Calorie Bargains: Getaways, Cookbooks, and Treats

by Charles Platkin, PhD

Calorie Bargains: Getaways, Cookbooks, and Treats

Calorie Bargain: Pura Vida Adventures — Costa Rica Surf and Yoga Retreats for Women

The Why: I asked a very close friend and Diet Detective adjunct to report back to me about her fabulous vacation at a surf and yoga camp. Here’s what she had to say: “It was the perfect vacation. I relaxed and went home feeling healthier, stronger, and more confident in both my body and my outlook on life.

“The surf break in front of the Tropico Latino resort, where the surf camp is located, is a perfect place to learn. The water is warm and the break is gradual, so you can walk out very far and still stand. Also, there are several size waves to surf, which makes learning this seemingly intimidating sport much more accessible and fun! The instructors are phenomenal — informative, hands-on and very supportive.

“While the workout is incredible, you hardly notice you’re working out since you’re so focused on looking for the perfect wave. Surfing and yoga really go hand in hand. Like yoga, surfing is all about core strength, mental focus and positive thinking.

“Pura Vida Adventures is about giving women the opportunity to either learn or improve their surfing skills in a fun, non-competitive environment. But surfing is just part of the adventure. Pura Vida allows you to explore the art of wave-riding, find presence in daily yoga, enjoy healthy gourmet food and share in a community of laughter and fun.”

The Bonus: “The relaxation you’ll enjoy after a vigorous morning surfing session is beyond comparison. And the beautiful indoor/outdoor beachside spa with excellent practitioners takes it to another level.”

What We Liked Best: “Learning to do something new and challenging with my body and having fun with new friends along the way!”

What We Liked Least: “Having to say goodbye at the end.”

What It Replaces: A vacation of sitting around bored, eating, gaining weight and not having fun.

The Price: Fall 2009 through Spring 2010
Rates: Shared Accommodation — $2,295, Private Accommodation with shared bath — $2,395, Private Accommodation with private bath — $2,895 for seven days and six nights.

Other Offerings: Great spa treatments

Where to

Nutritional Information: Yoga burns 176 calories per hour and surfing burns 211 calories per hour, but both provide a great full mind and body workout you don’t get from many other activities.

Ingredients: Seven-day/six-night adventure includes:

  • Beachfront accommodations
  • Daily surf instruction with expert instructors
  • Sunset surf sessions
  • Surf equipment, including soft tops, epoxy and fiberglass surfboards
  • Daily yoga sessions
  • Three daily healthy meals
  • Unlimited bottled water
  • Day trips to secret surf spots
  • One hour-long private massage
  • PVA rash guard (surf shirt)
  • The Core of Surfing surfing manual
Calorie Bargain: Fruit2day Strawberry Orange Smoothie

The Why: My 6-year-old daughter loved it, and she’s pretty picky. Plus, various other Diet Detective taste-testers really enjoyed it. This product combines “real fruit bits” and rich puree as well as some natural juice and, as a result, delivers a tasty and healthy snack.

The Health Bonus: As a nation, we don’t eat enough fruit – that’s for sure. This product won’t change that, but by having it as a snack instead of empty calories, your kids (and you) will get some of the tremendous nutrients and antioxidants that fruit offers. What We Liked Best: The fact that there is no added sugar.

What We Liked Least: Well, it’s still a high-calorie drink, but I do like that the company positions it as a sort of snack. Good thing, because that’s really what it is – a healthy snack. The other thing is the way the product is promoted as a serving of fruit. Again, the reality is, it’s better than nothing but it does not replace real, whole fruit, which certainly has more fiber and nutrients per comparable serving size.

What It Replaces: Cookies, candy and cake

The Price: A two-pack sells for $3.79.

Other Offerings: Cherry grape, mango peach, pineapple banana

Where to Buy: Fruit2day is available in stores including Safeway, Kroger, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. Or you can visit the store locator at and type in your ZIP code.

Nutritional Information: One container (200ml), 110 calories, 0g fat, 27g carbs, 1g fiber, 1g protein
Ingredients: Strawberry pieces, apple juice from concentrate and puree, white grape juice from concentrate, orange juice with pulp from concentrate, banana puree, pineapple pieces and puree, aronia berry juice from concentrate, acerola cherry juice from concentrate, natural flavor.

Calorie Bargain: Golden Door Cooks at Home by Dean Rucker and Marah Stets

The Why: Dean Rucker is the chef at the famed Golden Door Spa, which has been around for 50 years serving up wonderfully healthy food in a revitalizing environment. The focus of the book is on lean proteins, whole grains, fresh vegetables and other wholesome foods. Also featured are cooking tips from the chef on how to boost flavor healthfully, as well as recipes for easy-to-make sauces and vinaigrettes. There’s also a “Basics” section with recipes to make your own stock, herb oil and balsamic reduction. Listen to some of these dishes: Red Lentil Veggie Burgers, Spiny Lobster and Mango Gazpacho Shooters, Individual Vegetable Pizzetta, Quinoa Tabbouleh — delicious.

The Health Bonus: Nutritional information for each is listed in the back of the book — something that I believe is really helpful. Not to mention recipes for eating healthier foods.

What We Liked Best: It’s all really good, but I know how much healthy eaters will appreciate the Vinaigrettes and Dressings section.

What We Liked Least: Like most cookbooks, the recipes make many servings, and if you eat more than one serving, even healthy foods can quickly become unhealthy. Watch the portion sizes. If you are cooking for only one or two people, freeze the leftovers right away so you’re not tempted to eat them.

What It Replaces: Eating out or cooking dishes that are not only unhealthy but don’t even taste good.

The Price: $40.

Other Offerings: Golden Door Cooks Light and Easy, The Golden Door .

Where to

Ingredients: Hardcover, 288 pages, Clarkson Potter, April 21, 2009.

Calorie Bargain: Origo Paso Pedometer Watch

The Why: There’s great research on how pedometers increase your overall steps each day. This watch measures your distance in kilometers or miles and counts the calories you burn while you run or walk.

The Health Bonus: Studies have shown that people who use pedometers tend to stay with their exercise program longer. Not only that, in a key study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, participants in a diet plus lifestyle program who were taught to incorporate short bouts of activity (such as walking short distances rather than driving) using a pedometer into their daily schedules lost more weight than those without the pedometer.

What We Liked Best: It’s a nicely designed watch that includes a step timer, target step counter, stopwatch and total distance traveled. It’s also light and comfortable, with a large LCD display and a push-button backlight.

What We Liked Least: It’s a bit difficult to set up.

What It Replaces: Your regular sports watch, which you probably use only to tell time.

The Price: $40

Where to

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