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Budget constraints prevent many people from eating right.
"I can't afford to buy healthy food."
"Fruits and vegetables are too expensive."
"Grocery store prices are astronomical."
"It's cheaper to eat fast food."
We hear these "excuses" every day--and they're good ones. But we don't give up that easily and believe any excuse can be overcome. Today we're setting out to prove that healthy eating is possible on any budget.
We compared the cost of unhealthy foods from the drive-thru, freezer section and snack foods aisle to the cost of healthy foods. By making even one of these swaps, you can make room in your grocery budget for a few new healthy foods.
The photos below aim to show the diversity in healthy foods available. Prices may vary in your area (some items were on sale when we shopped), but we think you'll be shocked at how far you can stretch a buck at the supermarket when you buy healthy foods! Read More ›
McDonald's has a new online promotion to highlight both its sponsorship of the US Olympic team and its under-400 menu options. Win When USA Wins Gold Olympic promotion. This interactive quiz feature lets you learn more about the healthier options at McDonald's.
Do you know how many servings of whole grain are contained in the Fruit & Maple Oatmeal? How about how many grams of protein are in the Premium Grilled Chicken Sandwich? You can learn that and more from the new highlighted information. Not everything on the under-400 calorie favorites list are good options -- and most contain a very high amount of sodium. Here are some of the better choices from the new list.
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What do you get when you top vanilla soft serve ice cream with chocolate fudge and caramel sauce? An ice cream sundae of course. Now for a limited time you can top that with hardwood smoked bacon pieces when you visit Burger King and make it a Bacon Sundae!
The bacon and ice cream combination seems to be the new taste sensation of the year. In February, Jack in the Box launched its bacon-flavored milkshake followed by Denny's Maple Bacon Sundae creation. Both were only offered for a limited time and now BK is following suit. It seems that other sweet-salty combinations like Bacon Chocolate Bars, Bacon Maple Cupcakes, and Bacon Lollipops have also become popular.
Burger King didn't just introduce the Bacon Sundae for the summer. They are also featuring other favorites from BBQ pork or chicken sandwiches and sweet potato fries to frozen lemonade for a limited time. Their new It's BBQ Day at Burger King commercial highlights all the best things about summer in America like picnics, lemonade and ice cream to also help get you in the mood. How does the new Burger King Bacon Sundae stack up nutritionally?
Photo by SparkPeople member KALORIE-KILLAH
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As the weather warms up, you might take refuge in smoothie shops and coffee houses to cool down. Starbucks has long been a go-to destination for sippable summertime treats, and the chain has come out with some healthier options in recent years. However, some are better for you than others; many of the frozen drinks that are marketed as ''healthy'' are simply glorified milkshakes, even before the whipped cream and extra syrups.
If you were to grab a frozen drink on a hot summer day, which Starbucks pick would be lowest in calories and sugar: the Grande Green Tea Frappuccino® Blended Crème (no whipped cream), made with sweetened green tea and 2% milk, or the Grande Chocolate Smoothie (no whipped cream), made with rich mocha sauce, banana, and 2% milk?
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Last year wasn't one of the best sales years for Taco Bell. Perhaps it was because of a lawsuit early in the year but regardless of the reason, Taco Bell and their parent company Yum Brands Inc. seek to make this year better. With the hopes of increasing interest in the Mexican style fast-casual dining chain, they are rolling out two new test market initiatives with specific competitor markets in mind.
Last month nearly 800 Taco Bell test restaurants across 12 western U.S. states began trialing new breakfast options. The initial breakfast test market began with four cities and favorable response led to the increased test market to begin making a presence in the $42 billion food on the run breakfast market. New "First Meal" items focus on egg and steak, sausage or bacon stuffed burritos and wraps. Taco Bell has also included recognizable name brands like Cinnabon, Johnsonville, Tropicana, and Seattle's Best in the hopes of boosting interest as well. With a price range from $.99 to $2.79, more people may begin thinking "outside the bun" when it comes to breakfast.
In addition to the expanded test market of the new breakfast line, initial testing is under way for the new menu items that they hope take Taco Bell in the direction of gourmet food. Biggest Loser Chef Lorena Garcia has created the new Cantina Bell burrito, burrito bowl, and soft tacos menu items. Increased focus on nutrient rich ingredients such as seasoned white rice, black beans, and corn salsa appear to take aim at fresh-Mex competitors Chipotle Mexican Grill and Qdoba. Unfortunately, the initial testing market for Cantina Bell is restricted to the Bakersfield, California and Louisville, Kentucky areas for now. If all goes well, you may be seeing the new menu near you by the end of the year.
If neither of these new initiatives is in your area but you love Taco Bell, have no fear because the countdown has started for a new culturally cool concept that just might be.
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Harris Interactive recently conducted a survey on behalf of Applebee's Neighborhood Bar & Grill to gain information about food-related New Year's resolutions. They surveyed U.S. adults at the end of 2011 and found that 83 percent of those interviewed would like to eat better in the New Year but don't want to feel they are sacrificing to do it. Eighty-one percent of respondents also say that lower-calorie meal options when dining away from home would help them keep their food-related resolutions. Since nine in ten Americans that make food-related resolutions end up breaking them, help with finding lower calorie meal options is needed to point people in the right direction when they dine away from home.
Over the years, we have highlighted many healthier options in our Diet Friendly Dining series. Since many of you made food-related New Year's resolutions or goals for this year, here are 10 restaurants with calorie conscience menus to keep in mind when eating away from home.
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In The Santa Clause movie, Scott Calvin and his son visit Denny's late in the evening after burning their holiday meal because America's diner is always open. Besides always being open, Denny's is probably best known for breakfast because it is served all day long. If breakfast isn't for you, a variety of other diner favorites are available to meet all kinds of tastes. In America, diners or "greasy spoons" were known for great tasting foods that were less than healthy. Today, Denny's attempts to keep the diner favorites while also offering more nutritionally fit meal options as well as a value menu so both the nutrition and cost conscience patron can find what they are looking for.
Denny's Fit Fare guide will be your key to better nutrition at your next visit. In addition to a variety of designated Fit Fare options, you can also substitute healthier items like egg whites, chicken sausage, turkey bacon, wheat pancakes, sugar-free syrup, Fit Fare fresh veggies, or seasonal fruit in any meal. The Fit Fare logos will help you identify the best choices to meet your nutrition meal goals.
- Fit Fare Lean: Under 15 grams of fat
- Fit Fare Light: Under 550 calories
- Fit Fare Protein: Over 20 grams of protein
- Fit Fare Fiber: Over 8 grams of fiber
Here are the best choices we found that might help you stay within your nutrition goals as you enjoy a meal away from home.
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If 2009 was the year of cutting back, 2010 was the year of adding on, at least when it came to food. The year's top catch phrase: More cheese, please!
On menus from Taco Bell to the Cheesecake Factory, cheese was piled on, in several varieties. Melted, fried, sandwiched, stuffed and slathered on anything and everything, it's safe to say that, if you're eating these foods, you're meeting your dairy quota.
We've rounded up the worst new foods of the year and compiled some fun fitness facts to help put these caloric monstrosities in perspective!
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When you're on the run or out with friends, it's not always possible to plan ahead and do your research before heading to a restaurant. (If you can plan ahead, Tanya's Food on the Run series is a fantastic resource.) Once there, your senses are often assaulted by glossy photos on menus and table tents, tantalizing smells, and fast-paced sales pitches from servers. Even your fellow diners get in on the act, urging you to try the newest, most popular menu item. "Crispy breaded macaroni and cheese bites wrapped in bacon and served with our five-queso, dragon fire dipping sauce." Sounds good when everyone else is ordering it, right?
While the trend at some hip restaurants is simplicity (Mac-n-cheese: penne + pancetta + artisan Gouda), most restaurants add long descriptions to entice diners. "Fluffy omelets," "real cheese," and "fresh lettuce" become selling points.
But think about it: Omelets are fluffy by nature. Shouldn't all cheese be real? And would someone really serve not-fresh lettuce? (Perhaps, but most customers would send it back.) If you're telling me about a specific type of food--Hass avocados, which have a richer flavor than other varieties; Vidalia onions, known for their sweetness; or Niman Ranch pork, a high quality brand--then please add the descriptors. But if restaurants are stating the obvious, overselling their dishes, or trying to gloss over unhealthy ingredients, we as consumers should be able to read beyond that and make educated decisions.
My number one piece of advice for translating menus: If you would never be willing to eat the opposite of a menu description (e.g. stale bread, soggy lettuce, tough chicken), then the modifier is just hype!
When you're learning to maneuver the thick menus of restaurants and seek out healthier items, it's not always easy. I've scoured menus for descriptions that are full of hollow marketing terms. Let's separate hype from reality. Below, I'll translate these menu descriptions. Do any of these adjectives and descriptions actually mean food is better for us? Or--health aspects aside--does it really make a difference in the final taste? Does it justify an added cost? No restaurants will be named in the list below. Read More ›
Wendy's was the fast-food salad leader in the 1980's with their expansive salad bar. After nearly two decades, the company removed the salad bars. Pre-portioned Garden Sensation salads were introduced in 2002 and have remained popular. The Mandarin Chicken salad was my personal favorite. Last week four new salads took center stage in the Garden Sensation category. Marketing officials hope the focus on wholesome ingredients will appeal to the nutrition conscious when they eat away from home. So how do these new salads measure up?
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When it comes to the healthfulness of menu items and information shared by restaurants, just think about how far we've come in just the last decade. Nutrition facts for most restaurant foods are available not just online, but on menu boards in many states. Happy Meals can be bought with apples and milk instead of fries and soda. And we're no longer limited to greasy burgers when we stop at a fast food joint: salads, yogurt parfaits, and even oatmeal are standard these days. Healthful options abound where once there were none!
Sometimes it seems like restaurants are listening to consumers who want healthier options. But are they taking two step backwards when they release items like the KFC's Double Down or promote the inclusion of a "fourth meal" in their commercials (as if we really need to eat more than we already do)?
This week I read about a new menu item from Friendly's, a burger that replaces the bun with TWO GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES for a reported 1,500 calories and 79 grams of fat. Have they gone completely mad? Read More ›
Both California and New York City have led the way with health-promoting laws that require certain chain restaurants to post calorie counts (and other nutrition information) on their menu boards. And coming soon, thanks to the recent passage of the healthcare bill, chain restaurants will have to follow suit nationwide.
Here in Ohio, I have yet to see calorie counts posted on menu boards, but I admit that I am scarcely in a restaurant that actually has a menu on the wall (I prefer "sit down" restaurants or simply cooking at home). I was in Panera the other day and noticed calorie counts posted with three new smoothies they offered and much to my surprise, they had fewer calories than I would have guessed.
Whether these nutritional facts really make a difference has been up for debate. Some research shows that they do not promote changes in ordering behavior, especially in low-income areas where people want more (food, calories) for their money. More recently, I read about a newer study that showed calorie counts on menus do affect people's choices for the better, although the demographic researched (Starbucks patrons) was quite different than the aforementioned study (fast food goers in poor neighborhoods).
This led me to wonder: Have posted nutrition facts on a menu board affected your order? Read More ›
It’s conventional to wait until the end of the year to decide which new food product deserves the award for worst of the year. But once in a while, a product comes along that's such an obvious choice there’s no need to hold off giving the award until all the entries are in.
Next week, KFC is introducing just such a product: their new Double Down sandwich.
It’s not entirely clear how this product actually qualifies as a “sandwich,” since there’s no bread involved. It’s two pieces of bacon and two pieces of cheese served between two pieces of fried chicken. There’s nothing even remotely resembling a vegetable—not even ketchup.
Given all the public concern lately about eating balanced meals and reducing the health risks associated with a high-fat, low fiber diet, you have to wonder: What was KFC thinking? And the answer to that question might just be more disturbing than the Double Down itself. Read More ›
The Panera Bread Company announced last Wednesday they will introduce new calorie containing menu boards.
Panera has willingly shared full nutrition information on their web site for a while. We used their information to share our Panera Bread Food on the Run review. Now in addition to complete product nutrition information, you can also find an online nutrition calculator to evaluate and customize choices before your next visit. So with their existing commitment to complete disclosure, why the need to change the menu boards?
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Since the first A-frame style restaurant opened in California, the International House of Pancakes has been an American favorite for generations. Although the restaurant construction style and name have been updated, you can still expect to find a delectable stack of pancakes when you visit one of over 1,400 restaurants across the U.S.
In 2007, IHOP Corp acquired Applebee's International Inc and brought two leading restaurant brands together. With a combined restaurant reach of more than 3,300, the IHOP Corporation has become the largest full service restaurant company in the world.
A few months ago we provided a review of Applebee's as part of our ongoing Diet Friendly Dining series. Although a complete nutrition guide is not readily available for most of the pancakes, omelettes or burgers, a new IHOP For Me section on the menu provides nutrition information to help you find a meal under 500 calories with 15-20 grams of fat or less.
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