Guilt-Proofing Your Kitchen, Plus Business-Dinner Advice!

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Hi HG,

I'm new to your site and to cooking in general. Up until now, I've used my oven for storage, and I don't have much in the form of kitchen appliances and cookware. Could you tell me some basics for stocking a guilt-free kitchen?

Amy Needs Appliances

Hi Amy,

Welcome to Hungry Girl! Glad you found us. Great question, too! I often get asked about food staples to keep on hand, but not many people ask about kitchen tools for guilt-free eating, and these are really important. Here's a list of basics to get you started...

Measuring cups & spoons - You can buy these in cute little sets, and they're usually not expensive. Some people just eyeball amounts when they're cooking, but I think that's a bad idea. These are a must -- not just for accurate nutritionals, but for great taste as well. So measure, measure, measure...

A food scale - Just like measuring cups and spoons, a food scale is important for accuracy, whether you're making recipes or just watching your portion sizes. Some things that are best weighed? Uncooked pasta, meat, seafood, and certain packaged snacks... basically any food/ingredient with a serving size/amount that's given in ounces.

Basic pots and pans - You don't need anything fancy, and you certainly don't need a whole set of cookware in assorted sizes. One or two pots, a skillet, and a baking pan should be fine. Also, stock up on nonstick cooking spray!

A baking sheet - For foil packs and other easy oven-baked recipes.

A good blender - Food processors are OK, but it's worth investing in a good blender to make smoothies and other blended beverages. I like a midsize blender (like the Magic Bullet) more than an oversized one, since it's better at pulverizing small amounts of ingredients.

Large coffee mugs - These are ideal for our famous (and amazing!) egg-mug recipes. Egg mugs are great because they only require a few ingredients and are ready in minutes.

Once you've stocked up on these basics, check out this recent email about the easiest HG recipes ever. That should get you started. Have fun! 

Dear Hungry Girl,

I'm a young professional, which means I attend the occasional business lunch or dinner. The meal typically includes a protein (not always lean), a starch (like potatoes), and some type of vegetable. It always ends with a delicious dessert and is served with 2 - 3 glasses of wine. These meals interrupt the success I've had with healthy eating. Could you come up with a Hungry Girl survival guide for me?

Business As Usual

Hi Business As Usual,

OK, let's get right down to business... Presenting, HG's mini guide to business meals!

When it comes to your protein or center-plate dish, ask if there's a vegetarian or non-beef selection to broaden your options. (But avoid a pile of pasta, if that's the veggie plate.) If you don't have a choice and something fatty shows up on your plate, remove the visible fat and/or skin. Try to keep the portion in check, and fill up on salad and veggies.

Skip the starchy side, if possible, and request double veggies.
If there's a baked potato on your plate, skip the toppings (like butter, bacon, etc). And if your veggies come covered in a creamy, cheesy sauce, don't fool yourself into thinking they're still a smart choice. (They're not.) Have a few bites and move on...

For dessert, just eat a few forkfuls. Drink coffee, too -- it can slow you down and fill you up. And after you've had a few bites, pop a mint or a piece of mint gum in your mouth. That'll likely squash your desire for more of the sweet stuff.

As for wine, each glass has about 120 calories. So if you're drinking 2 - 3 glasses, that's 240 - 360 calories. (Uh, I hope you're not driving!) Stick with one glass, and sip it (don't guzzle). And drink plenty of water throughout your meal.

Overall, don't stress too much. Have a good time and enjoy the meal -- and the meeting!

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Today, September 14th, is Eat a Hoagie Day. We'll do it! Stick with something off the Fresh Fit menu at Subway... Mmmmm!

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