Taste of Home is sponsoring a company weight loss program based on our new cookbook, The Comfort Food Diet. I asked one of the participants, Associate Web Editor Heather Gergen, to share with us her journey to a healthier lifestyle.
My mother came to visit last weekend. She brought a huge plate of brownies, along with a variety of junk food. Brownies are about as hard for me to resist as a plate of chocolate chip cookies. I asked her why she brought them to my house when she knows that I am on a diet. She replied “You don’t have to eat them. I brought them for the kids. I just didn’t want them to go bad sitting at home.”
I love my mom a lot and I know that she meant well by bringing them. I don’t want to seem ungrateful or hurt her feelings, but I also think my extended family could use some “tough love” about what we should and should not be eating.
We had a discussion about all of the empty calories in the snacks that she brought: Goldfish Crackers, Oreos and Chips Ahoy. It went something like…
“Oh, really? It says right here on the package that there are 3g of protein and 20g of carbs,” she said. I explained to her that they don’t have whole grains, so they don’t have a good nutritional value. Manufacturers can choose to highlight just about anything on their labels.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Chips Ahoy or Oreo as much as the next person, but I simply can’t have them in my house or I will eat them. Again, everything in moderation. One single-serving package occasionally is fine, but a 12-pack of individual servings to pack in lunches makes it a daily indulgence.
A single-serving package of Oreos contains 210 calories and a package of Chips Ahoy contains 190 calories. Definitely not low-cal snacks.
The “individual” bags of Goldfish were 140 calories a serving, but contain 2 servings a bag. That’s 280 calories! A bit misleading, if you ask me.
“OK, then donate them to the food pantry. None of us should be eating them,” my mother said.
True, but then that brings up the fact that obesity is a national epidemic brought on partially by the fact that junk food is simply cheaper than healthier foods. I did donate the snacks to the food pantry because I didn’t want the food to “go to waste” while it could be feeding a hungry person, but I didn’t feel good about it.
At the end of the discussion, she asked me to make a list of what are good snacks that she can bring for the kids to eat. So, here’s my list of healthy snacks:
• Any kind of fruit or vegetables
• Graham crackers without high-fructose corn syrup
• Cheese sticks
• Whole-grain cereal without high-fructose corn syrup (i.e Cheerios)
• Whole-wheat pretzels
• Air-popped popcorn
• Baby carrots
• Mini bagels
• Fruit juice popsicles
• 100% juice boxes
• Whole grain baked goods, like Trader Joe’s Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
• Hummus and mini pita breads
• Hard-boiled eggs
• Low-fat ham
Here are a few basic snack rules:
• Virtually any snack where the first ingredient on the nutritional label is whole grain, and high fructose corn syrup doesn’t appear anywhere in the list, is probably OK. But, be aware of other forms of sugar such as rice syrup, honey, and others. Some products end up having five different types of sugars in their product which isn’t healthy either.
• If food items have a really long shelf life, they probably aren’t that healthy.
• Just because a package says that it’s “natural”, doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
• Try to keep snacks to around 100 calories.
• If you’re concerned about treats going bad at home, put them in the freezer and pull them out on special occasions. (Right now, we’re fighting the battle of the Girl Scout cookies. I find that if I put them in the basement freezer I don’t eat them as quickly.)
Here are some more snack idea resources:
- Healthy Snacks for Kids
- Healthy Snacking-Workday Snacks
- Guilt Free Foods
- Top 10 Healthy Recipes for Kids
What I made this week:
I have been using the slow cooker a lot this week. This time, my 8 year-old daughter took over the task of cooking breakfast on Sunday. She made Slow Cooked Blueberry French Toast and did a great job. Having kids cook in the slow cooker is a great way for them to learn how to cook independently without having to deal with them possibly getting burned on the stove. They’ll need a little help at the end making the blueberry sauce, but it is a pretty easy recipe.
My mother described the French toast as “simply decadent.” I agree. It is only 390 calories, which could be lowered by using a few makeover tips like replacing fat-free cream cheese, sour cream and yogurt for the full-fat versions.
I highly recommend this one for Mother’s Day. Breakfast in bed anyone?
Get this recipe: Slow-Cooked Blueberry French Toast
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