5 Desserts You Wouldn’t Know Were Healthy

English: Peanut butter cookie with a chocolate...

 

Do you love dessert but not love the added extra layer it puts on even the skinniest of folks?  Fear not I have a solution for you.  As the queen of desserts and just overall too much sugar consumption being healthy for me is a challenge when it comes to any type of dessert.   So now officially one month away from wedding day my hopes of indulging in a double fudge brownie a la mode anytime soon will have to be pushed aside until wedding day is over…

In an attempt to cut corners on overly rich desserts I have tried many of the “lower” calorie treats on the market.  However I have found that even those lowered versions still have too  much sugar and processed garbage in them.  So in an attempt to be creative  I have come up with some fast healthier swaps that satisfied my sweet tooth, keep my bad sugar in check and make my middle smile.  Here’s 4 versions that top my list:

 

 

1. Key Lime Pie (185 calories, 12-14 grams of protein) –  Yoplait 100 calorie greek key lime pie yogurt, one crushed graham cracker, dollop of light cool whip.  Care to lighten it even more?  Adding half the serving of the graham cracker and half the serving of cool whip will drop this indulgence to 140 calories!

2. Graham crackers with peanut butter (220) – Energy with a crunch!  I like trader Joe’s old-fashioned graham crackers with a light spread of peanut butter on them. Use one like the new “whips” peanut butter and you’re looking at 120 calories for 2 graham crackers and 70 for 1 tbsp of peanut butter.

3. Fruit Chocolate Whip (65-75 calories) – Literally like it sounds, this includes 3-4 diced up strawberries, 1/4 cup of blueberries, and 1/4 chopped banana, 1/2 serving of light chocolate syrup, and a dollop of whip cream.  Literally just as tasty as if I had crumbled a shortcake or cook on top.

4.  Cinnamon Banana Surprise (200 calories) – 1 banana, either 1 tbsp peanut butter or 2 tbsp’s of Better Butter, and 1 tsp cinnamon.  Cut banana lengthwise so you have two long halves.  Lightly spread peanut butter on both sides and sprinkle with cinnamon.  For a different twist you can try using Trader Joe’s “Speculoos” Cookie Butter instead of the peanut butter or cinnamon.

So these are my favorites that leave me not feeling guilty after eating.  Perhaps you have some good concoctions you have come up with too?  I’d love to hear them.  Please share your favorites with us after all our waistlines will thank you!

 

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Calories: Uncoding the label

Shifty serving sizes

Welcome to installment two of our nutrition labels uncoded.  Last segment we learned that the biggest active factor we can have on our health is to heed serving sizes.  Now, not all serving sizes are equal.  Something Americans in particular are poor at doing no thanks to restaurants which almost always give you more than one serving.  However serving size is by far only one of a handful of ingredients to check when determining if a product is worth your time.

I recently took a course through Vanderbilt University online for nutrition.  Throughout the 8 weeks we learned a lot about the state of the world when it comes to health.  We spent a good chunk of time weeding through labels and really getting to learn what a term means, why it’s there, how it’s there and most importantly how it impacts us.  Using the priceless knowledge I gained from that class i hope to provide great information to you to help you make better choices in the food aisles.  After all, they can be quite daunting.

This week is all about calories, a topic I could go on and on about because there’s so many added layers of complexity to it.  Calories fall at the top of the nutrition label and sitting right next to them are “calories from fat”.   Too high daily intake of calories from fat is what can lead to weight gain and up your chances for cancers/heart issues.   But if you are eating the right types of calories chances are the calories from fat will also reflect that.

We all need calories, aka energy, to make our bodies run.  A lot of people think that “calories are bad” or “calories make you fat”.  But that’s not true.  Yes they can definitely make you fat, however if you’re getting your calories from the right types of foods,  we won’t be in that type of situation right?  It’s really large amounts over time of garbage calories that get us in trouble (fries, bacon, cheese, white bread, candy, pizza, butter, fatty meats, etc.)

So how many calories do we need a day?  The basis for the daily values is out of 2,000 calories.  However for less active people that’s just too much and for really active folks too little.  There are many calculators out there that help estimate how many calories you need a day, but the reality is none of them are going to nail it to a tee.  There are way too many factors like height, sex, age, body type, exercise, amount of exercise, type of exercise, condition of body (more muscular will burn more than someone the same age and size that carries more fat).  So you’re going to have to be realistic and estimate.  However DO NOT, I repeat do not put yourself below 1200 calories a day  unless it is doctors orders.  Your body needs calories to keep your metabolism kicking.  If you eat too little calories your body freaks out and thinks it’s starving.  In turn even the right calories can be used against you.  Your body starts to go into “starvation” mode and clings to the calories you are giving it for dear life.  So not only are you storing fat at this point your squashing your metabolism.  Not good.

Here’s a good starting place to help you figure out your needs.  Ask yourself if you are happy with your current weight, looking to lose weight or looking to gain.  From there spend about a week eating as you do but writing down the calories (yes factor in serving sizes!) that you are eating daily.  This will give you a baseline to see how many calories you’ve been at.  Now let’s look at the goal.  Stay the same weight?  Great! you know how much to eat now see if you can tweak how you are allocating those calories and squeeze in a few healthier choices overall.  Trying to lose weight?  Roughly 3500 calories make up a pound, so drop 300-500 calories daily from what you eat (not going below 1,200)  or start adding in additional forms of exercise daily and you should start seeing results.  Looking to gain weight?  Add 200-500 calories to your diet and load up on good stuff like protein, the right fats, etc.

To give you an example, here’s what I’ve found works best for me at this point in my early 30’s.  I’m 5’4″ and eat approximately 1500-1800 calories a day depending on the day/mood/hunger level.   I also live a fairly active lifestyle with hitting around 10,000 steps a day everyday.  One thing I’ve found has helped me reduce my weight post baby and stay at that new weight for a 4 years now was sticking to that routine.  I also literally eat all day long: breakfast, mid morning snack, lunch, mid afternoon snack, dinner and yes I squeeze in dessert!  Also, 90-95% of my day is really healthy foods like oatmeal, greek yogurt, fruit, lots of veggies.   I do cave 1-2 meals out of the week and indulge in pizza or something worth it.   And this works for me.

So I hope I’ve helped educate you on calories in this article and using this information I suggest you try to map out your target daily calories.  let me know if you have any questions, need more information or have any advice for me?  I don’t believe anyone has a 100% fool-proof plan and can always take additional tips and tricks.

Have a great plan in place already?  Great!  Tell us about it so we can learn from you too.

Uncoding Nutrition Labels

nutrition label You have seen them before.  You know those big rectangles on packaging with a bunch of words and numbers. How many of you, however know what they mean?

The labeling on the packages is filled with items that are in the food you are about to consume.  I wanted to use the next series of posts to dig a bit deeper into what all that mumbo jumbo really does mean.  These labels have been ignored and misunderstood by consumers for years yet they are one of the most important clues in keeping a healthy life and weight.

Other than the health claims that you see on the front of a package nothing is really required to be listed, unless trans fat is present.  A lot of companies choose to display some back of the package labeling and also show daily values (dv).  The Daily values tell you the percent of food the contributes to your diet for the day, bearing in mind that these are generic percents based off of a 2,000 calories daily allotment.  At the moment there are no DV‘s established for sugar or protein intake as suggested consumption.  As we dive further over the next few weeks we’ll uncover lots of useful information to help you make a more informed choice next time you are grocery shopping.  We’ll uncode even further those “reduces cholesterol” or “high fiber” claims we see all over the place.  Do they really fulfill all that they claim?

However, the biggest misunderstood item listed on a label, hands down, is serving size.  Do you look when your hands in a bag of doritos how many one 140 calorie serving us? It is literally like 7!  What you say? 7 stinking chips for 140 calories? One, who eats just 7 doritos? Two, I could have had string cheese and approximately 20 special k crackers or 20 cheese pizza goldfish for 140.  Makes you rethink what you are putting in your mouth and what type of satisfaction your getting out of it.   See where I am going with this?

Not all of our issues as a nation lie in no exercise or bad foods some of the real issues lie in serving size.  Before you prepare your next meal check the back of the label. What did you learn about serving sizes? We’re you as surprised as I was about doritos?  Next up… calories and fat and what they really mean on labeling and for your health.