Tag Archives: health

10 snacks you thought were healthy — but aren’t

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Bon Appetit recently published a list of snacks that have a “health food aura” about them, but are either not all that great for you, or are downright unhealthy.

Granola. Eye the ingredients, and pay attention to the carb-protein ratio, and the amount of fiber. Some of these are really no better than sugar-coated cereal.

Smoothies. If not made at home with wholesome ingredients, these are usually sugar- and calorie-bombs.

Low-fat cheese. This is interesting: a study out of Harvard has identified a natural substance in dairy fat — yes, fat — that may substantially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Fat-free salad dressing. These are almost always crammed with extra sugar and/or corn syrup to make up for the texture and flavor lost to fat. Once you make your own salad dressings, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is and you’ll never go back to store-bought! A few of my faves:
Creamy balsamic vinaigrette (This page also includes the easiest recipe ever: 1-2-3 Dressing.)
Ginger-peanut dressing
Almost-Panera’s Asian dressing
– Easy Tex-Mex: equal amounts of Greek yogurt and salsa, then a bit of taco seasoning – easy and delish! See my make-ahead Tex-Mex salad.

Rice cakes. Fairly void of any decent nutrients, they’re really just empty calories. Chocolate or cinnamon ones are just empty calories with sugar added.

Pretzels. Proof that “fat free” doesn’t equal healthy. They’re basically white bread with an egg wash and a bunch of salt.

Veggie burgers. They sound inherently healthy, but frozen veggie burgers can contain more processed filler ingredients and sodium than actual vegetables or beans.

Diet sodas. Sweeteners may increase sugar or carbohydrate cravings, and if consumed in great quantity, may actually impact weight gain.

Others on the list: Bran muffin. Whole-wheat wrap. (See the original article.)

See my lists of ways to sneak healthier choices into your snacks and meals.

The best low carb salads at Panera

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I love Panera! Even though I rarely get bagels or sweets there any more, I love their salads and appreciate the fact that they provide some nutrition info right up front. The calories are listed right on the menu. Pretty bold!

However, I don’t believe that counting calories is all that useful. (Here’s why, at least partially.) So I went to Panera’s website and downloaded the nutrition info and did a little spreadsheet work. If you’re focusing on controlling diabetes and/or eating low carb (South Beach, etc.), a useful thing to consider is the protein to carb ratio. That is, are there more protein than carbs, and in what proportion?

Based on my personal study into food’s effect on insulin and blood sugar, my approach to healthy eating is to try to keep an approximate balance between carbs and protein. More protein than carbs is okay; more carbs than protein is not. So in my protein-to-carbs (P-to-C) approach, I’m looking for a ration that 1 or higher.

Here’s an example: If your “protein bar” has 10 grams of protein, but 30 grams of carbs, it has a  P-to-C  ratio of 0.33 — not good! However, a spoonful of sugar-free peanut butter has 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of carbs; a ratio of 1.25 — much better!

I looked at all of Panera’s whole salads, including the dressing. Here are their four lowest-carb salads, with their respective ratios.

ALL of the other salads on their menu are below 1.0.

Of course, there’s more to healthy eating than carbs and protein, but as I said, if you’re looking to control your blood sugar (glucose) or trying to lose weight by watching carbs, these are some important numbers to know.

I am not employed by or affiliated with Panera Bread, and this is not a sponsored post. I am not a medical or nutrition expert; just someone who cares about my health enough to dig for the facts.