Friday, February 01, 2008

Yummy Discoveries

In my attempts to get back on the healthy track and stick to my New Year's Goals, I've recently discovered a couple of foods that I've become instantly addicted to. The good news is they're actually "good for me," despite the numbers of calories and fat grams in them that might normally have me running to the hills.

LÄRABARs make a great snack after a workout, or a quick breakfast, and they're even sweet enough to be a night-time treat. From their website:

"LÄRABAR is a delicious blend of unsweetened fruits, nuts and spices - energy in its purest form. Made from 100% whole food, each flavor contains no more than six ingredients. Pure and simple, just as nature intended."
For me, a LÄRABAR is satisfying enough that, I don't have more cravings when they're gone, unlike when I have a bowl of ice cream, a candy bar, or even a granola bar, that tends to leave me wanting more as soon as I'm finished. I'm wondering if it's the fact that there are no added sugars, only the sweetness that Mother Nature added to the fruit herself. I'm sure the healthy fat content (from 8 to 14 grams depending on the flavor) also adds to the satisfying nature of these bars.

They range from 180 to 220 calories, in a spectrum of flavors (check out their colorful wrappers) like Chocolate Coconut, Banana Cookie, Cinnamon Roll and Lemon Bar. I haven't tried one I don't like yet: Apple Pie, Ginger Snap, Banana Cookie, Pecan Pie, not a bad one in the bunch. I even found a selection of chocolate choices at Whole Foods, for when I really need that chocolate fix, but they don't seem to be on the website yet. The drawback is that they're expensive (I've found them for between $1.39 and $1.99 each). As an occasional treat, I suppose that's fine, but you won't find me eating these everyday, although I'd like to.

Ezekiel 4:9 Cinnamon Raisin Bread has been another of my food pleasures over the last two weeks. You wouldn't think so, though, considering that it's flourless, organic, high in protein, and made from sprouted whole grains.
"Ezekiel 4:9® Bread, made from freshly sprouted organically grown grains, is naturally flavorful and bursting with nutrients. Rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and natural fiber with no added fat."
Unless you're a committed natural-foods eater, it doesn't exactly sound like something you'd grab off the shelf and hurry home to eat, now does it? I wasn't sure how I was going to like it, considering that I'm used to eating reduced-calorie whole wheat bread, which is soft and squishy, and well, low in calories. One slice of Ezekiel 4:9 Cinnamon Raisin Bread has 80 calories, for which I could have two slices of my usual low-cal wheat bread. Plus, E4:9 isn't exactly soft, and because it's made from sprouted grain, you have to keep it in the refrigerator if you want it to stay fresh for more than a couple of days. Cold, hard bread is not my idea of tasty. But I figured I'd give it a try, since several people had recommended it to me and I'd heard it was better for me than regular whole wheat bread.

So with a bit of hesitation, but strong resolve, I came home from Trader Joe's with my hard loaf of E4:9 and proceeded to stick one slice in the toaster for a minute, until it was warm and slightly crisp on the edges, but not completely crunchy. The smell of cinnamon and raisins, with a hint of nuttiness, had me wondering if I might have been too hard on this bread. I spread a dab of peanut butter on its surface and bit in. That was all it took. A little heat and some peanut butter and I've officially become an Ezekiel 4:9 convert. The best thing about this bread, like the LÄRABARs, is that one slice is just enough. With the reduced calorie breads, despite the high-fiber content of the variety I generally brought home, I would find myself eating two and three slices and still wanting more. Not so with E4:9. I can eat and enjoy one wonderful slice and that's the end of it. It's become my favorite after-dinner snack.

Have you tried any new foods lately? How did they rate? I'm always interested in broadening my eating horizons, so leave a comment and let me know.

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