As a treat. You can definitely have too much. Put these in the category of those “cheat” meals. Once a month is about right.
Kid Cuisine Corn Dogs®
Per meal: calories 330, fat 10g, carbs 52g, protein 9g (salt 25%)
I’ve heard being a parent can be stressful. You’re tired, the kids are hungry, and you need something fast. Do whatever you can to avoid a corn dog centered frozen meal. Or, frankly, any “kids” frozen meal.
Per slice: calories 150, fat 9g, carbs 15g, protein 3g, (salt 11%)
I admit, frozen Texas Toast is delicious. But, adding 150 empty calories to your meal is not the smartest way to round out your dinner. I’d rather spend the empty calories on a scoop of Chubby Hubby.
VanCamp’s Pork and Beans®
Per can: calories 385, fat 3.5g, carbs 80.5g, protein 21g, (salt 56%)
Unlike our Turkey Ham this product has pork in it. Sadly pork is listed as an ingredient in “contains less than 2%” section. So we have pork and beans with very little pork. Perhaps it should be called “Beans, other stuff, some sugar, and pork”. Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as well, huh? Leave this on the shelf.
Light Hidden Valley Ranch Singles®
Per cup: calories 200, fat 17g, carbs 7g, protein 2.5g, (salt 29%DV)
This is one of the worst serving offenders I’ve seen. The package indicates 80 calories per serving. It’s natural to assume that’s one cup. Not a chance. You need to be a math whiz to figure out the true nutritional info. Luck for you, math was my best subject. And I have a calculator on my smart phone.
Oregon Canned Blueberries in Light Syrup®
Per can: calories 330, fat 0g, carbs 75g, protein 3g
These delicious and super healthy blueberries have been defiled by a sugary syrup mixture. For shame! Promise me you’ll never get any fruit in “light syrup”. Promise!
Late July Organic Mini Cheddar Cheese Crackers®
Per 13 crackers (one heaping handful): calories 110, fat 9g, carbs 16g, protein 4g
I’m a big fan of organic foods. I’m not a big fan of slapping organic on a label to make white flour crackers and fake cheese look healthy. These are the same category as Ritz Bits and their kin.
Rice Works Snack with Sea Salt®
Per 10 chips: calories 140, fat 7g, carbs 18g, protein 2g
Another “Finally a Healthy Chip!” offering. This one purports to be made of brown rice. It too, is a healthy food imposter. Better than Doritos, but not that much. The giveaway is ingredient #2: “Brown and white rice flour”.
Lipton Iced Tea w/Lemon mix®
Per 8 oz glass: calories 70, fat 0g, carbs 18g, protein 0g
Don’t get Iced tea confused with green tea. Green tea=good. Sweetened iced tea= soft drink. This mix is straight sugar with flavoring. Essentially tea flavored Kool-Aid. And the serving size is skewed on the small size. Brew your own tea and judiciously add sugar.
Starbucks Frappucino Vanilla®
Per bottle: calories 200, fat 3g, carbs 37g, protein 6g
Another soft drink. Lots of those in drugstores apparently. It just looks loaded with sugar. It is. Plus caffeine. At least it should wake you up. Before the crash…
Cracker Creations 5 Grain with Peanut Butter®
Per 2 cracker pack: calories 140, fat 7g, carbs 15g, protein 4g
The folks at Lance are trying to fool you. They’re making the typical cracker packs seem more exotic and slapping the work “grain” on the cover. It’s a ruse. While these may be arguably better tasting then the Lance in your pants, they’re similar in health profile.
Deli Cajun Krab Dip
No nutritional info available
Here’s a tricky one. No nutritional info is given on this deli-packed kinda-seafood dip. The creamy complexion should be a giveaway this isn’t your best option. So should the long ingredient list with cream cheese as the headliner. (And remember, crab spelled with a k means imitation meat.)
Weight Watchers® Blueberry Muffins
Per muffin: calories 160, fat 1.5g, carbs 36g, protein 3g
Blueberry muffins by Weight Watchers must be better for you, right? Wrong. Their plain old blueberry muffins. Processed and full of sugar. The only difference is Weight Watchers keeps an eye on portion size. Still, only eat one as an occasional treat. Weight Watchers version or otherwise.
Per tablespoon (1 knifeful slather): calories 89, fat 6g, carbs 8g, protein 0.5g
Yes, it is the airplane cookies is spreadable form. I didn’t believe it either. It’s touted as the “European alternative to peanut butter.” Except, of course, it’s ground cookies, not nuts. No information is available if consumption will lead to socialism or calling elevators “lifts”.
Per 12 ounce glass: calories 150, fat 0g, carbs 37g, protein 0g
It’s a lemon-flavored soft drink. Plain and simple. The 37 grams of carbs it carries are ALL sugar. This summer make your own lemonade. Control the sugar you add. For flavoring, use actual lemons.
Fruit on the Bottom Yogurt
Per container: calories 190, fat 2g, carbs 37g (sugars 31g), protein 6g
I have no earthly idea why fruit on the bottom yogurt is so unbelievably loaded with sugar. But, if you remember one thing about yogurt, it’s this: NEVER get fruit on the bottom. You may as well get a scoop at 31 flavors.
Per half can: calories 260, fat 8g, carbs 32g, protein 14g (salt 32% DV)
Beans (i.e. legumes-see Peas, Black Eye) are generally good for you. Unfortunately refried beans are boiled beans fried in lard. Rule of thumb: Fried in lard can lead to Deen-itis.
Per hot dog sized serving: calories 130, fat 10g, carbs 4g, protein 8g (salt 32%)
Took me years to figure out how to pronounce this Cajun staple, (it’s an-Do –ee) but only a moment to realize it was going to be a favorite. A favorite treat, that is. Nutritionally, it’s basically a much better tasting hot dog. Spoiler alert-hot dogs aren’t so good for you…
XoChitl Organic Tortilla Chips®
Per 1-2 handfuls: calories 135, fat 6g, carbs 18g, protein 2g
First off, these are the best damned tortilla chips I’ve ever eaten. Seriously. Holy Yucatan Peninsula good. And their organic! Alas, they’re still tortilla chips. That makes them anything but a dietary staple.
Ragu Mushroom & Green Pepper Chunky Pasta Sauce®
Per cup (ladleful): calories 160, fat 5g, carbs 26g (sugars 18g), protein 4g, (sodium 40% DV)
If Chef Batali does it right, Ragu does it wrong. Twice the sodium and three times the sugar makes this pasta sauce an unwise choice. Do not be fooled by the “2 servings of vegetables claim”, you can do better.
Juicy Juice Cherry Juice®
Per 8oz glass: calories 120, fat 0g, carbs 29g (sugars 27g) protein 0g
The ingredient list: Apple Juice, Pear Juice, Grape Juice, Cherry Juice… Um, I suppose the “100% Juice” claim isn’t entirely inaccurate, but why is cherry juice the fourth ingredient in well, cherry juice? Remember, juice is, by nature, straight sugar. It’s not as bad for kids as soda, but not a whole lot better.
Bertolli Chicken alla Vodka & Farfalle Skillet Meal®
Per ½ package: calories 500, fat 25g, carbs 40g, protein 21g, (sodium 57%)
The ingredient list is epic, the carbs are substantial, and the sodium is over half your daily amount. Yikes. I really want to give this a one-star. But I suppose it beats burger and fries or meat-lovers pizza. Making a skillet with fresh ingredients is just as easy, ten times tastier, and infinitely healthier.
Panko Bread Crumbs
If you’re grabbing for a chicken breast or shrimp, covering it carbs is not the best way to eat healthy. But, if you’re looking for a little crunch to your protein, rolling it in panko and baking it is much better than a typical bread crumb-covered, deep-fried version. And, frankly, much tastier.
Per 7 chips: calories 140, fat 7g, carbs 19g, protein 2g
The short ingredient list is a plus. The carbs are not. All in all, tortilla chips aren’t the worst thing ever. But they’re usually an unnecessary addition to a meal. Do really think you only down 7 chips from the basket that appears almost
instantaneously at Mexican restaurants? Enjoy, but be mindful of careless munching.
Per 1 cup cereal & ½ cup skim milk (a very small bowl) : calories 150, fat 1g, carbs 25g, protein 1g
You probably hear often to get more fiber. They say it keeps you full longer and is good for the heart. Both true. Sugary cereal, however, is not where to get it. Nonetheless, every kid’s cereal touts fiber. News flash: It doesn’t have all that much. Only 3 grams. It’s better than nothing at breakfast. But that’s the only option it beats.
Per pack: calories 130, fat 3g, carbs 23g, protein 1g
These “snack” packs are more aptly titled “treat” packs. (Happens a lot). They’re loaded with sugar and have a decent dose of saturated fat. The one thing they have going for them is the serving size is perfect to not over indulge. Eat one at a time, once a week, and you’re in good shape.
Per 1 taco with beef, cheese, and lettuce: calories 257, fat 11.6g, carbs 23.6g (sugars 16g), protein 13.5g
I’m talking here about run of the mill, Ortega night, ground beef, make-at-home tacos. There are obviously steps you can take to make this food healthier, which I’ll discuss later. But, the refined flour tortilla sinks this meat boat. Eat as a cheat meal.
Per 18 chips: calories 130, fat 4g, 21g, protein 2g
The first snack of it’s kind, a chip made from popcorn. They’re uniquely tasty and a positive alternative to Doritios and such. That said, they’re still a processed snack and should only be eaten rarely.
This is a tricky one. Low in carlories and fat, this breakfast staple seems like a solid choice. And truth be told, it isn’t the worst thing you could have or the first meal of the day. But the long ingredient list tells me this is a highly processed food. If you dig on cornflakes for breakfast, and you won’t eat early without them, go ahead. Just be sure to add a banana or some kind of protein to balance the high carbs. And the organic claim is a wonderful illustration of a “health halo”. Just cause it’s organic, doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
Per ½ cup: calories 165, fat 9g, carbs 19g, protein 2g
Made with a base of mayonnaise and built around potatoes this “salad” brings a double whammy of unhealthy fats and carbohydrates. Perhaps I’m biased because I’m not a fan. Either way, this side is one to avoid this holiday.
Per bottle: calories 125, fat 0g, carb 13g, protein 0g
I love vitamins. You’d likely think I would endorse a drink full of vitamin C. Unfortunately, although this drink has vitamins added (notably vitamin C) it is primarily sugar-water. Making it nothing more than a soft drink. Drink water instead.
Per 1/2 cup: calories 100, fat 0g, carbs 24g, protein 0g
I REALLY want to give this guy only 1-star out of pure frustration. Taking something as good for you as a peach and canning it enveloped in sugar water ought to be a crime. It increases the carb content by nearly 50% (and that increase is really bad for you carbs). I’d say it’s fine to use for a peach cobbler or something, but then peach cobbler with fresh peaches is so much better. Stay away, for God’s sake.
Per package: calories 220, fat 4.5g, carbs 39g, protein 7g
Ok, I admit it. I love this stuff. I know, I know, there’s better types of macaroni and cheese. I agree. My favorite is southern style mac n’ cheese casserole. But the kid in me still loves Easy Mac. Unfortunately, kids shouldn’t eat this very
often. Or adults. It’s all carbs but with an added shot of bad for you saturated fat. Definitely a treat.
“Chewy” Granola Bars
Per bar: calories 100, fat 3g, carbs 17g, protein 1g
Um, the ingredient list takes up the whole side of the package. Not a good sign. Yes they’re convienient, but this style of bar packs in lots of bad carbs and little protein. Don’t let the “whole grain” claim on the side fool you. There’s better options for this type of fare.
Per container: calories 280, fat 11g, carbs 34g, protein 11g
Basically, a frozen dinner. That’s not frozen. Admittedly, these guys are convenient. And not too horribly tasting. But the salt content is mind-boggling. Eat one and you’ve knock back nearly half your daily allotment. Eat if you must, but I can think of tons of better options for a “cheat” meal.
Per 1 oz (2-3 poker-chip-stack size): calories 100, fat 7g, carbs 0g, protein 8g
Salted, cured meats are forever my weakness. And sopressata is near the top of the list. My heart sinks knowing it’s not good for me. High in sodium and
saturated fat I shouldn’t enjoy it often. Of course, that’s the point, I get it rarely so when I do it’s a treat. Not as bad as out of the box junk, it lands at 2 stars.
Disclaimer: I take all these pics myself at local markets. In no way am I attempting to single out a specific brand or company. One company’s product is not different or better than another’s similar product. I get all my nutritional info from the package. For items without packages I consult fitday.com and the USDA Nutrient Data Labratory website.