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Dear HG,

I have noticed that most restaurants have either a grilled or fried/breaded option for their chicken entrees. Sometimes they say "blackened." I always assumed that meant the same thing as grilled, but recently I came across a menu with the option for both "blackened" and grilled. What is the difference, and which is better for us conscientious hungry girls?

Checkin' on Chicken
Dear Checkin',

Excellent question!  So many people are confused about this and, like you, think "blackened" means the same thing as "grilled".  I used to think that blackened chicken or fish was simply grilled meat that was cooked too long and in too many spices.  That, unfortunately, is NOT the case.  According to cooking experts and various definitions found on the web, blackened foods are often coated in a thin layer of flour and cooked in hot oil and/or butter at a high temperature.  Soooo, unless you're prepared to take in all those nasty extra calories and fat grams, you're definitely better off ordering your meal grilled.  Of course, if you love all those cajun spices, you can see if the restaurant can prepare your "blackened" dish without oil or's worth a shot!

Dear HG,

I waited WEEKS to get my tofu shirataki noodles and when they arrived I was a little disappointed.  They were sort of rubbery and they were floating in liquid that smelled a little weird.  I prepared them with spaghetti sauce.  Is there something I should have done differently?

Shirataki-ed Out
Dear Shirataki-ed Out,

Here's the deal with the tofu shirataki noodles.  For starters, they should be rinsed thoroughly.  They come floating in lime water, which some say has a little bit of a fishy smell, so rinse them well and don't bother sniffing them. There's really no need for that.  They also need to be dried thoroughly.  Once the noodles are rinsed, dried and nuked for a minute or two, you're ready for action.  Personally, I think these noodles are much better suited for a cheesy sauce, over a tomato sauce -- so typically I melt some Laughing Cow Light cheese on them (check out Fettuccine Hungry Girlfredo), and often mix in things like fat free sour cream, or lowfat parmesan cheese, etc. They are also unbelievably delicious in chicken soup.  You can easily make your own guilt-free version of "Oodles of Noodles" at home using them.  Another great place to use 'em is in stir fry dishes.  Do these noodles taste EXACTLY the same as pasta? No.  I'm not going to lie to you.  But, considering they are healthy and have 1/20th the calories of pasta, they are an INCREDIBLE swap. I have had shirataki taste test parties at my house, and dozens of people who are really opposed to "diety" foods LOVE them.  Don't give up yet!

Today, March 15th, is National Maple Syrup Day.  Check out HG's fave syrup swap!
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