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I am a cheese fanatic -- I love ALL kinds! Can you give me some cheese tips STAT?

Cheese-Obsessed in Chicago
Dear Cheese-Obsessed,

Most people LOVE cheese. At least most of the people I know. But if you're watching what you eat in any way, it is important to choose your cheese carefully. Luckily, I have thought this through a bazillion times and have done the dirty work for you. Here are some of my favorite cheese tips and finds...

1. SOFT SPREADABLE CHEESE - If you want to slather cheese on something, DEFINITELY go for 35-calorie Laughing Cow Light cheese wedges. They're unbeatable because they have around half the calories of regular cream cheese and 10 times the flavor of fat-free (or even reduced-fat) cream cheese. They're also AMAZING melted in egg scrambles and other recipes. (See #3 for more on that.)

2. HARD CHEESES THAT MELT WELL - OK, the big thing about fat-free cheese is that it doesn't always melt the way we'd like it to. My new favorite cheese that melts PERFECTLY is Mini Babybel Light, also from The Laughing Cow folks. (It's that cheese in the red wax that comes in a white net bag.) Break those cute 50-calorie things up into pieces and use 'em in quesadillas, on pizzas, etc. Light string cheese is also great for recipes, but it's better for pizzas than quesadillas. Either of those is great eaten straight as a snack, as well.

3. CHEESE SAUCE - The key to making crazy-good cheese sauce that's low in calories, but doesn't taste it, is to combine different flavors and types of cheese. The Laughing Cow Light wedges work great -- I mix them with fat-free cheddar and fat-free cream cheese. Click here for our Nacho-rific Cheese Sauce recipe. And for a fantastic cheese-sauce-packed snack, check out Green Giant Broccoli & Cheese Sauce, in single-serving trays and multi-serving bags (there's an entire section of 2-ingredient recipes -- a.k.a. Hot Couples -- using the stuff in HG 1-2-3!).

4. OTHER CHEESE STUFF. Kraft's fat-free slices of American are good on burgers -- veggie, soy, turkey, or lean beef! Reduced-fat grated Parm is great to sprinkle on salads, pizzas, etc. And fat-free shredded cheddar works really well in Mexican recipes.

There you go! Now you're armed and ready to CHEESE IT UP!!!

Hi Hungry Girl!

I just love your recipes and advice. I have a question, though. My family is really picky when it comes to eating veggies. They like carrots, but only coated in brown sugar and butter sauce. Is there a better, more calorie-friendly way to make carrots satisfying for them? I tried using Splenda and it didn't taste right. Thanks and keep up the good work!

Dear Carrot-Crazed,

Thanks for emailing! I love carrots in all forms: cooked, raw, alone, with stuff on 'em, etc. If your family is set on eating them all sweet and buttery, though, here's what I recommend: Cook your carrots with a little sugar-free pancake syrup and Brummel & Brown (a delicious reduced-calorie butter swap made with yogurt). Even if the syrup is made with Splenda, the combo of the maple flavor and buttery taste will likely fool your family members into thinking they're eating something that isn't diet-friendly at all. I've actually got a GREAT recipe for glazed carrots made in a slow cooker -- it has some other veggies, too. (HG Shameless Plug! If you like slow-cooker recipes, you'll LOVE our latest cookbook, Hungry Girl 1-2-3. There's a whole chapter PACKED with guilt-free slow-cooker recipes! And now, back to "Ask HG.") The key with any swap is to find a nice mix of ingredients that helps create delicious flavor. For example, if you don't like the taste of straight fat-free mayo or fat-free sour cream, try mixing it with other stuff like spices, salsa, BBQ sauce, ranch dressing/dip powdered mix, dry taco seasoning mix, etc. You need to become a little bit of a mad scientist in the kitchen (like ME!). It's REALLY fun, and you'll create a lot of AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS guilt-free stuff. I promise. Enjoy...

Today, March 31st, is Clams on the Half Shell Day. Sounds like a great day to chew on some of HG's Baked Clam Halfsies. Don't be lazy... Go for it!!!
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