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Hungry Girl Today: 8.29.12

Hey Hungry Girl,

I'm trying to lose weight, and I've heard that fruit doesn't "count" when tracking daily food intake. So I tend to make a lot of fruit smoothies, and I even turn bananas into a frozen-yogurt-like treat. However, my weight loss isn't really going as well as I'd like. What are your thoughts on this?

Fruit Fanatic

Hi Fruit Fanatic,

This is a GREAT question. I totally understand why some people think fruit doesn't "count" when it comes to weight loss. It's good for you, filling, and smarter than a lot of other snack choices. But of course, fruit isn't calorie-free... and if you're consuming a lot of it, those calories definitely add up.

Personally, I think the only time you should even think about considering fruit a freebie-ish food is when it's in its natural state. Once it's blended, dehydrated, baked, etc., it's almost like it becomes a whole different type of food. Think of it this way: You probably wouldn't sit down and eat six whole apples in a row, but you might eat an entire bag of apple chips at once. And it's unlikely you'd eat three bananas back to back, but you might eat an ice-cream-like dessert made from three bananas in one shot. (Each banana doesn't yield very much of the pureed/frozen stuff!) Also, don't forget about the other ingredients that go into smoothies and other fruity treats: milk, juice, yogurt, sweeteners, etc. It's easy to overlook those things when what you're eating is mostly made up of fruit, but they can add a significant amount of calories.

So other than fresh fruit, what are your best options? If you're going to use canned fruit, choose the type that's packed in juice (or water); then drain it. For frozen fruit, it's super important to make sure it's unsweetened. It might not say "no sugar added" on the package, so flip over the bag and check the ingredients list. It should be JUST FRUIT; nothing else. Syrup, fructose, cane juice, or sugar can double the calorie count.

The bottom line? As with anything else, moderation is key. And sometimes turning fruit into something else -- like blended drinks or frozen desserts -- can make it more difficult to stick to moderate amounts. It's all about setting yourself up for success with your weight loss. If you're having a hard time losing weight when you're not counting those fruity drinks and desserts, you might wanna give my advice a try. Best of luck!

Hi HG,

In a recent email, you wrote about the new Betty Crocker Cereal Muffin Mixes; they sound so good! You mentioned HG-ifying them with guilt-free swaps, but I have no idea how to do that. Can you help a muffin-lovin' lady out?

Must Have Muffins

Hi Must Have Muffins,

You bet! We FLIPPED when we heard about these muffin mixes in Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, and Reese's Puffs flavors. And we immediately got to work in the HG kitchen to see how to make them taste amazing without adding a lot of fat or calories. Here's what we found...

First things first: SKIP the oil and eggs called for on the boxes. (In fact, ignore the box directions altogether!) Instead, use either canned pure pumpkin OR club soda (not both!) -- each of these works equally well with the muffin mixes. And don't worry; your muffins won't taste too pumpkin-y or anything like club soda... These ingredients just help keep things moist and light. Make sure to use canned pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix, which has added sugar). And don't confuse tonic water with club soda -- tonic has as many calories as regular soda, while club soda is calorie-free.

Ready for the specifics? Here's a recipe that can be used with any of BC's new muffin mixes! And remember, use either the pumpkin OR the club soda... NOT both. (FYI: Using pumpkin will give you that extra gram of fiber.)

HG's Surreal Cereal Muffins
1/12th of recipe (1 muffin): 110 - 130 calories, 1.5 - 3g fat, 170 - 200mg sodium, 22 - 26g carbs, 1 - 2g fiber, 11 - 12g sugars, 1 - 2g protein -- PointsPlus