Friday, February 26, 2010

Chill Out!

I was just reading about how QuikTrip is adding Purple Stuff to the store lineup when it became very obvious to me - relaxation drinks are totally the hot beverage trend these days!
According to supporters, Purple Stuff is a diet soda with only 50 calories per serving. It uses ingredients and vitamins designed to reduce anxiety and stress. And judging by reports, it's far from the only "anti-energy" choice in a market dominated by stimulant brands including Red Bull, Rockstar and Monster Energy. Labels such as Slow Cow, Drank, iChill and Mary Jane’s Relaxing Soda are quickly forging a competitive niche, advertised as "an acupuncture session" in a can or an elixir to "unwind from the grind." For example, Jones Soda last year launched a Gaba-fortified (or gamma-aminobutyric acid) drink that claims to help improve mental focus, balance and clarity, while reducing stress.
So let me throw this out to you, dear readers. Have any of you tried these "relaxation" drinks? Do they provide peace of mind? When I'm in need of stress relief, I typically drink some herbal tea or a glass of wine or hop in a bubble bath. But then again, I might not be the target market...heck, I'm much more likely to drink a cup of coffee than a Red Bull when I need that extra energy boost. Still, I'm intrigued by this new trend. And I like that our caffeine-free, low-calorie beverage options continue to grow. Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Keeping Track of Calories

Well this is good news! As part of First Lady Michelle Obama's campaign to tackle childhood obesity, the beverage industry has unveiled new labeling plans that will make caloric content more obvious. Starting this summer, calories will be more prominently marked on the front of all packages, vending machines and fountain machines, the industry trade group said. The initiative - which already has the support of beverage giants Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. - will also ensure that calorie counts for the entire drink are displayed on the labels, up to and including 20-ounce products. On multi-serve packages such as two-liter bottles, beverage makers will switch from an 8-ounce to a 12-ounce serving size to give a more realistic calorie count. And according to the American Beverage Association, the industry is also committed to offering smaller portion sizes and further marketing low-calorie beverages. I think this is an outstanding idea and will help raise consumer awareness when it comes to weight maintenance and calorie reduction.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Love at First Bite

It's been a great week so far. The Saints won the Super Bowl. "Lost" is back on the air. I found a super-cheap, super-cute party dress on a clearance rack at Macy's last night. And Atlanta has avoided the blizzards and frigid temperatures that have plagued the rest of the country this week. Although that could change this afternoon when a sprinkling of snow is expected to settle over the metro area, it's been pretty decent outside lately so you will NOT hear me complain!

In other good news, I just found a low-cal cake recipe on Hungry Girl that sounds perfect for the weekend. Festive AND guilt-free? Yes please!

Pillsbury Funfetti Cake Mix + Diet Cream Soda = Perfect Cake

Here is the description: Cake mix and diet soda? Awesome. Pretty colors? Also awesome. Fat-slashed cake with beautiful dots of color? SIGN US UP! Stir together a can of diet cream soda with a box of Funfetti cake mix. Don't add ANY of the other stuff the box tells you to add... Just the soda. Then simply bake according to package instructions, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Finally, since I recently wrote about all of my favorite Super Bowl ads, I'd like to now mention that I thought this year's crop was ridiculously lame. However, there were a handful of standouts, which I've included below:

Snickers featuring Betty White and Abe Vigoda.

Google's Paris Romance

The Late Show featuring Letterman, Leno and Oprah

Kia Sorento's Toys Gone Wild

Did I miss anything? Have a wonderful weekend and Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 05, 2010

It's Game Time!

Since most of you will be tuning in Sunday to watch the big game, I just wanted to share a few tips to avoid the Super Bowl bulge that's bound to occur after a debaucherous day of sports, food and beer.

I'm headed to a friend's party where there will likely be an array of high-calorie snacks and fat-laden foods and beverages on display. Yes, I very well might grab a small plate of buffalo wings or a slice of pizza. But I'm also bringing a bag of baked chips and a few containers of low-fat dip and salsa. Even that little modification can have a big end result. After all, statistics show that choosing fat-free potato chips for the big game could save up to 300 calories per person. The same goes for soda. I'll definitely be drinking the diet version over the full-calorie can!

Other plans? I will be hitting the gym for a one-hour workout Sunday morning. And as for the booze, I'll be drinking light moderation. And in between each drink, I'll have a glass of water.

Finally, I promise not to double-dip, not that I ever do. All Seinfeld fans should know what I'm talking about here!

Research published two years ago in the Journal of Food Safety determined that sporadic double dipping transfers at least 50 to 100 bacteria from one mouth to another with every bite. Blech. Conducted by Clemson University, the study was proposed by Prof. Paul Dawson, a food microbiologist, after he saw a rerun of a 1993 "Seinfeld" episode where George Costanza is confronted after dipping the same chip twice. Here's a recap of the hilarious scene:

GEORGE: Double-dipped? What are you talking about?

TIMMY: You dipped the chip. You took a bite. And you dipped again.

GEORGE: So...?

TIMMY: That's like putting your whole mouth right in the dip! From now on, when you take a chip - just take one dip and end it!

It seems Timmy wasn't so far off the mark about his germ concerns, huh? Dawson suggests thinking of it this way..."Before you have some dip at a party, look around and ask yourself, would I be willing to kiss everyone here? Because you don't know who might be double dipping, and those who do are sharing their saliva with you."

Keep that in mind should you wind up in front of a communal guacamole bowl this Super Bowl Sunday.