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Hungry Girl Today: 07.06.11

Hi Hungry Girl,

I have all of your cookbooks and LOVE your recipes, but I have one problem: A lot of them call for soy burger patties, soy crumbles, and soymilk... and I'm allergic to soy. Can you suggest some alternatives?

Alice in Allergy-land

Hi Alice,

I really appreciate the love -- you ROCK! And I'm happy to say I've got some great, guilt-free swaps for soy products that'll give you delicious results with reasonable stats! Read on...

Soy Burger Patty & Soy Crumble Swaps

Veggie-Based and Grain-Based Patties - Definitely your best bets for patty swaps. Like their soy counterparts, you can find options with about 100 calories each and a nice amount of fiber. Just read the ingredient labels VERY CAREFULLY to make sure the products are soy-free. Amy's Light in Sodium California Veggie Burger is a good pick!

Portabella Mushroom Caps - Another meatless option that doesn't contain soy. Of course, they're not nearly as protein-packed as other patty options, but they're low in calories, delicious, and make a great burger swap. Just cook in a skillet or grill pan sprayed with nonstick spray.

Lean Turkey Burger Patties - A decent choice, but they have a sizable amount more calories and fat than soy burger patties. Look for kinds with about 160 calories and 8g fat, and add around 60 calories and 5 grams of fat to the recipe stats. Make sure they're fully cooked before using them in a recipe that calls for soy patties, which don't need to be fully cooked.

Extra-Lean Ground Beef - A great swap and the stats aren't bad at all -- around 140 calories and 4.5 grams of fat per 4-oz. serving (uncooked). Of course, you do have to form it into patties and cook it up. (Season it with a little salt and pepper, form 4-oz. patties, and then cook 'em in a skillet or grill pan sprayed with nonstick spray.) Then add around 40 calories and 1.5 grams of fat to your burger recipe's stats.

As for recipes that call for soy crumbles, you can use any of these suggestions in their cooked and crumbled/chopped form. One patty is equal to about 1/2 cup crumbles. Or try out Jimmy Dean Fully Cooked Turkey Hearty Sausage Crumbles -- they have really impressive stats!

Swaps for Light Vanilla Soymilk

Blue Diamond Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze is my TOP recommendation, followed by So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage, and good old-fashioned fat-free dairy milk. Click HERE for the full 411 on using each of those swaps in recipes that call for light vanilla soymilk. BTW, that light coconut drink made by So Delicious now comes in a vanilla-flavored variety that's sweetened with stevia -- that stuff would work great as a soymilk alternative!

Thanks for your email, Alice. Now you and other soy-allergic HGers can enjoy more Hungry Girl recipes!

Hey, HG!

Thanks to you, I now know that many seemingly healthy restaurant salads are actually terribly fattening. But what about regular salad bars? Do you have any tips and/or tricks for those? Thanks!

Salad Sista

Hi Salad Sista,

Great Q. Salad bars can be a good option. You have total control over what goes onto your plate -- so if you make good decisions, that's GREAT. But there are some not-so-smart choices at those DIY salad stations, and the calories and fat can add up FAST. Here's a quick rundown of how to build a delicious no-guilt salad...

Veg Out - Start your salad with leafy greens (I love chopped romaine) and then pile on lots of other veggies -- sliced peppers, grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, sliced beets, and more. Avoid marinated veggies that look super-shiny -- those are probably loaded with fatty oil.

Pick the Right Protein - Stick with lean protein, like chunks of white-meat chicken, turkey breast, and plain flaked tuna. Steer clear of things like salami, scoopy salads (they're most likely made with full-fat mayo), and bacon. Avoid cheese, since it's probably the full-fat kind. Toss on some beans (chickpeas rock) and sliced hard-boiled egg whites too (leave out the yolks).

Crunchy Toppers - Skip the croutons, tortilla chips, Chinese noodles, and anything else that might be fried. Add some crunch to your salad with things like sliced water chestnuts, thinly sliced almonds (just a tablespoon or so), and crispy raw veggies.

Dressings & Dressing Swaps - Look for dressings labeled "fat free" or "low fat," and get some on the side -- then dip (don't pour). No fat-free or low-fat finds? Your best bet is to go with straight-up balsamic vinegar (not vinaigrette!) -- it's loaded with intense flavor, so you don't need much, and it's super-low in calories. Salsa is another awesome low-calorie choice, and it will give your salad a zesty kick. Don't like those options? Play it safe and bring along your favorite light dressing. I've been known to smuggle in a bottle of spray dressing in my purse. Shhhhh...

For tons more salad info, check out the Hungry Girl episode page for "Lean and Green!" See you at the salad bar ;)

For links in this email, please go to:
Today, July 6th, is National Fried Chicken Day! Celebrate the guilt-free way with Crispity Crunchity Drumsticks, Kickin' Buttermilk Faux-Fried Chicken, or H-O-T Hot Boneless Buffalo Wings!

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