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Hey HG,

I have always loved the (fat laden) holiday coffee drinks that Starbucks and The Coffee Bean offer.  I am terrible with coffee shop lingo.  What's the best way to order a diet friendly gingerbread latte?

Craving Coffee
Dear Craving,

I'm with you. I'm clueless when it comes to the whole Starbucks etiquette thing.  I take forever, always stand in the wrong line, and invariably order my drinks in sizes like "medium" as opposed to "grande."  Needless to say, I've been shot dirty looks from "baristas" on more than one occasion (and who can even utter the word "barista" without feeling like a complete idiot?).  But that being said, I'm never EVER confused about how to order safely at The 'Bucks.  I'll bottom line it for you.  The key is to always order "nonfat" and "no whip" -- those three (or is it four?) little words usually save you hundreds of calories. While soy milk is better than whole milk in the fat and calorie departments, nonfat milk is still, without a doubt, your best bet.  For example, a "grande" (or medium size 16oz.) Gingerbread Latte with regular whole milk and whip (they never say "whipped cream") clocks in at 430 calories and 22g of fat.  A same size Gingerbread Latte with nonfat milk and no whip only has 240 calories and no fat.  That's a HUGE difference!  Ditch whipped cream on any drink and save yourself 100 calories.  None of the holiday drinks at Starbucks (even if you get the smallest size, and ask for nonfat milk), will be low-cal.  They're a good splurge, though.  Oh, and the Starbucks web site has an awesome nutritionals page that essentially lets you build your own drink with different options for milk, whipped cream and cup sizes.  It's hours of fun (yes, it's true, I need to get out more). Need a few more tips? If you like egg nog, Starbucks' new Eggnog Frappuccino Light is a fantastic 150-calorie treat.  And, if you want to save money and make your own even lower-cal frozen Starbucks-ish drinks at home, check out some of my favorite recipes for Starbucks swaps!

Hi, Hungry Girl!

I love eating snacks when I go to the movies. My favorite snack is a hot pretzel with nacho cheese. I've gotta know, would I be better off getting popcorn? Please let me know - I trust your advice!

The Movie Maniac
Dear Movie Maniac,

Eating at the movies can be a calorie catastrophe. There simply aren't very many good choices there. I always tell people that, as dorky as it seems, you should always sneak your own snacks into the theater.  I'm not saying you should nuke your own popcorn and smuggle it in with you though.  It could be as easy as throwing a lollipop or two in your purse, or even a pack of sugar free Mentos.  But if you get to the theater and have to choose from what's there, you could be in for trouble.  Now, on to your question.  Soft pretzels usually have between 200-400 calories or so, depending on the size.  And, unless they are drenched in butter (like some mall pretzel chains do) they are fairly low in fat.  Two ounces of that nacho cheese dipping sauce (aside from being made of who knows what), likely has between 80-120 calories and about 5 - 8 grams of fat.  So your movie pretzel snack likely has between 300 - 500 calories and about 6-10 grams of fat.  Not great, but it's definitely better than scarfing down that movie popcorn.  I say, hands down, movie popcorn is the world's SCARIEST food. It seems so innocent, yet even the smallest container, WITHOUT BUTTER, has about 600 calories and 27g of fat!  It's INSANE!  On the high end, a large size movie popcorn WITH butter packs in about 1500 calories and 116g of fat.  And no, that's not a typo, people.  116 grams of fat!  So, whatever you do, don't indulge in that stuff.  It's just not worth it.  HG Tip!  If you're not watching sugar grams, grab a box of Sour Patch Kids and eat only your two favorite flavors.  Give the others (like the icky lemon and lime ones) to pals or friendly strangers.

Today, November 30th, is National Mousse Day. Try some the Sans Sucre kind, or simply celebrate by watching old episodes of Rocky & Bullwinkle!

Have a question for Hungry Girl? Don't be shy -- send it in!  She answers two new ones each week...woohoo!

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