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2 Weeks on the 8-Hour Diet

I was at the library with my family, picking out healthy recipe books, when I stumbled upon a book called The 8-Hour Diet.  I skimmed it, looking for the gimmick, but didn’t immediately see it.  I showed the cover to my husband, who said, “That’s where you eat for 8 hours.”  I kind of rolled my eyes and said, “Noooo.” But it turns out, he was exactly right.

The Premise

In the 8-Hour Diet, you eat for 8 hours of the day and you fast for 16.  The 8 hours that you eat can be any 8 hours of the day, and the books says you can pretty much eat whatever you want during that time.  There are 8 types of food that the author, Zinczenko, suggests eating with every snack or meal, which are broken into two groups: the health boosters (fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc.) and the fat busters (lean protein, low-fat dairy, beans, etc.).  However, multiple times throughout the book, he says that you don’t have to worry about “cheating.”  You don’t even have to do it every day; just 3 days a week is enough.  In general, the idea is if you don’t deprive yourself of any certain type of food, i.e. if nothing is off limits, then you’re more likely to be able to stick with it in the long run.

How I Followed the Diet

For the first week, my 8-hour eating period went from about 11:30-7:30.  Since I already try to incorporate the “health boosters” and “fat busters” into my daily diet anyway, I really didn’t have to alter my eating habits.

During the second week, I extended the eating from 8 hours to 9 or 9 1/2 hours.  I’ll explain why below.

What I Learned from Doing It

The Pros

  • It’s easy to jump right in to.  I didn’t have to go buy special foods or rid my house of the foods that weren’t part of the diet.  As a result, I could start immediately and was able to say, “I’ll just try it tomorrow and see if I can actually go 16 hours without eating.”  There was no initial financial investment and, therefore, there was no feeling that I had to commit to it for any certain amount of time.  Really, there was no pressure with it all.  Just, I’ll give it a try.  If I can do it, great.  If I can’t, oh well; it’s not the one for me.
  • The best thing, though, about doing this diet for a couple weeks is that I learned I can actually go long periods of time without eating.  I was really afraid of feeling horrible–growling stomach, headache, etc.–like I usually do when I don’t eat often enough.  However, I just did what the book recommended and drank lots of water and caffeinated tea.  That kept the growling under control, and I never got a headache.
  • Water.  I drank so much water.  I started each morning with nearly 20 oz instead of having breakfast.  Then, I would have my normal during the day, plus some, so that most days I was getting 40+ oz of water, which was much more than I was having before–actually over twice as much!
  • I went to bed earlier.  If I waited too late to go to bed, then I knew I’d be hungry and want to eat, so I tried to get to bed earlier to avoid that, which, of course, resulted in more sleep.
  • This diet could easily be done with any other diet to see better results.  (This is mentioned in the book, too.)  Just follow the other diet’s rules for the 8 hours that you’re eating.
  • Fasting at least 12 hours at night is supposed to be really good for you.  (Just Google “12 hours fasts” and start reading.) It’s not the first time I’ve heard this concept, so I feel like it’s something I would like to continue doing when possible.

The Cons

  • For the first week, I had a difficult time adjusting.
    • It was hard not to overeat, especially as I got close to the end of my 8-hour window.   I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to eat again for 16 hours, so I wanted to stock up while I could.  I will say that the book mentions that you can’t stuff yourself and expect to see results.  You have to eat until satisfied, not full.  This is something I struggle with anyway, but this diet made me really more aware of this problem.  I felt fuller quicker and longer but often ignored these signals.
    • We would eat dinner around 5 or so and be finished by 6.  I knew I would need a snack before bed, but I wasn’t actually hungry before 7:30, which made me either force a snack, making me overly stuffed, or skip a snack, meaning I was hungry right at bedtime, and had to cheat with a glass of milk so that I could fall asleep.  (Drinking a bunch of water at bedtime to stave off hunger pains was obviously not an option since I didn’t want to be up a million times during the night to pee.)
  • I take iron at night to help with restless legs, and I have to take it with food; otherwise, I get massive stomach pain.  If I take it too early, I often still end up with restless legs, so if I took the pill at 7:30, the end of my window, and didn’t go to bed until 10, then it didn’t work like it should.  This, in the end, is why I extended my window an extra hour or so.  That way, I could take my nighttime pills closer to bedtime.  I also felt less pressured to eat when I wasn’t hungry or to overeat at dinner, so I was definitely doing better with this during the end of the two weeks, which is why I think, in the end, I didn’t gain weight.
  • However, I didn’t actually lose much at all (like less than 1/2 pound in two weeks).  I was hoping it would be a miracle, but for me, it just didn’t work out that way.  After 10 days, I was back down to my starting weight.  That’s right.  I gained while I was on it at first.  But in the end, making it through all the Easter candy and treats and my husband’s birthday during the first week and still netting a small loss?  I suppose that is a miracle after all.


Although it’s not a diet I will probably stick with as written, I do want to continue the 12- to 16-hour fast, and now, I know that even if I stop eating at 9 and, therefore, can’t eat until 9 or later in the morning, as long as plenty of water is available, I can skip breakfast and just wait for lunch.  I’ve made it 16 hours for goodness sake!

I would love to hear if you’ve tried the 8-Hour Diet and how it went for you!


The Hunt for Healthy Snack Bars – Kashi

Yesterday, I stopped at Kroger to pick up a few necessities for the weekend:  fruit, vegetables, bread, milk.  I was getting ready to pass the isle with the snack bars and thought for a second of getting another box of Chocolate Peppermint Stick LUNA bars.  (Turns out I DID have to worry about them disappearing.  I went to pack one to take to work earlier this week, and they were all gone.  I was so disappointed.)  However, I thought it was probably better to use one of the Kroger coupons I talked about last time and try a different brand.  Kashi’s turn!

As a reminder, when looking at snack bars, my three rules are that

  1. they should contain whole grains, nuts, and seeds,
  2. they should be low in saturated fat (preferably less than 3g), and
  3. added sugars should not be listed in the top 3 ingredients.

No kids this time meant that I could be a little more particular and not just grab one and hope for the best.  I’ll start with the two lines of bars that I opted for, though they weren’t necessarily the first boxes I reached for.

Kashi Layered Granola Bars


Peanutty Dark Chocolate

There aren’t many in this layered bar line.  One with coconut and one without.  Not a fan of coconut, so when in doubt, peanuts and chocolate.

First set of ingredients:  whole grains.  Score.

Second ingredient: peanuts.  Double score.

Third ingredient: date paste.  Sold.

Really, the fact that date paste is being used to sweeten this bar thrilled me.  When I make “cookies” at home, they are often just nuts, nut butter, and dates food processed together.  …speaking of these, I might need to make them this weekend.  Anyway…

Beyond the third ingredient, we start to see some other added sweeteners, but these bars meet my current guidelines, including the one about saturated fat.  Only 1g.

7g of sugar is a bit high, but I know some of it comes from dates.  The kids and I literally just sampled one of these.  Tasty, but not a super favorite.

Kashi Chewy Granola Bars

Honey Almond Flax

This is the other box I settled on.

Again, the first three ingredients do not contain sugar.  We’ve got whole grains, soy protein crisps, and almonds.  There isn’t even enough saturated fat for them to have to include it on the nutrition label.  Good protein, a little less sugar.  I expected deliciousness, but we tried these immediately after the chocolate layered bars.  Ada refused to even try it.  “I don’t like plain” (i.e. without a layer of chocolate).  Even I thought they had a strange taste to them, but I don’t know how much of that is because we had just sampled the others.  At this point, it’s not one I would buy again but will serve us in a pinch.

Chocolate Almond & Sea Salt with Chia

This was actually one of the first boxes I grabbed, but right away, I saw a problem:

Brown rice syrup is the third ingredient.  With nearly all the boxes that I picked up and put back down, this was the problem.  The third ingredient was often added sweetener.

Looking at this particular bar more carefully, though, it actually has less sugars, more protein, and more fiber than the layered granola bar that I opted for, plus with the added benefit of Omega 3.  These might be worth trying and breaking the rule for.

Kashi Crunchy Granola & Seed

Chocolate Chip Chia

They had me at chocolate and chia.


Look at the whole grains!  23g!  That’s the goal of any whole grain food.  Get up into the twenties with whole grain, and you know that the product is most likely entirely whole grain.  Love it.

This one, of course, also boasts Omega 3 due to the chia seeds, though, it’s not listed here like it was in the previous chia bar.  (That tells you how proud they are of that whole grain total!).

The problem is obvious, though, when you look two places:  the third ingredient is cane syrup and the amount of sugars is 9g.

And that’s exactly why I put this box back on the shelf.

Other bars in this line were very similar.  The third ingredient was almost always a syrup of some sort.

GOLEAN, Plant-Powered Bar

This is one line that I actually didn’t pick up or notice.  Let’s see if it’s worth hunting down.

Dark Chocolate Cashew Chia

Don’t these sound amazing?  Oh, but how disappointed I am:

Two out of the first four ingredients: syrup.  Darn.

So much to love about it, though–the protein, the good fats, all those nuts, the Omega 3.  See how I’m trying to rationalize having one of these?

Salted Dark Chocolate and Nuts

I had to give another one a chance.  Maybe it will be better.  I mean…look at it.


Here’s how it stacks up:

Booo.  Right away, syrup and syrup.  It’s very similar to the other bar in this line as far as nutrition goes, but it appears, for what I’m looking for, that this is not the best line for us right now.

Chewy Nut Butter

Salted Chocolate Chunk

Labeled “New” on Kashi’s website, I’m not sure I saw this line of bars either, but they do look like something I wouldn’t mind having.


Syrup.  Bah.

Cereal Bars

Ripe Strawberry

When at the store, I didn’t even bother looking at these.  I’ve look at the Nutrigrain version of these, and I was sure that the sugar content would be out of this world.

I do really enjoy the Kashi ones, though.  I have them before, and I would buy them again if it weren’t for…


The first ingredient is full of juice and sugar, so the 9g of sugar is not surprising.  It does give you a good comparison of the whole grains, though.  11g is okay, but remember that 23g from the other bar?  That’s why that other bar’s whole grain count is so amazing.


So, one thing is sure–Kashi certainly has a wide variety of bar lines.  I didn’t even look at the savory line here!  Happy that we at least found one to add to our snack bar possibilities!


Missed my other healthy snack bar posts?  Check out Nature Valley, KIND bars, and LUNA bars and keep watching for when I examine Larabar and other snack bar brands I have yet to discover!


The Hunt for Healthy Snack Bars – LUNA

I’m always waiting and watching for a deal, and today, I had coupons for 3 different brands of bars:  LUNA, Larabar, or Kashi.   Not too long ago, we bought a bunch of different types of Larabars, and CJ liked most of them.  I thought they were okay and were good in a pinch, so I figured we would try something different and go for LUNA.  Since the whole family was with me, I couldn’t really do a thorough analysis of the nutritional information, so time to write a post so that I’m prepared for next time (if they pass the test!).

As a reminder, my three rules are that

  1. they should contain whole grains, nuts, and seeds,
  2. they should be low in saturated fat (preferably less than 3g), and
  3. added sugars should not be listed in the top 3 ingredients.



Chocolate Peppermint Stick

Yep.  I’m a sucker for mint and chocolate, so I went for this flavor.  An added bonus is that my husband is not crazy about mint and chocolate, so I didn’t think I would have to worry about them all disappearing during the week while I was at work.  He tried one, though, and actually enjoyed it.  I absolutely loved it.  Could’ve eaten a couple.   Again, I believe that’s always a good clue that it’s probably got a little too much sugar in it, but let’s see.


Saturated fat is decent, but as suspected, the sugar is a little high.   Looking at the ingredients, technically, the second and third ingredients after the protein grain blend are sweeteners.   There is also no mention of whole grains, nuts, or seeds, so in the end, this is 1 for 3.

Other flavors are similar.

Nutz Over Chocolate


A little less sugar.  Same saturated fat.  Some actual peanuts.  More protein, too.  A slightly better choice.

LUNA Protein

Chocolate Peanut Butter

I picked one of these up, but put it down because the saturated fat was 3.5g.


Ouch.  The sugars, too.  Yes, there’s more protein, but all of the bars in the protein line are right around 13g of sugar.

Moving on.

LUNA 5G Sugar

Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk

So since sugar is an issue with their other lines, I thought this looked promising.


The ingredients start like most of the others–with that protein grain blend.  The second ingredient is a sweetener, so strike one.  Fat is good, and there are some peanuts.  However, the majority of the ingredients are not whole grains, nuts, and seeds.  Turns out, though, that for LUNA bars, this line appears to be the best.  So, in the future, if I need to choose a LUNA bar it will be the LUNA 5G Sugar Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk bar.  Wow.  That’s a mouth full.

Sadly, though, it appears LUNA bars will mostly need to be avoided (unless I need a quick mint chocolate fix, of course ;).

Missed my other healthy snack bar posts?  Check out Nature Valley and KIND bars, and keep watching for when I examine other snack bars like Larabar and Kashi.

Lean Ground Meats and Their Saturated Fat Content

When we met with the dietician about my son’s high cholesterol, we were told to avoid red meat and switch to turkey and chicken.  We had been using 90% lean ground beef but stopped that completely.

We buy turkey or chicken meatballs and turkey burgers.

We use ground turkey and chicken for meat sauces.

But I was wondering…how do lean ground beef, turkey, and chicken compare in terms of saturated fat?

Well, let’s find out.

Ground Beef

80% lean – 20% fat


90% lean – 10% fat


95% lean – 5% fat


So 3.4 grams of saturated fat in the meat that we usually got (because, for lean ground beef, it was so affordable at Sam’s Club).

I’m wondering how that compares to ground turkey, which we buy occasionally but definitely don’t enjoy as much.

Ground Turkey

        85% lean              93% lean

So the 85% lean ground turkey is identical in fat content to the 90% lean ground beef, while the 93% lean ground turkey is identical to the 95% lean ground beef.

That’s REALLY interesting.

Ground Chicken

Not actually a whole lot of choices when it comes to ground chicken, so here’s what I found from Perdue:

  92% lean                         98% lean


Obviously, the 98% lean is the best.  I know they make turkey like that, too, however, price is something I have to consider.  The 92% lean chicken is better than the 85% lean turkey, but probably more expensive, too.

For our budget’s sake, I suppose we’ll need to talk to CJ’s dietician this week during his checkup to see if there are other reasons concerning cholesterol for avoiding red meat or if that suggestion was purely due to the fat content.  It would be nice to have a little beef now and then!

And just in case you’re thinking maybe the amount of cholesterol is a problem:

80% lean ground beef – 60 mg

90% lean ground beef – 55 mg

95% lean ground beef – 53mg

85% lean ground turkey – 64mg

93% lean ground turkey – 60mg

Amazingly enough, turkey has more cholesterol than beef.


I would love to know what your favorite recipes are for lean ground beef and turkey.  Kid friendly, of course!  (And no, in our house, apparently tacos are NOT kid friendly.  😦 )


The Hunt for Healthy Snack Bars – KIND

I love the combination of chocolate and nuts (In fact, I’m secretly snacking on chocolate-covered almonds while I write this.), and since I’ve had the dark chocolate and almond KIND bar before, I figured it would be a good idea to examine them more closely, especially since I had a large amount waiting to be shipped through Amazon’s Subscribe and Save.  I wanted to be sure that they fit into my new rules:

  1. whole grains, nuts, seeds
  2. low in saturated fat
  3. added sugars/sweeteners not listed as one of the first 3 ingredients

I actually found it a little difficult to find nutrition and ingredient information on their site.  When I clicked on ingredients, here’s what I got:


With labels pointing to the bar, saying “dark chocolate” and “whole nuts.”

However, I know there’s a sticky sweet something holding it together.

KIND – Nuts & Spices

Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt

I went into the store for the Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt pictured above, and still, I was surprised that the information wasn’t prominently displayed.  However, when I scrolled down far enough, I found both the ingredients and the nutritional information.

Technically, the sweet stuff is not within the first 3 listed ingredients, but the second ingredient, the chocolate flavored (?!?) coating, contains sugar.  Maybe we could get away with it on a technicality.  However, when I look at the rest of the list, there’s honey and glucose syrup (the sticky combination holding it together, no doubt) and even more sugar.  Add all of that up, and I’m sure it puts the sugar content in the top 3.

I truly appreciate that they added a note that 4g out of the 5g of sugars in the bar are from added sugars.  I can’t wait until all labels require this (coming soon!).

However, I believe that this disqualifies this particular KIND bar from being added to the snack rotation.  Bummer.  They have now been removed from Amazon cart and replaced with deodorant (so that I still have five items and can get my 15% subscribe and save discount!).  Definitely not as exciting.

Anyway, the Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt bar comes from their “Nuts & Spices” line.  I thought I’d check one of each of their other.


KIND – Fruit & Nut

Raspberry Cashew & Chia

Keep in mind that I’ve never tried this, but if I were to try any, this would likely be a flavor I’d enjoy.

Glucose syrup = ingredient number 2 = out

It has even more added sugar at 6g!

KIND – Healthy Grains Bars

Dark Chocolate Chunk

Okay…I have had these, and I once again blame Amazon Subscribe & Save.  There’s always coupons and deals on different types of bars, so I use the opportunity to give them a try.  These were awesome…and I have a pretty good suspicion I know why…

Okay, so I’m totally rethinking what I said about knowing how much added sugar is in something.    I can’t ignore that every single gram of sugar is added.  😦  I mean…look at it all.  There are all kinds of syrups, as well as honey, molasses, and sugar.  Geesh.

If you have nothing against sugar, though, these really are excellent, as are the Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt and the Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate.  I got to sample all three of them in a variety pack from Amazon.

KIND – Plus

Almond Cashew with Flax + Omega 3

Again, these are ones I haven’t tried, but I figured I’d look at one more line…and it may have been worth it.

Look at that.  The first 3 ingredients are fruits and nuts, only 2 forms of sweetener, though they take the 4th and 5th spots.  After looking at some of the other bars, I am beginning to think that for now 4g of added sugar is fairly reasonable when it comes to snack bars.  Saturated fat is low, and there are no processed grains.  It looks like we have another possible transition bar as we wean ourselves from sweetened foods.  If I ever get around to trying them, I’ll let you know.  …maybe next month’s subscribe and save 🙂

Do you have a favorite KIND bar or snack?  Let me know!

**Note that the links (above) in this post are affiliate links.

Don’t forget to check out what I wrote about Nature Valley bars.

The Hunt for Healthy Snack Bars – Nature Valley

So my son was recently diagnosed with high-cholesterol.  This has motivated the whole family to eat healthier, hoping that he can control this mostly inherited problem at least enough to avoid needing medicine.

Of course, we’ve cut out saturated fat by being careful about what meats and oils we cook with, but we’re also trying to exclusively eat whole grains instead of processed grains.  This has been challenging but not impossible.  Lots of healthy whole grain options are out there if you know where to look.  We’ve been relying a lot on Nature Valley crunch bars, with Larabars and KIND bars thrown in there when there are sales.  However, I would like to take our snacks in the next healthy direction, which is making sure that sugar and various forms of sweetener are not one of the main ingredients, which for now will mean they’re not listed as one of the top 3 ingredients.  Perhaps once we master that, we’ll be able to move sugar back beyond the 5th ingredient spots, but baby steps…

What I want to do is compare different brands and different bars within brands to see both the nutritional information, especially calories and saturated fat, and ingredients, focusing not only on the sugar content but also on whether or not the ingredients are mainly whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fruits.

Today, I’ll start with Nature Valley since their Crunchy Oats and Honey bars have been staples around here for awhile (even before we found out about the cholesterol issue).

Nature Valley – Crunchy

The crunchy bars below are by far our favorite, so I looked up their nutritional information from the Nature Valley website:

Oats ‘n Dark Chocolate


Oats ‘n Honey


Pecan Crunch


Love that whole grains are the first ingredient and that the pecan ones have actual nuts in them.  As you can see, though, sugar is the second ingredient.  Bummer.  Plus, there’s brown sugar syrup later in the list.  No wonder we love them so much!

Nature Valley – Protein

We’ve only ever had these two varieties, but based on the nutritional information, we might be switching over to these from the crunchy variety.

Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate


Peanut, Almond, & Dark Chocolate


Although these have more saturated fat, likely from the peanuts and almonds, they are full of healthy fats and have more protein and fiber than the crunchy versions.  Sugar is the 5th ingredient, so this bar would only be a temporary solution.  However, it should serve as a good transition.

Nature Valley – Sweet and Salty

Dark Chocolate, Peanut, and Almond

We’ve never tried these that I can remember, but they looked similar to the protein bars above, so I thought I’d check out their information to see if they would be an alternative.


Second ingredient is corn syrup.  Third ingredient is sugar.  I bet they’re delicious 🙂

Sadly, though, they don’t meet the criteria, so not an option.


Protein Bars are the way to go for now, as far as Nature Valley is concerned.  I like Nature Valley because I can find them in the regular granola bar isle and not the health food section, which makes them much more affordable!

I hope to have similar posts in the future feature different brands like Larabars, Luna Bars, KIND, Quaker, Clif, etc.

What’s your favorite healthy nut, seed, fruit, and whole grain bar?

Stir Fry

Since I’m doing Weight Watchers (and so is my husband finally!), having vegetables and fruits is a must.  They’re zero points, which means I can load up lunches and dinners with them without overdoing it on points.

The easiest meal to make that includes lots of veggies is a stir fry.  In a previous post, I talked about 3 ways to add more vegetables to meals and even showed how I added them to stir fry.  It’s always a delicious meal, so I thought I’d share my secret.  My recipe is inspired by an infographic I found on Pinterest.  Yes, it’s true.  Of course, I added my own twist to it.

My favorite part is the list of stir-fry sauces:


To make the sauce pretty much zero points, I use Stevia (3 packets) instead of brown sugar.    I’ve tried the basic sauce and the black pepper sauce (super spicy!), and I always add red pepper flakes.  I’ve done chicken, pork, and steak.  All good.  And when I do steak, I grate some fresh (well, actually frozen) ginger.

I don’t own a wok, so I don’t follow the exact cooking instructions on the infographic either.  I usually mix up the sauce while I’m defrosting the meat.  Then, I slice up the meat and add it to the sauce to marinate while I get some rice cooking.  I add a little oil to the pan (and more red pepper flakes :)), and heat it up a little before adding the bowl of meat and sauce.  Once it starts bubbling, I stir it, lower the heat a little, and cover it to let it simmer.  That’s when I prep the veggies I’m going to add.  Last time, I put some carrots and romaine into my Ninja and chopped them up.  I also threw in a couple frozen shredded zucchini cubes and, of course, my go-to stir-fry veggie:  broccoli slaw.   I generally wait to throw in the vegetables until the meat is pretty well done.  Then I mix everything up, make sure everything is covered with the sauce, and I cover the pan again.  I check on it every few minutes, stirring it around a bit, and then covering it back up.  I keep it on low heat until the other parts of the meal (like the rice) are done.  Simple and delicious!

So give the infographic a try, and make some stir fry.  You can go directly to Cook Smarts and get a nice printable version for free.  In fact, I downloaded it, printed it, and keep it in a binder for easy reference!  Let me know how your stir fry adventures go!

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