Posts Tagged With: snacks

Top 10 Favorite Snacks

I love snacks.  There’s no way I could have lost over 80 pounds without ’em. 

It may sound counterintuitive, but three meals a day just isn’t enough to keep my energy up, and nibbling every 4 hours or so helps keep your metabolism running strong. 

Plus, when my stomach starts growling at 4pm, I know that if I don’t have a snack, I’m going to grow so famished that I end up stuffing myself by the time I sit down for dinner at 7:30.

Still, I’m incredibly picky when it comes to snack time.  I only get a limited amount of POINTS per day, so the idea is to make each and every one of them count.  I’ll try any snack once, but I refuse to touch it again if it doesn’t succeed in warding off my hunger and keeping my tummy rumbles in check until my next meal.

Of course, my go-to snacks include apples, oranges, and bananas, in addition to foods like hard-boiled eggs and baby carrots.  But here are the 10 best of the best in terms of snack products I can’t live without. 

Please fill me in on your favorites, too.  I’m always on the prowl for new ways to satisfy my snack cravings!

1.)  VitaMuffins and VitaTops

These frozen muffins and muffin tops are admittedly on the pricy side (upwards of $4 for a box of 4 at most supermarkets), but they are also mouth-watering, chocolately drops of heaven that even a tightwad like myself would agree are worth the cost. 

I get up at 4:30am to put in 3 hours working at the YMCA each morning (my shift starts at 5:15am), so I nuke one of these for 30 seconds before I head out, and it keeps me full until I have my “real” breakfast when I get home around 8:30am.

Vitalicious offers tons of other varieties, including blueberry, cranberry, and corn, but for my fellow chocolate fiends, the deep chocolate ones are moist and chewy and topped with rich chocolate chips. 

The 2 oz. muffins are all natural, pack just 1.5 grams of fat, and contain a whopping 15 vitamins and minerals and 6 grams of fiber.  And all for just 100 calories!

2.) Dry Roasted Almonds

Nuts are protein powerhouses – but they’re also loaded with fat.  Granted, it’s the kind that’s good for you, but since their small size makes it all too easy to keep popping handful after handful in your mouth, I opt for these portion-controlled 100-calorie packs from Emerald that are easy to grab on the go.

With 2 grams of fiber and a more than adequate serving size, these packs offer plenty to tide me over until my next meal – and for under 10 grams of fat.

3.) 94% Fat Free Kettle Corn

I can’t get enough popcorn, and I’ve become a big fan of the Jolly Time brand.  Their 100-calorie packs pop into a satisfying snack (which are endorsed by Weight Watchers and cost me just 1 POINT) that, believe it or not, keeps me full for hours.  Believe me, that’s no easy feat!

I go weak at the knees for snacks with a sweet/salty flavor combination – the “real” kettle corn sold at street fairs drives me WILD – so sometimes I mix in a packet or two of Splenda and a couple sprays of “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter” to really enhance the flavor. 

I also avoid giving into temptation at the movies by popping my own Jolly Time and smuggling it into the theater.  I still get to enjoy munching at the movies, but I save $12 on snacks and thousands (yes, you read that correctly) of calories.

4.)  Kashi TLC Original 7 Grain Crackers

I’m madly in love with most of Kashi’s high-fiber, multi-grain products (their GoLean Crunch cereal has been my go-to breakfast choice for over two years now), but I especially love their Original 7 grain crackers.

Yes, they’re wholesome and, to most, probably sound pretty unappetizing (the “7 grains” refer to oats, hard red winter wheat, rye, long grain brown rice, triticale, barley, buckwheat, and sesame seeds), but I can assure you that they’re actually quite tasty.  The Fire Roasted Vegetable and Country Cheddar flavors have a bit more of a kick to them.

Even my boyfriend, whose snack staple is half a jar of Nutella spread on a sleeve of Saltines, can’t keep his paws off my Kashi crackers.  They contain 120 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, and 2 grams of fiber per serving.

5.) Laughing Cow Light Cheese

You know those Kashi crackers I was just telling you about?  Well, if you love cheese and crackers like I do, get ready to blow your mind. 

Laughing Cow Light cheeses (I’m partial to the French Onion flavor) come in 8 little wedges that will set you back just 35 calories each, but they’re creamy and spreadable and absolutely delicious on just about everything – especially Kashi crackers!

I know a lot of people who also use these cheese wedges to melt into alfredo sauces for pasta and tons of other recipes, and others who spread them on everything from apples to vegetables to rice cakes.

6.) Weight Watchers Ice Cream Cups

Ice cream is so very, very fattening…and yet so very, very delicious.  So I get my cold creamy fix with Weight Watchers ice cream cups.  For just 2 POINTS, I indulge in their mint chocolate chip or cookies n’ cream flavors, and I swear it’s almost like eating the real thing! 

I’ve tried countless varieties of low-fat, low-calorie, low-carb, and/or sugar-free ice creams, sorbets, and frozen yogurts, and Weight Watchers’ brand is one of the few that has managed to get the texture right.  The ice cream tastes rich, creamy, and smooth – not icy, hard, and chunky like many other brands.  I’d also highly recommend their GIANT Chocolate Fudge Cones and GIANT Cookies n’ Cream bars.

I make my post-dinner snack even more delectable by topping the cup with a dollop of lite whipped topping.

7.) Fiber One Oats & Chocolate Bars

There was a time in the not-too-distant past that I was grabbing one of Fiber One’s Oats & Chocolate Chewy Bars every single day.  Like all of this company’s products, the bars contain a ridiculously high fiber content which – as many of you know – helps keep you feeling fuller longer. 

I won’t lie to you, though – the main selling point for me is the chocolate.  I can’t help but drool over any high-fiber, low-fat granola snack that legitimately tastes like a candy bar!

Recently, Fiber One released a new 90-calorie version of the chocolate flavor.  I haven’t tried it yet, but am looking forward to getting my hands on a box.  The bars I have (we buy them in bulk from Costco) have 140 calories, 4 grams of fat, and a whopping 9 grams of fiber.

The Chocolate Mocha bars are perfect for coffee lovers like myself, and peanut butter fans will go nuts  for the Oats & Peanut Butter variety.  I’ve also been known to grab one of their Oats & Strawberries with Almonds or Oats & Apple Streusel for a quick breakfast on the go.

8.) Weight Watchers Light String Cheese

Okay, I swear I’m not being biased here.  And I don’t get a cut of Weight Watchers’ product sales.

But just like my search for the best tasting low-fat ice cream, I have sampled many, many brands of light string cheese.  Once again, my research has proven that Weight Watchers has nailed this high-protein snack when it comes to  making it taste just like the real thing.

I don’t know how they do it, but for just 1 POINT, this is a hearty serving of calcium with the same taste and texture you’d expect from a hunk of full-fat mozzarella string cheese. I often peel one of these right before I go to the gym, and they have proven to help me power through my workout.

9.) Deli Style Pretzel Crisps

These have become one of our family’s Costco staples.  Their giant bags of deli style pretzel crisps are salty and crunchy and set me back just about 100 calories for a serving of 11 crisps.  I like the original kind, but the “Everything” pretzels (pictured) are also loaded with flavor.

There’s nothing I like more on the side of my tuna fish or turkey sandwich than these pretzel crisps.  I love pretzels, and I (used to) love potato chips – so what could be better?

They’ve also earned the seal of approval from not only my junk food fiend boyfriend, but my shih tzu, Riley. 

10.)  White Cheddar Corn Puffs

Much like the pretzel crisps have become a non-negotiable purchase on our Sunday trips to Costco, these White Cheddar Corn Puffs are, in my humble opinion, the best snack Trader Joe’s has to offer – and they really do have tons of scrumptious (and healthy) selections to choose from.

Back when I was eating anything and everything in sight, I used to blast through boxes of Cheez-Its and Cheez Doodles like there was no tomorrow, so these light, airy corn puffs are a nice, cheesy alternative for me. 

They come in at 140 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 2 grams of fiber per 2.5 cups.

And, in case you were wondering, these too are boyfriend and dog approved. 😀

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Twilight Zone

After I weigh in at 8:30am on Sunday mornings, I enter what I like to call the “twilight zone” of weight loss.

Essentially, it’s the one time a week when any and all food items I consume simply don’t “count.”  I’ve just had my weekly weigh in, and there’s a whole seven days until I have to step on that scale again.  I pledge to go back to counting POINTS and working out on Monday, but until that time, I do not concern myself with how many calories are in the two slices of spinach-topped pizza I’m have for dinner, or the mocha (lite) frappuccino from Starbucks I slurp while raiding the magazine rack at Barnes & Noble that afternoon.  The calories, apparently, just vanish into thin air.  My family and I always go to IHOP for breakfast on Sunday mornings, and I delight in an egg white omelette, whole grain pancakes topped with sugar-free syrup, and coffee with skim milk.  I often enjoy every last bite of it, and I don’t even think about how many POINTS I’ve just eaten.

For lack of a better expression, I give myself the day “off.”

That isn’t to say that I gorge myself on candy and ice cream every week, but instead that I loosen the reins a bit and don’t allow myself to obsess about the fat and calorie content in the day’s meals and snacks.  I also take Sunday as my one day off from the gym.  It’s not a free-for-all, but rather a day of bending the rules a bit. 

If I’m handed a yummy treat during the week (the chocolate chip cookies from my previous post, Cookie Monster, for example), I may stash it away to eat the following Sunday.   It’s not that I can’t have it during the week, it’s just that a 3-POINT cookie may not fit so easily into my daily menu.  (For the record, I have eaten exactly ONE of those cookies.  It was delicious and I wanted another very, very badly, but I stopped myself.  Now that’s progress!)

Is all of this the right thing to do?  Probably not.  I’m pretty sure there’s nothing in the Weight Watchers handbook that encourages this kind of behavior.

But for a long time, it worked. 

The extras I consumed on Sundays never seemed to show up on the scale at my next weigh in, and certainly my body deserves a day to recover from all the cardio and strength training I do Monday through Saturday.  Having one day where I gave myself permission not to obsess over every little thing that passed my lips, or feel guilty for not subjecting my body to pain at the gym, was a big part of what kept me sane and satisfied throughout the week.  Another bonus is that a lot of family parties and other weekend gatherings just so happen to take place on Sundays, so I knew I could indulge in a small slice of birthday cake or a couple of hors’doevres guilt-free.

Here’s the thing, though.  While this strategy used to prove effective week after week, as soon as my weight loss started to stall, I knew that I would have to stay out of the twilight zone.  I promised myself every Sunday morning that I would start to actually look up the POINTS for the quart of chicken and broccoli I planned to have for dinner, or at least try to estimate the calories I’d be piling on my plate at that anniversary party, but then week after week after week I simply elected not to do it. 

I started reading articles about people who allowed themselves one “cheat” day (although I would never call it that) during the week and still lost over 100 pounds, and trainer Bob Harper from The Biggest Loser once said on the show that having one high-calorie day each week could shock your system enough to actually speed up your metabolism when you got back to eating healthier the next day.  Supposedly, some of the contestants do this regularly on the show – they just don’t let us see it. 

I used these as excuses and just continued on my merry way, and each time the scale didn’t show the loss I wanted, I convinced myself that it had nothing to do with what I had eaten last Sunday.

No more.  This is clearly no longer working for me, and I have to stop.  Once the “honeymoon phase” of weight loss is over, it’s easy to stray from your once strict eating and exercising regimen, and start letting things slide – and that’s exactly what has been happening to me. 

If I ever want to get the scale consistently moving in the right direction again, then I’m going to have to leave my comfort zone behind and shake up my routine. 

And that means kissing my Sunday twilight zone good-bye for good.

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