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Arctic Zero Low-Cal Coconut Margarita

1 May

Arctic Zero Low-Cal Coconut Margarita

A typical restaurant margarita can be more than 400 calories!

This Cinco de Mayo, treat your guests to a lighter take on this classic Mexican cocktail by mixing up some Arctic Zero Low-Cal Coconut Margaritas.

Arctic Zero is a fat free, gluten free frozen dessert that is also lactose intolerant friendly. One pint has just 150 calories: about a quarter of what your typical ice cream packs.

On top of its low-calorie profile, one pint of Arctic Zero has 8 grams dietary fiber and 12 grams protein – 2 important nutrients that help promote satiety, the feeling of fullness.

Thanks to samples provided by Arctic Zero, I concocted this Low-Cal Coconut Margarita using the Coconut flavor frozen dessert. One cup of this margarita has just 85 calories, but all of the flavor and fun of the traditional tipple!

Arctic Zero Low-Cal Coconut Margaritas

Servings: 4 margaritas

  • 1/2 cup Arctic Zero frozen dessert, Coconut flavor
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1/2 cup light beer
  • 1/2 cup diet lemon-lime soda
  • 2 cups ice

Blend all ingredients together. Rim glass with salt, garnish with lime, and enjoy!

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) prepared without salt rim

  • Calories: 85
  • Total Fat: 0g
  • Total Carbohydrate: 5g
  • Dietary Fiber: Less than 1 gram
  • Protein: 1g
  • Sodium: 5mg

To learn more about Arctic Zero and where you can purchase their line of frozen desserts, check out www.arcticzero.com.

And for more tips on Lightening up your Cinco de Mayo party offerings, check out my TV segment clip from Channel 6 San Diego here.

 

 

 

Girl Scout Cookie Season: Be Prepared

4 Feb

Girl Scout Cookie Season: Be Prepared

Girl Scout cookie season is underway.

Over the years, the Girl Scouts have taken a fair amount of flack for their cookies’ trans fat content and more recently, GMO ingredients.

To be fair: nobody gets into a box of cookies for their health. And as the GS executives have been known to say, “We know we aren’t selling broccoli.”

But when you do find yourself face-to-face with a Girl Scout slangin’ cookies this season: what should you choose?

No Health Halo Here

The low-fat and sugar-free varieties of the 1990s are out. I applaud the Girl Scouts for not even trying to offer a healthy cookie these days.

None of their cookies are made with whole grains, none have more than 1 g fiber per serving, and all are laden with refined grains and sugar. Which is ok. Because they’re cookies.

Cookie Monster Math

  • If you’re a volume person, your best bet are the Shortbread Trefoils: you get 5 cookies for 160 calories, 7 g fat, & 2.5 g sat fat
  • If you’re concerned about saturated fat, stay away from – of course – the most popular flavors: Thin Mints (4 cookies have 5 g saturated fat), Caramel deLites aka Samosas (2 cookies have 5 g saturated fat), and Peanut Butter Patties aka Tagalongs (2 cookies have 5 g saturated fat)
  • To do the least damage, Cranberry Chews are a good option wherein 4 cookies gets you 150 calories, 4 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 1 g fiber and 2 g protein.

At the end of the day, a box of Girl Scout Cookies is going to set you back a few bucks and over 1,000 calories.

But, 75% of proceeds go directly to Girl Scouts in your area. So, you can feel good about not eating so well.

How Natural is Nectresse?

30 Jan

How Natural is Nectresse?

Perhaps you have seen the new sweetener Nectresse, brought to you by McNeil Nutritionals, the makers of Splenda.

According to the Nectresse for Healthcare Professionals website, Nectresse is a blend of natural sweeteners “featuring” monkfruit extract, is 100% natural with zero calories per serving, and has the “rich, sweet taste of sugar”.

Is this really a better alternative than any of the other preexisting artificial sweeteners? Let’s break down the Nectresse claims:

  • Zero-calories: yes, it has zero calories – a one packet serving (2.4 g) basically has no nutrition in it at all
  • Blend of natural sweeteners: well, that’s debatable – the ingredients include erythritol (corn-derived sugar alcohol, most corn in the US is genetically modified unless otherwise stated or organic, which this isn’t), sugar (just a little, but still, likely from GM sugar beets), monk fruit extract (more on that next), and molasses (more sugar)
  • 100% natural: The four ingredients in the ingredient list do occur in nature, but keep in mind that in nutrition, “Natural Means Nothing” – this not a legally definable or enforceable term
  • Rich, sweet taste of sugar: according to monkfruit.org, powdered monkfruit is 150-200 times more sweet than sugar, so, in a fashion similar to that of stevia, a little bit goes a long way

So is this a better option for you than sugar? Well, it depends what you are after.

  • If you are looking for a no-calorie sweetener, then it is certainly lower in calories than sugar
  • If you have a lot of spare cash on hand, this is an expensive way to sweeten your drinks – I paid almost $5 for a box of 40 Nectresse packets
  • If you are trying to avoid genetically modified ingredients, this isn’t going to fly
  • If you are looking for fiber from a fruit-derived sweetener, this is not your product – since so little is used, it has no fiber

If you are looking for your fiber needs in a packet, you are barking up the wrong tree.

Stick to whole foods for your fiber, and when possible, choose GM-free ingredients to sweeten your foods.

Hello Pomelo

18 Jan

Hello Pomelo

Pomelo is the Spanish word for grapefruit. But pomelos are not just any old grapefruits!

The pomelo is sometimes referred to as the “original grapefruit” or the “Chinese grapefruit”. One legend has it that the seeds of the pomelo were first brought to the West Indies in the mid-seventeenth century by an East Indian ship captain named Shaddock. Among its other names, the pomelo is sometimes called a Shaddock.

The skin color of the pomelo is very unique, both in color and thickness. The skin is lime-green at the beginning of the season (late fall), but shifts towards a more yellow-ish hue when the colder winter temperatures set in. A pomelo’s skin is very thick, and a huge fruit can sometimes yield only the amount of fruit you would find in a standard-sized grapefruit.

Pomelos are the largest of the citrus fruit. They usually weigh in somewhere around the size of a softball, but some can grow to up to 10 cm in diameter.

A pomelo’s flesh can be white, yellow or a beautiful shade of pink. They contain almost no acid and are therefore very mild in flavor.

From a nutritional standpoint, because pomelos are big fruits, they contain more calories than do other fruits. A typical-sized pomelo (about 600 g without refuse) has 230 calories and 6 grams of fiber.

Pomelos are excellent in salads, can be eaten like a grapefruit, or are often found candied. Pomelos flourish in tropical lowlands, and they love brackish water.

You are hard pressed to find pomelos in the eastern parts of the United States, although they are readily found in California – particularly in Asian markets – through April or May.

 

 

Produce Pump-Ups

22 Sep

Produce Pump-Ups

Just because September – Fruits & Veggies: More Matters Month – is coming to a close, doesn’t mean you have to stop powering your plate with more colorful produce!

The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics offers the following ideas to get you packing your plate with nutrient-dense, lower calorie fruit and vegetable options:

Begin with Breakfast

  • Wake up to fruit; make a habit of adding fruit to your morning oatmeal, ready-to-eat cereal, yogurt or toaster waffle
  • Mix up a breakfast smoothie made with low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana

Snack and Shop Smart

  • Try crunchy vegetables instead of chips with your favorite dip or low-fat salad dressing
  • Stock up: Fill your fridge with raw vegetables and fruits —“nature’s fast food”—cleaned, fresh and ready to eat

Mains that Matter

  • Make a veggie wrap with roasted vegetables and low-fat cheese rolled in a whole-wheat tortilla
  • Grill colorful vegetable kabobs packed with tomatoes, green and red peppers, mushrooms and onions
  • Make your main dish a salad of dark, leafy greens and other colorful vegetables; add chickpeas or edamame (fresh soybeans) and top with a low-fat dressing
  • Stuff an omelet with vegetables; turn any omelet into a hearty meal with broccoli, squash, carrots, peppers, tomatoes or onions with low-fat sharp cheddar cheese

Complement Your Plate

  • Add color to salads with baby carrots, grape tomatoes, spinach leaves or mandarin oranges
  • “Sandwich” in fruits and vegetables; add pizzazz to sandwiches with sliced pineapple, apple, peppers, cucumbers and tomato as fillings

Topping Tips

  • Variety abounds when using vegetables as pizza topping; try broccoli, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini
  • Top a baked potato with beans and salsa or broccoli and low-fat cheese
  • “Grate” complement: Add grated, shredded or chopped vegetables such as zucchini, spinach and carrots to lasagna, meat loaf, mashed potatoes, pasta sauce and rice dishes

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth with Fruit

  • Get saucy with fruit: Puree berries, apples, peaches or pears for a thick, sweet sauce on grilled or broiled seafood or poultry, or on pancakes, French toast or waffles
  • Banana split: Top a sliced banana with a scoop of low-fat frozen yogurt. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of chopped nuts

For more great nutrition tips, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Nutrition Information page.

Source: Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, Nutrition Care Manual: Resources, 2012.