Friday, February 24, 2012

Product Reviews - Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones

Like I said in my last blog post I am allowing some frozen/processed foods in my diet.  It has been interesting so far.  Not all of these products are created equal.  Let's start with the bad.

I was extremely hopeful that I would like the Healthy Choice  Lobster Cheese Ravioli.  It certainly sounded good.  However, I am convinced now that Lobster has to be fresh.  It just tasted too fishy.  I didn't even finish it.  Instead, I immediately put it down the disposal and nuked the Healthy Choice Pumpkin Squash Ravioli.  I ate it all, but it was strange.  I thought it was going to be a combination of sweet and savory.  It was heavy on the sweet and too easy on the savory.  The addition of the granny smith apples seemed entirely out of place.  Today I tried the Healthy Choice Portabella Marsala Pasta.  It was much better than the raviolis.  It is highly rated on the Healthy Choice website.  I will definitely be reading more of the reviews on the website before purchasing anymore Healthy Choice frozen entrees.  Some of their soups are okay, but soup tends to already be fairly low in calories if you pick the right ones.  With that in mind, I prefer brands like Amy's Kitchen and Wolfgang Puck.  Both brands are organic and packed with flavor.

The Lean Cuisine Butternut Squash Ravioli is much better than the Healthy Choice Ravioli.  Overall I haven't tried very many Lean Cuisine meals.  It seems like they have often disappointed me in the past.  One of my client's said that the Three Meat Pizza is quite good and satisfying.  It's 390 calories.  If you have tried a few of the Lean Cuisine products that you really enjoyed, then please post them in the comments.

As far as pizza goes I found some frozen pizzas that I really like that don't break the calorie bank.  For a supreme pizza I like DiGiorno 200 Calorie portions.  I also really like the California Pizza Kitchen small pizzas.  I particularly like the BBQ Chicken (around 500 calories) and Margherita (430 calories) pizzas.  Sometime over the next week I'm going to try the Hawaiian pizza (380 calories).  I was also quite pleased with Freschetta Chicken, Spinach, and Mushroom pizza by the slice.  I can't remember how many calories it was, but I believe it was under 400.  It was delicious and full of flavor.

As far as food from the freezer aisle, I have also tried several of the Smart Ones. My favorite so far is the Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta.(300 calories, 8 points).  Since the Smart Ones entrees were on sale today at the grocery store I stocked up on a variety of different ones to try.   I will blog my reviews over the next two weeks.  Let me know if you have a favorite Smart Ones, and I'll be sure to put it on my grocery list.

Now I am off to get ready.  My husband is taking me out to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary.  It's actually tomorrow, but who says we can't celebrate early?  It's definitely going to be a cheat meal.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Planning for Success

I must admit that my holiday detox did get a bit derailed, but I am decidedly unapologetic.  I learned that it was too extreme for me, and that I really don't want to give up my Starbucks Espresso & Cream Doubleshot.  I do intend to keep the rules of detox in mind for moderation.  For example, I am going to cut back on sugar and fat intake simply because it makes low-calorie eating more comfortable.  It is easier to eat low-calorie when you fill up on low-cal fruits and vegetables that are packed with nutrition and fiber.  I am also cutting back on meat.  I'm going to try to stick with mostly fish, chicken, and vegetarian meals.  I hope to limit my intake of beef and pork to 2-3 meals per week.

Also to set myself up for success I'm going to stop eating with my husband, Carl, during the work week.  Carl tends to eat later in the evening, and he cooks the most amazing food.  However, I tend to overeat his delicious cuisine.  I also don't need to eat that late, because I go to bed relatively early.  He can eat that late because he has an awesome metabolism.  Plus he's 6' 7" so if he gains a pound or two he wears it well.  I'm not so lucky.  

In an attempt to get ready for pool season (it's just around the corner!), I am determined to watch my calories during the week.  I will allow myself a couple "cheat days" on the weekends so I can still enjoy my husband's delicious cooking from time to time.

To plan ahead I brainstormed several different lunch and dinner options to have at home or on the go.  I put the list in the notes on my iPhone so that it's with me everywhere I go.  For the purposes of ease, calorie control, and portion control I am including processed and frozen foods in my diet.  However, I hope to balance them out with fresh produce.  I am also allowing some fast food, but I don't plan on eating it all the time.

Within this post I will list lunch and dinner options together since they are mostly interchangeable.  Most of the items on the list reflect my personal taste so it is not an all-inclusive list by any means.  If you have other favorites in mind, then please add them in the comments.

My Easy Low-cal Lunches and Dinners

English Muffin Pizzas (Make with your own favorite toppings, pizza sauce, and 2% cheese.)
California Pizza Kitchen Personal Size Pizza (Margherita or BBQ Chicken, each 430 calories)
DiGiorno 200-calorie Portion Pizza paired with a salad
Subway Sandwich on Whole Wheat Bread (Ham & Cheese or Veggie Delite)
Panda Express Panda Bowl*
Jimmy John's Unwich*
Veggie Gluten-free Quesadilla*
Oscar Mayer Sub Sandwich (Steakhouse Cheddar, 430 calories)
Progresso Light Soup (100 calories per cup) and small side salad
Healthy Choice Zesty Gumbo Soup (100 calories per cup) and a biscuit or corn muffin
Wolfgang Puck Organic Creamy Butternut Squash Soup (140 calories per cup) and a salad
Wolfgang Puck Organic Tomato Basil Bisque (150 calories per cup) and a grilled cheese sandwich
Lean Cuisine Butternut Squash Ravioli (260 calories) and 3 oz. grilled chicken or salmon
Smart Ones Lasagna Florentine (310 calories) and a small salad or cup of soup
Smart Ones Pasta with Ricotta and Spinach (280 calories) with a Tbsp.of grated parmesan and 3 oz. Rotisserie chicken breast (no skin)
Lean Pockets paired with a cup of soup, small salad, or crudite
California Sushi Rolls (small roll from the supermarket)
Wendy's Half Salads*
Fish Tacos and Black Beans*
Curry Chicken Lettuce Wraps*

*See previous blog post in the archives for recipe or a more extensive list of options.

For breakfast I am sticking with my Espresso & Cream Doubleshot.  I will get the Light version when I can.  If I wake up hungry I will have some oatmeal. Otherwise, I will have my oatmeal as an afternoon snack.  For more variety of snacks I will choose from my previous post, "Bunches of Low-Calorie Snack Options."

Please feel free to post your favorite, easy low-calorie meals in the comments.

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On-site Personal Training & Nutrition Coaching in the Kansas City metropolitan area. I offer personal training at your home or work site. I also offer personalized online nutrition plans and corporate wellness programs. Contact me at with any questions.