Dishing with Hungry Girl's Lisa Lillien
If you're like many, you’ve resolved to be healthier in 2012. But if the mere thought of counting calories and reading food labels exhausts you (not to mention makes your stomach growl), don’t worry—there’s a better way.
Enter Hungry Girl. With recipes, grocery shopping recommendations, ingredient swaps for all your favorite treats (like Chinese food and cheesecake), and even weekend survival guides, the site is a refreshing resource for “hungry chicks” who want to eat healthy without sacrificing taste.
Founded by Lisa Lillien, the Hungry Girl project started in 2004 as a daily email subscription. Now, you can still get the subscription, but the site is much, much more, including a massive compliation of those emails, videos, Q&A; forums, and news. Lillien now has five best-selling cookbooks, regular columns on WeightWatchers.com, Yahoo, and Redbook, and hosts the Hungry Girl show on the Food Network.
Clearly, she’s doing something (deliciously!) right. We sat down with Lillien and picked her brain about the inspiration for her business, her favorite recipes, and more. Read the interview, check out the site, and weigh in below—what are your thoughts and ideas about keeping food healthy, and tasty, too?
How did you start Hungry Girl? Where did the idea and inspiration for the site originate?
I have always been obsessed with food. And I’ve always had a knack for finding great-tasting products that are low in calories and fat and ways to make home-cooked food 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: the idea to create sort of an umbrella health brand for women with advice from a regular person (like me), as opposed to a doctor or a dietitian. I decided to make it a free daily email service because I wanted the content to be delivered directly to them in a very personal way. And I felt the brand needed to be fun and not boring. So Hungry Girl was born!
Your Food Network show is incredibly successful! How did it come to be?
I never thought I'd have a TV show. After the brand became so successful and I had so many popular cookbooks, I was approached by the Food Network. I was thrilled, flattered, and eager to see how the brand would live in a new medium. The show is super fun to make and the reaction from fans has been incredible. I love it!
We love Hungry Girl's combination of recipes, advice, and videos. Do you have a favorite part of the site (or is that like asking a mother to choose between children)?
I would say my favorite would probably be Tuesday’s “Chew the Right Thing” or “Bite It/Fight It” emails. In Bite It/Fight It, we take one decadent food, then recreate a version of it that tastes fantastic but has a fraction of the fat and calories. It's simple, fun, and definitely helpful, and it's become an audience favorite, for sure! But I really do love all the content.
We’ve been talking about women here—but what about the men? Are there differences in the questions they ask and how they engage with your content?
Yes, we have some male readers—they love the content, but they’re far less gossipy about the foods they eat than the female Hungry Girl fans are. Men just don't talk about food nearly as much as women do.
What’s the most unusual question you’ve been asked by your fans?
Well, it's not unusual—pretty common, actually—everyone always wants to know what I eat.
So what do you eat? Any favorite dishes or ingredients you can't live without?
I can't live without my HG egg mug recipes, some of my tofu shirataki recipes, and of course, faux frying with Fiber One. And the ingredients that are always, without fail, in my fridge are Laughing Cow Light Original Cheese Wedges and Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla.
Anything else you'd like us to tell our readers?
Food is good! Embrace and enjoy it!
Check out some of our favorite Hungry Girl recipes and tips:
Molly is The Daily Muse’s resident bookworm. She currently works in communications and is begrudgingly learning to be a grownup. She likes coffee shops and (the bakery aisle of) grocery stores, reading about other places but not necessarily traveling to them, keeping things clean, and stalking the Harvard Opportunes, her beloved college a cappella group.More from this Author