Thin Mints. Samoas, Tag-a-Longs. That’s right – Girl Scout cookie season has officially arrived. If they haven’t already, neighborhood girls (or your own little ones) will soon be knocking on your door begging you to buy a box…or six. The Girl Scouts organization supports itself largely through cookie sales, and since our waistlines continue to expand, the Girl Scouts have required its bakers to keep at least one healthier cookie in the lineup. Still though, cookies go better with milk than they do with health, since they’re made primarily from a combination of refined white flour, sweeteners, and oil and offer little to no nutritional benefit.
We can’t say we don’t love the occasional Thin Mint, fresh out of the freezer. After all, cookies taste good, and when eaten in moderation, can be incorporated into an otherwise healthy diet. Enjoy your favorite variety in small amounts, say 2 cookies, and pair them with a cold glass of low-fat milk and an apple for a more well-rounded and satisfying snack. Be sure to follow the same guidelines when it comes to your kiddies’ cookie consumption by limiting their consumption to 2 cookies per day and filling the rest of their lunchbox with nutritious items.
So what’s the “healthiest” Girl Scout cookie? Any variety without partially hydrogenated oils, such as Thank You Berry Munch, Do-Si-Do, Shortbread, Savannah Smiles, and Shout Out Cookies. All of the cookies are trans-fat-free per serving as required by the FDA, and many are 100% trans-fat-free. The difference is that “zero trans-fat” does not necessarily mean no trans fat, since the FDA allows products to claim that they have “zero trans fat” if they have less than half a gram of trans fat per serving. Only when a box claims that it is 100% trans-fat-free does is mean that there is really no trans fat in the cookies. Your best bet is to read the first few ingredients and steer clear of cookies that contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, as these are a definite indicator of trans fat. In short, if you eat four cookies that contain trans fats, you could be exceeding the recommended limit of one gram or less per day.
No preservatives are used in any Girl Scout cookies, but high fructose corn syrup does make an appearance in some of the recipes.The list of ingredients, allergen information, and complete nutritional information are available for each variety on the box, order form, and online. For a look at the hard facts for some of your favorite varieties, check out this article http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/girl-scout-cookies?page=2. The numbers may surprise you!
As with most treats, moderation is the key when it comes to Girl Scout cookies. This can be hard since many families purchase more than one box, they taste delicious, and they are only available once per year. Portion control and eating mindfully are vital to enjoying your cookies without packing on the pounds. To avoid eating that entire sleeve of Peanut Butter Patties, note the serving size, portion one serving out on a plate, and put the box away. Then sit down, eat slowly and mindfully, and pair your cookies with more nutritious items so that you leave the table feeling satisfied, not ravenous for more sugar. More wise words: Put a cap on the number of boxes you buy depending on the size of your family, and once they’re gone, they’re gone. Also, try storing them in the freezer so you won’t be tempted to overeat them.
To get the scoop on healthy eating, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website atwww.eatright.org. If you’re looking to get your family on track with a healthy eating plan, Family Food LLC’s team of registered dietitians would love to hear from you! You could be entitled to SIX FREE VISITS with us, depending on your insurance carrier. For all the info you need, be sure to take a look at our “Services” and “Contact” tabs. We can also be reached on Facebook and Twitter by clicking the links in the upper-right corner of our homepage.