Saturday, February 12, 2011

Best and Worst Valentine's Day Candy

Valentine’s Day: Celebration of love, or calculated plot to destroy romance?

Think about it: There’s nothing more romantic than a spontaneous outpouring of love. But that’s one thing you can’t have on V-day, when we’re all supposed to move in lockstep formation down to the jewelry/flower/stationery store. How about cozying up over an intimate dinner for two? Fugghedaboutit: Every restaurant in town is packed to the gills and about as romantic as the mosh pit at a Green Day concert. And what about being fit, healthy, and ready for lovin’? Good-bye, sexy body: There’s nothing like an enormous cardboard heart filled with carbohydrates to ruin the way your belly looks, and feels.

When it comes to chocolate disaster, temptation is everywhere. From the coworker who sets out a community bowl, to the aisles lined with sweets at your local grocery store, there’s no love for your waistline.

But I have good news: If you know what to look for and can exercise a little self-discipline, indulging your sweet tooth isn’t nearly as sinful as you might think. That’s why I’ve dedicated this post to arming you with the knowledge you need to enjoy a romantic evening, compliments of the new Eat This, Not That! and Cook This, Not That! books. Here's how to embrace the sweet (and still guilt-free) side of life:

Ghirardelli Milk & Caramel SquaresNot That!
Ghirardelli Milk & Caramel Chocolate Squares (1 square)
73 calories
4 g fat (2 g saturated, < 1 g trans)
8 g sugar

These chocolates are troubling for two reasons: Aside from the fact that a single square has 73 calories, Ghirardelli uses enough partially hydrogenated oil to make eating three pieces—the recommended serving size—result in the consumption of 0.5 grams of trans fat, or a quarter of your day’s daily allowance. Candy heart: Okay. Candy heart disease: Not so good.
Eat This Instead! 
Ghirardelli Intense Dark Twilight Delight Squares, 72% Cacao (1 square)
55 calories
5 g fat (3 g saturated)
3 g sugars
FOOD SECRET: White chocolate isn't technically chocolate, since it contains no cocoa solids; it's mostly just fat and sugar. For more great food and health tips that shrink your belly and help you live better.
Russel Stover Milk Chocolate Almond Delights

Not That!
Russell Stover Milk Chocolate Almond Delights (1 piece)
90 calories
5 g fat (3 g saturated)
6 g sugars

The problem with a box of chocolates—as Forrest Gump’s mother so aptly noted—is that you never know what you’re going to get. A few unlucky grabs could easily net you an extra hundred calories. It's worth consulting the map that comes with the box to avoid the Almond Delights. They're high in calories and laced with partially hydrogenated oil, unlike the Whips below.

Eat This Instead!
Milk Chocolate Chocolate Whips (1 piece)
53 calories
3 g fat (2 g saturated)
6 g sugars
Bonus Tip: Nothing ruins a romantic dinner like 2,500 unnecessary calories.

Lindor Mini Milk Chocolate HeartsNot That!
Lindor Mini Milk Chocolate Hearts (1 heart)
83 calories
6 g fat (4 g saturated)
6 g sugars

Here's an ominous sign: In the ingredients list, chocolate doesn’t make an appearance until five entries down, with sugar and vegetable oil snagging the top two spots. No wonder these seemingly innocuous little hearts pack such a big caloric punch. The Lindt’s chocolate bar below is made from flavonoid-packed dark chocolate and incorporates a bit of sea salt, which bumps the flavor profile up a notch and makes something already indulgent deliciously decadent.

Eat This Instead!
Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate Bar w/ a Touch of Sea Salt  (1 square)
48 calories
3 g fat (2 g saturated)
5 g sugars
Bonus Tip: Everyone knows eating too much candy helps put your dentist's kids through college. But, truth is, many of your favorite foods are just as bad or worse. Check out our slideshow of 12 Foods Your Dentist Would Never Eat!

Fannie May Cappuccino TruffleNot That!
Fannie May Cappuccino Truffle (1 piece)
140 calories
8 g fat (7 g saturated)
15 g sugars
This rich truffle has twice the fat and sugar content of a real cappuccino—without any of the antioxidants you'd get from consuming the actual drink. The Citrus Peels, however, make for a dynamic flavor profile when paired with chocolate. Not to mention, 99 percent of citrus-peel oils consist of d-limonene, an antioxidant that’s been shown to kill cancer cells. Now, that’s some delicious multitasking.

Eat This Instead!
Chocolate-Covered Citrus Peel (1 piece)
43 calories
2 g fat (1 g saturated)
5 g sugars
Bonus Tip: Did you know that a cappuccino is one of the healthiest coffee drinks you can order? Just make sure you don't drink it with one of these 20 Worst Breakfasts in America! Some of them have a day's worth of calories, fat, sodium, or sugar in one meal!

Hershey's King Size Valentine Marshmallow HeartNot That!
Hershey’s King Size Valentine Marshmallow Heart (1 heart)
240 calories
7 g fat (5 g saturated)
35 g sugars

As a filling, marshmallow is preferable to heavier, higher-calorie options like fudge and nougat. However, eating a massive marshmallow by itself is not advisable. More than half of this mallow’s calories come from the huge load of sugar used to make it. Know what else has 35 grams of sugar? Two scoops of Breyers Rocky Road ice cream. You can do better.
Eat This Instead!
Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Kisses (3 pieces)
60 calories
4 g fat (3 g saturated)
7 g sugars
Bonus Tip: Knowing how to maximize your calorie burn will make chocolate-indulgence guilt a thing of the past. Check out the Lean Belly Prescription, by Travis Stork, M.D., cohost of The Doctors, for the no-exercise trick that burns an extra 24,000 calories a year—enough to lose 7 pounds without ever seeing the inside of a gym!


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