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Trick or Treat

October 27, 2009

With Halloween just around the corner, I want to make sure you are all prepared for the candy-fest that often occurs on Halloween. Later this week you’ll find my tips about how you and your kids can enjoy some candy without packing on the pounds. But before we get to that, here are some myths, aka tricks, and facts, aka treats, about certain food products and nutrition-related news you may have heard.

Trick: You can get your fiber from yogurt, like Fiber One Yogurt.
Treat: While this yogurt does have 5 grams of fiber in the 4-ounce cup, the fiber comes from chicory root extract, a dietary supplement that is high in inulin, a dietary fiber found in plant sources. While inulin isn’t unhealthy for you, it is found in many processed foods, and as I always say, moderation is the key when it comes to what you eat. So rather than getting yogurt with added fiber, add your own fiber to make the yogurt more filling and help keep you satisfied for longer. Start with a plain Greek yogurt, like Fage Total 0%, and add your own high-fiber cereal like Original Fiber One Bran Cereal or Kashi Go Lean Original.

Trick: Pumpkin pie mixes and bars contain real pumpkins.
Treat: ‘Tis the season for pumpkins, but beware — not everything that has pumpkin in the name contains real pumpkins. Jell-O No Bake Pumpkin Style Pie Dessert Mix and Jell-O Instant Pumpkin Spice Pudding & Pie Filling don’t have any actual pumpkin. They are made of sugar, artificial flavorings, and some spices like cinnamon and ginger. Likewise, Spiced Pumpkin Pie Clif Bars are also not brimming with pumpkin. Dried pumpkin is in the ingredient list, but too far down to make it much of a real pumpkin source. Your best bet is to add real pumpkin — whether it’s fresh or canned (try Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin, with pumpkin as the only ingredient) — to your pies and cakes.

Trick: Organic cookies are good for you.
Treat: Just because something is organic, doesn’t mean it is better for you. A cookie is still a cookie, organic or not. Organic butter has saturated fat just like regular butter, and organic sugar is still sugar. No need to spend the extra money on an organic cookie if you like regular cookies just as much. Now from a nutritional standpoint, cookies are a treat and should be consumed in moderation. Make sure to read the Nutrition Facts so you know exactly what you’re getting.

Trick: Fruit snacks are a good substitute for real fruit.
Treat: Not exactly. Those gummy fruit snacks (check out some here) may contain some fruit juice, but they are mostly made up of sugar and artificial flavors. For a healthy fruit snack, stick to fresh fruit, dried fruit, unsweetened apple sauce, or you can even try freeze-dried fruit that contains only natural fruit (check out tomorrow’s Wednesday Wonders to learn more about that!).

What do you think are some of the tricks out there in the food world?

*I am not a spokesperson or consultant for any of the products mentioned in this post.

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  1. I love these trick or treat myth busters, especially the fiber in yogurt! I was tricked by trying the Fiber One Yogurt, and was very disappointed by the taste alone. All those fake sugars…ick! I’d rather eat a plain or greek yogurt with an apple or granola.

  2. TRICK: yogurt covered raisins. You think they are “healthy” treat but they really aren’t so healthy if you read the ingredients and nutrition facts.

    1. This is definitely a trick, thanks for adding it to the list! The “yogurt” in these yogurt covered raisins is made of the following ingredients: sugar, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, whey powder, yogurt powder, artificial color, lecithin (an emulsifier), vanillin (an artificial flavor) and confectioner’s glaze. Doesn’t sound like yogurt to me! Instead of a high-protein and high-calcium snack, which yogurt is, these raisins are filled with saturated and trans fats.

      For a treat, stick to regular raisins or golden raisins. The individual snack sizes are great to hand out to those trick or treaters!