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Dear Hungry Girl,

I've recently discovered the joys of pumpkin.  Is canned pumpkin as healthy as the real thing?  Please help!

-- Pumpkin Eater

Dear  Pumpkin Eater,

I'm glad you asked about canned pumpkin.  It's my newest obsession, and it's totally underrated.  Not only is it less stringy and messy than fresh pumpkin, it's just as healthy.  This delicious orange Thanksgiving favorite is naturally sweet, and low in calories, fat and carbs.  A 1/2 cup serving has just 40 calories, a half a gram of fat, 9 carbs, and 5 grams of fiber!  Plus, this versatile veggie can be made into everything from soup to a classic pie.  My favorite new Pumpkin-licious find is called "Pumpkin Fluff."   To make this underground Weight Watchers fave, combine one 15 oz. can of Libby's pumpkin, 1 package of JELL-O Sugar Free, Fat Free pudding mix (vanilla or white chocolate works best), and 2 cups of light vanilla soy milk.  To finish it off, fold in a cup of Fat Free Cool Whip.  This fluff-tastic fall treat is completely diet-friendly and contains about 100 calories per serving.  (This recipe serves 4-6).  Yum!

Dear Hungry Girl,

I love having oatmeal for breakfast.  Is it a healthy choice?

--Oatmeal Addict

Dear Oatmeal Addict,

Good news!  Low in calories and fat, and high in heart-healthy fiber, oatmeal has been shown to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and the risk of colon cancer.  Eat oatmeal for breakfast and you'll also be less likely to eat that mid-morning candy bar or bag of chips.  That's because oatmeal is low on the glycemic index.  Meaning, oatmeal will keep your blood sugar levels steady and will keep you full for a long time.  Three important Hungry Girl Tips for you: 1) Don't ruin your oatmeal's health benefits by drowning it in butter and sugar.  Instead, sweeten your oats with Splenda, Torani Sugar Free Syrup or Sugar Free Maple Syrup.  2) Ditch instant oatmeal when possible.  Slow-cooked oats (which only take 5 -10 minutes to make) are much lower on the glycemic index than the instant.  3) Choose steel cut oats.  They're chock-full of nutrients, while rolled oats lose some of theirs in the rolling process (whatever the heck that is).

The world's largest pumpkin weighed 1,146 lbs.!  Yowsa!

Hungry Girl Heads Up!  There will be no Hungry Girl email tomorrow.  Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

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