Customer Review

310 of 393 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lo-Cal Doesn't Always Mean Healthy, March 30, 2011
This review is from: Hungry Girl 300 Under 300: 300 Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Dishes Under 300 Calories (Kindle Edition)
This is actually my first HG book. I'd heard alot of hype about the website/show/books, but didn't know much about them until I happened across the show one evening. I liked that the recipes she was making seemed quick and easy, but appealed to the not-so-healthy cravings we all get sometimes. I signed up for the mailing list and friended on FB...hence how I found out about the new cookbook. I preordered it for the Nook the day before release and got the download early yesterday morning.

Having spent a good portion of yesterday and this morning perusing the recipes, I have mixed feelings about this cookbook. While I love that they are all under 300 calories and many look like they would be tasty, alot of them don't seem all that healthy. Artificial sweeteners are used ALOT (as a caveat, she does add as a tip more than once that you can use Truvia or regular sugar instead), and while the calories are low, the sodium and carb levels on several recipes I saw were pretty dang high.

Another little nit-picky thing that bugs me in cookbooks that is also in this one is brand-name dropping. There's alot of brand names used and in a good majority of the recipes (Laughing Cow, Pillsbury, Fiber One, etc). I realize that the author is probably getting kickbacks to endorse particular brands in their cookbook, but if I wanted constant advertisements for brands, I'd buy that brand's cookbook or a magazine. There is a "Recommended Products" list at the back of the book and I like that...just wish all the name-dropping could have been confined to there.

On the plus side, there is good website support for the book. The ebook version doesn't include any pictures, but there are pictures of every dish on the website, along with WW point values for those using the WW system. The WW points doesn't matter to me, but any cookbook I buy absolutely has to have pictures. Not having them right there on my ereader with the recipe is kind of a bummer, but there are very few cookbooks that have pictures for every single recipe...so it comes out a win. Also the sheer volume of recipes insures that there is something here for everyone. There are also lots of good tips scattered throughout the book.

Overall, I think this looks to be a pretty decent cookbook. I'll probably tweak some of the recipes to suit my own tastes/standards, but most of them look pretty tasty...and the fact that they're lo-cal is a bonus.

***EDIT*** Having perused the entire book now, I'm not too impressed. Way too many processed foods used and, due to that fact, a huge portion of the recipes were also super-high in sodium...NOT healthy at all. What's the point of going lo-cal if you're going to be bloated and have clogged arteries? Also, so many of the dishes seem very "heavy"...as in multiple types of sugary (or "Splenda-y" as the case usually was) ingredients layered into one dish, or "faux-fried" covered in sauce, topped with cheese. So many look like those odd "family" dinners you'd find in a 1940s cookbook, but with the high-calorie (but real) ingredients subbed out with 21st century "better living through chemicals" processed "fat-free"/"lo-cal" fake foods. I suppose it's good and well for the occasional craving, but for a truly healthy lifestyle (and not a lo-cal "diet" that might drop the pounds in the short-term but is detrimental in the long run), I wouldn't use this cookbook regularly without doing alot of subbing of ingredients. Still giving it 3 stars because there are some decent dishes as well as some that aren't so great in their published form, but could be good with some tweaking. It's inspired me to start cooking more, so I have to give it credit for that.

Having read reviews for the previous HG cookbooks, I've seen the same complaints. A pity because the concept might be good, but sad that so many people are fooled into thinking that these dishes are healthy just because they're "lo-cal" and/or "low fat". I'd hope that Lisa would start trending more away from the processed foods...but with so many people who don't care about that (and so many manufacturers of processed foods who are sponsoring her), I guess she has no reason to change.
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Tracked by 8 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 43 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 31, 2011 9:26:56 AM PDT
AthenaRose says:
I agree with U about the High Carb levels..I was shocked to see this since in her other books it's not like that at all..

Posted on Apr 1, 2011 8:03:57 AM PDT
Just as an FYI, Lisa Lillien receives no kickbacks from the products she endorses. Her e-mails are clearly labeled with that fact and she's very open about the fact that she only recommends the products she personally loves. But I do know what you mean about being knocked over the head with name-dropping. It gets tiresome after the first 20 pages. And I totally agree with you about the whole point of your review - that low-cal doesn't necessarily mean healthy. If I want a chocolate muffin, I'm not going to make it with boxed cake mix and a can of diet soda. I'm going to use my own recipe that calls for whole wheat flour, ground oats, natural applesauce and antioxidant-rich dark mini chocolate chips. It may be higher in calories but at least I'm getting some benefits from it! (I don't think that particular recipe is in this book but it's been in her e-mails before.)

I too think she has some good ideas, but not as an everyday, breakfast-lunch-dinner meal plan. I have all of her cookbooks and use the recipes only once in a while. Also, I'd like to see the brand get revamped. The bright colors, cartoon images and cutesy recipe names and slogans are so annoying I had to remove myself from her FB page. I'm not wild about her show either - she doesn't have a TV personality, IMO.

Anyway, sorry to hijack your review, but it was a good one! Thanks for posting :)

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2011 8:19:44 AM PDT
Ravendas says:
Thanks for the info. I still think that she has to be getting something in return for all the advertising she does for the brands. Heck, she's plastered all over the box of Fiber One I just bought. You know that's not being done for free!

No worries about the hijacking. I'll forgive it in exchange for your chocolate muffin recipe. ;)

Posted on Apr 2, 2011 5:42:18 AM PDT
M. Davis says:
Thanks for the detailed feedback-I logged on to purchased the book but like every purchase decided to read the reviews first-I'm all about healthy but not so much into all the processed food-I would rather give my kids real cheese than the fat free ones that include all the other stuff! Perhaps if I find in the store one day, I can breeze thru and see if some stuff can be subsituted!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2011 2:22:03 PM PDT
Ravendas says:
Most of the recipes can be tweaked and, because of that it's not a total losd. I've gotten some good ideas and can't wait to make some of the recipes...with alterations to make them more healthy, of course.

Posted on Apr 2, 2011 3:29:34 PM PDT
i only cook recipes from the HG cookbooks and I do agree that the sodium is high on some of them especially those that include frozen food. However, it is not that hard to substitute. I have to watch my sodium and small changes such as no salt added ketchup or reduced sodium soy sauce does help a lot. But sometimes you just have to search for the low sodium foods.

Posted on Apr 6, 2011 7:25:59 AM PDT
No problem! Here you go :)

Low-Fat Dark Chocolate Muffins

Ingredients:
1 c. old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1 c. non-fat milk
1 c. whole wheat flour
2/3 c. Splenda brown sugar
2/3 c. unsweetened applesauce
2 egg whites
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4-6 tbsp. cocoa powder (I've successfully used Hershey's Special Dark baking cocoa)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. dark chocolate chips

Directions
1. In a food processor (the Magic Bullet works great for this), grind the oats until they're a flour-like consistency. Soak them in milk for about one hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and then spray the muffin pan with cooking spray.
3. Combine the oat mixture with the applesauce and egg whites, and mix until combined.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mix until just combined.
6. Add the chocolate chips. Do not over-mix or the muffins will be tough.
7. Spoon the mixture into the muffin pan, forming a total of 12 muffins.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Hope you like them!

Posted on Apr 6, 2011 8:15:45 AM PDT
Maybe you should look into a "Healthy" cookbook if you are so unahappy with this one. I am purchasing this cookbook today after reading the reviews. I personally like that there are brand names listed. So what if she is getting kickbacks from listing the brands? Good for her!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2011 9:42:22 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 6, 2011 9:48:22 AM PDT
Ravendas says:
@Colleen: Thank you so much! I can't wait to try them!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2011 9:47:46 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 6, 2011 9:49:10 AM PDT
Ravendas says:
@Jamie: I have plenty of healthy cookbooks already, but thanks for the "tip". I was hoping to add to them, but I was under the mistaken impression in this case that a lo-cal cookbook would be chock full of healthy recipes. I know better next time.

I don't mind that the brand names are *listed* (note I even said this in my review), just don't like to feel locked into using the particular brands (and I know I'm not, but the repetitive use of them in nearly every recipe tends to imply "you must use this brand or it won't turn out right").

If lo-cal, high-carb, high-sodium junk food is your thing, this cookbook is probably something you'd like. But it's not mine...so I feel differently. To each his/her own..
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