Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pineapple Almond Chicken Salad

I LOVE CHICKEN SALAD!!  I think if I ever went into the restaurant business, there would be about 10 different versions on the menu.  I like chicken salad on sandwiches or simply over lettuce.  I like it with any combination of nuts, fruits, veggies, flavors...the possibilities are endless.  There are 3 people in my life whose chicken salad I love:  

1) My mom's chicken salad was very simple...cubes of chicken, celery, mayo, and toasted almonds...I can remember coming home from school and it being in the fridge.  I loved having it for a snack on those days.

2) My grandmother's (Meme) chicken salad is pretty traditional too.  She uses the same ingredients as my mom did, but hers is less chunky;  she chops/shreds her chicken in the food processor.

3) I first had Jane's chicken salad at a summer swim meet at Tchefuncta Country Club...I can only imagine how much she had to make to feed all of those hungry swimmers.  Her chicken salad has the traditional chicken (cubed) and celery.  I think it also has green onions and toasted almonds?  But the defining ingredient is olive oil.  She replaces the mayo with oil (and maybe lemon), creating more of a vinaigrette type dressing.  So good!

I literally make chicken salad about once a week.  It makes such a yummy and quick lunch or dinner.  I usually bake my chicken (as opposed to boiling) because I think it adds flavor.  Celery is always an ingredient.  And from there the similarities end.  As I've already mentioned, I mix and match ingredients to create endless variations:
veggies:  green onions, red bell pepper, shredded carrot
fruit:  pineapple, grapes, mango, berries, dried apricots, apple
nuts (always toasted): pecans, almonds, walnuts, cashews
herbs: basil, oregano, tarragon, cilantro
other flavors: soy sauce, lemon juice, mustard (grainy, Dijon, honey)
The one thing I had to work on is the amount of added fat found in traditional chicken salad.  As an example, Arby's Pecan Chicken Salad (about 6 ounces, without bread) has 408 calories, 34 g fat (9 saturated), 10 g carbohydrate, and 20 g protein.  That isn't something I would eat on a regular basis.  Way too much fat!

Some recipes replace all of the mayo with plain yogurt, but for me that doesn't taste very good (plus, yogurt is really thin and runny...I want thick and creamy!).  I also don't care for low-fat mayo...I think it tastes too sweet and has lots of additives.  

So what do I do?  I use a mixture of plain non-fat Greek yogurt and regular mayo...sometimes I add a little buttermilk too.  I don't let myself use more than 1/4 cup of mayo (about 2 heaping tbsp); if I need more of the dressing to make the salad creamier I add more yogurt or buttermilk.  I find that this amount of mayo is enough to keep the mayo-flavor present in the chicken salad without letting the yogurt-flavor take over.

Other considerations: 1) not going over-board with the more than 1/4  cup for every 2 chicken breasts used and 2) adding more a minimum I use 2 stalks of celery for every 2 chicken breasts and then usually try to add red bell pepper or some other vegetable.

This version is inspired by the chicken salad at Jason's Deli.  Theirs has crushed pineapple and toasted almonds, which I think is so good!  I don't think I've ever tried making this version before, but now that I have, it will be a regular!

Pineapple Almond Chicken Salad
created by me

Makes 8 1-cup servings

4 cooked* boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
5 celery stalks, diced (I like to use some of the leaves too)
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted (toast for about 10 min at 350 degrees...but start checking them at 5 min)
8 - 14 oz can of crushed pineapple (packed in 100% juice), drained
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
juice (and zest) from 1/2 a lemon
2 tbps buttermilk, could just add more Greek yogurt
salt and pepper

* This is how I cook my chicken:  Preheat oven to 425°F. Pat chicken dry with paper towels (I actually use coffee filters because they don't stick to the chicken) and place on baking sheet/dish.  Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt and black pepper.  Cook for about 20 minutes until until juices run clear (not pink) when poked with a sharp knife.

Once the chicken is cooled, dice and add to a large mixing bowl.  Add the celery, almonds, and pineapple and stir to combine.  

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice and zest, and buttermilk.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the dressing to the salad ingredients; stir to combine.  Re-season with salt and pepper if needed.  If not creamy enough, add more yogurt and/or buttermilk. 
Per serving (1 cup or 8 oz) - 271 calories, 12 g fat (1 g saturated), 10 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 31g protein (exchanges: 2 1/2 fat, 1/2 vegetable, 1/2 fruit, 4 protein)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty & Frosty-cino

I'm sure you have seen the commercial by now (I don't watch much TV and I've seen it several times).  Wendy's has 2 new Frosties on its menu:  Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty & Frotsy-cino.

Boy do these look fact too good!  Let's do a little nutrition research...

The Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty comes in 1 size and has:

540 calories
20 g fat (15 g saturated, 1/2 g trans)
83 g carbohydrate (69 g sugar)
9 g protein

The good news (I'm being sarcastic) is that it provides 30% of the DV for there must be some real milk in there somewhere!  FYI 69 g sugar = about 17 tsp or 6 tbsp! (But not all of that sugar is table sugar...some is milk sugar, lactose, which isn't sweet at all).

The Frosty-cino come in 2 sizes, small and large; the large has:

520 calories
12 g fat (8 g saturated, 1/2 g trans)
86 g carbohydrate (72 g sugar)
9 g protein

The small would obviously be slightly better nutritionally (it has 390 calories). 

Now...lets compare this to a 1/4 lb hamburger (with mayo):

430 calories
20 g fat (7 g saturated, 1 g trans)
38 g carbohydrate (9 g sugar)
25 g protein

Hmm. The burger looks like it might be the better option...what do you think?  Personally, I consider all of these sweet coffee drinks special treats...something that you have occasionally! If you must have coffee, drink something with less sugar and fat.  Coffee is NOT an excuse for DESSERT!

Here are some other coffee drinks for comparison:

McDonald's Iced Mocha (medium - 16 oz, with skim milk):

270 calories
8 g fat (4.5 g saturated, 0 g trans)
43 g carbohydrate (35 g sugar)
7 g protein

McDonald's Iced Vanilla Latte (medium - 16 oz, with skim milk):

150 calories
0 g fat
33 g carbohydrate (33 g sugar)
5 g protein

Starbuck's Coffee Frappuccino (grande - 16 oz, no whip):

240 calories
3 g fat (2 g saturated)
48 g carbohydrate (40 g sugar)
5 g protein

Starbuck's Caramel Frappuccino (grande - 16 oz, no whip):

270 calories
3.5 g fat (2.5 g saturated)
53 g carbohydrate (45 g sugar)
5 g protein

Starbuck's Iced Caffe Latte (grande - 16 oz, no whip, skim milk):

90 calories
0 g fat (0 g saturated)
13 g carbohydrate (11 g sugar)
8 g protein

Starbuck's Iced Caffe Latte with flavored syrup (grande - 16 oz, no whip, skim milk):

160 calories
0 g fat (0 g saturated)
31 g carbohydrate (28 g sugar)
7 g protein

FYI...adding whipped cream adds about 110 calories and 11 g fat (7 g saturated) to a grande frapp at Starbucks...don't get it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Spring Produce

You hear it over and over again..."Eat more fruits and vegetables"...but do you?

Well, the first step towards this goal is to BUY more fruits and vegetables.  If you get them in your kitchen, chances are (hopefully) that you will eat them and not let them go to waste.

Right now in my kitchen I have apples, grapes, cherries (frozen), mango, rhubarb (is that a vegetable???...yep it is, I just Googled it); I also have romaine lettuce, green onions, carrots, eggplant, tomatoes, tomatillos, poblano peppers, and corn (I'm making this recipe this weekend).  So I'm all stocked with healthy things...this way I'm more likely to eat healthy! 

So next time you go grocery shopping, start in the produce section and purchase whatever looks/smells spring.  Or head to the farmer's market and buy whatever they have...if it's there you know it's fresh and seasonal.

Here is a list of what's in season now (March/April/May).  Look around the site; it's the government's "eat more fruits and veggies website"...there are recipes, tips on shopping and meal planning, activities for kids, and other interesting things.

And lastly here are 2 other links with recipes to inspire you.  The first is an article from the NY Times by Mark Bittman...he is a cookbook author and has a website with some free careful, all of them are are not necessarily low-cal.  

Anyway, the article is "Summer Express: 101 Simple meals ready in 10 minutes or less".  They aren't really recipes, just ways to put a few ingredients together to make a quick meal.  Again not all of them are low-cal. 

And the other is from, 43 easy spring produce recipes.

So let's pretend you have all this produce in your what?  Here is a guide to cooking 20 different veggies.  And remember, the less you cook them (less time, heat, and water), the more nutrients are retained (with the exception of tomatoes, which are even better for you when cooked)...this means you Mel and your olive green broccoli!

Raspberry Mango Salad

  • Per serving - 98 calories, 8 g fat (3 g saturated), 12 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 3 g protein (exchanges: ½ fruit, 1 vegetable, 1 ½ fat, ½ protein)
  • Notes - You could substitute any type of lettuce in place of the arugula, Bibb, and watercress; If you serve this as a meal you will want to eat more than 1 cup: add some lean protein and double up on the veggies...maybe add red bell pepper, green onions, and more might need to make/use a little more dressing too; here is another similar salad that has avocado...yum!

  • Per serving - 168 calories, 11 g fat (5 g saturated), 5 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, `12 g protein (exchanges: 1 vegetable, 2 fat, 1 ½ protein)
  • Notes - Complete the meal and serve with fruit for breakfast or with a simple salad for dinner; to lighten the dish even more, you could use more egg whites and omit a couple of yolks and use reduced fat cheese (and possibly less of it)
  • Per serving - 265 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 63 g carbohydrates, 9 g fiber, 6 g protein (exchanges: 2 fruit, 1 starch...unless you omit the honey, ½ milk)
  • Notes - You can use any fresh or frozen berry in this shake or swap the juice for another type; I would add the honey last and taste before to see if it's might already be sweet enough from the banana, berries, and juice; I like my smoothies thick so I add ice…and this way you get to drink more for the same amount of calories!
  • Per serving - 145 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated), 27 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 3 g protein (exchanges: 1 starch, ½ fruit, 1 vegetable, 1 fat)
  • Notes - I would double the dressing and save half...then for a quick lunch you could have a mixed green salad (with the extra dressing) and a serving of wheat berries

Shrimp Scampi with Artichokes

  • Per serving - 285 calories, 10 g fat (2 g saturated), 14 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 32 g protein (exchanges: 5 protein, 1 vegetable, 2 fat)
  • Notes - Complete the meal and serve with whole wheat angel hair pasta and steamed asparagus
  • Per serving -  410 calories, 14 g fat (2 g saturated), 15 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 56 g protein (exchanges: 7 protein, 2 vegetable, 2 ½ fat)
  • Notes - This is a lot of chicken for 1 meal (8+ ounces)…save some calories (about 140) and have ½ of a chicken breast, or try and buy smaller ones

Here is an article with 3 more spring vegetable recipes...Chicken with Artichokes and Peas, Salmon and Roasted Veggies, and Spring Vegetable Pesto Pasta.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

JazzyBird Coffee

I love coffee!  But I'm not very good at making it...I could blame it on my cheap, 4 cup coffee maker, but honestly I think it's my fault.  I never seem to get the coffee to water ratio right and I don't make it very much so I don't get alot of practice.  

Or maybe that's just an excuse, and I really just like buying my coffee.  My two birthday coffee gift cards are almost used up, and since it has been warm lately I've been making my favorite cold brewed  iced coffee.  Until yesterday that is...

When I was at Whole Foods this week, there was a vendor,JazzyBird Coffee, set up sampling their espresso.  Their niche in the coffee market is one I haven't seen before...frozen espresso shots that you can defrost and turn into either a hot or an iced drink.  And they are so good!  You know I love short ingredients lists...theirs?  Ingredients:  100% Arabica coffee, water.  They are a local company (Gonzales, LA), which I like too.

A box of 8 shots sells for $5.99, but they gave me a $1-off coupon...$4.99 for 8 lattes (plus the cost of milk and sugar).  At Starbucks I pay 4 something for one grande...I'm saving so much money (except now I might have one everyday, whereas with Starbucks, I only go once or twice a week).

You can only find these in certain areas in Louisiana (and 2 places in Mississippi), but you can order a case online.
Give it a try!

Happy Mother's is an old post that I originally wrote on Mother's day last year when I was in Houston and then re-used this past November on the anniversary of my mom's death.  Happy Mother's day mom...I miss and love you!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Cold Sesame Noodles

Last week I made Cold Sesame Noodles with one of my clients who likes Asian food.  She took half home and I kept the rest.  It was Hil's birthday and that night we went to the Bulldog to celebrate.  Afterwards, a group of people ended up at our house...all I can say is that this makes a great late night snack!

Cold Sesame Noodles
adapted from

Makes 8 servings

1 pound whole wheat
linguine or fettuccine
1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
8 ounces snow peas, slivered lengthwise
1 red bell pepper, cut into long thin strips
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup hot water
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. In a large bowl, toss drained pasta with sesame oil (to prevent sticking).  Add snow peas, bell pepper, scallions, carrots, and cilantro. *At this point you could also add any type of cooked protein, such as shrimp or chicken.

In a blender, puree peanut butter, garlic,soy sauce, vinegar, hot water (this helps thin out the pb), and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Pour dressing over noodles and vegetables; toss to coat.  Serve chilled or at room temperature (it's good hot too).

Per serving - 331 calories, 11 g fat (2 g saturated), 44 g carbohydrate, 9 g fiber, 14 g protein (exchanges: 2 fat, 1 vegetable, 2 1/2 starch, 1/2 protein )

Notes - 

  • One of the ways I altered this recipe was by adding A LOT more veggies - this is something I always try to do...and in this recipe it will help fill you up so you don't have to eat so much pasta
  • Speaking of pasta, did you know the whole wheat kind has 5 - 6 grams of fiber per serving (as oposed to 2 grams in white pasta)?
  • I added shrimp when I made this recipe (you may have noticed them in the photo)...I bought boiled shrimp (about 1 pound) from Whole Foods and cut each in half
  • I used natural peanut butter and it worked fine, but because it had no added sugar, I added a little brown sugar (about 1 tbsp) to the blender
  • Martha says this serves 4...I have news for her, no one needs to eat 4 ounces of pasta at one sitting - I say it serves 8!  And if it's not enough food for you (after adding a protein), serve it with a salad...or leave the protein out and serve the pasta with teriyaki marinated chicken

Did you notice the new Google Search tool at the top right you can search Deliciously Golden for recipes, ingredients, nutrition info, etc!

What Does a Dietitian Eat? (Day 3)

Wednesday May 6th

  • Snack - Cantaloupe (1/2 cup)
  • 4 mile jog
  • Breakfast - Mango smoothie 
  • Lunch - Hummus (2 - 3 tbsp) with snow peas; Salad with romaine, red bell pepper, carrot, and sun-dried tomato-feta vinaigrette; Dijon-cilantro tuna salad sandwich on whole wheat toast
  • Snack - Iced latte with skim milk, a splash of 1/2&1/2, and 1 packet of sugar
  • Teach dance from 3:30 - 4:30 and 8:00 - 9:00 pm
  • Dinner - Black bean soup with 2% cheddar and 0% FAGE
  • Dessert - Apple
I had a little snack before my run.  I don't like running with food in my stomach, but I was hungry and needed something to keep my stomach from growling.  After my run, a smoothie sounded so good.  I blended together: 1 mango, 2 heaping tbsp Greek/vanilla yogurt, 1/3 cup cottage cheese, 1/3 cup skim milk, 1 tbsp sugar, and enough ice cubes to thicken it up...maybe a cup?  You probably think I'm crazy, and maybe I am, but I like the cottage cheese in it for 3 reasons...taste (it makes it a little tangy), texture (it thickens the smoothie and makes it creamy), and protein (without it there would only be a little protein from the milk and yogurt).

I only have smoothies for breakfast when I know lunch isn't too far away...less than 3 hours.  They are very filling at first, but not for very long.  I find that liquid calories don't have a very good satiety factor.

I had a little tuna salad leftover, but not enough to top a salad I made a small sandwich and had a salad on the side.  I snacked on the hummus and snow peas while I was making lunch.

After teaching dance from 3:30 - 4:30, I needed a little pick-me-up.  Coffee with my CC's gift card!  I love not paying for coffee.  In the warm months, my standard is a grande iced latte with skim milk.  I add 1 packet of sugar and a splash of 1/2&1/2 (maybe 2 tbsp) - this adds about 50 calories to the 90 calories in my original order, and I'm okay with that.  I've learned to like coffee without all of the sugar.  I used to add 2 packets of Splenda or sugar-free vanilla syrup.  But when I made the decision not to use artificial sweeteners, I had to change my taste-buds.  I couldn't add spoonfuls of sugar to get the same sweetness I was used many calories!

Dinner was from the freezer.  Whenever I make soup I always freeze half for a night when I don't have time to or feel like cooking.  The black bean soup has a Mexican flavor, so cheese and sour cream were the 2 toppings I automatically thought of, but I used 0% Greek yogurt for the sour cream...I think it tastes just like sour cream (that's probably why I can't eat it plain!).  

I try not to have a real dessert every night...meaning no added sugar.  That's the way things where when I was growing up too.  My mom would cut up an apple for us if we wanted something sweet.  Some nights we would have a planned dessert with dinner, such as a frozen fruit pie (a la mode, of course!) or spice cake (it was from a box, but she always made her own frosting and it was my favorite).  But usually it was fruit, no questions asked.  Thanks mom for passing on so many healthy habits! 

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

What Does a Dietitian Eat? (Day 2)

Tuesday May 5th

  • Breakfast - 2 small peaches, cottage cheese and Greek/vanilla yogurt (1/2 cup each), coffee with 1 tbsp condensed milk
  • Snack - Hummus (2 - 3 tbsp) with snow peas
  • 3 mile jog
  • Lunch - Salad with dijon-cilantro tuna salad
  • Snack - Whole wheat toast with strawberry jam
  • Teach dance from 3:30 - 7:30 pm
  • Dinner - Peanut butter (1 Tbsp); Omelet (2 eggs plus 2 whites) with mushrooms, tomatoes, green onions, and 2% cheddar 
  • Dessert - Strawberry buttermilk ice cream
I wake up early on Tuesdays to go to's something I started doing right after my mom passed away and now it's part of my routine.  I usually have something to eat before I go because I always wake up hungry - today it was 2 peaches.  Afterwards I had the cottage cheese and yogurt for a little protein, plus coffee.  Every week I by a tub of 0% FAGE and another of vanilla Wallaby yogurt, and I mix the two...the FAGE is too tangy and the Wallaby too sweet and runny, but together they are perfect.

Right before my run, around 11:30am, I needed a little snack.  I love hummus, but it's a starch (and a protein) so I like to find something non-starchy to dip (as opposed to pita bread or chips).  Sometimes I do carrot sticks or red bell pepper strips.  I had snow peas in the fridge so I decided to go with them.  The hummus was some that I picked up at the farmers market from Nur's Kitchen - I love it!

After my run, I made dijon-cilantro tuna salad which is loosely based on this recipe.  I combined 2 6-ounce cans of tuna (packed in water...chunk light) with shredded carrots (1 cup), diced celery (4 stalks), cilantro (1/2 cup), diced sweet pickles (1/4 cup)...these are estimated amounts, I hardly ever measure vegetables when I make something like this - the more the better right???  For the dressing I combined 1 heaping tbsp each mayo (regular) and Greek yogurt (fat-free), 3 tbsp mustard (I did a combo of grainy, dijon, and spicy), and a little salt and pepper.  I figure it makes about 4 servings and I had about 1 serving over romaine lettuce.

I've said it before, but I love omelets for dinner.  I actually make something more like a frittata because I don't fold the omelet and leave it open-faced instead.  It's a great way to use up left-over (or not-so-fresh) veggies and eggs are a cheap protein source.  Plus it's a starch-free meal.

One criticism of today...too much added sugar:  in the yogurt, coffee, jam, and ice cream.  I have a huge sweet tooth and if I don't pay attention, it can get the best of me.  I'll have to do better tomorrow!

Monday, May 04, 2009

What Does a Dietitian Eat? (Day 1)

I just finished reading Bethenny Frankel's new book Naturally Thin (you know...she's the girl from Real Housewives NYC).  About a month ago I read an article she wrote for and LOVED her philosophy...honestly, if I wrote a book about healthy eating, this would be it!

She talks about your diet being like a bank account...

"Just as you balance your spending and savings, you must balance your food choices. Don’t eat too much of any one thing, balance starches with proteins, vegetables and fruits with sweets, and always balance a splurge with a save. This balancing is approximate—but it works, without counting, measuring, or obsessing."

I agree with this 100% and it's how I eat everyday...oatmeal for breakfast and sandwich for lunch?  Then no starches at dinner!  Yogurt and fruit for breakfast and a salad with chicken for lunch?  Then pasta with marinara and veggies for dinner will be just fine!

She continues...

"Most of the time, make smart investments in healthful foods that fill you up. Then, when you really want to splurge, go ahead. You aren’t dieting, remember. You are living. However, a splurge comes with a price. You have to balance that splurge by cutting back a little afterward, until your accounts are in order again." thoughts exactly!  Saturday we celebrated Hil's birthday and I had cake...2 pieces!  There were 2 different kinds and I wanted to try both, so I did.  And they were really good, so I'm glad I did!  Yesterday I was busy teaching/judging Saintsation auditions and really didn't have time to balance my splurge (I ate out all three meals).  So today I'm doing just that!  Back to my healthful, everyday way of eating...minus any extra sweet treats to restore the balance.

Monday May 4th

  • 3 mile jog
  • Breakfast - Low-fat vanilla yogurt and 2% cottage cheese (1/2 cup total)
  • Lunch - Turkey sandwich on wheat bun with avocado, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and MAYO!*
  • Snack - Strawberries with a little Greek/vanilla yogurt
  • Teach dance from 4:30 - 9 pm
  • Dinner - Salmon spinach salad from La Madeleine with red bell pepper, strawberries, mushrooms, and dressing on the side 
  • Dessert - Chocolate soy milk mixed with skim milk (1/2 cup of each)
I slept in late today (10:00!) and was on my way out the door for a jog when I got invited to noon!  So after a quick run it was around 11:15 and I hadn't eaten anything, so I had a very light breakfast/snack while I was getting ready to hold me over (I was starving).  Normally this wouldn't be enough, but because I was about to have lunch it was just right.

My lunch, from Counter Culture, was delish...I'm on a real avocado kick right now and I loved it on my sandwich.  It was a just a thin slice,  but it really made the sandwich.  I asked for no mayo* because there were already 2 fats (cheese and avocado), but they got it wrong!  Oh well!

I have 3 pints of strawberries in my fridge from the farmer's market, so they were an obvious choice for snack.

The spinach salad is my favorite thing to order from La Madeleine.  I added salmon to it when I got home and left the bacon and pecans off...I had enough fat at lunch!  If I eat at the restaurant I usually add chicken and ask for no bacon.

Chocolate soy milk is really good and low-fat...I like to cut the sugar by adding some skim milk.  It's a really good dessert especially after dance when I want something cold (I always drink milk over ice).

I'm not including calorie info this week; I'm going to focus on "balancing my account" and I would say today is well balanced!  I'm also going to include my physical activity so you can get an idea of how active I am in relation to how much I eat.

Friday, May 01, 2009 sweet to be true?

Last year when it was announced that stevia was going "main-stream" and was to be used in all sorts of products, someone asked me what I thought.  The girl I was discussing it with had the opinion that because "it's natural it has to be good".

I disagree...even natural things can be unhealthy when they are (a) chemically altered and processed (as the food industry does to everything) or (b) consumed in ever increasing amounts (as Americans do with sugar and artificial sweeteners).

My thoughts on stevia are that in its pure, unprocessed form it's fine.  Use a little once a day to sweeten your tea or big deal!  

But what if you start buying (and consuming) orange juice, soda, and other beverages sweetened with it (which are already available)...and then what happens when the food industry starts putting stevia in yogurt, cereal, ice cream, cookies, etc?

I don't really know...but my philosophy with all things food related is "a little of everything, a lot of nothing".  Eat a wide variety of foods/beverages, but not too much of any one thing.  Use stevia occasionally if you like the way it tastes, but don't substitute it for all things sweet.  Use sugar occasionally too, just don't pile it on!

And honestly, if you are worried about getting too many calories from sugary less of them!  Calorie-free sweeteners are like a band-aid for the real problem...Americans eat too much sugar, usually in the form of high-calorie, refined/processed junk food.  So is the same junk food minus the sugar plus stevia any healthier?  NO!  

And seriously...if you can't afford (nutritionally speaking) to drink ORANGE JUICE (which has NO added's just the juice from oranges), and feel the need to switch to Trop50 (the new OJ with 50% less cals and sugar - sweetened with stevia of course!), you need to re-evaluate your diet.

This post was inspired by something I read recently by Marion Nestle...this woman knows the food industry!  Here's an excerpt from what she wrote:

Is Stevia really “natural?”

The April 26 New York Times Magazine carried a seductive ad on page 15 for PepsiCo’s “Trop50 orange juice goodness with 50% less calories and sugar…And no artificial sweeteners”  PepsiCo performs this miracle by diluting the juice by half with water (really, you could do this at home).  But in case the result isn’t sweet enough for you, Trop50 adds the sweetener, Stevia.

PepsiCo can get away with claiming that its juice drink has no artificial sweeteners.  Because Stevia is isolated from leaves of the Stevia plant, the FDA lets companies claim it is “natural.”

We can debate whether a chemical sweetener isolated from Stevia leaves is really “natural” but here’s another problem: Stevia doesn’t taste like sugar.  Companies have to fuss with it to cover up its off taste.  And, they must do so “without detracting from the perceived benefits of its natural status.”  Flavor companies are working like mad to find substances that block Stevia’s bitter taste, mask its off flavors, and extend its sweetness, while staying within the scope of what the FDA allows as “natural.”