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Hungry Girl Today: 11.09.11

Hi Hungry Girl,

I've noticed that many of the recent HG recipes call for sugar instead of Splenda or other no-calorie sweeteners, even though Splenda would save calories. Is there a reason for this? And how easy is it to swap out one for the other?

Stumped by Sweeteners

Hi Stumped,

Very perceptive! Lately we have been using more real sugar in recipes, partly because subscribers have been asking for it. Times are changing and many people are cutting back on artificial sweeteners. So we've been using sugar in recipes where only a little bit of sweetener is needed (so the total amount of calories is still reasonable), as well as in recipes where the taste of real sugar makes a big difference (like this brand-new one for cheesecake). We still use Splenda when a recipe's calorie count just wouldn't be impressive with real sugar. The good news is that sugar and Splenda can easily be swapped in recipes because they measure cup for cup and are both suitable for baking. Our recipes often include nutrition stats for both versions for this reason. (Check out this apple pie and this berry cobbler for proof.)

Here's the bottom line: A full cup of granulated Splenda has 96 calories, while a cup of sugar has 774 calories; so if you plan to bake something that calls for a lot of sugar, you can save a HUGE amount of calories by using Splenda. If you want to keep things all natural without adding tons of calories, you might want to try Stevia Extract In The Raw Cup for Cup Granulated Sweetener, which comes loose in the bag and also works in recipes for baked goods. (HG tip: Stevia is a bit sweeter than Splenda, so you may want to use a little less sweetener than the amount a recipe calls for.)

Hope you're no longer stumped. Have a sweet day!

Dear HG,

I LOVE to make stir-frys. They can be so GREAT -- delicious and loaded with protein and veggies. But I have a problem with the sauce. Store-bought sauces are usually high in calories, and I tend to use more than I should. I've tried diluting them and even making my own sauces, but I always end up disappointed... not enough flavor. Any ideas?

Sauce Struggler

Hi Sauce Struggler,

I'm with you on the stir-fry love -- so many delicious, guilt-free combos! But the calories from sauce can add up quickly if you're not careful. That's why I'm sharing some tips, tricks, and picks for all your stir-fry saucing needs....

Store-bought Asian stir-fry sauces are common, but the stats can be a little high. I like to dilute them with a little reduced-sodium/lite soy sauce or seasoned rice vinegar. These have fewer calories than stir-fry sauces, and they won't water down the flavor.

Experiment with products that aren't labeled as stir-fry sauces -- like certain light salad dressings (vinaigrettes work well) and thick marinades (with 30 or fewer calories per tablespoon). Some of my favorites are Newman's Own Lighten Up! Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing and the low-cal marinades from Mrs. Dash and Lawry's. Also check out those packets of powdered seasoning mix at the supermarket. They're easy to use and typically very low in calories.

No matter what sauce you choose, here's a big tip: Don't add the sauce until the last minute or so of cooking your stir-fry. (If needed, use water while stir-frying to keep things from burning.) If you add sauce at the beginning, your sauce will cook down and you'll probably need to add more. Adding it at the end is a great way to maintain all the flavor and avoid using too much.

Wok 'n roll! (Sorry. Had to.)

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