Thursday, December 20, 2007

We Want to Hear From YOU!

If you've tried some of the convenience meals we've reviewed here- leave a comment! Agree or disagree (but also why you do, so that others will understand your reasons). An informed consumer is a happy one!

Garlic Beef and Broccoli- Lean Cuisine

Garlic Beef and Broccoli from Lean Cuisinse features "beef steak with broccoli, water chestnuts & yellow carrots in an asian style garlic sauce". It's a smaller meal, only 170 calories and 6 grams of fat, but it has a really nice flavor. The sauce is on the mild side, but the beef has a ton of flavor, which makes up for the sauces shortcomings. For those counting carbs, it has only 11 net carbs (the total amount of carbs minus the fiber). I'd recommend eating it over a 1/2 of brown rice and a nice side salad.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Childhood Obesity Epidemic

Normally I just do reviews, but this story has really struck a nerve with me. I'm a mom to two boys, and we do the best we can to make sure that they learn good eating habits, so that they can grow up healthy. According to a report on the Today Show, there will be dramatic health consequences for our children because of the alarming rate at which their waist lines are expanding. By mid-century, deaths from obesity will outnumber those from ALL cancers combined. Our children will be at risk from heart disease at younger ages. And this is because they're learning from us that it's ok to eat whatever and however much we want.

What can we do as parents? Learn to eat the right foods, and teach your kids to do the same. Stop eating out so much, and if you do, make healthier choices when going to the fast food restaurants. Don't give them fries- get them apples and mandarin oranges. If you get them fountain drinks- opt for juice and water it down. There are so many ways to lower the calories now. And let them see you do the same. Opt for diet soda, get fruit with your burger. Check out the nutrition facts on these restaurants (usually it'll be on their websites) and decide ahead of time what you're going to get (learn in general what your best choices are, so that you are always prepared when you go). A lot of the food these places offer are deceptively high in calories.

I'll admit, it's not easy. I've been there. I let my weight balloon up because as a kid, I'd always been able to eat whatever I wanted and wouldn't gain a pound. But after 18 and after having two children over the past 7 years, I can't do that anymore. I've mentioned before about using to lose the weight. But best of all, it made me learn what servings really look like and how many calories are in what I'm eating. Knowledge is power, and in this case, knowledge can save yours and your childrens lives.

Weight Watchers Strawberry Shortcake

While this dessert is a little high in calories (170), it's REALLY good. Especially if you leave the strawberries slightly frozen. It's got a little layer of yellow cake on the bottom, which held up really nicely after being microwaved to defrost. I definitely recommend these if you can spare a few calories.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Skinny Cow's Mint and Fudge Ice Cream Cone

I don't like mint ice cream, I'll say that right off the bat. But I made an exception for this yummy cone. The combination of mint and chocolate reminds me of an Andes after dinner mint. The cone and chocolate combination was crispy (no sogginess here!) and it tasted like real chocolate. The ice cream has a very light texture- almost like a heavy cool whip. It's 96% fat free, has 150 calories and 3g of fiber- not too bad for a dessert. It has the equivalent of 3 WW points.

I definitely recommend this- even if you don't typically like mint ice cream- if you like Andes, you'll probably like this.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Klondike Slim-a-Bear 100 Calorie Bars

The good- Good flavor (despite having chocolate "flavored" coating and vanilla "flavored" ice cream), I mean GOOD flavor. The "chocolate" coating has a great krispy texture to it, much like the regular Klondike bars.

The bad- it's pretty small, compared to a regular Klondike bar. It probably measures about 2.5-3" in diameter and about a 1/2" thick. Still, it does the job for those who can't afford the enormous amount of calories in a regular Klondike bar.
It's just enough to ward off a sweet tooth attack, particularly if you eat it a little slower and savor the taste.

Lean Cuisine's Swedish Meatballs

Lean Cuisine's Swedish Meatballs feature yummy tiny meatballs in "a savory gravy" along with egg noodles. It's really a pretty good dish, though sometimes the noodles get a little mushy. The meatballs are quite tasty, as is the gravy- I just wish there was more meat. It weighs in a 280 calories, making it a good meal to include salad and some fruit with (it contains no veggies).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Low Cal Salad Dressings

Newman's Balsamic Vinaigrette- big thumbs up

Newman's Cranberry Walnut Vinaigrette- BIG thumbs up. This dressing is super good, has just enough tang- yumm!

Hidden Valley Ranch Fat Free- Skip it- not enough flavor. I actually tossed a bowl of salad out because it was just not good.

Hidden Valley Low Fat Ranch- BUY IT- you won't miss the calories or fat and you don't need much

Kraft Fat Free Catalina- Honestly, I'd have a hard time telling the different between the regular and fat free- buy it!!

Lean Cuisine's Lemongrass Chicken, Lemon Chicken

I'm reviewing these together, even though they're a little different (ok a lot different). The Lemongrass Chicken gets a partial "ick" from me- the lemon is good, chicken, rice and veggie mix- all good. But the "grass" part of the lemon? Lemongrass is exactly what it sounds like- lemony and grassy. It's got a strange aftertaste that I didn't enjoy, so probably wouldn't eat again. If you like lemongrass, however, you'll like this dish. I didn't have any other complaints but that.

Now the Lemon Chicken I actually like quite a bit. The chicken is breaded and it comes with brown rice and veggies- all good. The lemon gives it a nice, clean taste and works well with the entire dish (and you'll want to make sure to leave some of the sauce for the rice too). It's definitely yummy!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hunan Stir Fry With Beef (Lean Cuisine)

This yummy dish has a great flavor without too much spice. It's a retooled recipe. The bad: I wish there was more beef. The good: the flavors are perfect. It has broccoli and edamame (AKA soybeans) for veggies, which mixed with the rice and sauce taste really good. At first, in my ignorance, I thought it contained lima beans, which I detest (and really, they do look an awful lot alike), but the soybeans have a very light flavor. It also has brown rice, which give the dish even more bite.

It's 270 calories and 7 grams of fat. You may want to also have a piece of fruit or salad to go with it, but it's surprising filling. I followed it up with a 100 calorie pudding cup (YUMMY!) and had a great lunch.

Kashi's Chicken Florentine

I haven't tried a lot of Kashi products other than cereal a few years back, but this caught my eye the other day at the store. I love Chicken Florentine, and thought I'd give this a try. It's a good size meal for 290 calories- bigger than most Lean Cuisines at that calorie count.

From the Kashi website:
"Grilled chicken with spinach, sweet red peppers, and baby Portobello mushrooms is all served over our Kashi Seven Whole Grains and Sesame® with orzo pilaf. Topped with a garlic white wine sauce and shredded parmesan cheese."

The whole grains add an interesting crunchiness to the dish and it has a lot of flavor- which doesn't rely heavily on spiciness (as some other convenience foods do). I definitely recommend this dish!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Morningstar Veggie Bites- Broccoli and Cheddar

Mama always said if you can't say somethin' nice...I really can't in this case. I finally tried the broccoli and cheddar flavor and absolutely couldn't stand them. The broccoli was mushy, the flavor lacking- I actually couldn't finish the box. If Morningstar were to continue this flavor, I'd suggest taking out the larger chunks of broccoli, the consistency is terrible (It's like waaaaay overcooked).

I do still recommend all of the other flavors however.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Healthy Choice Kielbasa

I LOVE Kielbasa. Love it, love it, love it. But it's soooo high in calories, that I can't really justify eating it except on holidays (it's a breakfast staple for Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, but don't ask me why). But now, Healthy Choice has kielbasa which is really pretty good. It doesn't get as crispy on the outside, which I kind of miss, but the flavor is good, and it's got 160 calories in 4 ozs (a typical meat serving), though they list the serving size as 2 oz (and 80 calories). Even the kids like it. So I give this a big thumbs up!

Lean Cuisine's Chicken and Peanut Sauce

While not my favorite Lean Cuisine offering, this dish had a decent flavor. My complaint, I think, stems partly from my microwave, but also using whole wheat noodles. It's strange, because that's all I use in cooking for the most part, but I've found that they don't reheat well. Something about the texture changes, and it doesn't appeal to me, and that's what I am running into with this convenience dinner. It also contains snow peas and water chestnuts (which amazingly always stay crisp), and the chicken was really good. I'd definitely recommend it on flavor, but if you are like me and don't like reheated whole wheat pasta you may want to pass.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lean Cuisine's Chicken Carbonara

From the box: "Roasted chicken tenderloins with bacon and mushrooms over linguini". This offering from Lean Cuisine is really good. There's just enough bacon flavor to satisfy and the chicken is consistently good. My only complaint is that there could be more chicken. I'm often confused about whether convenience meals like this are supposed to be a meal in and of itself, or if you are supposed to eat them with other things. Personally, I'd rather have a higher caloric meal that's more filling, than having to cook the meal, have a salad, fruit or something else. It'd be great if each meal had different levels- say a 250 calorie version and a 450 calorie version. I realize, for the sake of having a variety of products, this probably isn't possible, but it'd be nice. But, the Chicken Carbonara gets my vote for yumminess.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ginger Garlic Stirfry With Chicken from Lean Cuisine

Lean Cuisine's Ginger Garlic Stirfry is a new offering. It's loaded with vegetables like sugar snap peas and carrots and features nice pieces of white chicken in a ginger garlic sauce. The actual meal is not as pretty as the picture on the front of the box (though they rarely are) and it cooked up nicely in the microwave I used. My only warning is that this dish is SPICY. I don't mind spicy, but I wasn't expecting it and it took me a bit by surprise. So be sure to have something to drink on hand. It clocks in at 290 calories and 4 grams of fat. Pair with a salad or piece of fruit and it's a perfect lunch.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Special K Cereal Bars

Special K Bars are a great snack that comes in under 100 calories (only 90!) The Chocolatey Drizzle is a perfect sweet snack with a nice crunch, but I find the Vanilla Crisp to be almost too sweet. There should be a flavor though to suit your tastes as there are at least 6 flavors to choose from. Nearly all of them are available on, which had a few flavors I hadn't seen at our local grocery store.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Healthy Choice Hot Dogs vs Oscar Meyer Low Fat Hot Dogs

And the winner is....Healthy Choice! These hotdogs are only 70 calories each, with just a few of grams of fat. The flavor is great and taste more like "real" hotdogs. If grilling though, you'll need to watch them more closely than regular dogs. There's something about the "skin" that cooks different than most hotdogs. Oscar Meyer hotdogs are okay, but I've never been of fan of the regular ones- I prefer Mackenzie or Nathan's (the god of all hotdogs). If you like the Oscar Meyer brand, you'll probably like their low fat ones. I find they're best mixed with baked beans, while the Healthy Choice dogs can be eaten either way- but for best calorie bang for the buck, they're better off mixed with baked beans as well. The protein will be far more satifying than having a bun- which is usually around 100-120 calories and nothing that'll "stick to your ribs."

Healthy Choice Paninis

It was just a matter of time before Healthy Choice came out with their own paninis. One is a Smoked Chicken, and the other a Chicken and Basil. I really enjoyed the first (just be sure not to overcook it or you won't be able to eat the bread). Despite overcooking it, the chicken and cheese on the sandwich had a really good flavor. The second I didn't enjoy quite as much- it had more tomato taste than I would have liked, but it was still good. Both I believe were under 300 calories- but I forgot to take notes to be sure. But as I will at least be getting the Smoked Chicken panini again, I will update this post then.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Luigi's Sugar Free Italian Ice

While not calorie free, Luigi's Italian Ice is the perfect low-cal summer treat. You can only get a mixed box of Lemon and Cherry (though perhaps this is all that's available to me locally) but it doesn't matter. The lemon, because of the tartness, tastes nearly as good as a full out sugar ice, and I didn't miss the sugar in the Cherry flavored either (I had actually never tried the Cherry before, and was pleased to discover that I really liked it). These palette pleasing deserts come in at just 60 calories and are fat free.

Lean Cuisine's Chicken Pecan

I'm always a little leery when it comes to chicken dishes prepared by someone else- I HATE grizzle. But I'm pleased to say that my Chicken Pecan contained great pieces of chicken as well as what I would call a "restaurant quality sauce". The initial smell of the sauce is a little strange (almost burnt) but I think this is because of the pecans. The pecans are not overwhelming, and in fact are chopped up quite small so they blend in pretty well with the brown rice the chicken comes with. If you don't like nuts, you'll want to pass on this dish- there's no way to pick them out. Normally I don't like them, but like I mentioned, they blend in well with the thicker texture of the brown rice, so it's almost most like eating a wild rice dish.

I would definitely recommend this dish.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

How'd We Do It?

Now that my husband and I have lost weight, people are always asking us how. I signed up for and we followed the Type 2 Diabetes diet because it runs in both our families and that's what was suggested for us. We started out eating between 350-400 calories per meal plus 2 100 calorie snacks. The great thing about Ediets is that they give you a ton of different diets to follow (Suzanna Somers, name it) so if you aren't happy with one, you can try out another. They give you your menus for the week and a shopping list so you know exactly (I mean exactly- down to the teaspoon) what you need to buy at the store. I had no clue as to what serving sizes were, and was completely surprised at how much overeating we'd actually been doing. The key is get a good scale (I recommend a digital one over any other type because it's more exact) and really measure everything out. Eventually you'll be able to know by sight how much a serving is, but this is a great way to learn. For example, I always assumed that a chicken breast was pretty much a serving- but it's actually almost two depending on how big the breast is (I've weighed some to be 8 ozs- twice the recommended serving of 4 oz).

Am I an expert on weight loss? Uh uh. But this program worked for me and my husband and made it easy for us to learn (no- it wasn't easy being hungry in the beginning, but you've got to stick to the plan and it will work!). I couldn't have done it on my own. So if you need help check out ediets. It's only $15 a month, and they ask you to sign up for three months. You can cancel before that, but they'll charge you an early cancellation fee (mostly because I think it's there way of encouraging you to stick with it). They also have forums for support and staff that you can contact via instant message should you have questions or need advice. The more you put into it, they more you'll get out of it, and the more weight you'll lose.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Healthier Spaghetti

I *heart* pasta- it's one of my favorite things to eat. When the husband and I first started our life style change, our pasta intake was limited to an ounce of dry pasta (about 2 ozs cooked). It was horribly depressing, so we didn't eat pasta that often. But as our calorie intake was slowly increased, we now eat the 2 oz normal serving size, but we only eat the healthier pasta from Barilla (in the yellow box). It has extra protein, fiber and omega 3 fatty acids- all of which add up to a longer lasting, more filling meal. I also make "mini meatballs" (which is really 93% lean ground turkey with just a bit of breadcrumbs sprinkled across the top right after throwing it in the non-stick skillet, along with garlic, garlic powder, salt and paper to taste- then just mix it in the pan as you cook it). I no longer use store bought sauce- I use diced tomatoes, add some water and season that to taste with garlic, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. We've been eating pasta this way for so long, I didn't even realize that I no longer even like store bought sauce until I made dinner with it one night for the in-laws and was completely disgusted.

So- pasta 200 calories
serving of meat (4 oz): 110, breadcrumbs- 50 or so calories-
"sauce": @50 calories

Still enough room for salad!!

Need a Pizza Fix?

Because I'm still kind of trying to lose weight (but really just need to get in shape), I try to keep my meals under 500 calories and usually keep breakfast and lunch around 400. But on occasion, we do need an easy meal, or just a meal that feels "fatty" but really is pretty healthy. I love pizza, but I've yet to try a convenience, dieter's pizza that I like (the sauce always tastes funny to me). So when our family started getting Schwann's delivery's we decided to try the Spinach and Mushroom pizza. It's a white pizza, so no funky sauce and a 1/4 of the pie is only 310 calories. That's a good 6 x 5 inch piece, which means you can have either a salad with low cal dressing, or if you really need it...another 1/8 of a piece. You can't beat it. Plus, it's loaded with spinach which is very healthy for you.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Morningstar "Sausage" Links and Patties

I love sausage. Real, fatty sausage- especially with french toast and maple syrup (which comes in Sugar Free now, BTW). But, obviously I can't eat it everyday, or even really once a week. So, the husband and I decided to try out the veggie sausage.

The texture does take some getting used to, and I recommend using the patties for things like sandwiches and the links for pairing with eggs or other breakfast goody. The flavor is pretty good too, and spluring a bit to eat a fried egg sandwich (light butter- one egg) I threw a patty into it and couldn't tell the difference. Definitely recommended!

Morningstar Veggie Bites

While on our lifestyle change, I found myself struggling with breakfast foods. Cereal, no matter how much fiber it has, lasts like an hour in my system. I can't stand oatmeal, and breakfast bars don't often last long either. My tolerance for eggs is limited (there's only so many days in a row I can scramble some eggs before they start to make me nauseous at the thought of them), so I started looking into vegetarian alternatives. It was then that I discovered Morningstar's Veggie Bites. They look something like chicken nuggets on the outside, but there are many different flavors and fillings. I cautiously bought a box and found, to my delight, that they're really good. I particularly enjoy the Country Scramble, which contains "eggs" and "sausage" along with other chopped up veggies. I also like the Eggs Florentine (but if you don't like spinach, you may want to try another flavor). The only one I'm not crazy about is the Spinach and Artichoke, because I'm not a huge artichoke person. But, they were ok, and I finished the box anyway. The only flavor I haven't tried is Broccoli and Cheddar, which I'm sure is good, but wasn't breakfast-y enough for me.

The serving size is 3 for 160 calories, but I usually eat four and am pretty well set for a few hours. Pair them with a piece of fruit, and you've got a great healthy, low cal breakfast.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Lean Cuisine's Butternut Squash Ravioli

While out to dinner one night with friends, I took a chance and ordered a Butternut Squash Ravioli that I've had a hankering for ever since. So when I saw Lean Cuisine's new Butternut Squash Ravioli offering, I decided to try it and see. It could have very easily been a good idea gone wrong, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's really good. I'm not crazy about the nuts in the sauce, but they're easy enough to avoid. But the ravioli is tasty and savory. My only complaint- there's not enough!

Lean Cuisine Panini's

I was never much for melted cheese sandwiches, but I *heart* panini's. Panera makes a fabulous Turkey and *ahem* bacon that's probably not so figure friendly. But Lean Cuisine recently came out with a line of Panini's that cook up pretty well in your microwave and will even get toasted a little (be careful not to overcook, or the bread will be inedible where it burns). Favorite flavors: Chicken Club panini (yeah bacon) and the Southwest Style Chicken Panini which has got just enough spice. It's satisfying and yummy to boot. They are 320 and 280 calories respectively.

I haven't tried the Chicken, Spinach and Mushroom (the husband ate it before I could, but said it was good), or the Steak, Cheddar and Mushroom, but I'm sure they won't disappoint.

100 Calorie Snack Packs- Ya Gotta Love 'Em

I love snacks- Doritoes especially. With envy, as we were driving through small NY town to visit my in-laws, I saw a gang of 4 teens walking. One of the girls, probably 16-ish, stick thin, was carrying an open bag of Cool Ranch Doritoes, just munching along. With a sigh, I remembered those days of being able to polish off whatever I brought into my bottemless pit which never, ever stuck to my ribs, butt or thighs. But now, two kids later and 60+ pounds gained and then 40+ lost (which puts me at my ideal weight for my height), I know those days are far gone. So, I get my fix with Doritoes 100 Calorie packs. Yes, they are yummy, and yes, I do hog them and tell my skinny kids they can have the real thing (which are taunting me from the snack cabinet as I write). Might as well enjoy them while they can- but if you've got to have the Doritoes, get the snack packs. They're worth every cheezy morsel.

Lean Cuisine's Chicken Fried Rice

I've gotten this convenience meal a few times now and always forget that I have a problem with it. It's not in the flavor (a lite soy sauce type flavor), or the vegetables (peas and carrots), it's with the chicken. Nearly every single piece has some sort of grizzle in it, which makes me want to puke. I'd rather have processed rib meat that's free of any hidden fat.

Could just be my bad luck. I've had this happen with other frozen dinners, but not usually every time. It's too bad, because it does taste good, but all but one piece of chicken had some sort of nasty fat in it.

Final Verdict: Taste is good, but proceed with caution. If you've had a similar experience with this product, leave a comment!

Welcome to the Dieter's Review Guide

This blog isn't about dieting, "get skinny quick" products or anything that's probably too good to be true. Instead, we're focusing on review products that people eat everyday. Frozen convenience foods, snack bars, 100 Calorie Packs, etc. On occasion, we'll even bring you recipes. Maybe you've been dying to tryout Weight Watcher's Chicken Sante Fe, but just aren't sure you'll like it. Well, check here before you buy. We'll give an honest review and let you know if it's worth purchasing.