You likely already know that a total deprivation diet won’t keep you skinny long-term — and who could go through life without dessert? With waistlines in mind, Lisa Lillien, aka Hungry Girl to her legions of readers and Food Network followers, just released her eighth book, “Hungry Girl 200 Under 200: Just Desserts.” We chatted with the bubbly recipe whiz and got her best tips for how to enjoy the sweet stuff without totally going overboard.
Think beyond the box
If you’re looking to shave some fat and calories from a traditional cake mix, ignore the instructions, Lillien says. From whipping up Funfetti cake with club soda to using pumpkin instead of oil, eggs and butter, “there are great shortcuts,” she says.
Make ingredients do double-duty
Lillien makes pie crusts with Fiber 1 cereal and mini desserts with eggroll wrappers, wonton wrappers and tiny phyllo shells, which she calls “just brilliant because they’re low in fat and calories and are great vehicles for your dessert items.”
Jazz up your fruit
Hungry Girl calls herself a “fruit maniac” (she eats a Fuji apple every day!) But if fruit just isn’t your go-to, you can find ways to make it sweeter.
“I like to take pineapple, grill it and drizzle a little bit of reduced-fat caramel on it,” she says. Also big in Lillien’s house: fun with apples. “I do so many weird things to my apples,” she says. “I will chop them up and shake them in a bag with cinnamon, I throw them in the microwave like that, I make baked apples with diet soda — I have so many recipes in that book where you just cook some chopped apples in a pot with a little bit of cornstarch, a little bit of water and a tiny bit of sugar and cinnamon and you make it into like a gooey apple pie filling and put it in so many different places.”
Enjoy in moderation
When Lillien goes out to eat, “if a big, gooey dessert shows up I’ll stick a fork in there,” she says. “I don’t really deprive myself fully, but I indulge in moderation. If I’m at a place where I love the pretzel bread and I’ve had a piece of pretzel bread, I probably won’t eat the dessert also. It’s a give and take.”
Trying to lose weight?
This is Lillien’s top piece of advice, she says. “If you know something is your weakness, don’t have it in front of you. Don’t keep it in the house. I’m a chip lover. I try not to eat it too much because I’ll overdo it. Ice cream is not my go-to treat but if I have a pint in the house and I stick my spoon in it I’ll eat three servings at a time. So keep portion-controlled stuff in the house.”
Skipping meals backfires
“Don’t skip meals because people tend to get really hungry,” she says. “I know for me, especially when I’m on the road … I [don’t] want to be ridiculously hungry and reach for the wrong thing within an hour or two.”
Her snack pick
“They’re loaded with protein, loaded with fiber, they’re low in sugar, they really are filling they’re very satisfying. I love them so much. They’re a favorite of bodybuilders — everybody is obsessed with what they’re made of and the stats on them, but for me it’s like, usually if I eat a bar I am hungry afterwards, and those I’m not hungry. They’re with me all the time when I travel.”
$2.39 per bar or $25 for a box of 12, GNC stores
Freezy PB Pie Cups
You’ll Need: 12-cup muffin pan, foil baking cups, large bowl, electric mixer
Prep: 15 minutes Freeze: 3 1⁄2 hours
1/12th of recipe (1 pie cup): 134 calories, 6g fat, 132mg sodium, 16g carbs, 0.5g fiber, 8g sugars, 4g protein
1⁄2 cup reduced-fat creamy peanut butter
4 ounces (about 1⁄2 cup) fat-free cream cheese
1⁄4 cup powdered sugar
1⁄2 cup light vanilla soymilk
One 8-ounce container Cool Whip Free (thawed)
3 tablespoons mini semisweet chocolate chips
Line a 12-cup muffin pan with foil baking cups.
In a large bowl, combine peanut butter with cream cheese. With an electric mixer set to medium speed, beat until uniform.
Reduce speed to low. Continue to beat while gradually adding powdered sugar, followed by soymilk. Beat until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.
Fold in 1 cup Cool Whip until uniform. Evenly distribute mixture among the cups of the muffin pan.
Spread remaining Cool Whip over the mixture, and sprinkle with chocolate chips.
Freeze until firm, at least 3 1⁄2 hours. Mmmm!
MAKES 12 SERVINGS
134 calories per serving
Get more recipes in Lillien's new book, “Hungry Girl 200 Under 200: Just Desserts.”
Follow Meredith Engel on Twitter @MeredithAtMetro