In the wake of certain celebrity chef catching a lot of flack for her deep-fried, butter-drenched meals, we decided to turn our critical eye to the mecca of television cooking: The Food Network.
Don’t get us wrong – there’s a lot of good stuff on The Food Network. As entertainment, it’s great. As a guide for how to eat balanced meals, however… not so much.
We’ll start with Paula Deen, since she’s been in the public eye recently. Unlike most of her critics, though, we’re not bashing her use of crisco. There’s room for rich comfort foods in a diet, as long as you do it right. The “Death Burger” aside (cheeseburger between two Krispy Kreme donuts… lord have mercy!), not all of her meals are terrible for you. What’s missing from Paula’s dishes are two key themes from 80Bites: quantity and balance. For example, take a look at a shrimp and oyster po’ boy she served up on her show:
Now, the po’ boy itself isn’t the target. Sure, it may be deep fried and a bit rich, but that’s fine once in a while. However, the portion is huge. A sandwich that size could easily feed two people. And with no sides – a crunchy salad, grilled veggies or soup, for example – the meal is unbalanced. In fact, it’s not really a meal – it’s just a big sandwich.
And if any of y’all are wondering how NOT to take a bite, see below (sorry, Paula, we had to do it!):
Our next target is Rachael Ray, known for her quick, practical recipes. Check out her pasta carbonara with corn and cherry peppers, featured on Everyday with Rachael Ray:
Again, the pasta itself is not the issue. But we have another huge portion – that mountain of pasta is way too much for one person. And like Paula, she fails to include sides that compliment the main course and add more texture and flavor to excite your palate (helping you feel fuller, faster). Again, it’s all about quantity and balance.
And then of course there are shows like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, which frequently showcase establishments with dishes like this on the menu:
Now, that is probably a tasty dessert, but let’s get real – what makes this a TV-worthy dish is the sheer size. And celebrating food simply because it is HUGE is definitely not sending the right message.
We’ll end on a positive note with one Food Network chef who hits the nail right on the head. Here’s Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa)’s manages lamb kabobs with cous cous and tomatoes:
With one perfectly arranged plate, Ina manages quantity AND balance. Not to mention our mouths are watering. Let’s see more meals like this, Food Network!