Annie and I have been doing some food swaps lately, and I've come to the sad realization that most my finds are not available in this country. I used to live in the United States and found it was so much easier to do WW there. Turns out it wasn't just my imagination: the selection of ready-made, low-points foods really IS that much better south of the border. And while I try to stay away from too much of the pre-packaged, loaded with preservatives crap that is devoid of any kind of nutritional value, there are some products that are low-points, not terrible for you, and not completely synthetic. Here are a few of my must-haves from the U-S and A:
MorningStar Farms Original Sausage Patties (1.5 points)
I was a vegetarian for 13 years, and am well-acquainted with the 'fake meat' soy-based foods. The Mister, on the other hand, is a bonafide meatatarian, and has little tolerance for anything that rhymes with 'snafu.' Until now, that is: MorningStar Farms sausage patties have changed everything. I would go so far as to say that he loves them. And why shouldn't he? They're 80 calories and 1.5 points, which is a far cry from what the real deal would add up to. We discovered on a recent trip that these are also available in a jacked-up spicy version. I toast a whole wheat english muffin, spread some Light French Onion Laughing Cow on it, add a sausage patty, an egg, and a dab of hot sauce. It's phenomenal.
2) No Pudge! Fat Free Brownies (2 points)
I checked the "all natural" ingredients list in No Pudge! (honestly, they are so good and low in points that I almost don't care what is in them), and it's good news. There are only eight ingredients (whole wheat flour and cane sugar, for example), and I can pronounce all of them! Bonus! They're chewy and delicious, and are only 2 points per brownie. There are instructions on the box for making a single serving with just plain nonfat yogurt and the microwave, because who needs a whole damn pan of brownies laying around, right? These are the best, I tell ya, THE BEST!
Silk Light Chocolate (1.5 points per cup)
I don't drink milk because I've never really liked the taste of it, and dairy is not always my friend. Fortunately, soy milk has come loooong way from its earlier days as a chalky, too-thick bean juice. Silk brand soy milk is my favourite, and in my opinion, is the best tasting soy milk available. More recently, a 'light' version of the plain and vanilla flavours showed up on store shelves in Canada, and it's very low in points: about 0.5 per 1/2 cup. Now here comes the big sigh. A light version of the chocolate flavour is available in the US. This has in part been achieved by using stevia (see #4 below) as a natural sweetener instead of sugar, which lowers the calories significantly. Thank goodness it has a long refrigerated shelf life, I guess. Oh, and it mixes wonderfully with peppermint or coffee liquor. Intoxicatingly delicious and nutritious!
4) Truvia (0 points)
Splenda (et al.) is a lifesaver when you're dieting, but I've always had some concerns about the safety of artificial sweeteners. This has not curbed my consumption of diet pop, however, which I often use a way to feel 'full-ish' when I don't want to eat something and am running low on points. I've tried every kind of natural sweetener there is, and ended up sticking with stevia as a viable alternative to splenda. The problem is, some brands of stevia can be quite bitter and have the most awful aftertaste unless you're putting into something hearty and substantial like oatmeal. Truvia is different. Truvia is gooooooood. There's also plenty of information out there detailing how sugar alcohols (Truvia falls into this category) do not have the same health concerns as artificial sweeteners. Some people can have sensitivities to sugar alcohols (I can't go near maltitol without being doubled over in pain), but I've found Truvia to be just fine when used in moderation.
5) Yoplait Delights (2 points)
Yum. The chocolate raspberry flavour is my favourite, and this doesn't really taste like yogurt to me. It's more like a smooth, velvety dessert that is packed with flavour. This could easily pass as no-compromise dessert for me any night of the week.
We live close enough to the US border that we can do a quick grocery run in a day. I've got the method down pat, including how many coolers can fit into my car and where the best place is to get ice on my way back north. I feel a trip coming on very, very soon.