Diet Detective’s Healthy Living Calorie Bargains: EatingWell Meatless Cookbook; Free Diet Starter Kit; Vitalicious VitaBun and More

by Charles Platkin, PhD

Calorie Bargain: ePulse2 Strapless Heart Rate Monitor
The Why: There have been many attempts to get the strapless heart rate monitor right, but most of the units on the market really are missing the beat. ePulse2 changes all that; it’s the only one that displays a continuous heart rate. I’ve been testing it for a few months now, and it’s really good. You strap the monitor around your arm right below your elbow. The band is comfortable, and easy to get on and off. The best part is that you can easily read the screen, and while you exercise you can monitor your heart rate. The only drawback is that if you exercise outdoors in the winter, you can’t use this device because it only works on bare skin, so you need to be wearing short sleeves. But I still like it, and as a bonus, it has a rechargeable battery.
The Health Bonus: The primary purpose of a heart rate monitor is to provide you with a better understanding of your exercise intensity. Knowing your heart rate and exercise intensity can determine when you reach your anaerobic threshold and your muscles start to get tired. From that point, with proper training, you can increase your threshold and sustain peak performance for longer periods.
What We Liked Best: Ease of use and the rechargeable battery
The Price: $133 (on
Where to Buy:, and other retailers (get a list here)

Calorie Bargain: EatingWell Fast Flavorful Meatless Meals by Jessie Price and The EatingWell Test Kitchen (Countryman Press, 2011)
The Why: If you read my column, you know I really like the recipes from EatingWell magazine and their fabulous website, They also have a wonderful series of books, and they just came out with another one that is all vegetarian. Many people are giving up meat for health and/or ethical reasons. Whatever your reason, EatingWell’s new book has some wonderful, creative recipes for you, including 50 that are ready in 30 minutes or less, 45 that are vegan and 75-plus gluten-free options.
The Health Bonus: Many researchers claim that reducing your meat intake “even a few times a week ­ can have a host of health benefits, including improved blood pressure, decreased risk of heart disease, lowered cholesterol, and better weight control,” says the EatingWell authors.
What We Liked Best: Great photos and instructions
The Price: $16.47 (on
Where to Buy:, or your local bookstore.

Sample Recipe:

Baked Tortellini

Nutty-flavored fontina cheese gives this homey baked tortellini casserole a real taste twist, and the cheesy bread crumb topping makes it all but irresistible. You can easily double this recipe and make one for today and an extra to pop in the freezer for a heat-and-eat meal someday in the future.

6 servings, Active Time: 25 minutes Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups low-fat milk, heated
  • 1/2 cup grated fontina cheese, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen cheese tortellini, preferably low-fat
  • 1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 6 individual gratin dishes or a 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish with cooking spray. Put a large pot of water on to boil for cooking pasta.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add hot milk and bring to a simmer, whisking, until smooth and slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1/4 cup fontina and nutmeg, stirring to melt the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, cook tortellini until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse well.
  4. Combine the tortellini with the cheese sauce and toss. Transfer to the prepared dishes or baking dish. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup fontina. Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan and sprinkle evenly over the tortellini.
  5. Bake the tortellini until golden and bubbly, 15 to 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information (Per serving): 366 calories; 12 g fat; 6 g saturated; 5 g mono; 49 mg cholesterol; 46 g carbohydrates; 17 g protein; 2 g fiber; 738 mg sodium; 241 mg potassium

Note: Prepare through Step 4; cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before baking.

Calorie Bargain: Texthook
The Why: This is a smartphone holder that easily straps to the handle of a bike, a treadmill or even your baby carriage (so you can walk more);­ pretty cool! You can talk, text or e-mail while exercising.
The Health Bonus: It eliminates the excuses that you have too much work or are too busy to exercise.
What We Liked Best: Easy on, easy off, and you can stay in touch while exercising (not that it wouldn’t be better to just chill out and leave work behind, but you know you will not do that).
The Price: $25.99
Where to Buy:

Calorie Bargain: Diet Detective’s Diet Starter Kit (Diversion Books, 2011)
The Why: No matter what diet you’re on, this book will give you a jump-start. It’s short, easy to read, and you can’t go wrong because it’s free if you go to and use the following code: HK34U
The Health Bonus: You will lose weight if you follow the guidelines in the book.
What We Liked Best: It will give you the info you really need to get fit.
The Price: $2.99 on, but it’s free if you go to
Where to Buy:, or, if you want to pay, you can go to (But why would you pay when you can get it free?)

Calorie Bargain: 4,000 National Academies Press Books Available Free as PDFs
The Why: The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine and National Research Council are private, nonprofit institutions that provide expert advice on some of the most pressing challenges facing the nation and the world. Known collectively as the National Academies, they produce pioneering reports “that have helped shape sound policies, inform public opinion, and advance the pursuit of science, engineering, and medicine.” And now all 4,000 of their books are free to download in PDF format, which means you can get them all on your iPad and many other devices.
The Health Bonus: There are so many scholarly books and reports that you can find one to answer your questions about almost any health issue.
What We Liked Best: All the wonderful, interesting categories of books, including agriculture behavioral and social sciences, biography and autobiography, biology and life sciences, computers and information technology, conflict and security issues, earth sciences, education, energy and energy conservation, engineering and technology, environment and environmental studies, food and nutrition, health and medicine, industry and labor, math, chemistry and physics, policy for science and technology, space and aeronautics, transportation and infrastructure.
The Price: Free
Where to Buy:

Calorie Bargain: Vitalicious VitaBun
The Why: It’s no secret that I like Vitalicious products (mostly their delicious, healthy muffins). I consider the founder, Aryeh Hecht, a friend. However, that doesn’t mean I’m biased. The guy really cares about the products he creates, and he cares about his customers’ health. I love that. His newest product, which has taken a long time to develop, is a 100-calore, whole-grain English muffin called a VitaBun. You can use it as a bun or simply as a breakfast bread.
The Health Bonus: VitaBuns are all-natural, with no artificial ingredients, preservatives or coloring. They have 5 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber, which will help keep you feeling full longer.
What We Liked Best: While the ingredients list is long, I like the fact that this product is low in sodium and has whole-wheat flour as its second ingredient (after water).
The Price: $3.99
Where to Buy:
Nutritional Information: (Per bun): 100 calories; 1 g fat; 160 mg sodium; 19 g carbs; 6 g fiber; 5 g protein
Ingredients: Water, whole-wheat flour, wheat gluten, yeast, inulin, oat fiber, malt extract, corn meal, soybean oil, natural mold inhibitor (cultured wheat flour, organic acids), sea salt, pregelatinized wheat starch, leavening (sodium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate), sour dough (wheat flour, naturally acidified with sourdough bacteria, acetic acid), vinegar, tricalcium phosphate, isolated soy protein with less than 2% lecithin, canola oil, calcium sulfate, natural sweetener (Rebiana), guar gum, ascorbic acid, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, folic acid, iron, biotin, zinc, calcium, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid. Contains: soy and wheat.

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