Crunchy, Cheesy Swaps and Avoiding the Freshman Fifteen!

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Dear HG,

I LOVE crunchy, cheesy snacks like Cheetos and cheese curls, but I need something that won't wreck my diet. Any recommendations?

Orange Is the New Snack

Hi Orange,

Cute name! I know how you feel. Some cravings are too strong to ignore. Luckily, I've got guilt-free swaps to satisfy your snack needs...

There are a few no-guilt options from Chester Cheetah himself. Check out Baked! Cheetos in original Crunchy Cheese and Flamin' Hot -- just 120 - 130 calories and 5g fat per ounce, about 34 pieces (PointsPlus® value 3 - 4*). Not bad! And I'm a HUGE fan of Snikiddy All Natural Puffs. They come in Grilled Cheese and Mac n' Cheese flavors, with 120 calories and 4.5g fat per serving... which is around a HUNDRED puffs (PointsPlus® value 3*). The Snikiddy folks also make baked cheddar fries, which are pretty perfect for a cheesy, crunchy snack fix. An ounce of these has 130 calories and 4.5g fat (PointsPlus® value 3*), AND they come in single-serve bags. LesserEvil Cheddar Krinkle Sticks are also amazing -- a 1-oz. serving (about 35 sticks) has 120 calories and 4.5g fat (PointsPlus® value 3*). But wait, there's more... Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Puffs Baked Puffed Snacks come in fun flavors like Mega Cheese and Cheddar Bacon. Have 41 pieces for 140 calories and 6g fat (PointsPlus® value 4*). I also like Annie's Homegrown Cheddar Bunnies (51 crackers = 140 calories, 6g fat, PointsPlus® value 4*) and Crunchmaster Cheezy Crisps (60 crackers = 120 calories, 3g fat, PointsPlus® value 3*). Last but not least, get creative! Pop up a 100-calorie bag of 94% fat-free popcorn, and sprinkle with Kernel Season's Seasoning in White Cheddar, Bacon Cheddar (my FAVORITE), Cheesy Jalapeño, or Nacho Cheddar. A 1/4-tsp. serving of the seasoning has just 2 - 5 calories.

Happy munching!

Hi Hungry Girl,

I've just started my first year of college. I don't want to gain the "freshman fifteen." What are some guilt-free snacks I can keep in my dorm room? I will have a mini fridge.

Campus Katie

Hi Katie,

Congrats on heading off to college! As far as snacking goes, the combination of vending machines and late-night studying can lead to some not-so-smart food decisions. But don't worry. I've got a little study guide for guilt-free dorm-room snacking...

Protein-Packed Picks - Stock up on snack bars with lots of protein and fiber -- these are hunger-fighting machines. I love Larabars, KIND bars, and Luna bars. Mini Babybel (those wax-encased cheeses) and light string cheese are also great on the go, and they're perfect for mini fridges. Individual containers of fat-free Greek yogurt are another smart fridge stocker. And jerky is a great, go-anywhere, protein-loaded snack food.

Produce Power - Make a habit of stashing fruit (apples, pears, bananas, etc.) in your dorm room. My absolute favorite snack is a Fuji apple -- crisp, slightly sweet, and perfectly portable. And storing cut veggies is an excellent way to put that mini fridge to use. I love baby carrots, sliced cucumbers, and jicama sticks. Great when you need to do some quantity crunching. And keep a jar of salsa on hand for dipping!

Sweet Spot - Avoid candy bars from the vending machines! Keep low-calorie sweet stuff on hand, like hard candies and lollipops. They take a while to eat, so you're less likely to go overboard with them. And they're typically fat-free and low in calories.

Hungry for more? Check out HG's Back-to-School Survival Guide! (College Edition). It's PACKED with advice for any and every eating situation you might encounter on campus.

Have fun at school!

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