The LA Times Approves of Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien's Crimes Against Food
What the hell, LA Times? We thought we were all supposed to grow gardens and buy local and seasonal and everything. Why are you giving Hungry Girl aka Lisa Lillien any press?
Lillien is a lot like Sandra Lee, but worse: Lisa Lillien's "Hungry Girl" brand is a burgeoning empire of low-calorie recipes and dieting advice preying on people's insecurities and food issues, all built around her advertisers' processed food products. Blurring the line between editorial and advertising, she leverages a quid pro quo relationship, claiming that "she recommends or accepts advertising dollars only from products she personally uses." To get the idea: A mac 'n cheese recipe from her website calls for: "1 package Green Giant Family Size Cauliflower & Three Cheese Sauce (freezer aisle), 2 cups uncooked Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat Blend Rotini Pasta, and 3 wedges The Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss cheese."
So why was she in yesterday's LA Times' food section? At first we hoped the article to be a critical look, maybe an expose on her ethical stance and shady business practices and how unhealthy her "low-cal low-fat" recipes truly are. But as we read on, it was just a puff piece with glamorous photography — the test kitchen even adapted her recipes.
You know we're in trouble when the article starts "Lisa Lillien considers the bowl of cocktail wieners simmered in a quick-fix barbecue sauce as if she were appraising a fine wine."
The numbers are disturbing: 750,000 subscribers to her email newsletter, her first book Hungry Girl: Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World shipping 600,000 copies, her second book Hungry Girl: 200 under 200 opening at the number one spot on the New York Times' bestseller list back in May, countless appearances on television, etc.
Some say she's a realist, but her reliance and fandom of industrial, processed, and frozen foods (and the their advertising dollars) is so severe that she even hates on the Michael Pollan-types: In an interview with the Washington Post, Lillien responded to her critics: "People are hypocrites... They say 'shop the perimeter of the store, never eat anything that's not organic,' but it's B.S., because people can't live like that forever."
The recipe for "H-o-t hot boneless buffalo wings," as adapted by the LA Times, includes the ingredients:
- 1/4 cup Fiber One bran cereal (original)
- 1 ounce (about 14 crisps) Pringles Light Fat Free Barbecue Potato Crisps (or another fat-free BBQ-flavored potato chip), finely crushed,
- and 3 tablespoons Frank's RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce.
For real? Fat-free Pringles? Instead of advocating healthy eating, exercise, whatever, Lillien is only perpetuating bad habits and a reliance on unsatisfying, synthetic low-cal low-fat junk. As to why the LA Times is promoting Lisa Lillien and her crimes against food, even becoming a willing participant in her corporate shilling, we'll never know.