Lisa Lillien, aka “The Hungry Girl,” is the creative dynamo behind the Hungry Girl cookbook, her uber famous website and her newly released Hungry Girl 200 Under 200 cookbook. Known for taking highly caloric eats and slashing calories and fat through her near-genius way of using healthy ingredients, Lisa has made a career out of concocting recipes that are easy to prepare and easy on the hips.
Like any woman who has spent years struggling with her weight, Lisa lost 30 pounds by giving up heavy starches, pasta and junk food. But once she hit her goal weight, she started to experiment with how she could re-incorporate some of her favorite foods back into her diet. She is now a Weight Watchers devotee who tries to keep her points in check and her dry carbs down to a daily minimum.
Using her own kitchen as a mini-laboratory and searching in grocery stores for the latest low-cal snacks, she began to create slimmed-down recipes from everything from nachos to chocolate peanut butter fudge. Using tricks like coating “fried” food with crushed Fiber One cereal, Lisa has coined herself as a foodologist, not because she has a degree from the Cordon Bleu (she doesn’t), but because she is shamelessly and enthusiastically obsessed with food.
Whether you owe Lisa a huge thanks for introducing you to shirataki noodles or showing you how to skinny-down your favorite coffee drink, The Hungry Girl shared some of her insight, experience and favorite food finds with us.
Thanks! I wanted the follow-up book to be super-useful and be something that everyone would be able to use and relate to. Portion control is key and I thought the idea of having a book that was crammed with satisfying recipes for foods that had 200 calories or fewer would be great.
Can you explain the magic that happens in the Hunger Girl Kitchen? For instance, how do you take a 800-calorie dish like cheesy nachos and bring it down to 200 calories and still make it healthy and tasty?
I’m a bit of a mad scientist. And so are all of the HG staffers. We pretty much decide what we want to make and then tackle it by dissecting all of the ingredients, then the swapping and testing begins. It’s really fun and we love a good challenge! The nachos were easy. You start with a fat-free or low-fat chip, then create a sauce out of an array of lower-calorie ingredients and reduced fat cheeses. Add a few key things– like a low-fat chili and some salsa and you’re done!
What are four eating essentials that you can’t do without?
1. Laughing Cow Light cheese
2. Vitalicious VitaTops
3. Fuji apples
We grossly underestimate the number of calories we consume when we eat out or eat on the run. Since you have been traveling so much promoting your new book, how do you manage to not overdo it?
The key is to PLAN ahead. Always have emergency snacks on hand… and learn how to order the right things at restaurants. For me, it’s about skipping the bread, avoiding fatty dressings and ordering sauces on the side. I usually stick with lean meats or fish, and steamed or grilled veggies.
What are two of your favorite recipes in your new book?
Hmmm – I love them all — but I especially love the H-O-T Hot Boneless Buffalo Wings, and Double Trouble Chocolate Trifle. YUM!!!
June 10th, 2009