Everyone who’s dieted a few times has found a few foods, restaurants, dishes, “gems” that surprised you.  Who knew bulgur could be made to taste good?  Who has even heard of bulgur?  This blog is just a quick dump of some of the gems I’ve found, mostly in my current calorie-counting “sure-fire” diet, but also in previous diets.


  • Season’s 52 – this chain’s concept is simple and fresh foods and has locations in major cities across the country.  The 300 calorie flatbreads are fantastic.  If you want a great low-calorie date place, go out of your way to find one.
  • Jimmy John’s – my favorite fast food alternative, they offer all of their sandwiches as “unwiches”, i.e. lettuce wraps.  The “ultimate porker”–with ham and bacon–is about 230 calories if you ditch the mayo (but keep the cheese).
  • Arby’s – if I’ve got a few extra calories to spare, I go for the classic roast beef sandwich at 350 calories; just don’t douse it with mayo or the horsey sauce (or use sparingly).  Of course you must skip the fries.
  • Taco Bell – not usually my first choice, but in a pinch the fresco tacos at 150 calories each are good.
  • Starbucks – the ubiquitous coffee house and meeting place, a regular coffee only has as many calories as the cream and sugar you add, and the grande skinny caramel latte is only 120 calories if you have a few spare.  Oh and their phone app is one of the best, not only for looking up calories but also for paying.
  • Waffle House – those of you lucky enough to have Waffle Houses in your area of the country can actually enjoy some great freshly cooked food that’s not loaded with calories–and enjoy the diner experience to boot (7×24, if you’re there at 3am you will probably enjoy a “show” too).  Have a waffle with sugar-free syrup (you might have to ask, but they do carry it) for 155 calories, or have 2 eggs, bacon, and wheat toast for less than 400 calories.

Foods for your Pantry and Fridge (in no particular order)

  • Nature’s Own Whole Wheat Bread – this is our bread stable, great tasting at 50 calories a slice.
  • Mio drink flavoring – I like a little flavor in my water, and you just squirt this in without measuring; no calories and wonderfully refreshing.  They have a variety of flavors and a couple of energy editions (with caffeine) also.
  • Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Vanilla Almond Milk, Unsweetened – great in cereal (not as great drinking straight up), with half the calories of skim milk.
  • Kix Cereal – speaking of cereal, this is my favorite and the lowest calorie, best tasting grain in a box out there at 88 calories per cup.
  • Perdue Crispy Chicken Strips – quick and easy frozen chicken strips, great for sandwiches and salads, less than 200 calories for 3 strips.  Dip ’em in a bath of Louisiana Hot Sauce and call ’em buffalo strips for no extra calories.
  • Crystal Light Lemonade – not as convenient as Mio, but if you want lemonade (great to mix with a sweet tea vodka during the summer) this is your only no-calorie choice.
  • Healthy Choice Fudge Bars – ice cream on a stick for 100 calories, we buy them in bulk at Costco.
  • Kraft Singles cheeses – the 2% American variety is 45 calories per slice, and the sharp cheddar fat-free is 25 calories; either variety is great scrambled with a couple of eggs in the microwave for a breakfast less than 200 calories.
  • Bacon – surprisingly not outrageous calorie-wise, with perhaps the best taste-to-calorie ratio on the planet, we buy the ultra-thin already cooked variety from Oscar Mayer: 70 delicious calories in 3 slices.  Even the full-sized regularly cooked 3-slice serving at Waffle House is only about 120 calories.
  • Thomas Bagel Thins – great for breakfast or with sandwiches, they have a couple of varieties but my fave is the everything bagel–110 calories.
  • Hebrew National 97% Fat Free hot dogs – 40 calories per hot dog and great tasting.
  • Amylu Chicken Andouille Sausage – 100 calories per sausage and also great tasting.  You can find them at Costco.
  • Eggo Nutrigrain Frozen Waffles – 2 waffles are 140 calories, top them with your favorite sugar free syrup and have breakfast for well under 200 calories.  If you have some extra calories, top them with some Nutella or Smuckers all-natural peanut butter (each at 100 calories per tablespoon) AND the sugar-free syrup…mmm.
  • Kraft Mayo with Olive Oil – another staple in our house, this mayonnaise is made with olive oil instead of vegetable oil.  Fewer calories (45 per tablespoon) and the monounsaturated fats from the olive oil are the good fats.
  • Oscar Mayer deli meats – 6 slices of the ham and turkey varieties are only 50 calories, and 6 slices of the roast beef is only 60 calories.
  • Jimmy Dean D’light breakfast sandwiches – a quick breakfast meal with several choices all less than 300 calories; my fave is the turkey sausage with egg white and cheese on a whole wheat bagel.
  • Special K Fruit Crisps – a quick and easy 100 calorie snack that tastes EXACTLY like pop-tarts.
  • Quaker Mini Rice Cakes – a great side-dish alternative to potato chips, you can have 18 (or so) cheddar, ranch, or black-pepper flavored crispy cakes for 140-ish calories.
  • Miller 64 – beer is loaded with carbs and a typical beer is going to run in the mid 100’s, so Miller 64 at (duh) 64 calories is a great balance of beer taste and calories.  You can have about 2 and a half of them for the same calories as a regular beer, but remember they pretty much have the same alcohol content as 2 regular beers.
  • Rockstar Recovery – if you need a quick thirst-quencher when you stop at the convenience store, this will do it and give you some B vitamins (and other stuff like taurine and milk thistle).  The lemonade flavor is most common but I’ve had an orange also; 20 calories per can.

One last recommendation: there are a couple of great books out there I call the “This & That” books.  Look for “Cook This, Not That” and “Eat This, Not That”.  Lots of great recipes and information can be found in these books to support a low calorie life style.

What are some of your great finds?  Your diet gems?

A note…I’m going to be checking out for a few weeks, it’s time for vacation so I won’t be blogging until mid July.  See you then and have a great summer!