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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Enjoy these tasty foods without the calorie guilt

By Charles Stuart Platkin

So many foods have become taboo that sometimes it feels like there's nothing left to eat except organic fruits and vegetables (not that there is anything wrong with that). But thankfully, there are a few foods that are still "calorie bargains" — that is, they taste like they're loaded with calories, but they're not.

These foods give us something to look forward to in the quest for a healthy life — and a decent body.

Swiss Miss Diet Hot Cocoa with Calcium
1 envelope: 25 calories, 0 g fat, 4 g carbs

Here's why: This was suggested as a calorie bargain by a reader. It's ideal if you're craving chocolate, and it uses Splenda as the sweetener, so there is no aspartame. How can you go wrong with only 25 calories — for hot chocolate? When I first started losing weight, this was a comforting treat whenever my sweet tooth kicked in.

GeniSoy Crisps (Barbecue)
1 bag (1.3 oz): 140 calories, 3 g fat, 18 g carbs

Here's why: I received a number of e-mails from readers recommending these crisps; plus my family and friends swear by them. In fact, most people who eat them regularly are a bit fanatical.

I was reluctant to try them at first. I thought, "Soy — how good could they taste?" I finally broke down and had some, and I was impressed. They really are an excellent snack, especially if you're in a "chips mood."

You can eat an entire bag without any guilt — the company actually calls it their "portion control" bag.

Guiltless potato fries
One medium baking potato (3 inches in diameter): 133 calories, 0 g fat, 31 g carbs
Flavored breadcrumbs (1 tablespoon): 28 calories, 0 g fat, 5 g carbs

Here's why: OK, so they're not really fried, but they are just as good, and maybe even better because there's no dieter's remorse.

I realize the carbs are a bit high for those on an Atkins-type program, but these fries are so filling and low in calories that it's worth eating them to prevent "other" cravings. But remember they should be considered a treat and eaten in combination with other foods to avoid the effect of a high glycemic load.

Here's how you make them:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Scrub and wash one baking potato. Slice into eighths (lengthwise).
  • Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray the foil lightly with cooking spray (e.g., Pam).
  • Place potato wedges on the tray, and mist the potatoes with cooking spray.
  • Sprinkle with onion powder, garlic powder, onion flakes, salt, pepper, and paprika. Then sprinkle potatoes with one tablespoon of flavored breadcrumbs. Reapply a light coat of cooking spray.
  • Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes, or until desired crisp-ness. Spray a light coat of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray before serving.

Healthy Choice Caramel Swirl Ice Cream Sandwich
1 bar (4 oz): 140 calories, 3 g fat, 27 g carbs

Here's why: I've pushed this ice cream sandwich to about 30 people, and everyone loved it, except one British friend (who said she "doesn't like things with cookie bits").

Yes, it's on the higher end when it comes to carbohydrates, but it's such a tasty ice cream sandwich. When I have pints of ice cream in the freezer, it's just too easy to grab another spoonful every now and then.

However, these individually wrapped treats make it much easier to have just one portion. If you want ice cream (and not non-fat frozen yogurt or soy) and you're watching your calories, this is a good bet.

The bad news is that they're not available in every supermarket, but the people from Healthy Choice assured me that "very soon" they will be readily available in a "grocery store near you."

Whole Wheat, Low-Fat Tortillas
1 tortilla (36g): 50 calories and up, 2 g fat and up, 11 g carbs and up

Here's why: A number of West coast readers e-mailed about how great tortillas can be for dieters and — lo and behold, in their low-fat, low-carb incarnations — they are.

The good news is that when these tortillas are prepared most healthily, they can be low in carbs and saturated fat.

The most healthy tortillas will have no trans fat, added sugar, or saturated fat. We've found a brand made with soy flour that is a source of protein and very high in fiber (up to 8 g).

Found a healthy, low-cal tortilla? Enjoy them with eggs in the morning (instead of toast), or use them to make low calorie pizza (spread with low-calorie tomato sauce and sprinkle with part-skim mozzarella) — the possibilities are endless.

Here's the bad news: One, true low-carb tortilla, made by La Tortilla Factory, is not distributed in Hawai'i, and it will cost you to have it delivered (call 1-800-446-1516 for information). The product is in huge demand (especially by low-carb diet groups) and the firm can't make them fast enough. For the low-carb versions, there is a three- to five-week wait.

Send your favorite "calorie bargains" to info@thedietdetective.com. If your idea is published, you'll receive a $20 check and a copy of the book "Breaking the Pattern."

Charles Stuart Platkin is a health, nutrition and fitness columnist.