Category Archives: Food Stars

5 Healthy & Tasty Foods

Eat by Stars is back to the grocery this week with 5 healthy choices.  All of which are also quite tasty.  THIS is how to eat.

Arugula

Per 2 cups (a small salad): calories 10, fat <1g, carbs 1.5g, protein 1g

You may know arugula as the lettuce looking stuff on top of a pizza at one of those upscale type pizzerias.  I know it as a great way to add a peppery depth of flavor to a salad.  Toss with olive oil and lemon, top with gorgonzola and walnuts and you may have the world’s healthiest lunch.

Blackberries

Per cup: calories 62, fat <1g, carbs 14g, protein 2g

If you fight a hefty sweet tooth, switching to fruit to scratch that itch is a monumental way to eat healthier.  Blackberries are a great example of Mother Nature’s candy.  You may never look at a gummy bear the same again.

Snack Sensations Pack®

Per pack: calories 180, fat 8g, carbs 21g, protein 6g

Grapes, apples, and cheese aren’t found encased in plastic together in nature, but no matter, this snack gives a solid mix of fats, carbs, and protein.  Making a good for you snack convenient is a rare way our food system helps us eat healthier.  Take advantage.

Babybel Cheese®

Per piece: calories 70, fat 6g, carbs 0g, protein 5g

Another entirely easy way to have a healthy snack.  Baby bell cheese gives you a good shot of protein to keep you feeling full longer.  And the three ingredients (pasteurized milk, salt, microbial enzymes) are how cheese has been made since, like, a really long time ago.

Perdue Individually Wrapped Chicken Breasts®

Per breast: calories 140, fat 1.5g, carbs 0g, protein 29g, (salt 15%)

This packaged chicken type is swimming in salt water so it doesn’t reach 5 star territory.  Nonetheless, it’s an easy way to add lean protein into your diet.  Don’t let great be the enemy of good.

Disclaimer: I take all these pics myself at local markets.  Unless specifically noted(®), I am not 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 Laboratory website.

I Don’t Understand Turkey Ham

Thursday means Eat by Stars.  This week is five grocery items picked at random.  Including a sample from some new type of mashed up animal.  Very sci-fi.

Also, apparently this week I couldn’t find much worthy of a healthy rating.  I promise to do better next week.

Honest Sweet Tea®

Per bottle: calories 100, fat 0g, carbs 25g, protein 0g

It’s sweet tea.  Sweet tea is a sugar loaded soft drink.  However, the folks at Honest Tea give you the best option if you’re hankering for this southern classic.  It uses only 5 ingredients with nothing requiring a chemistry degree to decifer.  Plus, for you hippies out there, they use organic sugar and free trade tea.

Jennie O’ Turkey Ham®

Per 6 ounce (palm size) serving: calories 180, fat 9g, carbs 63g, protein 24g, (salt 63% DV)

Is there a TurPiggy farm somewhere producing all these hybrid Turkey/Pork options?  Turkey Ham makes no sense.  When something doesn’t make sense, don’t eat it.  Yes, that includes turkey bacon.  Like the ham variety, it’s full of fillers and processed beyond belief.  Get the real thing.  Ham/Bacon made from actual pigs.

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!

Disclaimer: I take all these pics myself at local markets.  Unless specifically noted(®), I am not 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 Laboratory website.

A Road Trip Stop at Wendy’s

On a road trip a few weeks ago we steered our 6 person, gas guzzling, but entirely cozy, SUV into a Wendy’s for halfway home dinner.  I’m a fan of Wendy’s but hadn’t been to one in a while.

Like other fast food restaurants, Wendy’s is trying to increase its offerings, both healthy and unhealthy, and give the interior decor a warmer, sit down restaurant kind of feel.

I have no opinion on the decor (sure looked like a Wendy’s to me), but I figured it was time to put one of my favorite fast food joints to the Eat by Stars test.

We’ll cover best and worst in sandwiches, salads, and sides.  And the Frosty will make an appearance.  Full Wendy’s Nutritional Info

Sandwiches & Nuggets

It’s easy to pick a burger at Wendy’s that won’t weigh you down, opt for those with “Junior” in the title.  Outside of that, you’re in risky waters.

The chicken sandwiches fall in the middle with the grilled sandwich being vastly superior (and 200 calories lighter) than the breaded Spicy and Homestyle varieties.  A wrap is decent compromise. And for nuggets, the 5 piece isn’t the worst thing ever.  But adding the dipping sauces (esp ranch) is a major pothole.

Best: Junior Hamburger  calories 250, fat 10g, carbs 25g, protein 15g, (salt 26% DV)

Worst: 3/4 lb Triple    calories 1060, fat 67g, carbs 42g, protein 72g, (salt 87% DV)

Salads

Like every restaurant, fast food or otherwise, you can go incredibly right or horribly wrong with your salad choice.  Grabbing the half-size portion is a step in the right direction.  As always, a wise ( i.e. non-creamy) dressing choice can make or break your field of greens.

 Best: Apple Pecan Chicken Salad  calories 350, fat 11g, carbs 30g, protein 35g, (salt 41% DV)

Worst: Baja Salad  calories 540, fat 32g, carbs 34g, protein 32g, (salt 69% DV)

 Sides

Wendy’s has followed suit with McDonald’s and is offering healthier options to accompany your sandwich.  The default is still fries, which usually contain as many calories as your between bread choice.

I don’t consider it a side, but a bowl of chili is a decent fast food option.  Skip the crackers and cheese and you’ll save adding 100 calories to the 310 calorie large cup of hot beans and beef.

Best: Apple Slices calories 40, fat 0g, carbs 9g, protein0g

Worst: Chili Cheese Fries  calories 570, fat 30g, carbs 58g, protein 18g, (salt 48% DV)

 The Frosty®

Per SMALL: calories 300, fat 8g, carbs 49g, protein 7g

Ever dip your fries in a frosty?  It’s marvelously delicious.  And as healthy as ice cream covered french fries would seem.  Hey, when you’re a 16-year-old boy with a bottomless pit you can handle anything.  Those were the days…

Anyway, the Frosty is ice cream.  Ice cream is a treat.  I didn’t know they had “Frosty Shakes” but I’m glad I do now.  They’re roughly twice as bad as the standard version. 

Breakfast Nuts & Sweet Corn

Every Thursday Eat by Stars brings you 5 grocery items chosen at random.  Here we go!

Sweet Corn on the Cob

Per 6’’ ear: calories 78, fat 1g, carbs 17g, protein 3g

Sweet corn on the cob is a summer barbecue treasure.  Picking out your teeth afterward is the only drawback.  Unless you slather your ear in butter.  Try salt & pepper, olive oil, thyme, or cayenne pepper instead.  Or go light on the butter smear.

Goat Cheese Crumbles 

Per ounce (a large pinch): calories 70, fat 6g, carbs 1g, protein 4g

Goat cheese is soft and adds a nice creamy texture to a summer salad.  It’s high in saturated fat, so go easy.  A little goes a long way.

Emerald Breakfast on the Go Nut Pouch®

Per pouch:  calories 200, fat 11g, carbs 23g, protein 5g

It’s not exactly the greatest breakfast around.  Too much saturated fat, dietary sugar, and weird ingredients.  But, like many breakfast options, something in the morning is better than nothing.

Cheddar Popcorn

Per 2 & 2/3rd cup (2 large handfuls):  calories 180, fat 14g, carbs 11g, protein 2g

It’s definitely not a daily snack or regular pantry candidate, but as a party or occasional indulgence it surpasses most other bagged snacks.

Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup®

Per 2 tbsps (2 big glugs): calories 100, fat 0g, carbs 24g, protein <1g

Man, I miss this stuff.  What a joy to use Hershey’s syrup to make chocolate milk or a sundae as a child.   Naturally, chocolate syrup isn’t health food.  But the kid inside could care less.

Disclaimer: I take all these pics myself at local markets.  Unless specifically noted(®), I am not 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 Laboratory website.

Black Popcorn & The Breakfast of Champions

Eat by Stars continues with 5 grocery items chosen while I wandered the aisles.

Good Sense Organic Tropical Trail Mix®

Per ¼ cup (small handful): calories 140, fat 8g, carbs 18g, protein 2g

This mixture of dehydrated fruit and nuts is a solid snack choice.  It packs a caloric punch so a little goes a long way.  But whether hiking or running errands it satisfies your hunger and gives a good mix of carbs, protein, and healthy fats.  If you’ve got the wherewithal, making your own would be a superior option.

Franklin Farms Veggie Burger®

Per patty: calories 100, fat 2g, carbs 10g, protein 12g

I can’t comment on taste and texture of this vegetarian burger, but it certainly has a superior nutrition profile to a standard beef patty.  Anyone who has tried one let me know how they stack up at a summer barbecue.

Wheaties Cereal®

Per Bowl: calories 280, fat 1g, carbs 44g, protein 4g

Yeah, yeah, the breakfast of champions.  We get it.  In case you weren’t aware, eating cereal will not make you an Olympic athlete.  Or even a marginal pickup basketball player.  Still, if it’s this or no breakfast at all, eat your Wheaties.  (Tip: Cereals are notorious under serving size culprits.  Double all nutritional values.)

Black Jewell Black Popcorn®

Per popped bag: calories 420, fat 17.5g, carbs 56, protein 7g

The box tells me black popcorn is superior because it contains more antioxidants.  If you down a whole popper bag yourself I promise it isn’t.  Share among 2 or 3 others and it’s a decent movie time snack.

 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.

Disclaimer: I take all these pics myself at local markets.  Unless specifically noted(®), I am not 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 Laboratory website.