Walk the aisles of supermarkets and you will find 100-calorie items in the cookie aisle, snack section, freezer, dairy refrigerator, soft drink and juice aisles and even on end caps where snack cakes are stored. Food corporations are producing 100-calorie packs that roll off the assembly line as fast as they are formulated.
It seems there are new packs being introduced to market shelves every day.
These little packages are an easy and neat way to tuck cookies, muffins, pretzels, chips, ice cream, beef jerky, soda, dried fruits, crackers, popcorn, nuts, candy and more in lunch sacks.
They seem to satisfy a sweet tooth or curb a salty craving without increasing caloric intake much.
And they’re a time saver when preparing school lunches — just pluck a bag out of the snack box and into the lunchbox. No muss, no fuss for a snack the kids will most likely enjoy. Adults even enjoy them as a treat, watching TV or doing errands.
Just beware that one bag is 100 calories. Two become 200. And so on.
Beth Brewer, a clinical dietitian with Physicians Regional Healthcare System says she doesn’t know why manufacturers picked 100 calories.
“They are good for portion control for short term but won’t be satisfying for very long. When you know foods are lower in calories you tend to eat more. You are watching your calories, but it is not healthier,” Brewer said.
“To watch your weight, eat more fiber and healthier fat — a handful of almonds, low-fat cheese, yogurt. The best way is to eat natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans and certain nuts.”
Most people are so conscious of calorie content and don’t carefully read labels. Brewer says to stick with lower fat. Manufacturers label items trans fat free, but the process contains hydrogenated oil and may still contain small amounts of trans fats.
“The best thing you can do is read the ingredients. When there are less ingredients in a manufactured product it is more natural,” Brewer declared.
“My suggestions for healthy, low calorie snacks are whole-wheat crackers and peanut butter, carrots and a little bit of hummus, low-fat string cheese, raisins, graham crackers, pretzels, air-popped popcorn, fresh fruit, applesauce, whole grains and cereal that is lower in sugar. You should pay attention to portion sizes.”
When it comes to calorie content for children, Brewer says teens and adolescents and small children who are picky eaters should have more calories to make sure you meet their needs for growth.
The websites www.MyRecipes. com and Good Housekeeping magazine’s website list these snack suggestions 100 calories or less that are similar to Brewer’s:
'My Recipes' snacks
■ 2/3 cup one-percent cottage cheese
■ 0.6 ounce of almonds, cashews, peanuts or pistachios
■ One large apple
■ Two cups strawberries
■ One medium banana
■ One whole-wheat English muffin
■ One tablespoon peanut butter
■ One cheese stick
■ 4½ cups 94 percent fat-free microwave popcorn
— From www.myrecipes.com
Good Housekeeping snacks
Good Housekeeping separates its list into categories:
■ One Whole Foods Market Two-Bite Brownie One Healthy Choice Mocha Fudge Swirl Bar One pouch Keebler Sandies Right Bites Shortbread Cookies
■ One Skinny Cow Fat-Free Fudge Bar
■ One Nestlé Butterfinger Stixx
■ 12 chocolate or vanilla Miss Meringue Minis Five Nabisco Nilla Wafers
■ Three Country Choice Certified Organic Ginger Snaps
■ One Deep Chocolate Vitamuffin Vitatop
■ One Blue Bunny Froz-Fruit Chunky Mango Cream Bar
■ One pouch O’Coco’s Organic Chocolate Crisps
Fruits and vegetables
■ Two cups raspberries
■ One cup mango chunks
■ 28 grapes
■ One cup blueberries
■ ½ medium cantaloupe
■ 15 strawberries dipped in ¼ cup Cool Whip Lite
■ ½ small apple with 2 teaspoons peanut butter
■ 45 steamed edamame (green soybeans)
■ 2 tablespoons each of mashed avocado and chopped tomatoes stuffed in ½ mini pita
■ ½ red bell pepper dipped in 3 tablespoons hummus
■ Salad with three cups lettuce, two scallions and one small tangerine drizzled with two tablespoons Newman’s Own Low-Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing
■ 1 Kraft Polly-O Superlong Twist-Ums string cheese stick
■ ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese with five strawberries
■ One Laughing Cow Light Creamy Garlic & Herb cheese wedge and three Triscuits
■ One Yoplait Light Smoothie
■ 6 ounces fat-free plain yogurt topped with 1/3 cup raspberries
■ 20 roasted peanuts
■ 60 Pepperidge Farm Baby Goldfish Crackers
■ One Jolly Time Healthy Pop
■ 100 Calorie Mini Bag popcorn
■ 12 Back to Nature Sesame Ginger Rice Thins
■ 40 Rold Gold Classic Style Pretzel Sticks
■ 12 Quaker Quakes Cheddar Cheese Rice Snacks
■ 20 Glenny’s Low Fat Soy Crisps
■ 10 Guiltless Gourmet Baked Yellow Corn Chips with ¼ cup salsa
■ Campbell’s Soup at Hand Blended Vegetable Medley
■ One Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bar
■ One hard-boiled egg with one slice Melba toast
■ Four slices Sara Lee Honey Ham with 2 teaspoons honey mustard, rolled in lettuce leaf
■ One slice Pepperidge Farm Raisin Cinnamon Swirl Bread with 1 teaspoon light butter
■ ½ mini bagel with 1 ounce smoked salmon
■ One Nutri-Grain Low Fat Whole Wheat Waffle with 1 tablespoon Smucker’s Squeeze
— From www.goodhousekeeping.com
Reader’s Digest snacks
If you want to make your own 100-calorie snacks here are three recipes from Reader’s Digest:
2 tablespoons sugar 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 4 Granny Smith or other tart apples, thinly sliced Preparation
■ Preheat the oven to 250 degrees
■ Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
■ Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl and add the apple slices.
■ Toss until both sides of the slice are well coated.
■ Pour the apples in a single layer onto the baking sheets and bake until lightly browned and crisp, a pproximately two hours.
■ Set aside to cool and store in a jar or plastic bag.
100 calories with 2 calories from fat
2 teaspoons semisweet chocolate chips 15 pretzel thins
■ Place the chocolate morsels on a small plate and microwave to 10 seconds. Take out of the microwave and stir.
■ Dip a pretzel stick end into the chocolate and then dip once again.
■ Dip each pretzel stick until all the chocolate is used and the tips are well coated.
Serve or leave at room temperature up to four hours.
100 calories with 27 calories from fat.
Mini cranberry muffins
(12 muffins, two muffins per serving)
¾ cup all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon wheat bran 1 tablespoon wheat germ 2 tablespoons cornmeal 2 tablespoons sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder ¼ teaspoon kosher salt 1 cup fresh cranberries 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 large egg ½ cup plain low-fat yogurt ¼ teaspoon baking soda ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract ½ teaspoon freshly grated orange zest Preparation
■ Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
■ Place mini liners in two mini cupcake tins or use nonstick tins.
■ Place the flour, wheat bran, wheat germ, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add the cranberries and stir to combine.
■ Place the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and mix well then add to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Do not over mix.
■ Using a large spoon, place spoonfuls of the mix into the prepared tins and transfer to the oven to bake until golden brown.
Approximately 15 minutes. Turn the muffins out of the pans and serve immediately or cool to room temperature.
■ Store covered overnight or freeze up to one month. 95 calories for two muffins, 42 calories from fat.
— Sally Sampson from rd.com/food