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Hungry Girl Today: 08.24.11

Hi Hungry Girl,

In a few weeks, I'll start 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 small mini fridge.

Snackin' Sara

Hi Sara,

Congrats on heading off to college! As far as snacking goes, 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 Light (those red-wax-encased cheeses) and light string cheese are great on the go, and they're perfect for mini fridges. Fat-free Greek yogurt in individual containers is another smart fridge stocker. And jerky is a great, go-anywhere, protein-loaded snack food.

Produce Power - Make a habit of stashing fruit -- like pears, bananas, and plums -- in your dorm room. My absolute favorite snack is a Fuji apple -- crisp, slightly sweet, and great on the go. Cut veggies are a perfect 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! If you find yourself craving something sweet, stick with hard candies, like lollipops and Jolly Ranchers. 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.

Whatever you do, don't wait until you're super-hungry to eat. If you do, you'll be more likely to eat whatever you can get your hands on (pizza, chips, whatever). So keep that mini fridge stocked at all times with smart snacks. And have an awesome time at college, smarty-pants!

Dear HG,

I love all of your survival guides: Chinese, Starbucks... They get me through any situation! However, my family loves to go out for Indian food, and I never know what to order that won't be too high in calories. Got any ideas?

Trapped in an Indian Restaurant

Hi Trapped,

I'm so glad that you've been using the survival guides! And although I haven't done an Indian-food survival guide yet, after doing some research, I've got good news for you: You're not trapped! There are LOTS of options to choose from that are guilt-free and full of flavor...

To start, order a cup of lentil soup. The beans and broth will fill you up and keep you from overeating when the main meal arrives. The average cup of lentil soup has about 130 calories and 3g fat, plus a good amount of fiber and protein.

For your main course, tandoori chicken or fish is a great pick. It's basically just roasted meat marinated in yogurt and spices. Chicken or fish tikka is practically the same thing. (Just watch out for tikka masala, which has a creamy sauce.) Skip the lamb and beef -- those are higher in calories and fat. And stay away from anything in a curry sauce, since that's made with coconut milk -- which is fat-packed -- and (sometimes) flour and butter as well.

Don't assume vegetarian dishes are automatically diet friendly. A lot of people make this mistake. Many of these dishes are made with cheese, tofu, potatoes, etc., and they can come in heavy sauces. When in doubt, ask your server how the dish is prepared. And obviously, avoid anything fried.

If you need to fulfill a carby craving, pass on the puri. Although it's a type of flatbread, it's deep-fried. And it's a vehicle for absorbing way too much sauce. Stick with the naan (oven-baked flatbread), but try not to go overboard with it.

Spice is nice! Indian food can be spicy. And some experts say spicy foods give your metabolism a boost. This is good news... Just don't use it as an excuse to order something fried in spicy cream sauce. (You're not fooling anyone!)

Hope you're feeling a bit more confident about ordering Indian food. Good luck! BTW, if anyone reading this is new to the site, check out some of these recent survival guides: Happy Hour, Frozen Yogurt, Chinese Food, Sushi, and Starbucks!

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