.  I have recently become a huge fan of lemon-y things.  The smell is so incredibly clean (I even have hand soap and lotion next to my kitchen sink) and just a little fresh lemon juice can spice up a boring glass of water or a blah salad.


Darice Big Value Decorative Fruit-60mm LemonsLemons are also good for aiding in digestion problems.  Add a little to water when nauseous, constipated or experiencing heartburn and it should help.  Lemons are also a diuretic making them beneficial for people prone to urinary tract infections.  


The lemon is native to Asia but can be found all over the world these days.  It is used primarily for its juice but also for its zest.  Next time you are making mashed potatoes (regular or sweet) add a little bit of lemon zest (just grate the rind)...it adds just the right amount of flavor.  The same can be done with an orange or lime...but we're talking lemons here.  I've said it in the past but the best salad dressing is just lemon juice and olive oil.  Insanely healthy and delicious.  Plus lemons are cheap...pick some up for a dollar or two today!




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Friday, May 21, 2010

Delicious Discovery

Thomas' Bagel Thins


I was in the grocery store last week looking for my usual bread items when I stumbled across a new Delicious Discovery.  Thomas' Bagel Thins.  I figured they were worth a shot.  So I purchased the wheat and everything variety and headed home.  Good choice, Nicole.


Thomas' Bagel Thins - Plain, 8 count bagJust 110 calories for the entire Bagel Thin.  Plus you get 4-5 grams of fiber depending on the variety.  So far I have had one with an omelet, as a sandwich and just as a snack with hummus.  I haven't been disappointed yet.  Plus, it passed the husband test yesterday which is always a plus.  Everyone loves a bagel sandwich-this way you can have one and save a few hundred calories while you are at it!




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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trim Down Tip

What to Eat At....A Bar


A menu can be a scary thing.  Especially if you aren't into eating whatever whenever.  We all have our moments when all we want is a cheeseburger and fries...but for those days that you are trying to stay ON the wagon...it can be tough.  I can't think of a more difficult place to determine the healthiest choice than a bar.  Let's be honest--if you are at a bar...you are not ordering salmon with steamed vegetables.  I'll sift through the best for you.


Eat up!


Chili:  This is usually a great choice.  Chili should run you anywhere from 250-400 calories.  Plus it is almost always made with beans which bumps up the fiber factor leaving you fuller longer.  Opt for it without cheese and ask for no chips to avoid temptation!


X-Burger - A burger isn't always bad for you.  It just depends the size and what goes on top!  If possible--opt for a turkey, bison or veggie burger to cut down on calories and fat.  Ask for it without cheese and load up on any vegetables (think beyond lettuce and tomato and shoot for sauteed mushrooms or caramelized onions) and salsa on top.  Just remember the serving size is usually twice as big as you need.   So eat half --or at least just half of the bread. Oh and ask for a salad or fruit instead of the fries--you will save yourself hundreds of calories and hours on the treadmill.


BLT: This can be one of the best options you will find.  Usually there isn't much bacon and if you opt for no mayo you can save 50-100 calories.


Grilled Cheese: Two slices of bread and a couple of slices of cheese should never be more than 400 calories.  Add some tomato for an extra boost of nutrients.  However beware of butter soaked and/or thickly sliced bread.




Good luck and eat up!






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Monday, May 17, 2010

Foods to Ponder

Couscous

I love carbs. Who doesn't?  However, when it comes to dinner time...I've never been a big fan of the grainy carbs that typically are served along with your protein.  That is until I met couscous.  

Near East Toasted Pine Nut Cous CousCouscous is an important part of a Middle Eastern diet.  It is a grain made of semolina wheat although it cooks and tastes more like rice.  You can purchase it raw or parboiled (I suggest the latter).  My favorite brand is Near East.  The Parmesan and the Toasted Pine Nut varieties are the BEST.  They cook in 5 minutes and go with just about any meal.  It's a perfect combination of flavor and it's healthy too!  

I strongly suggest you head to the store and buy some today.  It's a great staple to have in the house when you need to cook something fast and yummy.


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Friday, May 14, 2010

Delicious Discovery

Trader Joe's Pulled Chicken Breast


Another day...another fabulous find at Trader Joe's.  The pulled chicken in BBQ sauce is amazing.  Delicious.  Tremendous even.  Plus it doesn't get much simpler when it comes to "cooking".  


One package contains 16oz or 3 servings of pulled chicken.  One serving has just 140 calories and 1 gram of fat.  The directions tell you to just pop the chicken (out of the sealed pouch) into the microwave for approximately 2 minutes  Personally...I either put it in the slow cooker on low or put it in the oven--it's a personal preference really.  Serve it up with some corn bread and a salad and you are good to go.  Find it in the refrigerator section of your local Trader Joe's.  


It's what we're having for dinner tonight!






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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Trim Down Tip

Plate Portions


This tip is simple.  When you are eating divide your plate into quarters.  One quarter should be filled with protein...one quarter with carbohydrates...and the last half with vegetables.  It really is that easy. 


I find that people have a hard time determining the proper portion sizes.  So, if you visualize your plate cut into quarters...it becomes much easier.  It can be adjusted for all meals.  This way you aren't eating 3 cups of pasta or 10 oz of fish all whilst thinking you are taking in the proper amounts.  


They even sell plates that are already pre-portioned.  They can be helpful when starting out.  I've used them in counseling and had great results.






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Monday, May 10, 2010

Foods to Ponder

Pineapple


Summer is fast approaching and that means one thing...well actually it means a lot of things...but when it comes to food it means delicious fruit.  A favorite of mine is pineapple.  Pineapple is so incredibly delicious and good for you.  Pineapple season runs from March to June but they are available all year round.


One cup of pineapple chunks has 83 calories and 2 grams of fiber.  Nothing beats fresh pineapple.  The best kind?  Maui Gold, in my opinion.  If you can find it--stock up.  It has a distinct flavor -- a perfect balance of sweet and juicy.  


My favorite pineapple recipe uses canned pineapple. Pineapple angel food cake.  It's so easy.  One box of angel food cake.  One can of crushed pineapple in its own juice.  Pour both into a disposable pan (I told you it was easy).  Mix in the pan and cook according to the directions on the box or at 350 until golden brown.  Be sure you don't grease the pan.  It's not necessary.  People will think you slaved all day and you can make it in a matter of minutes--plus it's healthy!






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Friday, May 7, 2010

Delicious Discovery

Farmers Markets


I love farmers markets.  They are a fabulous resource and I don't think enough people take advantage of them.  Once the weather gets nice up north the markets begin to spring up (or if you live in an area that is relatively warm all year--you have the good fortune of having access to farmers markets year round!).  


Farmers markets aren't necessarily always less expensive than the grocery store...but usually they are.  The produce is extremely fresh and delicious.  The various retailers set up stands with all sorts of fruits and vegetables--some of which are things you don't see every day (zucchini flowers anyone?).  There can be all sorts of  fresh baked goods, salsas and even regular products like blankets or clothing.  


Click here to find a local farmers market near you. If there is one near you...check it out.  I bet you will be trying new things and tasting some fresh produce more often!






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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Trim Down Tip

McDonald's


It's bound to happen.  You are on a road trip, or running from point A to point B and you are famished.  You need to eat...fast.  Within a mile of just about anywhere you will likely find a McDonald's.  Drive thru may be convenient but not always the healthiest.  Here's my top 3 list--the good, the bad and the SUPER-bad.  


Top 3 Healthy Choices


Adult's McDonalds French Fry Halloween Costume1.  Hamburger - Who knew?!  The hamburger at McDonald's is actually a great serving size and relatively healthy.  Just 250 calories and 9 grams of fat.  Add some cheese for another 50 calories and you are all set!


2.  Premium Grilled Chicken Sandwich - 420 calories and 10 grams of fat.  A great option for a fast meal that is tasty and healthy.


3. Egg McMuffin - If you are looking for breakfast this is your best bet.  At 300 calories and 12 grams of fat, egg, Canadian bacon and cheese on an English muffin...y-u-m.


Top 3 Unhealthy Choices


1.  Angus Deluxe - The commercials for these new sandwiches are very enticing. They even make them look healthy.  Not so much.  750 calories and 39 grams of fat.  Stay far away.


2.  Chicken Selects Premium Breast Strips 5 piece - This is absurd.  Five chicken nuggets have 660 calories and 40...yes 40 grams of fat.  That is just about one third of an average person's recommended caloric intake.  Crazy.


3.  Vanilla Triple Thick Shake 32 oz cup - This should be obvious...but for those of you who don't think so here are the stats: 1110 calories, 26 grams of fat, 145 grams of sugar.  So incredibly unnecessary.  If you feel the need to have a shake--stick to 12 oz and save 700 calories or check out my favorite McDonald's treat.




Remember stay away from anything "Super Sized".  If you don't know why...check out the movie, "Super Size Me".  Pretty incredible stuff.  


McDonald's also allows you to substitute apple dippers for fries.  I know it might not sound as appetizing but a healthy sandwich, fruit and an ice cream cone sounds like a great on-the-go meal to me! 




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Monday, May 3, 2010

Foods to Ponder


Stevia

There are a so many sweeteners out there.  It can be tough to keep up with the latest and greatest.  One of the hippest on the market right now is stevia.  So, what is it and why is it better than sugar?

Truvia, Calorie-Free Sweetener, 0.123-Ounce Packages (Pack of 400)Stevia is an herb that grows wild as a shrub in South America.  According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), it has been used for centuries by natives of Paraguay and Brazil to sweeten their stimulant beverages. Stevioside is the main extract in stevia and is calorie free.  Steviosides are 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar. Stevia leaves are 10 to 15 times sweeter than table sugar and are very low in calories. 
 

The FDA approved the use of stevia in December of 2009.  Consequently, it has been added to drinks like Sprite Green and SoBe Lifewater. Its primary use is to sweeten coffee and tea.  Using stevia over sugar or sugar substitutes is a personal preference.  Those suffering from diabetes or looking to lose weight may benefit from sugar substitutes in their diet.  Stevia does have similar side effects as other sugar substitutes including a strong aftertaste, bloating and gas. 

Stevia is typically used in small quantities to sweeten beverages, which poses no obvious harm to consumers.   However, scientists worry that if stevia is used by global companies such as Coca-Cola or Pepsi , consumption may increase and potentially cause dangerous side effects.  Both companies have developed their own stevia products, Truvia and PureVia, respectively.  Moderate use (one to two times per day) is considered to be safe. More research on the effects of stevia is needed to determine long term health effects. Check it out...it may be your new favorite sweetener!



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