My Favorite Things

I’m no Oprah, but I want to share of list of my favorite things. My list is for dieting/making better food choices. My favorite low-cal/low-fat, or otherwise diet-friendly foods, things that offer healthier alternatives when used in a weight-loss program. All are things I’ve eaten while on maintaining a 35+-lb. weight loss, thanks to Weight Watchers.

Enjoy! Why not try sneaking in a few this time of year, when high-fat, high-calorie meals & snacks are plentiful? You may find yourself adding them to your menu in heavy rotation.

Fiber One Chewy Bars: These are my stand-ins for candy bars, and I often eat one as a between-meals snack. The Oats & Chocolate is tasty, as is the Strawberries & Almonds bar. The Oats & Peanut Butter bar is good as well, but packs a little more fat (and POINTS).

Quaker Quakes Rice Snacks, chocolate flavor: These have satisfied many a chocolate jones for me. Seven to a serving. Yummy!

Turkey pepperoni, in particular the Hormel brand (because you get more slices per serving): I have eaten these as snacks and in meals. Eat with a serving or two of raw veggies, toss with whole-wheat spaghetti, eat in a salad with mozzarella, use on a whole-wheat pita pizza… You get the idea!

Ferrara Pronto Polenta: I find this brand of polenta at ShopRite. Polenta is cooked corn meal, eaten as a side dish. It’s low-cal for 2-4 ounces and fast! Unlike other brands, this one is pre-cooked. Just heat (grill or saute with olive oil) and eat. I’ve served it with Cajun-spiced shrimp and raw spinach sauteed in garlic and olive oil. I’ve also topped it with shredded turkey pepperoni and a little mozzarella and spaghetti sauce.

Precooked shrimp: Just thaw and eat! Eat with a little cocktail sauce and a salad on the side, dust with Cajun spice and heat through, serve in soft corn tortillas with salsa and/or a little guacamole for shrimp tacos.

Corn tortillas: Get the taco-sized ones and load with veggies or a lean meat for tacos. Fill, roll up, and top with sauce and/or cheese for enchiladas. (But be sure to heat them or dredge them in a heated sauce first, so they don’t break.) Microwave one minute per side to crisp them to nacho texture (cut ’em into triangles & heat if you prefer). Top a couple crisped tortillas with 1/2 tsp cinnamon sugar each for a makeshift “churro.” Or, take your crisped tortillas and crumble them to put in a salad or add to tortilla soup.

100-calorie bags of 94% fat-free popcorn: Eat the whole bag yourself–it’s already portioned! I like the butter flavor, but there’s also kettle corn for the sweet-toothed among you.

Sugar-free water mixers: 4C, Wylers and Lipton make them, as well as chain grocery stores. Add a little pizazz to your daily water servings in an array of flavors, with minimal calories.

Progresso Light soups: Progresso has linked up with Weight Watchers and has several soups that have 0 and 1 POINT per 1-cup serving. Check the cans in the store for more details. My two favorites are Italian-Style
Vegetable (which, contrary to the name, also has a little pasta mixed in, too) and Zesty Southwestern-Style Vegetable. To use the soup to make a more filling lunch, add half a serving of turkey meatballs, 2 ounces of lean ground meat or grilled chicken, or a serving of turkey pepperoni or turkey bacon. Add cheese if you like. Eat with a light English muffin and a salad with fat-free Italian dressing on the side.

Fat-Free Italian dressing: Two tablespoons of flavor for about 20 calories, depending on the brand. I often eat salads without any dressing, but this is my #1 standby when I do use dressing.

Light English muffins: I prefer the Thomas brand, but grocery stores sell them under their names as well. Use them for breakfast, lunch or dinner sandwiches, even as a replacement for a hamburger bun. Or, top with a little olive oil (no more than 1 tsp. per muffin half) and Italian spices to eat with a light meal.

Simms Turkey Snacks: I find these at Aldi and love them because they are a fairly low-cal source of protein. Six of these little spicy nuggets, plus an apple or 1 cup of carrots is my standard pre-dinner snack.

Quorn Chik’n Patties: Sometimes you just want a breaded chicken sandwich. At 150 calories and 6 grams of fat, this vegetarian product is a good substitute. Eat on a light English muffin with a tablespoon of ketchup or light mayo, with a low-cal soup and/or a salad on the side for a meal.

Precooked grilled chicken (Purdue Shortcuts or frozen grilled chicken): I like using this no-fuss protein in a salad, with 1 oz. of cheese and 1/3 cup of dried cranberries or 1/4 cup of dried cherries. It also can be used for sandwiches. Toss with hot sauce and fat-free blue cheese dressing for a Buffalo chicken-style sandwich filling.

Salsa: Eat with the microwave-crisped tortillas I’ve mentioned earlier, or use in place of salad dressing on a Mexican-inspired salad.

Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese: This is the best tasting low-cal cheese, in my opinion.

Instant coffee: If you’re a Starbucks fiend this may not be for you, but instant coffee gives me a tasty alternative for a dairy serving idea: a latte. I make a 12-ounce with 1 cup of skim milk and a half cup of water. Heat the liquid in the microwave, then add to a mug with 1 tablespoon of the coffee. Add Splenda to taste, as well as 1 tablespoon of powdered nondairy creamer (hazelnut is my favorite) or a serving of a fat-free liquid creamer, if you want.

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