Simple Food Swaps
by Natalia Weiner
Last week we looked at food swaps for finals week. This week I had the opportunity to try some food swaps out myself to put the money (or in this case the taste) where my mouth is. We all have favorite foods. However, most of these foods would probably not fall under the healthy category. (I personally have never seen anyone petitioning for a broccoli truck to circle our neighborhoods playing a jaunty tune.) It is undeniable that unhealthy foods taste good, and this can be a big pitfall when we are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Here I have some simple food swaps that won't undo your skinny jeans and tastes as close as you're going to get to the real deal.
Cheeseburger Lean Pockets vs. McDonald's Double Cheeseburger
A McDonald's Double Cheeseburger costs $1.06 in Maryland. It also costs 440 calories, which; on a 2000 calorie diet is 22% of your daily intake. Instead, swap for a cheeseburger lean pocket. It's bigger, it's only 290 calories and it tastes almost exactly the same. (Halt non-believers, I've tried it.) If it's the price you are worried about at Giant Supermarkets in Baltimore one lean pocket costs around $1.25. Considering your caloric savings, I'd say it's worth the extra two dimes.
Totino's Pizza Rolls vs. Amy's Cheese Pizza Snacks
Totino's and Amy's come in at around the same amount of calories (approximately 200 for 5-6 pizza rolls). However, we all know it is not just the calories that count. Amy's has 12.5% less fat and 22% more protein. Then, there are the ingredients. Both of these snacks are made of the same basic ingredients: flour, cheese and tomatoes. But there are distinct differences. The first three ingredients in Amy's Cheese Pizza Snacks look like this:
"Organic Wheat and Whole Wheat Flour, Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese, Organic Tomato Puree"
Totino's first three ingredients look like this:
"Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Cheese Blend (Mozzarella Cheese Substitute)"
When you are finished trying to pronounce the Thiamin Mononitrate tell me, which one would you rather eat?
Dr. McDougall's Right Foods Ramen vs. Maruchan Cup of Noodles
In college our diet is not complete without a cup of ramen noodles. It's filling, it's delicious and it's ridiculously cheap. But we could be taking a health hit by indulging in this tasty favorite. A Maruchan cup of noodles is 290 calories which is a more modest portion than the one you make on the stove, which runs at about 400 calories. But, in this case, it is not the calories that are troublesome, it's the sodium. Consuming sodium in large quantities can cause high blood pressure and cause water retention which makes it more difficult to lose weight. One cup of Ramen has 1,170mg of sodium. That is 49% of the daily recommendation! Account for all of the other microwaveable food we guzzle during finals and we are looking at a sodium disaster. Swap for Dr. McDougall's, which can be found in the health food aisle. Its modest cup contains 200 calories and only 340mg of sodium (14% of your recommended amount).
Food For Finals Week
by Natalia Weiner
It is that time of year again. As we are fast approaching the end of the semester with papers piling up and tests to study for, it is very easy to slip out of good eating habits. Often we don't have time to whip up chicken with vegetables, or even put something in the microwave for more than five minutes. Here are some foods that are quick, healthy and portable. So while you are sitting in the computer lab typing the final pages of that essay you were assigned two weeks ago twenty minutes before class, you will have something that will keep you both full and focused.
An alternative to Quaker Oats Chewies, this power packed portable snack is loaded with protein and fiber to keep you going during the day. Although Quaker Oats prints in large letters on their packages: "made without high fructose corn syrup" the second ingredient is brown sugar, and after a slew of ingredients that I can't pronounce comes "natural and artificial flavors." This ambiguous, suspicious snack can stay on the shelves. All of the Larabar flavors have 2-9 ingredients and have delicious flavors such as Apple Pie, Carrot Cake and Chocolate Chip Brownie.
Hard boiled eggs may be one of the most nutritious portable snacks you're not eating. Rather than buying an expensive protein bar with more ingredients than you can count, a hardboiled egg provides many of the same benefits, as well as a good dose of protein. A hardboiled egg comes in at 70-90 calories and has vitamin A, vitamin E and selenium; an antioxidant that super charges your immune system.
Seeds of Change Ready Rice
We have all seen the face of Uncle Ben on those orange rice packets in the super market, but they add canola and/or safflower oil to their rice. There is also in small print at the bottom of their packages "Adds a trivial amount of saturated fat." Um, no thanks. Instead, try Seeds of Change, a brand you can find in the organic aisle of your super market. They have exotic flavors such as "Arroz Hispaniola Caribbean Red Beans and Brown Rice" and "Dharamsala Aromatic Indian Rice Blend." These Ready Rice packets can be eaten alone as a meal and, because they include beans and vegetables, add a huge dose of fiber. And it still cooks in 90 seconds!
Annie's Cheddar Mac n' Cheese
We all know that in college, mac n' cheese is the dinner of champions. It's quick, portable and has that kid's meal quality we all love. But the Kraft that we have sitting in our pantries is labeled as an "Enriched Macaroni Product." What does that mean?! It also includes sodium phosphate, medium chain triglycerides, yellow 5 and yellow 6. What happened to mac n' cheese just being made out of macaroni and cheese? Annie's first two ingredients are organic wheat shell pasta, and cheddar cheese and they even have gluten free alternatives. They both have roughly the same amount of calories, but Annie's has more protein and fiber, keeping you from grabbing that second cup.
How to Eat Healthy in Unhealthy Situations
by Natalia Weiner
Some diets claim that you can eat anything you want and still lose weight. (Ever see those super fun Sensa commercials?) Some diets claim that cheese is the devil and that if you eat pork you have just eaten everything that pork has ever consumed. So on and so forth. You don't have to diet to be healthy. But when all of your friends want to order food from Pizza Mart after a long night of hitting the town, what do you do? The important thing is to learn how to maintain moderation under pressure. Here are 3 ways you can eat healthy in unhealthy situations, without having to order a salad. Every. Single. Time.
Watch Portion Sizes
At Moe's, the 12-inch tortilla, by itself, has 270 calories. So before you even start adding meat, cheese, sour cream and guacamole to the equation, you are knocking out 13.5% of your daily caloric intake. Take into account a side of chips, and you are looking at a meal that will take out an entire day's worth of calories. Instead of trying to swap flavor for nutrition, go smaller. Some restaurants, like Red Lobster, offer dishes in half-portions. Order something off the kid's menu. Often they have similar items, only smaller, so you can still get the same thing for around half the calories. The smaller tortilla at Moe's is 100 calories less, mix that with all the ingredients you want, and you will still get a modest sized meal.
Don't Eat Until You're Stuffed
Running around all day makes us ravenous. By the time we sit down at the dinner table we want to eat everything. Including the table. However, eating this way will leave you not only feeling unsatisfied (most likely causing you to reach for more food) but sick when you realize you have eaten too fast. This type of "speed eating" can cause heart burn, acid reflux and painful digestion. But this does not mean you have to chew every bite of food thirty times either. Eat at a moderate pace for 5-10 minutes and then take a break. If you still want more food, it's there. When you give your body time to register that you have fed it, often times you won't feel as hungry as you thought you did.
Eat More Often
Eating little meals during the day keeps your body working. It takes calories to break down the food we put into our bodies, so if we keep our bodies in a constant state of motion, they will continuously burn more calories. This also helps you feel less hungry, and you won't feel starved by the time you sit down at your next meal. Add two snacks to your traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you will not only feel more energized, but you also will be less likely to over eat.
Top Ten Cheap Foods for the Starving College Student
By Natalia Weiner
As Dennis Haybert says in the Allstate commercials, college students are often living on a budget, "Like a Ramen Noodle every night budget." Although our Evergreen cards may make us feel as if we have unlimited funds, when we start receiving screaming phone calls from parents, it is time to make a change. Many college students want to eat healthy, but when it comes down to buying a carrot or buying a Big Mac, their hands reach for what is going to fill them up. Once you've chosen Big Mac's over carrots for a semester or so, the problem becomes the "Freshman Fifteen." But, there are ways to eat healthy and still have money in your wallet for the weekend. These ten foods will keep the "Freshman Fifteen" at bay, make you feel great, and make your stomach--and wallet--sigh with relief.
Whole Wheat Pasta
Yes, it might be easier to buy microwavable mac n' cheese, but buying a big bag instead of something individually wrapped only takes a little longer to make and definitely puts coins back in your wallet. When we buy pre-made food we aren't paying for the food, we are paying for the labor (and maybe the marketing and the packaging). Normally, the price for a box of whole wheat pasta runs from 1.00-2.00 dollars (0.98 cents if you go to Walmart), whereas the pre-packaged goods can cost upwards of 4.00-5.00 dollars. Cook up a box and have 3-4 meals for the week or make it pasta night with your roommates.
As with whole wheat pasta, it is easier to buy the stuff from the can, but lentils are even easier to cook than pasta, are extremely versatile, and provide an enormous dose of fiber and protein. (In half a cup of black beans there are six grams of fiber and seven grams of protein, guaranteed to keep you fuller for longer.) If you want to try going vegetarian, beans are a great substitute for the protein found in meat and dairy. Normally, a big bag costs less than a dollar and is much better than buying a big bean burrito form Chipotle, which can cost close to eight dollars. They are great in chili, salads, soups, and tacos. Soak them overnight in a big bowl of water and the next day, cook them on the stove. Season however you like.
Bananas are an easy, no-nonsense snack that is cheaper than anything else you will find in your super market (even gum!). Bananas cost less than a dollar per pound (that can range from 5-6 bananas) and can be used to make breads, muffins, smoothies, or even thrown into salads. Running at about 60 calories (90 calories for a large one,) bananas are a great grab-and- go breakfast when you are running to class, and better for you than a salty beef jerky stick.
You don't have to eat like a rabbit in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Many diet fads say to avoid red meat in order to lose weight, but everything is okay in moderation. As opposed to BBQ sauce-slathered baby backs, short ribs, also known as riblets, generally cost under five dollars per pound, and you have to do virtually nothing to cook them! Pop them in a slow cooker with some vegetables and go to class, come back, and all of the work has been done for you. Short ribs are normally tough, but when cooked for so long, the meat is extremely tender, and you should have meals for a few days.
Sure, Quaker Oats will dazzle you with fancy flavors like "Maple Brown Sugar" and "Apple Cinnamon" but often times "flavoring" means "sugar." It is much better for your diet, and your wallet, to buy simple rolled oats. It doesn't have to be bland, either. You can add your own fruit and spices at home such as cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, or nutmeg. Fruit that goes well with rolled oats are sweet bananas, tangy raspberries, or strawberries. A great winter breakfast is warm rolled oats with raisins and pumpkin pie spice. Just as delicious as Quaker, but for a fraction of the price.
Eating cheap doesn't have to be boring or expensive. For the adventurous eater, buying mussels is a great and healthy alternative to expensive seafood. Mussels are cheaper than clams and shrimp, cook in about five minutes, and there are always plenty to go around. One important thing to remember about mussels is that you have to make sure you clean them thoroughly as there is normally a lot of sand inside. (Hint - put the mussels in a bowl of cold water with ice and throw in a cup of corn meal. You will see bubbles rise to the surface, which means that the mussels are "spitting out" the sand. This technique will save loads of time.)
A refrigerator staple, eggs, are as cheap as they are versatile. Eggs can be made into omelets, egg salads, thrown into fried rice and used in baked goods. A 12-pack of eggs costs around two dollars. Each egg is around70-90 calories, depending on the size. You can whip up an egg salad for lunch or hard boil a few the night before and grab one on the go. Deviled eggs are also easy and make a great dish to bring to any gathering.
Mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, scalloped potatoes, any way you slice them, potatoes are a staple in the American diet. There are red potatoes, Yukon potatoes, sweet potatoes and other varieties that are great compliments to a meat dish, or stand alone as a meal. Potatoes can be boiled on the stove or easily heated up in the microwave in about five minutes. From there, it can virtually become any dish you want it to be. Baked potatoes can be dressed up with low fat cheese, low fat sour cream and chives, and can also be thinly sliced and roasted in the oven for wholesome potato chips.
Dried Brown Rice
Avoid Uncle Ben's Ready Rice (as they add oil to their rice) and stick to plain brown rice. Brown rice is extremely high in fiber and filled with more nutrients than white or jasmine rice. Brown rice can be used in a stir fry or rolled into a burrito and cooks easily on the stove in 11-15 minutes. Make sure the on the back of the box the only ingredient you see is "brown rice," because that is the only ingredient you need.
Onions come in all shapes and sizes. From tiny cippolini onions to pungent red onions to sweet yellow onions, they can add an enormous amount of flavor to any dish. Use a few slices of red onion on a sandwich or dice some into tuna salad or with red and green bell peppers. Onions are great raw, cooked or caramelized. Onions also have fiber and essential vitamins, so the next time you are at the super market, pick up a few, they won't hurt your wallet.