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Hungry Girl Today: 9.5.12

Hey Lisa,

I recently saw an episode of your show in which you were talking about ways to beef up TV dinners. I wasn't able to write down the info, so I'm hoping you'll share it with me now. What are your best tips for making my meals larger without overdoing it in the calorie department?

Bigger Is Better

Hi Bigger Is Better,

You must be referring to the "Fill 'Er Up!" episode of Hungry Girl (one of my favorites!). And I'm so glad you asked. I've got tons of tips and tricks for supersizing everything from frozen meals to comfort foods...

Frozen meals are pretty small -- blunt, but true -- and adding veggies is an easy way to make 'em more substantial. And since those dinners typically come with a LOT of sauce, you can easily stir in some microwaved frozen veggies. For pasta-based meals, I like to add steamed broccoli cole slaw or bean sprouts (NOT alfalfa sprouts!) -- these have a similar texture to noodles, and the bean sprouts work perfectly in Asian-style dinners. Try this veggie-boosting trick at restaurants too. Order a side of steamed veggies (without butter), and mix that into a saucy meal.

As for HG recipes, there are LOADS of tricks to make them as large and filling as possible for the fewest number of calories. Canned pumpkin is one of my secret weapons -- it adds creamy texture and extra fiber. I use it in everything from sauces and soups to oatmeal and chili. Steamed cauliflower is another all-star supersizer. Mash it into mashed potatoes, or chop it and stir into mac & cheese. I also like to use turnips in potato dishes, chopped mushrooms in recipes with ground meat, and layers of eggplant in lasagna.

BTW, click here to see ALL of the recipes featured in that episode, as well as a list of filling market finds and a huge-recipe roundup. Now you've got a whole bunch of ways to get the most bang for your calorie buck. Enjoy!

Hi Hungry Girl,

I'm pretty strapped for cash these days. Can you recommend some easy, guilt-free, wallet-friendly snack and meal ideas? Thanks in advance for your help!

Babe on a Budget

Hi Babe on a Budget,

A lot of people think it's impossible to enjoy guilt-free food without spending a fortune. That's definitely not true. You just need to be smart about what you buy. Here are some tricks I've discovered over the years...

DIY 100-Calorie Packs - Portion control is key for anyone watching what they eat, but those pre-packaged snacks can be pricey. It's actually really easy to make your own. Click here for a ginormous list of bite-sized goodies, and how much you can have of each for 100 calories. Then break out some baggies, and start divvying up some sensibly priced bulk-sized bags! There are a few fun ideas for snack mixes as well. And look for some brand-new 100-calorie mixes in tomorrow's email!

Seasonal Produce - One easy way to save money and eat well is to incorporate seasonal fresh produce into your snacks and meals. Right now, peaches and melons are pretty abundant, and you should still be able to find berries at a good price. Summer squash is still available, and pretty soon, you'll start to see winter squash varieties too. Not sure what to do with the latest on-sale produce item? Just type it into the search bar at the top of the HG homepage, and see what recipes pop up!

Hit the Freezer Aisle - Fruit, veggies, meat, seafood... You can save a lot when you buy these things frozen. I've been known to snack on frozen mango chunks straight from the freezer, and frozen shrimp thaws super fast and tastes great in a TON of recipes. You can also stock up on non-frozen items when they're on sale, and then freeze 'em for future use. Ground meat, grapes... even egg substitute!

Click here for a pretty great site that breaks down the most reasonably priced nutritious foods. And for more money-saving tips and tricks, click here. Hope you're feeling more confident about eating guilt-free on the cheap!

For links in this email, please go to:
Today, September 5th, is National Cheese Pizza Day! If you're lucky enough to live where Vitalicious VitaPizzas are sold, run (don't walk!) to the store, and grab one ASAP!

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