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Thursday, April 27, 2006 

Gardenburger Veggie Burgers

For the health-conscious person with serious time constraints who demands tasty food, this veggie burger is the overall winner hands down. Really--these burgers are no joke. They're packed with good stuff, devoid of the bad stuff, and cook in the toaster or microwave in minutes! Slap it on a whole wheat bun with some lettuce and a slice of tomato, and you've got a fantastically tasty lunch--it's truly that easy and fast to eat well.

The burgers come in several flavors: Original, Portabella, Veggie Medley, Black Bean Chipotle, Garden Vegan, Flame Grilled, the Classic, and, my personal favorite, Sun-Dried Tomato Basil. Each patty (of the Sun-Dried Tomato flavor) is only 100 calories with 3 grams of fat and 5 mg of cholesterol. There's 310 mg of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugars, and 5 grams of protein. You'll also get 10% vitamin A, 20% vitamin C, 6% calcium, and 4% iron (based on a 2,000 calorie diet).

So if you've been eating all the wrong foods for lunch claiming that you "don't have the time to eat healthy," buy these and eat right--you've got no excuses anymore.

Manufacturer Says: Italian-style vegetables in a whole grain burger with brown rice, basil, fresh onions, mozzarella cheese, rolled oats, red and green bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. A must for sun-dried tomato fans. You'll get: Fiber, Protein, Antioxidants. Soy Free.

Find them at a store near you: Gardenburger Veggie Burgers

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 

Featured Health Food: Oats

If you're interested in heart health, cancer prevention, weight loss, and/or diabetes management, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better food than oats. Oats are not only a prime source of the complex carbohydrates that help to sustain energy, but they're nutrition powerhouses as well--containing impressive levels of selenium, thiamin, phosphorus, and manganese, and respectable quantities of copper, folate, vitamin E, and zinc.

What really makes oats shine in the eyes of nutritionists, however, is their high fiber content. Soluble fiber has been credited with helping to lower blood cholesterol levels, reducing high blood pressure, and preventing certain types of cancer. The complex carbohydrates and fiber in oats can help with weight loss by keeping insulin levels low after eating which boosts the metabolism and keeps the body from storing fat. Oat fiber may also help control blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity--very important in terms of diabetes management.

Fortunately, it's extremely easy to add oats into your diet--starting, of course, with breakfast. There's always the standard bowl of oatmeal made with rolled oats (our favorite is Bear Naked's 100% Organic Rolled Oats), but if this gives you the morning "blahs," try adding a bit of fruit-flavored honey, chopped dried fruit & nuts, or gourmet fruit syrups such as Gladstone's Wild Blueberry Syrup. If it's the oats themselves that bore you, try McCann's Steel-Cut Irish Oatmeal--you'll find their nutty flavor and chewy texture world's apart from standard oatmeal. For a change of pace, try an oat-based, healthy granola (such as Bear Naked) either as a cereal or atop low-fat yogurt.

Oats can also be added to soups and stews for thickening and texture. They're also great added to burger and meatloaf mixtures and for coating fish or chicken. Perhaps the tastiest way of all to enjoy oats, however, is in oatmeal cookies. Bake them yourself to ensure wholesome ingredients, or choose an all-natural, trans-fat free kind such as Choca Doodle Doos (a decadent chocolate chip oatmeal cookie with 2 grams of fiber!).

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 

Featured Health Food: Ginger

If you've never thought twice about ginger, it's about time you brought this little gem of a spice into your life. Ginger not only has a delightfully spicy flavor that works well with both sweet and savory dishes, but it has many health benefits that can alleviate symptoms of several ailments as well as properties that may ward off chronic diseases.

Ginger contains anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties that may help to relieve arthritis and muscle aches and pains. It can help with the pain from when you've overdone it at the gym, when you're suffering from menstrual cramps, or when you're recovering from surgery or an injury.

Ginger can also help relieve nausea and upset stomach and can improve digestion. It can be useful to women suffering from morning sickness or travelers afflicted with motion sickness. It can also help ease your stomach after consuming a very large meal.

Ginger is a natural antihistamine and decongestant and may provide relief from allergy symptoms by dilating constricted bronchial tubes. It can also help relieve the stuffiness from the common cold as well.

Lastly, in terms of chronic ailments such as heart disease and cancer, ginger may provide cardiovascular and cancer protection to keep you healthy.

So how does one reap the wonderful benefits of ginger? Ginger can be purchased fresh in the produce section of your local supermarket. It can be grated, sliced, minced, or shredded and added to stir fry, stew, soup, or sauce for an extra "zing." Ginger is also found ground in the spice section and can be added to many baked goods as well as savory dishes for a distintive heat. Sushi lovers will be familiar with pickled ginger served alongside sushi and sashimi--a hot and sweet delight that cleanses the palate.

My personal favorite ways to consume ginger include crystallized ginger (baby ginger dusted with cane sugar creating a sweet and spicy, addictive treat that tastes great alone, plunked in tea, or chopped into baked goods), stem ginger in syrup (the chunks of candied stem ginger are great for eating alone and jazzing up your cooking and baking, and the syrup is great in tea, over ice cream, or for glazing chicken, carrots, or nuts) and ginger tea (a soothing, spicy beverage).

Monday, April 17, 2006 

HoneyStix Fruit Flavored Honey

Honeystix are filled with one teaspoon of deliciously flavored pure clover honey and natural fruit flavoring. They are delicious in tea, yogurt, or atop oatmeal--even as a tasty treat on their own! There's only 20 calories per stick and no artificial flavors or colors. They come in exciting flavors such as watermelon, mango, sour grape, lemon, sour raspberry, and more!

Manufacturer says: HoneyStix are a sweet and nutritious alternative to other candies and snacks. Each HoneyStix is exactly one teaspoon of honey. The honey in HoneyStix is filled with vitamins, essential minerals, amino acids and antioxidants that are good for the body and give you lasting energy. HoneyStix have a ton of uses including flavoring hot beverages (the straw is perfect for stirring) to putting on cereal and ice cream.

Try them now: HoneyStix

Thursday, April 13, 2006 

Arnold Whole Grain Classics Double Fiber 100% Whole Wheat

With the recommended amount of fiber being 25-30 grams per day and Americans consuming only half of that amount, companies such as Arnold should be applauded when they make products that help us add more fiber into our diets.

Arnold's 100% Whole Wheat Double Fiber bread has a great taste and texture that suits any sandwich, and it boasts 5 grams of fiber per slice! One slice is only 90 calories, 1.5 grams of fat (0 saturated and 0 trans), 180 mg of sodium, 19 grams, 3 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.

Manufacturer Says: Arnold® Whole Grain Classics™ Double Fiber Bread is a new addition to the Whole Grain Classics line. Baked with whole grains and 100% whole wheat, this heart healthy bread is an excellent source of fiber, with 5 grams in every delicious slice. That’s 10 grams of fiber in a single sandwich – or 40% of your daily fiber needs!

Find it at a store near you.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006 

Health Valley Low Fat Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Health Valley Low Fat Chocolate Chip Granola Bars are one of my top picks for a quick breakfast, mid-morning/mid-afternoon snack, or chocolate fix. They have a nice chocolatey taste, but aren't overwhelmingly sweet. They are, of course, all natural and contain no trans fats and are also a good source of 6 B vitamins. One bar is 160 calories with 2.5 grams of fat (1 saturated), 20 mg of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. This tasty snack also provides 2% calcium, 15% thiamin, 10% niacin, 10% folate, 10% iron, 10% riboflavin, 10% vitamin B6, and 10% vitamin B12.

Since the bars aren't too sweet, I wasn't sure they would appeal to children--so I was delighted when I asked my 7 year old daughter if she liked them and she responded "why wouldn't I like them? They have swirls of chocolate on top and lots of chocolate chips---I love them!"

I couldn't agree more.

Find them at a store near you.

Sunday, April 09, 2006 

Peanut Butter & Co. White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter

I have always been a huge fan of peanut butter but have been resisting all-natural varieties partially because I couldn't imagine that they would be any good, partially because I am stubborn, and finally, because I didn't want to spend the extra dollars. It took getting a variety six pack sent as a birthday gift to get me to give it a try. This particular version, though, I was excited to try after reading the review here of one of the other jars in this pack. While that one was excellent I will concur, the White Chocolate Wonderful is even better. Nutritionally, it is, perhaps, minimally less attractive that the Dark Chocolate Dreams, but it is still a decent choice. This stuff tastes like the peanut butter inside of a peanut butter cookie. It is fantastic. What is more, the "natural" composition makes it a bit less "dry" than traditional varieties, thus, eliminating the only complaint I would have with most peanut butter brands. There is no barrier to eating it right out of the jar. It is a treat in itself. I am not sure whether I should compare this to peanut butter or desserts because it is that good.

Nutritionally it is similar to major brands though with less sodium and a bit fewer calories. It also has no trans fats.

The Manufacturer Says:
Smooth crunchy in flavors you would never imagine.

The Facts
Serving Size: 2 Tbsp (1 oz)
Servings per Container: 14
Calories: 180
Fat: 14g (120 calories)
Protein: 6g
Fiber: 1g
Sodium: 35mg
Calcium: 2%
Iron: 2%
Weight Watchers Points®: 5 (barely as 4 tsp is 9)

Ratings: (all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 5
Taste: 5
Satisfying/filling: 5
Healthy: 4
Performance (for athletes): 4
Diet Appropriate: 2
Category: Peanut Butter/Snack Food/Dessert (I couldn't resist)

Find it here.

Thursday, April 06, 2006 

Michelina's Lean Gourmet Five Cheese Lasagna

Frozen meals can be really hit or miss -- especially Italian foods that depend on a good marinara sauce, when many commercially prepared marinaras leave a lot to be desired. But when I found Michelina's Lean Gourmet Five Cheese Lasanga on sale for $0.99, I decided to take a chance, and even though it sat in my freezer for a month before I got up the courage to try it, I'm ever so glad I finally did! While the marinara sauce on it wasn't exactly STUPENDOUS (somewhat reminisicent of Chef Boyardee, which I happened to like as a kid), it was definitely tasty and the blend of cheeses in the lasagna was also very very good. The portion size was small enough that I wished there was more, but large enough that I was satisfied. At 230 calories and 6 grams of fat (no trans fats) for a good piece of lasagna, you can bet I'll be stocking up on this one next time they're on sale, and maybe even giving a few other of Michelina's products a try!

Miss Meringue Mini Meringues and Chocolettes

Guiltless decadence -- that what these babies are. I tried the chocolate minis and the strawberry and vanilla chocolettes and both are excellent. I was a little weirded out by the dusty texture of the first bite, but as the cookie started to melt in my mouth and became slightly chewy, I was addicted! And the best best BEST part is that I can have 13 of the minis for 110 calories and NO fat and or 10 of the chocolettes for 130 calories and only 3.5 grams of fat! I like the chocolettes (minis drizzled with chocolate) slightly better because of the chocolate-covered taste, but I might be more inclined to choose the plain minis based on the nutritional value. I mean, you could eat the entire box of plain minis for 550 calories! Not that I would do that.... ok, I would, but only for a really special treat.... or comfort after a really bad day... or just cause I like 'em!

Find 'em and try 'em!

Kelloggs's Crispix

Keeping with the healthier cereals theme, today's entry, Crispix has been around for quite some time. This is not the first time I have tried this cereal but is, rather, the first time I have paid much attention to its health value. Crispix has low sugar when compared to most breakfast cereals as 3g, has no fat including saturated and trans fats, and has lots of added vitamins. Of course, this amounts to the multi-vitamin-in-milk concept of many breakfast cereals with carbohydrates for energy. The cereal does not have the whole grain as some of the healthier entries that have become available over the last couple of years, but it tastes a whole lot better. In fact, it is pretty good, as it is neither overly sweet nor bland. A warning for those who don't like milk, though: The cereal's design is like a sponge for milk. This keeps the cereal from being too dry and helps it to be sweeter, but provides a lot of milk taste. This is refreshing for me, but may be a major turn-off if you are a milk-is-just-there-to-keep-me-from-choking-on-the-cereal type.

Though it is probably not a true "health" cereal, it is certainly a much better alternative than much of the competition and I would not hesitate to eat this on a regular basis and feel healthier for it.

The Facts:
Serving Size: 1 Cup
Servings per Container: About 17
Calories: 110
Fat: 0
Sodium: 210mg
Potassium: 35mg
Fiber: < 1g
Sugars: 3g
Protein: 2g
Vitamin A: 10%
Vitamin B6: 35%
Vitamin B12: 35%
Vitamin C: 10%
Vitamin D: 10%
Iron: 45%
Thiamin: 35%
Riboflavin: 35%
Niacin: 35%
Folic Acid: 70%
Zinc: 10%
Weight Watchers Points®: 2

(all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 4
Taste: 4
Satisfying/filling: 4
Healthy: 4
Performance (for athletes): 4
Diet Appropriate: 4
Category: Breakfast food/cold cereals

Competing Product Reviews:
  1. Great Value - Toasted Oat Cereal
  2. Meijer Bite Size Shredded Wheat
  3. New Alpha-Bits (0 grams of sugar)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006 

Silk Soymilk -- Vanilla flavor

I like milk... the regular stuff... good old white skim milk. The concept of soy milk was a little over the top to me (at least the idea of someone without milk allergies drinking it seemed over the top). However, at the suggestion of my sports nutritionist friend to try to cut back on animal food product to try to boost my whimpy metabolism, I got over myself and bought a carton. My first reactions.... smells a little odd... has a decidely NON-milk-like flavor... and did you know that soy milk is kinda gray???? However, in the spirit of having an open mind, I continued to use it. Drinking it straight is not exactly my favorite, though the vanilla does a lot to make up for the different flavor that's in there, but I have come to really like it in smoothies or poured over fruit with a little Splenda (yeah, I said it, SPLENDA -- take that ya sweetner-phobe Foodguru!). For the uninitiated to the world of soy milk, I wouldn't not recommend walking into it with an expection of soy milk being like cow milk, but expecting it to be a possibly delightful creamy beverage, slightly like milk in look and appearance, but in a category of its own in the consumable liquids genre. With the same general nutritional value as 1% milk (100 calories and 3.5 grams of fat per 8 oz serving for soy milk, 105 calories and 2.5 grams of fat for 1% milk), its worth a try!

Maine Munchies Apple Pie A La Mode

These. Are. So. Good! Containing cinnamony dried apples and creamy yogurt covered raisins, everything about this snack is delicious. The slightly crispy apples are a great contrast to the chewy yogurt covered raisins. The only bad thing about this snack is that you don't want to stop eating it (isn't that the problem with all good snacks??), and while the ingredients ARE healthy, its also pretty high in calories. A one ounce serving is 113 calories and 4 grams of fat, which isn't too bad, but Maine Munchies come in a 4 oz. bag, and I promise -- once you eat that one ounce serving -- you will eat the other three servings contained in the bag. I did... and it ended up being a 450 calorie snack! I had to do extra running that night...... but it was worth it. Perhaps, though, this is not such a great everyday snack for someone trying to lose weight. It WOULD, however, make an awesome treat, if there is some kind of reason to deserve one (like you ran extra without it being a penalty for consuming too many calories!)

Try them! If you don't like them, I'll finish them for you!

Deep Chocolate Vitamuffins

I am of the opinion that ALL of the Vitamuffin flavors are worth trying, you MUST try the Deep Chocolate. Divine, I'm telling you, absolutely, divine. Very moist and very fudgy... you could eat them for a dessert and only 200 calories and 3 grams of fat for a 4 oz muffin. In fact, I was hoping to get my hands on some to substitute for my husband's birthday cake tomorrow, but alas, and here is the bad thing about Vitalicious, the nearest store that carries them is 17 miles away. You can order any of Vitalicious's products from their website. And in looking at their online store, I discovered they actually make cakes. Guess what I'll be reviewing when MY birthday rolls around!

Great Value - Toasted Oat Cereal

My breakfast is most frequently some cold cereal or another but, usually, it is little more than a sweetened multivitamin. In order to promote healthier eating and weight loss, I have been in search of a healthier selection that actually tastes good and that I could eat on a regular basis (see this review and this one). Great Value (Wal-Mart's store brand) Toasted Oat Cereal looks just like the sweeter competition but the similarity ends there. It has just 1g of sugar! I wonder, though, where that gram is as it tastes decidedly unsweetened. In fact, it is an awful lot like the zero sugar Alpha-Bits. I am not saying it is bad, but that I am seeing a pattern that all very low sugar cereals tend to taste about the same (shredded wheat is a bit of an exception). The cereal is definitely edible but certainly bland. I suspect that adding some fruit could make the difference but, since I am often in a big hurry, I probably won't actually do it very often. Nutritionally, the cereal is pretty good with high fiber, whole grain oat flour, low sugar, a bunch of vitamins, and zero saturated and trans fats. I will probably reserve eating this cereal for days when I really want to be good or keep my calories down. If I am looking for flavor, I will probably look elsewhere.

The Facts:
Serving Size: 1 Cup
Servings per Container: 14
Calories: 110
Fat: 1.5g (15 calories)
Sodium: 240mg
Potassium: 90mg
Fiber: 3g
Protein: 3g
Vitamin A: 10%
Vitamin B6: 25%
Vitamin B12: 25%
Vitamin C: 10%
Vitamin D: 10%
Calcium: 10%
Iron: 50%
Thiamine: 25%
Riboflavin: 25%
Niacin: 25%
Folic Acid: 50%
Phosphorus: 15%
Magnesium: 8%
Zinc: 25%
Copper: 4%
Weight Watchers Points®: 2

Ratings: (all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 2
Taste: 2
Satisfying/filling: 3
Healthy: 5
Performance (for athletes): 4
Diet Appropriate: 4
Category: Breakfast food/cold cereals

Saturday, April 01, 2006 

Dr. Praeger's Fish Sticks

Crunchy, tasty, and all-natural, these fish sticks hit the spot for a quick lunch or light supper. Kids love them, and they are free of trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and other "un-pronouceables" so you can feel good about serving them. A serving size is 3 fish sticks which packs 140 calories, 5 grams of fat (0 saturated), 30 mg of cholesterol, only 180 mg of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates (0 sugars), and 11 grams of protein. The sticks also provide 3% of vitamin C, 4% of calcium, and 3% of iron (based on a 2,000 calorie diet). Dr. Praeger knows that moms are busy and time is short so convenience foods are bound to hit the table at least every so often. We're glad that Praeger also knows that many moms are concerned with the "nasty" ingredients that convenience foods normally contain and that he was able to create a product both without such unnatural additives and one that kids will actually eat. Way to go Dr. Praeger!

Manufacturer says: You'll recognize all the ingredients.

Find them in a store near you: Fish Sticks


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