Lisa Lillien aka "Hungry Girl" invents simple, delicious recipes that are guilt-free, satisfy cravings and taste great, without adding lots of extra calories and fat grams to your daily diet. Here are her 10 best bets to stock your pantry:
Staple Number 1
Canned Pumpkin — I use this fiber-filled favorite to bulk up so many recipes and foods, from soups to dessert batters, without adding very many calories or fat grams. Make sure to buy 100-percent pure pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie filling, which has added sugar.
Staple Number 2
Shelf-Stable Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk — How can a 40-calorie cup be so rich and creamy? I don't know, but I LOVE it! It's fantastic in cereals (both hot and cold) and shakes. Just remember to refrigerate it after you open it.
Staple Number 3
25-Calorie Hot Cocoa Packets — These are not JUST for hot chocolate. Expand your horizons, people! I like to use them when making baked goods, smoothies, and various desserts to boost the chocolate flavor. Don't forget to get the ones with about 25 calories per packet.
Staple Number 4
Old-Fashioned Oats — I know, instant oatmeal is faster to whip up, but old-fashioned oats just have more substance. This is an essential ingredient in all of my "growing oatmeal bowls," and it's perfect in baked granola mixes.
Staple Number 5
Canned Low-Fat Creamy Tomato Soup — Another versatile product (with a nice shelf life). Use it as a tomato-sauce swap on pasta and pizza, pour it over chicken and veggies, or just eat a bowl to warm you up on a cold day.
Staple Number 6
Canned Crushed/Diced Tomatoes — Lower in fat and generally cheaper than premade tomato sauce, canned tomatoes come in many varieties. I like the fire-roasted ones best, but have fun and try them all!
Staple Number 7
Freeze-Dried Fruit — When I need something to satisfy a fruit craving and I don't have the fresh stuff on hand, I turn to packs of freeze-dried fruit. These make a great travel snack. And try mixing 'em with some fat-free cottage cheese or into homemade trail mix for a delicious treat.
Staple Number 8
Calorie-Free Sugar-Free Flavored Syrups — I use these in guilt-free coffee drinks, various recipes, and mixed alcoholic beverages.
Staple Number 9
Dry Seasoning Mixes — When I'm looking for an easy way to spice up food or make flavorful guilt-free sauces, I turn to these packets. I especially love to toss some in with meat and veggies for tacos, fajitas, and chili.
Staple Number 10
High-Fiber Bran Cereal Twigs — This stuff works great as a coating when "faux-frying" foods. Just grind it to a breadcrumb-like consistency in a blender or food processor. Then add lots of spices!