Protein Powder 411, and Mastering Foil Packs!

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Dear HG,

I never see protein powder in your daily emails or recipes. What's your take on it?

Pondering Protein Powder

Dear Pondering,

Good Q! I LOVE protein, and I eat a lot of foods packed with the stuff: fat-free Greek yogurt, egg scrambles, lean meats, sushi... You get the picture! Because of this, I don't really need to add protein powder (or the calories that come with it) to beverages. In general, I'd rather eat my calories than drink them.

That said, protein powder can be a GREAT option if you need a protein boost in your diet... especially if you're having a smoothie or shake as a meal replacement. My protein-powder picks are vanilla-flavored ones that have 100 calories or less per 1-oz. scoop, like the kind by Designer Whey. And keep the overall stats of that smoothie in check by limiting high-calorie ingredients like peanut butter, granola, and even full-sugar juice. Click here for more smoothie tips and recipes!

Wanna get creative with that protein powder? Try adding a couple of tablespoons (about 1/3 oz.) to an HG growing oatmeal bowl! I've tried this, and it's really good. Just stir it in after cooking, so it doesn't clump. And remember to count those extra calories.

What are YOUR favorite protein powders? Which brands and flavors do you love? Click here, and let me know on Facebook!  

Hi Hungry Girl,

I love your recipes... I use them almost daily! I can't seem to get the hang of foil packs, though. I've tried to make a few of them and have had a little trouble with cook times. What could I be doing wrong?

Foiled Franny

Hi Franny,

Yay, so glad you love the recipes! I'm obsessed with foil packs -- you can throw everything into one packet of foil, and it all cooks up together and requires very little cleanup. Here are a few tips to help you perfect your foil-pack technique...

Aluminum all-star… First things first, stock up on heavy-duty aluminum foil, not standard foil. You need the sturdy stuff!

Seal the deal... When you fold up your foil, really make sure that you form a tightly sealed package, firmly securing all four edges of the foil. This way the steam won't escape, which would alter the cook time. Speaking of which, there needs to be some room for the steaming action to happen. So leave a little space above the food when closing things up.

The right cut... When you're prepping your proteins, stick closely to the ingredient specifications. Big chunks of chicken will take longer to cook than 1-inch chicken cubes. And a large chicken breast won't cook as quickly as a cutlet that's been pounded to 1/2-inch thickness. The same goes for veggies...

Oven lovin'... Still having trouble with the cook times? Pick up an oven thermometer to check the temp inside your oven. You might be surprised to find that the built-in temperature gauge is off. And don't forget to always fully preheat the oven!

If all else fails, grill 'em... It's fun for summer and it cuts the cook time in half! If the recipe calls for 375 degrees in the oven, grill at medium heat; 400 degrees converts to medium-high heat; and 425 degrees means high heat on the grill. Keep the grill cover down, and have a baking sheet or large plate handy to place your pack on once it's done!

Hope that helps! In case you missed 'em, click here for a couple of foil packs from last year: the Herbed-Up Spring Chicken Packet and the Super-Special Chicken Sausage 'n Squash Pack. And don't miss the "Foil Packs" chapter of HUNGRY GIRL TO THE MAX! There are THIRTY-THREE recipes for foil packs in there!

Share this with your protein-lovin', foil-pack-preppin' buddies. Click "Send to a Friend" NOW.


Today, August 21st, is National Spumoni Day. For a guilt-free fix, top a scoop of Dreyer's/Edy's Slow Churned Neapolitan with maraschino cherries and a few chopped nuts!

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