'Hungry Girl' talks fave foods, losing weight
"Hungry Girl" creator Lisa Lillien is a force in the food world, with two phenomenally successful best-selling books under her belt and a third one called "Hungry Girl 1-2-3: The Easiest, Most Delicious, Guilt-Free Recipes on the Planet" (St. Martin's Press) just released. The nearly 1 million subscribers to her newsletter, as well as her more than 150,000 Facebook friends and 35,000 Twitter followers, and those who visit her Web site, www.hungry-girl .com, believe in her with religious zeal — and rightfully so, because she delivers. Here's my interview with this interesting, caring and creative queen of low-calorie eating who really knows how to help people lose weight the easy way.
Q. I just love your newsletter and books — they're packed with wonderful, fun and truly useful information. So, how did you get into this?
A. Thanks so much! You know, I have always been obsessed with food — and I have a knack for finding products that taste great but are low in calories and fat, and also ways to make food at home that tastes super-fattening but isn't. And I love to share my findings and ideas with people. One day the idea for Hungry Girl popped into my brain — to create a sort of umbrella diet brand for women that was from a regular person (like me) as opposed to a doctor or a dietitian. And the brand needed to be FUN and a little sassy — not boring. So Hungry Girl was born. ... I decided to make it a free daily e-mail service because I wanted the content to be delivered directly in a very personal way.
Q. You used to be overweight yourself, so what was it that triggered you to lose the weight?
A. I spent the first part of my life yo-yo dieting — and I would lose and gain the same 10 to 15 pounds. I was never extremely overweight but always struggled with about 20 to 25 pounds. Well, one day I was working with a fitness expert at work — we were producing an exercise video with him when I was working at Warner Bros. — and he was going on and on about not eating carbs after 4 p.m., so I decided the next day that I was going to give up bread, flour, pasta, rice, potatoes — not just after 4 p.m. but for 30 days. Well, 30 days turned into a YEAR. I dropped about 25 to 30 pounds in three months. It was AMAZING. Once I had the weight off, I turned to Weight Watchers to help me maintain it. Their plan helped me re-incorporate all the foods I had been avoiding in a reasonable way. To this day I count points in my brain when I eat. I don't follow the plan strictly, but it's always on my mind and helps keep my eating under control.
Q. What is your all-time favorite healthy snack?
A. Hmmmmm. ... "healthy" — if we're talking health, I'd have to say an apple, or definitely any chocolate-flavored Vitalicious VitaTop. Yum!
Q. What do you typically eat for breakfast?
A. I typically eat egg whites with low-fat cheese — and fruit.
Q. What's your favorite healthy ingredient?
A. It's hard to say — again — Hungry Girl isn't strictly about health, so I don't want to offer any advice about specific packaged foods here, because those aren't necessarily "healthy" — but if we're talking straight-up health, broccoli gets my vote. I put it in everything — soups, stir-fries, salads — and I eat it as a snack. I love broccoli! If we're straying a bit from health, I'd say everyone should keep Laughing Cow Light cheese wedges in their fridge at all times. They're the best!
Q. What activities —- if any —- do you do regularly to stay in shape?
A. I do weight training twice a week, and I walk on the treadmill about four to six times a week.
Q. What do you consider the world's most perfect food?
A. I'd have to say House Foods Tofu Shirataki noodles. Because they are all-natural, super-low in calories and they taste (to me) exactly like pasta. So I think they're magical! Because of them, I can make a huge bowl of fettuccine Alfredo that has about 80 calories. That's insane! (Insane in a good way!)
Q. What's always in your fridge?
A. Laughing Cow Light cheese wedges, Egg Beaters, VitaTops (freezer!), Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla (I drink it instead of milk), fruit salad, turkey breast, Fuji apples.
Q. What food would we never find in your fridge?
A. Half and half, regular milk, full-fat salad dressing.
Q. If you could eat one unhealthy food whenever you wanted without gaining weight, what would it be?
A. French fries! No question. But pizza isn't too far behind.
Q. What was your dream job when you were a little girl?
A. For a while, I wanted to be a cartoonist. Then a lawyer. Then I wanted to host "The Muppet Show." None of those things happened.