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Hungry Girl Today: 11.23.11

Hi Lisa,

I am a big fan of yours in Brewer, ME. Do you have an exercise plan that you follow? I am struggling to find a routine. I like going to exercise classes, but I can't afford a gym membership right now. I had been walking/jogging, but it is getting cold here. Any ideas? I love your recipes and your show. Keep up the good work!

Active Amy

Hi Amy,

Thanks for the love! I DO have an exercise routine. Since I'm not crazy about exercising in general (I used to HATE it), I'm always trying to find ways to make it fun and enjoyable. It's the only way I'm able to make sure I work out.

One of my favorite ways to burn calories is to walk on the treadmill while I watch TV. If I'm watching something entertaining, I totally forget that I'm even exercising. I also like to do strength training with a friend -- working out with a friend is more fun and it keeps me accountable. Even if you don't have a treadmill or other equipment, you can still stay active while watching your favorite shows. Try walking in place (do jumping jacks at commercial breaks!), doing lunges, lifting light DIY handheld weights (like large soup cans or water bottles!), and stretching on the floor in front of the TV.

Since you like exercise classes but can't afford them right now, you should definitely look into picking up an exercise DVD. You might even be able to rent one from your local library. You can also stream video workouts online, and look into those that air on TV. (Set a recording if the one you want is on at a weird time!)

If you want to get out of the house without having to battle the cold, head to the mall for a power walk. It's free (as long as you stick to window shopping!), and you'll be in a fun setting. Schedule it with a friend so you don't blow it off.

Now you've got lots of options to keep you active this winter. Get movin'!

Hi, Hungry Girl!

I found a line of zero-calorie spreads, condiments, and syrups: peanut butter, jams, mayo, caramel dip, chocolate syrup, etc. It sounds too good to be true. What do you think of these types of products?

Zero-Cal Gal

Hi Zero-Cal Gal,

I'm going to be totally honest -- many of these products don't taste that great. In fact, I find some of them almost inedible. But with that said, a few are pretty decent. It's really hit or miss. In general, though, be careful about zero-calorie claims. According to FDA regulations, if something has less than FIVE calories per serving, the label can claim it has ZERO calories. A typical serving size for these types of products is one to two tablespoons. So if you use several servings of them regularly (a few spoonfuls of PB in the morning, a quarter-cup of mayo in your tuna salad, a good amount of BBQ sauce on your chicken, etc.), the calories will add up. I know a lot of people like mixing these with regular or reduced-fat versions to bring down the calorie counts while maintaining the flavor. My personal preference, however, is to skip most of these no-calorie condiments altogether and go with low-calorie versions -- they're totally worth the small amount of calories. Instead of a zero-calorie peanut butter spread, you'll get the best bang for your calorie-and-taste-buck with powdered peanut butter -- click here for the 411 on that stuff. Instead of no-calorie jam, I like the sugar-free versions by Smucker's and Polaner, with just 10 calories per tablespoon. For caramel dip, check out the light and fat-free options from Marzetti -- those have about 50 calories per tablespoon, but it usually takes only a teaspoon or so to add caramel flavor to whatever you're eating. For chocolate syrup, it's all about the light stuff like the kind by Hershey's -- about 45 calories per 2-tablespoon serving, and a little goes a long way. As for mayo, I use the fat-free stuff in recipes, but I zazzle it up with flavorful, low-calorie ingredients like spices, herbs, and other guilt-free condiments. As a spread, though, I'd much rather go with Hellmann's/Best Foods Dijonnaise (a mustard-mayo mix) -- a teaspoon has just 5 fat-free calories. Hope that answers your Q. Happy chewing!

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HG Heads-Up: There will be no Hungry Girl emails tomorrow (11/24) and Friday (11/25) in honor of Thanksgiving, but we'll be back Monday (11/28) with a super-exciting edition of the News!

Unless you've been living under a rock since birth (or, um, you don't live in the U.S.), you know that tomorrow, November 24th, is Thanksgiving! Click here for our guide to holiday dinner survival, and enjoy the festivities. Happy Turkey Day, people!

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