It's been awhile.
It's not that I haven't been eating my diet food, because God knows I have. It's that I've sort of lodged myself into a routine with my diet foods and nothing particularly promising has shown up. So I will open myself up to the readers (of which there are.... um.... four or five?) and ask you to throw any diet foods that you want reviewed my way. I ain't picky. If it has the words 'low fat' 'whole wheat' 'diet' or 'Splenda' in the title, then I'll ingest it.
I have some other more interesting stuff to write about, but since I did start this to review, I'll put in a short one on a diet food that has been in my house since we got our membership to Costco (the health food-obsessed girl's equivalent of VJ-Day; imagine me French kissing an unsuspecting Costco employee from underneath my jaunty sailor's hat.) This food does not bill itself as diet, which means I hesitate to review it as I promised myself I would only review the 'lite' version of regular things. But I think as a service to people everywhere, these deserve to be in the public consciousness.
FiberOne Chewy Bars
Remember one of my number one diet rules, always eat breakfast? Well, there's a caveat. Yes, you should always eat breakfast, and if you have never done so before, I don't give a shit what you're eating, just shovel something in. If you already eat breakfast and have gotten into the habit, now I will tear you a new one. What are you eating for breakfast? Chances are it is a bagel, some sort of Cornflakes or Cheerios, some variation of McMuffin, or a Nutri-Grain bar. Now, all food has some sort of value, in that it provides calories, at least. But here's a secret. Anything you get at the Panera drive-thru is probably not as good for you as you'd like to think. Here's why- first off, anything that you purchase at a restaurant is probably going to have twice the amount of fat and calories as something you buy at the grocery store. That's what makes it taste good! Fat is delicious. But unfortunately, it tends to migrate to your ass and next thing you know you are me, a victim of 'skinny fat' (skinny person with one fat body part- mine is the upper thighs.) SO. Try to limit your buying breakfast on your way to work from a drive-thru window, unless you have no other options. You will thank me when you suddenly have fifteen extra dollars every week. Amazing how money adds up when you don't eat out every day! Some people still have not grasped this.
ANYWAY. Now I will berate you for your choice of eating at home. Again, Cornflakes and Nutri-Grain bars are a good start, and if it's all you can stand or something, then they will absolutely do. But I have another secret. Lots of people eat Nutri-Grain bars, thinking they are some super healthy brain food and feel all self righteous; oftentimes these are the people that refer to a meager bowl of white iceberg lettuce drowned in bacon bits, cheese, and ranch as a 'salad.' But let's look at the nutritional value. I have in front of me a box of strawberry Nutri-Grain bars. Kristi Yamaguchi is smiling back at me from the front of the box. I don't hate her, but I hate Kwan. Raymond and I applauded when Kwan fell during the Olympics. We don't like her. Not sure why. Anyway, by studying the nutritional info I see that each bar has 130 calories, 30 from fat. Not bad at all, but let's consider the real important part of all of this. If you've ever read my blog, you know that I believe that lots of fiber and lots of protein are essential to a good diet. They keep you full, keep your muscles working at their peak and they help you poop. Is there anything more important than that? Hell no. And Nutri-Grain bars only have 2g of fiber, or 6% (this should be 8%, actually, so it's more like 1.5 grams) and 2g of protein. And the first ingredient here is the ominiously vague 'filling', which consists of high fructose corn syrip, strawberry puree concentrate, glycerin, sugar, and then lots of big scary words and some food coloring. You do get a decent amount of calcium out of these, and some vitamins, but really, this isn't that good for you. You could probably eat Sprees or something and it would be roughly the same. But they're so convenient! And it's a granola bar, right?
It's time to let the real fucking granola bar around here come in and take over.
FiberOne is a company after my own heart. I mean, they are dedicated to fiber. I am dedicated to fiber. I really believe it is magical, mystical, healing, and probably was the gift of one of the wisemen at the birth of Christ. Why is fiber so awesome? Well, first off, you can pretty much subtract the calories in your food from fiber from the total, because your body doesn't really digest it... it just sort of passes in your poop. Which leads me to- fiber makes you poop. In my opinion, you can attribute a chronic shitty attitude in a person to two things: lack of sex and lack of poop. This is why chronically shitty people are sometimes called 'tight asses.' Which leads me to- math. Put food in, poop it out, voila, food is not settling on your lower back to create love handles. Also, it's good for your heart or something. Bottom line: fiber is good. Things with lots of fiber are especially good for you (wheat bread, Grape Nuts, veggies- please refer to my fun graphic.) This means that everything FiberOne makes is good for you (FiberOne representatives, feel free to send your complimentary merchandise my way for this free advertisement.) Just how good are these FiberOne bars? Well, they contain.... wait for it....
36% OF YOUR DAILY FIBER.
That's a lot. I would wager to guess that for the majority of the American population, these 'chewy bars' contain more fiber than they consume in an average day. And even better, these have a mere 140 calories per serving, or 10 more than a Nutri-Grain bar, but 7 more grams of fiber! AND high fructose corn syrup isn't even on the label for at least three or four ingredients (This might matter to you. To be honest, I don't care about high fructose corn syrup. Maybe it's those incredibly persuasive commercials. It's just corn! Makes me wonder why we don't sweeten things with green bean syrup.)
But how does it taste? We've all seen those commercials for Baked Lays are some sort of 'healthy' version of Lays potato chips involving the cartoon ladies. I don't like those commercials because they perpetuate all sorts of food penance/food is morality unhealthy behaviors, but one of them is sort of true- the one where the lady is eating some sort of fiber-y snack and choking it down because it's so dry and dusty. I think this is why a lot of people are scared of fiber- traditionally, things with a lot of fiber are kind of cardboardy. At least according to other people, they are. I have made it my lifelong mission to find delicious sources of fiber, and I am happy to report that these 'chewy bars' are on that list. And chewy they are. These take a while to eat because you gotta masticate the crap out of them, but it's worth it. They are held together with some kind of viscous honey-like deliciousness and drizzled with chocolate. They taste nothing like cardboard and everything like yummy. My only complaint is that they are just a little bit short and leave your fingertips a little sticky, but nothing a good licking won't fix.
Now that I have showed you the path to a healthy bowel and a healthier breakfast, you have no excuse for not eating the FiberOne bars. If I see you eating a Nutri-Grain bar, I now reserve the right to slap it out of your hand.
FiberOne Chewy Bars have 140 calories per bar, 35 from fat, with 9g of fiber and 2g of protein.
More stuff and things
This summer I've been largely unemployed, except for 75 bucks a week for a show I'm doing and sporadic monies from what I call my 'contracting business' (whoring myself out in all manner of costumes or what-have-yous for events, etc.) And with school only six hours a week, I've been trying to find things to do rather than sitting on my duff all day. I've taken up knitting- really, and it is HIDEOUS but I'm getting the hang of it- and become interested in alternate day fasting (see, it is relevant.) I first heard about this a few months ago in Shape magazine. The concept is that you eat nothing one day and eat whatever you want the next day. Everyone agrees that this is absolutely NUTS and not something you should do EVER. However, it has been shown to be extremely effective if you modify it slightly. The idea is that you eat about 20-50% of your average calorie intake on your 'low cal' days and eat whatever you want (in moderation, so don't go eating a whole box of Twinkies or something) on your 'normal' days. Studies have shown that most people actually eat only 10 to 20 percent more on their on days when doing ADF. Apparently, ADF can unlock the 'skinny gene', or SIRT1, which basically tells your body not to store certain things as fat... or something. I'm not a doctor. Look it up. Also, there are all kinds of studies out there anyway that advocate an extremely low-cal diet for its positive correlation with a longer lifespan. The thing is, can people deal with a diet that leaves you hungry as hell all the time?
Well, the answer, for me at least, is pretty much. I have a tendency to get really obsessed with healthy eating and feeling all sorts of nasty guilt when I eat something 'bad.' This is not a healthy attitude at all, and the ADF is actually easing it. The way I keep from getting ravenous is to plan to eat between 100 and 200 calories every two to two and a half hours. That way I'm stoking my metabolism while also avoiding getting weak with hunger. Plus, I always know that food is less than two hours away, which prevents what would be an inevitable binge if I were completely fasting. And the next day, I eat pretty much what I want. I eat really healthily anyway, but on the 'off' days I can ease up on portion controls a little bit. Let's examine Sunday- before church I had some watermelon and wheat bread with soy milk, and then went out to Bob Evans (I know, I know, but goddamn it was tasty) and got a big egg-white omelet full of veggies with biscuits and hashbrowns. Of course I had to sample half a piece of banana bread and half a dinner roll as well. Later that night I ate almost an entire margherita pizza from Bazbeaux and some salad and finished it all off with a piece of coconut creme pie. Normally, eating like that would have left me absolutely distraught, no matter how good it tasted. But the beauty of ADF is that I don't really feel guilty because I know that being 'back on track' is only a day away. In essence, you never really get 'off track.' Granted, I just started doing this a week ago so I don't know how long it will work in the long run... but I'll let you know. It's certainly better for you than starving yourself, and more feasible for a lot of people than doing a low-cal plan every day. And I think that it may be helpful for people who compulsively overeat, because over time you may find a balance. Just a thought.
Now, I love working out and eating healthily as much as the next person with way too much time on her hands, and I'll try anything that will make me sweat, but I have never gotten around to P90X. You know, those commercials with the people doing insane push up variations and getting washboard abs in 90 days? It always looked like a fad or a scam to me, like Metabolife or Atkins, but then I did a little research and found that a lot of normal folk had had great success on the plan. I even talked to a personal trainer friend who said that the muscle confusion theory is really successful- the idea is that if you are constantly changing up the ways in which you work your muscles, they will never become complacent and bored and thus you will always be making them stronger. The DVDs also come with a nutrition plan, so they don't market themselves as a quick fix- you've gotta be invested in the total program to see those kinds of results. So I've been very interested but didn't think I'd have the time or money to do it.
Well, luckily for me, my friend Bill does! Bill is going to be guest blogging here over the next few months while he does P90X. He's been getting back in to exercise and wanted to jumpstart it with the program, and I'm just pleased as punch that he's going to be sharing his experiences here on the blog. He's going to be so buff that we won't be able to resist him. Please refer to the graphic for what Bill's abs will soon look like (except I think that model is probably some sort of Latin, and Bill isn't... but who knows the power of the P90X?) I'm really excited to see how he likes it and to get his opinion out here (and, let's face it, I'm excited to see if it works so I can borrow it when he's done), so look for some material from him in the coming weeks.
And a recipe, because I'm awesome.
I've been fronting and saying I'd post recipes for some time now, but I think so far I've only posted one. So here's one. I made this the other night and invented it out of thin air, but it turned out pretty good. I usually shy away from raviolis because they are often laden with fat and calories, but I used special ones here. This is Italian food without feeling like utter ass later that night from being too full. Also, it has so many veggies that you may not even feel the need to add a salad. It's kind of a meal in itself. So read on.
Baked Ravioli with Veggies
1 package of wheat ravioli (I like Buoitoni, but you can use whatever, with whatever filling, but you want pasta with some fiber)
1 bell pepper, any color
1 red onion
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
two handfuls of mushrooms
about 1/3 jar of pasta sauce- I used the super chunky mushroom from Ragu, because you get a full serving of vegetables per serving
1 minced garlic clove
shredded cheese- I used Parmesan, mozarella and Gouda
two handfuls of spinach
DO THIS IN ORDER AND IT WILL ALL COME TOGETHER RATHER QUICKLY.
Chop up your bell peppers and onions and put them in a bowl with some olive oil and Italian seasoning. Shake the bowl to coat them, then roast them in the oven/toaster oven for 10 mins at 400.
While those roast, start your boiling water for the ravioli.
While you wait for that to boil, put your olive oil into a sauce pan and heat it up. Then put in your minced garlic clove and mushrooms and saute them for about three or four minutes. Then pour the can of diced tomatoes over it, stir it up, add some Italian seasoning and put the lid back on. Let it simmer while you put the ravioli into the boiling water and cook it according to the directions.
While you wait for all that, cover the bottom of a casserole dish with the spinach. Cover the spinach with some shredded cheese. By now your peppers and onions and ravioli should be done or close to it, so take the veggies out of the oven and drain the ravioli. Use the pot the ravioli was in and dump in your pasta sauce. Pour the mushrooms and tomato mix in with that; let it heat for a minute or two, then add the ravioli and the peppers and onions to it so everything is all mixed together. Add some Italian seasoning and let it sit on the heat for another minute or two. Now, pour half the mix on top of the layer of spinach. Add some cheese. Then pour the rest of the mix in and add some more cheese on top of that. Pop it in the oven at 450 for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is all melty. If you use low or no fat cheese and wheat ravioli, this is a relatively low cal dish (probably serves four people.) But you can use all manner of cheeses and raviolis to make it as decadent as you wish. My version is meat free but you can certainly use turkey or sausage stuffed raviolis.
I love pasta. I could eat that shit every day.
Thus concludes the longest entry ever. Comment and let me know if you've tried P90X, ADF, or tell me your favorite way to get fiber!