Pasta Meal Confusion, and HG-ified Southern Food!

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Hi Lisa,

Whenever you give advice about pasta, you always say to avoid it when dining out. Why is it that so many frozen meals made for people watching their weight include pasta? What makes this pasta better for dieters than restaurant versions? And what do you recommend for those times I do want to eat pasta when dining out?

Pasta Perplexed

Hi Pasta Perplexed,

Good questions. Frozen meals don't feature a special kind of low-cal pasta. (I wish they did!) They're just portion controlled. Let's be honest: Most frozen meals aren't large. They're nowhere near as huge as restaurant meals, which often contain two or three servings of pasta... sometimes more! If you're out and about and just have to have pasta, your best bet is to order it on the side so you can really assess the amount. Then try to stick with a cup of noodles, which has around 200 calories (PointsPlus® value 5*), not including the sauce. If the restaurant offers whole-wheat pasta, definitely opt for that. (Extra fiber ROCKS.) And stick with tomato-based sauces, not buttery or creamy stuff. You can also bulk up restaurant pasta by ordering a side of steamed veggies and mixing 'em together. Another GREAT option? Ruby Tuesday has a Spaghetti Squash Marinara dish with just 260 calories. Brilliant! Wanna bulk up frozen pasta dishes at home? Steamed broccoli slaw, Tofu Shirataki, spaghetti squash, and zucchini ribbons all work really well! For loads more pasta info -- recipes, product picks, and more -- click here. Happy chewin'!

Dear Hungry Girl,

I'm from the South, and here in the South, we just love cheesy, fried, and fatty dishes. They're delicious, but they don't exactly help my diet! Do you have recipes or swaps for Southern food without the excess fat and calories?

Southern Belle

Hi Southern Belle,

My husband's from the South too (Memphis!), so I know all about the appeal of Southern food (and its less-than-appealing nutritional stats). I've got plenty of guilt-free swaps to feed a craving for Southern comfort food. Get ready for some down-home cookin', HG-style!

For a filling breakfast that'll start your day off right, check out this recipe for gravy 'n biscuits, perfectly portioned for one. And of course, there's an HG swap for classic chicken and waffles! If you've got a small crowd to feed, this Big Southern-Style B-fast Trifle should do the trick. It's got a little bit of everything in it. (Plus, it's beauteous!)

Here's a couple of HG takes on Southern sides or apps: Faux-Fried Green Tomatoes and Faux-Fried Pickles!

Moving on to the main meal, this lightened-up jambalaya is CRAZY-DELICIOUS, as is this shrimp 'n grits swap for a popular Paula Deen dish. Our 'Cue the Pulled Pork was inspired by my husband -- it's so good, no one will EVER guess it's guilt-free in any way. I also love this chicken 'n dumplings recipe. In fact, I kinda want some RIGHT NOW...

Ready for dessert? Check out these Crispy Pecan Pie Bites -- all the flavor of pecan pie for just around 100 calories per serving. And here's a peach cobbler that's perfect this time of year. (It's the height of peach season, you know!)

Not in the mood to cook? Hit the freezer aisle of the grocery store. Lean Cuisine has a Ranchero Braised Beef meal with a side of chipotle mashed sweet potatoes (240 calories, 4.5g fat, and a PointsPlus® value of 6*). And Amy's makes a Southern Dinner, complete with cornbread, beans, and collard greens (310 calories, 7g fat, and a PointsPlus® value of 8*).

There you have it -- SO many options for HG-approved Southern fare. Enjoy!

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It's officially National Panini Month (a.k.a. August). We've got not one, not two, but THREE deliciously guilt-free ways to celebrate. Dig in, you!

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