Saturday, December 31, 2011

How Much Wine Is Too Much Wine?

Whether its a holiday get-together, a gourmet meal or a romantic dinner for two, wine adds a special flair to many of our special occasions.  But do you ever stop and ask the question "how much is too much?"  In terms of getting behind the wheel of a car, you hopefully pay close attention to your consumption, but what about the calories?

Wine is one of those things that fits the bill of a Calorie Terrorist, meaning that it quietly sneaks up on you and then BAM suddenly you have just downed 600 plus calories without even realizing it.  Liquids are notorious for that, as we tend to associate calories with solid foods since you can feel them piling up in your stomach.  But at the end of the day, it's what's INSIDE the food rather than the physical makeup of the food that creates weight problems.
Here are some general calorie values associated with wines:

8 oz Glass
Red Wine - 170 calories
Dry White Wine - 170 calories
Rose Wine - 180 calories
Sweet White Wine - 240 calories

If you want more specific information for calories in wine, click here.

The troublesome thing with wine, is that most bottles really don't give you much info in terms of caloric content, thus you don't really know what you are consuming.  At least with products like beer (50-200 calories in 16oz) you can find the info on the label.

Liquor is another product that will get you in trouble in terms of calories (and other things as well) as again its a lightweight liquid and the containers rarely tell you anything in terms of calories.  Considering that a typical shot runs 50-60 calories, that can add up quick, especially when you are mixing up concoctions that use high calorie accessories such a fruit juices and soft drinks.

So the next time you get ready to uncork that bottle of wine, remember that you may be opening yourself up to an excessive flow of calories.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Low Calorie Sangria For The Party

When it comes to Party Drinks, you can pretty much count on two things - first, if you drink enough you will get drunk - second, every sip comes at a high cost in terms of calories.  Of course if you drink enough, you won't even care about the calories... until the next day.  And if you are one of those New Year's resolution kind of people, New Year's EVE is a blank check for doing whatever you want, since you have until the net day to implement your new strategies.

Ok, for all the rest of us, who take notice of calories on a full-time basis, the concept of a low calorie drink option for New Year's Eve has some appeal and Rocco DiSpirito comes through with his Guilt-Free Sangria.  Not only is it low calorie, its also alcohol free.

Here is his recipe:

Start to finish: 15 minutes active, plus chilling
Servings: 4

1 cup water
3 bags pomegranate tea (such as Yogi)
3 bags hibiscus and rosehip tea (such as Teekanne)
6 packets stevia sweetener powder
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon aromatic bitters (such as Angostura)
1 1/2 cups fresh cut up fruit (such as citrus, grapes, apples, berries and melon)
5 sprigs fresh mint
2 cups seltzer water

In a small saucepan, bring the 1 cup of water to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add all 6 tea bags. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags, pressing them to extract as much liquid as possible. Stir in the stevia, agave and bitters. Add the fruit and 1 sprig of the mint. Cover and chill 4 to 24 hours.
Fill 4 tumblers with a third of the way with ice, then divide the chilled tea between the glasses. Add 1/2 cup of seltzer water and 1 mint sprig to each cup.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 43 calories; 0 g fat (0 percent calories from fat) (0 g saturated); 0 mg cholesterol; 10 g carbohydrate; 0 g protein; 1 g fiber; 2 mg sodium.

For more information, read his tips on this special concoction.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Calorie Terrorists Are Lurking

So what the heck is a Calorie Terrorist?  I'm referring to the products that are seemingly innocent in terms of calories, but which are really quite dangerous in terms of weigh management.  For example, salads, especially those in restaurants. 

The term "salad" suggests low calorie and healthy.  After all, how can you screw up lettuce and vegetables?  Easy, add in meat, cheese and dressing!  As a meat and potatoes guy, I made the same classic mistake as many others of assuming that because a salad was a salad it was a healthy alternative.  Thus, I would load up on a huge chef's salad complete with four types of meat, three types of cheese and plenty of thousand island dressing.  And of course, I made sure to leave off those icky condiments like tomatoes, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, etc - why would I want to screw up a perfectly good salad with that kind of junk?

And being a tyical guy, I decided that if a small amount was healthy, then a larger amount had to be super healthy.  Of course the flaw here was in assuming that the particular salad I was consuming was health at all.  So ultimately, I was fooling myself while consuming over 1000 calories...

BTW - just for reference - the McDonalds Premium Southwest Salad with Crisy Chicken has 430 calories.  Not extremely bad in the grand scheme of things, but probably more than you assumed.

Another great example of Calorie Terrorists are fruit juices.  Obviously, in terms of ingredients, true fruit juices are better for your body than soft drinks, but you might be surprised to find out how many calories may be lurking.  An 8oz glass of apple juice has around 115 calories.  Orange juice is about the same.

A cup of milk checks in at 170 calories. So if you like a glass of milk with breakfast, plus a bowl of cereal, you could easily be consuming 340 calories not including the cereal itself.  By comparison, skim milk still checks in about 110 calories, which can be very misleading, as many people consider skim milk to be very low in calories. 

Liquids in general are prime culprits in terms of calories, as most of them don't feel "heavy" thus there is the illusion that they don't contain much in the way of fat inducing ingredients.

So how do you defend yourself against Calorie Terrorists?  Read product labels and do food research.  The more you know, the safer you will be...  but you will only win the war if you fight back with a plan and a mission.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Fondue Made Healthy?

I know what you're thinking - how can anything like Fondue, chocked full of typically great tasting, but extremely fattening ingredients, possibly be healthy.  It all comes down to your choice of ingredients.  Like almost every other "created" dish, the degree (or lack thereof) of healthiness is determined by relatively simple decisions on the part of the cook.  Something as simple as mashed potatoes can be made much "lighter" by using margarine and skim milk instead of butter and whole milk.

Thus, even something like cheese fondue can be improved upon if you pay a little attention to whats going in the pot.  Sure, it will still have calories and fat, and if you go on a feeding frenzy... well, you get the picture.

So, if you are planning on a get-together for New Year's Eve which includes "eating" (why do we celebrate with food instead of a nice 5 mile walk?) then take a look at this new twist on a classic snack, brought to you by Rocco DiSpirito.  He has come up with a new version that has just 227 calories and 10 grams of fat, compared to 670 calories and 29 grams of fat per serving found with traditional cheese fondue.

By the way, if you plan to complement the fondue with a nice glass of wine, be sure to drink in moderation.  Not to avoid getting intoxicated, but because wine has more calories than you might realize, easily 150 to 180 calories per glass.  So imagine if you go for the whole bottle, where you will end up..

Small steps and smart decisions are key factors for losing weight and maintaining it.