Here is a recipe for a vinaigrette I’m using on the black bean, corn, edamame and grain salad we’re having for dinner tonight. It’s from Epicurious and is described “This marmalade-sweetened dressing is quintessential Bobby Flay, with bold flavors that taste best with grain salads or grilled meat.” So, I guess Bobby Flay concocted this mix and it is Foodie Central approved.
|0.25||Cup||extra-virgin olive oil|
|To taste||salt and pepper|
I assemble it differently than Epicurious does. They whisk together all ingredients up to the oil, then slowly whisk in the oil, then stir in the parsley, salt and pepper. I don’t like the marmalade being chunky, so I put the first 5 ingredients (up to the shallots) into the cup of my immersion blender, whiz that until the marmalade is finely chopped, then add the olive oil and whiz it again to emulsify the mixture. I then stir in the shallots, parsley, salt and pepper. Usually I also toss in a teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning and a few good shakes of Chipotle Tabasco if I want the dressing to be spicy, like I did today.
Look at the ingredient list. There is prepared marmalade and a dollop of honey. These are added sweeteners. That means this dressing is off limits according to the food puritans of Fed Up. I shouldn’t be eating this because there are added sugars, and the fact that I am going to eat it, despite all of the warnings against added sugars, is why I’m doomed to be obese.
Think about this for a minute. This tiny bit of slightly sweet homemade dressing is off the menu permanently in that mind set. An individual serving of this (the recipe makes 6 servings) is 6 grams of sugar. It has barely 100 calories per 2 tablespoon serving. But it’s “unhealthy, even “toxic,” because of the added sweeteners.
This is why I call this mindset “food puritanism,” because it is a puritanical, moralistic, logically absurd way to approach food. It betrays an underlying neurosis about consumption that cannot be considered psychologically healthy.
Of course, this makes one assumption – that the people preaching it are practicing it as well. No doubt some are, but do you honestly think that Katie Couric does not consume any added sweeteners in her meals? This would mean she never goes out to eat, because even at nice restaurants (i.e., not “fast food” icky places that social low-lifes patronize) the ever-so-talented chefs use sweeteners as a standard part of their cooking. Doe she never eat desserts? Won’t touch the cookies in the little gift bag one of her colleagues prepared for everyone in the office at the holidays? Drinks only water, black coffee and plain tea? Eschews smoothies? Only eats homemade mayonnaise? Has a personal food minder who runs around in front of her testing all possible consumable items for the presence of added sweeteners and throws it into the trash to keep her free of toxins?
Yes, I’m being sarcastic. I suspect Ms. Couric doesn’t eat much of what she considers to be processed food (though my definition is probably more strict, such as anything you didn’t assemble personally with your own little hands from fresh ingredients you prepped in your own kitchen) and I’m more than willing to believe that she ingests less added sugars in her diet than I do in mine. But unless she (and all others associated with Fed Up who advocate that all of us give up added sugars in our meals) has in fact eliminated these ingredients, then she is preaching “Do as I say, not as I do,” and exempting herself from following the rules she would gladly see imposed on others.
And this is where class privilege and paternalism become apparent. The rules for eating in Fed Up are not intended for the people promulgating them. They will presume that their diets are healthy enough (because they aren’t part of Teh Fatz), so they can just carry on. The rest of us porkers need Tough Love and to go Cold Turkey on our bad, bad habits. Just give up all added sugars for two weeks and see how much better we’ll feel! Um, howza bout you live in the public eye for two weeks and show us how it’s done, m’kay?
Or maybe we can say: less added sugars overall is probably a really good thing for you, and here are two simple things you can try (only 1 teaspoon of sugar in your coffee, limit sodas to 2 cans in a day, don’t add more sugar to your Fruity Pebbles, 1 tablespoon instead of 2 for your salad dressing, etc., pick 2 as appropriate) to reduce the amount of added sugars you’re eating. Oh, and here are some easy home recipes for sauces and dressings that you like that have less sugar (and salt and other things) and will cost you way less money. Here’s an easy tomato sauce to make at home using a can of canned diced tomatoes and some olive paste that won’t be as sugary as the prepared marinara sauce – just dump it into the pot and stir it up good.* Try drinking water with dinner instead of soda or juice and watch your grocery bill go down. Have foccacia instead of pizza to avoid too much sweetened tomato sauce. Here’s a quick cheat sheet of the lowest sugar options at your favorite take-out places, no need to guess! And so forth, giving people choices and emphasizing the economic advantages to choosing things that also help with their health.
In other words, forcing massive change on people when the food environment they inhabit is not going to support that change is an inhumane thing to do, and most people (even the stupid fat ones) are not going to go along. Guilt tripping them won’t work, either, no matter how morally superior it make you feel.
Give this dressing a try. It really is good on just about any grain salad you can mix up, it is a delicious marinade for whatever you’re grilling, you can pour it over green salads, use it in a stir-fry, pour it over cut up potatoes and then roast them, and other tasty things.
*Seriously – 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, 1 TB olive tapanade from Trader Joe’s (or just roughly chop up some black olives from a can), dump them in a pot, bring to strong simmer, turn down and cook away, stirring often, while pasta cooks. Dump over drained pasta. Serves 2. If you want it a little spicy, add some crushed red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce. If you feel more energetic, dice up half an onion, warm up 1 TB of olive oil in the pot, saute the onion until it is soft, then dump in the tomatoes & olives. Add a TB of tomato paste for stronger flavor. Pour in a splash of wine (red, white, whatever) from your glass, or add some balsamic vinegar or a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce or a Tsp of Old Bay (yeah, I like the stuff), or some minced up garlic. Carnivore? Brown a link or two of sausage in the pot first (broken up or sliced as you like it), or some hamburger (but be sure to add Old Bay to hamburger), or a little left over chicken, or some of the pork carnitas (not that we ever have that leftover, burp). Toss it in, warm it through, stir it really well to distribute the ingredients and pour over the pasta. Do you have ricotta? Some Parmesan (whole chunk, grated from the deli, out of the green can, it’s all fine)? Some mozzarella? Then you’re ready to make a baked pasta! Cook up sauce, cook pasta, drain pasta, dump into baking dish, stir whatever cheese you have into the pasta sauce, pour over pasta in baking dish, stir together and bake @ 350 for 30 minutes.