Thursday, August 5, 2010

cookbook stash: hungry girl

I can imagine Hungry Girl (a.k.a. Lisa Lillien) would make Michael Pollan and Anthony Bourdain crap their pants. The Hungry Girl strategy of eating is to turn fattening fast food favorites into guilt-free meals using mainly processed food. It's a strategy that goes against two of my idols' very way of life. This is not a lifestyle for foodies.

I bought the Hungry Girl cookbook a couple years ago when I was in one of my "get fit" stages. The book is arranged somewhat strangely into 14 chapters that I won't even begin to list. This makes the cookbook irritating to navigate. There is a photo insert that shows a couple dozen of the many, many recipes. This wouldn't be a good book for family cooks; the recipes are all single servings. Most of the recipes in the book use fat-free, low-fat, and sugar-free shelf stable food products. These things can be fine once in awhile, but I would boldly consider it unhealthy to create an entire lifestyle around them. But then again, I've probably got a few pounds on Hungry Girl.

Also, there is no input from a doctor, nutritionist, or registered dietitian. I think when it comes to weight loss, it's important to have a professional opinion.

The recipes are easy enough to make and a lot of them utilize the microwave, making it convenient for on-the-go types or beginner cooks. Some of the recipes are a waste, like the "Big Bopper Burger Stopper", which is just assembling a Boca burger. That's another thing: the recipes have cringe-worthy cheesy names. You know when you're at a restaurant and some genius names half the dishes with dorky names? Don't you always feel like an idiot asking for something like "Caribbean Rockin' Reggae Ribs"? That is a real dish at T.G.I. Friday's, by the way.

There are a few good little nuggets in this cookbook, though. There are good tips about calories and fat in popular restaurant dishes. There are good tips for cutting calories in healthy ways. Cleverly, some of the recipes use Fiber One bran crumbs as a breading to replace fatty batters.

I've tried a few different recipes. Most are kind of bland and don't have a lot of flavor, which I think is very important in the quest to lose weight. Your food should have MORE flavor, not less. But there are some good things to try. The chapter on soup has the best dishes.

Best feature: Nutritional information listed for each recipe, food survival guides in the back
Recipes worth trying: V10 Soup, Citrus-y Stir-Fry Shrimp (without the Splenda), Bake-tastic Butternut Squash Fries, Dan Good Chili, Dreamy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
Yay or Nay? Nay. Google the recipes I listed and check out the Hungry-Girl website for the helpful tips and survival guides.
Purchase here: Hungry Girl: Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World

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