131 of 150 people found the following review helpful
Predictable and Processed,
This review is from: Hungry Girl: Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World (Paperback)
I have mixed thoughts about the Hungry Girl Book. If you like her web site, you will like the book.
The benefit of the book is that it provides one with suggestions for swapping high calorie, high fat ingredients with lower calorie, lower or fat-free ingredients. The recipes are also very quick and easy.
The problems with the book are; 1) It relies on A LOT of processed ingredients with nutritionally empty, artificial ingredients - e.g. it is okay and healthy to eat low-fat natural cheese and a whole grain hamburger bun instead of plastic pieces of Fat free American cheese with an overprocessed, white flour, tasteless low calorie hamburger bun 2) There is an overemphasis on getting the calories down as far as possible - interesting, catchy approach to draw people to the book, but IT IS AT THE EXPENSE OF TASTE AND NUTRITION 3) Some of the recipes are not "recipes" - I do not need to be told to use low calorie bread, fat-fat cheese, and lean meat to create a sandwich 4) The descriptions are overly enthusiastic - they will not taste that good. It eventually makes you less willing to believe what she is selling after a while. 5) Hungry Girl has financial tie-ins with certain food products (I don't know if I am allowed to name them by brand), like those shirataki noodles (her picture is on them) and muffins (she has her own flavors). This biases her suggestions and swaps - there are better options available. 6) Most of the swaps that she suggests and similar recipes are available already on her web site. If you want to modify one of your favorites, you can find all sorts of swaps on her site or around the internet.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 23, 2008 7:09:59 PM PDT
You absolutely right on one point. If you like her website, you will love her book. I would love to know where you saw her face on a package of shirataki noodles? I have never seen it on a package. Personally, my family has enjoyed everyone of the recipes that we have tried. Certainly the flavor and texture is much different than highly processed foods that most people eat. Maybe the book is not for you.
Posted on May 28, 2008 6:54:28 AM PDT
I'm not the original poster, but in reply to the post of A. Smith, the Hungry Girl logo is absolutely now on the back of the Tofu Shirataki noodles package -- I have two of them in my fridge as I write this. Last weekend I also saw the HG logo on the back of a box of Fiber One cereal. It is not the author's actual face, but the cartoon HG, and it says "HG-approved." The original poster is 100% correct in asserting that the author has licensing relationships with these products. Even though I like a lot of what Lillen does, it's true that having deals with these major manufacturers means she is basically a saleswoman for their products. She HAS to find ways to incorporate them into recipes that she then actively sells to readers. This is called bias, as noted by the original poster. Many readers may be too naive to know that they are being sold to, and from your post, it sounds like you may be one of them.
I'll repeat: I like Hungry Girl and think she does a lot of cool and creative things to make yummy recipes that are still not dietbusters. But my favorite things that she does are not necessarily the "swaps" or substitution type recipes. I love all her creative uses for butternut squash, for example, and I think it was genius of her to recognize its aptitude to stand in for potatoes in a million different ways. And I credit her with putting Tofu Shirataki noodles on the map. But I am less crazy about the "mock" fast food type items and the heavy reliance on processed foods in order to keep the calorie counts as insanely low as possible even if it means eating a zillion chemicals.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2008 4:12:07 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jul 7, 2008 6:38:16 AM PDT]
Posted on Aug 12, 2008 8:17:27 AM PDT
I agree completely. People like HG because she delivers mock versions of their favorite fatty foods, but I've found then when dieting you are much better off having flavorful healthy meals and having the occasional treat than stuffing yourself with mock versions. It doesn't change eating habits. I really have not liked any HG recipe I've tried for the same reasons you list. She tries to get the calories too low and in the process goes for processed diet stuff and fat free cheese (which is not fit for human consumption, lol) and the products she endorses. The end result never lives up to the hype and there are ways to diet without sacrificing taste. It shouldn't just be about getting the calories down, but on creating a healthy, nutritious, non-processed meal that actually tastes great. Personally, I'm done with HG and I was shocked at how many positive reviews this book got.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 21, 2008 12:39:16 PM PST
Elizabeth K says:
Here's a link to the noodles with her face on them:
Posted on Mar 27, 2009 6:05:01 AM PDT
K. Larmer says:
While I do agree- there are alot of over processed foods she uses, I do love hearing about the new products and trying them. I love that she gets more fiber into everything-it's so much better for my hubby's cholesterol. Her Breakfast Cookies have saved our morning routine. Coming from someone with very little cooking experience I think her recipes are incredibly easy to follow & for the most part are delicious! (I don't like the pumpkin brownies... but the eggs-bene-chick are awesome) Often times if you're worried about the processed ingredients, you can use your "normal" cheeses, etc and still save calories by implementing her other ideas.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2009 1:15:51 PM PDT
lifelong learner says:
I am most interested in HG's healthy real food swaps, like you mentioned butternut squash for potatoes. I wonder what are some books that major in healthy, lowfat, high-fiber recipes that have a minimum of artificial sweeteners and creamer type faux foods. I would welcome suggestions.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 30, 2009 11:24:30 PM PST
I've seen her on Rachael Ray and when she says her versions taste just as good as the "real thing" I groan because they DON'T! They can't! It's the fat that makes many foods taste good. I eat much smaller portions of the real thing and not the processed, artificially flavored, chemically rife versions in her books!
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