FRO-YO: YES OR NO? #474 08/24/11
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Is Fro-Yo a No-No? 5 Healthy Frozen Alternatives!

By Joe Wilkes

Most neighborhoods in Los Angeles—and the rest of the country—seem to have a frozen yogurt shop. Pinkberry®, Red Mango®, Kiwiberry, Céfiore®, you name it—they're in strip malls, shopping centers, office complexes—even airports, hotels, and casinos. Frozen yogurt is touted as being low in calories and having lots of healthy flora for your intestinal health. So what's the deal: Is frozen yogurt good for you—or too good to be true?

Frozen Yogurt

The history of frozen yogurt

Dannon® made the first frozen yogurt in the 1970s. It was sold in supermarkets as a frozen treat on a stick—usually a variation of Dannon's tart berry yogurt, but coated with chocolate or carob. Later, companies like TCBY® (The Country's Best Yogurt) began processing yogurt in soft-serve ice cream machines, adding artificial flavorings, along with sugar or artificial sweeteners, in an effort to duplicate popular ice cream flavors. They also offered toppings like chocolate chips, M&M's®, and crushed candy bars. Supermarket brands like Häagen-Dazs® and Ben & Jerry's® also began adding frozen yogurt flavors to their ice cream lines in the 1980s.

In 2005, Pinkberry opened its first store in Los Angeles, and the chain quickly grew to more than 50 stores, spawning hosts of imitators. Many say Pinkberry is a knockoff of the Korean chain Red Mango, but whoever imitated whom, Red Mango has benefited from Pinkberry's opening up the American market to this new/retro style of yogurt. Pinkberry yogurt is a back-to-basics formulation, similar to what Dannon peddled in the 1970s. Pinkberry yogurt is more tart than the sweeter TCBY-style soft-serve yogurt, and is usually offered in just a few flavors (currently original, chocolate, salted caramel, coconut, mango, pomegranate, and watermelon). These gourmet yogurt shops offer mainly fresh fruit toppings, as well as some less nutritious ones, and they all claim the health benefits of the high levels of favorable bacteria in their yogurts, like Lactobacillus and L. acidophilus.

Is it healthy?

Yogurt is generally healthy. It has calcium, is low in calories and fat, and contains cultures that are helpful in maintaining intestinal health. A small serving of original Pinkberry (1.5 servings, as figured on their nutritional information page—a "large" is considered to be 3.8 servings!) contains about 150 calories, 4.5 grams of protein, no fat, and about 15 percent of your daily value of calcium. The fresh fruit toppings are unsweetened and add only 10 to 35 calories per scoop. So, generally speaking, Pinkberry yogurt makes for a reasonably healthy snack. Old-school TCBY has a few more calories, but is not dissimilar to Pinkberry in its nutritional makeup. However, keep in mind that most of these calories come from added sugar, so they're more likely to turn into stored fat in your body if you don't burn them off. While its calcium content is also fairly decent, you'll get nearly twice as much calcium from regular unfrozen yogurt than you'll get from the frozen kind. Regular yogurt also contains more protein.

Things really go off track, however, when it comes to toppings other than fresh fruit. If you're going down to the gourmet yogurt joint, crumbling a candy bar or two on your yogurt, and adding a dollop of syrup to boot, it's pretty hard to claim you're "eating light." Obviously, this is also true if you're going to the supermarket and getting a pint of Ben & Jerry's fro-yo with chunks of cookie dough or brownies swirled in. You'd think common sense would kick in here, but most of us have somehow fooled ourselves into thinking that toppings don't count, when in fact the number of empty calories they contain is usually much higher than the calorie total for the actual yogurt. And when you get your yogurt in a cone instead of a cup, you're adding even more empty calories to your dessert or snack—120 calories for a typical waffle cone.

In short, frozen yogurt isn't terrible for your diet, but it isn't a miracle food either. It's a much better option than ice cream (which has high levels of saturated fat), but yogurt doesn't necessarily have less sugar. It's also better than cookies, cake, or candy, but it can't hold a candle to fresh fruit as a food that can satisfy your sweet tooth while helping to make you healthy at the same time. Simply put, it's better for your figure and your pocketbook just to have a bowl of fresh fruit mixed with your favorite plain unfrozen yogurt.

However, if you just can't get past your craving for a frosty delight, try one of these 5 healthy frozen treats!

  1. Frozen RaspberriesFrozen fruit. Even people with no cooking experience can manage this one, because there's no cooking involved! Just pop some fresh grapes, strawberries, bananas, etc., into the freezer for a bit, then pop them in your mouth. This is an option that's particularly good for parents, because kids who turn up their noses at fresh fruit in a bowl will often appreciate it in this delightful "new" frozen form.
  2. Fancy ice cubes. Try pouring your favorite fruit juice into an ice cube tray and inserting toothpicks when the cubes start to get slushy enough to allow the toothpicks to stand up. (Or if you're rushing out, just lean 'em at an angle; it'll still work.) You've made your own healthy miniature frozen pops! For bartenders, these can make a great addition to beverages. Try a glass of seltzer water with some frozen lemon juice cubes on a hot summer day. It'll make you forget about lemonade.
  3. Teaspoon of SugarSpeaking of bartending . . . This tip's for adults only. Here's a professional bartenders' secret—they usually add extra sugar in frozen drinks. Why? It tastes better and it makes you thirstier! More sugar = more thirst = more drinks (= more sugar you've consumed without realizing it). You get the idea. When making your own margaritas or daiquiris on a hot summer day, skip the store-bought mixers and make your own from fresh juice, using as little sugar as you can stand. Also, add extra ice to the blender. You'll be able to make your drink last a lot longer and do a lot less damage to your diet.
  4. Make your own sorbet. This is a little more on the gourmet side. But if you're willing to invest a little money (in an ice cream/sorbet maker) and a little time, you can make delicious ice creams and sorbets from fresh fruit and keep out a lot of the artificial colors and flavors—and the obscene amounts of added sugar—many store brands contain.
  5. Blender Full of FruitMake your own frozen yogurt. If a dish of fresh fruit and regular plain yogurt is better for you than the soft-serve kind sold in yogurt stands, why not switch it up? Blend frozen fruit—berries, peaches, or any other favorites—with some plain yogurt in the blender. (Or you can use a hand blender or mixer.) If you absolutely can't live without it, you can add a little sugar (or honey, or agave nectar), but if you reduce the amount a little every time you make it, pretty soon you'll have weaned yourself off the excess sweet stuff. Before you know it, fruit and yogurt will be enough of a treat, and you won't even miss those crushed Oreos!

Related Articles
"4 Healthy Fats from Fruits"
"Seasonal Summer Produce"
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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Denis Faye, Beachbody Fitness Advisor, in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, August 29nd, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, recently named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration.

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Summer Cocktails: How to Enjoy the Party without Looking Like a Flotation Device

By Stephanie S. Saunders

Why do we spend all year doing P90X® or Slim in 6® to look good on the beach, only to sabotage ourselves with high-calorie summer cocktails? Mostly because it's fun and social, and the alcohol make us feel a little less self-conscious about being scantily clad.

Couple Drinking Cocktails

Thanks to the dozens of different diet crazes out there, we're all abundantly aware of carbs, protein, and fat, and we all have different opinions on which is the most evil. But we shouldn't forget that alcohol has calories too—7 per gram, more than carbs or protein and almost as much as fat. So what does this mean for you? It means that it's a challenge to burn off alcohol, especially when it's mixed with yummy, sugary ingredients.

The most obvious solution is abstinence, but what fun would that be? Since we can't remove the alcohol from these popular summer drink recipes without calling them "mocktails," let's find other ways to remove the excess calories instead. Here are six summer cocktail recipes, tailored to make them more waist-friendly.

  1. Margarita with Lime Margarita. Your biggest caloric enemy in the margarita is the prepackaged margarita mix. There are "light" versions available, but their taste is less than extraordinary. Here's another option that'll cut your calories in half without sacrificing flavor.

    Ingredients:
    • Juice of 1-½ limes
    • 3 oz. water
    • ½ tsp. stevia (or other no-calorie sugar substitute)
    • 2 oz. tequila
    • 1.5 oz. triple sec
    • Ice
    • Salt (to taste)
    Mix lime juice, water, and stevia together until stevia is dissolved. Add tequila and triple sec, then either pour over ice or put in blender with ice. Add salt to taste. Sip while looking amazing in your swimsuit, pretending you're on a beach in Mexico.

    Calories before: 435
    Calories now: 180
  2. Cosmopolitan with Slice of KiwiCosmopolitan. The sneaky trickster here is regular cranberry juice cocktail, which should be called "sugar with cranberry flavoring." This light version uses only one type of alcohol, which drastically cuts your calorie count.

    Ingredients:
    • 3 oz. low-calorie cranberry juice drink
    • 1 oz. raspberry vodka
    • Squeeze of lime
    • Lime twist, as garnish
    Pour ingredients over ice and shake. Strain ice cubes and pour into martini glass. Look stylish and thin at the same time.

    Calories before: 413
    Calories now: 98
  3. Mug of Tipsy Arnold PalmerTipsy Arnold Palmer. Sweetened bottled versions of lemonade and iced tea can be pretty loaded with sugar. However, if you brew your own iced tea and squeeze your own lemons, then add a bit of sugar substitute and 2 ounces of vodka, you can make a really tasty cocktail that doesn't have so many calories. Or the light Minute Maid® version and some diet iced tea will work for the domestically challenged.

    Ingredients:
    • Juice of 1 lemon and 3 oz. water (or 3 oz. diet lemonade)
    • 2 teabags steeped in 3 oz. boiling water and cooled (or 3 oz. diet iced tea)
    • ½ tsp. stevia (optional; omit if using commercially prepared diet beverages)
    • 2 oz. vodka
    • Sprig of mint (optional)
    • Ice
    Mix first three ingredients. Add vodka and pour over ice. Stir. Garnish with mint (if desired). Enjoy. Just don't try to play golf after two of these.

    Calories before: 156
    Calories now: 71
  4. Strawberry Daiquiri Strawberry daiquiri. Nothing says "vacation!" like a drink that a little umbrella will stand up in. Yet again, sugar is the culprit we're trying to cut out. Try this version for a vacation flashback that'll be reminiscent of the good times (not of ordering seconds on dessert).

    Ingredients:
    • ½ cup sliced strawberries
    • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
    • 1.5 oz. light rum
    • Stevia or other sweetener (to taste, depending on sweetness of strawberries)
    • Ice
    Throw it all in a blender and let the good times begin. Please don't have so many you try to drink the umbrella.

    Calories before: 299
    Calories now: 118
  5. Piña Colada with Slice of Pineapple Piña colada. Made correctly, a piña colada is the taste of summer. If not made correctly, it tastes like suntan lotion in a glass. This recipe replaces sugar and cream with fruit and skim milk.

    Ingredients:
    • 1 8-oz. can chunk pineapple (with juice)
    • ½ tsp. stevia (or other artificial sweetener)
    • 1 tsp. coconut extract
    • 1 cup nonfat (skim) milk
    • 1 cup ice cubes
    Place ingredients in blender and blend well, then garnish with a small plastic monkey, and (mentally, at least) escape to the Caribbean.

    Calories before: 297
    Calories now: 146
  6. Glass of White Wine White wine/light beer/champagne. These all seem like fairly obvious "light" drink choices and don't require recipes, but they're worth mentioning. White wine has about 100 calories in a 4-ounce serving, and it's delightfully refreshing on a summer day, especially if you add some club soda to make it into a spritzer. Beer comes in very light versions now, some of which have fewer than 70 calories. And not only is champagne fantastic with brunch, but it also only has around 100 calories per serving. With any of these, just be sure to measure your amounts so you don't end up overdoing it (and/or ending up with a splitting headache afterwards).

And there you have it. A handle on your summer cocktails, without adding to your love handles. Now put on your swimsuit and let the rest of the summer be the party it was meant to be!

Related Articles
"8 Ways to Avoid Summer Weight Gain"
"The Five Pillars of Willpower"
"6 Steps to Orchestrating the Perfect Fitness Regimen"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Denis Faye, Beachbody Fitness Advisor, in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, August 29nd, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, recently named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration.

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ET's Mark Steines Reveals How He Lost 30 Pounds

Entertainment Tonight cohost Mark Steines had impressive results with 10-Minute Trainer®—he lost 30 pounds and 5 inches off his waist in 90 days. Now he wants you to try it too and share your results with us! Do your best and forget the rest—then submit your transformation results to get a FREE "No More Excuses" T-SHIRT and a chance to win a trip to L.A. to be in the next 10-Minute Trainer infomercial! Click below to check out the video and click here to enter the contest.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Recipe: Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

Applesauce and walnuts give this the warm nuttiness of a fruit bread, while zucchini brings veggie goodness. Try making it in mini-loaf pans in a toaster oven if summer still has you not wanting to heat up your whole kitchen with the big oven.

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 6 egg whites
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • ½ cup white or raw sugar (or substitute 1/3 cup honey and reduce applesauce to ¼ cup)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1-¼ cups all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 1-¼ cups whole wheat (whole-meal) flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1-¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2-½ cups shredded zucchini
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350° F (325° if you're substituting honey). Lightly coat two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans (or 5 mini-loaf pans) with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine egg whites, canola oil, applesauce, sugar or honey, and vanilla. Using an electric mixer, beat the mixture on low speed until thick and foamy. In a small bowl, stir flours together. Set ½ cup of flour mixture aside. Add baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon to flour mixture in small bowl and stir together, then add to egg white mixture. Using electric mixer on medium speed, beat until well blended. Add zucchini and walnuts and stir with wooden spoon until combined. Adjust consistency of the batter with reserved ½ cup flour, adding 1 tablespoon at a time. Batter should be thick, not runny.

Pour ½ of batter into each prepared pan. Bake about 50 minutes (35 to 40 minutes for mini-loaf size), until a toothpick inserted into center of each loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and let finish cooling on rack. Each loaf will yield 9 1-inch slices, or 18 servings.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 50 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving)
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
146 4 grams 2 grams 20 grams 6 grams < 1 gram

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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"i've bartended "on the side" for seven years. i've never added sugar to a drink to make people drink more! i know some bars provide salty snacks to get people to drink more but adding sugar as a tactic to get you to drink more? i get the science behind it (my day job is in a biochemistry lab, my degree is in vertebrate physiology) but i don't know a bartender who does that...ever. and i know more bartenders than i care to admit! if people are going to drink...they'll drink regardless. funny"

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