A Farewell to Carbs

A 30-something navigating the world of Type 2 Diabetes while remaining fun, fashionable and fabulous.

Human Guinea Pig: Blood orange-flavored Greek yogurt 02/16/2012

An occasional feature wherein Diabetic Diva reviews products that purport to help with a healthy lifestyle. She receives no compensation or sponsorship for these reviews. Curious about a product? Leave suggestions in the comments section or e-mail diabetic.diva79@gmail.com.

My brief relationship with a nutritionist back when I was first diagnosed with diabetes left me with a few take-away points. In addition to suggesting a carbohydrate maximum for each meal and snack, she told me to try and combine a carb and a protein for each snack I had. Great advice. She also turned me on to Greek yogurt.

Now, I was raised on Yoplait Light. Greek yogurt was pretty much a mystery to me. But my nutritionist gave me some coupons for Chobani brand yogurt that made it pretty much free. So I gave it a shot.

The first few flavors I tried were … not so great. The fruit-on-the-bottom kind of weirded me out because the texture was weird. There was a tang to the Greek yogurt that Yoplait didn’t have.

But fat-free Greek yogurt is creamy. It’s substantial. It feels like you are eating something decadent. So I bid farewell to ordinary yogurt and stuck to the honey flavor for years.

I eventually branched out into lemon and pineapple (which is a 2 percent Greek yogurt, so it’s creamy like WHOA! as the cool kids were recently saying). A friend had mentioned Chobani having a cinnamon-apple flavor but I’d never seen it, so I was treating it like an urban legend.  I also tried and rejected several flavors, including mango, strawberry-banana and pomegranate.

The other day, I saw my boss eating a cup of Chobani that looked a little like the pomegranate. Because I’m nosy, I asked her what flavor it was. She told me it was blood orange and that it was delicious. I was intrigued, though I stopped short of asking her for a bite.

My new BFF, blood orange

And when I made a brief trip to the fancy grocery store to get fancy tea, I walked past a display that had blood orange Chobani front and center.

I bought two. I packed the first one in my lunch Tuesday, along with some sliced strawberries and a handful of Kashi cinnamon GoLean crunch, planning to make a parfait of sorts.

Let me tell you, readers. Blood orange Chobani is AWESOME. It’s all citrusy and sweet and creamy and oh wow. I need a moment. I might have found a new favorite treat. Together with the strawberries, it was ah-may-zing. It’s worth a separate trip to the fancy grocery store once a week, and perhaps a letter-writing campaign to the corporate headquaters of my not-so-fancy normal grocery store.

Fat-free Greek yogurt has become the dieter’s darling because it has double the protein of regular yogurt, which makes you feel more satisfied and keeps you from getting hungry so quickly.

Each 6-ounce cup of the blood orange flavor has 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, 21 grams of carbs and 14 grams of protein. It’s a little too many calories to stand in for a snack, but I usually eat one as part of my lunch or as a quickie breakfast.

Rating: Four stars (out of possible four)

Cost: $1 per cup, which carries one serving

Availability/more information: http://www.chobani.com/products/where/


Human Guinea Pig: Pop Chips 02/07/2012

An occasional feature wherein Diabetic Diva reviews products that purport to help with a healthy lifestyle. She receives no compensation or sponsorship for these reviews. Curious about a product? Leave comments in the suggestions or e-mail diabetic.diva79@gmail.com.

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you can probably infer that I like snacks. In fact, snacking is largely to blame for how heavy I am today. I eat pretty healthy meals, lots of veggies and lean protein.

But snacks. Snacks kill me every time. I like coming home from work, plopping on the couch and stuffing my face. I especially love chips — that satisfying crunch and the fact they come in giant bags that last me a 45-minute television show on DVD.

Of course, curbing my snack habits is key to really getting serious about losing weight. It’s also important in my quest to lower my blood sugar and avoid being sentenced to insulin.

So what’s a fat girl to do? Well, I was in the chip aisle of the grocery store, staring longingly at a bag of Herr’s Cheese Puffs when I saw the bag of Popchips sitting forlornly with the “natural snacks.”

Nom nom nom

The nutrition info wasn’t bad at all — about 120 calories, 4 grams of fat and 18 grams of carbs per 1 ounce serving of the original potato kind. The fiber and protein are comparable to the average bag of chips — 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein.

These are a little on the expensive side, about $3.50 for a 3 ounce bag, which comes out to more than a buck a serving. And despite my vow to get them home and immediately portion the chips out into 1 ounce servings so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat the whole bag in one sitting … Yep. You got it. I got distracted, stuck them in the carbohydrate cabinet (why yes, I do have an entire cabinet for snacks. Thanks for asking.)

And one night, when I was desperately hungry, I came across the bag again, opened it up and promptly ate the whole bag. For those keeping score at home, that’s a total of 360 calories, 12 grams of fat and (oh God, don’t make me look!) 54 grams of carbs.

I’d like to take a moment to say that, although I shouldn’t have eaten the whole bag in one sitting, it could be worse. Thank God there’s only 3 ounces in the whole bag, so there’s some built in damage control.

The chips were delicious, really light and super-crunchy with a pleasant amount of salt. I don’t like baked chips because I find them a little like munching on sand patties. These aren’t baked, according to the package, and they weren’t like eating the Saraha with a spade.

So, to review. They tasted good and they were fairly low in carbs, calories and fat. They gave me that hit of salt I like in a snack without being overpowering or dry. But they were expensive for the size of the package, and I didn’t have enough willpower not to eat the whole bag.

Rating: 2 and 1/2 out of 4 stars

Availability: Most grocery stores

Price: $3.50

More information: http://www.popchips.com/


Human Guinea Pig: Weight Watchers Brownies A La Mode 01/30/2012

An occasional feature wherein Diabetic Diva reviews products that purport to help with a healthy lifestyle. She receives no compensation or sponsorship for these reviews. Curious about a product? Leave comments in the suggestions or e-mail diabetic.diva79@gmail.com.

It’s coming on two weeks now that I began Weight Watchers. And while the past few days were an utter disaster (more on that tomorrow), I rocked it the first week with a 2.8 pound weight loss.

Last week, I wrote about what should be in a healthy person’s pantry, fridge and freezer. I keep a couple (OK, more that a couple) of things on hand to help me stick to my eating plan. And the other day, I was stocking up on frozen meals that can stand in when I’m too busy to cook a full meal and am out of leftovers.

While digging through the frozen meal section of my local Giant to find diet meals that looked edible, I found some Weight Watchers desserts. As an unrepentant ice cream lover, I was curious whether these frozen sundae things would be good. So I bought a pack to try just so I could report back to you, my loyal readers. See what I do for you? See?

The brownie a la mode comes in a pack of four, as do most of the other frozen desserts WW offers. If you can limit yourself to one per day (and I know that’s a big if. I’m about to heat up my second one of the day. For research, you know? STOP JUDGING ME!), it’s a pretty good calorie deal: 130 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 24 grams of carbs and two grams of fiber. The sodium and cholesterol counts are good, too.

Underneath the plastic wrap, there’s a hearteningly generous amount of dark chocolate syrup covering the vanilla ice cream. The directions say to pop it in the microwave for 5 seconds (I swear to God. 5 seconds.). I did so and then dug in.

The chocolate sauce tastes slightly of chemicals, and the vanilla ice cream lacks the same character as you would get in, say, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. But the brownie on the bottom is pleasingly substantial and it takes more than a few petite bites to finish it. All in all, it’s not a bad alternative if you are craving  ice cream and don’t trust yourself alone with a bucket of Breyers.

Rating: 3 out of possible 4

Cost: about $3.49 for a pack of four

Available in the freezer section of most grocery stores. Visit http://www.eatyourbest.com/where-to-buy.aspx to find a location.


Human Guinea Pig: These shoes are made for walking…. 01/25/2012

* An occasional feature wherein Diabetic Diva reviews products that purport to help with a healthy lifestyle. She receives no compensation or sponsorship for these reviews. Curious about a product? Leave comments in the suggestions or e-mail nissley79@gmail.com.

This isn’t quite a typical Human Guinea Pig post — if there can be such a thing as typical when we’re only comparing it to two previous posts.

I haven’t really tried any new products recently. But I did want to write a post about sneakers, specifically the sneakers that have made exercising a pleasure (almost) for me.

For years, I bought whatever exercise sneaker was on sale. I did no research before going to the store and picking out a new pair.

Meanwhile, I noticed that my arches hurt if I walked for a long time (like, more than 20 minutes. That’s a long time for me, OK?). Also, I seemed to sprain an ankle every couple of months, especially the left one. I broke that ankle in 2004 and it never healed quite right.

One day, I was flipping through the newspaper and ran across a column that talked about how to pick out the right kind of shoe for the type of exercise you’re doing and to solve specific foot problems. The article (which of course I can’t find, because it was at least three years ago) mentioned a couple of things that sounded like what I was having trouble with.

I think now is a good time to put in the standard “Please talk to your doctor or a podiatrist if you believe you have either of these problems or any other foot problems. For that matter, talk to a doctor before starting an exercise program.”

Based on that article, I began to suspect that I was an overpronator and had flat feet, possibly caused by the fact that I was doing high-impact exercise and needed to lose 75+ pounds. I started researching shoes that were designed for people with these problems. I found running shoes by Saucony called ProGrid Stabil CS, and let me tell you, they felt like heaven.

Aaah ... like running on clouds.

Now, I can’t get into all the fancy specifics of why the shoe feels good on my foot. The description of the shoe talks about “superior motion control” and stuff. Here’s what I can say: I’ve tried a couple of different brands and Saucony doesn’t hurt my arch. I also haven’t twisted or sprained my ankle since I started wearing these shoes.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s a clunky looking shoe. It has a lot of sole, and not in the “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” kind of way (see what I did there? Ahahaha). It doesn’t have a defined arch, so it looks kind of like a marshmallow on your foot. But looks are not as important as finishing an hour of medium-intensity cardio or spending the day walking around New York City without wanting to surgically remove my feet. These shoes fit the bill.

I had a hard time finding another pair of ProGrid Stabil CS in my size a few weeks ago, so I bought the ProGrid Stabil CS 2 and hoped for the best. It does not look as much like a big-ass marshmallow on your foot, and I was worried they would hurt my arches. But so far, so good. They’re a little lighter, a little sleeker but it feels just as good.

So the Saucony ProGrid Stabil shoe works well for me. To find a shoe that works for you, think about what kind of foot pain you’re having and talk to a podiatrist or your doctor about what kind of shoe might be better for you.

Rating: 4 stars out of a possible 4

Cost: From $75 to $120

Available online or at running stores. Visit http://www.saucony.com/store/SiteController/saucony/home for more information.


Human Guinea Pig*: Greek yogurt dip 01/16/2012

*An occasional feature wherein Diabetic Diva reviews products that purport to help with a healthy lifestyle. She receives no compensation or sponsorship for these reviews. Curious about a product? Suggest one by e-mailing Diabetic Diva at diabetic.diva79@gmail.com.

I was at the grocery store the other day, stocking up on fresh produce to nibble on during the week when I saw a new dip. No, not a dorky guy feeling up the out-of-season peaches! A new creamy concoction near the bags of mixed lettuce.

Now, if you know me at all, you’ll know I like dunking things into sauces. Apples in peanut butter, carrots and celery into spicy ranch, tortilla chips into warm, cheesy spinach artichoke dip,  chicken wings and (imagine me making Homer Simpson-like noises) ….

Ahem! OK, getting back to the topic at hand. The new dip. Yes. I’m a big fan of Marzetti’s southwestern ranch dip for my veggies, but it’s pretty high in calories.

So when I spied their new line of greek yogurt veggie dips called Otria, I was intrigued. With 60 calories and 2 grams of carbs for the spinach artichoke variety, it isn’t such a bad choice.

And it tastes pretty good, too. I tried it with the classic carrot sticks and also with some whole wheat pita triangles. There’s a definite tang that you get with greek yogurt, and it’s a little watery. I was a little weirded out by egg yolk and fish oil listed in the ingredients, too.

Rating: 3 stars out of a possible 4.

Cost: About $3 for an 8.75-ounce package, which has about 8 servings.

For more information: http://www.marzetti.com/products/marzetti/product.php?bc=44&cid=65.


Human Guinea Pig*: Crystal Light Mojito 01/09/2012

*An occasional feature wherein Diabetic Diva reviews products that purport to help with a healthy lifestyle. She receives no compensation or sponsorship for these reviews. Curious about a product? Suggest one by e-mailing Diabetic Diva at diabetic.diva79@gmail.com.

As a self-proclaimed foodie, being a diabetic can sometimes cramp my style. I have to be careful with what I eat now (though the idea that diabetics need to swear off all sugar for ever and ever amen is not entirely correct).

A few months before I was diagnosed with diabetes, some friends organized a bar-crawl to celebrate my 30th birthday. I remember drinking two sugary alcoholic beverages in rapid succession and then feeling like I was going to pass out and die. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was experiencing all the classic symptoms of high blood sugar.

After I was diagnosed, I swore off drinking. That was entirely my choice, and I’m not making any recommendations  as to what you personally should do. Any recommendations about nutrition and diet should come from a licensed, professional health care provider.

That said, I never really loved the taste of alcohol. I don’t like beer, I barely tolerate wine and straight liquor makes me gag. But put vodka or rum into some fruit juice and add sugar, and I can usually swallow it and ask for another. All that sugar and fruit juice wreaks havoc on my blood sugar, though, so I gave it up.

Every now and again, I miss drinking. One of my favorite drinks was a mojito — which is lime juice, mint, simple syrup, sparkling soda water and white rum. When I saw Crystal Light’s line of cocktail-flavored beverages — and that they had a mojito one! — I wanted to try it.

One note — I grew up drinking diet soda and Crystal Light, so I don’t mind the taste of artificial sweetener. I am trying to cut way back on my consumption of it. But obviously, Crystal Light uses artificial sweetner, so know that going into this, OK?

That aside, the Crystal Light mojito is really pretty good. It has the notes of citrus and lime that you expect in a mojito. At a party I threw recently, I used this as a base for actual mojitos and they were a hit, even amongst people who professed not to like artificial sweetener. For the party, I fancied the drinks up with some fresh mint leaves, a chunk of lime (both of which are calorie free!) and a healthy glug of good-quality white rum.

On my own, though, I don’t go to all that trouble. Unlike most Crystal Light packets, mojitos and others in their mocktail line make 2 quarts per packet. I think the taste is a little strong, so I usually add more water to the pitcher and add some ice cubes to my drink.

Rating: 3 stars out of a possible 4.

Cost: About $2/$3 per package, which contains 5 packages (making a total of 10 quarts)

Find a store: http://www.kraftbrands.com/crystallight/Pages/default.aspx#/mocktails/mojito