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Hungry Girl Today: 8.22.12

Hi HG,

My doctor just told me that I need to reduce my sodium intake, but I don't like the taste of salt-free food. Got any ideas for me?

Sodium-Slashing Skeptic

Hi SS Skeptic,

Don't worry -- cutting back on salt doesn't mean you're destined for a bland diet. With a little know-how and some creativity, you can enjoy flavor-packed foods without a lot of sodium. Check it out...

Saving Salt in Recipes and Other Dishes - Some common recipe ingredients are high in sodium, but there are plenty of options with less salt. When it comes to cooking with broth, using no-salt-added or low-sodium broth instead of the regular kind will save you the most sodium. These typically have about 140mg sodium per cup. Reduced-sodium broth, on the other hand, has around 500mg a cup. (BIG difference!) For salsa, swap premade versions for a mix of chopped tomatoes, onion, and herbs to save around 350mg sodium per 1/4 cup. Canned fire-roasted tomatoes work GREAT as an easy salsa substitute with fantastic flavor. Or go halfsies -- toss salsa with an equal amount of salt-free diced tomatoes. This trick also works with tomato sauces: Mix low-fat marinara sauce or pizza sauce with canned crushed tomatoes (no-salt-added, if available). As for canned beans, no-salt-added options are obviously the lowest in sodium. But if those aren't flavorful enough for you, try reduced-sodium beans. And always RINSE your beans; you'll save around 20 percent of the sodium listed on the can.

Salt-Smart Supermarket Finds - Click here for a HUGE roundup of sodium-slashed products -- everything from canned goods to frozen meals. Some great-tasting newbies to add to the list? StarKist now has low-sodium tuna pouches (LOVE these), and Health Valley has a ton of tasty chilis with less salt -- a no-salt-added option and a bunch with 40 percent less sodium. If you can't part with salty favorites like bacon, pickles, and olives, try Oscar Mayer Lower Sodium Turkey Bacon, Reduced Sodium Vlasic Kosher Dill Pickles, and Pearls/Early California Reduced Salt Olives.

More Tips 'n Tricks - Instead of buying packets of seasoning mix, which tend to have a lot of salt, make your own mixes with stuff from the spice rack -- cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Skip store-bought salad dressings, and use balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar instead -- so much flavor and hardly any sodium. Another thing... A lot of people obsess over nutrition labels at the grocery store, but then they forget about the obscene amounts of sodium in most restaurant meals. Almost anything you make at home is going to be a better option in terms of sodium. And beware of buying salt-free products thinking that you're better off adding the salt yourself. You could easily add more salt than the full-sodium versions. Just a dash of table salt has 155mg of sodium, so it adds up quickly if you're not careful.

Hope all this info helps you to enjoy the foods you crave without the high sodium counts. Best of luck!

Hi there, Hungry Girl!

With summer in full swing, I'm constantly going to neighborhood parties and BBQs. I've always wondered, what's my best bet: a hot dog or hamburger? I know neither one is great for me, but which is better?

Cookout Queen

Hi Cookout Queen,

Great question! The stats for a basic beef hot dog or hamburger on a bun are pretty similar -- around 350 calories and 20g fat. But with burgers, fatty extras like cheese and mayo add up FAST; typical hot dog condiments like ketchup, mustard, and relish aren't so bad. And while hot dogs and hot dog buns generally come in one (reasonable) size, burgers and their buns vary A LOT and can be super-large and super-high in stats.

Other things to keep in mind... Don't assume that a turkey dog or chicken burger is going to be the low-calorie, low-fat way to go -- that's not necessarily the case! Try to sneak a peek at the packaging to get a better idea of what you're in for. And to save a lot of carby calories, enjoy your frank or burger over lettuce.

Your best bet is definitely to B.Y.O.G. -- bring your own grillables! A package of hot dogs or a box of meatless burgers is easy to tote along. Click here for the best hot dog options, and click here for our burger picks. And don't forget about the side dishes. People often take in more calories and fat grams from those than from the main attraction. Whip up a Hungry Girl recipe so you'll have at least one diet-friendly option. Your host will appreciate it, and no one will even know it's low in calories and fat...

For more guilt-free cookout tips, click here. Enjoy the rest of summer!

For links in this email, please go to:
HG News You Can Use! Wanna win FREE delicious low-fat donuts for an ENTIRE year!? Enter the Holey Donuts! contest -- three lucky winners will get THEIR CHOICE of guilt-free donuts delivered to their door every 60 days for a year. HURRY... Contest ends this Saturday, 8/25/12!

Mmmm... Today, August 22nd, is Eat a Peach Day. Keep things simple with a juicy piece of the fruit, or whip up this insanely delicious hot couple!

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