THE DISH

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Facing reality: It's diet time

Now that the holidays are over, it's time to get back to reality. That means cutting back on the junk food and watching the calories and eating right.

According to MINTEL, a market research company, Americans eat an average of 4.6 times a day. Adults age 18 to 34 are significantly more likely to snack in between regular meals. And because of the hectic lifestyles of most Americans, the on-the-go food and beverage market has grown faster than the spending on food prepared at home during the past decade.

But on the positive side, the company reports, sales of bottled water are growing. Although carbonated beverages still dominate the field, two-thirds of consumers drink bottled water.

Wholesome and sweet

The name says it all. Laura's Wholesome Junk Food was started by a California doctor who wanted to make great-tasting food that also was healthful. She came up with a line of cookies that contain no cholesterol, no trans fat and no additives. They are sweetened primarily with dates and based in whole grains.

The cookies come in four flavors and are sold at Whole Foods Markets. They have a suggested retail price of $4.99 to $5.49 for a tub of 14 to 16 cookies.

Getting your fiber

Even some familiar snack foods can be included in your new diet regimen. Popcorn may not be on the low-carb plan, but for those trying to include more fiber in their diet, it is a whole grain rich in nutrients. And if you don't load it down with butter or other flavorings, it isn't high in calories, either.

Calorie-counting

Low carb? Low fat? Whichever you choose, the way to lose weight is to make sure you eat fewer calories than you burn.

Progresso says 25 varieties of its soup contain 100 calories or less per serving, including its Homestyle Chicken With Vegetables and Pearl Pasta, its Beef & Baked Potato and Chicken Noodle.

Other food options with 100 calories or less: an ounce of low-fat cheese and an apple; a rice cake and 2 teaspoons of peanut butter; and a half-cup of oatmeal topped with half a banana.

Snacks for a cause

The last candy canes may be lying on your kitchen counter, but there are more healthful snack options.

Peaceworks Inc. has created KIND Fruit + Nut, an all-natural line of snack bars made in Australia from premium whole nuts. And 5 percent of the profits from the sales of the bars goes to foster peace projects in regions of conflict.

The bars, which come in 10 flavors, are available at the Natural in Timonium, David's Natural in Columbia, Roots Market in Clarksville and Whole Foods Markets. They have a suggested retail price of $1.99. For more information, visit www.peaceworks.com.

EVENTS

Learn to make heart-warming winter soups 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 24 at Chef's Expressions, 9526 Deereco Road, Timonium. $40. Call 410-561-CHEF.

Learn to make hearty Italian soups 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at Donna's in Columbia, 5850 Waterloo Road. $35. Call 410-659-5248, ext. 112.

Enjoy heart-healthy gourmet dining prepared by Baltimore's top chefs at Heartfest 2005, 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Martin's West. $100. Call 410-560-2230.

The Dish welcomes food news and notes. Send to The Dish, Attn.: Liz Atwood, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278; fax to 410-783-2519; e-mail food@baltsun.com.

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