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Hungry Girl Today: 11.16.11

Dear HG,

You always talk about freeze-dried fruit. I've read what seems like hundreds of product labels at several grocery stores, and the packaging doesn't say if the fruit is dried or freeze-dried. Please help!

Foggy on Fruit

Hi Foggy,

Great question! There's a very big difference between freeze-dried fruit and standard dried fruit. Freeze-dried fruit has been zapped of its moisture; it's light and crispy and not too much smaller than its original size. Regular dried fruit, on the other hand, is dense, chewy, and a shriveled version of its former self -- think raisins and dried cranberries.

If the package doesn't clearly say freeze-dried on the front, turn it around and check out the ingredients list. If the word "freeze-dried" isn't on the front or back of the pack, chances are that the fruit is the regular dried kind. The nutrition label can also help you figure things out -- a 1/4-cup serving of freeze-dried fruit has about 25 calories, whereas the same amount of regular dried fruit usually clocks in at about 100 calories. BIG difference. Also, make sure there are no added ingredients. Products like apple and banana chips are sometimes fried in oil and sweetened with sugar. Bad news.

At the supermarket? Check the cereal aisle, the produce section, and the snack aisle. Natural-food markets like Whole Foods tend to have LOTS of products from many brands. If you still can't find freeze-dried fruit in your area, you can always order some online -- check out the websites linked to below. (Freeze-dried fruit has a nice long shelf life, so you won't have to worry about it going bad if you order in bulk.)

Funky Monkey is my favorite brand -- so many fun flavors! (Click here to find freeze-dried fruit from the playful primate.) I also like Just Tomatoes, Etc.! (click for a store finder), Sensible Foods (find stores by clicking here), and Crispy Green (click to search for local stores). Good luck!

Hi Hungry Girl,

I always find myself in the fridge late at night, right before I go to bed. What are some low-cal foods that I can snack on that won't pack on the pounds?

Midnight Muncher

Hi Midnight Muncher,

Late-night snacking can be tough. You're limited to whatever's already in your kitchen, and sometimes you're too tired to make a smart decision. That's why it's so important to keep guilt-free picks on hand at all times.

If you're truly hungry...
Choose something with a fair amount of protein (to fill you up) that isn't too heavy (so it won't weigh you down). Fat-free Greek yogurt is a great choice -- just mix in a spoonful of sugar-free or low-sugar preserves for fruity flavor. And this might sound boring, but fat-free or low-fat cottage cheese with a drop of vanilla extract and a bit of sweetener is really delicious and satisfying -- the vanilla totally amps up the flavor. Want something super-easy? A stick of light string cheese or a Mini Babybel Light cheese snack is perfect. I also love to snack on a few slices of turkey breast -- each ounce of lean turkey has about 30 calories and 6g protein. And as an added bonus, the tryptophan in turkey might help you sleep. (Not sure that's been proven though!)

If it's more about satisfying a late-night craving...
For a sweet-tooth fix, try a cup of hot cocoa made from a packet of mix with 20 - 25 calories (like Swiss Miss Diet or Nestl