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Dear Hungry Girl,

I'm in serious need of help. I have decided to give up aspartame (Nutrasweet) and embrace sucralose (Splenda). Can you tell me some beverages that are Splenda-sweetened? I would really appreciate it!

-- Desperately Seeking Sucralose

Dear Desperately Seeking,

Splenda is here to stay! Over the past two years, more and more products featuring this sweet, calorie-free sugar substitute have been popping up. Some of my personal favorite Splenda-rific beverages are: All Diet Rite Sodas (White Grape and Red Raspberry RULE!), Stewart's sodas, Diet V8 Splash, Diet Jones sodas, Propel Water, Hansen's Diet beverages (sparkling lemonades, sodas and energy drinks), Baja Bob's mixers (awesome for cocktails), Swiss Miss sugarfree hot cocoas, Tropicana Twister Light beverages and DaVinci and Torani sugar free syrups (amazing for mixing sodas and coffees). If you happen to have a Wal Mart Superstore near you, look for the new Light Hawaiian Punch. It too, is made with Splenda and will rock your sugar-free world!

Dear Hungry Girl,

What are some good, nutritious, lowfat items to plop on top of my greens at a salad bar? I always seem to make the wrong choices, as evidenced by my too-tight pants.

-- Salad-Challenged in San Francisco

Dear Salad-Challenged,

Salad bars are GREAT if you know your way around them. If not, they can be your evil arch enemies. To me, mayonnaise is the most frightening ingredient at a salad bar because it can (and does!) pop up anywhere; in-between gorgeous flaky chunks of tuna, mixed with lovely chicken breast, cuddling up to healthy veggies and a ton of other unexpected places. Avoid this creamy foe at all costs, as it can add hundreds of unwanted calories (not to mention fat!) to your salad. Lettuce-toppers like egg whites (no yolks), cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, baby corn, peas, garbanzo beans, beets, and chunks of chicken or turkey, are all fantastic choices. Remember to steer clear of croutons (all the oil and carbs...Yikes!). As for dressings, they often contain more fat and calories than the salad itself. Stick with the fat free or lowfat kinds, and try not to use more than a tablespoon or two.

If you use artificial sweeteners, try Splenda for baking. Nutrasweet and saccharin can leave an icky aftertaste in cooked foods, while splenda tastes more like the real thing!

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