THE ENTERTAINMENT CRITIC BOOK REVIEW, BY JAMES MYERS
HUNGRY GIRL: RECIPES AND SURVIVAL STRATEGIES FOR GUILT-FREE EATING IN THE REAL WORLD
By Lisa Lillien
Published by St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: April 29, 2008
Four Star Rating ****
FOUNDED HUNGRY GIRL, INC., IN MAY OF 2004
HUNGRY GIRL IS A FREE DAILY EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE ABOUT GUILT-FREE EATING THAT LAUNCHED WITH JUST 200 SUBSCRIBERS
THERE ARE CURRENTLY OVER 410,000 PEOPLE WHO RECEIVE HG'S DAILY EMAILS FILLED WITH TIPS, TRICKS, PRODUCT REVIEWS, RECIPES, SHOCKERS AND MORE.
HUNGRY GIRL ADDS 500 - 1000 NEW SUBSCRIBERS TO THE DAILY EMAIL LIST EVERY DAY, WITH MOST NEW SIGNUPS COMING FROM WORD OF MOUTH REFERRALS.
TAGLINE IS "I'M NOT A NUTRITIONIST, I'M JUST HUNGRY."
HUNGRY GIRL CONTENT IS SEEN REGULARLY ON YAHOO TV, WEIGHTWATCHERS.COM, SEVENTEEN MAGAZINE, PEOPLE, STYLE WATCH, THE NY DAILY NEWS, AND ON THE TV SHOW EXTRA.
“This book was so much fun to write (I have to admit, the recipe testing was my favorite part!) and I hope it helps you realize that eating better is not about depriving yourself. You can easily find ways to eat the foods you love (even so-called “bad” ones) by whipping up fun and easy, better-for-you versions right at home.”
Lisa Lillien has written a brilliant, new and refreshing book in response to the overwhelming demand that she has received for her recipes. The book, Hungry Girl: Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World is the latest outgrowth Lisa has achieved from her renowned site, Hungry-Girl.com. The Hungry Girl phenomena started with Lisa and just one employee back in 2004. Wisely, deciding that she would come to her customers as opposed to forcing them to find her, Lisa began a newsletter concerning one of her favorite passions/obsessions, eating. With just herself, and one employee, she began to send out a weekly newsletter to about 200 close friends and contacts. Like many of us that love to eat, Lisa struggled with the “yo- yo” effect of loosing and gaining weight, fad diets, and frustration. She made a conscious decision to take control of what she ate, and she wanted to exercise such control that she not have to deprive herself of the food she loved and craved. Her obsession became her inspiration, (Lisa came up with Hungry Girl when she was taking sweets to a laboratory to have them tested to see if in fact they were low fat). Her alterative was brilliant; why not make and create guilt-free versions of her favorite craves and indulge to her heart’s content? The trick is to use replacement ingredients that are low in calories and fat, but don’t sacrifice taste.
Lisa’s thoughtful strategies have paid off. Her daily newsletters/emails are received by almost 500,000 subscribers. They had identified with the fun presentation and sassy style, far removed from boring, dull diet content normally delivered by nutritionists and doctors. The guilt-free recipes, food and product reviews, dieting news, shockers, and all things food approach have expanded Hungry Girl’s sphere of influence to Yahoo Weight Watchers.Com, Seventeen Magazine, People Style Watch, The New York Daily News, Woman’s Day Magazine, Good Housekeeping, and on the TV Show ‘Extra.’ In fact, some of her tasty and easy to make recipes were co-developed with Weight Watchers. The expanded staff of 6 that works at Hungry-Girl now addresses the 500-1000 new subscribers everyday to newsletters, most of the signups coming from referrals and word of mouth. Called the “Hollywood Diet Guru,” Lisa has been asked over and over again for copies of her recipes. The book was written in direct response to that.
Hungry Girl is a collection of 165 recipes (over half are brand new, never seen before) and survival strategies for anyone who loves rich, decadent food. From burgers to chocolate cake, breakfast, lunch and dinner, eating out, eating Mexican, eating Chinese and more, this book covers the waterfront. Unlike other books of this genre, the recipes are simple, short, fun, and easy to make. They are understandable, even by a total novice cook like me. Lisa tells you up front, what ingredients to get at the store, what to avoid, and the inaccuracy of labels. Once you have the ingredients, the rest is easy. Examples of favorites that even I recognized: Eggs Bene-Chick, Breakfast Pizza, Chili Cheese Nachos, Burgers, Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge, Onion Rings, Tuna Melt, Burritos (big ones), and Cookies and Cream Ice Cream. (Lisa gives them much catchier names, but my point is that they are things I love to eat). Key to all of her recipes is that the nutritional information is disclosed with each one. For the recipes alone, the book is one you should buy.
My favorite part of Hungry Girl is the “survival strategies” for eating out at restaurants, when you travel, cocktail parties, dealing with cravings, and even must have snack food for the office. Where else are you going to get tips for how to “Survive a Trip to Starbucks”? These are very practical tips that you can use every single day. Consistent with newsletters, the book has Hungry Girl’s famous “Shockers” (things that most of us don’t realize and take for granted that really hurt us) and “Chew on This” (insightful facts of guilt-free eating).
Overall, the book is put in a pleasant to look at package, branded just like the Hungry Girl website on the outside, etched in light brown and pink on the inside, making reading a pleasant experience. Written with the typical Hungry Girl sass and humor, content and style-wise, it is one of the few ‘cookbooks’ that delivers what it promises: helpful information with humor and insight. The unstated theme of the book is that by obtaining the knowledge of the things that we eat, and the alternative, healthier choices we can make give us the power of control. Making smart decisions and planning ahead, even when you go out to eat or are in some other away from your home environment are all a part of this very fine book. The winning principle of eating the guilt-free versions of the food that you love and that you crave is continued in this book. Probably the best feature of this book is that you can take what Lisa has taught us, and apply it to your own craves. With the invaluable tips and tricks contained in the book, I foresee eaters everywhere taking the ingredients and tips and applying them to their favorite foods, creating and modifying their own recipes. Guilt-free junk food sounds like a winner to me. I recommend that on the 29th of April, 2008, you make you way to your favorite booksellers and pick this one up. Lisa is on tour, and will be talking and giving demonstrations. Check out her website at http://www.hungry-girl.com, for more information. Avoid the crowds, get there early. Just like they used to say about Elvis; 500,000 screaming fans cannot be wrong.