Better Alternatives To Slim-Fast Shakes?


Dec 25, 2001


The Bottom Line There are better "quick meals and snacks" out there, in terms of taste, nutritional content and, sometimes, cost.

I've got a pet theory, that if you've lived long enough, and you're female, you've probably tried Slim-Fast products, such as the ready to drink shakes or mix-it-yourself kind made from Slim-Fast powder.

In my case, life's ups and downs tended to correspond with a fluctuating reading on the dreaded bathroom scale. Holidays and special occasions, (cruises, lost loves, chocolate "benders" and the like), seemed to provoke the worst gains, even when I craftily adjusted that little "zeroing" knob, since I just couldn't trust those awful reading.

Slim-Fast Shakes

When my clothing also began shrinking, (or else those darned manufacturers just began cutting patterns more skimpily), it was time to break out the old Slim Fast. A
shake for breakfast and lunch, and a well-balanced double cheeseburger, large fries and chocolate shake for dinner didn't budge the pudge but at least nothing got worse.

At times these shakes didn't satisfy my hunger, being comprised largely of carbohydrates, (around 35 grams). The tiny fat content, (1 to 5 grams), didn't cue my "appestat"
that I was full, so often the shakes became more like a supplement than a meal. At 200 calories for the make-it-yourself, and 220 Calories for the ready-made kind, this was as much damage as a Snicker's® Bar, and a whole heck of a lot less tasty.

As a diabetic, I'm picky about my carbohydrates and glycemic index, and fond of all things protein. I decided to cast about and come up with a week's worth (7) of quick meals or snacks, I could have with a target Calorie range of 160-240, and at least 10 grams of protein, without the gritty, chalky taste of the Slim-Fast Shakes.

1. Mozzarella sticks: I was somewhat surprised to find that 2 sticks, (1 ounce each), of this partly skimmed cheese had only 160 Calories, yet provided 16 gm of protein, and about half of my daily calcium requirement. Mildly lactose-intolerant, cheese doesn't give me the same problems as milk, and these individually wrapped "peel-and-eat" goodies were a nutritional bargain. Low in dietary fiber, you've got enough Calorie savings to indulge in a handful of celery/or carrot sticks and still be within the set limits.

2. Frozen Entree: Healthy Choice® Grilled Chicken Breast & Pasta. Unlike spa food that tastes like an artful arrangement of Styrofoam pellets, this stuff is flavorful, moist and satisfying. Weighing in at 240 Calories, it has an impressive 21 gm of protein, and a slightly spicy sauce with bits of red pepper, carrots and broccoli sprinkled among the fun-shaped twisty pasta. My favorite take-to-work entree, it's microwave ready in less than 5 minutes.

3. Homemade Chocolate Banana Smoothie: One of my favorite Regional Hawaiian Chefs makes a sort of diet ice cream using frozen bananas and cocoa powder. Borrowing a page from her book this quick fix starts with 1 medium, ripe banana, frozen, 2 heaping teaspoons Hershey's unsweetened cocoa and 1 Cup nonfat milk. Total calories? Barely 200, with 12 grams of protein and 4 gm of that dieter's friend, fiber. Plus cocoa powder has recently been found to be a heart-healthy anti-oxidant.

4. Berry Good Smoothie: Combine 1/2 Cup halved and frozen strawberries, 1/4 Cup frozen blueberries, 1 Cup chilled nonfat milk and 2 Tablespoons regular instant Jello® vanilla pudding dry mix, in a blender, mixing well until thickened, which takes about 3 minutes. Satisfies your sweet tooth and helps with the daily calcium need at the same time. A bargain at 175 Calories and 12 gm protein, 4 gm. fiber.

5. Lean Cuisine® Chicken a L'Orange. Another quick fix entree, as good as their #1 best seller, Glazed Chicken. Both contain 230 Calories, and have an impressive protein total: 20 gm/21 gm respectively. Although frozen dinners may contain as much as 50% sodium, this flavor-packed darlin' has only 13%. Here tenderloins of roasted chicken nestle among a pilaf of white and wild rice, with those good-for-you veggies: broccoli and carrots.

6. Homemade Shrimp Salad: 1/2 Cup cooked and draining small shrimp, tossed with a blend of 1 Tablespoon catsup and 1 teaspoon creamed horseradish, (or substitute 1 1/2 Tablespoon chili sauce or cocktail sauce). Serve over a bed of 1 Cup washed and drained salad greens, your choice. Yours for only 165 calories, with 26 gm. protein. The trade-off here is 200 mg. of cholesterol, but you still have room to add a large Rye Krisp or a few of those tasty Wasa crackers on the side.

7. Tofu Pate with Bagel Chips. A friend of mine made this stuff, and I swore it was some kind of meat pate. He added a touch of liquid smoke, which I avoid on everything but Texas-style brisket or Oven Kalua Pork. Combine 2 cans drained, cooked beans such as kidney or pink with 1 pound, (1 of those bricks in your produce section), of firm tofu. Drain off all the liquid, then combine in food processor. A 1/4 teaspoon each of garlic and onion powder, and about 1/2 teaspoon paprika along with salt and pepper to taste, makes a mighty tasty pate. Pack into a small loaf pan, cover and chill at least 2 hours. Figure 1/2 Cup per serving, and spread over bagel crisps (about 8). Calories: 220, Protein: 12 gm.

Conclusion

I'll concede that Slim-Fast prepared shakes are ready to go, and have an acceptable taste, with improved fiber content to help fight that dieter's frequent lament: constipation. The mix-it-yourself variety are chalky, and take almost as much time as any of the snacks, drinks or entrees above.

If you're going to use the blender/mixing wand in the first place, I'd recommend you try the homemade shake or smoothie.
While I may grab a Slim-Fast Shake from my dairy case, in place of a less nutritive cola beverage, I know a few hours later I'll be craving something more substantial.

If it comes between making that fateful detour into the Golden Arches King in the Box place, or satisfying myself in the first place, I know I'll be better off with more grams of protein, less gms of carbohydrates and a push on the fat content.

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