Welcome to my blog! My name is Isabel, and I'm currently a student at Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, attaining a Masters of Science in Nutrition Communications. I'm also an avid health-nut who is allergic to absolutely everything- wheat, soy, corn, dairy, and eggs, and who loves to work out! I am currently in school learning how to better communicate to the public why and how they can become healthier and happier. So hopefully you can learn something too! Anything that you want to see on my blog or any questions you have please leave me questions and I will do my best to answer! I'm just getting going, but I soon hope to post recipes, fun fitness tips, and other exciting nutrition and fitness tips! enjoy!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Information and suggestions on a few pre-exercise energy bars

In a recent conversation, a male athlete asked me what I thought about basic PowerBars. He asked me, are they healthy? Do they have too many chemicals? Should I be eating them?

I didn’t have the answer I wanted to give him so I did some research- here’s what I found!
PowerBar has many different products, but his question related to the Basic bar, which is now called PowerBar Performance. 

These are the new and improved version of the basic PowerBar. They contain a patented C2Max carbohydrate blend, listed as the first ingredient (universally, the first ingredient is the ingredient that is in the highest quantity in the product). 

What’s C2Max? 
It’s a basic blend of glucose and fructose- two basic sugars that the body can use easily. PowerBar has created this blend because it has been found that fructose can be taken up by the cells more quickly than glucose, and they get turned into the same basic fuel, called ATP. 
So why is this bar good?
This product provides more readily available carbohydrates that your muscles can use for immediate energy. Because its lower in fat and fiber, this bar will be digested more quickly and will be able to be used for quick energy. 
Overall this product provides:
240 calories, 3-4 g of fat, 44-45 g carbohydrates, and 1-2 g of fiber, and about 15% of the daily value for calcium (daily value is 1000-1200 mg/day so this is about 200 mg)- a mineral that’s good for exercising muscles. This product is great for athletes that need quick and readily available energy. The “chemical”- (as he referred to it) level in this product is relatively low. 
Who is this for? 
This product is for an athlete (or an avid-exerciser) who is going to need extra energy for a race or a long exercise bout. Because of its readily available energy source, people who are looking for a snack between meals should look to a product that is higher in fiber and lower in sugar, because they simply don't need this type of energy. 
The male athlete who asked me this question works out 2 to 3 hours per day and is in need of a a lot of calories and energy to power him through his workouts, this product is exactly for this demographic. 
Don't think you fit this demographic but you still want a good energy bar? Keep reading!
The better option for non-athletes 

Because snacks for the non-athlete don’t need to provide tons of readily available carbohydrates or sugar a lower calorie, higher fiber option is better. If you’re an avid PowerBar person here’s a good option.  
This bar comes in a variety of flavors and is lower in calories (130 calories), fat (2.5 grams), sugar (10 grams), still maintains protein- 5 g; it is made up of oats, simple sugars, nonfat milk, fiber, almond and peanut butter. 
Why is this one good?
  1. It has fewer calories, is lower in fat and sugar, but will still provide you with energy. 
  2. It has fiber and protein which will help you stay full. 
  3. If you love the PowerBar product and aren’t looking for a big energy boost, this is a good choice. 
What should you look for in a bar that you’re eating for a snack if you’re a non-athlete?
  1. Try to maintain between 130-200 calories. 
  2. Try to pick a bar that contains at least 2 grams of fiber, and has some fat- both of these things will help to keep you satisfied and full of energy. 
  3. Try to find a bar that is lower in sugar- lower than 15 grams- this will help to keep your blood sugar levels more steady, which will help to keep you from having a blood sugar spike causing you to feel hungrier faster. 
Because PowerBars can’t be eaten by people with crazy allergies (like me!), there are great alternatives, and here's my favorite! 

KIND: Healthy Snacks are wheat and gluten-free, and are mostly made up of fruit and nuts, and some have other added benefits! 
My absolute favorite, that’s easy to find! (I often buy them at Starbucks, but they can be found at a lot of other grocery stores, thats the best thing about this product, they’re sold a lot of places!). 

- This bar has 3 g of fiber, is wheat free (great for me!), has antioxidants- basically just means that there are vitamins A, C, and E- E naturally is in almonds anyway!
- 190 calories, 12 grams of sugar *this is a little high, i eat it before I work out*, 3 g of protein, and 3 g of fiber. 
- This yummy bar has nuts (sorry if you’re allergic!) and cranberries, and has a simple glucose source to give you some energy before working out, but it doesn’t give you a huge whack of sugar and doesn’t have a ton of calories (below 200). 
** note: don’t be scared of the higher fat content of these bars, it’s because of the nuts they contain- it’s healthy fat!
Other KIND bars I love:
  1. Apple Cinnamon and Pecan; 180 calories, 2.5  fiber, 13 g sugar, 3 g protein

2. Almond and Cashew + Flax (Omega 3); this one has 50% of your daily B vitamins, 4 g of fiber and some healthy Omega 3’s! Also, 180 calories, 13 g of sugar, and 4 g of protein- I really love this one but its harder to find. 

   3. Blueberry Pecan + Fiber; this one has a lot of fiber, 5 grams- GREAT! 180 calories, 12 g of sugar, and 3 g of fiber. This one doesn’t really have any vitamins or minerals but it has a great amount of fiber. 

I hope this answers your question about PowerBars, and provides everyone else with some helpful snacks to help power through the day! 
- Healthy Gal 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Go Ahead, Relax!

How often do you take time for yourself to relax?
My answer: Never.
Do you get between 6 and 8 hours of sleep?
My answer: I try to.

In this day and age the norm in our society is to be over-programmed and super busy- but is this always good?
A recent article published in the Los Angeles Times discusses how important relaxing and getting enough sleep are for both our minds and our waistlines.
The study was published in the International Journal of Obesity and followed 500 adults (average age of 55 years) who had an average Body Mass Index(a measure of the ratio of height and weight- a commonly used evaluation for Body Mass) of 37.7 (BMI of 30 and over is considered obese) who were instructed to do three things:
1. Keep a food diary (this is a really important and effective way to track what and how much you're eating, and has been found to boost weight loss).
2. Exercise for 180 minutes per week (this means 30 minutes, 6 days per week).
3. Sleep between 6 and 8 hours per night. 
(Participants in the study also attended counseling sessions where their progress was mapped).

What did the study find?
1. The adults that were most successful in losing 10 pounds in 6 months were those that slept between 6 and 8 hours on most nights. This is partially because they had reduced stress levels caused by their increase in sleep;  high stress levels have been shown to prevent or slow weight loss.
2. The adults that lost the most weight also kept food diaries and exercised about 180 minutes per week.

What does study this show?
1. Sticking to a plan is important- keep your food diary and make sure you exercise (this can be going for a walk on the beach, jogging, cycling, or even interval training- whatever works for you!).
2. Getting enough sleep is just as important to whittling your waistline as eating right and working out.

The takeaway message: 
It can be hard to get enough sleep, especially if you live in this society. Don't try to make drastic changes in anything (eating, sleeping, exercising). The key to effective weight loss/ improved health is to make small incremental changes that you can sustain.
Doing things like: getting 30 more minutes of sleep per night, walking for 10 more minutes on the treadmill, trading high sugar cereal for the lower-sugar options can all be beneficial and over time will lead you to make better and more sustainable choices.
Take it slow!

- Healthy Gal

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Henrietta's Table Restaurant Review

Restaurant week in Boston is a two week eating extravaganza during which you can get three course pre-fixed meals at a variety of (normally) high priced restaurants for a reasonable $33.00.
Traditionally, I don't love restaurant week, because I don't think restaurants are really able to show off their true talents by offering abbreviated menu's.  I must say, however, I found my new favorite restaurant during this once a year, two week fest- Henrietta's Table in Harvard Square.
Although my first visit to this fabulous restaurant wasn't during restaurant week, my second visit was; shockingly I was just as pleased on my second visit as I had been on my first. I have truly fallen in love with both this restaurant and with its' adorable mascot, Henrietta the pig.

The Bar:
From the moment you walk in, the warm atmosphere boasts a casual yet simple and sophisticated style. The double sided country style bar greets you with over-sized barstools and an eclectic and seasonal drink menu offering drinks like: Sparking Crimson- Westport Rivers Champagne, Cointreau, and POM juice; Local Pear-Mint Cocktail- Pears muddled with Fresh Mint, Grey Goose la Poire, Simple Syrup, Lime and a Splash of Soda.
The Restaurant Ambiance:
The restaurant itself features oversized oak tables and chairs that are spaced eloquently ensuring each party is comfortable and has ample privacy.  Basic and clean decorations in the restaurant are french-country inspired, but are balanced by the exposed kitchen that maintains the restaurants' edgy feel.

The Menu:
The menu is a basic mixture of comfort foods that are locally grown and raised; only seasonal foods will be featured on the menu. This is great because you wont have to be worried as much about pesticides, like those that I mentioned in my post about buying organic- because seasonal foods aren't imported from places where pesticide rules are less stringent. Additionally, buying locally helps to support local growers and businesses- a true perk!

A Glimpse at the Menu...

STARTERS from $7.00
Maine Rock Crab and Corn Chowder with Smoked Bacon
Spinach Salad, Mandarins, Westfield Farm Chevre, and Spicy Maple Pecan Vinaigrette
House Smoked Pastrami Salmon, Native Field Greens, Chive Oil, Crispy Potato Wafer, Lemon Vermont Creme Fraiche
Iceberg Lettuce with Creamy Massachusetts Blue Cheese Dressing
Field Greens and Lemon Herb Vinaigrette
New England Salt Cod Cake, Tartar Sauce, Native Vegetable Slaw, Lemon Herb Vinaigrette
Grilled Balsamic Portobello, Great Hill Blue Cheese, and Warm Nitrate Free Bacon Vinaigrette
ENTRÉE from $14.75
Baked Gloucester Scrod
Crystal Valley Farms Farms Herb-Crusted Rotisserie Roasted Chicken
Yankee Pot Roast, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Seared King Salmon, Chive Butter Sauce
House Maple Smoked and Grilled Free Range Duck Breast, Confit Leg, Cranberry-Apple Compote, Port Wine Reduction
Barbeque Ale Braised Elysian Field Farm's Pulled Lamb Shank, Wilted Greens, Native Beans, Crispy Nitrate Free Smoked Bacon
Roasted Carrots, Celery Root and Gilfeather Turnip with Onions, Spinach, Quinoa, Local Beans, Farro and Roasted Acorn Squash, Lemon Grapeseed Oil
Ozark Mountain Grilled Smoked Pork Chop, Native Apple Sauce, Apple Brandy Reduction Sauce
SIDES from $4.75
Roasted Sweet Potatoes*, Mashed Potatoes, Wilted Greens, Butternut Squash Puree*, Beets*, Roasted Root Vegetables*
*Locally Grown
Henrietta's Yard SaleOpen Sunday - Thursday
Any 3 Courses      $32.00
(includes choice of one side)
Any 2 Courses       $25.00
(includes choice of one side)
*Available for Henrietta's Classics Only

What I Ordered: 
Field Greens and Lemon Herb Vinaigrette
Seared King Salmon, Chive Butter Sauce 
Wilted Greens (kale, collard greens, arugula, spinach with lemon and garlic)- the second visit
Roasted Root Vegetables- the first visit
The picture above isn't one that I took (sorry I forgot!). Instead, it's a seared salmon with apple cider sauce. It's similar but not identical to what I had, but it gives a picture of the normal salmon portion!

My Food Review:
The Field Greens salad was good, nothing fancy, but a fairly large portion. I split it with my mom, because I don't think I could have finished both it and the salmon and side of greens I ordered. 
I think I will order a different appetizer next time I go- only because it wasn't super-exciting. 
The Seared King Salmon was delicious. It was cooked just how I like it- medium-rare (you could have it cooked another way if you like). The chive butter sauce was light and tasty. It gave the salmon a great flavor and I didn't leave feeling like I'd eaten a stick of butter- always good. 
The wilted greens were great, but they were a little bit heavy. When you order the salmon it doesn't come with any sides, so you have to order a side of vegetables to really make it a complete meal. 
The roasted root vegetables- carrots and turnips, were truly delicious. I would definitely order those again. 
I paired my dinner with an adobo-zinfandel blend that they had on the menu. It was lighter than a cabernet sauvignon, and went great with my salmon. I'm not a white wine drinker, so this light red was a perfect match for my meal. 
(For those of you that love cheese, Henrietta's Table boasts a wide selection of cheeses on its own cheese menu). 

I always leave Henrietta's table feeling satisfied. I think it is a great restaurant with great practices and they always seem to be able to squeeze you in- another attribute I really like. 
I would recommend this restaurant to anyone who asked me about it! I think it has something for everyone. (It even has a great vegetarian entree for all you vegetarians!).
I always believe in saving the best for last-
The true treat at Henrietta's Table is the gift shop right in the front entrance of the restaurant. At the gift shop you can buy pig-shaped cheese platters, local Taza Chocolate, pig-inspired children's books, local maple syrup, and a zillion different kinds of pig stuffed animals, amongst other creative New England treats. 

Because on my second visit to Henrietta's table I couldn't leave without a pig of my own, I would like to share my new friend with you, Happy the pig. 

Happy Saturday everyone! Happy (the pig) and I are sitting enjoying Spring Break, drinking Green Tea and eating our oatmeal (gluten-free of course, he shares in my allergies)!

- Healthy Gal 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Quick Irish Coffee for St Patty's Day

Happy St. Patricks Day! 
Looking for a way to feel Irish today but don't have time to cook like the Irish do?
Try Irish coffee instead!

Here's a quick recipe for Irish Coffee.

This easy recipe is adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, and can make anyone feel Irish today.

1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup Irish whiskey
1/4 cup sugar
4 cups strong coffee

1. Place 1/4 cup whipping cream in a medium bowl and beat with a mixer at high speed until stiff peeks form (you can substitute the full-fat whipping cream for cool-whip).
2. Pour about 4 teaspoons of whiskey into each glass.
3. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar to each serving.
4. Add 2/3 cup of coffee to each mug, stir it until the sugar dissolves.
5. Add 1 1/2 Tbsp of whipped cream to each mug.
6. Enjoy!

What's the calorie content of the full recipe?
111 calories, 3.7 g fat- 2.3 g sat fat, 7 mg sodium, 14 mg of cholesterol, 10 mg calcium
This treat is under 150 calories, is low in sodium and cholesterol, provides a touch of calcium, and is not terribly high in fat.

- Healthy Gal

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A quick-list: when you need to buy organic produce

I was inspired by a segment on this morning's Today Show. Dave Zinczenko, Editor in Chief of Men's Health Magazine, was talking about when to buy organic produce, and when it's ok to forego the extra expense.
I often find myself standing in front of the produce section gazing longingly at the shiny, seemingly flawless organic produce- but in every case is it always worth spending the extra money? The short answer is sometimes, yes, organic is better. Read on!

When to buy organic:
Pesticides on the skin is what we're worried about here, so in cases when you're going to eat the skin, it's better to buy organic produce.

Produce that's likely to be high in pesticides:
Peaches- the skin on peaches is very delicate and peaches have a lot of pest-predators. So there are a lot of pesticides used to keep the peaches healthy and edible. It's definitely better to buy organic, or peel the skin after washing the conventionally grown peaches. If you're going to cook the peaches, peel and wash them well, but conventionally grown peaches are OK in this case.
Apples- pesticides have been found in both non-organic apples and applesauce! Organic apples don't last as long, but keep them in the fridge and they will stay longer.
Nectarines- up to 33 different kinds of pesticides have been found on nectarines! The soft skin is great at holding pesticides, buy organic here!
Strawberries- grown in-season, strawberries will come from the US, and the pesticide use will be less; however, if you buy them out of season they will be coming from places where the pesticide use is less- stringent. Depending on when you're buying them, organic will usually be better.
Cherries- a lot of pesticides are used on cherries, even locally grown cherries have been found to have pesticides. Rinse them well and look for organic cherries.
Red Bell Peppers- there are many different types of red bell peppers, but a lot of pesticides are used on red peppers, so buying organic is a good idea.
Celery- when tested, celery was found to have multiple kinds of pesticides even though the skin is thick. Buy the organic kind if you can!
Imported Grapes- most of the grapes you find in the grocery store are from chile or mexico, makes sure to wash these, and in this case, organic is better!
Pears- even though pesticide levels in pears are declining, the pests that like to chew on pears have become resistant to the pesticides used, yikes! Buy organic because pesticides are always used on conventionally (and sometimes even organic) grown pears!
Spinach- Usually spinach comes in a bag that is said to be "pre-washed.". That said, it's always a good idea to wash it before you eat it. Regardless, DDT has been found in spinach- so it's a good idea to buy organic!
Leafy Greens- a lot of pesticides are used on leafy greens because there are a lot of pesticides that also like to nosh on leafy greens. Wash them well, and buy organic.
Potatoes- there is a growing level of pesticides being used in potatoes- scrub them or peel them to ensure that you're not getting them in your food. It's not imperative to buy organic potatoes, but if you're planning to eat the skin it isn't a bad idea!
Blueberries- this is a new addition to the list! As many as 52 different kinds of pesticides have been found on blueberries!
adapted from healthychild.org, thedailygreen.com

When it's not imperative to buy organic:
When you're not going to eat the skin or the leaves that might be exposed to pesticides, it's not as important to buy organic; and in some cases you won't be missing out on any extra nutrients buy purchasing organic food. A rule of thumb is to always wash your produce even if you're not eating the skin. Contaminants that don't include pesticides can be transferred onto our produce in the delivery process. It's always a good idea to wash the produce before putting it on your cutting board- contaminating both the cutting board and the knife.

The short-list:
Avocados- avocado's the thick skin protects it from pesticide buildup. The meat of the avocado will be pesticide-free even if the outside of the avocado has been exposed to pesticides.
Onions- there aren't many pests that are looking to invade onions, so they are naturally lower in pesticides, and the thick skin doesn't hurt either! Conventionally grown onions are fine to purchase here.
Pineapple- the thick skin on pineapples is great at protecting it, as always rinse before cutting.
Corn on the Cob- even though there are a lot of pesticides used in the process of growing corn, the thick shuck of the corn protects the kernels from contamination. While it's not essential to buy organic corn on the cob, organic always tastes better!
Asparagus- asparagus aren't high on the insect "predator" list, so naturally there are less pesticides used on asparagus, conventional asparagus are fine to buy.
Kiwi- even though the skin might hold onto pesticides, it's thick enough that it wont seep through to the meat of the kiwi. Be sure to rinse it before cutting and enjoying it!
Sweet Peas- a personal favorite! I like them frozen because they are easy to steam for a quick dinner addition, but buying them in the pod at the local farmers market or at the super market is an even better way to ensure that you're not getting any pesticides along with your peas!
Cabbage- it doesn't hold onto high amounts of pesticides- so buying organic isn't necessary.
Eggplant- even though it has a soft skin, eggplants aren't likely to contain pesticides, so go for the conventional or locally-grown version.
Watermelon- the rind is a powerful protector against pesticides! Wash before cutting though.
Broccoli- this is the most surprising one on the list! I am so surprised to find out that broccoli is naturally lower in pesticides. This is because it too is faced with less pest-predators and so the likelihood that it will be sprayed is lower. Be very sure to wash broccoli well, though. The bunches have lots of crevasses and other great hiding places for germs and bacteria!
Tomatoes- this is a new addition to the "ok to buy conventionally-grown list"! Only a few years ago, my favorite fruit- tomatoes, would surely have been found on the "must buy organic" list. There have been strong efforts to reduce the amount of pesticides used on tomatoes, and it is now safe to buy conventionally grown tomatoes! Be sure to wash them though!
adapted from thedailygreen.com

What about frozen produce?
Often, you can't control whether your frozen produce is organic or conventionally grown. Not to fear though, in most cases you'll be cooking your frozen produce, so you don't have to worry quite as much. But if you're purchasing any of the produce listed in the buy-organic list, try to find the organic version.
On a side note, I think frozen produce is a GREAT option. Why is this? This type of produce comes right from the source and is frozen immediately, so it is able to retain most of its original vitamin and nutrient content. So it's just as good, and even better sometimes than fresh produce! Always stock your freezer with frozen produce, you're more likely to get adequate fruits and veggies in your diet if you always have them ready to use.
Another side note: beware of hidden sodium in frozen vegetables, it's often sneaked into them! Look at the sodium content of prospective frozen fruits and veggies before buying.

I hope this list helps you with your shopping! Happy shopping!

Get ready for a restaurant review this week!

- Healthy Gal

Friday, March 11, 2011

Should I Exercise at High Intensity?

High intensity exercise has been touted as  "the best way to burn fat", lose weight, and boost your metabolism. But is this really true?
Running like a mouse on a wheel every day of the week is more likely to exhaust you than to keep you motivated and help you to lose weight.

A recent article published in the LA Times discussed the controversial issue of whether high intensity exercise really does provide significant benefits. This article reviews a lot of the different science principles behind the idea that high intensity exercise will help you loose weight. In this article, the principle of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the main focus. It's a little complicated, so let me make it easier!

What is HIIT?
It's an exercise strategy that was made popular by Bill Phillips in his book "Body for Life," published in 1994. Phillips claimed, "Not only does high-intensity training burn fat more effectively than low-intensity exercise, it also speeds up your metabolism and keeps it revved up for some time after your workout." With these wise words, Phillips was able to create a 17-year long belief that focused on high intensity training was the only way to go.
HIIT focuses on high intensity, short duration exercises that intend to boost metabolism and burn fat. The typical duration of HIIT exercises is 9-20 minutes, and focuses on a 2:1 ratio of work to recovery. That means you get 1 minute of rest for every 2 minutes of high-intensity exercise you do.
Tabata (an example of a high-intensity based exercise regimen- I've tried it, it's fun!) is based on it. Tabata focuses on 20 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest.

Why was HIIT created?What's it based on?
HIIT and other similar exercise programs were created because of the concept of Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), which is supposed to cause heightened caloric burning after you exercise. This because after doing more intense exercise you take in more oxygen and therefore burn more calories. The basis for this was that a few studies found that EPOC was higher after high intensity exercises than it was after lower intensity exercising- and voila! The birth of high intensity exercise programs.

The article in the LA times discusses research on both HIIT and EPOC as its' foundation for providing information about why high intensity exercise may not be the answer. Bill Phillip's book had provided studies that "proved" that this type of exercise was effective, but it has actually been found that the studies he referenced in his book are faulty (for a various number of complicated reasons)! To avoid making it complicated, the results of these studies are completely unreliable.

So now the question, does this method really work?
Phillips had based his method on the basis that you might burn more calories after doing one of his HIIT-based exercise programs. While it has actually been found that though you do indeed burn calories after you're done doing high-intensity exercise, it's an almost negligible amount (1000 calories burned in a workout and only 150 calories burned in the post-exercise period). Because of this finding, it may not be worth it to kill yourself in your workouts for an extra 150 calories. Burning or cutting an 150 calories isn't that hard after all.

It's this easy, and you can do it without even working out:
-Put one less Tbsp of mayonnaise on your sandwich (50 calories), 1 less Tbsp of Jam on your toast (60 calories), and 2 less packets of sugar in your coffee during the day (30 calories)- see how easy that is?

Or-Want to work out to burn 1,000 calories without doing high-intensity exercise?
-Do moderate intensity exercise for the same distance traveled in the high-intensity exercise - run quickly for 2 miles, or jog for two miles- you're going to burn almost the same amount. The calories burned during the exercise will be almost the same, and you will still have some calorie burn post-exercise.

My advice?
Do something that will keep you interested and that you can sustain. That's not to say don't do high intensity exercise. If you can, it's a really good idea to mix it up- some days do high intensity and some days do more moderate-paced exercise. But remember that we are all different, so what works for one person may not work for you. If you want to do high-intensity every day because it works best for you- power to you! But for most people, the goal of high-intensity every day is not practical- nor is it enjoyable.

Don't be discouraged, do what you can and as often as you can. Always remember that some is better than none. And if you've had a hard few days of working out, take a break. Rest is an essential part of fitness and of health!

-Healthy Gal

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Skinny on the Coconut Fat

Are you afraid of fat? Well once upon a time, 30 years ago, the "in" way to take off the extra pounds was to eat a low fat diet. Diets that emphasized a low fat profile, generally maintained good flavor and texture by adding extra sugars and other additives to the recipes.  Products like Snack Wells Fat Free Devils Food cookies that boasted zero grams had 7 grams of sugar per 50 calorie cookie. While 7 grams of sugar isn't an issue. It was the easy consumption of 5 cookies for 250 calories and 35 grams of sugar that became the issue.
Because the cookies are so low in calorie and fat content people think that they can eat a lot of them- if you look closely this is an issue because of the ease of consuming an entire box! Foods that are low in fat are generally less satisfying and higher in sugars. Therefore they are generally less filling and more likely to cause you to eat more than one, or five. Quickly this 6 cookie binge can add up to 300 calories, and 42 grams of sugar (you could have almost 2 snickers bars for the same amount of sugar- I don't know about you but that sounds a lot better to me!). The longer term effects of a high sugar diet  can lead to damaged arteries, weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease- so whats the take away? Don't completely avoid fat, because foods that have substitutes instead of fat will generally have a lot more sugar and will be much less satisfying.
There was one more attempt at reducing fat during the low-fat diet era: Olestra. Does anyone remember Olestra? A fat substitute that was used in potato chips that had really nasty side effects- it caused oily leakage... I won't go there. But the take home message is that fat belongs in your food! The substitutes just aren't the same as the real thing.
Back to the fat.
More recently diets that focus on a high fat/ low carbohydrate plan have taken the stage- this isn't the best option either. Our bodies are designed to digest both carbohydrates and fat. Our brain LOVES carbohydrates, and in fact it is our bodies preferred source of immediate fuel. When you go for a run, or chase your kids in the yard, the first few minutes are completely powered by stored carbohydrates in our muscles and our body tissues. When you don't eat enough of them you lack this ability to power up and go.
Conversely while carbohydrates are used for immediate energy and for keeping our blood sugar levels normalized (at a constant level), fat is used for longer-term energy. Fat is heavily relied on for low intensity, longer duration activity, and in addition can be called upon to make fuel during times of need when carbohydrate levels are running low.
Clearly I hope by this point you understand that they are both really important to normal functioning.
Lately, saturated fats have been the highlight of discussion. We all should limit the amount of saturated fat we consume. When a fat is saturated it refers to the composition of the fat at room temperature. In terms of the science, a saturated fat molecule is a molecule in which all of the carbon atoms are joined to a hydrogen atom- all bonds in the molecule are single, and all hydrogen atoms are bonded. For all you non-science people, just know that this type of fat is solid at room temperature and is found in animal meats.

I hope you're thinking, "well, olive oil certainly isn't solid at room temperature so this must not be saturated." Bingo! You've got that right, olive oil and other vegetable, peanut, and sesame oils are called unsaturated. To get into the science again, this is caused by a carbon atom that is missing a hydrogen bond so the carbon chain is "unsaturated"- or unsatisfied with hydrogen bonds and therefore has a double bond. Ok enough science.
Unsaturated fats have generally been touted as being the better for you (specifically for your heart) fats, and are the recommended fats over saturated fats by the FDA Dietary Guidelines. The FDA recommends no more than 10% of your daily calories to be from saturated fats- which for a 2,000 calorie diet means about 20 grams.
Due to the recommendation that saturated fat consumption should be limited, the recent decision that coconut oil that has a high content of saturated fat is good for you, might seem odd. For a long time, coconut oil was off of the good list, but has recently returned.
An article in the New York Times rejoices the comeback of the buttery soild at room temperature oil. The article reports that the previously negative stigma of coconut oil was caused by the methods of previous testing. Previous testing on coconut oil was completed using partially hydrogenated coconut oils (partially hydrogenated oils are the kind that have high trans fat contents- they are made in a lab and are really bad for you-to make it simple). Recent studies were re-done on coconut oils, and this time they used fully hydrogenated oils (without trans fats) and the study results came out in the favor of coconut oils.

So the verdict is out-  "virgin" coconut oil is good for you! "Virgin" refers to the lack of partially hydrogenated oils- which means that all antioxidant effects are present and it is less likely to clog your arteries.

An an even bigger deal, the ADA spokesperson Marisa Moore reports that all saturated fats are not created equal- meaning that the saturated fat you will find in coconut oil should NOT be compared to that in steak.
This is still new information, so like anything else, don't overdo it- it still isn't safe to consume more than 20 g per day (on a 2,000 calorie diet). But unlike other bad saturated fats that we try to keep at 0 grams in our diet, this one is ok to try out in moderation.

So try it out!
Heres a delicious-looking recipe from the New York Times (they have GREAT recipes if you haven't checked it out!)

Sautéed Shrimp With Coconut Oil, Ginger and Coriander

The recipe calls for: 
2 1/2 Tbsp refined coconut oil
6 scallions, white parts thinly sliced- dark green parts sliced and reserved
1 Tbsp finely chopped and peeled ginger
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 pound large shelled shrimp
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Lemon wedges for serving

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Melt the coconut oil in the pan. Add the white scallion slices, ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the coriander and cook 30 seconds more.
2. Add the shrimp and salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, until shrimp are opaque, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir the green scallion pieces and cook until just wilted, 10 to 15 seconds. Season with lemon juice and black pepper. Serve with lemon wedges. 
I haven't tried this recipe but I am going to on sunday night! I have a jar of unopened coconut oil- this is a great excuse to open it! 

- Healthy Gal