Lisa Lillien, founder of the Web site Hungry-Girl.com, has finally put all her tricks and recipes into a book. "Hungry Girl: Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World" provides low-calorie versions of popular foods as well as tips to help you make smart food choices anywhere, anytime. Here's an excerpt and recipes for onion rings and chocolate cupcakes.
Q: Who/what is Hungry Girl?
A: If you're holding this book in your hands, there's a good chance you already know the answer to this question. But for those of you who don't know, Hungry Girl is a free daily email about guilt-free eating. Our news, food finds, recipes and survival strategies are read by hundreds of thousands of people every day. To sign up or see all of our past content, go to Hungry-Girl.com.
Q: Is Hungry Girl a real person? And is she a doctor?
A: Yes, I’m a real person. I'm Lisa Lillien, and I'm not a nutritionist or a doctor. I'm just hungry, and a bit obsessed with foods that taste great but don’t pack on the pounds. I’m the nut who watches you shop at the supermarket, comments on your choice of low-fat ice cream, and tells you which brand to buy (FYI, Dreyer’s/Edy’s Slow Churned is the way to go). HG’s daily emails and all other HG content are the result of extensive research done by me and my super-dedicated and talented staff. Because much of what we do is a group effort, I refer to HG as "us” and “we” (the team as a whole) as opposed to "me" and “I” (an individual). The exception is when I have a personal story to share, because saying the awesome chili recipe was invented by “our husband” is just silly (and illegal in most states!).
Q: Is Hungry Girl a chef?
A: Sort of, but not by traditional standards. And this is not a typical cookbook. If you’re looking for fancy, formal “chef-like” recipes you’ve definitely come to the wrong place. This book is filled with simple, fun, easy recipes that use lots of packaged foods and shortcuts to make great-tasting guilt-free snacks and meals. If you aspire to be a gourmet chef, there are more appropriate books out there for you. But if you want to prepare awesome, tongue-pleasing foods that wont send you out shopping for bigger pants, you’ve got the right book!
Q: What makes a recipe “guilt-free”?
A: When it comes to HG recipes, our goal is to make them delicious — but also to keep them low in fat and calories (that’s the guilt-free part!). We also aim for high-fiber counts, because we love fiber (it’s good for you, and it fills you up!). Even though we mostly focus on calories and fat, we provide nutritional info for carbs, sugars, protein, etc., so you can tweak any recipe to meet your needs. For example, people concerned about sodium can simply use low-salt versions of canned items called for in our recipes.
Q: Is there a Hungry Girl diet plan?
A: No, there is no Hungry Girl diet plan. While there are HG recipes for breakfast, lunch, snacks and more, the idea is to incorporate these recipes into an eating plan that works for you.
Q: Why a “Hungry Girl” book?
A: Hungry-Girl.com offers many recipes. They have become the most sought-after content we provide. Over the years, we’ve received thousands of requests for a Hungry Girl recipe book, and we agreed that it was a good idea. So here ya go!
Q: Why don't you use as many name brands in the book as you do on the site?
A: As you read this book, you'll see that while some of the recipes call for very specific name-brand items, most do not. The idea behind this is to keep the recipes as generic as possible, so people can easily find all the items they need at local supermarkets. The nutritional information in the book has been carefully calculated based on the averages of many brands, so you don't have to find our favorite low-calorie picks for your recipes to have the stats. When a very specific ingredient is super-important to a recipe (like it simply will not taste the same or have as impressive nutritional stats without it), we will call out the name brands and specific products needed. We feature more specific products in our daily emails because we can easily give you up-to-the-minute information on where to purchase them. We simply can't do that in this book. (For a list of our recommended foods, see page 6.)
Q: What happens if I make substitutions for ingredients in some recipes?
A: Your oven will explode. Okay, not really! You can, of course, make substitutions for products and ingredients, but the taste and nutritional information will vary accordingly, so keep that in mind when swapping.
Q: How was the nutritional info in this book calculated?
A: The stats for each recipe were carefully calculated using extremely reliable nutritional databases, countless product labels, and by doing extensive research. When recipes call for generic ingredients (like light vanilla soymilk or light bread), we used average nutritional information for those products. Those averages were calculated based on a wide variety of national brands. Also taken into account were the small amounts of calories and fat in many so-called “no-calorie” and “fat-free” ingredients. We take great pride in determining the most accurate nutritional information possible. After all, we make these recipes, too!
Q: Are optional ingredients included in each recipe’s nutritional info?
A: No, they aren’t. If you choose to use the optional ingredients listed in the recipes, the nutritional information will change accordingly. However, all optional ingredients are guilt-free items, and they won’t add crazy amounts of fat or calories to any of the recipes.
Q: Some of your recipes call for ingredients (like chicken) that are already cooked. What’s the best way to cook without adding any fat?
A: There are so many simple ways to cook chicken, shrimp, and beef without adding fat and calories. Just cook your food in a pan with a spritz of nonstick spray, boil it in a pot of water, or steam it in the microwave or over the stove. Easy!
Q: Typically, HG recipes include Weight Watchers POINTS® values. Where can I find Weight Watchers POINTS® values for the recipes in this book?
A: Good question. If you’re a Hungry Girl fan, you know how much we love and support Weight Watchers. Their plans are healthy, easy to follow, and can fit into your lifestyle. That’s why we co-developed a bunch of recipes with them for this book. For a listing of POINTS® values for all the recipes in this book, go to hungry-girl.com/book.
Q: Where can I find photos of all the recipes in this book?
A: While the book is cute and pretty as is, we know it’s important to see photos of our recipes. Luckily, we have pictures of every recipe in this book online at hungry-girl.com/book (and a bunch in the book, too!)
Q: Why are there so many single-serving recipes in this book?
A: Throughout the years, we’ve heard over and over how easy Hungry Girl recipes are to make, and how often people prepare food for themselves. Single-serving recipes are ideal for this reason, and HG subscribers always eat up (pun intended) these made-for-one recipes. That being said, it’s easy to double, triple, or quadruple any of the single-serving recipes — so you can adjust them to feed as many hungry people as you like. Just don’t quadruple a recipe and eat the whole thing yourself, or you’ll be in BIG trouble!
Q: How can you have FAQs about the book when this is your first book?
A: Yep, we’ve been caught! These aren't really frequently asked questions. They're actually questions we anticipated you might have. But “QWAYMH” didn't sound as good as “FAQs.” Now quit asking so many questions and start readin’ already!
For tasty and low-calorie recipes of onion rings and chocolate cupcakes, see below