If you’re a foodie and you’re hungry for something good to eat, consider yourself a foodologist. Lisa Lillien, N.Y. Times best-selling author of the Hungry Girl cookbooks and creator of Hungry-Girl.com, wears the title with pride. In her latest book, Hungry Girl Clean & Hungry: Obsessed!, the author celebrates her love of food. “I think most people really enjoy food and want to find ways to eat things that taste good, are satisfying, and will help keep them at a healthy weight. Most of the time I’m making smart food choices, but every now and then I eat foods that are a little more decadent. Everything in moderation, basically,” says Lisa, who has starred in cooking shows on the Food Network and Cooking Channel. She has also appeared on The Dr. Oz. Show and Good Morning America.
There are certain classic comfort foods Americans can’t live without, Lisa notes, explaining that they’d enjoy more if they didn’t come with such guilt. “I decided to identify them and give them Clean & Hungry makeovers,” says Lisa, who tweaks junk food, international favorites, and decadent desserts. “I have plenty of recipes for healthy pizzas and fries. Typically they involve using lots of veggies. I use eggplant, squash, and/or cauliflower as a pizza crust, and I pretty much have turned every vegetable into a fry!”   

Z’paghetti Bolognese

The recipes in Hungry Girl Clean & Hungry: Obsessed!, made with healthy ingredients, are guilt-free indulgences under 375 calories. Imagine Peanut Butter Cup French Toast or Apple Crumb Yum Donuts. For dinner, how about Pizza-fried Meatloaf, Caramelized Onion Chickpea Burgers, or Beefed-Up Cheesy Mac. Snacks include Coconutty Chocolate Fudge, Sweet Cinnamon Cakies, or Jazzy Razzy Streusel Bars. There are recipes for soups, sauces, Mexican and Chinese favorites, kid-friendly meals, ingredient FAQ’s, and a grocery guide. Also, the book includes recipes with five ingredients or fewer; recipes in 15 or 30 minutes or less; and vegetarian and gluten-free recipes.

“All of the recipes are made from all natural ingredients, and the foods are really fun and delicious. The idea was to create a book of healthy recipes for comfort foods, junk foods, party foods and other favorites. Things like pizza, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, brownies, donuts, fries, etc.,” she says. The book is for men, as well. “There are so many guys that really enjoy Hungry Girl recipes and even cook them for their wives and families.”

Next time you’re hungry, whip up any of Lisa’s recipes and know you’re eating clean and guilt-free, staying lean, and wearing the title of foodologist with a smile!

Recipes and photos courtesy of the Hungry Girl … (Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Lillien and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin).

Z’paghetti Bolognese
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
2 pounds spiralized zucchini (about 4 medium zucchini)
1 3/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped carrots
8 ounces raw extra-lean ground beef (4% fat or less)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Optional topping: grated Parmesan cheese (can skip this for Hoda)

Directions:
Bring an extra-large skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat. Cook and stir zucchini until hot and slightly softened, about 3 minutes.

Transfer zucchini to a strainer, and thoroughly drain excess liquid.

In a medium-large bowl, combine crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, and Italian seasoning. Add 1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder, and mix well.

Drizzle oil in the skillet, and return to medium-high heat. Add celery, onion, and carrots. Cook and stir until slightly softened, about 2 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium. Add beef, and season with salt, pepper, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder. Cook, stir, and crumble until veggies have softened and beef is fully cooked, about 5 minutes.

Add tomato mixture to the skillet. Cook and stir until hot and well mixed, about 1 minute.

Add drained zucchini, and cook and stir until hot and well mixed, about 2 minutes.

The Great Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
(Serves 9)

Crust:
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup whipped butter
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons powdered peanut butter or defatted peanut flour
2 teaspoons Truvia spoonable calorie-free sweetener (or another natural brand that’s about twice as sweet as sugar)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling:
One 8-ounce tub light/ reduced-fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
3 tablespoons Truvia spoonable calorie-free sweetener (or another natural brand that’s about twice as sweet as sugar)
2 tablespoons egg whites (about 1 large egg’s worth)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/8 teaspoon salt
Optional topping: natural light whipped topping

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch by 8-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.

In a small blender or food processor, pulse oats to the consistency of coarse flour.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter for 20 seconds, or until melted.

In a large bowl, combine ground oats, melted butter, and remaining crust ingredients. Mix until uniform with the consistency of wet sand.

Evenly distribute along the bottom of the baking pan, using your hands or a flat utensil to firmly press and form the crust. Press it into the edges of the pan.

Bake until firm, about 10 minutes.

Let cool completely, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees, and prepare filling. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese with yogurt. With an electric mixer set to medium speed, beat until smooth and uniform, about 2 minutes.

Set mixer to low speed. Continue to beat while gradually adding remaining filling ingredients. Beat until just mixed, about 1 minute.

Top crust with filling, and smooth out the top. Bake until firm, about 40 minutes.

Let cool completely, about 1 hour.

Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.