Diet-friendly alternatives for seasonal indulgences

Oct 3, 2008 at 11:15 a.m. ET

When breezes turn cool and cardigans cover tank tops, your cravings switch from summer's iced coffees and lemonades to hot chocolates and apple ciders. When autumn arrives, your palate is re-awakened by the tantalizing tastes of cinnamon, apple, pumpkin and chocolate. Of course, it is only natural to "eat seasonally" but it is equally important to make sure these seasonal treats do not overwhelm your daily caloric intake. Here are some diet-friendly sweets, courtesy of Hungry Girl.

Couple Having Picnic in the Fall

A hungry passion for healthier foods

Lisa Lillien has made it her passion to find lower calorie alternatives for the foods she loves. As the woman behind the website and book, Hungry Girl, she prefers autumn to be a time for cute scarves and gloves to keep out the chill – not an extra five or 10 pounds.

She continually researches and creates recipes for diet-friendly drinks and meals and healthier alternatives for autumn indulgences like pumpkin lattes and hot chocolate, served with a side of sass and good humor.

A self-proclaimed "foodologist," while Lillien does not having a degree in nutrition or food, she explains that her obsession and appreciation of food has lead her on a journey to find how much of her obsession and appreciation will make it impossible for her to fit into her pants.

Lillien's mantra is "I'm hungry!" and she believes in sharing low calorie food finds and recipes with her audience. She aims to help people enjoy lower-calorie alternatives to their favorite foods to leading a healthier lifestyle without cutting out the fun of eating.

"Inspiration can come from anywhere – food cravings, subscriber emails, or even from new fast food launches," says Lillien. "Being obsessed with food definitely helps, but we find great products in many different ways. We scour markets, are pitched by food companies (getting about 30 cartons of food a week!), and subscribers will also email their finds in to us as well. Most women just want lower calorie versions of the foods they love, but mostly for decadent foods."

Hungry Girl gives great advice

With food as her passion, she and her team develop about 10 to 20 new recipes a month in the Hungry Girl test kitchen, even more if in the middle of a book (the first book launched in late April of 2008 and the next one will come out in April of 2009). Lillien says that it is her humor and honesty that makes her brand relatable.

"I think women trust Hungry Girl to give them great advice and ideas, and that's why they keep coming back," says Lillien.

When her autumn cravings hit, Lillien will sometimes splurge on Dreyer's Pumpkin Ice Cream. But the following are some of her favorite diet-friendly hot drinks and seasonal treats that keep in diet in check.

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