Sunday, April 5, 2009

Our Friend...Mr. 100 Calorie Snack!

I've often said that "portion control" is what's missing in most Americans' lives. I know it was virtually gone out of mine until I made the choice to change my eating habits and began Weight Watchers. All too often we've been duped into believing that we can eat huge portions of a product because it's "low calorie" or "low fat", but the reality is that EVERY box that lists nutritional information lists the portion size for that information and it's often ignored.

The funny part about 100 calorie snack bags is that many of the items, if not prepackaged in a smaller portion size, would be something we'd say "I can't eat that! It's bad for you" if we were to eat it straight out of the box or bag that wasn't portion controlled. A perfect example of this are the Hostess products, delicious cupcakes, Twinkies, and such, that if we were to eat them out of a box we'd probably never buy them when "dieting". The truth is, they're generally the same item, simply portioned out to be 100 calories, sometimes less! I would never buy a box of chocolate cream filled Hostess cupcakes, simply because it's not "healthy" eating BUT repackage those in smaller size, portion controlled packages.. mark them with 100 Calorie Snack on the front and I'm there in line with a couple boxes! It's a matter of convenience and portion control, plain and simple.

Why? First off the pre-proportioned servings make it quick and easy to make sure you're eating only the amount that is suggested. There's no second guessing how many crackers make 3 oz. servings when the bag is already prepared in that size! Secondly, there seems to generally be a consensus of "I can control myself better when I take a single package out and walk away, as opposed to sitting down with the box and trying to eat a 'portion' at my sitting". The ability to have a single portion handy and easy to take with you is a definite plus too and a very good reason to have these little snacks available. For Weight Watcher members, we find these 100 Calorie packages to be a quick snack that's very point friendly. In most cases they are generally the same points, no matter what the items are in the 100 Calorie package and sometimes even less than the average! As always, check the package nutrition information to ensure you are counting your points correctly. I did this with the Hostess cupcakes I so dearly love and was very pleasantly surprised that they're even LOWER than the norm for 100 calorie packs! I was thrilled to see I could actually have one of these snacks for half the points I was counting them for the first time I bought them! Another reason to be sure you check the NI!

So what kinds of 100 Calorie Packs are out there? There's a phenomenal amount available now, giving just about every snacker out there an option for sweet, sour, salty, zesty and more! Since my cravings tend to be more towards the 'sweet' side I tend to purchase more of those. I always keep a few of the salty and zesty types of snacks out there too, just in case!

Here's a few of my faves, feel free to comment and leave a few of your own favorite 100 Calorie Packs and where you purchase them from below!

Hostess 100 Calorie Pack Strawberry Cupcakes or Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes - purchased at most any grocery store including Giant Eagle, Wegmans, Quality, Tops, & even Walgrens.

Hershey's S'Mores Snacksters (Graham Cracker Cereal Squares, mini marshmallows & milk chocolate chips in a snack pack) - I found these at Big Lots but have seen them in the grocery stores also.

Nabisco Oreo Thin Crisps (baked chocolate wafer snacks, not an 'Oreo' as we know it, with no creamy filling but still a good crispy chocolate wafer) - Big Lots had a ton of these I picked up but every grocery store seems to have them too. Watch online for coupons or in your newspaper/magazines as Nabisco often has coupons for these!

Nabisco Oreo Cakesters (mini cake like versions of the Oreo cookie, these servings are very small but a nice change up when you're craving some chocolate or cake like snacks) - Giant Eagle, Wegmans, Tops, Quality, and most any store carry these.

Nabisco Mr. Salty Chocolate Covered Pretzels (these are decadent and a MUST try if you haven't) - again most every grocery store carries these including Wegman's, Giant Eagle & more.

Kraft (the originator of the 100 Calorie packs actually) Cheese Nips (a nice portion controlled size of a snack I cannot stop eating out of the box! Cheese flavored crackers.) - most grocery stores carry these. I have found combined Kraft 100 Calorie packs at GFS & Big Lots for a substantial cost savings. These combined packs carry the Cheese Nip packs, Lorna Doone Shortbread packs and another item I can't recall!

Kelloggs Keebler Fudge Shoppe Grasshopper Fudge Dipped Mint Cookies (simply a portion controlled version of the much loved Keebler Mint Cookies and definitely give the ol' "Thin Mint" cookie a run for it's money! I love to add these to my Weight Watcher chocolate smoothies mix for a blizzard style treat that makes Dairy Queen's former Girl Scout Blizzard with Thin Mints "minty green" with envy! I served these on St. Patty's Day to friends and family at my St. Patty's party and everyone thought they were "regular food" as they tend to call it, instead of a Weight Watcher style food! - These are generally found in most any grocery store and also in large packs with a mixture of 2 other Keebler style cookie packs.

Jolly Time 100 Calorie Microwave Popcorn - (huge amount of popcorn for a very filling snack - if you have the extra calories or points to use add a Tablespoon of grated parm cheese) - K-Mart, Wegman's, WalMart & most any store carry the Jolly Time 100 Calorie popcorn.

International Foods 100 Calorie Mocha Cappuccino - a wonderful thing for those who just cannot give up that daily cappuccino - I found mine at Giant Eagle and Wegman's

Please remember though, while the 100 Calorie packs are great treats, they should never take the place of a more nutritional, healthy treat such as fruits and veggies! This is the biggest problem with the 100 calorie pack treats, many are foregoing healthier snacks and turning to these yummy, quick and accountable alternatives.

Want to take the 100 Calorie treat even farther and create your own 100 Calorie or less "snacks"? This is a definite cost saver too! Here are some ideas:
  • 1/4 Cup fat free Ranch dressing with veggies
  • 1 small baked potato with 1/2 cup salsa and 2 tablespoons of fat-free sour cream
  • 1/2 apple with 2 teaspoons of peanut butter on it
  • 9 Tootsie roll midgees
  • 40 classic thin pretzel sticks
  • 15 strawberries with 1/4 cup lite Cool Whip
  • 5 Nabisco Nilla Wafers
  • 60 Pepperidge Farm baby gold fish crackers
  • 1 Laughing Cow lite cheese wedge and 3 Nabisco Triscuit crackers
  • 17 Special K crackers (these come in some great flavors)
  • 1 Medium Banana
  • 10 Spelt Pretzels with 1 Tablespoon of Sunspire brand grain-sweetened chocolate chips
  • 2 oz. lean roast beef wrapped in a lettuce leaf - this is a great protein burst if you're craving beef
  • 5 Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Drops
  • 1/2 Cup Frosted Mini Wheats (this is a great sweet tooth and crunchy craving killer)
  • 1/2 Cup sweetened Applesauce or 1 Cup un-sweetened
  • 2 slices cooked bacon (wrapped in a lettuce leaf with a slice of tomato it's awesome!)
  • 10 Jelly beans
  • 1/3 Cup frozen sherbet

Taking any of the above mentioned items and pre-packaging it for a quick and easy snack is best. It saves you having to measure out when you're on the run or being tempted to grab more than the 100 calorie serving allows for!

Hints & Tips:
  • I keep a bag hanging in my kitchen stuffed with 2 point snacks (weight watchers program). This allows for quick and easy access to a proper portioned snack that I know instantly how much it "costs".
  • Clip Coupons for all those snack pre-portioned items. They can be very expensive in comparison to the non-portioned equal product but with coupons they can come out a lot cheaper!
  • Check the website of the companies that offer the snack items you love. They often run coupons and even free samples!

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