Your Good-Better-Best Guide to the Grocery

Published: Sunday, April 16, 2017 @ 12:00 AM

One of the best things about supermarkets can also be the most confusing: all the choices! When walking from aisle to aisle, it can be overwhelming to look at all the products in each section. Just think of all the choices when you’re looking at the entire wall of cereal or a large cooler packed with tiny yogurt cups! Trying to find the best item—especially when you're trying to eat healthier or watch your intake of calories, fat or sodium—is not always a walk in the park.

Within each section of the grocery store, you'll find plenty of healthful foods that can help you reach your goals. But sometimes you have to make a food choice based on budget constraints, availability or taste preferences that isn't ideal. Not to worry. This "Good, Better, Best" guide will help you make the best possible choices on your next trip to the store. If you're new to eating healthy, start at the bottom and work your way up to the top of the lists over time. Even if all you can afford is in the "good" category, you're still doing pretty well. If you prefer the taste and texture of the "better" item to the "best" choice, that's OK, too. Or maybe you're facing a hotel breakfast buffet or trying to find something healthy to eat at a party and all you'll find is the "good" choice. No matter what your situation, you'll still be able to make the best possible choices by using this simple guide.





2% milk

1% milk

Skim milk

It has 3 fewer grams of fat than whole milk, yet still offers calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, and protein for your body. It's a useful stepping-stone as whole- and vitamin D-milk drinkers make the healthy transition to low-fat dairy.

With a mere 2 grams of fat per cup, it slashes the fat found in 2% milk by more than half. This lower-fat version of milk still has 30% of the daily dose of calcium, as well as vitamin D.

It's fat-free, yet provides about the same amount of calcium and protein as higher-fat options. This is the best choice, especially for heavy milk drinkers. Skim milk may take some getting used to because it’s thinner, but it has lower amount of saturated fat and your heart will love that.






Low-fat + fortified

Plain nonfat Greek

Low-fat yogurt is made with skim or low-fat milk, which cuts calories and fat but still provides calcium and protein. Beware of added sugar (plain yogurt, flavored with fruit or topped with whole-grain cereal is your best bet).

A great up-and-coming trend in the yogurt aisle is supplementing yogurts with vitamin D. There aren’t many food sources of vitamin D, which helps in immunity and cancer prevention, so this is a great way to get an extra dose.

This plain, thick, smooth yogurt has 21 fewer grams of sugar and 60 fewer calories than it's fat-free, flavored counterparts but still leaves in a great amount of protein, calcium and vitamin D. Get our expert recommendations for the best yogurts.





Whole grain

100% whole wheat

Light 100% whole wheat

Bread "made with whole grains" usually contains a mix of refined flour and whole grain flour. It has a lighter texture and taste than whole wheat, making it a good choice for people who are transitioning from white bread to 100% whole-wheat bread. While it's lower in fiber, it is usually enriched with vitamins and minerals.

Bread made with 100% whole wheat doesn't contain any refined or enriched flour. It's less processed and higher in fiber than white bread and whole-grain breads. Make sure "whole wheat flour" is the first ingredient on the label or else it's an imposter!

This combines 100% whole wheat with calorie control. Some of the whole-wheat varieties can pack up to 100 calories per slice. Light whole-wheat bread can help you cut up to 130 calories from your sandwich if you're watching your weight. Here's how to pick the best bread.





Cereal without marshmallows, bright colors or clusters

Whole-grain cereal

Whole-grain cereal that's low in sugar

If you're going to eat cereal, avoid those made like desserts (with marshmallows, clusters, chocolate flavors and bright colors). Cereals that meet these criteria are enriched with vitamins and minerals (better than nothing), but they are highly processed, full of sugar--sometimes up to two tablespoons per serving--and seriously lacking in fiber.

A cereal made with whole grains is a better choice, but don't believe anything you read on the front of the box. Look for whole grains to be the #1 ingredient on the nutrition label and make sure there is at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Kashi Cinnamon Harvest and Kashi Autumn Wheat are good options that contain 6 grams of fiber per serving.

The best cereal is made from whole grains and very little sugar (5 or fewer grams per serving). Grape Nuts and Total are good examples. If you’re used to cereal with more sweetness, add fresh berries or sliced fruit to help you get your 5-a-day. Get SparkPeople's top cereal picks here.





Durum wheat pasta

Whole-wheat pasta

Omega-3 enriched whole-wheat pasta

Standard spaghetti noodles, made from durum wheat, aren't inherently unhealthy. They're slightly less processed than semolina pasta and contain some protein and plenty of carbohydrates for energy. But durum wheat flour is refined and stripped of important nutrients like fiber.

Whole-wheat noodles contain more fiber and protein per serving, while providing energy-giving carbohydrates. Load them up with vegetables and low-fat tomato sauce for a nutritious meal.

Get more nutrition per bite with whole-wheat noodles that are enriched with omega-3’s. Commonplace in most supermarkets, they provide all of the goodness of whole-wheat pasta with an added dose of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.





Chicken or turkey slices

Low-sodium lean meats

Whole cuts of meat (preferably homemade)

Buying lean deli meat cuts like chicken or turkey is better than bologna, salami and processed meats, which are higher in fat and sodium and contain nitrates, which are believed to be carcinogenic.

Low-sodium lean meats are better choices for your sandwiches. Look for a low-sodium version of your favorite lean lunch meat (such as turkey or chicken).

Purchasing your own skinless chicken or turkey breast to grill or bake, then slice is the best way to go. It's lower in salt, less expensive, and won't contain any of the additives of processed or packaged meat slices--and you can cook it yourself to reduce the fat and calories, depending on your method.

With all the options in the grocery store, it’s easy to find items to feel good about buying. But remember: Healthy eating isn't about perfection. All foods do have some merits and even if you can't eat ideally all the time, that's OK. By striving to make the best choices from what is available to you, you'll make a real difference in your health!

This article has been reviewed and approved by SparkPeople resident expert Becky Hand, Licensed and Registered Dietitian.
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One of the hottest new fitness locations — and why it has a waiting list

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

CycleBar, which recently opened its doors at Austin Landing, is a franchised indoor cycling studio with more than 100 locations worldwide. Classes are designed to provide a high intensity, low impact, cardio workout for riders 13 and older of all experience and fitness levels. CONTRIBUTED
Contributing Writer
CycleBar, which recently opened its doors at Austin Landing, is a franchised indoor cycling studio with more than 100 locations worldwide. Classes are designed to provide a high intensity, low impact, cardio workout for riders 13 and older of all experience and fitness levels. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)

There is heart-pumping music and state-of-the-art audio, video and lighting, but it’s not the hottest new club – it’s CycleBar.

CycleBar, which recently opened its doors at Austin Landing, is a franchised indoor cycling studio with more than 100 locations worldwide. Classes are designed to provide a high-intensity, low-impact cardio workout for riders 13 and older of all experience and fitness levels.

“Our goal is to have 50 minutes go by so fast that you don’t realize you burned 600 calories because you’re having such a good time,” said Steve Zubrzycki, who owns the local CycleBar with his wife, Jane.

If the packed CycleTheatere is any indication, Zubrzycki is right on track. Since the facility opened in late October, classes have not only been full, wait lists are common.

“I love that every class has the same basis, but each individual instructor makes their rides completely different,” said Haylie Stites, of West Carrollton. “The atmosphere is one of a kind.”


The Austin Landing location has 48 bikes, arranged in a multi-tier stadium formation. Rides are choreographed to heart-pumping playlists, complete with expansive video screens, to provide a concert-like experience for your workout.

It couldn’t be much easier to get riding as CycleBar provides shoes that clip into the pedals, along with complimentary water bottles and snacks. The bikes are compatible with SPD and LOOK shoes for those who prefer to bring their own shoes. Lockers with coded keypads are available to store personal belongings and locker rooms are stocked with robes, hair ties, wet clothing bags, and other toiletries.

“We try to provide all the amenities anyone would need,” Zubrzycki said.

>> How to make the most of Dayton’s new indoor bike park

CycleBar, which recently opened its doors at Austin Landing, is a franchised indoor cycling studio with more than 100 locations worldwide. Classes are designed to provide a high intensity, low impact, cardio workout for riders 13 and older of all experience and fitness levels. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)


Plentiful amenities eliminate some of the exercise excuses and a full slate of classes, offered seven days a week, eliminate several others. CycleBar offers 30 classes a week with some beginning as early as 5:30 a.m. on weekdays and as late as 7 p.m. Most classes are 50 minutes long, with some lunchtime rides wrapping up in 30 minutes, for those who need to get back to the office.

And while spinning has a high-intensity reputation, Zubrzycki – who rides at least four times a week himself – explains that classes are available for all types of riders.

“We have seven instructors, all with different personalities, so people seem to gravitate toward certain instructors after a few classes,” he said. “And, while classes can be intense, I always suggest that riders go at their pace.”

>> 10 things to know about the new cinema at Austin Landing


And data-driven cyclists will be right at home at CycleBar.

“I love that everything you do during your ride is recorded and automatically emailed to you, and posted to your private account online so I can compare my past sessions,” Stites said. “It tells you your average miles-per-hour, rpm, heart rate – if you have a monitor – speed, time you spent riding, class rank, distance and calories burned.”

CycleStats measure the six key metrics of daily workouts and keep historical performance data. The data is emailed to riders and CycleStats are also available at


Where: Austin Landing, 3655 Rigby Road


How to put a little bit of Dayton into your Buckeye celebration

Published: Saturday, September 03, 2016 @ 8:26 AM
Updated: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 10:51 AM

Ohio State players, including Rashod Berry (13), Sam Hubbard (6) and Jamarco Jones (74), take the field before the spring game at Ohio Stadium on Saturday, April 16, 2016, in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff
Ohio State players, including Rashod Berry (13), Sam Hubbard (6) and Jamarco Jones (74), take the field before the spring game at Ohio Stadium on Saturday, April 16, 2016, in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff

Everyone knows how to party like a Buckeye. But how do you add a little Dayton twist to your Buckeye celebration?

We’ve compiled a few Dayton products you can pack your pregame party with to show your pride in both the Buckeyes and the Gem City.

>> RELATED: Our favorite places to watch the game


Whether you prefer beer or liquor, Dayton has got you covered.  Let’s kick off with beer.

The wine-tasting bar (and beer growler-refill station) at Dorothy Lane Market’s Washington Square store. MARK FISHER/STAFF(Staff Writer)


The Miami Valley now has a ton of options with which to flex a little barley and hops muscle. Among them are Hairless Hare Brewery, 738 W. National Road, Vandalia; Toxic Brew Company,431 E. Fifth St., Dayton; Warped Wing Brewing Company, 26 Wyandot St., Dayton; Yellow Springs Brewery, 305 Walnut St., Yellow Springs; Carillon Brewing Company, 1000 Carillon Park Blvd., Eudora Brewing Company, 4716 Wilmington Pike, Kettering, The Dayton Beer Company, 912 Dorothy Lane, Kettering and 41 Madison St., Dayton, and Lock 27 Brewing, 1035 S. Main St., Centerville.

Dorothy Lane Market and Whole Foods, plus select Kroger Marketplace locations also offer growler stations with local and craft beers on tap.

Lucky’s Taproom, Trolley Stop, Blind Bob’s and Thai Nine, all residing in the Oregon District, as well as nearby South Park Tavern and Peach’s Grill in Yellow Springs, sell craft beers from local and nationally known breweries and participate in growler programs, allowing you to take home more of the good stuff.

>> Gas station adds growler refill station



Bottles wait to be filled with the locally-crafted Buckeye Vodka. CONTRIBUTED(Chris Stewart/Chris Stewart)

If you’d prefer some spirits to go with your OSU spirit, it gets no more Buckeye than Dayton-based Buckeye Vodka. Compared in taste and smoothness to the higher-priced Grey Goose, Buckeye has been turning heads locally and nationally since 2011.


Why not give the Buck Nut Mocha Martini a try?




-1 ounce Buckeye Vodka


-3/4 ounce Bailey’s


-3/4 ounce Mocha Kahlua



Put the Mocha Kahlua in the bottom of a martini glass. Combine vodka and Baileys in shaker and chill. Layer mix over Mocha. Serve with stir straw.

Double-gold-medal-winning Dayton Gin was first released by Belle of Dayton just last fall. FILE(Staff Writer)

Belle of Dayton Distillery, 122 Van Buren St., Dayton, has been proudly displaying the city’s name in their vodka, rum, whiskey and gin products since they opened up shop in 2010.

Mikesell’s was founded in Dayton in 1910.(Staff Writer)


Who doesn’t like blindly cramming their hands into an OSU-colored bowl for sustenance in effort to not miss a single play of the game?

Generations of Dayton-area sports fans have been crunching their way to victory with Mikesells Potato Chips since 1910, when the producer of dried beef and sausage started selling “Saratoga Chips”. The new product caught on, and more than 100 years later, Mikesells has nearly 20 varieties of potato chips that are sold in seven different states, with special orders being shipped nationwide.

>>>RELATED: The secrets behind Mikesells


Mikesells has even teamed up with local chocolatier Esther Price to offer two kinds of chocolate-covered chips. Price opened her first store on Wayne Ave. in 1952, after decades of selling her homemade sweets to coworkers. Her candies have been a Dayton treasure ever since.

Esther Prices Candies in Dayton sells over half a million boxes of assorted chocolates every year.(Hannah Poturalski/ STAFF)

But she wasn’t the first one on the local sweets scene that’s turned into a business that’s still active today. Winans Chocolates and Coffees, established in the late 1800s, holds that distinction. With various locations throughout the Miami Valley, some say Winans’ chocolate and peanut butter Buckeyes are the best around.

Buckeyes from Winans(HANDOUT)

>>>RELATED: 7 things you need to know about Winans Chocolate and Coffees


If you’re throwing a Dayton-themed Buckeyes party, there are pretzels and then there are Smales Pretzels. Any Gem City-proud snack expert will tell you there is no comparison.  The bakery was founded by current owner Emma Smales’ German-born great-great grandfather in 1895, and has been at its 210 Xenia Ave. location since 1926. People actually set their alarms to get up early enough for the freshest batch of the beloved pretzels.


10 tips on shipping packages during the holiday season

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 3:12 AM

Deadlines For Sending Christmas Gifts To Military Members

Braving the crowds on Black Friday may be the easiest part of holiday shopping. Shipping packages to gift receivers around the country can be a huge challenge – both in getting the gifts there in one piece and in keeping your budget under control.

Here are 10 tips to help you ship your gifts:

>> Read more trending news

1. Buy something you can mail easily

This seems like you’re buying for you and not them, but odds are there is something on your recipient’s list that is easy to ship through the mail.

Even with the right packing precautions, it’s always safer to buy items you know can survive a bumpy trip through the mail. Apparel, shoes and most toys are a safe bet.

>> Start planning now for military holiday shipping deadlines

2. Know the rules

The United States Postal Service has restrictions on what can be shipped, both internationally and domestically. Some things, such as ammunition, are completely prohibited, while other things, such as nail polish and perfumes, have restrictions.

Find out more at

>> These are the best gift cards of the 2017 holiday season

3. Pay attention to the box

Make sure to use a new, sturdy box that’s a few inches larger than your gift on all sides to allow for plenty of packing materials. Using that box that’s been in the basement all year can result in your gifts cascading out at the wrong moment.

The Postal Service estimates that a crease can reduce a box’s strength by as much as 70 percent.

>> 10 tips for Black Friday shopping

4. Buy good packing material

The Postal Service suggests using higher-performing cushioning materials made of polyethylene or polyurethane. Basic polystyrene cushioning can endure only one impact.

Using stronger, but thinner cushioning is better because you can use a smaller box and save on shipping costs if the price is based on the package’s dimensions and weight.

Newspaper is not a great choice because it flattens, but it’s good for wrapping fragile items and separating them from other items in the box.

>> Oprah’s 2017 favorite things list is the ultimate holiday gift guide — Here are our 11 top picks

5. Shake it

You want your packing job to result in a tight fit. Use at least 1 inch of cushioning around the item—top, bottom and all four sides — to fill in any air spaces. There should be very little movement when you shake the box.

The key point is to keep the gift items as far away from the box’s walls as possible. When you have a very fragile item, use two boxes, and cushion around the inner box with at least 3 inches of packing peanuts.

>> Too much Christmas music is bad for your health

6. Know your deadlines

The holiday season is the busiest time of year for the Postal Service. These are the dates they recommend shipping items in the contiguous United States to make sure they arrive on time.

  • USPS Retail Ground: Dec. 14
  • First Class Mail: Dec. 19 (Alaska Dec. 20; Hawaii Dec. 15)
  • Priority Mail: Dec. 20 (Alaska Dec. 20; Hawaii Dec. 15)
  • Priority Mail Express: Dec. 22 (Alaska Dec. 21; Hawaii Dec. 20)

For more information on shipping to the rest of the world, visit

>> 7 tips for buying the best artificial Christmas tree this season

7. Flat-rate is your friend

FedEx, UPS and the Postal Service all offer flat-rate boxes, meaning that you can pack as much as you can into a box and ship it for one price. However, these do come with some limits – for example, UPS and the USPS only allows up to 70 pounds, while FedEx only allows 50 pounds.

>> PHOTOS: Rockefeller Center Plaza Christmas Tree arrives in New York

8. Look for deals

Do a little shopping around before you ship. Some places, such as PostNet stores, will help you compare shipping prices. You can also do this online at sites such as

USPS, FedEx and UPS also have tools on their websites to estimate shipping costs.

>> 10 ways to save money during the holidays

9. Avoid missed packages

If you want to help your recipient avoid unwanted snooping from neighbors or children, consider sending the gift to their workplace. If it’s meant for kids, that’ll help keep it away from prying eyes. It will also help people from missing deliveries at home.

Keep your tracking numbers handy so you can pinpoint the package’s destination and lets its recipients know when to look out for it.

>> 10 holiday activities that don't have to involve eating

10. Consider insurance

Santa’s delivery service isn’t always perfect, so it’s worth considering insurance on whatever you’re shipping.

Ask your shipper about insurance or a declared-value option. The post office includes $100 of insurance in its Priority Mail Express shipping and offers options for declaring a higher value, for a fee.

If your package ends up being damaged in transit, but the shipping company determines that you packed it improperly, or did not follow proper packing procedures, they may have grounds to deny your claim.

Website seeks Pilgrim descendants to post their stories

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 1:41 PM

PLYMOUTH, MA - NOVEMBER 20: A boy dressed as a pilgrim rides on a float during the annual Thanksgiving Parade November 20, 2004 in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Michael Springer/Getty Images
PLYMOUTH, MA - NOVEMBER 20: A boy dressed as a pilgrim rides on a float during the annual Thanksgiving Parade November 20, 2004 in Plymouth, Massachusetts.(Michael Springer/Getty Images)

A genealogical organization in New England has announced the launch of the world's first online gallery of Mayflower passenger descendants.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society told The Associated Press that the goal is to document the approximately 30 million living descendants of Mayflower passengers and crew.

>> Read more trending news

MORE: New bill takes on Native American mascots in Mass. schools

The website identifies 108 passengers and crew members known to have left descendants, allowing participants to locate their Pilgrim relative. Those who are a known descendant of a Pilgrim can post their story on the website.

The new project will help mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower's passage, which takes place in 2020, The Associated Press reported.

MORE: Native Americans mark Thanksgiving with day of mourning

The Associated Press contributed to this report