First of all, I am not a dietician or certified nutritionist of any sort. However, I ‘d like to think I have pretty advanced eating skills and, throughout the past few years, I’ve developed a good awareness of the nutritional/caloric values of what I choose to put into my body.
For example, I am calorically frugal. I love to eat, but since I don’t want to eat more than what I need (to be healthy, energized, and satiated) I like to spend my calories wisely. If I know I’m in a dessert-y mood (granted, my favorite dessert is fruit and yogurt or banana soft serve), then I will adjust my main meal accordingly. And 99% of the time I am able to create a delicious and nutritious dinner for a relatively small amount of calories in order to enjoy a nice, big, sweet snack afterward. Again, that’s 99% of the time.
What you are about to see is that 1%. Meet my low-cal spaghetti fail.
Below: TVP, or Texturized Vegetable Protein. It’s a great meat replacement for vegetarians. According to this website, “TVP® is a food product made from soybeans. It is produced from soy flour after the soybean oil has been extracted, then cooked under pressure, extruded, and dried. TVP® has a long shelf life if stored properly and is an excellent source of protein and fiber. Plain TVP® has zero cholesterol. It is a good source of the essential amino acids, and also contributes calcium and magnesium to one’s diet. It can be fortified with vitamins, including Vitamin B12. It is very high in potassium, is a good source of the essential amino acids, and also contributes calcium and magnesium to one’s diet.”
This was my first time using TVP, and although the end result of the recipe didn’t turn out well, I’m definitely going to cook with it again.
My goal was to include protein (from the TVP) and lots of veggies, but to keep the caloric price tag low when it came to the pasta and the sauce. I wanted dessert!
NOTE: Calories are not bad. They’re good and we need them! But I do enjoy experimenting. But it’s also my general goal to get as much food as a can for a smaller number of calories. For example, our most unhealthy Smoothie King smoothie has 1032 calories in a SMALL. If I’m going to consume those calories, I want to get as much (diverse!) food as I can, rather than shove it all into 32 oz.
Moving on, I then cooked my TVP (it comes dehydrated and puff back up with heat and water) and the veggies:
And then came the “noodles.” I used Shirataki noodles, which are made from tofu. In general, I love these. They don’t have much of a flavor, but a 40 calorie serving is HUGE – like, I can’t fit all this into one bowl huge – and it can be dressed up in a vast number of ways. Besides, when it comes to pasta/noodle dishes, it’s all about the toppings for me. Sauce, veggies, herbs, cheese…these are what make or break the yum factor.
They’re endorsed by Hugnry-Girl, too, which is cool.
I used the whole package – doesn’t have to be cooked, only drained and parboiled.
Ooooh, that’s blurry. I think I was really hungry and rushed?
Then I added some melted cheeze:
This stuff rocks. I sometimes crave steamed broccoli just so I can put Rice Shreds on it.
Now, up until this point, the meal was shaping up to be pretty tasty. With some well-chosen herbs and spices, it would be a success. The sauce, however, changed the score.
My local grocery store has been selling a lot of Walden Farms products. If you’ve never heard of the company, Walden Farms manufactures a line of calorie-free sauces and condiments. Peanut butter, chocolate sauce, caramel, BBQ sauce…the list goes on. A few years ago, I stumbled upon the chocolate syrup in my Grandma’s fridge and absolutely loved it on top of ice cream. I’ve bought it a few times, and although it doesn’t beat real chocolate it’s a fun oatmeal novelty.
But the nutritional value is non-existent, as I knew it would be:
When I decided to give this a try, I knew it would be either ‘okay’ or ‘terrible.’ For me, it was just an interesting foodie experiment.
Although the idea of a calorie free food is exciting, I like REAL food. And if I want tomato sauce, I want it to be made only of fresh tomatoes.
Look at all that added stuff! Some of it’s not so bad: water, tomatoes (!), herbs, onion, carrots. But what in the world are natural flavors, really? If any flavors were natural, they’d come from the vegetables and herbs; they wouldn’t need to be added. Then you’ve also got the added sucralose and sunflower lecithin, as well as the sodium benzoate. These are all there because the “food” is very processed and it has no real substance. Admittedly, though, there really isn’t anything all that bad or scary in it.
What is scary is how it looks and tastes. The color in the picture isn’t exactly what if was in reality, but what kind of tomato sauce is pink?! As for the taste, I didn’t like it much at all. It was very artificial, and I was missing the fresh, rich tomato taste.
I proceeded to
pour on sprinkle on some garlic powder and basil, but the end result was almost inedible. It only ended up being around 130 calories, but it definitely wasn’t worth it. I did eat it (I spent the money on the ingredients, after all) but let’s just say that the dessert tasted even better than it usually does. I couldn’t wait to eat it and completely forgot to take a picture!
So how about a better, simpler, REAL FOOD dinner that’s still modest on calories?
A colorful, veggi-fied salad (with Rice Shreds!), a few slices of steamed tempeh with buffalo sauce, and 1/2 a sweet potato sauteed and mixed with hummus! An odd combination, I know, but so good.
Definitely try the sweet potato/hummus combo!
Oh, and as for yesterday, Sean and I just may have looked at a few of these:
Heehee…see ya later!