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The Rating Game - 6 New Foods

From eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resource

Boxed Coronary Disease

The Swanson Hungry Man line of meals has outdone itself. The company now offers a boxed coronary. Actually they call it an All Day Breakfast with scrambled eggs, pancakes, hash browns, sausage and bacon. This more than pound of food, which is one serving, may be had for $3.19.

You are just not going to believe these nutritional numbers: 1,030 calories, 64g fat (21 saturated), 690mg cholesterol, 2,090mg sodium, 78g carbohydrates (4 fiber, 22 sugars) and 36g protein. That represents 104 percent of the recommended daily allowance of saturated fat, 231 percent of the cholesterol and 87 percent of the sodium.

I thrust myself into danger for you and tasted the meal (and that’s all I did -- no way would I eat all that in one sitting!), and can honestly say it tastes like a word that rhymes with rap, only it has a “c” at the beginning. I can’t think of any justifiable reason to buy this.

Skimpily Hearty

First Ragu had a meaty new spaghetti sauce, and now Prego has followed suit with its new Hearty Meat sauce. We paid $2.99 for a 27.5-ounce (780g) jar of the Meatball Parmesan flavor that is supposed to contain six servings, with one serving equal to a half-cup.

Now think about that. Half a cup of sauce with meatballs for an entree. That just doesn’t cut it for my growing boys; one jar was just enough for the two of them. That half-cup serving has 160 calories, 8g fat (3 saturated), 10mg cholesterol, 690mg sodium, 16g carbohydrates (2 fiber, 10 sugars) and 7g protein. So, the realistic portion size would triple those numbers, which equals 45 percent of the recommended daily allowance of saturated fat and 87 percent of the sodium RDA.

On top of that, the boys did not enjoy the sauce. It’s too sweet, they said. I gave it a taste and had to agree. And the tiny meatballs remind us of the mushy meatballs in Spaghettios.

Nope, we won’t buy this again.

Pasta No Time!

Kraft has a new flavor in the It’s Pasta Anytime line: Fettuccine with Classic Alfredo Sauce. I paid $1.99 for the microwavable dish that contains one 11.5-ounce (325g) serving.

The pasta was simple to prepare by mixing the pack of soft pasta with the sauce and nuking it for two minutes, but it tastes terrible. It’s too salty for one thing, and the sauce has a sticky quality that’s unpleasant.

The nutrition facts are also abysmal: 570 calories, 22g fat (8 saturated), 50mg cholesterol, 1,820mg sodium (76 percent of the RDA), 73g carbohydrates (4 fiber, 8 sugars) and 21g protein.

Too Stuffy

This sounds delicious (but it’s not) and blatantly unhealthy (which it is): Stuffed Antipasto Bread from the Bran-Zan Company’s Chef M.J. Brando line. It’s a loaf of Italian bread stuffed with provolone cheese, pepperoni, Italian sausage, green bell peppers, onions and mushrooms.

You pay about $5 for a dense 22-ounce (626g) loaf with four servings. A serving has 440 calories, 21g fat (9 saturated), 40mg cholesterol, 840mg sodium, 44g carbohydrates (2 fiber, zero sugar) and 18g protein.

There is a photo of Chef Brando on the back of the box, with comments from him that advise, “Perfect as an appetizer, snack or as a light meal…”

Whew, if you had this as an appetizer, then the rest of the meal had better be raw fruit and veggies. It’s dense, sits heavily in your stomach and tastes greasy.

Hefty Start

It makes me sad to think about a parent paying $5.99 for a box of six Jimmy Dean Sausage, Egg and Cheese Croissants and serving them regularly to family members. A few weeks of this breakfast and your family might start to resemble a whale pod.

Each 128-gram (4.5 ounces) sandwich has 430 calories, 31g fat (9 saturated), 120mg cholesterol, 820mg sodium, 23g carbohydrates (1 fiber, 5 sugars) and 13g protein.

The only positive thing I can say about these sandwiches is they are quickly heated in a minute in the microwave. But a low-fat breakfast bar is ready even faster.

My husband took a box to work to share, and his co-workers said they enjoyed the sandwiches until they learned how many fat and calories they have. Now they’re going to be suspicious of any food I send in for them to try.

Whipped Fat

Many people are under the impression that any margarine is marginally healthy, but the new Country Crock Whipped Easy Squeeze is a case for disproving that.

A serving is one tablespoon, which has 60 calories, 7g fat (1 saturated), zero cholesterol, 85mg sodium, zero carbohydrates and zero protein.

So just think: If you’re having a grilled cheese sandwich, which is already loaded with fat if you’re using regular-strength cheese, you’re heaping an extra helping of fat on the bread to toast it.

You have to shake this product well before squeezing it out of the bottle because the soybean oil in it separates from the whey. It tastes oily.

A 10-ounce (283g) bottle with 24 servings costs 99 cents.

Becky Billingsley, a.k.a. The Check-Out Chick, is the mother of two, a wife for 21 years and editor of Coastal Carolina Dining magazine. Like most busy moms, she often relies on convenience foods to get meals on the table in a hurry. She worries about whether these items provide proper nutrition and if she sacrifices too much of her grocery budget in exchange for ease of preparation. To find out how your local newspaper can run a weekly version of The Check-Out, click here and visit the companys website.

The Comfort Zone

As promised, here are a dozen or so email delights from Mr. Bad Food's dieting friends. If you have a favorite comfort food -- something that won't sink your diet resolve -- please tell me about it. My address is at the end of today's column.

I love to read your column. I am on Atkins also. When I want ice cream (cause like Mr. Bad Food I also have things that I loved to eat) I take diet root beer and add to it a few ounces of heavy cream. It tastes just like melted ice cream and diet root beer. Yum... yum, it's a mock root beer float! Keep up the good job. I have lost a lot!
Mary Ann

When you mentioned pepperoni, another treat came to mind: venison "slim jims" and venison soft jerky. From your area of PA (big buck country) you should have access to some of that from hunting friends or at a local meat market. Not only is it tasty, but deer meat is also decidedly low cal. Also, those of us who tend to be chocoholics like the new sugar-free Hershey's mini bars. They taste great and have much lower carbs than the full strength ones.
J.E.H.

Okay, here goes (not necessarily in order of favorites):
1. LeCarb ice cream (all flavors, but especially cinnamon)! This stuff is, in my opinion, richer and tastier than regular ice creams. It is sweetened with Splenda, and you can find it at Wal-Mart and many other chain groceries. Unbelievably good!
2. REAL mayo! Thank God for real mayo! I'll never eat that disgusting fat-free stuff again!
3. Carb Wise low carb bars (all flavors... my fave is lemon). These have between 2 and 4 net carbs per bar, they are crunchy in texture (much like the old "Whatchamacallit" candy bars), and they are bigger than the Atkins or other bars, so you get more bang for your buck.
4. Diet Hansen's Sodas. I just discovered these in the "specialty" section of a local grocery store. They are DELICIOUS!! They are sweetened with Splenda and have no caffeine.
5. Atkins Baking Mix. Not too wild about this for general baking, but this makes an EXCELLENT breading for fried chicken or steaks or whatever you want to bread.
6. Pork rinds. Talk about a versatile product! You can eat them right out of the bag, top them with shredded cheese, etc, for super nachos, drizzle melted butter (unsalted is best), cinnamon and Splenda on them for cinnamon "crispas" that rival Taco Bell's. You can even grind them up for use as another excellent (and cheaper) breading. Friends have told me the kind you warm up in the microwave are the best and freshest.
7. Tuna. Kinda falls under your "seafood" or "meats" categories, but it stands alone in its simplicity and cost. Nothing makes for a cheaper or quicker lunch for busy working folks than a can of tuna, some real mayo and shredded cheese... YUM!
8. The Good Value sugar-free hard candies at Wal-Mart. Cheap, sweet, zero net carbs... what more could you ask for?
9. I'm with you 100% on the Diet A&W and Diet Dr. Pepper! Now, if we could collectively storm the headquarters of both of these products and (politely) demand that they begin sweetening them with Splenda, it would be a perfect world!
10. Baja Bob's drink mixers. Absolutely delicious! Finally, something for the low carbers that will allow them to say "yes" to party favorites, like strawberry daiquiris, pina coladas, whiskey sours and margaritas. You can be really good and make the virgin versions, or you can even add the alcohol, if you are to that phase in Atkins. You can order these online at the Atkins website or several other low carb distributors.

Angela

I enjoy jalapenos with cheese, Swiss of course. I also like to occasionally use firm tofu in place of the cheese.
Kathryn W.

My faves include: JELL-O Sugar-Free gelatin (peach & watermelon) with a dollop of Reddi Wip. An absolute staple in my fridge... and there's always Reddi Wip, straight up... chocolate Reddi Wip, also straight up (sounds gross, but it is awesome -- the best 15 calories you'll ever have)... Frigo Light mozzarella string cheese sticks... Mt. Olive sugar-free Sweet gherkins and bread & butter pickles... Russell Stover sugar-free solid dark chocolate... and an EAS chocolate shake!
Katherine Tate, MPH, RD, LDN
The Saucy Dietitian

Just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that you are a wonderful inspiration and a diet comedian. So many people are depressed and dieting -- you give all of us a good shot-in-the-arm dose of reality and fun. I loved the beer article, especially. Yes, there are women who are just as bad as Mr. Bad Food is about beer. I do miss the copious quantities at times, but knowing that I can still have a Michelob Ultra is a good thing. Thanks for the 411 on the vodka too. Now I can have a cocktail and not feel as if I'm undoing everything. I like it with diet Squirt and lemon. Keep up the good work. You give humor and inspiration to all.
Kara

I love the following: butterscotch disks, radishes, scallions, lettuce, steak, and lots of fish and chicken meals.
Sue D.

A&W diet root beer with a splash of cream tastes like a root beer float. Same with orange slice for a taste change. My favorite snack is a cup of decaf coffee and 2 slices of Vermont Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar.
Anonymous

I honestly don't know what I would do without the creamy comfort of Healthy Choice Mint Choco Chip Low-Fat Ice Cream. I look forward to it all day long. (Sounds sick doesn't it?) Grab yourself a half of a cup and tell me you do not feel completely satisfied. Bet you can't!
Lora D.

Russell Stover has this awesome sugar-free mint patty that hits the spot when you get that sugar/chocolate craving. Serving size is 3 pieces for only 1 carb (27 total carbs minus 25 for sugar alcohols and another 1 for fiber). Can you believe that?! They taste just like the real thing and really suppress my sweet tooth.
Denise M.

Edy's Triple Chocolate Ice Cream, No Sugar Added: only THREE sugar carbs per serving. I think Atkins has four. Also, a tuna melt made with two to three cans of tuna (I mix it with mayonnaise), lots of cheese on top and maybe even bacon if you're feeling dangerous. Pop it in the microwave until cheese is melted. Just eat it out of the bowl with a fork!
Gina

1. Diet Cherry Coke, Diet Sierra Mist, Diet Code Red and Diet Dr. Pepper. Those are my favorite diet sodas to drink. Some places do not carry some of them, so you have to shop around. Anyways, these choices give you a break on the whole Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke theme.
2. I am all about the new sugar-free chocolates from Hershey's. They are great and they use different names for sugar alcohol, but once you get your final count on the candy, then you will see that you can have four or five pieces of chocolate for like 1 or 2 carbs per serving.
3. There is one particular brand of cookies that you can have on this diet -- they are Murray Sugar Free Vanilla Wafers (like the ones that people put in that banana pudding dish). Once you figure your count out, you can have 9 cookies for like 11 carbs. And if you are like me, then you will only have like 4, and have around 5 carbs instead of the whole amount. I make my own whipped cream with heavy cream & a teaspoon of Splenda. Add some sliced strawberries and dip the cookies in them or layer them and put in fridge!
4. Scooby Doo Crackers! Yes I know they seem childish to this adult diet. But if you have a craving for crackers, then this will help without killing your diet: 49 crackers equals 18 carbs. If you divide them in half then, well you get the idea.
5. Munch'ems crackers are the same carb count but you get fewer crackers. But they are a little bigger and they are easy to dip into cream cheese, especially the chive and onions one!
6. My favorite munchie food: Herr's buttered popcorn! The lowest that I have found, once you subtract your dietary fiber amount. The popcorn amounts to 8 carbs per serving, which is 3 cups. Can't beat it!
Those are the ones that I can think of right now. I have been doing low carbs on and off since June, stopped July 4th, and went back in August. My total pounds lost is 25.
Kathleen W.

Here is a desert that has saved me from my sweet cravings:
Fluffy stuff
1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream
1 8 oz. pkg. of cream cheese
2 small pkg. sugar-free JELL-O (any flavor)
Boil 2 cups water, add JELL-O and stir until dissolved. Mix whipping cream and cream cheese. Mix in JELL-O still in liquid form. Let set in refrigerator. Eat!

Dee

I love the pepperoni, cheese and sunflower seeds like you do. But the one thing about Atkins is the lack of "crunch" in your meals. So get this -- pork rinds are totally carb-free! I know it is an acquired taste, but they have that satisfying crunch! Also, Slim-Jims and beef jerky are favorite gas station snacks. Another low-carb alternative: take a sliver of feta cheese, dress in olive oil, sprinkle with oregano, and bake in the oven. When you put it on low-carb bread, it is fantastic!
Aly

Heavy whipping cream, sweetened with Splenda and a little dry cocoa. Whipped and chilled is yummy... less than one carb per serving!
Clare

Since being on Atkins, I have longed for the crunchiness of crackers. I have learned how to take any type of cheese (cheddar, provolone, etc), place small chunks on a microwave plate, cover with parchment paper (some type of cover that won't stick to cheese), place in microwave and cook on high for 1 to 2 minutes (depending on microwave power). When the cheese turns all bubbly and starts to turn a slight brown, remove plate from microwave and remove "fried cheese" from plate with a fork and place on paper towel. Let cool for about 5 minutes, break into cracker-sized pieces, and enjoy with fresh salsa, guacamole, sour cream etc. Keep them layered between paper towels. If you put in plastic bag or container, they will become chewy and lose their "crispness." ENJOY!
Michelle

I make an ersatz cheesecake by mixing cream cheese, ricotta, and a dash of heavy cream with a packet of Splenda and a few drops of good vanilla extract. The proportions are up to you. Mix in the ingredients so that the texture appeals to you. The cheeses are full fat, of course. It's delicious and only three to four carb grams in a half cup.
Susan F.

Well, until next week, the fridge door is closed. But if you have any questions and/or comments -- even a tasteful joke or story, a Hall of Shame nominee, or a great recipe to share -- feel free to write me, eDiets editor-in-chief John McGran, at john@ediets.com.

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