New Things Thursday: Oat Bran

I’ve always been a cold cereal kind of lady; I don’t know why, but there’s something about crunching through a bowl of the stuff in the morning that gets me ready to seize the day. Like, OM NOM NOM I AM CRUNCHING YOU CEREAL LIKE I AM GOING TO CRUNCH THE WORLD TODAY. Alright, perhaps not. Still, most mornings I opt for cold cereal rather than hot. However, when I started lifting weights on a regular basis, I started including oatmeal with protein powder more frequently in my breakfast rotation. I’m a big fan of novelty, though, so when Tina mentioned on her blog that she had recently swapped out oatmeal for oat bran, I decided to give it a try myself.

And, I really like it. Oat bran is prepared the same way as oatmeal and tastes exactly the same as it’s breakfast-food brethren (i.e., it tastes kind of like nothing—oat bran is one of those “choose your own adventure/flavor” type of foods), but the texture is different and that’s what I’m really enjoying about it: Oat bran is chewier than oatmeal, and has smaller grains. It’s almost like eating quinoa or rice.

Anyway, here’s my evening snack of oat bran with milk and cinnamon/sugar:

… OK, this is a terrible picture and gives you no idea of the size/texture of oat bran. Just go look at Tina’s blog, she has a camera and photography skills.

ANYWAY, as and added bonus, a serving of oat bran has 30 fewer calories, two more grams of protein and two more grams of fiber than a serving of oatmeal that is the same size. Not a huge difference, but it adds up, ja? Also, I personally picked up the Hodgson’s Mill variety of oat bran, but I’m sure there are other tasty brans out there.

Ugh, weigh-in day tomorrow, and I really have my hopes up, which makes it worse; I’m really pulling for a number in my 120s, but we’ll see! I should really be focusing on non-scale victories, though, like not bingeing, rather than letting myself get wrapped up in a number. But, I just want to be DONE.

Product Review: Kettle Cuisine Angus Beef Steak Chili with Beans

I never used to be afraid of trying new things; as a general rule, if I picked up an unusual item from the center aisles of the grocery store, I could be assured that the chemicals within would guarantee the product was some kind of tasty, even if it was not especially healthy.

Since I’ve ventured into the organic realm, however, I have had more frequent run-ins with non-deliciousness; for whatever reason, certain all-natural labels seem to feel that being “organic” compensates for the fact that their product tastes like dirt. Or grass, which is occasionally an ingredient in organic products, so maybe the blame for picking up an abundance of non-tasty items is partly mine for not reading ingredient lists thoroughly enough.

But, I digress. Despite the negative results of my recent forays into uncharted organic territory, my lazy, comfort-food seeking self couldn’t resist picking up a package of Kettle Cuisine’s Angus Beef Steak Chili with Beans, particularly since it had such stellar nutritional statistics: One container of chili (i.e., one 10 oz. package—there’s one serving per container, which is nice. I always hate it when I get a pre-cooked meal home and find that one tray, etc., is actually two or three servings. Who eats half a frozen meal?) has only 250 calories, 9 grams of fat and 540 mg of sodium, which is pretty stellar for a frozen chili. And, the meal packs 8 grams of fiber and 22 grams of protein. WHOAH.

Before delving into the “How delicious was this meal?” portion of this review, I should probably disclose that this was my first brush with chili. So, even though I wasn’t a big fan of how this chili tasted, it may be because I’m just apparently not a fan of chili.

This was a very spicy dish, in that the heat wasn’t too intense (though it was enough to make my nose run a bit), but the predominant taste of the chili was definitely just … spice. If you’ve ever had pre-made taco mix, this chili tasted very similar to the kind of sauce you would find in an Ortega taco kit. However, I loved how this chili was just loaded with meat and beans. 90% of the time, I feel like I crack open a pre-made meal and find that its skimpy on the protein-oriented ingredients. In this chili, though, I got a generous serving of angus beef in every spoonful. And, the chili, itself, was very thick—not runny at all.

I can’t really attest to the chili’s staying power as I paired the dish with crackers (I was eating it for dinner), but I am pretty sure that this would make for a really filling lunch. And, even though I did have this with crackers, it was only one serving of Wheat Thins and the combo kept me full for a good two and a half hours.

I should also mention that this dish, in addition to being organic, is also gluten and dairy free. Personally, I don’t have a gluten or dairy intolerance, but I imagine good frozen, gluten free, dairy free meals aren’t exactly plentiful, so I feel it’s worth mentioning.

I probably wouldn’t pick up the chili again, as the taste just wasn’t up my alley, but the quality of the chili was so good I’m definitely going to pick up another Kettle Cuisine dish sometime soon (maybe the New England Clam Chowder. Mmm … creamy.)

Treats sans Tricks

Penny’s Low Fat Desserts are one of those hot blog items—along with Holey Donuts! and Barney Butter—that I would love to try, but unfortunately I’m an impoverished college student who needs to save their money for ridiculous things like books and such (cursed education, interfering with my ability to buy food over the internet!) So, I jumped at the chance to enter Emily‘s latest giveaway, which entails the gifting of a box of Penny’s desserts. If you’d like to be involved in this giveaway, too, then just hop over to this post and leave a comment detailing which delicious, delicious baked good you’d like (Hint: You want the chocolate chip cookies, and if you win, you want to send them to me.)

In other sugar-related news, I could probably kill a man right now for a pint of ice cream or some Reese’s cups. P.M.S.-oriented cravings are the worst.

Goin’ Runnin’ and GoLean

In a session that was the complete opposite of last week’s interval workout, I hella plowed this morning; I ended up shaving three minutes off my time for running 6 miles (NEW RECORD: 1 hr., 4 minutes and 9 seconds) and ended up doing 6.4 miles total at increased intensity. I actually could have gone for longer, I think, but I’m hesitant to extend my workouts. On the one hand, I want to get stronger, but at the same time I don’t want to start an excercise routine that I can’t keep up—it would be mad dreadful if I started exercising more and, consequently, eating more only to have to cut back on my workouts at some point in the near future because of a new job or some such thing.

I would have liked to sleep in today, but if I want to use the machines in my school’s mini-gym (the main gym doesn’t open until 10 a.m.) for my interval workout, then I need to get there early—machines tend to fill up fast later in the morning, and the equipment at both the main gym and the mini-gym has a half-hour time limit. So, if I want to use the machine for my full 70-minute long routine, I need to get there before everyone else has need of the equipment and can justifiably boot me off mid-workout. I think tomorrow I’m going to walk, though, and the outdoors don’t have a time limit and are open 24 hours, last I checked, so I’ll get out to excercise when I feel like it.

I wrote down everything I ate yesterday, but I didn’t count calories. It was a little weird, going through the day and not knowing how many calories I had left and such—I was really trying to avoid the mental tally—but at the end of the day I felt good about the experience; I had eaten when I was hungry and satisfied my cravings, and though I probably could have used an additional snack at the end of the day, it was 10 p.m. when I became hungry and I couldn’t be bothered to have a snack so close to bedtime. It’s interesting, though, that when you’re not counting calories you don’t just eat to eat, which I found I frequently did while I was dieting—if I had 300 calories left at the end of the day, I would eat them regardless of whether I was hungry or not. That, and I’ve found I need far fewer and much smaller snacks than I did while dieting; at my main meals, I use the “matchmaking” technique, which means I pick something that really sounds good rather than according to calories, and the result is that I’m satisfied for much longer. And, contrary to what I thought prior to starting intuitive eating, eating “whatever I want” hasn’t entailed copious amounts of junk food. Instead, when no foods are off limits, I find that 90% I really want some healthy/hearty.

Dang, I need a shower. Not only do I smell hell of terrible, but I am also mad chilly because I/my sweat has cooled off. Eww. Usually I’d have cereal for breakfast, but I’m really feeling something hot today; I picked up some of Kashi’s new GoLean Strawberry Flax frozen waffles the other day at the grocery store, and they are so good, so I think I’ll hit those up.

Maintenance: Day Eight / High Fructose Corn Saboteur

I’ve never really considered myself an “organic” kind of person; I generally leave that portion of the grocery store to HIPPIES and COMMUNISTS who aren’t American enough to support the chemical industries of the United States by buying products with unpronounceable ingredients.

No, in all seriousness, though, I just never really put that much weight on buying organic products; for one, I’m a college student with a limited budget, and if there’s a cereal that’s comparable nutrition wise to an organic cereal, then I’m certainly not going to shell out an extra $2 for the organic version. That, and I buy products I enjoy tasting, and many organic products … well … they can be kind of vile. To sumarize: I just never thought that organic products were really worth the extra money. How bad can certain ingredients in mainstream products really be for me? Last I checked, Mr. Medieval was chomping on a high fructose corn syrup free diet, and while I am I’m 90% sure I’m beating him in the life expectancy department.

And then I came across this review on “Would I Buy It Again?,” which contains the following statement:

“… What makes High Fructose Corn Syrup so evil is that science has shown that the high fructose corn syrup is more likely to stick to the fat cells in your body than regular sugar and therefore make you fatter.”

Ahmygawd.

AHMYGAWD FAT GET IT OFF GET IT OFF GET IT OFF.

Now, maybe it’s just a testament to my horrible weight-related neuroses, but on my following trip to the grocery store, I started reading labels, and practically everything I would usually buy contained the aforementioned enemy. So, I put it all back, because now that I know that mainstream products are actually doing me harm rather than just chillin’ in my body with a few benign, chemical friends, I don’t know if I can really go back to mainstream food containing High Fructose Corn Syrup. Will it actually make a difference in my health? Who knows, but I can’t in good faith pick out a food containin’ the H.F.C.S., anymore.

So, what did I chomp on yesterday, the day I exiled H.F.C.S.?

Breakfast (9 a.m.): 58 g. of Special K (200 calories) with 15 g. of Mini-Wheats (55 calories) and 2 oz. of skim milk (20 calories)

Alright, I didn’t make it through my blogroll until after breakfast. Sue me. However, if there was any part of my diet I thought would be devoid of H.F.C.S., it would be have the breakfast cereal marketed to women trying to lose weight. And, had they had it in stock at the grocery store, I probably wouldn’t have checked the ingredients on account of this assumption. So, it’s a good thing they didn’t have Special K in stock (I ended up picking up this variety Kashi Go Lean, instead), because when I checked the ingredients this morning on a whim, there was H.F.C.S., all up in the cereal I’ve been eating in copious amounts. Traitor. Ironically, the Frosted Mini-Wheats are clean.

Lunch (Noon): Amy’s Lower Sodium Vegetable Lasagna (290 calories); 1/2 an apple (30 calories); two Reese’s Miniatures (90 calories)

Normally, I wouldn’t have two frozen meals in one day (I had one planned for dinner, too), but seeing as how this was a lower sodium variety I figured doubling up on ye olde laziness dishes was OK. I had never had the Lower Sodium variety of the Amy’s Lasagna before, but I loved the regular kind and decided to give it a try. The sauce tasted much more like fresh vegetable puree than marinara sauce, which wasn’t a bad thing, it was just different; it made for a much sweeter sauce (though it was a “natural” sweet, not a “sugar” sweet, if that makes sense). The cheese, however, was fantastic: A nice mozzarella that I would have liked more of.

Snack (3 p.m.): Kashi TLC Pumpkin Pie Fruit and Grain Bar (120 calories); 1/2 an apple (30 calories); Tuna sandwich (150 calories)

I don’t usually buy bars; I tend to eat them like candy, and I just don’t find them to be that nutritionally worthwhile. However, after finding my usual lunch supplement (Yoplait Light) contained H.F.C.S., I needed something else to bulk up lunches/snacks. I’d heard good things about the Kashi bars, and they were only 10 calories more than my usual container of yogurt and had the same amount of protein, so I picked up the Pumpkin Pie variety. Oh, man—so tasty. The texture is a little odd—the bars are labeled as being “chewy”, but it’s actually a layer of chewy pumpkin flavor on top of crunchy grain bar—and this threw me off a little at first, but they legitimately taste like a lighter version of the filling you find in pumpkin pie. Also, this snack kept me hell of full; I went to the gym after class at 4:30 and didn’t have dinner until 6:45 (which is late for me), but even when dinner did roll around I was only a tiny bit hungry.

Dinner (6:45 p.m.): Lean Cuisine Hunan Stir Fry with Beef (260 calories)

Personally, I don’t find this to be the most filling dinner, but I was having a big dessert and wanted something light. This makes an excellent lunch, though, and it is chock full of vegetables, including plenty of broccoli and edamame. The saucy is tasty, too, a kind of generic, sweet Asian sauce that isn’t very spicy but which is pleasant in its own unassuming way.

Dessert (8 p.m.): Betty Crocker Warm Delight in Hot Fudge Brownie (370 calories); one pint of Vanilla Haagen-Daz (875)

Oh, yes. I think next week, though, I may have to forego my usual foray with these two; I’d like to spread my bonus calories through the entire week, and this really takes a big chunk out of my allowance (I used 890 bonus calories yesterday, which leaves me with 510. Blergh). Sometimes, I have no idea how I’m going to go out to eat and such without gaining weight when I begin eating intuitively—if this takes that big a chunk out of my calorie allowance, what is a dinner out going to daily calorie intake? Am I going to have to skimp every other day of the week just because I go out? I just honestly don’t know how I’m going to adequately judge how much I need each day, especially when I indulge.

Do you buy organic? If so, why?