Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Top Ten Favorite Foods

As I learn more about NuVal scores, I am rethinking what I put in my mouth. When I walk in the door some nights with 2 kids, lunchboxes to unpack, dinner to make and everyone starving, I've stopped reaching for a handful of Cheez-its or pita chips. With their low scores, they're just not worth it. As I approach my one year anniversary of working for NuVal (which I love!), I realize that I have a new Top Ten Favorite Food List that is different than what it was one year ago. Here it is:

1. Chobani Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt: Score of 94

I love this plain, thicker-than-regular yogurt so much. I mix in some fresh nectarine and blueberries. I also put it on baked potatoes. And when my neighbor called looking to borrow sour cream for a recipe she was making (none in my fridge), I gave her the yogurt instead and she said it turned out great. This yogurt is filling and substantial. It's my quick fix on Monday afternoons when I need an energy boost before teaching my 6:30 pm Pilates class.

2. Almonds: Score of 81

My boss and friend got me hooked on these. I opt for the roasted, unsalted brand and my husband loves them too. Since I work out early (5:30 am), I often need a post-breakfast, mid-morning snack. These do the trick.

3. Frozen Grapes: Score of 91

Someone brought frozen grapes this year to the 4th of July cookout. And boy did it bring back memories. I ate a lot of frozen grapes back in my obsessive Weight Watcher days (circa 1996) because they kept me from eating ice cream. My husband affectionately called them frozen eyeballs. So I resurrected them this summer. They are so easy - just rinse and throw them in a ziploc bag in the freezer. They still look like frozen eyeballs, but they are so tasty and the kids love them too. But this post is about MY top ten. The kids' will be next week. Moving on...

4. Special K with Protein: Score 0f 60

As I mentioned in my Adult Rated Cereal post, I don't have time for a lot of munching in the morning. So bye-bye to some of my more laborious cereals and hello Special K with Protein. But it MUST say Protein on the box. My DH has mistakenly bought the regular one (which scores only a 23) and we had to return it. It is a little sweet, very filling, and it lasts me until Almond Time.

5. Joseph's Flax, Oat Bran & Whole Wheat Flour Pita Bread: Score of 65

These very flat pitas are so satisfying. We go through at least two packages of these a week because everyone in our house seems to like them. And the score is much better than most other breads or pita products.

6. Skim Milk: Score of 91

This is just one of those perfect foods. You get some protein, your Vitamin D and your Calcium. I'll admit, I probably was not getting the recommended number of dairy servings per day until we switched to milk delivery in glass bottles. I was even able to get the kids to switch to skim. There I go talking about them again. This post is about MY favorites.

7. Tropicana 50 Pulp-Free with Calcium Orange Juice: Score of 81

This is a recent find from when I blogged about juice. We were drinking Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice with Calcium and Vitamin D with a score of 51. Now we're drinking 30 points higher because the Trop 50 has less sugar. I really think they should change the name though. It makes me think that it is juice for people over age 50. And I've got 11 years before I get there. Note: Make sure you buy the one that says "with Calcium and Vitamin D". The other Trop 50 right next to it scores much, much lower.

8. Quaker Steel Cut Oats: Score of 60

They take a long time to cook, so I often make a big batch and reheat them on busy weekday mornings. These oats are for Mommy only. My daughter loves oatmeal, but not this kind. Even the purple container could not win her over. But I love their sticking power. It's all about getting me to Almond Time.

9. Chick Peas: Scores vary

And this is why I need NuVal in my grocery store. Because while I do have access to the scores because I work there, I can't remember them when I am trying to pick out the chick peas that have the best score. Progresso chick peas get a 58, but the Food Club organic brand that I can buy at my local Roche Brothers store, get an 82. Yes, I've had a long-time love affair with chick peas. A friend and colleage of mine dubbed me the Queen of Leafy Greens and Chick Peas back in the '90s. They are just the protein you need on salad.

10: Vegetables: Scores vary, but they are really high

Yes, I am a veggie lover and I have been one since early childhood. I used to ask my mom, "Can I have lettuce for my treat tonight?" and she'd say, "Well, OK. Only if you're good." When I get back from traveling or a vacation where veggies were scarce, I feel the difference. And it makes me crabby. My favorites are asparagus (100), arugula (100), broccoli rabe (100) and brussels sprouts (94). My husband knows to just let me order that $6 plate of one of these when we go out to dinner. The good news is that frozen vegetables without additives score really well too. I always have a bag of frozen brussels sprouts in my freezer in case we run out of fresh veggies before that weekly shopping trip.

So that is what is on my shopping list each week. Next week, I'll post on my kids' Top Ten list. What's on your Top Ten List? I'd love to hear about it.


  1. Another great one would be frozen bananas. If you have bananas getting too ripe, peal them and put in a freezer bag and throw in freezer. Better than ice cream and only 100 calories each!

  2. Our top ten food lists look very similar! I changed from vanilla Chobani to plain when I saw the scores and love it. This morning I put bueberries and almonds in it. Very satisfying. Can you write about cheese when you are able? I really enjoy Cabot products. They are naturally lactose free. A blessing for the lactose intolerant. I eat the 75% fat free and love it. Lots of protein. How does it score? JLM

  3. What I don't see on this list, and among my favorite chocolate. The darker, the better. I assume not all chocolate is the same, so do you guys have any insights into how different bars of chocolate score?

  4. Tough to whittle it down to 10 favorites! Here you go, though:

    10. Black beans - BB burritos are a lunchtime favorite on weekends...
    9. Dried apricots - lunchbag staple
    8. Whole wheat pasta - Barilla plus is best...and NuVal agrees.
    7. Chobani non-fat yogurt - have to agree with previous stated info. It's like dessert w/o any fat content.
    6. Shredded Wheat & Bran cereal - high fiber and very tasty with strawberries/blueberries/ bananas on top.
    5. Pretzels - no fat snack. If you go with Snyder's mini's, the sodium isn't sky high.
    4. Apples - easy and nutritious
    3. Fig Newman's - Yes, Newman's, not Newton's. Paul Newman's fat-free version is even better than the original.
    2. Turkey deli meat - Boar's Head is best...good protein without much fat. Standard sandwich meat for me.
    1. Bananas - another staple for me whether it be at breakfast, lunch, or for a snack.

  5. Thanks for the great tips! I need to start eating more Greek yogurt! I'd have to add hummus (scores in the 50s) and Bryer's Extra Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream, which scores a 45- can't beat that!

  6. Chocolate any shape or form is always at the top...It is hard to list..I do agree on the Greek Yogurt but I tend to buy more of Stonyfield Soy yogurt....

    1. Mozzerella String Cheese
    2. Pistachios
    3. DeCecco Linguine(not the whole wheat, not yet anyway. Still working on my husband)
    4. Cabot Hunter's Cheese
    5. Broccoli
    6. Ben & Jerry's-Coffee Heath Bar Crunch
    7. Quaker Oatmeal Squares
    8. Eggs
    9. Blueberries or cherries
    10. Thin Crust Kashi Pizza(mushroom & Spinach)
    I haven't checked the scores on these but I'm sure it will be a mixed bag......

  7. Thank you for posting this! What a great list. I'm anxious to give this brand of greek yogurt a try. I love greek yogurt and I am pleased to see it has such a high NuVal score.

  8. I am going to make my list tonight :)

  9. I know this is an older post, but after finding your blog on twitter today I noticed your steel cut oats category. I was just curious if you have ever tried our oats. They are like steel cut oats, with the taste and texture but cook in under 5 min and can even be cooked in the microwave. Just thought b/c you’re a mom and may be busy that if you don't have time to cook the oats one day. Sorry for the delayed response, but great blog!