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Customer Review

271 of 340 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "Guilt-Free" does not necessarily mean healthy, April 3, 2010
This review is from: Hungry Girl 1-2-3: The Easiest, Most Delicious, Guilt-Free Recipes on the Planet (Paperback)
I checked this out from the library because the title sounded promising. I was hoping for easy and guilt-free recipes. To me, "guilt-free" means eating healthy foods and that is not what all of the recipes in this book are. My mistake. The definition of "guilt-free" in this book is "low fat and low calorie" even for recipes with poor nutrional profiles. Quite a number of recipes in this book have just such profiles.

I have read a lot of good books on nutrition, my favorite one currently is Pollan's "In Defense of Food". I do not count calories and I do eat whole, natural foods and not too much white sugar as recommended in that book (and because of that book, I have switched from reduced-fat products (which are processed in order to obtain fat reduction) to regular "whole" products). I have lost weight by doing this.

Many of the recipes in "Hungry Girl 1-2-3" are in direct opposition to the research/advice found in books such as "In Defense of Food" and "The Belly Fat Cure". These books promote eating whole, natural foods to increase health; weight loss can be a benefit, as well. We now know that we need healthy fats for good health - the low fat advice of the past has been discredited. Many Hungry Girl recipes call for highly processed foods, including egg substitute and reduced fat and fat-free foods, as well as products with partially hydrogenated oil & fake sweeteners.

I have not actually tried any of the recipes yet (most of the other reviewers here have not, either, apparently) but a few of the recipes do sound good (and do have what I consider healthy ingredients for myself) plus I have gotten some ideas for my own recipes from even the ones with highly processed ingredients (there are a couple I want to try but will substitite real food for the fake ingredients). Ultimately, though, I prefer cookbooks where I don't have to modify. Some of the Hungry Girl 1-2-3 recipes feature very few ingredients and that also appealed to me...however, food quality matters. I highly recommend Rozanne Gold's "Recipes 1-2-3" and "Low Carb 1-2-3" for recipes with only 3 ingredients (prep is not always simple or quick, though). Also, the mini recipes in Jacques Pepin's "Fast Food My Way" are very good and easy to prepare.

On the positive side, there are a lot of recipes that do not use processed foods and look to be very easy to prepare. Overall, though, it is disappointing to find that these recipes are labeled "guilt-free" solely because they are low in calories and fat and not because of the quality and nature of the ingredients. So, I would not make a lot of these recipes for my family or myself based on what I believe to be guilt-free (healthful) eating.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 24 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 7, 2010 7:38:29 AM PDT
M&L Mama says:
Extremely important points being made in the above critique. Thanks for posting!

Posted on Apr 12, 2010 2:52:02 PM PDT
TJW says:
Excellent review. Looking at the sample material and recipes on this product description page I think you're right on the money. I think most people would assume "guilt-free" is equivalent to "healthy" as you suggest, but the ingredients I see listed here are anything but. And judging by the long list of 5-star ratings I get the sense this author has a following of mainstream consumers (perhaps from her blog?) who believe the mass media dis-information about low-fat and low-calorie being synonymous with "healthy." It's pretty clear a lot of people have no idea that it's possible to lose weight and grow UN-healthier at the same time. A simple rule of thumb: To increase your health reduce the number of steps it takes for a food to go from the ground to your tummy. Buy it in a box and you'll end up in one sooner rather than later.

Posted on Apr 13, 2010 10:59:54 AM PDT
Shirley says:
And not every unprocessed food is "healthy", either. I'm vegan and you can still gain weight being vegan, so it has to be a balance of natural low fat, low calories, high fiber, high protein....and taste good. A very difficult combination

Posted on Apr 14, 2010 9:34:01 AM PDT
If you read the Hungry Girl website, you would understand that she eats natural, whole, and "healthy" foods the majority of the time - and recommends that most do. Her entire goal is to help people who are watching their weight be able to feed their cravings with lower calorie options. That's CRAVINGS - not daily meals. "Guilt free" for me means low cal/low fat. In the diet world that seems to be the general consensus. Although I too prefer natural foods, cravings do hit.

Posted on Apr 29, 2010 9:36:25 AM PDT
Thanks so very much for your input with your specific suggestions of what is helpful and why compared to what appeals with the HG approach to "guilt-free" eating and easy preparation. I have many health challenges that can be managed better I'm told by shifting the way I cook and eat. Where to begin to change a lifetime of habits without feeling overwhelmed? I am looking for that key "healthful" component and so appreciate your tried and true suggestions.

In reply to an earlier post on May 9, 2010 6:50:33 PM PDT
A. D. Jones says:
I completely agree with you on this. I can't express how much of a relief it is to know that we can have some of the foods we want (in modesty, just as Hungry Girl prescribes) and not be restricted completely to fruits and granola for a sweet tooth.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 19, 2010 1:12:45 PM PDT
Gogh Me says:
No. Healthy does not equal low-fat, low-cal or high-protein. Getting moderate fat, the amount of calories your body NEEDS, and the amount of protein your activity level requires is healthy.

Posted on Aug 4, 2010 9:18:06 PM PDT
DM says:
I have not purchased this book yet and have not had a chance to flip through it. But if the recipes are unhealthy because the ingredients that she says to use, would it be better if you replace the ingredients with whole, natural foods? Thank you for being honest about this cookbook.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2010 5:21:40 PM PDT
lc says:
Hi DM, substitution is always a good option, however, for me, I would rather follow a book that I don't have to sub so much for. That said, some of the recipes use real food and many are so easy that you can make them how you want - they can be guidelines. That is the same for lots of cookbooks, though...I have so many cookbooks and don't need this one which is generally not in line with my food preferences. I almost always check cookbooks from the library/ interlibrary loan before buying! Good luck if you try it!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2010 9:21:17 PM PDT
DM says:
Good point. I have a lot of cookbooks saved to buy because I don't know how to cook so knowing what would be better to use instead of something else is beyond me. I'm grateful for your post to help me not buy the same cook books with different names. :)
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