Right Stuff vs. Food Porn
Most varieties of Kellogg's Special K cereal are nothing special. Just some rice, whole wheat, sugar, and a major ad campaign that promises that you'll "lose up to 6 lbs in 2 weeks" by replacing two meals and two snacks a day with Special K cereals, crackers, shakes, or bars.
(Ignore it. If you could replace entire meals with a serving of cereal, crackers, or a bar, any brand would probably work.)
Special K Protein Plus is different. A ¾-cup serving is high in protein (10 grams), but low in calories (100). Most cereals have just a gram or two of protein. Kashi's GoLean line is an exception, but you have to pick carefully. A cup of original GoLean supplies 13 grams of protein for its 140 calories, but GoLean Crunch!'s 9 grams of protein come with 190 calories.
Special K Protein Plus cereal has another plus. Its first ingredient is wheat bran, which accounts for most of each serving's 5 grams of fiber. That's close to the 7 grams you'd get in a 190-calorie serving (1 cup) of Kellogg's Raisin Bran. Granted, Protein Plus isn't 100 percent whole grain. It's got some (white) rice after the soy grits (which supply most of the protein). But the extra bran makes up for some of the refined grain.
Protein Plus keeps a lid on calories in part because it's so low in sugar. Kellogg adds a touch of the safe sweetener sucralose (Splenda) to its ½ teaspoon of table sugar plus high-fructose corn syrup.
A bowl of Protein Plus is a perfect home for a handful of sliced berries, bananas, or peaches.
Now that's special.
Kellogg: (800) 962-1413
NO WAIST PASTA
"Fettuccine noodles tossed in a creamy Parmesan cheese sauce. Up the flavor with the addition of grilled shrimp, scallops or chicken breast, or choose two."
That's all Outback's menu says about its No Rules Parmesan Pasta. Not a clue that the pasta and sauce alone supply 910 calories, 1 ½ days' worth of saturated fat (31 grams), and two-thirds of a day's sodium (1,080 milligrams). That's about what you'd get in two Outback 8 oz. New York strip steaks without sides (except that the steaks have 20 grams of sat fat and 100 fewer calories). No rules...and no clues.
And if you take the menu's advice to "up the flavor" with, say, chicken, your entrée hits 1,480 calories and 45 grams of sat fat seasoned with 1,810 mg of sodium. Now you're talking two 14 oz. New York strip steaks without sides (except that the steaks have 400 mg less sodium and "only" 33 grams of sat fat).
Instead of a pair of steaks, your plate holds a pile of white-flour pasta swimming in cream and cheese. The extra shrimp, scallops, and chicken breast sound harmless. Odds are, they're coated with butter or they wouldn't be adding 12 to 14 grams of saturated fat to the dish. "At Outback, it's all about quality—and all about the food," explains the chain's Web site. Outback patrons are probably all about the food, too. Why else blow nearly 1,500 calories on a plate of pasta? And their food may be all about them...about their waist, their hips, their thighs, and their other assorted body parts.
Outback: (813) 282-1225
Dish of the Month
Steam ½ lb. of asparagus until tender, about 2-5 minutes. Whisk together 1 Tbs. of mayonnaise with 1 Tbs. of lemon juice and 1 finely minced small shallot. Drizzle over the asparagus.