HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
Are you making a specialty food? Share your adventure

There's healthy eating, and then there's the Hungry Girl blog. Have you ever seen it?

Jessca Dec 14, 2007 09:36 AM

I love to eat and cook, but I'm also a big believer in doing so relatively healthfully, except for the occasional indulgence.

HOWEVER, some people take this concept too far. Have you ever visited www.hungry-girl.com? It's a successful blog geared toward food-conscious women, and I was excited to hear about it because the author offers up frequent lower-calorie concoctions of favorite recipes, like fettuccine alfredo or french onion soup. However, this recipe (http://www.hungry-girl.com/chew/chewd...) for "better" lo mein drove me absolutely crazy.

I mean, Splenda instead of a touch of brown sugar? Blasphemy!

To be fair, Hungry Girl doesn't profess to be another Chow, but at the time the site's mission is to enable its readers to watch their figures AND enjoy food.

I say it fails. What do you think?

  1. h
    Hungry Celeste Dec 14, 2007 11:09 AM

    It's pro-ana propaganda, wrapped in a perky color scheme!! What fun. I haven't seen so many exclamation points since 5th grade!!! I immediately had to eat a piece of cherry pie to rid my mind of the whole stinkin' thing.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Hungry Celeste
      Moriaelini Aug 16, 2012 06:23 PM

      It is very much NOT a pro-ana propaganda site. Not at all. She follows Weight Watchers and many of her recipes list the Weight Watchers points. Clearly you have not spent much time on the site or you wouldn't make such an ignorant statement.

      While I do not share the HG love for Tofu-Shirataki noodles or artificial sweeteners, it is very easy to adjust their recipes to use stevia, agave syrup or raw sugar. She does promote several convenience foods, which many people may not like, but the site is incredibly helpful for people who do not mind that.

    2. sparkalina Dec 14, 2007 11:35 AM

      I like that she reviews new products that I would not necessarily want to waste the money to try and then end up hating it, but I am also not a fan of over-processed 'fake' foods either - which is 95% of the products that she talks about.

      Every once in a while there is a product that I would not have spotted in the grocery store (I am like a horse with blinders on when I am in a hurry) like when Fiber One came out with their vanilla-y flake cereal. She reviewed it, I thought it would be worth checking out and it turns out I like it.

      I say take it for what it is...a place to learn about new lo-cal foods that are coming on the market and don't bother with any of the recipes.

      3 Replies
      1. re: sparkalina
        Jessca Dec 14, 2007 12:38 PM

        True enough, sparkalina; I have sometimes found the product reviews to be helpful.

        I think the site taught me something important about my food philosophy: I'm a moderate when it comes to calories and healthy eating. For instance, I cook with olive oil instead of butter, but also instead of Pam.

        1. re: sparkalina
          melpy Dec 16, 2011 10:20 AM

          Sadly she is all about the processed short cuts. Almost like the Sandra Lee of healthy eating. My best friend and I both have done WW but I try to limit processed foods as much as possible. My friend gave me a HG cookbook for my birthday and after a few year it made its way onto the yard sale pile. I hated to do it but it was taking up valuable space for my other cookbooks.

          1. re: melpy
            myaco Dec 16, 2011 04:52 PM

            Funny thing - I did WW about 2 years ago- and the group's teacher was "all about Hungry Girl"- her words. Suggested lots of HG recipes for desserts. I'll give her credit for attributing the recipes, but never made any. Thought the emphasis on dessert recipes was counter productive, it wasn't the only thing that the well nourished WW members had been eating, after all.

        2. stellamystar Dec 14, 2007 11:40 AM

          These recipes looked good - Fried Zucchini, No Noodle Lasagna, Fried Cheese, Oreo Invasion. I am on South Beach right now and very "hungry" for ideas. Hee Hee.

          If it's a tablespoon or something, I will usually use the real thing - brown sugar for example. But, if it's a feature - pasta or lots of white flour - I will try to sub it out.

          I try to be very good most of the time, so I can be bad when I want.

          1. Chew on That Dec 14, 2007 11:56 AM

            I don't know about failing...from what I've heard, it's pretttttttty popular.

            1. jeni1002 Dec 14, 2007 12:07 PM

              I don't think the product reviews and/or her recipes have anything to do with healthy eating - the truckloads of preservatives in the products she mentions are astounding.

              My .02 cents: this is a Web site for those who want to lose weight, but are not ready to give up the habits that led to their weight gain in the first place (hence, the need for shortcuts) and an indirect advertising vehicle for the food industry that has already discovered and is exploiting this niche (of the low-cal, sugar-free, fat-free, etc. etc.).

              I mean, wouldn't Starbucks want to appeal to the calorie-conscious? Any marketing person could tell you that 'word-of-mouth' is a lot more effective than ten flashy ads. As far as I'm concerned, this is just yet another advertising venue that is cheap and, sadly, has caught up with a lot of people....

              Who owns the site anyway? I've seen the name mentioned in the Yahoo sites. Any connection?

              1. amethiste Dec 14, 2007 02:28 PM

                I have subscribed to this newsletter for about a year now. I think it provides good information. Some of the recipes are good, some are not. I can descern the difference, I appreciate the information and product reviews

                1 Reply
                1. re: amethiste
                  jujuthomas Dec 17, 2007 08:52 AM

                  I'm with you amethiste - I appreciate the wealth of information, and her enthusiasm for her calling. Besides checking out new products available at groceries and online, she also reviews restaurant food and provides recipes to cook up alternatives at home. I don't find all the info useful, but some of the recipes look pretty tasty! I'm thinking about trying the pumpkin cheesecake for xmas dinner.

                2. m
                  maryv Dec 14, 2007 04:06 PM

                  The name-calling is pretty weird: "But who on Earth wants to deal with the horrendous calorie and fat counts of regular old lo mein? CRAZY PEOPLE, that's who." "
                  Lo Mein for Losers", etc. Not exactly going out of their way to welcome people who aren't 100% on board with the whole Splenda/shirataki/OMG a fat gram, eek! program.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: maryv
                    Gio Dec 14, 2007 04:16 PM

                    Did you see what the sodium count was in this recipe?
                    1800 mg. No thank you!

                    1. re: Gio
                      danhole Dec 17, 2007 10:19 AM

                      The 1,800 mg sodium was for the commercial lo mein, but the HG recipe was still high at 925 mg.

                      1. re: danhole
                        Gio Dec 19, 2007 08:16 AM


                  2. m
                    MrsT Dec 15, 2007 07:41 AM

                    I haven't seen the blog, but they used to print her column in the NY Daily News on Sunday (I think they moved it to another day, but I only get that paper on Sunday's).

                    As person who is constantly struggling with weight issues, I do like the concept. I also like some of the product reviews. Some of the recipes aren't half bad. I wouldn't necessarily serve them to guests, but would substitute skim milk for whole milk/cream for myself. Because as my Great-Gramma used to say, "Ya gotta suffa to be beautiful."

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: MrsT
                      stellamystar Dec 15, 2007 07:57 AM

                      Ha ha! I like that - ya gotta suffa. Sounds like something my grandma would say, too.

                      1. re: stellamystar
                        Hungry Celeste Dec 15, 2007 08:18 AM

                        Go grandma...wisdom of the ages. But I'd rather suffa at the gym so that I don't have to suffa at the table.

                        1. re: Hungry Celeste
                          MrsT Dec 15, 2007 09:16 AM

                          I suffa at the gym, I suffa at the track, I suffa at the table.....I suffa and suffa!!

                          1. re: MrsT
                            charmedgirl Dec 15, 2007 07:21 PM

                            Amen. Another suffa'er here.

                    2. p
                      piccola Dec 15, 2007 09:41 AM

                      Eh, as usual, I'm taking the middle road.

                      I don't like the crazy overprocessed stuff or recipes where every ingredient is a "-substitute." But I like the product reviews, especially for things like veggie burgers, whole-grain bread and other products I normally eat. Her tips on eating in restaurants are pretty useful too.

                      So no, I'm not giving her all my assets or drinking the Kool-Aid, but I wouldn't crucify her either.

                      1. g
                        Goomba Dec 15, 2007 01:23 PM

                        I must be sheltered but... I never noticed lo mein having ANY sweetener in it??

                        Otherwise, I love Splenda especially for my Southern Sweettea! It tastes just like sugar to me yet saves me a few calories on a drink I spend much of the day sipping.

                        1. Kajikit Dec 17, 2007 08:44 AM

                          They're always raving about it on caloriecount.com (yes, I'm on a diet...) Personally, most of what's on the hungry girl site just isn't for me - give me real food any day. Fruit, veggies, lean meats, and low (not NO)-fat stuff... I'd rather cut down on the quantity than substitute 'fake food' for real. I'm not nearly as extreme as she is either...

                          1. s
                            Sharuf Dec 18, 2007 12:12 AM

                            Boy does she use Splenda, etc. Artificial sweetener is a deal breaker for me.

                            1. BillieJean Dec 19, 2007 07:07 AM

                              I like the product reviews but the recipes are too fake and contrived. They require a lot of fake food stuff like Splenda and sugar-free flavorings and margarine that I don't use. I always wonder, though, when reading the blog, if somehow a large food company is behind it--all those product recommendations?

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: BillieJean
                                Hungry Celeste Dec 19, 2007 07:22 AM

                                My thoughts, too...seems too slick and cutesy to be anything other than a marketing effort by one of the big food conglomerates.

                                1. re: Hungry Celeste
                                  ML8000 Dec 19, 2007 08:13 AM

                                  The writing is highly stylized in a over-chatty, faux-friend/neighborly way. Seems like a marketing shill site.

                                2. re: BillieJean
                                  jujuthomas Dec 19, 2007 07:22 AM

                                  She's answered that question on her site, she says lots of companies send her food to try, but she only endorses ones that she feels are tasty and healthful.

                                  1. re: jujuthomas
                                    Hungry Celeste Dec 19, 2007 08:15 AM

                                    She & I have wildly differing ideas about what constitutes "healthful"......

                                    1. re: Hungry Celeste
                                      ms. clicquot Dec 19, 2007 08:27 AM

                                      Me too. Like others, I find some of the fat and calorie content info interesting but her product recommendations and recipe 'makeovers' are frighteningly fake (I don't even think we can get a lot of the stuff she recommends in Canada but to be honest I've never really looked). I'm pretty sure MODERATE portions of real foods such as whole grain pasta, etc. are healthier than pigging out on all the chemical-laden stuff she's recommending!

                                      1. re: Hungry Celeste
                                        jujuthomas Dec 19, 2007 10:50 AM

                                        well, i think that is perfectly fine - obviously she's reviewing pre-packaged foods for a specific market... I'm not saying that I agree with what she says, just that I find some of the information useful. I'm always looking for quick, low cal portable snacks to help me keep on target with my weight loss. I do agree with other posters that some of her recipe makeovers are freaky - but there have been a few that I printed out for future use with my weight watchers friends. :)

                                  2. Jacquilynne Dec 19, 2007 09:06 AM

                                    I'm told that Weight Watchers has long been pretty aggressive about suing or C/Ding people who use their points values on the web. Given that she's using points values pretty heavily, I have to assume she's, at very least, got their backing.

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: Jacquilynne
                                      sparkalina Dec 20, 2007 04:42 AM

                                      Yep, she does a weekly blog on the WW website. (Fridays?)

                                      1. re: sparkalina
                                        rockandroller1 Dec 20, 2007 06:51 AM

                                        another vote for too much "fake" food for me to enjoy it. This is precisely why I've never, ever been interested in WW, which they really try to shove down your throat here at my job (weekly meetings which are heavily advertised with "lures" to try to get you in, and almost everyone in my department is a member). I just think they're like a brainwashing cult that charges way too much money and alters your diet to the point that you're either eating everything with no taste and no fat or filling yourself up on fake/substitute foods, neither of which are healthy.

                                        1. re: rockandroller1
                                          jujuthomas Dec 20, 2007 07:51 AM

                                          I've heard that impression about ww a lot lately, and I can tell you that it isn't really true. I've been doing weight watchers since February, I've lost 50lbs and I eat what I want. I've reduced the amount of fat in my diet - not eliminated it - increased the intake of veggies and learned about portion control. Yes, they charge you, but some of us need to spend that money to help hold ourselves accountable. I do eat some convenience foods - for convenience and control over my portions. But that's lunches. Dinners are usually what anyone else would eat - meat, veggies, starch. It works, it's rated as the most successful "diet" plan. BUT it certainly isn't for everyone, as with most everything in life including hungry girl. :)

                                          1. re: jujuthomas
                                            rockandroller1 Dec 20, 2007 12:00 PM

                                            I know it's successful for a lot of people, and I think that's great. It's just not for me. Nobody that I know on the plan has much of a clue about actually cooking and preparing real foods in a healthful way using ingredients completely from scratch. But I agree it's a good tool for people who don't otherwise know better about what choices to make in terms of food selection and portion control as well as accountability.

                                            1. re: rockandroller1
                                              jujuthomas Dec 20, 2007 12:29 PM

                                              We do have several people in our group who know nothing about cooking, but we have several others who do, and we are always exchanging new food finds, recipes, etc. I think that helps DH and I be more successful, we get new ideas almost every week. that's also why I read hungry girl, weight watchers.com and other weight loss sites - for the occassional idea I can use... :)

                                              1. re: rockandroller1
                                                boogiebaby Dec 16, 2011 10:54 AM

                                                I have been on WW for a few months and am down 25 lbs. I cook most everything from scratch, including Indian food. I adapt recipes to cut down on the carbs and fat so they are lower in points, but I don't rely on processed foods to help me lose weight. I do eat the occasional Lean Cuisine for lunch at work if I don't have leftovers, but otherwise I prefer to eat the full-fat, full sugar versions of foods and just eat less of them. That's the nice thing about WW -- you can eat what you want, as long as you adjust accordingly. Some of the other plans don't offer that flexibility. Being of Indian descent, I like that I can make indian food at home and not have it be taboo on my eating plan.

                                              2. re: jujuthomas
                                                stellamystar Dec 20, 2007 12:16 PM

                                                I was on WW for 3 years. -I have recently switched to South Beach. I am always somewhere in a 40 lb swing. I am so tired of it.

                                                Call the wambulence.

                                              3. re: rockandroller1
                                                melpy Dec 16, 2011 10:25 AM

                                                If you want fake food WW does that but they honestly don't recommend it. The points are designed to have you eat the most real food possible. Besides counting your ouwn calories etc WW is the best program out there for flexibility.

                                          2. f
                                            fara Dec 20, 2007 04:41 PM

                                            recently have been feeling an increased appetite. hmmm, this blog reminds me of the feminine competitive impulse to control our weight. thanks, HG!!!

                                            1. s
                                              stayingskinny Dec 16, 2011 10:13 AM

                                              I disagree with these negative reviews about Hungry Girl. Most of her recipes are delicious and filling. I can name a number of them which I thoroughly love to eat. Now a couple of them I have tried are not the very best, but I'm talking like just three or four that I have made out of several.

                                              Hungry Girl kept me very satisfied while in weight loss mode on Weight Watchers and it still is great now for using in maintenance! Her "300 Under 300" cook book is dynamite, and there are some wonderfully delicious oatmeal recipes in this book along with many others.

                                              I wouldn't be without Hungry Girl cookbooks in my kitchen. This is what gives me lots of tasty choices, and so what if they are made with Splenda or other artificial ingredients? I find most of these recipes great all the same, and the "Fully Loaded Baked Potato Soup," is to die for!

                                              1. a
                                                AsperGirl Dec 16, 2011 10:58 AM

                                                I agree that it's not foodie food. The lo mein seems to be tasty hardcore diet food, but not great for a regular menu. And this is from someone who has tofu shirataki in her reefer right now.

                                                I will bookmark her site for when I am dieting, tho. Thanks!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: AsperGirl
                                                  crispy1 Dec 16, 2011 12:56 PM

                                                  Comfort me with heavy cream and chocolate. Weight issues all my. Love yourself, be happy. I don't believe people who count calories live longer...it just feels that way.

                                                2. g
                                                  GH1618 Dec 16, 2011 04:38 PM

                                                  Yes. I think Paul Child (husband of Julia) had the right approach: "Just don't eat so damn much!"

                                                  1. g
                                                    gourmanda Mar 15, 2012 09:13 AM

                                                    I've unfortunately turned on the TV in the morning when her show is on Food Network. To me she is as annoying as Sandra Lee. Can't stand her over the top perkiness. Blech.

                                                    1. s
                                                      Sandi13 Dec 26, 2012 12:36 AM

                                                      It's not really a blog anymore. Just a list of recipes.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Sandi13
                                                        cresyd Dec 26, 2012 01:30 AM

                                                        I just came across the website through this thread, and I think that in general the problem with the "recipe rehab" approach is that it can often make the 'eater' feel as though they're eating a lesser version of an original. Low calorie pizza that significantly reduces how much cheese, I believe, does more to be a sad reminder of traditional (American style) pizza.

                                                        While I don't agree with Mark Bittman's approach (NYTimes food columnist) to everything, I do think that his approach on healthier eating recipes in The Minimalist is really smart. Like his take on pasta - it's not replace pasta with fake noodles, but rather make even more, thick, veggie full sauces so that on the plate the ratio of sauce (that has the veggies and protein) is more than pasta. That way you get the taste of pasta, without a lot of empty calories. Not a classic approach to pasta recipes - but it can be a far healthier one.

                                                        I personally prefer this method of approaching low calorie recipes than trying to find a way to make a low cal bacon cheese burger. And then should you really crave a bacon cheese burger, getting a taste or bite of friend's will give you the full flavor without committing to a full serving.

                                                      2. p
                                                        Puffin3 Dec 26, 2012 10:21 AM


                                                        1. Sandwich_Sister Dec 28, 2012 06:37 AM

                                                          I'm not a fan of Hungry Girl although I can see how some would be especially if you are on the weight watchers program.

                                                          My main complaint about Hungry Girl is she does use a bunch of processed food items to create a recipe and she doesn't seem to watch the sodium in it.

                                                          Example: Her Honey Mustard Pretzel-Coated Chicken Fingers for 4 chicken fingers has 928mg and for someone who needs to restrict sodium that is about half of the daily intake.

                                                          1. juliejulez Dec 29, 2012 03:19 PM

                                                            I wrote an analysis of her show on the weight loss site I'm a member of (sparkpeople.com):

                                                            "I'm watching the show right now since I'm home from work due to snow. So far I'm not very impressed. First she made some popcorn that was microwaved kettle corn, graham cereal, marshmallows, and tootsie rolls to make "smores popcorn", then she made slushies that was basically blending up fruit, juice, and ice in a blender. Neither of those two "recipes" involved any actual cooking. Now she's making "nachos" with hot dogs, baked tortilla chips and processed cheese slices. I guess this stuff is low cal but none of it looks all that appetizing or healthy to me."

                                                            I much prefer skinnytaste.com. Her recipes in involve "real" ingredients for the most part.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: juliejulez
                                                              Sandwich_Sister Dec 29, 2012 04:04 PM

                                                              Exactly what I was trying to say. It's not real food to me. and sure she goes on an on about how one serving is under 300 calories but the sodium, sugar, and processed crap is though the roof.

                                                              When cooking for people with high blood pressure, 2,000 mg of sodium is what you should be shooting for and I can't do anything she does because of it.

                                                              The only thing I found helpful was a link to the laughing cow cheese recipes because its low in cal and sodium for my nana.

                                                              1. re: juliejulez
                                                                Sandwich_Sister Dec 29, 2012 04:06 PM

                                                                Also thanks for the skinnytaste link. I'm going to check that out.

                                                                Imagine cooking for you 70 something dietetic, grandma with high blood pressure and heart problems.

                                                                We've done some amazing things with turning her favorite dishes into more healthy dishes.

                                                                1. re: juliejulez
                                                                  jujuthomas Dec 30, 2012 11:17 AM

                                                                  Me too! I am planning an apps NYE party tomorrow with most recipes from skinnytaste! No one will know the difference. :)

                                                                Show Hidden Posts