Sweets and Snacks

Breads, Cereals, Rice, Pasta, and Other Grains

Generally foods such as pasta, rice, cereals, breads and other grains and dry beans and peas are higher in fiber and starch and pretty low in calories in saturated fat than other foods. Except for some bakery breads and sweet bread products made with high fat butter, eggs and high cholesterol milk, these foods have no dietary cholesterol which make them great for a low cholesterol diet. Also, some good food choices are fruits and vegetables, naturally low fat low cholesterol breads and other foods in this group.

Foods from this group should be eaten in 6 to 11 servings every day. Remember to keep your carbohydrate intake below the maximum of 60 percent of total calories if you have high triglyceride levels and / or low HDL level. You can choose a diet where you substitute unsaturated fat for saturated fat, and has no more than 35 percent of fat.

When buying foods from this certain group there are certain things you should remember:

Choose whole grain rolls and breads often because these have more fiber than white breads

Remember that dry cereals are low in fat. Also, avoid or limit the high fat granola, muesli and oat bran
types that are made with nuts and coconut or coconut oil because this increases the saturated fat content. It is very important that you add fat free milk or at most 1 percent milk instead of buying whole or low fat (2 percent) milk to save cholesterol and saturated fat.

Use pasta and rice as entrees. Always hold the high fat sauces such as cheese, butter, and cream.

Limit sweet baked goods such as croissants, biscuits, muffins, pastries, butter rolls and doughnuts, since they are made with lots of saturated fat mostly from whole milk, eggs and butter. These are also high in cholesterol

Snacks

Baked goods such as cakes and cookies, but also snacks like cheese crackers and some chips are often high in cholesterol and saturated fat. The best thing to do is limit the intake of sweets and snacks. Some low fat sweets and snacks to buy and use only now and then are listed below:

Angel food cake topped with either fresh fruit slices or fruit puree

Fat free or low fat pastries, cupcakes, cakes, brownies and cheesecake

Fat free or low fat cookies. This includes animal crackers, lemon or vanilla wafers, fruit or fig bars, devil’s food cookies and ginger snaps.

Frozen low fat or non fat ice milk, sherbet, sorbet, ice milk and fruit ices

Gelatin desserts – be careful at the whipped cream

Graham crackers

Dieting and Snack Time

Ok, we know dieting or watching what you are eating is easy on paper, but not so easy in real life.
And snacking is probably a very large part of your dieting plan, right?

Let’s see if by making just a few changes in the way you do things we can make it a lot easier for you to pick better snack choices. Let’s face it, better snack choices can definitely make a difference as to if your diet will work or not.

One of the first points to ask is…

How do you shop? Do you impulse buy as you are going up and down the aisles of your grocery store or do you have a list in your hand and you pretty much stick to it?

If you are an impulse buyer, you may want to make some changes starting right now. Impulse buying equals more fat content, more sodium on that label, more processed sugar, and overall less of the good stuff that you want to put into your body. I don’t think I’m very far off here, am I?

MAKE A LIST before you get inside of that grocery store!

Do you have fresh fruit and vegetables, yogurt, whole grain crackers, low fat cheese, and low-fat or skim milk on that list?

If the items you have on your list fit easily in a food group such as fruit, vegetable, dairy, grain, or protein, you should be good. Avoid the chips, the items with processed sugar, the JUNK food you probably already have waiting in your cupboards at home to entice you off of your diet.

Beware of the drinks you down every day. They can make up a very large part of your calorie or fat intake each day. Are you drinking lots of water, natural fruit juices (like apple juice) and sports drinks or are you still drinking a couple cans of soda a day? Maybe you like sweet tea or fruit punch and consume those by the gallon? Be careful as this type of liquid can be very high in calories but very low in nutrients. Try to choose drinks that will supplement a healthy diet, not sabotage it! Also, try to stay away from alcohol as, again, it will sabotage your diet.

Now once you have that food on your grocery list bought and paid for and you bring it home…

Do you still have all of that junk food sitting on the counter or in your cupboards waiting to be consumed?
After all, you bought all of this good healthy food that’s going to help you keep to your diet, but do you think you are going to make good choices if the “good stuff” is sitting next to the “bad stuff”?

Let’s get real! When you open the refrigerator and look inside, are you going to choose that juicy red apple or the fattening empty calorie cream horn sitting right next to it? Hmmm…

Get rid of the junk food in your house! If you don’t have someone to give them away to, throw them away! You really are only going to help yourself by getting them OUT OF YOUR HOUSE!

Ok, so we’ve covered the list and we’ve covered getting rid of the junk food. The third point I have for making good snack choices is how often you eat them.

Are you eating the typical three times a day and wanting to snack like crazy in between meals? Or are you already eating 6 small meals per day spreading out the calories and your levels of energy?

If you are still on the regular three meals per day plan, you may want to rethink that.

By eating more often, but less, you will cut down on the hunger cravings as you won’t be giving your body a chance to be hungry and will be maintaining high energy levels. This is optimal for your health and your diet success.

Vegetarian Food

Gujaratis are by far the largest Indian community overseas. So, it is no wonder that an increasing number of people are becoming aware of Gujarati food and dining. In fact, the general curiosity is not just about Gujarati meals, but has also spilled over to Gujarati snacks. The people of the region love their snacks and have a more diverse variety in them than anywhere else in the country.

Various Kinds

Gujarati snacks consist of a remarkable range of tastes and cooking styles, and it is safe to say that there would be something to suit everyone’s palette. Some of the snacks like dhokhla and khandhvi are wet and spongy; then there are cooked snacks, which are light and crispy, like khakhra; fried snacks such as kachori; and even those that have a rice-like consistency, like chevra and poha. Of course, there are the ubiquitous sweets, like the biscuit-y naan khatai, and the tempting jalebi, which is deep fried in boiling sugar syrup. There are several steamed Gujarati snacks as well, and these would delight health conscious people.

Range of Tastes

As far as tastes go, khakhra, chevra, poha and a lot others are savory, and can be made mild or spicy according to taste. Dhokhla and khandhvi, arguably the most popular of all these snacks outside Gujarat, both have a very unique tangy-spicy taste. They both are made from sour yoghurt and gram flour, along with a range of spices and seasoning. Chevra andpoha, on the other hand, taste very similar to flavored or vegetable rice, much like the famous Indian Pulao.

If you actually visit Gujarat, you will not be able to miss dabeli and vada pav, which are both preparations involving buns and pungent fillings. If it helps, visualize vada pav as an Indian burger. And yes, it is not too healthy or light in terms of calories!

A Vibrant Snack Culture

If you are thinking right now that Gujaratis are obsessed with snacks, you are not wrong. They typically call their snacks Nasto, and that is a word that features at all times of the day, from breakfast to bed-time. To give you an idea, Chevra, poha and dhokhla are popular as breakfast items, khakhra and khandhvi maybe eaten as appetizers before lunch or dinner or as munchies between meals, whereas kachori andvada pav feature as evening treats.

Since a lot of these snacks are portable and easy to store, people commonly carry them to work, pack them for train journeys and even send them overseas! In Gujarat, all these snacks are available on street-side stalls that are generally parked together in long rows in market places. However, the scope of the market goes way beyond that.

Exporters these days are doing business worth millions of dollars every year, catering to the snack needs of Gujaratis living abroad. As a result of this, a lot of foreign people have also got exposed to the concept of Gujarati snacks.

The good thing is that if you have the right ingredients and utensils, some of these tasteful Gujarati snacks are fairly easy to prepare at home. Indian food is as diverse as its people and culture.

Junking Junk Food and Switching

Many people worldwide consider snack food and junk food synonymous. But snack food doesn’t have to be junk food. In fact, you can choose alternatives that are healthier than junk food being passed off as snack food.

“Junk food” commonly refers to food items lacking nutritional value, or containing ingredients that negatively affect health when ingested regularly, or simply containing unhealthy components. However, the UK Food Standards Agency avoids using the term and prefers a more neutral label instead: foods that are “high in fat, saturated fat, salt, and sugar” (abbreviated to “HFSS food”). The Agency acknowledges the subjective and relative importance of such a category of foods, since HFSS food can actually complement balanced nutrition. However, special care must be taken not to mistakenly believe that such snack and food items can replace healthier alternatives in anyone’s diet.

The secret to ensuring that you are getting the right amount of nutrients from your snacks lies in knowing what your food contains. This means that avoiding “junk food” is simply a healthier choice, unless your special nutrition requirements demand higher fat, saturated fat, salt, and/or sugar content in your snacks and meals.

Here are some useful tips to help you make a healthier choice and avoid the temptation of junk food.

Check your kitchen cupboards and cabinets. Take out all the HFSS food items and throw them away. If you don’t see junk food, you will less likely give in to temptation. By making junk food difficult to access in your home, you will have to exert extra effort to go the grocery to buy some. That can be a discouraging factor.

Stock up on fruits, nuts, and vegetables. The easier you can access these healthy alternatives, the less likely you will fall for unhealthy options (e.g., chocolates and confectionery) to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Hydrate yourself with either plain water only or fresh fruit juice. Surely, sodas, colas, other carbonated beverages, and artificial fruit juices give your tongue a joyride and can actually provide your body with essential fluids. But, do you really need the extra sugar and preservatives? Besides, fresh fruit juice does not throw away the fruit’s natural fibers that can aid in digestion and improve metabolism.

Cook your own meals. That is, if you can and if you are willing. Homemade meals are enjoyable. You can also control the ingredients that you throw into the pot or pan.

Exercise daily. Thirty-minute aerobic exercises done five times a week can help you stay in good shape and can actually help you shed off excess calories. The metabolic lift produced by aerobic exercise also gives you that healthy feeling which can motivate you to eat only healthy food.

Quit gradually if you are a junk food addict. Gradual lessening of HFSS food intake tends to produce more success than abrupt stopping does. As you lessen your junk food intake, complement your plan with an increase in healthier snack options.

With HFSS food products flooding our supermarkets and groceries, you may find it difficult to distinguish between healthy and not-so-healthy snack foods. In many cases, examining the nutritional info printed on the packaging will help a lot. A little effort on your part can go a long way towards avoiding junk food and switching to healthier snacks.