She bakes her chili-cheese fries and uses butternut squash, not potatoes. They clock in at 268 calories, about a quarter the amount in traditional fries.
Recipes for those and other feel-good foods like lasagna, pizza and spongecake have placed Lillien atop a brand that has grown phenomenally in the eight years since the former TV executive came up with the name (it just popped into her head one day) and blasted a daily email to 75 people.
Today, 1.2 million subscribers get a mix of recipes, advice and ads for food companies like Star Kist and General Mills, whose products she endorses.
Lillien, who started the business at home, now oversees a staff of 12 at a sprawling office in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley.
To some extent, the headquarters more closely resembles a huge teenage girl's room with a kitchen thrown in. Pillows and cushions scattered about are decorated with pictures of Tootsie Rolls, Sweet Tarts and other candies. Cans of soup, packages of nuts, bowls of chips and other ingredients are stacked here and there. On one wall a silk-screen depicts a can of Campbell's Soup, with Dino the dinosaur from "The Flintstones" TV show, on the label.
It's here that Lillien and her staff experiment, mad-scientist-like, she says, with thousands of recipes.
The result is Italian, Mexican, Chinese and even unique Hungry Girl food, the latter including all kinds of egg-white concoctions that can be microwaved in a mug. That came about because even before she began counting calories she was often too lazy to pull out a skillet and fry anything.
The recipes she whips up can be found on her Food Network and Cooking Channel TV shows and in her seven books, which have sold more than 2.5 million copies, according to her publisher, St. Martin's Press. Her latest, "Hungry Girl to the Max: The Ultimate Guilt-Free Cookbook," debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list for paperback advice books last month.