How Healthy Is Your Food?
To discover the answer, let's examine popular foods in the common daily diet - beginning with our A ranking. And by common foods - we don't mean goat cheese, phagwa (goose liver), caviar or pickled pigs feet. All the foods mentioned in this article will be quite common in the American daily diet.
With that said - let's place foods under the microscope that most of us are familiar with such as fruit, vegetables, proteins, dairy selections, grain selections and perhaps the most popular of foods - fast foods and restaurants food selections.
As referenced above, the common foods that we examined received one of the following grades: A, B, C, D, F. You may notice that we left out E but we'll tie that in at the end of this pulsating article.
The grades or scores for the foods are based on the following merits.
THE GRADING SCALE FOR POPULAR FOODS
A = Awesomely Appetizing - Foods that receive an A rate high in nutrition and offer calorie-wise benefits to the dieter.
B = Bold & Beautiful Bounty Beasts - Foods that receive a B represent good food choices for dieters, but they have drifted onto the Diet Sandbar.
C = Cute & Cuddly - Foods that receive a C are standing smack dab in the middle of the Still Diet Waters and the Raging Diet Seas.
D = Delicious & Deadly - Foods that receive a D are so unhealthy that you wouldn't even want to give them to your mean old mother-in-law.
Oddly enough, the foods that rank a D are some of the foods that most of us love dearly, foods commonly found in most individual's weekly - if not daily diets.
F = Fast & Fatal - Foods that receive the F grade are embedded deep inside the tarmac of The Dark Side. Can these beloved foods be rescued?
There is something that all of the following A-Rated foods have in common. Can you guess what it is? The answer is below the chart.
1. Apple - A small apple contains a skinny 80 calories and makes a handsome snack for dieters. It's filling, has awesome diuretic powers, is nutritious and - simply totally enchanting. Go away doctor!
2. Asparagus - 1/2 cup of asparagus contains about 23 calories and like the apple, it holds awesome diuretic powers which help the body get rid of trapped water - such as due to high sodium intake.
Asparagus does leave a wild scent to the urine so don't be alarmed as it will only last about two to three trips to the bathroom.
3. Apricots - these orange yum-yums contain about 50 calories for three small beauties. They remind me of the color named, "Yellow-Orange" in the crayon box.
Apricots are such a pretty color and make a luscious snack for dieters. They also make a tasty sauce that can be spooned over roasted chicken.
Simply cook the apricots, add no calorie sugar - or a bit of sugar. Pop a few dried fruits into the warm pan such as dried cranberries, raisins, golden raisins - as well as a teaspoon of slivered almonds. Spoon over chicken. Apricot Yum Yum.
4. Avocado - Yes, avocados are high in calories but a little goes a very long way. And the taste of the avocado is unmatched by any other food.
An avocado contains about 80 calories for 1/4th of a medium specimen. Slice into small chunks and coat with any citrus fruit juice to prevent browning.
Add to raw spinach along with a diced boiled egg and a piece of crumbled bacon. Drizzle salad with the Apricot Yum Yum above and we're in Diet Paradise!
The B-rated foods aren't super foods, but they are good choices. They are healthy choices, when reduced in fat.
Although foods that receive a B represent good food choices for dieters, they have drifted a ways from the smarter food and beverage selections.
Take note that all the B Foods referenced are processed - except the Brazil Nuts which are naturally high in dietary fat. Processed foods almost always contain more calories than natural foods because of added sugar, oil - and other ingredients.
Sugar and oil tend to be the highest calorie additives with sugar weighing in at about 800 calories per cup and oil at about 120 calories per Tablespoon which comes to well over 1,000 calories per cup.
As a Foodnote, the foods listed below will vary greatly in calories depending upon brand, preparation methods and size of finished food.
1. Burrito - A small burrito contains about 200 calories. The beans provide fiber and are very filling, making the burrito a good choice for dieters seeking foods that won't leave them hungry.
Watch out for cheese and sour cream; lean towards fresh beans, fresh spices and salsa for adding taste without adding bulk to your diet.
2. Boston Baked Beans - They contain about 200 calories per cup and make a healthy selection for dieters, for like the burrito, they are filling.
Calories can be cut by using reduced calorie sugar - but we recommend going for full flavor when it comes to Boston Baked Beans because a little goes a long way.
3. Brazil Nuts - contain about 190 calories per ounce - but it's not necessary to consume a full ounce .
We wanted to show that although most nuts are high in fat and calories (except the friendly chestnut) they can add oomph to salads and main courses when grated, chopped and slivered.
4. Beef Stew - contains about 200 calories per cup and makes a hearty addition to the hungry dieter.
Our stew is filled with chopped onions, chopped parsley, baby carrots, chopped potatoes and hearty beef. And beef stew reheats well for leftovers.
5. Broccoli with Cheese Sauce - Since the broccoli is covered with cheese sauce, it feel from an A to a B in our Food Report Card. Okay - we know that most people will scoff at broccoli and cheese when it comes to nutrition - but broccoli is ultra healthy, as is cheese when consumed in moderation.
Cheese is indeed included in our healthy Food Pyramid under the dairy section - so this mix is something that the dieter can enjoy without blowing their diet, as well as feeling a bit Diet Naughty in the process without paying the Diet Fiddler.
As a Foodnote, broccoli contains about 22 calories per 1/2 cup and the cheese sauce will all about 100 calories to the broccoli - so go very sparingly.
So we have learned that as we fell down a bit on the Food Report Card - from an A to a B, we did such due chiefly to the cooking methods used.
This knowledge will also assist in determining if some foods are unhealthy or if all foods are healthy and become unhealthy due to cooking and/or processing methods.
Some of the C graded foods may be beneficial to good health while others are considered taboo to dieters who may be pleasantly surprised to learn that sometimes dieting means never having to say, "I'm sorry, I can't have that." Well, almost never. These foods are a mix of natural and processed.
1. Chocolate - One ounce of semi-sweet chocolate contains about 150 calories. But don't count chocolate completely out of your diet plan. Make that a dark chocolate and you'll get a snap of healthy heart benefits. One important key to weight loss is limiting high calorie foods. A small dark chocolate Hershey's Kiss makes a fab diet treat for a tiny amount of calories.
2. Cheeseburger - A typical cheeseburger contains about 550 calories when prepared on a large bun. But don't count out cheeseburgers while dieting.
The lettuce, tomatoes, onions, bread, meat and yes, even the cheese are all foods that can be pulled from the official food pyramid. You can trim a good 200 calories from a homemade cheeseburger by:
- Purchasing extra lean meat (ground beef or turkey);
- Using less meat in your burger;
- Using a small wheat bun over an extra large white bun; the wheat bun is also more filling than a white bun and is one of the good carbs - a complex carb;
- Toasting your bun with no calorie butter spray or butter flavored non-stick cooking spray;
- Drop the pickles unless you have a passion for them; the sodium content tends to blow one up and lends the false impression of weight gain;
- Grab the mustard (and catsup if you're a catsup lover) rather than Mayo OR use light Mayo.
3. Coconut Cream - contains about 145 calories per 1/4 cup which translates to about 500 calories per cup. Use sparingly if at all while dieting.
4. Cornbread - A cube of cornbread that is approximately 2 inches by 2 inches contains about 140 calories - depending upon the ingredients used in the recipe.
But don't count cornbread out of your diet plan - simply skinny it up. Substitute skim milk for whole milk, egg substitute for real eggs, Splenda for sugar when making sweet cornbread, and cut the oil by half while adding 1 additional egg OR egg substitute. Fabulous when served with a tiny bait of beans.
5. Croissant - contains about 250 calories AND UP and will vary widely depending upon the ingredients used, and the size of the croissant. Butter adds light years to the calorie content. A dieter would be better served by opting for a wheat roll or an English muffin.
These foods are all processed, high in calories and fat.
1. Donuts - A typical donut from your local bakery minus the chocolate glaze and sprinkles contains about 200 calories. And yes, even thin people enjoy donuts and actually - there is nothing wrong with enjoying a donut every now and then. The key is: Every now and then AND be sure to tally up those calories into your daily diet.
2. Danish - A Danish will cost you about 350 calories. It's at this point where the dieter must make a tough decision. Do they want the Danish OR would they rather have an egg, two slices of bacon, a piece of toast with a dab of jam and a glass of skim milk - with calories to spare? That's about how much that Danish is going to cost, calorie-wise.
3. Deviled Ham - Two ounces of deviled ham contains about 200 calories. Take a mental note that with most everything that contains the term 'DEVIL' - the calorie-count is generally going to be hell. Devil's Food Cake, Deviled Eggs, etc. How can something so devily be so good?
4. Dips - Here is where the Diet Tilt-o-Meter comes into play. Some dips can be very Diet Friendly while others are Diet Lethal.
Creamy dips, unless prepared with light, low fat ingredients, spell Diet Disaster. A Diet Friendly dip might consist of low fat, sugar free vanilla yogurt mixed with poppy seeds and crushed pineapple.
5. Deep Dish Pizza - Deep Dish Pizza is very close to getting an F but who in their right Italian mind can resist cheesy pizza?
Pizzas vary greatly in calories. Check the labels at home and when dining out, request the calorie content from your waiter. Stick to one slice and order a side salad with light dressing to top off your meal.
We have learned much through our Diet Food Report Card exercise. Let's recap:
- Foods that are as close to nature as possible generally contain the less calories.
- Processed foods generally contain more calories due to added fats and sugars.
- Because some foods are high in fat and calories, they must be limited while dieting.
- We have even learned that foods that are often considered taboo while dieting, such as chocolate and cheeseburgers, can be enjoyed when a little Diet Savvy is implemented.
BUT - what about that throbbing diet question? Are some foods unhealthy OR are all foods healthy and simply become unhealthy due to cooking and processing methods?
- E is for excellent! We believe the answer is that 99.9% of all foods are healthy but preparation methods sometimes create Food Monsters - which is not so excellent.
Some foods that we feel go over the border when it comes to health concerns include: chicken fat, lard and shortening. All of these are high in saturated fat and seek to do damage to the heart.
These foods are all processed, at times very heavily via sugar, oil and other ingredients high in calories. F-Rated foods may also be battered or accompanied with sauces, gravy, margarine, butter or creamy dips.
1. Fudge - One ounce of fudge contains about 125 calories. Oh fudge! Well, this is not a Diet Exacto Food Item, is it? And why torture yourself when no one can enjoy one piece of fudge?
The Diet Rescue: A Diet Solution for fudge might include a recipe containing Splenda.
2. Funnel Cakes - A typical funnel cake recipe contains over 5,000 calories and is comprised of the following ingredients:
Funnel Cake Recipe Ingredients: 2 eggs, 1 and 1/2 cups of whole milk, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, salt, 2 cups of flour, a few cups of oil for frying power, confectioners sugar for dusting, 1 tissue for the dieter to cry into.
The Diet Rescue: A Diet Solution might be to enjoy a piece of angel food cake topped with fresh fruit and light whipped topping.
OR, you may have luck with our contemplative recipe for funnel cake but take note that we have not tried this in the Diet Bites Kitchen: 1/2 carton of egg substitute, 1 and 1/2 cups of skim milk, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, salt, 2 cups of flour, non-stick cooking spray, confectioners sugar and ground cinnamon for dusting.
3. French Fries - French fries contain about 15 to 20 calories per fry, depending upon the cooking method used and the size of the fry. Added salt and catsup doesn't do a body good.
The Diet Rescue: Place cut-up potatoes into oven until done OR 'fry' in non-stick skillet using non stick cooking spray.
4. Fettuccini Alfredo - There is a reason why they call it heart attack on a plate. Take a gander at some of the ingredients used in Alfredo sauce: 1 and 1/2 cups of Whipping Cream, 1/4 Pound of Butter, 1 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese, 4 Egg Yolks (the yolk of the egg contains all the cholesterol), 1 Pound of Fettuccini.
The Diet Rescue: A healthier version might start with a serving of cooked fettuccini complimented with a topping of the following that has been melted in a heavy sauce pan: 1/2 cup of skim milk, 1 teaspoon of no calorie butter, 1 ounce of grated Parmesan Cheese.
5. Fondue - Cheesy fondue equals cheesy calories. We recommend that dieters lay off the fondue until after diet time.
The Diet Rescue: To crush that cheese craving, enjoy the real thing - about an ounce thinly sliced with some fresh fruit.
6. French Toast - French Toast also varies greatly in calories but typically is about 200 calories per slice.
The Diet Rescue: We recommend that you make your own at home using a mix of 1 egg, 1 Tablespoon of milk and a dash of salt. Dip 60-calorie bread into egg mixture, then 'fry' in butter flavored non-stick cooking spray.
Remove and sprinkle with confectioners sugar and a bit of ground cinnamon if desired. Each slice contains about 85 calories and is delicious when topped with fresh strawberries and a bit of light whipped topping. Good morning sunshine!
What do all of the above foods share in common? They are all fresh, natural foods with no additives.
When dieting and watching out for your good health, keep in mind that foods that are closest to nature are highest in nutrition and tend to be lower in calories than processed foods.
This information will help us determine the answer to our throbbing diet question we asked earlier in this diet article.
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