Healthy Food Review Skinny Cow Single Serve Cups

I've been a fan of Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches for awhile (chocolate peanut butter and mint), but hadn't realized they had a new trick up their sleeve, until I saw an ad for new Skinny Cow Single Serve Cups while thumbing through a healthy living magazine en-route from a trip to California.

The Cookies 'N Cream and Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavors especially caught my eye, so I saved the ad (I'll bet that made the Skinny Cow people's Marketing Director very happy).Skinny cow chocolate

Today I picked up the Skinny Cow Chocolate Fudge Brownie or myself, and the Caramel Cone for my husband.  I thought the Chocolate Fudge Brownie was pretty good--not too sweet, although the "brownie" flecks were not as prevalent as I might have hoped.  My husband was also positive on the Caramel Cone--saying it mimicked the actual Skinny Cow Vanilla with Caramel cone product; although he felt it was a bit too sweet.  I tasted the Caramel Cone flavor as well and agreed on the "too sweet" conclusion.

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Weight Loss Lessons Michael Ventrella Biggest Loser Season 9 Winner Taught Us

Maybe you were thinking the same thing I did when I saw Michael Ventrella take the scale during the first episode of The Biggest Loser Season 9.  How does someone get to be 526 pounds?

I've had my own struggles with maintaining a healthy weight over the years, but we're talking about a worstMichaal biggest loser case scenario of a few pounds, not a few hundred.  I've generally been healthy, but when injuries or an inability to deal with life's challenges other than with food have kicked in at times, I've been vulnerable to small weight gain myself.  But at that time, a natural circuit breaker would kick in and I'd say "enough's enough" and reverse course.  Obviously that didn't happen in Michael's case.

Yet there was something about watching this huge man (the heaviest man ever on the show). do his best to work out at the high level demanded by his Biggest Loser  trainer Bob Harper, that made you respect Michael Ventrella and hope for the best for him.

Each week Michael made progress even as he kept dealing with the emotional demons that had contributed to his weight gain in the first place.  He was eventually able to jog on a treadmill--and I must admit that was something I never tried myself.  So Michael got me jogging on a treadmill.  I figured if a 400-pound man (at the time) could do it, what was my excuse?

I felt for Michael when it was "makeover week" on The Biggest Loser and he had to still go to the "big and tall" store while all the other contestants were shopping for regular sizes.

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3 Biggest Loser Weight Loss Lessons Learned, Lesson 3

In this last installment of my series on The 3 Biggest Loser Weight Loss Lessons Learned I'm discussing what I think may be the most important lesson you can learn from Biggest Loser of them all!

Weight Loss Lesson 3

Not Being Nice Enough To Yourself, Lesson 3

When inevitably trainers Bob Harper or Jillian Michaels pull aside a Biggest Loser contestant who's still stuck in discovering what it is that triggered their large weight gain, the conversation will often end up being about how they tend to put others first.  That's supposed to be a noble thing in theory, but in reality it can easily lead to weight gain.  And with the right personality, huge weight gain and obesity.

Take the example of one of the super popular teams on the current Biggest Loser Season 9--the grey teamBoy with thumbs up of Koli and Sam.  They obviously would do anything for each other and are often fond of saying "family first."  In fact, in this past week's episode 14, Koli ate over 4,000 calories to win a "challenge." 

Why would he do this when he was doing so well with his own weight loss?  To ensure that his cousin Sam was protected from being voted off the show should he not lose much weight that week.  That's very loving and admirable, but it's still a way to short-change yourself  that can get in the way of losing and maintaining a healthy weight.

And it's not necessarily a sign of a weak personality at all.  Even the strongest personalities can sabotage themselves.  I know I've personally gotten myself into trouble when I've not eaten what I wanted to for a particular meal, when my husband wanted something different.  So not wanting to cook two dinners (like I do when necessary), I put his choice first and put mine on the back burner.

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Healthy Food Review Honest Foods Choco Peanut Butter Bar

Update 5/1/10--Honest Foods is now becoming Earnest Eats (I think I like the original name better), but the bars taste better than ever--I think they changed the recipe slightly.  Even moister and more obvious peanut pieces.

As you know, I've been a fan of Clif Bars for quite some time.  However, I recently found that I had to give up eating soy as much as possible on my doctor's request, so no more Peanut Toffee Buzz Clif Bars almost every day.

I'm a very busy author and entrepreneur, so I need healthy grab and go options.  So I set off to find a new Honest foods choco energy bar to enjoy that wasn't full of soy protein isolate that I would also enjoy eating.  It was tough going because I never realized how many brands of energy bars include soy protein in its ingredients--and how many have partially-hydrogenated oil or fractionated palm kernel oil (same thing).  And then the ones who made the cut, tasted horrible to me.

I was just about to throw in the towel when I noticed Honest Foods Choco Peanut Butter Bar at my local Whole Foods Market.  After glancing at the ingredient list and verifying we were good on the soy protein isolate, I figured it was worth a try.  Especially when you see a very wholesome line-up of ingredients--organic whole oats, natural peanut and almond butters, sunflower seeds, peanuts, walnut halves, oat bran--without the junk and chemicals many bars contain.

The bars have a different texture than I'm used to, more solid, less bendable than a Clif Bar, which is actually a good thing, so you feel like you're really eating

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3 Biggest Loser Weight Loss Lessons Learned, Lesson 2

The current Biggest Loser Season 9 is really hitting home another Biggest Loser Weight Loss Lesson take-away for me.  I think Trainer Jillian Michaels correctly commented during this week's weigh-in, on why one of the key reasons that the green team of Migdalia and Miggy is battling being very overweight, is that they don't let their emotions out.

Emotional eating is a tough nut to crack.  I know because it's something I've struggled with in my past, and every now and then during stressful times, it fights hard to rear its ugly head.  There's a reason why many favorite food types are called "comfort food" (and why I learned to not deny myself my favorite comfort foods as discussed in my book Have Your Cheeseburger And Keep Your Health Too!)

Weight Loss Lesson 2

Pent-Up Emotions Can Lead To Emotional Weight Gain

From the time we're babies, we're taught to be comforted by a pacifier in our mouths, and then when we're sad, a parent might attempt to make us feel better with a treat.  When we teach ourselves (or get taught) to soothe any painful emotions with food, it's easy to let your weight get out of hand if you don't confront your emotions.  And when you hear the different stories of Biggest Loser contestants, inevitably there is something they've experienced that triggered this "eat to feel better" response to life. 

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3 Biggest Loser Weight Loss Lessons Learned, Lesson 1

It took me until the week 12 episode of The Biggest Loser Season 8 to finally watch most of an episode.  I had accidentally seen a few minutes a couple of years ago--the weigh-in part--and was very turned off by the process.  I wasn't turned off by the contestants' physiques as I realized they were a work in progress; I was disturbed by what I felt was an unnecessarily public display that didn't need to humiliate the way it did.

I disliked the show so much, that when a PR rep tried to pitch me on putting something about the show onWeight loss this blog a couple of years ago, I immediately said "sorry, not a fan."

So a couple of weeks ago I was trying to un-clutter my mind and was clicking through channels on my remote and I found I had stopped on The Biggest Loser, but what intrigued me was that each contestant in the final group of four was about to run a marathon.  As someone who's only walked a half marathon I had to admit that this was something I had to see.

I meant to stop after a minute or two, but I had to admit they got me.  Before I realized it, I was watching the full episode--even the weigh-in that I didn't care all that much for.  And then I had planned to watch The Biggest Loser Finale, but a delayed return flight from a day trip to Phoenix made me miss all but the last 25 minutes.  But I did see Danny Cahill win.  So I started watching the season from the beginning online while waiting for the replay of The Biggest Loser Finale to be available (I'm up to week 8) as I had time to spare.  I hate to admit it, but I am now hooked.

There's still a lot I don't like about The Biggest Loser (yes, that will be another blog post), but I think it's now a case where the pros outweigh the cons.

So here is the first of the three lessons I learned from The Biggest Loser (watch for parts 2 and 3 shortly--better yet, please join my list or subscribe to The Healthy Food Review RSS feed so you'll never miss another post):

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Eating Out Healthy Long John Silver's Freshside Grill

I know what you're thinking, Long John Silver's with all that deeply fried fish--how can that be eating out healthy?

Well, there is an undiscovered side to Long John Silver's that can keep you on track for eating healthy even at a fast food place.  It's called Long John Silver's Freshside Grill, and it offers three meals that are actually Boy w fish under 350 calories and nothing fried to be found.  My tester and I tried out the Grilled Pacific Salmon, and the Grilled Tilapia (also available is Shrimp Scampi).  There are premium versions of these dishes that include a bread stick and corn on the cob, but they are extra in price, and extra in calories.

Like most fast food menu items, the pictures of the food always look like there's more food, and look better than the actual food.  To look at the pictures of these Freshside Grill menu items, you'd think your plate would be stuffed with food, but the reality is that you get plates that are way less than full and certainly not anywhere near as attractive--at least at the Long John Silver's I visited here in Vegas.

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Acesulfame Potassium Is It Safe

If you're like me, you drink a lot of zero-calorie and low-calorie beverages that tend to have artificial sweeteners in them.  My preference is always towards those that use sucralose (also marketed as Splenda) because it is generally considered safe. 

In case you were wondering, aspartame was recently identified in some studies from Italy as possibly increasing the risk of leukemia, lymphoma and breast cancer (CSPI's Nutrition Action cover story Chemical Cuisine: A Guide To Food Additives, May 2008).  The problem is that it's getting harder and harder to find sucralose without another chemical paired with it known as Acesulfame Potassium (a.k.a Ace-K).

Thumbs down

So what's the big deal about Acesulfame Potassium?  It's been "poorly tested" and those tests from the 1970's showed that it may cause cancer, yet the FDA has refused to require more and better testing according to The Center For Science In The Public Interest, publishers of the excellent non-advertiser supported Nutrition Action's May 2008 issue, and when these guys say something is questionable, as an independent, not-for-profit organization, it gets my attention.

For awhile I tried to tell myself, it's okay if at times I drink something with Acesulfame in it, but when I took a good look at what I was drinking, I realized I was subjecting myself to the chemical a lot more than I thought.  So out went the Powerade Zero I was drinking almost daily, all those powdered "flavor on the go" sticks for my bottled water, Lipton Diet Citrus green tea and so on.

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BlenderBottle My New Favorite Healthy Lifestyle Product

I've recently been making some tweaks in my healthy eating style, and that includes a return to having protein shakes.  The problem was, I couldn't find pre-made protein shakes that met my own dietary requirements--whey protein only, no soy, free of hormones, not high in calories, no acesulfame potassium, no hydrogenated oils, no high fructose corn syrup and no list of chemicals that I would have to go back to my high school chemistry class notes to read.

So after reviewing the various whey protein powders at my local Whole Foods market I found a couple BlenderBottlemini that fit the bill, but I knew that I would never take out a blender and deal with messy clean up when I rush off to the gym for either Zumba class, kickboxing or weight lifting 5-6 days a week.  I'm an "on the go" person, and if something is complicated to prepare, I won't do it.

I've had shaker bottles for protein shakes before and they just didn't do the job.  They leaked, or they left clumps of unblended powder.  So I was struggling with how I could make my own protein shake mixes work.

As I turned the corner of the aisle at Whole Foods, I spied some cute looking, colorful shaker bottles and took a look.  I was intrigued because I noticed that it has a wire ball inside (they call it a "BlenderBall(R)" that looked very much like a wire whisk you'd use to scramble eggs inside it.  I read the little booklet that came with it, which promised that it was "no ordinary bottle", and decided to give the mini (20 ounce one) a try.

What a difference this little wire ball made! No more clumpy poorly mixed protein shakes.  In fact, the wire whisk ball also adds a bit of froth and fluffiness as if you had used a blender.  The BlenderBottle(R) is sturdy and also stands up to the dishwasher--my last shaker bottle lid would not align after two times in the top rack.  I also love the easy measuring indicators on the side of the BlenderBottle.

And because it's a snap to use, BlenderBottle is making it easy for me to stick to my plan of including more protein shakes in my diet.  Any healthy lifestyle product that actually helps you stick to your goals is always worth it.

The biggest problem?  I don't think just having two BlenderBottles is enough!  I just might want in a different cool color for each day of the week.

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Melanie small version for web --Melanie R. Jordan, Author of Have Your Cheeseburger And Keep Your Health Too!  Available 24/7 at http://www.HealthyEatingCoach.com

"Healthy eating with favorite comfort foods...it's deliciously possible!"

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Please note that I do not have an affiliation with any of the companies featured in this post--they are simply products I am personally familiar with.  The views expressed are my opinion only and you should decide, along with your healthcare professionals, on the appropriateness for your personal use.

Copyright SunLover Publishing LLC 2009


Healthy Food Review P B Loco Peanut Butter

Update 06/10--Unfortunately the cafe didn't make it as when I went back to Arizona for a visit it was gone.  Too bad.  Still great peanut butter though.

Update 10/09--I had a chance to go to the P.B. Loco Cafe in Scottsdale, Arizona and had a ball with a custom grilled pannini peanut butter sandwich with their Cocoa-Banana Peanut Butter and Shredded Coconut.  Too bad there isn't one near me.  I may just have to get my own pannini maker--never would have thought of grilling peanut butter!

I know peanut butter in the right portions is very good for you, and as a flexitarian it's a great meatless protein choice.   But here's the rub.  I'm not wild about peanut butter.  As non-fat frozen yogurt--yes!  As an occasional Reese's Peanut Butter Cup (fun size only)--yes!  But just good old grown up peanut butter?  I've got to really be in the mood for it.

That was until I discovered P.B. Loco Peanut Butter.  It was another one of those "husband has been Pb locoflying for a business trip, caught up on reading, here come a bunch of magazine and newspaper clippings to check out" times.  He had seen P B Loco Peanut Butter mentioned in a health magazine article and wanted to know what store carried it to try.  Unfortunately, the answer for Las Vegas was "nobody". 

So I contacted the company, and since they knew I write this popular blog The Healthy Food Review, and they agreed to send me a couple of samples for review.  However, I did warn them that I am always completely honest about the pros and cons of the healthy food items I review to maintain the blog's integrity (and you regular readers know I'm not shy about that).

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