Tag Archives: Food Products

When should you buy organic foods?

Organic foods are everywhere these days! Oftentimes they cost more, and they are definitely marketed to be healthier. The skeptics say that there’s no difference between an organic apple and a regular apple, or organic milk vs. regular milk – that it’s just a ploy to extract more money out of consumers. If that were the case, it would really be sad – all of us health-seeking consumers getting duped into buying more expensive food products without any additional value! The good news is – there have been lots of articles recently touting the benefits of organic foods – but also providing realistic guidelines about when it’s “worth it” to buy organic. This article at MSNBC.com is great – it gives a comprehensive overview of what organic means and what all the different labels mean – and what foods make sense to buy organic. I’m including the highlights in my post below, as well as some tips from another article from Shine that doesn’t focus on organic food but foods that are high in chemicals to avoid if possible.

So – what should you buy organic? There’s a simple list of 12 fruits/veggies called the “dirty dozen” – that if possible, you should absolutely buy organic. They have the highest amounts of pesticides among all the produce out there. They are:

  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Grapes, imported (Chili)
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach

Milk, poultry, and meat are also “recommended” to buy organic if possible.

7 other foods to avoid are:

  • Canned tomatoes: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity
  • Corn-fed beef: A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease
  • Microwave popcorn: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer
  • Non-organic potatoes: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes—the nation’s most popular vegetable—they’re treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. 
  • Farmed salmon: Nature didn’t intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT
  • Milk produced with artificial hormones: Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers.
  • Conventional apples: Apples are the fruits most doused in pesticides – see the dirty dozen above 🙂

Hope these guidelines are helpful – happy healthy eating!

3 Comments

Filed under Be A Picky Eater (Tips!), Picky Tips (Healthy Living/Eating)

Low Calorie / Healthier Versions of Candy, Cookies, Dessert!

candyI love dessert! I have the biggest sweet tooth ever – candy, cookies, chocolate, ice cream – you name it – I’m a fan. If I’m at a dessert buffet, it’s always really hard to resist temptation!

Even though all this junk isn’t good for you, depriving yourself completely isn’t necessairly the way to go. If you totally deprive yourself you’ll only crave it more, and eventually you’ll go nuts and eat like 5 chocolate bars and your whole healthy living plan will be gone. Junk food is ok – in extreme moderation.

Because I’m a candy addict, I took the initiative to find “healthier” dessert options when I have my sweet tooth cravings!

aaaaaaa

Here are a few tips/healthier sweet options:

jb1) Jellybellies: This is a great alternative to skittles, starburst, etc. One jellybean has only 4 calories!! That means you can have 10 jellybeans and you’ll have only racked up 40 calories. The flavors are great too and will keep your taste buds happy 🙂

aaaaaaa

421053

2) Chips Ahoy 100 Calorie Packs: These packages have 15 mini cookies in them. And you’ll only end up eating 100 calories, even if you finish the whole pack! It’s not the same as chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven, but it’s a great snacky alternative. There are tons of other 100 calorie options from Nabisco – I like the Oreo 100 Calorie Packs and the Lorna Doone Shortbread 100 calorie packs. Other good cookie options: Trader Joe’s Organic Animal Crackers. Each cookie/biscuit is about 7 calories! Sometimes I’ll make a little snack mix with 2 Chips Ahoy cookies, 2 Oreo cookies, 2 Shortbread cookies and 3 Animal Crackers. That mix is only about 50 calories!

aaaaaaa

cdy_3_musketeers_mint_dark_chocolate_24ct3) Mini 3 Musketeers – Mint: This is the greatest chocolate snack ever! If you like mint/dark chocolate you’ll love this. One mini musketeers has only 25 calories! All of the “mini” versions of Mars snacks are pretty low in calories too. Reeses mini cups are about 40-50 calories per cup, Rollos are about 40 calories, Snickers are 40-50 calories per snack, Regular 3 musketeers are 30 calories, Milky Way is 40 calories. If you eat 2-3 of these you’ll get your chocolate fix but will only have eaten up to 100 calories. I like having 2 mini mint musketeers and 1 Reeses mini peanut butter cup – 100 calorie dessert!

aaaaaa

jello4) Jello Sugar Free Pudding Cups: These are only 60 calories per cup and are a great cooling snack for the summer! Chocolate is my favorite flavor 🙂

aaaaaa

aaaaaa

3529435576_f4d48eaa7d5) Dreyer’s Slow Churned Light Ice Cream: This is a great alternative to regular ice cream. Each 1/2 cup serving only has about 120 calories max, with only ~30% of those calories from fat! They have TONS of flavors to choose from – my favorite is Cookie Dough.

aaaaaaa

These are my favorites when it comes to healthy/low calorie dessert alternatives. What are some of yours?


4 Comments

Filed under Be A Picky Eater (Tips!), Picky Eats (Restaurants/Foods), Picky Tips (Healthy Living/Eating)

Be a Picky Eater – Don’t Drink Your Calories!

Picture1One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from friends of mine who are trying to lose weight is: “I’m eating healthy and working out but I’m not losing as much weight as I should! What am I doing wrong?” And oftentimes, the reason they’re not losing enough weight is because they’re unconsciously consuming more calories than they think. A lot of these “hidden” calories are in drinks! Alcohol, sodas, even juice which is supposed to be the “healthy” option are full of calories and sugar! And your morning coffee could be adding up to 500 calories to your daily diet. So – one of the biggest tips I can give for people trying to lose weight is – don’t drink your calories!!

Here’s how the caloric counts break down:

1. Sodas: For most sodas, 8oz has anywhere from 100-125 calories. So drinking that 16 oz Coke with lunch could add up to 250 calories to your diet! And forget about supersizing – that would add up to over 500 calories per day!

2. Coffee: You might think of your morning latte as having no effect on your diet. But actually – unless you’re ordering either a tall nonfat cappuccino or a tall nonfat latte from starbucks, you could run anywhere from 200-500 calories with your morning coffee! Why? Because of all the sugary syrup add-ins, the whipped cream, the full fat milk (if you don’t ask for nonfat), the caramel, the chocolate, etc. etc.). And the drink titles can be decieving. The “Tall Chai Tea Latte” sounds healthy, but actually has 200 calories and 31g sugar! What’s one of the worst drinks you can get at Starbucks? The Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino® blended coffee with Chocolate Whipped Cream – a grande will run you 470 calories and 17g fat! Ack. You could eat an entire lunch & dessert for that amount of calories.

3. Juice. Basically, the rule with juice is 8 oz carry about 80-100 calories. So if you have a glass of juice, you’re going to be drinking at least that many calories.

4. Alcohol. Wine/beer have about 80-100 calories for 8 oz. 1 shot of any hard alcohol has 60-100 calories. Everything else – all fruity mixed drinks, multiple glasses of wine, etc can go anywhere from 200-600+ calories!

The takeaway here is – if you’re following a 1,500-2,000 calorie/day diet, and you get 500 of those calories from sugar laden drinks – losing weight is going to be a major challenge!

So what does that mean? Should you cut out all drinks? No way! There are some great alternatives – you won’t be stuck with drinking only water for the rest of your life 🙂

Healthier Drink Alternatives

Cans_11. Soda: If you must have soda, there are tons of diet, calorie-free options for all of the big brands – I’ve even found Diet Cherry Coke! And for the most part, they all taste pretty close to the originals. And it’s definitely worth it when you think about the calorie savings! But keep in mind that all of these diet drinks are flavored with artificial sweeteners – which are basically chemicals added to the drink. So if you can, stay away from soda in general and stick to more natural fizzy drinks like sparkling water!

aaaaaaaaaaa

aaaaaaaaaaa

cgw_smw_06

2. Sparkling Water: This is another great alternative to soda and to juice. If you mix flavored sparkling water with 1/4 cup of apple juice or orange juice, you end up with a very refreshing drink that only has about 30 calories!

aaaaaaaaaaa

starbucks13. Starbucks: I know sometimes you just NEED coffee. So what are some healthy low calorie options at Starbucks?

– Hot Tea: If you get a Tazo Chai tea bag with water, let it steep for a few minutes and add 1/4 cup nonfat milk and splenda – you end up with a great, tall, hot drink for only 30-40 calories!

– Tall Non-Fat Cappuccino, sweetened with splenda or sugar-free syrup: 80 calories

– Tall Non-Fat Latte, sweetened with splenda or sugar-free syrup: This is about 100-120 calories

– Hot Coffee or Espresso with a shot of nonfat milk, sweetened with splenda – 20-40 calories max

Essentially, you want to stay away from the mochas, caramels, hot chocolates, sugary-syrup add-ins, etc. That cuts the calories down by a lot!

aaaaaaaaaaa

FLAVOREDTXT4. Juice: Essentially, the way to get around juice is by mixing it with sparkling water (like in #2) or finding sugar free versions that taste like juice. Flavor Splash by Dasani is pretty good – refreshing and doesn’t feel like water. Propel is a good alternative to Gatorade. There’s also Crystal Light powders – which mixed with water make pretty good lemonade!

aaaaaaaaaaa
aaaaaaaaaaa

wine-glass-red5. Alcohol: Basically, stick to red wine or beer and only have 1-2 drinks max! If you want hard alcohol or a mixed drink, have rum and DIET coke instead of regular, or vodka soda (club soda has 0 calories), etc. Stay away from Long Island Iced Teas, Margheritas, Pina Coladas, etc. etc.

2 Comments

Filed under Be A Picky Eater (Tips!)

Healthy Fried Rice with Edamame, Veggies, Tofu!

One of my favorite Asian dishes is fried rice. But I always struggled with how to make a healthier version of it – and then I came across this recipe from EatingWell.com, made a few modifications, and came up with a great healthy meal! See my modified recipe below – if you want the original you can get it from eatingwell’s website.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided
2 large cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, greens included, rinsed, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
4 cups leftover cooked brown rice
3/4 cup finely diced red pepper
3/4 cup cooked, shelled edamame
1/2 cup fresh or frozen, thawed, corn
6 ounces firm tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup diced red onion
  • 4 cups leftover cooked brown rice (or freshly cooked minute brown rice)
  • 3/4 cup finely diced red pepper (Equals about 1 red pepper)
  • 3/4 cup cooked, shelled edamame (I use the frozen kind and just defrost it – works great)
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen, thawed, corn
  • 6 ounces firm tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (I use Trader Joe’s Thai Baked Tofu – picture below)
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons Thai Red Curry Sauce (I use Trader Joe’s version – picture below)
Frozen Edamame Packet & Trader Joe's Tofu

Frozen Edamame Packet & Trader Joe's Tofu

Trader Joe's Thai Red Curry Sauce

Trader Joe's Thai Red Curry Sauce

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa


aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
Directions

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large skillet until very hot (over medium high heat)

2. Add the garlic, red pepper, onion, and ginger and cook, stirring, until softened and aromatic, about 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add the rice, edamame, corn and tofu and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the soy sauce and incorporate thoroughly

5. When cooking is almost complete, add the Thai Red Curry Sauce

Fried Rice - Almost Fully Cooked

Fried Rice - Almost Fully Cooked

Finished Product - Yum!

Finished Product - Yum!

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Nutritional Information

Serving Size – 1.5 cups of rice

Calories per Serving: ~400

Protein: ~10g (at least)

Fiber: 7g

7 Comments

Filed under Picky Cooks (Favorite Recipes)

Be a Picky Eater – Make healthy food swaps!

veggiesOne of the things I’m always on the lookout for are healthy food alternatives. That comes in the form of individual food products (e.g. using low fat cheese instead of full fat cheese in meals), or healthy recipes (like making mac n’cheese or pizza healthier & lower in calories). As a picky eater, I never accept a meal or food product as is – I usually question whether it’s as healthy as I’d like it, or whether I could make it healthier using a few substitutions. So I was really excited when Health Magazine posted an article on this very topic!

I thought I’d use this post to share 25 of my favorite substituions, including a few from Health Magazine. So – here goes!

Easy, Healthy Food Substitutions

1. Always substitute whole wheat bread for regular white/sourdough/cibatta/anything that’s not whole wheat or whole grain

2. Always use low fat or fat free milk instead of full fat (regular whole) milk

3. Try to use low fat cheeses instead of full fat/regular cheese

4. Baked potato or tortilla chips instead of regular/fried!

5. Whole wheat/whole grain cereal with at least 3g fiber per serving instead of … Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs, Cookie Crisp – you get the idea 🙂

6. Carrot sticks or a salad instead of fries

7. Laughing Cow Cheese instead of cream cheese!

8. Veggie burgers or turkey burgers instead of regular full fat/beef burgers

9. Refried vegetarian/low fat black beans instead of regular refried beans

10. Fat free sour cream instead of regular

11. Ketchup & mustard instead of mayo/dressings/oil/vinegar

12. Hummus as a spread in sandwiches instead of cream cheese, mayo, mixed creamy spreads, etc.

13. Honey, brown sugar instead of refined white sugar (or if you’re trying to cut calories – Splenda instead of Equal or any sweetner with Aspartame)

14. Diet soda or sparkling flavored water instead of regular sugary soda

15. Fat free salad dressings or a tiny bit (1-2 tsp) of olive oil/vinegar/salt/pepper instead of regular creamy salad dressing

16. Broth based soups (tomato, vegetable stock, etc.) instead of cream based soups

17. Red wine instead of hard alcohol/mixed drinks (1 glass of red has ~100 calories compared to 300-500 in mixed drinks!)

18. White meat (chicken, turkey, fish) instead of red meat (beef, lamb, pork)

19. Whole wheat couscous instead of regular, or brown rice instead of white rice

20. Regular Oatmeal instead of pre-sweetened/sugary oatmeal or cream of wheat (you can make your regular oatmeal flavorful on your own with dried fruits, nuts, brown sugar, honey, fresh fruits!)

21. Use soy milk or yogurt in smoothies instead of frozen yogurt or ice cream

22. Fage non fat Greek yogurt instead of sweetened yoplait (1 container of sweetned Yoplait can have up to 200 calories, 1 container of Fage sweetened with splenda will have only 90-100 calories and TONS more protein!)

23. Baked sweet potatoes/yams instead of regular potatoes

24. Olive or canola oil instead of other cooking oils (and I only use a very tiny amount! no more than 1 Tbsp in most recipes)

25. Dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate! (Granted, the calories are the same but you get the antioxidant boost if you eat dark chocolate 🙂 )

Remember, if you’re creative and don’t accept food products as is – you can come up with a lot of great, healthy substitutions that give you all the flavor & nutrition but reduce the number of calories/fat/unhealthy ingredients you consume!

1 Comment

Filed under Be A Picky Eater (Tips!)

Great Food Find – 25 Calorie Hot Chocolate!

hot_chocolate430x300I LOVE hot chocolate. But I barely ever had it because hot chocolate (at Starbucks, other restaurants, etc.) are always loaded with calories and sugar! So I was thrilled when I found the 25 calorie hot chocolate at my local grocery store. All the big chains carry it (Safeway, Albertsons, etc.) and if you can’t find it in your grocery store you can definitely find it online. 

So how does the 25 calorie hot chocolate compare to the Starbucks version? Well here goes:

Starbucks Hot Chocolate (Tall)

hot_choc– Total calories: 330!

– Grams of fat: 18g

– Sugar: ~28g

 

 

 

Nestle Fat Free 25 Calorie Hot Chocolate 

149_5000012422

 

– It’s only 25 calories!

– Grams of Fat: ZERO

– Sugar: 4g

– If you make it with 3/4 cup of hot water and 1/4 cup 1% milk, you end up with a huge cup of hot chocolate (comparable to a tall Starbucks) for only ~50 calories

– If you want to make it with 1 cup of nonfat milk, you’ll still only rack up ~125 calories!

So basically, you could have 10 Nestle hot chocolate packets and it would still be LESS than ONE Tall Starbucks Hot Chocolate! Isn’t that nuts! The only thing to keep in mind is that the Nestle Hot Chocolate is sweetened with Aspartame which is obviously not the best thing to have on a frequent basis. But once in a while, it’s totally fine (which is when you’d get that Hot Chocolate craving anyway!) 🙂

If you don’t like Aspartame, but you do like Splenda, another option is to use Ghiradelli Unsweetened Cocoa (15 calories for 1 Tbsp) and sweeten it with a couple packets of Splenda which would do the trick too. Now you can enjoy hot chocolate guilt free!

Leave a comment

Filed under Picky Eats (Restaurants/Foods), Picky Tips (Healthy Living/Eating)

The Best Peanut Butter Sandwich Ever! (and healthy too!)

The "classic", not so healthy PBJ      The “classic”, not so healthy PBJ

PB&J just has such a great nostalgia associated with it. Pretty much everyone had it when they were a kid, and most people still like it to eat occassionally once they “grow up.” The problem is, the “classic” PBJ sandwich really isn’t that good for you! It’s a lot of sugar and fat, and not much nutrition (except from the peanuts). That’s because, most traditional PBJ sandwiches are made with white bread (sugar), strawberry “jam” (which ends up being highly processed and mostly sugar), and peanut butter (which is the only nutritious ingredient of the three). 

But – you can enjoy a very healthy and tasty PBJ sandwich, without having to give up the yummy peanut butter by making a few healthy substitutions! So – here we go – the best healthy peanut butter sandwich ever 🙂

Substitution #1 

Use whole wheat bread instead of white bread! And if you can find high fiber, low calorie whole wheat that’s even better. I LOVE Orowheat Double Fiber bread. Two slices will only run you 140 calories and you’ll get 12g fiber! 

Substitution #2 

Use Blueberry Jam (with minimal sugar – check the ingredients!) or Fresh Strawberry Preserves (that also have chunks of fruit in them). Basically – the best way to tell whether the jam actually packs a fruit/antioxidant punch is to look at the ingredients and see if the actual fruit is one of the first ingredients in the spread! You want ingredients you can pronnounce – that is key. My favorite is the Blueberry Jam from Trader Joes:

Trader Joes' Blueberry Jam!

Trader Joes' Blueberry Jam!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Substitution #3 

Use organic, fresh peanut butter. By this I mean – get the kind of peanut butter you have to stir, where the ingredients are “Peanuts, Salt.” Just because you have to stir it doesn’t mean it won’t taste good! Trader Joes has a great organic peanut butter that is super creamy and tastes great!

By the way – some people use “Better N Peanut Butter” – which has only 100 calories for 2 Tbsp. Personally, I don’t like it – it doesn’t taste like peanut butter at all! It tastes kind of weirdly sweet and has a different texture. I’d recommend sticking to the real stuff (natural, organic peanut butter) and just using a bit less of it!

Trader Joe's Organic Peanut Butter

Trader Joe's Organic Peanut Butter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Substitution/Addition #4 

Add toppings. Now this is optional. If you don’t like bananas or raisins or apples inside your PBJ, don’t worry about it. Peanut butter + fresh fruit preserves/jam will still pack a nutritious punch. But if you do like toppings, leave out the jam and instead use: bananas and walnuts, bananas and raisins, raisins and apples, or any combination of nuts/fruits that you like! It’ll turn out great.

Now for the proportions 

You can make a healthy PBJ sandwich for only ~350 calories if you

1) Use 2 slices Double Fiber bread (140 cal)

2) Use 1 Tbsp peanut butter (100 cal). The key to only using 1 Tbsp peanut butter but having it still taste great is to toast the bread lightly so the peanut butter spreads easier across the bread (and you can get a thinner layer of peanut butter without sacrificing any flavor!)

3) Use 1-2 Tbsp jam (50-100 cal)

Spread peanut butter on both slices, jam on both slices and put them together. You can also eat it open faced – like toast with jam which is fun too 🙂 If you use toppings, then you can substitute the calories you’d use for the jam for the toppings and still keep it to 350-400 calories. With a high fiber bread, you could end up with 10-12 g fiber per sandwich too! Now that’s the best PBJ sandwich ever. Let me know if these tips work for you!

Mmmmmm!

Mmmmmm!

Leave a comment

Filed under Be A Picky Eater (Tips!), Picky Eats (Restaurants/Foods), Picky Tips (Healthy Living/Eating)

Super Easy, Quick and Healthy Mexican Meals!

You know those nights when you come home from work and can’t muster up the energy to cook a healthy meal…. so you end up eating Taco Bell for dinner? Well – if you have a few staples in your pantry, and a couple veggies in the fridge, you can avoid the last minute fast food run. In the same time it takes you to run out and pick up food (at least 15 min), you can have a healthy meal on the table ready to eat! 

There are many ways to accomplish this, but my favorite is Mexican food. Here are the staples you need:

Refried Black Beans

Refried Black Beans

I always go for Low Fat Refried Black Beans over regular refried beans. Black beans are healthier than regular pinto beans – they have more antioxidants and in some cases more fiber! I love the Rosarita brand of refried black beans – super healthy & tasty!

 

Taco Seasoning

Taco Seasoning

 

With no fat and very few calories, taco seasoning is the perfect way to spice up your mexican meal!

 

 

 

Low fat 4 cheese mexican blend

Low fat 4 cheese mexican blend

 

Reduced fat mexican 4 cheese blend will add lots of flavor and that yummy cheesy feeling without adding too many calories!

 

 

 

 

 

Tortillas!

Tortillas!

 

 

Tortillas are key. I like using either whole wheat tortillas (Trader Joes has great whole wheat tortillas) or Mission Carb Balance tortillas have an extra boost of fiber which is great!

 

Baby spinach - pre-packaged

Baby spinach - pre-packaged

 

Baby spinach (I personally love Trader Joes prepackaged organic baby spinach!) is a great staple to have on hand – you can substitute it for lettuce in mexican food and you don’t have to do any chopping because the leaves are already tiny!

Chopped red bell pepper & red onion

Chopped red bell pepper & red onion

 

Basically any chopped veggies will do. I like the combination of red bell pepper and red onion – adds a great flavor to the dish!

 

 

Baked Tortilla Chips

Baked Tortilla Chips

 

 

Salsa!

Salsa!

 

 

And of course, can’t forget salsa and tortilla chips! My favorite salsa is Pace Picante. And for tortilla chips I always try to eat baked tortilla chips – way less fat/calories than regular! I also really like blue corn tortilla chips – adds an extra layer of flavor 🙂

The great thing is, besides the veggies, none of these items are perishable! Which means you can just keep them around in case of emergency, and then just throw any veggies together to complement the dish that you have sitting in the fridge – no planning required!

 

 

So once you have all these items, what can you make? Well – the options are endless:

  • Bean, cheese, veggie burritos
  • Quesadillas
  • Soft tacos
  • Nachos (using the guilt-free baked tortilla chips)

Just combine the beans & taco seasoning, spread on a tortilla or on top of tortilla chips, top with cheese, veggies, salsa and bake! Any of the options above are at your fingertips, and won’t run you the thousands of calories that a meal at say… Taco Bell would 🙂 Enjoy!

1 Comment

Filed under Be A Picky Eater (Tips!), Picky Cooks (Favorite Recipes), Picky Eats (Restaurants/Foods), Picky Tips (Healthy Living/Eating)

Favorite food finds – healthy crackers!

I’m a big fan of crackers. They just work well in so many snacks:

– Cheese, crackers and wine

– Crackers & peanut butter topped with raisins

– Crackers with hummus or roasted red pepper dip and carrots

– Crackers as a side instead of chips when eating a sandwich

– Crackers can also be used as breadcrumbs for lots of dishes if you grind them in the food processor

Anyway – you get the picture 🙂 Crackers are yummy! The problem is, they’re usually not very healthy. Take Ritz crackers for example – only 5 of those will run you 80 calories – 50% of which come from fat! ACK. That means if you were muching on one of those Ritz tubes you could easily rack up hundreds of calories and fat without even feeling full! You could eat an entire container of Fage 0% greek yogurt sweetened with splenda and topped with fruit for about that much – and have way more nutritional value and feel much fuller! So basically, I used to stay away from crackers. But then – I found three great cracker varieties that have some nutritional value and more importantly – much fewer calories and fat! So here we go….

1) Kellogg’s All Bran Fiber Crackers

all branThese things are great because you can eat 18 of them for only 130 calories! AND you get 5g of fiber with that serving, so they turn out to be much more satisfying than any of their counterparts! They do have 38% fat, but given the low calorie and high fiber count – that’s not so bad. And these taste GREAT with all kinds of cheeses!

 

2) Kellogg’s Special K Crackers, Multi Grain

Special_K_Crackers_-_Multi_GrainThese are also great for their low calorie count. You can eat 24 of these for only 120 calories! And only 21% of calories come from fat. That’s pretty good. They are slightly sweeter than the All Bran crackers, and are also slightly smaller. They also have less fiber than all bran – only 2g from the 24 crackers. But they are still great as a snack! 

 

 

 

3) Trader Joes Roasted Gorgonzola Crackers

gorgonzola1For anyone who likes cheese flavored crackers, these are awesome! You can eat 31 of these crackers for only 140 calories! They don’t have any fiber or other nutritional value, but are really yummy paired with a low fat cream cheese or other creamy spread. And they have a great flavor on their own – for anyone who likes a hint of gorgonzola. I’m not a fan of super strong cheese (bleu cheese for example), but I love these crackers!

Hopefully this is helpful! Happy cracker eating 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Picky Eats (Restaurants/Foods), Picky Tips (Healthy Living/Eating)

Laughing Cow Light Cheese Wedges!

laughing_cowThis has got to be one of my favorite cheese products by far. They have three flavors – Light Original, Light Garlic & Herb, and Light French Onion. One wedge has only 35 calories and 2.5g protein! This is a great substitute for:

– Cream cheese on bagels

– Cream in a Recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo (use in place of cream cheese or heavy cream)

– Base for Bruschetta (just top with chopped tomatoes, onion, garlic, fresh basil, olive oil and a bit of lemon juice!)

– Base spread for garlic bread

– “Grilled Cheese” – I toast two pieces of bread, spread one wedge of the garlic & herb cheese on each slice (so two wedges total) – top with spinach leaves, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, chopped bell pepper, and lots of salt & pepper (and other seasonings as you see fit!) then I grill the sandwich lightly using one spray of olive oil cooking spray. The result is an ooey-gooey cheesy yummy sandwich that only has 250-300 calories and is quite filling!

Try it and let me know what you think!

 

3 Comments

Filed under Picky Eats (Restaurants/Foods), Picky Tips (Healthy Living/Eating)