The 11 Best Breakfast Bars
A recent Label Lesson unwrapped the dark side of breakfast bars. This week we want you to take an oath:
I swear I will NEVER touch another Healthy Food Imposter breakfast bar again. I will ONLY eat breakfast foods that provide my body with whole grains and other natural, healthful ingredients - no matter how long it takes to prepare such a breakfast…
Just kidding! You don’t have to give up convenience to enjoy a great breakfast.
That’s right… you can be good to your body even if you don’t have time to prepare a full-blown morning meal. The food sleuths here at eBrandAid.com have tracked down a few good breakfast bars that have nutrients and convenience!
Case in point: LARABAR Raw Food Bar Chocolate Coconut Chew
Cals 220, 12g fat, 0 sodium, 18g sugar, 5g fiber, 5g protein
Ingredients: Dates, Almonds, Walnuts, Unsweetened Coconut, Unsweetened Cocoa Powder.
Friends, this bar contains the Holy Trinity of healthy eating: CONVENIENCE, NUTRITION and ENERGY!
Decoding the fine print
So why is this breakfast bar worth your time and money, you ask? If the ingredients don’t speak for themselves, our food sleuths are happy to speak for them. Take a look:
This bar (like all the LARABAR varieties) is crafted from fewer than six ingredients.
The unsweetened cocoa provides more antioxidants than green tea.
The dates, coconut, almonds and walnuts are all nutritional superstars!
The fiber, protein, good carbohydrates and healthy fats are derived exclusively from whole, raw foods.
This bar is a wholefood NATURAL source of 16 essential vitamins and minerals, including fiber, vitamin E and folic acid. There’s no need for a red-flag label claim like “fortified with vitamins and minerals.”
Sugars and carbs come from fruit, not from processed, added junk sources.
And the best part, they come in 14 amazing flavors all of which are free of added sugars and sweeteners, preservatives, fillers, and artificial colorings.
There’s nothing not to love about this breakfast bar!
Variety is the spice of life – and important to any healthy eating plan – so we’re serving up more nutrition-on-the-go breakfast bars that meet our BestBrands standards:
The first few ingredients are made from wholefood sources like dates, nuts or whole grains such as rolled oats, wheat, barley or brown rice flour.
They have at least two grams of fiber per serving, and no more than 250 calories per bar.
And of course, they’re void of our least favorite junk ingredients like refined sugars, refined grains, trans fats, artificial sweeteners and colors, and harmful preservatives.
Finally, they’re good and good for you! And by the way, these aren’t just for breakfast anymore – they make great in between meal snacks too!
Note: Remember, all varieties of the same brand are NOT created equal! Please make sure you are choosing the recommended variety within each brand. When in doubt, read the ingredients label!
Clif Nectar Organic Fruit and Nut Bar (all flavors)
Health Valley Granola Bars Lowfat Chocolate Chip
Kashi TLC Chewy Granola Bars Honey Almond Flax
Kashi Honey Toasted 7-Grain
Kashi Chewy Granola Bars Trail Mix
LARABARS (All flavors)
Nature's Choice Multigrain Cereal Bars
Nature Valley Granola Bites Oats 'N Honey
Nature Valley Roasted Nut Bars Peanut Crunch
Odwalla Nourishing Food Bars Carrot Raisin
Simple Harvest All Natural Multigrain Chewy Granola Bars (all flavors)
Remember, when you're armed with a little eBrandAid know-how,
you're in control at the grocery store.
Kerry McLeod is eBrandAid.com's chief Brand Doctor and a regular blogger here at Diet.com. Kerry's mission in life is to teach food shoppers how to cut through the clutter at the grocery store in order to find the truly healthy brand-name foods. Go to www.eBrandAid.com for more information.
August 23, 2010
Drink Up! The Top 5 Drinks Of Summer
Most people have a drinking problem.
I hope that got your attention! What I am talking about has nothing to do with martinis. I’m talking about developing a good water drinking habit. Water is first and foremost, the beverage of choice, especially when you’re trying to lose a few (or a lot) of weight. We can also add a few other refreshments that will tote up your liquid quota, without putting on the pounds or rotting your teeth.
But before I give you those lovely libations, let’s talk about water, shall we?
The fact is, your body NEEDS water. If you’re interested in making sure your body uses the nutrients you give it via food, you gotta drink water.
If you’re battling blemishes and want nicer skin, you gotta drink water.
If you’re wanting to avoid constipation -- or what I like to call the ultimate form of procrastination -- you’re gonna want to get friendly with water.
And the best part of being a water drinker is that water totally helps you to pare down the pounds. Never underestimate the very powerful tool of a handy water bottle.
But even a devoted water drinker is going to want a little something else in her glass -- yes, even me!
Top 5 Go-To Drinks For Summer And Anytime!
1) Smoothie Patrol! I love slurping a smoothie, especially first thing in the morning. Just a little plain kefir (good for your digestion) a big handful of frozen blueberries, a scoop of protein powder and some OJ and you’re good to go.
Sometimes I like it thicker and sweeter, so I’ll add a little overly ripe frozen banana. And sometimes, I add a secret ingredient that will make you gag (but you can’t taste it) but ratchet up the nutrients. Wanna know what it is?
Here’s the link to watch me make it!
2) Cranberry Cosmo. We all know the girls from Sex And The City liked theirs straight up, cold and with plenty of vodka! My version is sans vodka and mixed with a little orange juice. Take a glass, add crushed ice, fill half way with orange juice (orange juice is a super food, by the way!) and top with cranberry juice. For optimal nutritional punch, buy the kind in the health food store with no sugar.
3) Lemon Up Iced Tea. This one is simple, easy and extra lemon really helps with the vitamin C quota. Simply brew regular tea, let it cool, squeeze two lemons in a glass, add crushed ice and pour your tea over the top. If you prefer it a little sweeter, try using xylitol to sweeten it up. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol and is available in health food stores. This is a safe alternative to artificial sweeteners for both diabetics and non-diabetics alike.
4) Green Gingered Tea. Brew some green, tea and set aside to cool. In a glass, add some crushed ice, grate a little ginger or sprinkle some dried ginger (you don’t need much!) and then add the cooled tea. You’ll be getting the health benefits of both green tea and ginger in one glass, as well as refreshing beverage.
5) Pomegranate Punch. The new darling of the nutrition world, pomegranate offers much more than a bunch of seeds that are hard to eat. The delicious juice actually has more antioxidants than green tea. Mix the juice half and half with either green or black brewed tea and you’ve got a wonderful (and powerful) antioxidant drink that is both refreshing and very healthy.
That’s it from me on the beverage front. I do need to mention however, that while I love everything listed above, water is my go-to beverage and it should be yours, too.
True Lemon also makes True Lime and True Orange. I have all of them. I can tell you they really do add that extra something to my water.
Stay cool this summer and remember, drink up!
Leanne Ely is New York Times Bestselling author and the Dinner Diva at SavingDinner.com. For more information, check out the website, www.savingdinner.com
June 28, 2010
The Skinny On ‘Low-Fat’ Claims
It’s the Catch-22 of dieting. In a desperate attempt to lose weight, you stock your cupboards with low-fat packaged foods. Weeks later your scale is telling you that you’ve GAINED a few pounds. So, you go out and buy even more low-fat foods and the weight gain cycle continues.
A good rule to live and diet by: If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is! After reading today’s Label Lesson, you’ll want to apply this rule to most packaged foods that are labeled low-fat or even fat-free.
The Food Sleuths here at eBrandAid.com are taking a bite out of this “low-fat” scam. Read on for the details.
The lower-fat versions of packaged foods like cookies, cakes and crackers often sound like healthier alternatives. It turns out that food manufacturers frequently compensate for the lack of fat by adding in more sugar, salt, and thickeners. Sure it boosts flavor and adds texture, but it’s a ploy that merely substitutes one or more junk ingredients for another.
It really bites, but low-fat varieties usually hit you with about the same number of calories.
Case in point:
Chips Ahoy Chocolate Chip Cookies - Regular vs. Reduced Fat
Decoding the Fine Print
Serving Size: 33g, 160 cals, total fat 8g (sat. fat 2.5g), sodium 110mg, sugar 11g, protein 2g
Ingredients: Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Semisweet Chocolate Chips (Sugar, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Dextrose, Soy Lecithin - An Emulsifier), Sugar, Soybean Oil, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Leavening (Baking Soda, Ammonium Phosphate), Salt, Whey (From Milk), Natural And Artificial Flavor, Caramel Color.
Serving Size: 32g, 140 cals, total fat 5g (sat. fat 2g), sodium 150, sugar 11g, protein 2g
Ingredients: Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Sugar, Semisweet Chocolate Chips (Sugar, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Dextrose, Soy Lecithin - An Emulsifier), Soybean Oil, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Ammonium Phosphate), Fructose, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Salt, Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier), Whey (From Milk), Natural And Artificial Flavor, Caramel Color.
When you compare the ingredients list, you discover that the only differences between the regular and the reduced-fat versions are that the reduced variety actually has two extra sugar ingredients and one extra filler – both have been added to help compensate for the lower fat. Hmmmm.
The Nutrition Facts label reveals that by choosing the lower-fat variety you’ll enjoy a mere 20-calorie savings, 3 less grams of fat (the saturated fat is about the same), and a 40-gram boost in sodium. So far, this doesn’t sound like a good trade-off to us.
But here’s the clincher. When you take the taste challenge you quickly realize that your low-fat choice doesn’t taste as good as the original recipe. Studies show you tend to eat more to statisfy your craving. This means you usually end up taking in MORE CALORIES. And that, my friends, defeats the purpose of choosing a “reduced-fat” cookie in the first place.
Sure it’s a smart move to decrease your fat intake. But, if there’s not much of a calorie difference with the reduced-fat version, you’re probably better off eating the full-fat cookie that you were craving in the first place. Just be sure to limit your intake to one per customer!
We hope you’ve taken note that both varieties of the featured cookies are packed with junk ingredients, so neither is a healthy option to begin with.
However, we would never promote total abstinence from junk food. That’s an unrealistic demand. It’s too inflexible and, frankly, it’s no fun. Instead, we urge you to watch your portions, exercise in moderation, and make better, more informed brand choices.
Remember, when you’re armed with a little BrandAid know-how,
you’re in control at the grocery store.
Kerry McLeod is eBrandAid.com's chief Brand Doctor and a regular blogger here at Diet.com. Kerry's mission in life is to teach food shoppers how to cut through the clutter at the grocery store in order to find the truly healthy brand-name foods.
May 31, 2010