Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - So much to choose from....

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04-03-2008, 04:33 PM
I have been on several diets lately and I am trying to do calorie counting this time around. This is all new to me and although it is simple to count calories, does anyone have suggestions in which calories are better than others?

I mostly have questions about carboy carbohydrates. Is brown rice, whole grain pasta and bread okay (I have mostly been on low-carb diets)? What about Subway, I eat a lot of turkey sandwiches from there. :) I guess I am just trying to figure out exactly are carbohydrates really that bad for you and are there other foods that are considered empty or bad calories.

Thanks so much.



04-03-2008, 04:45 PM
Hey :) I definitely think complex carbohydrates are great food choices! The first thing to learn is how to be a label reader, let me tell ya, companies aren't looking out for your best interests. They'll try to dazzle you with stuff like "multi grain" and "made with whole grains" or "stone-ground wheat." What does that mean? Usually, it means a lot of marketing fluff. Here is a great website to read to get informed about whole grains: (drill down on more info by clicking the menu on the left)

Very simply, check the label. If the first or second ingredient is Whole Wheat (or some other type of whole grain - like oats), it's better for you than something with the first ingredient of say "enriched wheat flour."

These are great carbohydrates in my opinion: brown rice, quinoa (prounounced KEEN-WA), whole wheat couscous, sweet potatoes, whole wheat tortillas (I love the La Tortilla factory 50 calorie tortillas), whole grain pasta (all kinds of interesting varieties - like spelt), barley, oatmeal, beans, corn fruit, etc..

As a calorie counter, I usually just go completely free for all on most vegetables, like orange peppers or spinach or fresh tomatoes. I don't really count and don't really limit my portions. With foods like beans or corn or brown rice - I use strict portion control. The foods are HEALTHY but calorically dense. After 3 years, I still measure my granola or oatmeal every morning and I always measure brown rice, pasta or corn - these are foods that I just don't eyeball well and they are easy for me to overeat.

I tend to concentrate on eating foods that offer the most nutritional benefits. I don't think anything wrong with a white potato for example (I mean, not fried up like a McDonald's french fry), but I typically prefer to eat sweet potatoes, they just offer more health benefits. I make most of my choices like that - I don't see anything "evil" about white rice, but I prefer brown since it has more fiber and other beneficial properties. It's so easy to get a really good sprouted whole wheat bread, that I would never waste valuable calories on a less good for me white bread.

Basically, I look for the darkest, brightest choice possible. Romaine over ice berg, sweet potato over white potato, ruby red grapefruit over a regular grapefruit, a mango over an apple. Is there anything wrong or bad with an apple or ice berg lettuce? No, and I do eat them, I just try to eat the more nutritionally powerful versions when I can. I like to try to eat "the rainbow" to get the widest variety of healthy food options every day.

As far as Subway goes, the last time I checked, they didn't have a good whole grain bread option and they had replaced their old low calorie/low carb wraps with a wrap that was 300 calories. I just get a 6 inch turkey sub on whatver bread looks good to me with spicy mustard and tons of veggies and no oil. I don't go often enough to worry about the whole grain-ness of the bread, I would PREFER whole grain bread, but life is about being flexible. I didn't get heavy eating a 6" turkey sandwich on white bread, heh. A couple of people on the board have suggested asking the sandwich maker to rip out the center of the bread (making an empty trough that can hold more veggies). Sounds okay to me!

charisma classic
04-03-2008, 04:48 PM

Anything called "junk food" is called that for a reason. It's junk. It's empty calories and when you're counting calories every calorie counts, so that is definitely something to avoid as much as possible.

I count my calories with the desktop version of FitDay, which will do nutrient planning for you and help you figure out how many grams protein, fat and carbohydrates should be in your diet.

As for "good carbs", look for whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, beans - things that haven't undergone extensive processing. And watch out for anything that says "multigrain" - that isn't the same as "whole grain" and sometimes all the multiple grains in it are processed.

(Note: Glory - You beat me to it! Great minds think alike :) )

A google search for "good carbs" gives you lots of useful websites.

04-03-2008, 05:02 PM
Oh, I meant to say...

If you're new to healthy eating, a good tool is the plate visualization trick. Imagine your plate is divided into four equal parts. When you're making a meal, try to fill 1/2 of the plate with vegetables. 1/4 of the plate should be a lean protein (like chicken, shrimp, fish or vegetable protein option) and 1/4 of the plate should be a healthy carbohydrate (brown rice, whole wheat tortillas, whole wheat pasta). Also, don't forget healthy fats (cook in healthy oil, use a little bit of real oil for dressing, garnish salads with a serving of sunflower seeds, add a slice of avocado to a sandwich, etc).

Most of my meals fit into this "plate" concept since I try to concentrate on eating a mostly plant-based diet. Here are a few meals I make which fit into this "plate" concept.

Stir fry - Lots of yummy vegetables (suggestions - orange pepper, mushroom, snow peas, bok choy, broccoli, carrots, onion), 4oz shrimp, served over a measured portion of brown rice (1 cup cooked).

Home made pasta sauce - Brown some ground turkey, add 3 cans peeled tomatoes (I puree them in the food processor), 1 can of tomato paste, onions, garlic, fresh basil, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms, splash of red cooking wine, oregano, serve over 2 oz of whole wheat pasta (measured dry)

4 oz maple glazed salmon served over 1 cup cooked brown rice, big pile of steamed broccoli

Baked chicken parmesan (breaded with whole wheat panko and a little egg), a tiny bit of cheese, tomato sauce, served over spaghetti squash with green beans on the side.

Sweet potato/black bean quesadillas - I cube a sweet potato into very small pieces, nuke for 5 minutes. Saute onion, garlic add sweet potatoes, can of diced tomato, can of drained black beans. I add a little big of spinach leaves. Put between 2 whole wheat tortillas with just enough low fat sharp cheddar cheese to stick it all together, grill on both sides until brown and crispy, serve with lots of salsa.

04-03-2008, 05:23 PM
Wow, thank you so much. Your messages have been extremely helpful. Who knew that whole grain and multi grain were completely different. :) And I love the plate trick, I have heard it before, but I don't know if I ever used (if I did, I didn't stick with it). Thanks again!!

04-03-2008, 05:38 PM
Sweet potato/black bean quesadillas - I cube a sweet potato into very small pieces, nuke for 5 minutes. Saute onion, garlic add sweet potatoes, can of diced tomato, can of drained black beans. I add a little big of spinach leaves. Put between 2 whole wheat tortillas with just enough low fat sharp cheddar cheese to stick it all together, grill on both sides until brown and crispy, serve with lots of salsa.

This sounds awesome!

04-03-2008, 05:45 PM
What about Lean Cuisines, Healthy Choice Meals and all of those...are they okay to eat?

04-03-2008, 06:04 PM
Well, that would be up to you. On the positive, they are quick, easy to make and portion controlled. As drawbacks they are overly processed, most of them have a LOT of sodium and the vegetable portions tend to be small.

If you aren't a great cook and live a super busy life, I would say they are okay, they sure beat fast food. They are even better if you can supplement with more vegetables (like a side salad) and fruit.

For your long term goal, I would encourage anybody to get braver in the kitchen. Cooking isn't really that hard and there are literally thousands of great recipes available on the internet. Cooking does take time, but you can get around this by picking a day to cook things in bulk and freezing for later. Most of the stuff I make takes 2 pots and less than 30 minutes and lasts for 2 days.

04-03-2008, 06:05 PM
This sounds awesome!

Here's the whole recipe:

Quinoa Sweet Potato Quesadillas

1 cup quinoa, washed/drained (use brown rice if you can't find quinoa)
1 large sweet potato/yam
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic (I used more)
1 14 oz can of tomatoes
1 can black beans, drained
1 can green chiles
2 tbs minced cilantro
Some low fat cheese
Whole wheat, low fat tortillas

Cook quinoa in 2 cups of water. When done, set aside.

While the quinoa is simmering, I cut up the sweet potatoes into small pieces (dice sized) and spray a cookie sheet with PAM. I bake the potatoes for around 20 minutes (shaking often) until they are soft and getting crispy. (if I don't have time, I nuke them for 5 minutes!)

Saute onion, garlic. Stir in tomato (crushed, with juice), black beans, chiles, cilantro. Add quinoa, potatoes. Season with salt and pepper (I added some red pepper flakes, because i like spicy). Stir and heat through. I've also started adding spinach leaves, they wilt down nicely.

Put in tortillas, add some cheese so it sticks together, grill on both sides. Top with lots of salsa. Made enough for 3 nights!

Shy Moment
04-03-2008, 06:24 PM
The lean cuisines aren't to bad on sodium if you pick the right ones. Problem is make sure you add some veggies and fruits and dairy if you are eating them. You can actual stay under the recommended amounts of sodium 2400 heart association, 3300 lung association and eat three lean cuisines a day. That was all I ate the first couple of months ( of course I added fruits, veggies and diary ) I started to watch what I was eating because I wanted to get my fat down and learn portion control again.

Carbs are my hard thing. I have to be careful of them to stay within the ranges I allow myself. Here is a good rule of thumb lol if God didn't make it, then it isn't that great for us lol. God made rice he did not make Oreo cookies. Good solid grains, fruits and veggies all have carbs but they are good for us ( watch out about eating to many fruits we only need 2 or 3 servings a day ) they are all loaded with carbs. Did you know 1/2 a banana = a fruit group? I love brown rice but once again it is loaded with carbs you only need 1/2 a cup to = 1 of the six servings required out of the bread/cereal group. Here is a site that will give you a great deal of information Our subway still has whole grain wheat bread. I love subway but look on line at the counts. There are a lot of carbs in their bread. It all comes down to getting all you can get in and still staying within range. I use fit day to see everything I have chosen for the day ( i do tomorrows menu tonight ). Sometimes it takes a bit of time to make good choices and stay within ranges. Tonight we are having sweet and sour chicken. I put that in first and built the rest of the day around it. I still got in all the required amounts of the four basic food groups BUT I had to make lower carb choices here and there to stay within my ranges. I do try to stay away from things that say enriched. To me that means it is junk that they tossed a few extras in lol.

04-03-2008, 07:23 PM
Thanks, Glory. I'm going to make that for myself and bring it to work for lunch. I just have to sit down and figure out the nutritionals.

04-03-2008, 07:37 PM
Here ya go, from my Fitday. Makes 4 servings, so divide by 4 (this is just the filling, doesn't include the cheese or tortillas). When I used to enter it in Fitday as a meal, I counted my serving as .25 and it did the math for me. Sorry for the crazy formatting.

In fact, if you click the Fitday link in my signature, I added it to today's menu so you could see it!

Nutrition Facts

Amount Per 1 serving
Calories 700
Calories from Fat 45

% Daily Value *

Total Fat 5g 8%

Saturated Fat 0.5g 3%

Polyunsaturated Fat 2g

Monounsaturated Fat 1.3g

Cholesterol 0mg 0%

Sodium 2218mg 92%

Potassium 629mg 18%

Total Carbohydrate 196g 65%

Dietary Fiber 36.5g 146%

Protein 38.5g 77%

Alcohol 0g

Vitamin A 30 %
Vitamin C 85 %

Calcium 19 %
Iron 109 %

Vitamin D 0 % Vitamin E 0 %

Thiamin 8 % Riboflavin 17 %

Niacin 12 % Folate 10 %

Vitamin B-6 9 % Vitamin B-12 0 %

Phosphorus 35 % Magnesium 45 %

Zinc 19 % Copper 35 %

04-04-2008, 03:57 PM
Thank you very much!

I'm looking forward to trying this.