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Hungry Girl Today: 2.24.12

Overwhelmed by the canned-foods aisle at the supermarket? We understand. So what gets tossed in your cart, and what gets left on the shelf? Here's some HG help...

The most basic of all canned soups is, of course, broth. We use fat-free broth in recipes all the time, from soups to sauces and stuffings. Most broths ARE super-low in fat, even if they don't say so on the front of the can -- so check the nutritional panel on the back. In terms of soup packed with things like veggies and beans, light soups like the ones from Progresso and Campbell's Healthy Request are good... especially those with some fiber. But before you slurp, click to read about serving-size info when it comes to canned soup! Finally, there's chili. Look for low-fat turkey or vegetarian chili -- kinds by Health Valley, Amy's, and Hormel are good. Click here for a big page full of chili info!

TOP PICK: Amy's Organic Chunky Tomato Bisque
This soup is the best. Not only is it amazing as a straight-up spoonable selection, but it also works well as a marinara sauce substitute. Don't give us that look -- it's REALLY good! Click for lots of info on this incredibly versatile soup...

Canned beans that deserve some love? Garbanzo beans, a.k.a. chickpeas. They're good for so much more than just hummus (though hummus does rock) -- try 'em in stuffed tomatoes, slaws, and even baked falafel balls! Kidney beans, both white (a.k.a. cannellini) and red, are delicious, especially in soups and salads. And fat-free refried beans are fantastic in a variety of recipes; plus, you can find them pre-seasoned -- Rosarita makes really good ones. BTW: Did you know that when you drain and rinse beans packed in water you can rinse away at least 20 percent of the sodium? It's TRUE.

TOP PICK: Black Beans
We're big black-bean fans. A half-cup serving has about 105 calories, half a gram of fat, and around 5.5 grams of fiber -- a total nutritional bargain. Plus, black beans are a good source of protein, and they taste REALLY good. Our latest favorite way to enjoy 'em? In these Bean 'n Veggie PattyCakes!

It's hard to think of a canned veggie/fruit that's quite as turbo-popular as the tomato. It appears in so many forms -- crushed, diced, stewed, seasoned, etc. -- and we use lots of them. Crushed tomatoes make a great base for a DIY marinara sauce; just season to your liking. Early/young peas are essential for making our lightened-up guacamole. Sweet corn is great as a salad topper, and cream-style corn works well in chowder-style soups and corn muffins. For some less conventional picks, we'd like to direct your attention to artichoke hearts, beets, and hearts of palm (click for a salad with the last two!). When it comes to fruit, stick with kinds packed in juice, NOT syrup. Pineapple is popular, with good reason, both as an ingredient and as a snack. Crushed pineapple is especially useful, but chunks and rings are good to have around too. (Throw those rings in a grill pan!) Mandarin orange segments work great in salads and wraps, and peach slices are especially delicious in desserts.

TOP PICK: Pure Pumpkin
Seriously, everything you need to know about canned pumpkin is just a click away. Read up and be astounded by this squash's versatility. It's not just for Thanksgiving pies, people. Speaking of pumpkin pie, do NOT confuse pure pumpkin with pumpkin pie filling/mix... the pie kind is loaded with calories and sugar.

Meat 'n Seafood
Convenient shelf-stable proteins we love include salmon and chicken breast. Try salmon in scoopable salads and sandwich wraps. (Yes, we know one of those recipes calls for pouched salmon, but canned works too!) And canned chicken is NOT scary. Use it to make some Wonton 'Quitos, Saucy Chick BBQ Nachos, Exploding Chicken Taquitos, or Buff Chick Hot Wing Dip. You'll see!

TOP PICK: Tuna in Water
OK, to be totally honest, we're pretty into the stuff packed in pouches these days (especially the flavored kinds from StarKist), but canned tuna is still totally valid. Just be careful not to accidentally grab tuna packed in oil. We prefer albacore, BTW. Click here for HG tuna recipes...

Looking to skimp on sodium?
Click for some salt-slashed brands in cans!

Think canned foods can't be natural?
Many of these picks can be found at natural-foods markets like Whole Foods. Click here for more natural-foods favorites!

Hungry for More Aisle-by-Aisle Assistance?
Get your hands on our latest best seller, Hungry Girl Supermarket Survival: Aisle By Aisle, HG-Style! It takes the guesswork out of guilt-free grocery shopping. Click here to browse around for GREAT deals online, or just grab a copy wherever books are sold!

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It's February 24th, which is National Tortilla Chip Day. Guiltless Gourmet makes our favorite baked corn chips -- try some dunked into this roasted veggie dip!

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*The PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe, or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark and SmartPoints® trademark. For more info on the new PointsPlus® program, visit

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