So many foods have become taboo that sometimes it feels like there's nothing left to eat except organic fruits and vegetables (not that there is anything wrong with that). But thankfully, there are a few foods that are still "calorie bargains" — that is, they taste like they're loaded with calories, but they're not. These foods give us something to look forward to in the quest for a healthy life (and a decent body).
LAUGHING COW LIGHT, CREAMY SWISS ORIGINAL
1 wedge (3/4 ounce): 35 calories, 2g fat, 1g carbs
Here's Why: Wow — cheese lovers rejoice. A nutritionist recommended this product to me — she tells me her clients love it. Obviously I had to try it for myself (along with about ten friends). The taste is off the charts, and the best part is that one or two wedges will satiate even the insatiable. This cheese is also perfect for the modified Atkins dieter who is looking for low fat and low carbs.
GUILTLESS POTATO FRIES
One medium baking potato (3" diameter): 133 calories, 0g fat, 31g carbs
Flavored breadcrumbs (1 tablespoon): 28 calories, 0g fat, 5g carbs
Here's Why: I actually got this recipe from my mom. Okay, so they're not REALLY fried, but they are just as good, and maybe even better because there's no dieter's remorse. I realize the carbs are a bit high for those on an Atkins-type program, but these fries are so filling and low in calories that it's worth eating them to prevent "other" cravings (but remember they should be considered a treat and eaten in combination with other foods to avoid the effect of a high glycemic load). Here's how you make them:
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Scrub and wash one baking potato. Slice into eighths (lengthwise).
- Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray the foil lightly with cooking spray (e.g., Pam).
- Place potato wedges on the tray, and mist the potatoes with cooking spray.
- Sprinkle with onion powder, garlic powder, onion flakes, salt, pepper, and paprika. Then sprinkle potatoes with one tablespoon of flavored breadcrumbs. Reapply a light coat of cooking spray.
- Bake for approximately 40 – 45 minutes, or until desired crispness. Spray a light coat of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray before serving.
SWISS MISS DIET HOT COCOA WITH CALCIUM
1 envelope: 25 calories, 0g fat, 4g carbs
Here's Why: This was suggested as a calorie bargain by a reader. It's ideal if you're craving chocolate, and it uses Splenda as the sweetener, so there is no aspartame. How can you go wrong with only 25 calories — for hot chocolate? When I first started losing weight, this was a comforting treat whenever my sweet tooth kicked in.
GLENNY'S SOY CRISPS (BARBECUE)
1 bag (1.3 oz): 140 calories, 3g fat, 18g carbs
Here's Why: I received a number of e-mails from readers recommending these crisps; plus my family and friends swear by them. In fact, most people who eat them regularly are a bit fanatical. I was reluctant to try them at first. I thought, "Soy — how good could they taste?" I finally broke down and had some, and I was impressed. They really are an excellent snack, especially if you're in a "chips mood." You can eat an entire bag without any guilt — the company actually calls it their "portion control" bag.
HEALTHY CHOICE CARAMEL SWIRL ICE CREAM SANDWICH
1 Bar (4 oz): 140 calories, 3g fat, 27g carbs
Here's Why: I've pushed this ice cream sandwich to about 30 people already, and everyone loved it, except one British friend (who said she "doesn't like things with cookie bits"). Yes, it's on the higher end when it comes to carbohydrates, but it's such a tasty ice cream sandwich. When I have pints of ice cream in the freezer, it's just too easy to grab another spoonful every now and then. However, these individually wrapped treats make it much easier to have just one portion. If you want ice cream (and not non-fat frozen yogurt or soy) and you're watching your calories, this is a good bet. The bad news is that they're not available in every supermarket, but the people from Healthy Choice assured me that "very soon" they will be readily available in a "grocery store near you."
LA TORTILLA FACTORY WHOLE WHEAT, LOW-CARB/LOW-FAT TORTILLAS (GARLIC & HERB)
1 Tortilla (36g): 50 calories, 2g fat, 11g carbs
Here's Why: A number of West coast readers emailed about how great these can be for dieters and — lo and behold — they are. The good news is that they are low in carbs; have no trans fat, added sugar, or saturated fat; contain soy flour and are very high in fiber (8g). You can enjoy them with eggs in the morning (instead of toast), or use them to make low calorie pizza (spread with low calorie tomato sauce and sprinkle with part-skim mozzarella) — the possibilities are endless.
Here's the bad news — this product is in huge demand (especially by the low carb diet groups) and they can't make them fast enough. For the low carb versions, there is a two to three week wait if you order from their website (www.latortillafactory.com). They are also available in some food specialty stores and health food markets.
Send in your favorite "calorie bargains" to firstname.lastname@example.org. If your idea is published, you'll receive a $20 check and a FREE copy of the book Breaking the Pattern.Created: March 18, 2009 Last Reviewed: March 18, 2010
CHARLES PLATKIN, Ph.D., M.P.H., THE DIET DETECTIVE is one of the country's leading nutrition and public health advocates, whose syndicated health, nutrition and fitness column, the Diet Detective appears in more than 100 daily newspapers and media outlets nationally. Dr. Platkin is also the founder of DietDetective.com, which offers nutrition, food, and fitness information. Platkin is a health expert and blogger featured on Everydayhealth.com, Active.com and Fitnessmagazine.com. Additionally, Platkin is a Distinguished Lecturer at the Hunter College School of Urban Public Health and CUNY School of Public Health in New York City.
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