So you’re probably already getting together with the girls for purposes of Bunco, Tupperware, book club or the like, and the conversation probably turns, as it so often does in groups of women, to your diets. Why not double-down on your get-togethers and do some low-cal market research at the same time?
There are tons of lower calorie food products out there just waiting for you to discover them; unfortunately, it’s more of an investment than most people want to undertake to buy several types of, say, light salad dressing on the chance that you’ll really like one. On the other hand, if you’re getting together with eight other women and you all bring one, you can all try nine. It will take a little organization to make sure you don’t all bring the same one, but soon you’ll be in-the-know on more supermarket shelf items than the store employees. Why is this worthwhile? If you can replace your favorite Ranch dressing (140 calories for 2 T) for a dressing you’ll eat every night that only has 25 calories per 2 T, you’ll save enough calories in a month to lose a pound. Or to offset more than a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts.
Products Begging to be Tried
Light salad dressings: Everybody brings a bottle, no more than 80 calories per 2 T. Hostess provides lettuce for dipping (romaine works best), sliced tomatoes, cucumber, etc.
Snack crackers: Everybody brings a box, no more than 10 calories per cracker. This is harder than you think; Ritz have 16 calories per cracker and Triscuits (which I love) have 20. That’s more per cracker than some cookies, and since crackers are typically the vehicle for something else, loading on still more calories, it adds up scary-fast. Hostess provides low-fat, low-cal dips. (Here’s a tip– process low-fat cottage cheese in your food processor until it’s smooth, and use it with dip mixes in place of sour cream. It’s far fewer calories than even fat free sour cream [ick, why bother?], and loaded with protein and calcium.)
Yogurt/gelatin desserts: Everybody brings 2 packages (of the same item). Hostess provides spoons and sparkling water for cleansing the palate between tastes (it’s dairy, you’ll need it). Yoplait, La Crème, Jell-O and several other brands have gone into the market with pre-portioned refrigerated dessert items for around 70-150 calories per serving. Most of these contain artificial sweetener, though some do not; La Crème Mousse and Jell-O Temptations Cheesecake flavors are sugar-sweetened. La Crème initially released a chocolate mousse in this line that tasted exactly like real chocolate mousse (but for only 120 calories!), without the sour tang all chocolate yogurt products seem to have. It was amazing. And they discontinued it. I met some lovely people on the yogurt aisle at my supermarket while we all stared mournfully together at the empty space where the chocolate mousse should have been, until the official announcement that it was being discontinued. (Call them and complain; tell them I sent you.)
Chocolate: Any way to get chocolate to the mouth without blowing a meal’s worth of calories. My current favorite is Betty Crocker Warm Delights Minis, warm, gooey goodness for 150 calories.
Anything Goes: Everybody brings enough to share of their favorite food item that they think packs the most bang for around a 100-calorie-per-serving buck. Hostess provides a prize for the nosh voted tastiest.
Use your imagination, and keep your eyes peeled in the grocery aisles. If you’ve seen a low-cal product and been interested in trying it, chances are your girlfriends have, too.