PB&J 'Palooza & Restaurant Ordering 411!

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Hi HG,

I love peanut butter and jelly, but I'm not crazy about the calories that come with that combo. I know you've got some good PB&J-flavored recipes, like a shake and a parfait, but I want more! Got any other ideas that won't pack on the pounds?

PB & Jelly for Elly

Hi Elly,

I'm with you on this one. I LOVE the combination of sweet jelly and salty peanut butter. AHHHHHH! But you're right -- the calories can add up fast. That guilt-free shake you mentioned is an oldie but a goodie, and that yogurt parfait made its on-screen debut in an episode of Hungry Girl! But I have plenty more PB&J ideas for you...

PB&J Oatmeal - If you have the latest HG cookbook, 300 Under 300, check out the gigantic PB&J Oatmeal Heaven. If you don't have the book (uhhh, what are you waiting for?!), you can always zazzle up plain oatmeal by swirling in some reduced-fat peanut butter (click here for my peanut butter picks) and sugar-free or low-sugar preserves/jam (like the kinds by Smucker's and Polaner). So good!

PB&J-Inspired Couples - Click here for THREE 2-ingredient recipes packed with peanut-buttery, jelly-rific goodness! And take a look at the next item on this list -- a brand-new hot couple...

Peanut Butter Chips + Light Strawberry Ice Cream - PB chips (found with the chocolate chips at the supermarket) are a great way to bring sweet peanut butter flavor to almost anything -- just 80 calories and 4g fat per tablespoon. And they go really far when you crush or chop them up. If you like the flavor of raspberry jelly, go for Dreyer's/Edy's Limited Edition Black Raspberry Slow Churned Light Ice Cream. And for a fun variation, stir your chips into some fat-free strawberry Greek yogurt, like the kind by Chobani.

FitNutz Peanut Butter & Raspberry Jam Mix - More fun for raspberry-jam fans! Want your PB&J all wrapped up into one product? The people at FitNutz recently came out with this jelly-flavor-infused powdered peanut butter -- just 50 calories and 1.5g fat per 2-tbsp. serving! A super-easy way to bring PB&J flavor to blended drinks and dessert recipes.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Larabar - If you're on the go and craving something indulgent, grab this bar -- it's packed with fiber and protein, and it's a totally decadent treat.

Now that you're armed with great ideas, go have fun and enjoy your PB&J... GUILT-FREE!

Hey Hungry Girl,

I don't go out to eat often, but when I do, I like to look up the nutritional information online and plan ahead. But what if the restaurant doesn't provide nutritional info? What should I do then? Thanks!

Paula Plans Ahead

Hi Paula,

Scoping out restaurant nutritional info ahead of time is definitely the best way to know what you're getting into (or should I say, what's getting into you!). But sadly, not every restaurant provides the stats. Don't worry, though. Even if you can't get your hands on the calorie and fat counts, there are ways to make super-smart decisions at any type of restaurant. Check 'em out...

Look over the menu beforehand. Even if there's no nutritional info online, checking out your options ahead of time can really help you to prepare. Then you can focus on the pre-dinner conversation instead of dissecting the menu line by line.

Don't arrive super-hungry. Sure, it might seem like a smart idea to cut back during the day in order to indulge at dinner. But in your ravenous state, you're more likely to make a not-so-smart food decision.

Appetizers are your friends. You just need to know which ones to choose! Skip the basket of bread or tortilla chips (or any bread-like item that magically appears on your table). Stick with broth-based soups (studies show these help us eat less overall), starter salads (sans croutons and cheese, with dressing on the side), shrimp cocktail, and steamed mussels or clams. Those will take the edge off your hunger for not a lot of calories.

Look for lean protein-based entrées with plenty of veggies. Think chicken breast, shrimp, fish, etc. Avoid breaded and fried items; opt for grilled or baked. If the protein comes in a sauce, order the sauce on the side. Or skip the sauce altogether and ask for a little salsa or balsamic vinegar (not vinaigrette!) -- either of these will add tons of flavor for very few calories and no fat. If the sides listed are things like pasta or rice, see if you can switch 'em out for steamed veggies.

Pay attention to portion size. It's not just about what you order, but also how much of it you eat. Even plain chicken adds up if you eat a large amount. Fill up on that salad and those veggie sides, and stick with reasonable amounts of the other stuff.

For dessert, your best option is always fresh fruit. Mixed berries at an Italian restaurant, orange slices at a Chinese place, fruit salad at a diner... Even if it's not on the dessert menu, ASK -- there's a good chance they have some. Biscotti or a scoop of fruity sorbet is another good way to go. If you're easily tempted by fattening desserts, stash some low-cal hard candies in your purse for after dinner. That should hold you over until you get home, where you can enjoy something decadent and guilt-free, like a chocolatey VitaTop!

Overall, don't stress too much. Just do your best and enjoy your night out. Happy dining!

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