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Hungry Girl,

A lot of your recipes call for turkey bacon. I HATE cooking bacon. Do you have any recommendations for bacon products that will do the trick?

Achin' for a Bacon Sub
Dear Achin',

Excellent question. I want to start off by saying that cooking bacon is pretty simple these days, because you can just cover it with a paper towel, and nuke it for a few minutes. Then it's done. Plus, that extra-lean turkey bacon by Jennie-O comes precooked, so it takes less than a minute in the microwave. But if you don't even feel like doing that (which is totally fine -- I'm not judging you), I have a FANTASTIC alternative. Many companies (like Oscar Mayer and Hormel) now offer great-tasting bacon bits made from REAL bacon, usually found near the salad dressings. (Our local market, Ralphs, even has its own!) Those "crunchy" imitation bacon bits -- while good on salads and as potato-toppers -- are hard and extremely fake-tasting. But these are soft, authentic-tasting, and delicious. Make sure to get the ones labeled "real bacon bits". As far as calories and fat, they're not a bad choice either. Most have just 25 calories and 1.5g fat per tablespoon (POINTS® value 1*). They're so full of flavor that typically one serving is all you need. So swap a tablespoon of those real bacon pieces for a strip of turkey bacon in any HG recipe -- except maybe our bacon-wrapped shrimp (that probably wouldn't work without glue -- ha!). Have fun!


It's shopping season. How can I avoid overdoing it at the mall? And I'm not talking about my holiday gift budget -- I'm talking about my calorie budget. Yikes!

Fearing the Food Court
Dear Fearing,

Yup, it certainly is shopping season right now. And shopping at a crowded mall can be a time-consuming and energy-draining experience. Even if you think you're only going to run in for an hour or less, chances are you'll wind up stuck there for WAY more time than that, and you'll eventually get hungry. There's no way to sugar-coat this -- the mall food court can be a dangerous place. I'm a carb-fiend, so I find the butter-soaked pretzels with all their crazy flavors and toppings extremely enticing. Then of course there are the ginormous pizza slices, oily Mexican and Chinese food, overstuffed cheesy potatoes, etc., etc. There are many obvious bad choices at the mall. But scarier are the items PRETENDING to be healthy and low in calories -- the (500-calorie) smoothies, the (fatty) Caesar salads, the (mayo-infested) tuna salad... EEEKS! I would recommend not eating food from the mall at all. This isn't as hard as it sounds. Just bring some emergency snacks to hold you over. Some of my favorites are 100-calorie packs of almonds, jerky, and VitaTops. Snack bars and fruit are great, too. Those should keep your appetite in check until you can get a real meal... off the premises! If you don't have any emergency snacks (horrors!), try to find the best high-protein, non-saucy options available. A salad with grilled chicken or turkey slices is usually easy to find, and it's my go-to food court option. And instead of dressing, use salsa. That typically saves you a TON of fat and calories. Mexican places and delis are two good places to find this little mall survival meal. Oooh, and click here for HG's best & worst food court finds over at Yahoo! Food. Happy shopping (and chewing!).

Looking for a snazzy and affordable holiday gift? Why not buy someone you LOVE an HG cookbook? It's a great stocking stuffer (if you have a big stocking). Woohoo!
This week is Cookie Cutter Week. We've got TWO brand-new cookie-packed recipes coming up tomorrow. They don't require cutting, but we did cut a lot of calories when we made 'em.
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*The PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe, or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark and SmartPoints® trademark.

SmartPoints® value not what you expected? Click here for more info on how the values are calculated, plus more FAQs about PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® values on our website.