Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Do we really need more recipes and role models?

When I first read Yoni Freedhoff's Weighty Matters post on dietary elitism, I agreed wholeheartedly with the conclusion that if someone had written in asking for "simple, light" recipes, the ingredients list would be intimidating:
Beet greens, Swiss chard, chickpeas, Lundberg Black Japonica Rice, edamame, soaked red lentils, dark sesame oil, walnut oil, pinenuts, lightly toasted cumin seeds, Aleppo pepper, fennel, nigella seeds, and peeled kohlrabi
But the article referenced was not an advice column, it was The New York Times's "Recipes for Health" column, and foodie readers would have probably been more put off than pleased if they had seen a recipe for a plain chicken sandwich.  If they are already familiar with the ingredients listed above (I have heard of most of them, just not the nigella seeds) then they would relieved to know that healthy eating didn't have to be dull, that they could still indulge their creativity in the kitchen while cutting calories.

There are plenty of healthy recipes available that really are simple. Do a quck search for "healthy ___ recipe" with whatever you want in the blank, and I guarantee you will find dozens. Even those who do not use the Internet can subscribe to Weight Watchers Magazine, Cooking Light, Prevention, Men's Health, and dozens of other publications that offer healthy and simple recipes.

The recent flap over Paula Deen also inspired mixed feelings for me. On the one hand, I giggled at (and retweeted) Anthony Bourdain's tweet about "Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later" but I don't agree with his assessment that she is somehow "dangerous." Paula Deen's show was over-the-top, crazy food, but she was an object lesson of what kind of body a person who ate that food would have.  At least she was honest. (Whenever I watch Giada's show, I am convinced that the bite she eats on camera is her entire food budget for the day.)  I wasn't a regular viewer, but when I watched Paula Deen's show, I never wanted to actually make the food she was cooking, I just got sort of a weird thrill watching someone cook with such crazy abandon.  It didn't look appetizing, but she did seem to be having fun.  Anyone who is cooking the food she made would have found other outlets for fatty food if she wasn't there.  That's why I disagree with Russ and Jeff's assessment that she should become a "healthy role model" like The Galloping Gourmet, making lightened up versions of her crazy recipes.  If Paula Deen made a version of her Lady's Brunch Burger with a baked donut, broiled chicken breast, lowfat mayo, and Eggbeaters, it would just be pathetic and sad, not inspiring.

People who want healthy role models have plenty of examples all ready, and there are tons of healthy recipes available too (see above).  Having one more recipe for lowfat macaroni and cheese and one more formerly fat celebrity is not going to make the difference.

The only thing that makes the difference, for each of us, is figuring out how to fit healthier habits into our own unique lives. It's as simple (and difficult) as that.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more! Paula Deen never made anyone cook or eat her food, she was just entertaining. We must be responsible for our personal choices.


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07