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Archive for the ‘Kashi’ Category

5 Important Food Lessons From This Past Week

Over the past few days, several important food-related stories captured top headlines.

Rather than dedicate a lengthy blog post to each, here is the Small Bites’ Cliff’s Notes version.

What’s the deal? What are the important takeaways? Here’s your cheat sheet:

Continue Reading »

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Made with Real Fruit. Really!

018627431640Avid readers of Small Bites know how much I despise the “made with real fruit” scam so many processed foods love to advertise.

In case you are not familiar with it, I am referring to items like fruit snacks or sugary cereals which boast about fruit on their ingredient list only to simply offer juice concentrates (think concentrated fruit sugar devoid of any nutrition).

Alas, the folks at Kashi  mean what the say.

Their new fruit & grain Tasty Little Chewies are advertised as being “made with real fruit” and, well, they’re not pulling a fast one on us!  The second ingredient, after all, is dates.  Not date juice,  not dehydrated date concentrate, but REAL dates.

In fact, dates appear BEFORE chocolate on the ingredient list.  Knock me over with a flaxseed!

These new bars are delicious, by the way.  I recently tried the Dark Chocolate Coconut flavor and am a fan.  I recommend adding it to your snack repertoire, particularly with this nutrition profile:

  • 120 calories
  • 1.5 grams saturated fat
  • 50 milligrams sodium (a mere 2% of the allotted maximum)
  • 4 grams fiber
  • 7 grams sugar (I am guessing only 4 grams are from added sugars)

TLC indeed!

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You Ask, I Answer: Probiotic Cereal

I loved your video about deceptive food advertising!

So what do you think of Kashi’s “Vive” cereal?

There is a banner on the box claiming it’s probiotic and helps with “digestive wellness.”

Is that true? If it is, how does it make it better than other cereals?

– Joanne Castro
Santa Fe, NM

Let’s first begin by talking about probiotics.

That’s the name given to beneficial bacteria living in our colons that help keep harmful bacteria from multiplying and starting problems (FYI: prebiotics are compounds in food that help feed probiotics.)

We harbor anywhere from 370 – 450 different stands of probiotic bacteria in our colon.

Although we produce and house them, it is believed poor nutrition can significantly reduce their numbers.

Antibiotics, meanwhile, kill all bacteria — including probiotics.

The most famous probiotic, of course, is Lactobacillus acidophilus, the probiotic contained in many yogurts.

Allow me to digress a little and say the following: heat treatment can destroy Lactobacillus Acidophilus.

So, the closest way to ensure you are getting beneficial bacteria is via a “Live and Active Cultures” statement (although this does not guarantee said cultures are starter bacteria.)

What many people don’t realize is that all fermented foods — not just yogurt — contain probiotics, including tempeh (fermented soy), blue cheese, sauerkraut, and wine.

The largest body of research on probiotics has focused on the therapeutic effect they have on diarrhea developed as a result of taking antibiotics.

Other than that, a lot of the health-promoting properties attributed to probiotics in food are yet to be discovered, or at least confirmed by science.

Although I can understand the link between probiotics and immune health (mainly since beneficial bacteria are a good defense against harmful varieties,) claims by some supplement companies of helping lower cancer risk are, as of now, completely baseless.

One main problem with probiotic food research is that many strands are destroyed by stomach acids before they even reach the large intestine.

So, how they perform in a laboratory setting does not necessarily reflect what takes place in our bodies.

Additionally, only a handful of probiotic strands have been closely studied.

It is also worth pointing out that in order for probiotics to have any sort of impact — assuming the strand in Vive does — they need to be consumed on a daily basis. So, a bowl of Vive three times a week isn’t really going to do much for you.

In any case, the particular probiotic present in Vive is strain LA14 of Lacto acidophilus.

Kashi’s official statement is that this cereal contains 109 colony forming units of said probiotic per serving of Vive.

Sounds great. But, although this strand survives the digestive process, there have not been any studies examining specific health benefits.

While it certainly won’t do you any harm, no one really knows what exactly you are supposed to gain from eating Vive regularly (“aids with digestive wellness” is too broad a statement for me.)

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Crunch Away!

A few days ago, a friend was picking my brain for portable, nutritious, and tasty snack ideas.

He specifically mentioned that while he enjoys the taste of my standby bar recommendations (Lara, Clif Nectar, Gnu Flavor & Fiber, Pure), they are all missing “crunch” — his favorite texture.

Crackers don’t really do it, he explained, because he likes a tinge of sweetness to his snacks.

I suggested Kashi TLC (Tasty Little Crunchies) granola bars — and was just told it’s exactly the type of snack my friend was looking for!

One individually wrapped container offers two bars and provides:

180 calories
4 grams of fiber (3 of which are soluble)

8 grams (2 teaspoons) of added sugar
6 grams of protein

100% whole grains

I specifically point out the presence of soluble fiber as that is the type of fiber that has been linked with reductions in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

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You Ask, I Answer: Ground Vs. Whole Flaxseeds

My question is about Kashi and Nature’s Path products that claim to have Omega 3’s from flaxseed, but clearly only have whole flaxseeds in their products.

Don’t they need to be ground for our bodies to receive [nutritional benefit[s]?

I’ve always been puzzled by this. Thanks!

– “Glidingcalm”
Via the blog

Yes, only the ground-up form provides all the wonderful nutrition packed inside those tiny seeds.

If you were to thoroughly chew each flaxseed you would theoretically also be getting the same amount of nutrition, but it is very easy to swallow them whole (particularly when they are part of a waffle or cracker), in which case they pass right through the digestive system without contributing their Omega-3 fatty acids or lignans.

To ensure you are getting the most out of this great seed, have ground flaxseed ready to go in your refrigerator or buy whole ones and pulverize them in a coffee grinder.

Keep in mind, though, that many Kashi products (i.e.: their thin crust pizzas) are made with ground flaxseeds.

Similarly, some Nature’s Path cereals (like their flax plus cold cereal with raisins) list “flax meal” as an ingredient, which refers to ground flaxseed.

And so it comes down to a common theme on Small Bites: always read the ingredient list!

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Another Kashi Knockout

Kashi continues to crank out tasty and convenient whole grain products.

Their latest outing is savory 100% whole grain rice pilaf side dishes available in three flavors — original, Moroccan spice, and fiery fiesta.

Each packet contains two servings, each offering 7 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein.

While the original flavor is sodium-free, the other two varieties contain 400 milligrams of sodium per serving (due to the presence of additional flavorings.)

In all fairness, that amount is roughly 40% lower than that of average ready-to-eat pilaf products.

Additionally, in the context of a meal otherwise low in sodium (i.e.: tuna or salmon steak, grilled tofu, sauteéd shrimp, grilled chicken breast) this is not a huge concern.

I appreciate the existence of an original flavor that lets customers exercise their culinary creativity. I highly recommend adding chopped nuts and raisins or chickpeas, red peppers, and cilantro.

The best part? The only cooking required is adding 2 tablespoons of water, mixing, and microwaving for 90 seconds.

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You Ask, I Answer: Cereal

I have a cereal question for you.

I’m thinking about switching from Cheerios to Kashi Heart to Heart, but am wondering what’s “best.”

Basically, I can eat close to twice the amount of Cheerios for the same amount of calories in Heart to Heart.

I understand the fiber amount is different, but Heart to Heart also has more sugar.

If I’m doubling the serving of fiber in cheerios, that’s pretty darn close to the single serving of Heart to Heart, right?

I’m thinking in terms of volume here… getting more bang for my buck…does this make sense? So what’s the dealbreaker here?

Do you think it boils down to personal preference or is there an actual more healthful choice in this situation?

– Ali
Hillsboro, OR

Your question demonstrates why food label comparisons are not always as equal as we might think.

If you look at the label on a box of Cheerios, you will read that one serving provides 75 calories, whereas one serving of Kashi Heart to Heart contains 110 calories.

“Easy,” you might think. “The Cheerios are way lower in calories than Heart to Heart.”

Not so fast.

A serving of Cheerios (3/4 of a cup) weigh 0.7 ounces, whereas a serving of Kashi Heart to Heart (also ¾ of a cup) register as 1.2 ounces on the scale.

In other words, Heart to Heart is a denser cereal than Cheerios.

So, to truly determine how they compare, we need to look at what happens on an ounce by ounce basis.

Do that, and the results are quite different.

An ounce of Cheerios (1 cup) provides 100 calories, 2 grams of fat, 190 milligrams of sodium, 3 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, 100 milligrams of calcium (that’s 10 percent of a day’s worth before you pour any milk!), and 170 milligrams of potassium.

An ounce of Kashi Heart to Heart (approximately 3/5 of a cup) clocks in at 95 calories, 1.3 grams of fat, 77 milligrams of sodium, 4.3 grams of fiber, 4.3 grams of sugar, 0 milligrams of calcium, and 86.1 milligrams of potassium.

So, yes, you can eat “twice the amount” of Cheerios in terms of cups (a cup and a half of Cheerios adds up to 150 calories, while that same amount of Kashi Heart to Heart clocks in at 220 calories), but ounce by ounce, the difference is minimal.

Bottom line: if you like the taste of Cheerios, you’re not missing out on anything by sticking with them.

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You Ask, I Answer: Healthy Cooking/Dinner

I really don’t have too much time to cook. I just grab a quick protein and vegetable to go, oatmeal for breakfast.

I am having trouble with dinner. I had peanut butter sandwiches two days straight!

Any suggestions?

– Marta (last name withheld)
Miami, FL

One common obstacle to healthy eating for many people is including it into a busy schedule with long work hours and/or many social activities.

After a 12-hour workday, the last thing most people want to do when they get home is break out the pots and pans and play chef for the night.

There are two scenarios worth discussing here.

If we are talking about situations where you get home extremely tired and hungry and the mere thought of even boiling water seems like a grating chore, let’s turn to frozen dinners.

They should not be your daily dinner companion, but I do think busy people should have two or three in their freezer. It could very well make the difference between having a relatively healthy dinner or greasy Chinese takeout.

Of course, not any frozen dinner will do.

I recommend most the Kashi line. The Lemon Rosemary Chicken flavor, for example, contains 330 calories, a mere 1.5 grams of saturated fat, no trans fats, a respectable 5 grams of fiber, and just 1 gram of sugar.

The Southwest Chicken and Lime Cilantro Shrimp flavors offer 80 less calories and an extra gram of fiber!

The Sweet & Sour Chicken contains too much added sugar (25 grams, or 2 tablespoons’ worth) for me to fully recommend.

Overall, you want to seek out frozen meals that contain:

No more than 400 calories

Four or less grams of saturated fat

No more than 650 milligrams of sodium

At least 5 grams of fiber

Of course, it’s also very feasible to make very quick, healthy, delicious dinners. The key is to have your pantry and refrigerator “five-minute meal ready.”

For example, always have small whole wheat tortilla wraps in the fridge.

You can then throw in a cup of sauteed canned black beans and frozen corn, half an avocado, and a tablespoon of two or salsa for a healthy, delicilous burrito in a flash. Protein, plenty of fiber, and healthy fats in just minutes!

It’s also wise to cook large amounts of healthy side dishes (i.e.: brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat cous cous) on the weekend to keep in the fridge for situations like these. They can accompany anything from grilled chicken breasts to a soy patty.

Although serious foodies will want to send me hate mail for the following suggestion, I am all about buying precut vegetables. If you’re pressed for time and can afford the extra cost, grab baby carrots, cubed butternut squash, broccoli florets, and pepper strips.

If you are busy (or simply lack knife skills) you are more likely to snack on pineapple or watermelon at night if it is already cut up for you.

Besides, as anyone who lives in a walking-centric city will agree, who wants to carry a whole watermelon from the supermarket to their apartment?

Convenience is no longer a valid excuse for ringing up Domino’s. You are welcome to give them a call every so often, but realize that in this day and age, eating healthy can be attained by even the busiest of people.

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