Hungry? SELF's got you covered. We taste-tested every healthy food we could find to compile this list of the most slimming, delectable breakfasts, lunches, snacks, dinners and-yippee!-even desserts. Prepare to say "Yum!"
By Erin Hobday and Merritt Watts
From the September 2009 Issue
Your ideal body starts in your kitchen. Having nutritious, tasty food on hand is key to conquering cravings, feeling energized, defeating disease and dropping pounds permanently. But with roughly 47,000 products crammed on grocery store shelves, it's tough to know what to toss into your cart.
To make eating right easy, SELF recruited experts Willow Jarosh, R.D., and Stephanie Clarke, R.D., of New York City to design nutritional criteria for dozens of foods, accounting for calories, fat, sugar, fiber and more. Then we invited an army of hungry readers to sample every good-for-you option out there (so you don't have to) to vote on the ultimate yogurt, bagel, chips, pretzel, candy, chocolate, frozen meals, bacon, bread, oatmeal and more!
And the winners are...54 scrumptious, waist-friendly foods that will change your body and thrill your taste buds. The payoff? The next time hunger strikes, you can reach for something smart and delicious. Let the feasting begin!
GREAT GRAINS:Best Cereal
Barbara's Bakery Shredded Spoonfuls Multigrain
(120 calories, 1.5 grams fat per 3/4 cup)
"Reminds me of Life cereal from my childhood!" a tester raved. The perfectly sweetened bites boast only 5 g sugar per serving.
Lender's 100% Whole Wheat
(150 calories, 1 g fat per bagel)
Take bagels off the "do not eat" list. They're not all bad! In fact, each of these has 4 g fiber. "They're doughy and sweet enough to eat right from the bag," a sampler said. See more great grains winners here!
Emeril's Southwest Style Medium Salsa
(15 calories, 0 g fat per 2 tbsp)
Scoop this star with the chips on page 86, and BAM! It's a party snack. "There are yummy chunks of tomatoes, corn and beans," a tester raved.
Best Hearty Soup
Wolfgang Puck Organic Lentil & Vegetable
(160 calories, 1 g fat per cup)
Where's the beef? Who cares! You're getting protein, fiber and more flavor with this nonmeat blend. Superb seasonings earned it the top spot.
Polaner All Fruit Strawberry
(40 calories, 0 g fat per tbsp)
Our panel agreed: This one tastes the most like fresh berries. "Reminds me of summer," a reader said. Pair it with the Smucker's, below, for a classic winning combo.
Best Pasta Sauce
Whole Foods's 365 Classic Marinara With Parmesan Cheese
(45 calories, 1 g fat per 1/2 cup)
"I've never tasted sauce like this! It's good enough to eat on crackers," a fan said. Many sauces are sugar bombs, but this one has only 5 g per serving. Gravy!
Best Peanut Butter
Smucker's Natural Creamy
(210 calories, 16 g fat per 2 tbsp)
Whatever your PB needs might be-chunky, creamy, salty, sweet-you'll go nuts for this version. And the list of ingredients is simply peanuts and salt.
Find more stellar staple winner here!
DELI AND DAIRY PICKS:
Florida's Natural Calcium & Vitamin D
(110 calories, 0 g fat per cup)
Treat yourself to a cup of rich (not watery) citrus to brighten your morning and guard your bones. This OJ offers a third of the calcium plus all of the vitamin C you need daily.
Best Soymilk -
ZenSoy Plain Organic
(90 calories, 3.5 g fat per cup)
"It's sweet, nutty and smooth," a sipper said. And the dairy-free drink is delicious enough to pour into coffee or enjoy alone.
Best Plain Yogurt
Stonyfield Farm Organic Lowfat Plain
(120 calories, 2 g fat per 8 oz)
Spoon up this back-to-basics best for its tangy, natural sweetness. "Plain yogurt can be tough to eat solo, but this is delicious," a diner said. Best Fruit Yogurt
Trader Joe's French Village Mixed Berry
(130 calories, 0 g fat per 6 oz)
Yummy yogurt alert! Testers called this "fruity" and "filling." And one delish container has only about 12 g of added sugar.
(70 calories, 6 g fat per 2 tbsp)
"I licked my bowl clean," a tester confessed. Others noted the dip's smoothness and tahini taste. No need to fret over the fat content; it's mostly unsaturated.
Oscar Mayer Turkey Bacon
(35 calories, 3 g fat per slice)
You'll want to pig out on this smoky breakfast side. "It has some crunch and some chewiness, just like regular bacon," one sampler said. Tastes like a splurge!
Best Lunch Meat
Applegate Farms Smoked Turkey Breast
(50 calories, 0 g fat per 2 oz)
Fill a wrap or sandwich with a few savory, not salty, slices. One tester raved, "The texture is like fresh turkey, not slimy as so many packaged deli meats can be."
See more deli and dairy winners here!
TREATS AND SWEETS:
Best Potato Chip
Kettle Brand Baked Potato Chips, 65% Less Fat, Lightly Salted
(120 calories, 3 g fat per oz)
Less is more! Despite having the least fat of all of the crunchers we chomped, these won top marks for flavor. "They taste like the real thing," one tester said.
Snyder's of Hanover MultiGrain Sticks
(120 calories, 2 g fat per 7 sticks)
Even with their low-sodium status (160 mg per handful), these dip sticks are savory and supply a satisfying crunch. "Would make a great party appetizer," a taster said.
Best Granola Bar
Kashi TLC Dark Chocolate Coconut bars
(120 calories, 3.5 g fat per bar)
So dessert-like, you'll forget it's a healthy whole-grain snack. "It's two bars in one," said one fan of the candy-style chocolate layer on top of a chewy granola bar.
Sour Patch Watermelon
(150 calories, 0 g fat per 21 pieces)
Sometimes, you just need sugar! These sweet-sour suckers were voted the tastiest way to sweeten your day. "Gummi goodness!" a taster said. "The right amount of pucker."
Trader Joe's 94% Fat Free
(130 calories, 2 g fat per bag)
Theater-caliber kernels from a microwave? That's the ticket! Natural butter flavor belies the 4 g fiber in a single-serve bag.
Triscuit Rye With Caraway Seeds
(120 calories, 4.5 g fat per 6 crackers)
Found! The ideal match for any topping. "It's mild enough to go with peanut butter or hummus, or to stand on its own," a tester raved.
Dove Cranberry Almond
(170 calories, 10 g fat per bar)
"I want this in my office vending machine!" a chocoholic declared. A tempting proposition, considering the pick is "decadent" and "smooth." Happily, it contains flavonols, so think of it as a heart-helping indulgence.
Pepperidge Farm Soft Baked Oatmeal
(140 calories, 5 g fat per cookie)
These cinnamon treats are chewy, sweet and huge enough to satisfy a monster-sized cookie desire. Nuke a cookie for 30 seconds for a warm, gooey mouthful.
See more award-winning treats and sweets here!
Check out the Healthy Food Awards shopping list.
MORE FROM SELF: