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Healthy Eating?

Dear Melissa d'Arabian,

First of all, let me tell you that I love your show "Ten Dollar Meals" at the Food Network. You put together home cooked, easy to prepare, inexpensive food, which in these days of recession, is always a welcome sight. The idea of ten bucks = meals for four people, is a brilliant one. Plus, you are always very entertaining.

Oh, and your food looks delicious.

Having said that, marketing inexpensive home cooked meals is one thing. Saying that everything that you cook is healthy is another.

True, home cooked food made with fresh ingredients is generally better than random burger and fries purchased at a fast food joint any time. However, a dessert of bananas fried in butter and covered in sugar -- even if it is brown sugar -- hardly qualifies as healthy. Delicious? Yes. Cheap? Absolutely. The ideal thing to promote well being on a daily basis? Not so much.

So please guys at the Food Network, be careful what you describe as healthy meals. It only adds to the confusion regarding nutrition that is so prevalent out there.

Much love,

PS. I may give the fried bananas a try one of these days, as one of my once-a-week "cheat" meals. It looks and sounds really good. But do not expect me to serve it on a daily basis any time soon.



( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 4th, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC)
But...it's BANANA!!! It's a fruit. It must be healthy. ;)

It's no wonder that folks have a skewed understanding of what is healthy and what is not. When I went to weight watchers, it always amazed me what some folks thought was healthy or not bad for them. At least they were learning about healthy foods at the meetings.
Jan. 4th, 2010 04:47 pm (UTC)
It is really terrifying. That's no way to teach people how to eat properly. Sigh.
Jan. 4th, 2010 05:42 pm (UTC)
I'm a big fan of Cooking Light magazine. THey have excellent articles, and they prove that healthy cooking can be delicious. Between their articles and the ones in Prevention magazine, I've learned what's healthy and what's not. Do I always follow healthy habits? Admitedly, no. But I do KNOW what is and isn't good for me.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 4th, 2010 04:53 pm (UTC)
These people have no shame.
Jan. 4th, 2010 05:38 pm (UTC)
Brown sugar has molassas in it, which adds calories. If I were to put sugar on such a dessert (which, frankly, doesn't sound very appetizing to me, but I don't care for most fried foods), I would use plain sugar or perhaps a touch of Turbiano. I love brown sugar, but no one should EVER call anything made with it "healthy."

I almost gagged when watching Rachel Ray called a dish "healthy" - and then she threw @2-3 tsp. of salt into the pasta water! Rachel, do you not have a clue as to the relationship between salt and high blood pressure? You don't need THAT much salt in pasta water - EVER!! Same goes for the Neelys - nice couple, good recipies, but for the love of GOD, Gina - go lighter on the sodium!!
Jan. 4th, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah. Sugar is poison, really. Unless it's a "cheat meal" (and you've seen me scarf 3 pieces of pie in one go!), it should be avoided at all costs. Plus the browing it in butter just kills it. I bet it's delicious. But I would not call that healthy in any way, shape or form.

Natural sugar, like an orange = okay. Processed sugar = leave it for a "cheat" meal and don't call it healthy. Guilty pleasure is a more accurate description :-D

Butter = same deal. Love that thing. Avoid it unless it's in a "cheat" meal. And I only do cheat meals once a week.

The Nealys? They are adorable, but I can hear my arteries clogging just watching them. So far, thank goodness, they have not called themselves healthy to my knowledge. And at least Paula Deen is honest enough to say that she's your cook, not your nurse. I respect that.
Jan. 4th, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC)
About butter... I use it. In moderation, but I use it. I'd much rather use real butter and olive oil than use margarine. I know what's in butter. I can't pronounce what is in margarine.

Sugar- I use that too. Sugar substitutes? Nope. Can't pronounce them, either.
Jan. 4th, 2010 08:45 pm (UTC)
I prefer butter to margarine too, but I don't use butter at all during the week. It's only a treat to be used sparingly. As for olive oil, I use it almost daily. That's a staple and a very healthy oil.

Sugar: I avoid processed sugar unless it's a treat. Sugar substitutes? I don't mind them depending on the substitute. Some of them taste nasty and at that point it's better not to use any sugar at all. Natural sugar in fruit is okay. I love fruit.

On the other hand, fruit fried in a buttload of butter and topped and caramelized with a lot of sugar is delicious but not something that you would call healthy. A nice occasional treat, but not to be toted as a healthy daily meal.
Jan. 5th, 2010 01:32 am (UTC)
so much for my apple poppers then... (quartered apples wrapped in pie crust that is brushed with butter & cinnamon & sugar...topped with more butter and C&S...)
Jan. 5th, 2010 02:22 am (UTC)
Your apple poppers (which I adore). Great for a once a week cheat meal, when you give yourself permission to enjoy a guilty pleasure. Not good as a healthy choice for your normal menu. :-)
Jan. 5th, 2010 02:19 am (UTC)
Energy, in the form of carbs, is required to get those parts moving. Sugar is an efficient source of carbs. If I'm on a restricted calorie diet, and I've got to get energy, I'm going to eat sugar.

The harder I've got to work, the more sugar I'll eat. It's an interesting balance. Veggies give carbs in limited amounts and good nutrients. Lean meat provides protein, to rebuild and build new muscle. But energy comes from carbs and fats.

Check out the nutritional content of Pemmican, just for Ss and Gs.
Jan. 5th, 2010 02:37 am (UTC)
Complex carbs, healthy fats and lean protein are the pillars of nutrition. You cannot take one of them away and expect good results. In that, I am in total agreement with you.

What I am talking about here are processed sugars. Especially when we are talking about a family cooking show that is allegedly toting "healthy" cooking. They are not going for targeted nuttrition for bodybuilders, which would include something like pemmican (in small quantities, unless you are going to the North Pole), but family cooking. And I feel that pushing the combo of sugar fried in butter and qualify it as "healthy" is very misleading.
Jan. 5th, 2010 12:11 am (UTC)
I agree with you, Jaine, re: margarine and sugar substitutes. The real stuff = fine in moderation. Items made with ingredients you can't pronounce? Not only no but hell no.
Jan. 5th, 2010 12:08 am (UTC)
I think that cooking schools need to rethink how much salt they tell their students to add to foods such as pasta and dressings. Oye!
Jan. 5th, 2010 12:57 am (UTC)
But their goal *isn't* healthy, it's food as art. Not as everyday fuel, but as a high expression of what the food could be. And face it, pasta actually does taste better when cooked in "water that tastes like the ocean" than in water with half that.

I was curious, so I looked it up - http://www.foodbase.org.uk/results.php?f_report_id=120 - even when cooked with about 4 tsp of salt per 1/4 lb of pasta (more than anyone uses, I'd say) the pasta took up 162mg of sodium. That's... not that bad.

::shrug:: I figure if fried bananas and salty pasta get people to not eat processed food, that's a win, in overall healthiness. Yeah, they should probably market it as "healthier", rather than "healthy", but...
Jan. 5th, 2010 06:12 pm (UTC)
Then I sugget that cooking schools rethink thier approach. Art is good and important, but they need to also educate their students on healthy approaches to cooking. Afterall, if architecture schools can adapt with the times and incorporate solar energy issues and sustainability issues, then cooking schools can get on the stick and THINK about the nutritional content of what they are teaching future chefs.

While it's true that pasta generally does taste better with salted water, it also depends upon the sauce. With the right sauce, you don't need so much salt. I've had some awesome, homemade pasta sauces which don't need much salt, or salted pasta, at all.

While I agree with you about eating whole (if not entirely healthy) food vs. processed food, Americans in general would do well to think about all of the food they put into their bodies. This includes how that food is prepared.
Jan. 4th, 2010 11:25 pm (UTC)
Mmm. That does sound yummy. I guess one could consider it a "healthy-ish dessert" if one is the sort who does not believe in dessert after every meal or even every day.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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