Hash Brown Heaven, Plus Cheesy Snack Ideas!

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Hi HG,

I am obsessed with hash browns. I especially love 'em loaded with cheese, ham, and onions. Is there a swap for this that isn't fattening? Please say there is!

Hoping for Hashies

Hi Hoping,

You can stop hoping and start chewing because I've got some great guilt-free hash brown recipes and tips that'll satisfy your cravings...

A classic HG swap? Butternut Hash Browns. These are (doy!) made with butternut squash instead of potatoes. It works anywhere you'd normally use potatoes, and it's lighter and lower in starchy carbs. Bonus: You'll burn some calories shredding the squash! Use that recipe as a starting point and load it up with guilt-free versions of your favorite add-ins: light cheese (like The Laughing Cow Light wedges and fat-free or reduced-fat shredded cheese), extra-lean ham (or Canadian bacon, which is naturally lean), and onions (fresh or the dried minced kind).

Really want POTATO hashies? Check out these Better-Than-a-BLT Hash Browns, which have potato shreds... and BACON. And here's a cheese 'n sausage breakfast skillet that calls for frozen shredded hash browns (such an easy ingredient to work with).

Speaking of frozen shredded hash browns, they're surprisingly not bad in terms of stats, as long as you don't cook them in a bunch of oil. Each cup has about 65 calories and no fat (PointsPlus® value 2*). Cook these with a little nonstick spray and bulk 'em up with those guilt-free goodies I mentioned before. Another good frozen find is potatoes O'Brien, like the kind by Ore-Ida, which has veggies already mixed in -- just about 60 calories a serving (PointsPlus® value 1*).

I'm getting hungry just writing about this! I know what I'm having tomorrow for b-fast, and it rhymes with Fluttergut Smash Gowns...

Dear Hungry Girl,

I know you're all about The Laughing Cow Light cheese wedges. I've tried them and really enjoy them, but I'm having difficulty figuring out what to spread them on as a snack that won't cost me too many calories. Can you help? Hoping to laugh with the cows soon...

Moo Me Maggie

Hi Maggie,

Those spreadable cheese wedges are life changing -- they're creamy, rich, delicious, and come in so many flavors. AHHHH! And just 35 calories and 1.5 - 2g fat per wedge (PointsPlus® value 1*). But don't let all that guilt-free goodness go to waste by spreading them on ginormous bagels and other calorie-packed items. I've got lots of cheesy snack ideas that won't blow your calorie budget. Check 'em out...

Fruit with cheese is a CLASSIC combo, and apple slices are perfect for spreading with The Laughing Cow Light. Fujis are my favorite, but you can use any kind of apple you want. They go especially well with the Light Creamy Swiss variety. Those wedges are great on cucumber slices too. If you're looking for a more intense flavor combo, try spreading a wedge of Light Blue Cheese on celery sticks. And for an extra kick, give them a splash of Frank's RedHot sauce, the Original kind -- hot-wing flavor for a fraction of the calories of the real deal!

High-fiber crackers are a great blank canvas for all the wedges. Big flatbread-style crackers -- like the ones by Wasa and Doctor Kracker -- make it easy to stick to a single serving. Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps are also good -- their flat surfaces are perfect for loading up with cheese! If you want something sorta carby but large and low in calories, go for lightly salted rice cakes -- SO good with Laughing Cow!

For a protein-packed snack, spread a wedge on a few turkey slices and roll 'em up. I LOVE this snack. Rather have something warm? Try melting Light Creamy Swiss into steamed spinach for a cheesy spin on the classic creamed kind (with WAY less fat).

P.S. Laughing Cow has a brand-new line of cream cheese spreads in crazy varieties like Cinnamon Cream and Garden Vegetable. I can't wait to come up with new snack ideas using these... Look out for them!

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Today, February 22, is National Margarita Day. There are no less than half a dozen delicious, guilt-free HG margarita recipes. Click to see 'em. Bottoms up!

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