Thursday, May 08, 2008

Cookin' the Books: Slammin' Slimmed-Down Strawberry Daiquiri

(Image from Amazon)

We all know that trying to lose weight is pure torture, so it's nice when someone comes along who can at least make the process a little more fun. Meet Lisa Lillien, a 39-year-old gal who lost 30 lbs. by making over her diet. Food-obsessed Lisa decided that her "bizarre passion for guilt-free foods could somehow help the world" (viii), so she started an e-mail list to share her knowledge with subscribers. What began as a small list (less than 100 subscribers) turned into a whole Hungry Girl (Lisa's name for herself) empire, with 400,000 subscribers, a sassy website and now, a cookbook. She still sends out e-mails, all of which are packed with diet food news, product reviews, recipes and tips for keeping extra pounds at bay. Her fun, sassy voice ensures that nothing she writes is boring. My sister recommended the website to me a year or so ago, and I have been receiving Lisa's emails ever since.

I'm a big Hungry Girl fan, so I just had to get my hands on Lisa Lillien's first cookbook, Hungry Girl: Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World. It features a bunch of guilt-free recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between. The recipes all appear to be pretty simple, using widely available ingredients (although there are some that require specialty products). Each recipe includes nutritional facts. Interspersed with the recipes are Lisa's tips for eating, cooking, and living "guilt-free." True to the Hungry Girl format, the whole book is colorful, upbeat and fun.

While I loved the cookbook in general, there were a couple of things I found annoying. For one thing, Lisa always lists Weight Watchers Points values when she offers a recipe online; perhaps it's a legal matter, but the Points are not listed in the book. Also, there are only a few photographs included in the book; if you're like me, you need a nice, full-color picture showing how the dish is supposed to turn out. The good news is that you can find all of this information on the book's website - I just wish everything was in one easy-to-find location. One thing you won't find either in the book or on the website is recipes for family-style meals. Perhaps this is because Lisa is a single woman (I couldn't find much info on her personal life), or maybe she is just acknowledging the fact that most dieters are going it alone. Whatever the reason, most of the recipes make only a single serving. In the FAQs section of the book, Lisa does explain that e-mail recipients raved about how easy it was to make her single-serving recipes, so she wanted to stick with her winning formula. However, she says, "it's easy to double, triple, or quadruple ... recipes - so you can adjust them to feed as many hungry people as you like" (5).

Although I've only tried one of Lisa's recipes so far, I'm eager to try more. The one I did sample is listed below. The photo comes from the book's website, since all of my pictures turned out blurry.

P.S. I'm gaining new appreciation for the art of food photography. I never realized how difficult it is to make food look as delectable as it does in magazines. Of course, it's a given that the problem likes in my photography, not cooking, skills :)


Slammin' Slimmed-Down Strawberry Daiquiri


Ingredients


1 1/2 oz. rum (I don't drink alcohol, so I omitted this; Lisa says that saves about 100 calories)

1 packet (two 5-calorie servings) sugar -free powdered drink mix (any strawberry blend)

3 frozen strawberries

1 T. lime juice

5 to 8 ice cubes or 1 c. crushed ice


Directions

Dissolve drink mix into 4 ounces of water. Stir thoroughly.

In a blender, combine drink mixture with all other ingredients. Blend to desired consistency.

Pour, add a straw, and slurp that baby up!

Makes 1 serving. Per serving: 121 calories (this includes the alcohol), 0 g. fat, 10 mg. sodium, 4 g. carbs, 0.5 g. fiber, 2 g. sugars, 0 g. protein. In case you're like me and like to have all your information in one place, that comes out to 2 Weight Watchers Points (according to my calculations).

My thoughts on the recipe: I thought the daiquiri was refreshing and yummy. I did use 1 packet of sugar free Kool Aid, which actually makes 3 5-calorie servings, so mine was a little heavy on the Kool Aid taste. Also, since my blender tends to be a bit wimpy, I will probably use crushed ice next time, just to make the daiquiri smoother. Other than that, the recipe's a keeper.

Overall, I enjoyed this cookbook a lot. It has a lot of variety, and the recipes seem very easy to make. I am disappointed there aren't more family-style meals, and that I have to look online for Points and pictures. Other than that, I liked it a lot. If you're trying to lose weight, or simply eat healthier, I recommend both Lisa's emails and this fun, "guilt-free" cookbook.

Grade: A-

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for entering my contest!

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  2. This sounds like a fascinating and helpful book. I usually just blend frozen strawberries and just enough orange juice to make it blend up instead of being chunky, but I know most people like things way more sweet than I do, so maybe that's why the packet of drink mix is used here. It's really yum!

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  3. I was just thinking that I needed to slim down my eating after all that winter food.

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  4. That is the exact problem that I have with Hungry Girl...everything is for one. I haven't really found anything that is enough to feed my brood! ( Won't even mention how much they ate at breakfast today!!) But, it is nice for when you want just a little treat for yourself. I can't wait to get mine! :)

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  5. I just bought this book last night at BJs based on your recommendation. Thanks!

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  6. Point of info: The author of the Hungry Girl cookbook is not single. I just saw on-line an appearance she did on "Good Morning America" and she mentions her husband. Perhaps one of the reasons her recipes are for one is often the person not watching his or her weight is not interested in trying the "diet" food.

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