A Few of My Secret Foods That Make Life Worth Living

If you’ve ever shopped in the health-food aisle, you’ll quickly learn two things.  1) Almost everything in the aisle isn’t healthy at all, and 2) The stuff that is healthy is… well… kind of gross. Want a sneak peek of my favorite secret foods?

Over the last year, I’ve found a handful of products that are truly delicious and healthy. Almost all of these are in my normal food rotation of stuff I eat almost every day.

So here you go… truly yummy secret foods you can actually eat and will now blow up your numbers on IIFYM…

1) Chocolate Syrup: Walden Farms Chocolate Syrup.

No carbs, no sugar, no fat, and no calories. No, it’s notHershey’s, but it’s really, really good for baking or adding to a protein shake. Did you read the part where it’s no calories? (P.S. with the possible exception of their maple syrup, everything else from Walden Farms is super gross.. don’t be tempted).

Where to get it: I’ve never found it in a grocery store, but you can get it online here.

2) BBQ Sauce: Guy’s Award Winning BBQ Sauce – Smokey Bacon Flavor

This stuff changed my life because once I discovered it, I could have things like BBQ chicken sandwiches or grilled BBQ chicken. It’s seriously as good or better than any of the real BBQ sauce’s out there. Only 10 calories in a tablespoon, so you can really go nuts with it. The smokey-bacon flavor is the only one I’ve tried, and it’s so dang good I haven’t attempted the others yet. If you try the other flavors, let me know how they are!

Where to get it: I’ve never found it in a grocery store, but you can get it online here.

3) Spaghetti Sauce: Muir Glen Organic

Most spaghetti sauce is completely off limits, but this stuff is only 60 calories in a half cup and only 11g carbs. (In other words, they aren’t adding sugar to it). You can pronounce all the ingredients, and it’s really, really yummy. Pair this up with some whole-wheat noodles and it’s crazy good.

Where to get it: Most grocery stores have it in their health-food aisle.

4) Unsweetened Almond Milk: Any Brand

Milk gets mixed into all kinds of things we cook or bake with. (And you need it for your protein shakes.) But milk is really, really bad for you. It’s loaded with sugar. Almond milk is a great replacement. Make sure it’s unsweetened. 8oz of this stuff (that’s a lot) is only 30 calories.

Where to get it:  Any grocery store.

5) Protein Bar #1: Quest Bars

Almost all protein bars, if you examine the labels, are glorified candy bars. LOADED with sugar and carbs. And the ones that aren’t candy taste terrible. But Quest has solved this problem. Quest Bars are the gold standard in the fitness world (everyone I know who is serious about fitness eats them). They have 15+ flavors to choose from, and several of the flavors are very good. My favorites are Chocolate Brownie, Apple Pie, Cinnamon Roll, Pumpkin Pie, and Cookie Dough. (By the way, people love to take the Cookie Dough bars, break it into pieces, and bake it on a pan for protein-based chocolate chip cookies, and they ain’t bad.)

It is worth noting that the only way to get enough protein into a 40/40/20 ratio for IIFYM is using protein supplements (like protein bars or protein shakes). You simply can’t eat enough protein without blowing up your calories, otherwise, so these are a great staple to have on hand. Each bar is about 180 calories, 6g of fat, 20g of carbs, and 20g of protein, give or take depending on the flavor.  They make a great emergency meal replacement. (Have a few on hand to bail you out of a bad situation where you’re starving, away from home, and have nothing healthy to eat.)

Where to get it: GNC has the best price on these. You can also get them on Amazon.

6) Protein Bar #2: Chocorite Cookie Dough

This is the only other brand/flavor of protein bar that I actually like, but they come in a 100-calorie size, with about 10g of carbs, 10g of protein, and 3g of fat. They actually taste more like a caramel candy bar. I’m a huge fan of these. The cookie-dough flavor and the yellow cake are really the only good ones.

Where to get it: netrition.com

7) Protein Shake #1: GNC’s Total Lean.

As with protein bars, most protein shakes either taste awful, or they’re loaded with sugar. These are an exception. The nice thing about these is that they’re pre-mixed and come in a 14 oz bottle. Just open and drink it. They taste a lot better when they’re cold, and they come in a variety of yummy flavors. My favorite flavors are Strawberry, Chocolate, and Vanilla Bean. These are a great way to get the protein without blowing up the calorie budget. They are 170 calories, 6 g of fat, 6 g carbs, and 25 g of protein. They pack a BIG protein punch. I have one of these for breakfast almost every morning.

Where to get it: GNC

8) Protein Shake #2: Dymatize ISO 100 Chocolate-Flavored Protein Powder

I can’t stand the taste of most of the protein powders out there, but this one has a secret recipe if you’re looking for a complete meal replacement. This is my dinner most night. 2 scoops of this stuff (that’s a double serving), 10 oz of unsweetened almond milk, half of a frozen banana (this makes it creamy, like ice cream), a tablespoon of peanut butter, and some ice. Sometimes I will even add the Walden Farms’ chocolate syrup for an extra chocolate punch. The net result is a huge shake (we’re talking 32 oz huge) and it tastes very much like a Wendy’s Frosty and will completely fill you up. The final, gigantic result is 410 calories, 12 g of fat, 23 g of carbs, and 55 g of protein. This thing is a monster meal replacement. If you’re feeling up to it, blend in some spinach or kale, you won’t even be able to taste it.

Where to get it: Amazon.com

9) Ice Cream: Halo Top

Sometimes you need to give yourself a treat without feeling like you’re cheating. And I’m telling you, this stuff is amazing. If you budget right, you can have an entire pint of this for dessert. A whole pint is 240 calories, 8g of fat, 56g carbs, and 24g protein. Yeah, it’s a little carb heavy, which is why you need to budget for it. Either way, that’s about 10 times healthier than normal ice cream. Chocolate, Strawberry, and Mint chocolate chip are the best.

Where to get it: Harmons has it, but they also have a retail location finder on their website at halotop.com

10) Buffalo Wing Sauce: Sweet Baby Ray’s

Chicken wings are often deep-fried, battered, or loaded with other bad stuff, but if you take a plain chicken breast and grill it/marinade it/dip it in this stuff, you get all the same yummy flavors. Most buffalo sauce is loaded with fat, or it’s not creamy enough. For me, this sauce struck the perfect balance. A tablespoon is 15 calories, 1.5 g of fat, 0 carbs, and 0 protein.

Where to get it: Most grocery stores

11) Tortilla Wraps: La Banderita Soft Taco Low Carb Wraps

I love sandwiches, but sometimes the bread (even whole grain bread) puts me over my carb limits. These are a great alternative. Each tortilla/wrap is 81 calories, 2 g of fat, 11 g of carbs, and 5 g of protein.

Where to get it: Almost any grocery store.

12) Bread: Franz San Juan Island Organic Nine Grain Bread

Bread is normally really bad from a carb standpoint, but I did find some that I really like that’s easy to fit if you need a sandwich. A single slice of this bread is 110 calories, 1.5 g of fat, 20 g carbs, and 5 g protein. That’s less than a third what most bread is.

Where to get it: Almost any grocery store.

13) Subway Sandwiches: 6″ Oven roasted chicken on wheat bread, double meat, with light-mayo and all the veggies you want.

Almost everything on the Subway menu is extraordinarily unhealthy. But this combination is extremely easy to fit into your ratios. If you eat it in the configuration above (and oh baby, that double-meat is yum), you’re looking at 530 calories, 12 g of fat, 53 g of carbs, and 38 g of protein. A little heavy on the carbs, but sometimes when you’re craving fast food, this can be made to fit nicely. You gotta budget for it though because it’s pretty carb heavy. However, they will take the same sandwich and make it into a salad for you. But watch the dressing! Their normal dressing is loaded with carbs and fat.

14) McDonald’s: Artisan Chicken Sandwich

Sometimes you end up at McDonald’s. I get it. Their salads are okay ( if you get the balsamic dressing), but they also have one sandwich on their menu that’s not bad. This thing is 360 calories, 6 g of fat, 43 g of carbs, and 33 g of protein. Eat it without the bun to save carbs, and you can probably EASILY get two of these if it’s your main/big deal.

A special thanks to Nick, my IIFYM coach, who turned me on to several of these!

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