Yogurt Upgrades and HG's Take on Packaged Foods!

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Hi HG,

I love yogurt, but I'm looking for ideas to make it a little more interesting. Any suggestions?

Yogurt Yearnings

Hi Yearnings,

Great Q! I too love yogurt, but I'm always adding stuff to it to make it even more filling and delicious. My favorite "base" is plain fat-free Greek yogurt (like the kind by Fage or Chobani) mixed with a no-calorie sweetener packet. I'm also nuts about Yoplait Light. Now, for those add-ins...

Fruity favorites... Fresh fruit like raspberries, blueberries, grapes, and chopped Fuji apples can turn an ordinary container of yogurt into a HUGE bowl of guilt-free goodness. If you like dried fruit, I definitely recommend freeze-dried fruit. It's light, crispy, and low in calories -- a 1/4-cup serving has about 25 calories, whereas the same amount of regular dried fruit clocks in at about 100 calories. My favorite freeze-dried fruit is made by Funky Monkey. (I am OBSESSED with the Applemon flavor!) And for a fruity swirl, stir in some low-sugar preserves. (Apricot is a personal favorite!)

Decadent stuff... You might not think of yogurt as a dessert option, but the right toppings can turn it into a fantastic sweet-tooth killer! Try stirring in some mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, shredded sweetened coconut... even light caramel dip. Just watch those portions. I also like to top dessert-inspired Yoplait Lights (like Apple Turnover) with a couple of crushed low-fat honey graham crackers... It's like a little upside-down pie!

Crunchables... Go for sliced almonds (LOVE Almond Accents) or some crispy cereal. Fiber One Original is really good over yogurt, and so is Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter cereal. You can also crush up some mini rice cakes, like Quaker Popped in Apple Cinnamon or Caramel Corn. If you love granola, click here for some guilt-free picks, and check out this HG recipe for low-fat granola!

Ready-to-eat finds... There are SO MANY yogurt products on shelves these days that come packaged with mix-ins. Check out the gooey-fruit-on-the-side Greek yogurts, like the ones by Fage. Chobani Flips have little sidecars full of fun stuff like honey oats and dark chocolate chunks, and Chobani Bites have the goodies mixed right in. Also worth checking out? YoCrunch (including PIE Parfaits!) and Yoplait Light with Granola.

There you have it... Happy zazzling!

Dear HG,

I've noticed you recommend packaged foods in your emails and sometimes use them in recipes. What are your thoughts on eating whole and natural foods vs. processed and packaged foods? I have been told that we should ONLY eat natural foods.

Florida Foodie

Dear Florida Foodie,

I answer this question (or something similar) every few months, because I think it's an important one. Here's the deal. I eat a lot of "whole foods" -- fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, etc. -- and recommend that others do this as well. However, for people trying to lose or maintain weight, it can be EXTREMELY helpful to find ways to enjoy foods they crave without taking in too many calories or fat grams. A lot of the Hungry Girl recommendations and recipes that call for packaged foods are GREAT for this reason. HG offers real-world survival strategies. Face it: Our supermarkets are filled with processed and packaged foods, and most people aren't about to completely eliminate these things from their lives. So I offer up solutions and swaps that are BETTER choices than others. If you love Oreos but can easily consume a whole row of a multi-serving package in one sitting, a portion-controlled pack of Oreo Thin Crisps can be a good alternative. Sure, there are all-natural crème-filled chocolate cookies out there, but they typically have the same amount of calories and fat as the regular ones, and they're just as easy to overeat. Many people assume that if something's all-natural, it's automatically low in fat and/or calories and good for their diet. That is simply NOT the case.

The HG philosophy provides a bridge between the pure, whole-food, clean-eating approach and the typical junk-food-munching American diet. It's about balance. It's also a way to educate people and help them make realistic changes, so that they can each achieve a healthy body weight. When I travel around the US for the HG book tours, I meet thousands of HG subscribers who tell me how Hungry Girl has changed their lives; they show me "before" photos of themselves 20, 50, even 100 pounds heavier. This makes it clear to me that the Hungry Girl approach is truly helping people. Bottom line? Eat natural and clean when you can. But the reality is that people aren't choosing between a bowl of berries and an HG dessert made with sugar-free pudding. They're choosing between a 1,000+ calorie Cheesecake Factory dessert and some sort of reduced-calorie HG creation, and the HG dessert is the better choice. Hope that answers your question!

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