Hungry Girl Shares Her Holiday Tips, Plus Recipes

By , SparkPeople Blogger
When it comes to better-for-you tasty treats, Hungry Girl is in the know. This best-selling cookbook author has created lighter versions of everything from the BLT to monkey bread. Cocktails, candy, cupcakes, even crab burritos. Stepfanie, the editor of dailySpark, chatted with Hungry Girl for the first time this summer (read the interview!) and learned plenty of new tips for staying on track and eating what you like. So we were overjoyed to hear that THE Hungry Girl, also known as Lisa Lillien, was available to answer our questions about staying on track during the holidays. In between shooting segments for Rachael Ray's TV show, promoting the Yoplait yogurt that bears the face of her animated alter ego, and a tour for her latest book, Lisa took some time to talk to the dailySpark!

dailySpark: When desserts and treats are abundant at parties, it can be tempting to overeat. What are your favorite portion-controlled holiday sweets?

Hungry Girl: I LOVE candy canes. They're sweet, take a long time to eat, and the peppermint stops me from craving the really high-calorie stuff. I also have been known to eat a holiday cookie every now and then...

dailySpark: This time of year, the invitations to parties, dinners and drinks are incessant. How do you stay on track and be social?

Hungry Girl: I go to parties, of course, but I try not to make it about the food. If I'm going to a cocktail party I'll have a little snack beforehand. I'm not a big drinker but I'll have a cocktail once in a while. I go for flavored vodka, with club soda and a splash of juice. I stick with crudités and cocktail shrimp or chicken skewers and avoid greasy, fried hors d'eourves.

dailySpark: The day of a major event, such as a holiday party, what is your eating strategy? Do you skip meals or cut back? Eat before you go? Avoid food at parties?

Hungry Girl: I try to plan my food for the day (to some degree) ahead of time. And then during the day I try to be as careful as I can and I avoid high-calorie foods. I don't skip meals (that makes you hungrier) but I tend to snack before a party or event so I'm not too hungry. Some of my favorite foods to grab are Fuji apples, a Yoplait Fiber One Yogurt (just 50 calories!), or a light string cheese stick. Then when I get to the event I won't just grab the first thing I see.

dailySpark: Your site has a wealth of better-for-you recipes. Can you give us some favorite recipes that would be appropriate to take to a holiday party?

Hungry Girl: Here are two great ones... HG's Pumpkin-licious Nog

PER SERVING (1 cup): 110 calories, 2g fat, 344mg sodium, 16g carbs, 2g fiber, 6.5g sugars, 6g protein

Even non-nog-lovers will become obsessed with this creamy, pumpkin-packed stuff!
5 cups light vanilla soymilk

One small (4-serving) package Jell-O Sugar Free Fat Free Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix

6 no-calorie sweetener packets (like Splenda)

2/3 cup canned pure pumpkin
1 tsp rum extract

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp cinnamon

Optional Topping: additional cinnamon 

In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend on high until mixed thoroughly. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow it to thicken. If you like, top each glass off with a sprinkling of cinnamon. Enjoy! MAKES 5 SERVINGS

(Click here for the recipe!) 

HG's Caramel Pudding Pumpkin Cupcakes PER SERVING (1 cupcake): 108 calories, 2g fat, 188mg sodium, 21g carbs, 0.5g fiber, 12g sugars, 2g protein
This recipe is from our very first cookbook, Hungry Girl: Recipes & Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World. Everyone LOVES these! 

For Cupcakes

2 cups moist-style yellow cake mix

1 cup canned pure pumpkin

1/3 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters Original) 

2 tbsp. sugar-free pancake syrup

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated) 

1/8 tsp salt 

For Topping
3 cubes (about 1 oz.) chewy caramel

2 tsp light vanilla soymilk

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Combine all cupcake ingredients in a mixing bowl with 1/3 cup water. Whip with a whisk or fork for 2 minutes, or until thoroughly blended. 

Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with baking cups. Evenly spoon batter into muffin cups. 

Place pan in the oven and cook for about 12 minutes, until cupcakes have puffed up but still appear a little gooey on top. 

Once cupcakes are cool enough to handle, arrange them closely on a plate so that the edges are touching. Place caramel and soymilk in a tall microwave-safe glass or dish (mixture will bubble and rise when heated). 

Microwave at medium power for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir mixture vigorously until smooth and thoroughly blended. (Return to microwave for 30 seconds at medium heat if caramel has not fully melted.) Immediately drizzle caramel sauce over cupcakes. Eat up! 


dailySpark: Holiday cooking and entertaining can really put a dent in the grocery budget. Do you have any tips for saving money on groceries?

Hungry Girl: Buy in bulk - even if you have to share/split some stuff with friends. Cut coupons. Look for sales -- I'm all about sales... food, clothing, etc. 

Hungry Girl shared her tips for staying on track during the holidays. Do you have a tip that helps you stay on track?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


I am pleasantly surprised to see Hungry Girl on the Spark! I love Hungry Girl! Report
I love Hungry Girl....I am excited to try the pumpkin nog (egg nog is my nemesis during the holidays) :) Report
For those who have issue with using artificial sweeteners there is stevia, it's natural and is great for sweetening recipes. Plus you use less! Report
I live for HG recipes! HG ROCKS :) Report
Hungry Girl is great,but you do have to make sure you are in control if your portions. My Fav is reduced sugar Devils food cake mix and a can of pumpkin puree. Do not add anything else. No egg, no oil, no nothing. Spray your muffin tins or paper the tins and it makes 12 awesome chocolatey muffins! Report
I've been a fan of HG for a while now and I feel it's important to reiterate something she herself has said regarding her recipes and the ingredients... they are survival tips. She isn't advocating stuffing yourself full of splenda and processed foods 24/7... she's giving options to those of us who want to be able to have a comparable food experience without the guilt racking up right along with the calories. Fresh vegetables, water, and whole grains are ALWAYS preferable, but if you want to have something similar to that Big Mac you've been craving, go ahead with her smart switch and don't beat yourself up! Report
made the pumpkin nog for church the other day. YUMMY!. Rave reviews. Report
I neeeeed to make those caramel cupcakes asap!!! :) Report
I made the Caramel Pudding Pumpkin Cupcakes today and there are awesome! Two thumbs way up! Report
Thanks for the Pumpkin-Nog recipe. Made it and it was delicious!! Report
This article was interesting. I have received many office party invitations for lunches and have been worried about the calories. I now have a plan to eat a healthy snack and carry a bottle of water with me on those days. Report
HG is the best. I own her two books. Report
I love HG. Report
Great tips, I will be using the eat before I go to a party and also drink plenty of water before and during the event. Report
Amber 512 Thank you for the tip! I will give the almond milk a try! Report
RANCHORIDER ~ Try Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk 40 calories per cup and no nasty soy!! Report
thanks for the peppermint tip and i am going to go out and find the cook books and try these recipes. Report
I love trying new recipes. Chef Meg had wonderful thanksgiving foods, now I will try Hungry Girls. I am the person who brings treats to the office so it is always nice to have new stuff to try so I can stay on track. Report
For Corina-Mom of four, I think it is either 2or 3 eggs but you can use a measuring cup and just break the eggs into the cup that will work just as well. Hope that helps you Report
HG's Caramel Pudding Pumpkin Cupcakes sound really yummy - although I never buy egg substitutes - anyone know how many real eggs to use instead? I'd love to make that recipe! Report
Sometimes at parties they have shrimp cocktails that I love. I either eat the shrimp plain or with the sauce. I get some of my fish in while eating. Then usually they have tostado chips and salsa that I love. I don't like candy canes so I do without. Report
I love the tip about candy canes. I'm going to get myself a box of the mini ones to eat when a sweet craving strikes. Thank you Report
I have both of her cook books.
One of my favorite recipes is the Caramel Pudding Pumpkin Cupcakes; I've made them a few times and each time the people I have shared them have loved them! Report
With all the negative press about soy, what can I use in place of Vanilla Soy Milk? Report
Wow! i so needed those tips. I wennt out last night ans totally wreaked my plan. By trying your tips I can see how better to navigate my next party invite or out to dinner challenge. Thanks Report
Lisa's cheerful and positive attitude is so uplifting. I get her daily newsletter not only for her ideas, but her wonderful spirit. Report
Thanks for the wonderful recipes!!.. Love the pumpkin.. Thanks!! Report
Sorry but I don't use artificial sweetener in anything. Report
I love the Yoplait Fiber One yogurt, especially the strawberry. Something that I do with it a lot is put it in the freezer for a couple of hours. It's almost like eating ice cream. Report
Too much processed foods are used. I make a similar pumpkin smoothie, but use yogurt, Agave nectar, and other NATURAL ingredients. Report
Love, love, love her! The daily emails are funny, smart and so helpful! Report
I just signed up for Hungry Girls newletter and she really has some good recipes and I intend to try them as soon as I can stand on both feet. I watch Rachael Ray everyday and I have seen HG on her show too. Report
I've had a Hungry Girl email subscription for years. I just love her! Her recipes and tips are the best!
Thank you so much for the interview with Hungry Girl! I absolutely adore her, love her daily newsletter, and have all of her books on my Christmas wish list! It's great to see her on my favorite website, SparkPeople!

My tips for staying in control in the holidays are similar to hers. I have a light snack before I go to a holiday party, and I try to plan in advance what I'm going to eat. I decide before hand that I'll have one dessert and one appetizer and that's it. I also like to drink a lot of water before and during the event. If I try to drink a full glass of water before I eat anything it helps me to be more satisfied.

Thanks again, I loved this blog! Report
HUNGRY GIRL IS THE BEST! i love her...have read her books and follow her blog! she always has great tips and has a great sense of humor! Report
I am definitely going to try the Caramel Pudding Pumpkin Cupcakes (although I will omit the Splenda, since I do try to avoid all types of artificial sweeteners). They sound delicious and will be a great snack to enjoy with my afternoon cup of tea. Report
The most important tip she has is to not make a social function about the food. I have found that I have been most successful when I do not think about the food. It is very difficult to do that with all the lovely smells, etc but it does work. Now, if only I can do it every time............. Report
I use splenda since it's made out of surgar & not a bunch of chemicals. Plan on checking out Hungry Girls cookbooks. Report
The names of the recipies sound great but all those artificial sweetners in the ingredients list are scary! I'm trying so hard to eat healthier more natural foods. I'm kind of disappointed. Report
I just watched her on Rachael Ray. She made the eggnog and muffins. It's amazing what you can save in calories by simple swap outs. Thanks! Report
I have two of Hungry Girl's cookbooks and they're full of gems! Trying new recipes helps to keep me motivated and on track. Report
I think the tips are great! I really like the recipes too. But I'm not a fan of artificial sugar products. Is that how she alters all the recipes in her book? Report
I'm all about playing host so that I can control the offerings and portions as much as possible!! Report
Thanks for the tips. It has reminded me that even though Christmas can sometimes be all about the food, planning is essential and I give my self a pep talk before I a party I know there is food, so I'm aware of my eating habits and allow my self one 'naughty treat'. Report
Good luck finding canned pumpkin. I heard it is very scarce due to a bad harvest. Report
I love my free daily Hungry Girl e-mails. Although I always make changes to her recipes, (sometimes huge ones) she gives me ideas and gets me to experiment with healthy recipes! Report
Thanks,Hungry Girl...What keeps me out of trouble over the Holidays is to have plenty of healthy low cal. snacks in the fridge!...I failed to follow my own advice this evening and grabbed a poor choice for my snack!
I'll stock the fridge tomorrow!...Hugs,Mona Report
I am going to have to try this for my mom. She loves sweets. It will be a nice change to see her eat some healthy sweets.
Loved her tips! Report
These sound great. I'm going to sigh up for the HG news letter! Thanks SP for the great link! Report
Close email sign up
Our best articles, delivered Join the millions of people already subscribed Get a weekly summary of our diet and fitness advice We will never sell, rent or redistribute your email address.

Magic Link Sent!

A magic link was sent to Click on that link to login. The link is only good for 24 hours.