Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mid-calorie Sprite and Fanta to hit store shelves...

Just read that Coca-Cola Co. will be testing out mid-calorie versions of Sprite and Fanta this summer. My reaction? SWEET! According to reports, "Sprite Select" and "Fanta Select" will have about half the calories of regular - or approximately 70 calories per a 12-ounce can. The tests will take place in a limited number of stores in Atlanta, Detroit, Louisville, Ky. and Memphis, Tenn.

While I'm more of a diet or zero calorie soft drink fanatic, I'm all about options. So like I said when they unveiled Pepsi Next, which has about half the calories of the regular version, I think it's a great way to potentially lure some of the consumers who typically turn their nose up at diet drinks. Plus, I love both Sprite and Fanta, so I see this as a win-win situation...particularly because I live in one of the test markets and can get my grubby paws on a can. I'll keep you posted on the taste!

Aspartame Safety and Benefits of Confirmed by Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Great news for diet soda lovers! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, recently reaffirmed the safety and benefits of low calorie sweeteners. As I've said a million times, low calorie sweeteners (like aspartame), are great options when you want to lower your daily sugar intake -and they can be part of a healthy diet or weight maintenance plan. Especially for those of us who love soda, but want to enjoy low-cal versions.

Specifically on aspartame, AND concluded:
“Aspartame consumption is not associated with adverse effects in the general population. Studies have found no evidence of a wide range of adverse effects of aspartame, including hypersensitivity reactions, elevated blood methanol or formate levels, and hematopoietic or brain cancers. Neurologic changes tested included cognitive functions, seizures, headaches, and changes in memory or mood.”

Additionally, in relation to aspartame and other safety issues, the Academy concluded:

 “Limited evidence from human studies suggests that aspartame consumption is not associated with detrimental effect on blood methanol, eye problems, acne, blood pressure, seizure disorder, or attention deficit disorder in children. There is limited evidence from human studies for three special adult populations. In people with diabetes, aspartame consumption is not associated with elevated plasma phenylalanine and tyrosine levels, fasting glucose control, intolerance to aspartame, ophthalmologic effects, heart rhythm, or weight.”

The Academy offers these suggestions for healthfully consuming nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners, including:
  • Enjoy the sweet taste of foods and beverages but keep your calorie count lower by choosing from the variety of low- and reduced-calorie sweeteners approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • As part of a healthful eating plan as outlined in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, safely enjoy the range of calorie-containing and low-calorie sweeteners in foods and beverages.

Read more about the position paper on the Calorie Control website, here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Paella and tapas and sangria, oh my!

For the second weekend in a row, we had family in town. After a short but lovely visit with my parents a week ago, my cousin spent a night at our place this past Friday while on her way to a beach trip with friends. Next on tap, my boyfriend's family is headed our way for Memorial Day weekend. Needless to say, I've been cleaning a lot of towels and sheets in recent weeks.
Anyway, to make sure my cousin enjoyed her stay in Atlanta, we took her to the hot, new Spanish restaurant in town. Despite the wait (that place was PACKED!), we absolutely loved the atmosphere and food. From empanadas to croquettes and fried potatoes to paella, it was a wonderful feast. And of course, we had to order sangria, which was dee-lish! While they wouldn't share their recipe with me, there was definitely carbonation in there - possibly club soda or seltzer water. I actually make a pretty bad-ass pitcher of diet soda-sweetened sangria myself, so for any others hankering for a glass, here are a few sangria recipes that have scored high grades at some of my parties in the past.

George Stella's Sangria
2 cups Burgundy wine
2 cups club soda or seltzer water
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar substitute (recommended: Splenda)
1 lemon, sliced into circles
1 lime, sliced into circles
1/4 cup diet Tang or any Crystal light fruit drink, optional
Mix all ingredients together in a punch bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve, pour into glasses over ice.

HG’s Sangria-Seltzer Twist
Hit up the bar for slices of orange, lemon, and lime. Give your favorite fruit wedges a little squeeze before dropping them into your glass. Add 1 oz. of liquor (rum or vodka is yummy) and top with calorie-free seltzer. If your party-throwers are winos, top your glass with a splash of red or blush wine. Now you’ve got a fancy, signature drink that only contains around 100 calories!

And my own Red Sangria concoction:
1 Bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, etc.)
1 sliced orange
1 sliced apple
1 sliced lime
½ cup brandy
½ cup triple sec
2 cups diet ginger ale
Six packets of low-calorie sweetener

For white sangria, use the same ingredients but replace the red wine with a white such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, etc. Also consider adding peach, mango or kiwi to sweeten the recipe even further.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

A special day for a special woman

You do know what Sunday is, right? if not, you'd better be prepared to grovel because it's Mothers Day...that one day of the year when you try to make it up to your mom for all that she's done throughout your life, from paying for swimming lessons, braces, music classes and college to dealing with teen angst.

Speaking of mothers, mine is actually coming to town this weekend - it will be the first time we've physically spent Mother's Day together in probably close to a decade. So instead of the usual flowers and chocolates sent by mail, I need to come up with a more creative gift. Any ideas? Mani/pedi/spa package, jewelry, food or gift card to one of her favorite stores?

For the rest of you folks who live with or near your mom, you might make Mom happy by letting her put her feet up for a change. Clean her house so she can watch some TV or delve into a new book. Then make her a nice meal. I'm thinking about whipping up a big Cajun dinner on Sunday to honor my mom's Louisiana roots - maybe some sausage and chicken jambalaya, bread pudding and a bottle of red wine. She's also a big ice tea and diet soda drinker so I'll have plenty of that on-hand this weekend, along with cheese, crackers, hummus, pita and other delicious snacks. Yay! So remember y'all to treat your mom like a queen for the day. She's the reason you're here, after all!