Favourite Things: Healthy (but not so whole) Foods

1 Jul

First things first: HAPPY CANADA DAY to all my fellow Canadians! Even though we don’t have all the great healthy/natural food options that our American neighbours do, I still think that our country is pretty darn great! As I mentioned yesterday, I am being un-patriotic and am currently on a shopping excursion in Buffalo.


So today’s favourite things post might be somewhat controversial – allow me to explain. In the healthy living community, and in many of the blogs/magazines/sites I read, there is definitely a movement towards whole over processed foods – which I totally agree with! I will NEVER tell you that something out of a box or bag is better than the stuff that grows on God’s green earth. In the healthy living community, I find in general that “fake” food is shunned, and it’s all about the real stuff. I will say again, I am totally on board with that, but….

….there are some “not-so-whole” foods I’m not ready to give up. Let me explain… basically, I’m coming off years of the “diet” mentality. Even before I started losing weight, I was always wanting to, so calories were (and to a large extent, still are) the bottom line. So, if something was/is made in a lower fat/calorie (or fat-free) version, I’d go for it. My way of thinking,is that if it’s available for less calories, why wouldn’t I go for that version? So the “processed” stuff I’m talking about isn’t cheesies and chips, it’s more like low-cal breads, Splenda, that kind of thing.

I still think I heat a healthy diet, and really, as you can see from this blog, I incorporate a lot of whole foods. However, not everything I eat is something my ancestors would recognize, or fresh from the field. I like things like:

Splenda I know this is a huge no-no in the healthy living community (it’s fake! it’s artificial! it’s all chemicals!)….I know, I know, I know (thankfully, Donna has also confessed her love for the stuff, so I feel a little less guilty). But here’s the deal: I. LOVE. SWEET. And if I added sugar (or even honey or agave nectar) to get all the sweetness I wanted in every day food, the calories would pile up quickly. I haven’t seen any studies which directly link Splenda to cancer, so, until I do, I’m probably still going to keep using it. I haven’t tried Stevia, but I’ve heard it has a weird aftertaste (anyone tried it and have an opinion? I’d love to know).

Light breads/wraps/buns I will always love carbs. And while there are some delicious (and totally healthy) breads out there made with lots of whole grains, seeds, etc, calories can add up quickly. I just don’t want the bread I eat on a day-to-day basis to add over 200 calories to a meal, especially when I want that meal to include meat and other side dishes. Since I like to eat BIG meals, I go for foods that give me the biggest bang for my calorie buck. I’d rather have the bun, the burger, and some sides rather than have to cut back on my other food because I’ve got a ginormous bun. Same goes for wraps, English muffins and regular breads. Again, I will eat “regular” bread on occasion, but for the very day, 100 calorie will be king for me (despite the longer ingredient list).

Fat-free spray-on Margarine Yikes! I’m starting to feel a little sheepish, but I’ll admit it: I love this stuff (I’m even buying in bulk today in Buffalo because I can’t seem to find it in Canada anymore). We’re big popcorn eaters in our house, and like to make the air-popped kind. Some would say we’re ruining a healthy, whole snack like that by topping it off with a bunch of chemicals. I say, by using a “whole food” (butter) to top if off, you’re taking an extremely low-calorie snack and making in extremely high in calories. I guess you just have to pick your priorities. This stuff is also great for corn on the cob and grilled cheese.

Fat-free Sugar-free JELL-O Puddings (and Kozy Shack fat-free rice and tapioca puddings) I’ll say it again – I need sweet! Whatever can help me get it for no fat, and 60 calories or less, I’ll take it. I almost never eat one of these guys on their own, but they’re the perfect base for any number of desserts – mix with Cool Whip, cream cheese, or ricotta. Crumble or dip in 100 calorie pack cookies (another guilty pleasure). Use as the base of a fruit dip. These guys do it all, and at a very reasonable caloric price tag.

Fat-free Italian Salad Dressing As you’ve seen all over this blog, I love salads. And while many healthy living experts out there tell you do use less dressing or go without, I love my dressing. I don’t need my salad totally swimming it it, but I like each leaf to have good coverage. I ALWAYS make my own dressing, but if just using olive oil and vinegar, the oil calories go up quickly when making the amount of dressing I’d like to use. So I add some of the fat-free stuff to my homemade vinaigrette to bump up the volume for less calories. My typical “recipe” for one serving is a teaspoon of olive oil, and a splash each of Dijon mustard, fat-free Italian and some type of vinegar. I play with it from there –adding different herbs/seasonings, etc. I figure that using a small amount of store-bought dressing in my own homemade version is better than dousing the whole thing completely with store-bought vinaigrette.

Frozen Yogurt, Light Ice Cream, and “novelties” (ice cream sandwiches, sundae cups) I’ll admit, I eat a lot less of this stuff since discovering banana soft serve and all its spin-offs. However, if I need a quick sweet, creamy, caramel and/or chocolate fix, these are my go-to options. They let me eat flavours I love without totally splurging. Obviously, the ingredient list is longer than my homemade soft serve, but these items aren’t stuff I can easily replicate at home.

So…those are my confessions, I’ve put it out there….do you still love me? Like I said, this post may be slightly controversial, and you may disagree with me, and that’s fine. I’d love to know your thoughts though. Are there any “healthy” processed food that you’re not willing to give up? Do you shun anything out of a box/bag or can or do you incorporate some of these foods into a more whole foods approach?

3 Responses to “Favourite Things: Healthy (but not so whole) Foods”

  1. realfoodkatiesway July 6, 2011 at 6:39 am #

    When I went to the states a few years ago these were all items I picked up too…In fact they have I CANT BELIEVE ITS NOT BUTTER spray! We definitely don’t get that!

    You know I’ve stepped away from that kind of stuff but I don’t think there is anything wrong with the fact that you enjoy these foods! There are worse habits you could have babe!


  1. Life is funny… « hungryhealthyhilary - August 5, 2011

    […] I get and truly enjoy writing all my posts, despite the numbers. However, I posted this one on Favourite Things: Healthy but not-so-whole foods on Canada Day (and if you were out celebrating our great nation, I bear no grudge that you […]

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