Healthy Snack Taste Test

Tuesday, March 27, 2007; 12:20 PM

Snacks might seem small, but Americans spend an estimated $24 billion annually for them, according to the Snack Food Association. A growing array of healthier snacks now crowd grocery shelves. Question is: How do they taste?

To answer that question, my newsroom colleagues and I sampled 24 --count 'em--new, healthier snacks from Dr. Kracker, Flat Earth, Hostess, Kettle Foods and Snyder's. (It's tough work, but somebody has to do it!) Learn the taste results in today's Lean Plate Club column. Then tell us about your favorite snacks in today's Lean Plate Club Web chat. Join live from 1 to 2 p.m. ET. Leave your comments, questions or tips ahead of time, then check the Web chat transcripts. Or just e-mail me at any time.

Among this week's prizes: The Produce Partner, a guide to help you make smart choices at the grocery store. (Of course, you can also look for the new juggler that we unveiled in last week's Lean Plate Club column.) Other prizes include: Facing with the Stars Cardio Dance DVD (and you don't need a partner to do these workouts.)

Are You and Your Family Ready for Summer?

The Lean Plate Club Family Challenge, which is slated to launch on May 1 and run for four weeks until Memorial Day is looking for participants to follow. Each week, you'll find a simple--and fun---physical activity goal and a food goal to do with your family. If you'd like to participate, please e-mail me at Be sure to include your name, address, phone number, best times to call and a little bit about your family members and why you'd like to participate. Please put "family challenge" in the subject line. We'll also photograph one family doing a variety of activities on Saturday, April 21 or Sunday, 22. Please let me know if you'd like to be considered for this.

Sugar Alcohols

A Lean Plate Club member, whose doctor has advised him to limit his sugar intake, recently asked me about sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol, that he now notices are ingredients in a number of his favorite products. Sugar alcohols are absorbed less effiiciently by the intestines than sugar, so they contain fewer calories. But they can sometimes have side-effects such as gas and diarrhea. Here's an update on sugar alcohols from Yale University.

What's For Dinner Tonight?'s newly launched Recipe Finder, will help you search for recipes by ingredients as well as by criteria such as kid-friendly, fast, healthy or meatless.

Corn, Black Beans and Red Onion Quesadillas can double either as a the main course or as an appetizer. They clock in at 346 calories per serving. (You can cut the fat a little by substituting some low-fat or non-fat cheese.)

Sherried Chicken is both fast and healthy. It can be made either with matzoh meal or with whole grain white flour.

Pan-Fried Catfish is made with healthy canola oil and has about 314 calories per serving, with 14 grams of fat. But just two grams of unhealthy saturated fat.

Roast Pork with Apricot Plum Sauce is healthy and kid-friendly. It clocks in at less than 200 calories per serving, while Portobello Mushroom, Beef and Barley Soup is something that you could make on the weekend and then either freeze or serve a couple times during the week.

What are you cooking tonight? We're salivating, so share your favorite healthy recipes, healthy new food finds and more in today's Web chat, where I'll be offering "Fit and Fast Meals in Minutes," by Linda Gaeenheimer as another prize today. Join live from 1 to 2 p.m. ET today. Or leave your comments, questions or tips ahead of time, then check the Web chat transcripts. Or just e-mail me at any time.

Joy of Motion

This week on Satellite Sisters, a listener asked me about osteopenia, that is, the loss of calcium and phosphorus that occurs before osteoporosis. One way to help reduce the risk of developing this condition, which means "bone poverty" in Greek, is to get lots of load-bearing exercise (walking, jogging, step aerobics and weight training) as well as to eat enough foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. Supplements are another option.

The time that you least feel like working out is often the time that you need physical activity the most. So, instead of heading to the vending machine when you're feeling tired, consider these five smart moves from MSNBC's FitList, an on-going feature from celebrity fitness trainers, including Kathy Kaehler and Gregory Joujon-Roche.

In recent Lean Plate Club Web chats, a number of Lean Plate Club members who are pregnant have posted questions about healthy eating during pregnancy. Physical activity is also important. ACE Fitness offers yoga for moms and moms to be.

Wearing a pedometer can be a great reminder to move more. But how do the many different brands stack up? Prevention magazine has tested pedometers and offers a comparison. Got a pedometer that keeps you moving? We'd love to hear about it. (No company reps or public relations people please!) Send us your favorite pedometers in today's Lean Plate Club Web chat from 1 to 2 p.m. ET. Then tell us about your favorite snacks in today's Lean Plate Club Web chat. Join live from 1 to 2 p.m. ET. Leave your comments, questions or tips ahead of time, then check the Web chat transcripts. Or e-mail me at any time.

Extra Helpings of the Lean Plate Club

Last week, Green Bay Press Gazette readers got a full serving of the Lean Plate Club on their Web site and in the pages of the Life&Style section on Thursday. Want to see the Lean Plate Club in your local paper? E-mail me at and I'll pass the request on to my colleagues at the Post Writers Group.

Also, I'll be speaking in Portland on Saturday, May 12, at the Linus Pauling Institute's Diet and Optimum Health Conference. My forum is free to the public and begins at 9 a.m. I hope I'll get to meet some of you in person! I'll also be signing copies of Secrets of the Lean Plate Club, which will soon be published in paperback.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company