Smoothie Tips 'n Tricks, Plus Packed Lunch Pointers!

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Dear HG,

I love smoothies, but I've heard they can be really high in calories. Any advice about guilt-free blended fruit drinks?

Smoothie Lover in Sarasota

Hi Smoothie Lover,

Yup, smoothies can be total food fakers. (Check out last Friday's email for proof!) But that doesn't mean they're off-limits. I've got SO MANY tips 'n tricks for no-guilt smoothies... and a bunch of recipes too!

First, stock up on guilt-free staples. One essential ingredient is low-calorie or light juice like Trop50, which comes in amazing flavors like Pomegranate Blueberry and Pineapple Mango and has just 50 calories or less per 8-oz. serving. Also check out Ocean Spray Diet, Ocean Spray Light, and Diet V8 Splash. When it comes to the fruit itself, unsweetened frozen fruit is the way to go. It'll bring great texture to your drink without the extra calories from sugar and syrups that are sometimes used to sweeten frozen fruit. Check the ingredient list to make sure it's unsweetened. Some of my favorite frozen fruits are mango chunks and strawberries. If you want to add a splash of creaminess, your best bet is Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze or light vanilla soymilk. And yogurt is good for a protein boost, but stick with the light stuff like Yoplait Light and Non-Fat Chobani. If your smoothie needs some sweetness, opt for no-calorie sweetener packets (like Truvia and Splenda). Finally, add lots of ice! Oh, and make sure you’ve got a great blender. My hands-down favorite these days is the NutriBullet. IT ROCKS!

Want some recipes? For a classic orange slush, try this Dreamsicle Shiver. Here's a tropical smoothie made with pineapple and banana, and here's a kiwi-strawberry creation with just three ingredients. This Chocolate-Banana Smoothie has a decadent spin, and so does this Pumpkin Pie Smoothie. Last but not least, this Cherry Lemonade Super-Slushie is shockingly easy to make and SO delicious!

Heading to the smoothie shop? Play it smart, and check the website ahead of time. Even the most innocent-sounding smoothie can be loaded with calories. When in doubt, look for lightened-up offerings like Jamba Juice's Make it Light options, Planet Smoothie's Planet Lite picks, and Orange Julius Light Smoothies (also sold at Dairy Queen). And avoid the ginormously oversized cups. (No one needs a 45-oz. fruit drink!) Happy sipping! 

Dear HG,

Now that it's getting warm, I want to take my lunch break outside. Do you have any advice for packing outdoor-friendly bagged lunches?

Annie Al Fresco

Hi Annie,

Yup, I've got you covered! Here's the 411...

Keep cool. Tote your goodies to work in an insulated lunch bag. That way, your lunch will stay cool during your commute. If you're packing perishables, toss 'em in the fridge once you get to the office. Don't have a fridge at work? Store a heavy-duty ice pack in that lunch sack!

Sidestep sogginess. When it comes to sandwiches, lightly toast your bread and pack any high-moisture ingredients (tomato slices, scoopy salads, etc.) separately. Then assemble at lunchtime! For salads, keep the dressing in its own little container until lunch.

Savvy sandwich recipes. Ah, the ultimate portable midday meal. Here's a creamy chicken salad option, and here's a grilled 'n chilled sandwich that was made for packed meals. (Literally. It was developed just for that purpose!)

Scoopy salads save the day. Deli-style salads are great on the go. Click here for a bacon-enhanced egg-white salad, plus a crazy-good curried-chicken recipe. And this veggie-rific tuna salad is one of my favorites.

Call in the BIG salads. I'm a HUGE fan of leafy-green salads that are HUGE. This Hawaiian Pizza Salad would be perfect for a packed lunch, as would this Chick-a-licious Fruity Green Salad. Also check out the "BIG Salads" chapter of Hungry Girl 300 Under 300!

Hungry for more? Check out HG's At-Work Survival Guide for TONS of fantastic lunch ideas. And click here for a handy brown-bag email that's loaded with lunch picks!

Enjoy your lunch break!

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Today, June 19th, is National Dry Martini Day. This Pineapple-tini isn't exactly dry, but it's definitely delicious!

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