The faking of food.

This is kind of just a  brain dump post.  I got thinking about it after we talked about the cauliflower crust and the renaming of things to sound like something else.

You see lots of this on the net.  People trying to ‘healthify’ so-called ‘bad foods.’  Which, as we all know, don’t exist as food isn’t inherently good or bad. I don’t see any problem trying to lighten up a recipe.  There are recipes out there that are heavy handed with ingredients.  Sometimes recipes taste just fine with less of an ingredient, be it  butter, sugar, salt, mayo, or cheese (okay, maybe not less cheese).  Sure, you can sub Greek Yogurt for sour cream because they have the same tang and texture.

Some things that do not translate?

– Cauliflower crust or mashed potatoes.  Call it what it is. Cauliflower.  Never gonna taste like potatoes or be like crust.  Not that I mind having the riced cauliflower or the ‘crust’, but they are poor substitutes.

– Nutritional yeast posing as parmesan cheese.  Nope.  Doesn’t.  Don’t even tell me it does.  Yuck.  I ended up throwing out a bag of the stuff because it sat in my cupboard for a year after I bought it thinking I could use it that way.

– I saw a recipe out there for gaucamole made with no avocados.  Seriously. It was made with asparagus instead.  For real.  I don’t eat guac, but if I did, it wouldn’t be made with asparagus.

I see a lot of paleo recipes out there for baked goods.  (There are a lot of reasons why I don’t like the term paleo or primal or whatever you call it.)  Last I checked, our ancestors didn’t eat cupcakes, muffins or brownies.  Just because all the ingredients may be ‘paleo’ doesn’t make the food fit the lifestyle.  I like the grain-free recipes because they taste good – not because they are ‘paleo’.

It reminds me of back in the day with Weight Watchers.  I was doing WW back when the Core program first came out.  I don’t think they use that term anymore (simply filling, maybe?).  I remember how foods like waffles and pancakes and other baked goods weren’t Core foods.  Well, then people started making recipes by grinding up oats (core foods) to use as flour and making baked goods because if all the ingredients were Core, then the food was Core.  Yay – free muffins for all!!  It’s called cheating the system.

Then there is the frankensteining of food to bring the calories as low as possible.  Mixing up of fake flavorings and artificial sweeteners and fat free plastic cheeses and creating a desserts that will ‘fool all your friends!’  Whatever.

We are really just trying to make ourselves feel better about the food we are eating.  “Look – I am eating cupcakes, but I don’t have to feel guilty about them because they are healthy cupcakes!”

Or “I can eat as much as I want of these because they are fat free!!”   Ah yes, the old Snackwell cookie syndrome, which I fell prey to.

You can still binge on all that stuff.  Just because it has less calories or a ‘healthy halo’ around it doesn’t mean you can eat it willy nilly.  I find that if I really am craving something, I should work it in.  I end up eating way too many calories trying to eat around a craving than if I had just had the item I really wanted.

Sometimes it is better just to have less of the real stuff.  It’s not evil.  If you have trouble controlling yourself around something (like I do), go out and purchase 1 item at a quality shop and savor it.

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22 thoughts on “The faking of food.

  1. Flo

    Great post! And I totally agree. You can not get around a craving by substituting something else. Just eat “some”of what you are craving. You don’t have to pig out on it!

    I love this “Last I checked, our ancestors didn’t eat cupcakes, muffins or brownies.” I read all these people who are making paleo pancakes, etc. and I just don’t get it.

  2. suzanne

    I totally tried the cauliflower thing and honestly it just tasted like cauliflower. I also have nutritional yeast in my cupboard which I need to throw out 🙂
    There are some things that I do like using like coconut flour but I definitely don’t use it in everything.
    I also don’t “hide” my vegggies in something. I eat my veggies and have learned to love them!
    Love your posts!!
    suzanne´s last blog post ..Day 8 Weights and work

  3. Tami@nutmegnotebook

    This is a great post! I can relate to your story about people on WW core program trying to make baked goods and treats out of what was suppose to be a program of healthy foods. I think it shows how addictive sweets and treats are, that we will go to great lengths to include them in our food plan. I did the same thing years back when trying to follow a high protein diet. Live and learn,
    Tami@nutmegnotebook´s last blog post ..A Snappy New Cracker Find / A Delicious Frozen Meal / Teriyaki Sauce

  4. E. Jane

    This is a great post, and I sure have tried some of those things to get around eating the real thing. My WW days go back to 1972, and I remember making “pie crust” with slices of bread. It never did taste like the real thing, but with that old program, we all felt so deprived that anything similar was worth trying.

  5. debby

    Oh my, Cheating the system. I have been thinking about this for weeks, and just haven’t written the post. Maybe I’ll write it now because its another side of the same thing. And yes. The whole pale thing where they’re making ‘baked goods that have more calories than the ‘real’ thing?
    debby´s last blog post ..A Very Good Idea

  6. Shelley B

    Sing it, sistah! I agree with everything you said. And as for nutritional yeast, I’ve seen other bloggers use it but didn’t know why…parmesean substitute? There’s not that many calories in parm to begin with! Just eat the real stuff, not too much, and stop the silliness.
    Shelley B´s last blog post ..Disordered

  7. Lynne

    Great post! Eating real, whole foods or at least things made from real, whole foods is really what it’s all about. Now I need to get a handle on the ‘eating in moderation’ idea 😉
    Shelley- I think vegans eat nutritional yeast as a sub for parm cheese.

  8. Fran

    Good post Lori.

    I never change recipes by adding “healthy” stuff. I’d rather have one cupcake that’s made how it’s supposed to be made than 10 “healthy” ones because the real one often tastes much better.

    In my opinion it’s better to eat less from something that has a lot of calories or fat or sugar in it than eliminate it or replace it. But I guess that’s what you’re saying too 🙂
    Fran´s last blog post ..Monday August 27, 2012: Mishmash

  9. Cammy@TippyToeDiet

    Well said! I’m fine with making recipes “lighter” if the result actually tastes good and is good for me. When I see a list of fat-free and/or sugar-free ingredients, I’m out of there. Like you, I’ll take one of the real thing now and then over a bunch of fake ingredients.
    Cammy@TippyToeDiet´s last blog post ..Good Enough

  10. Jan

    Oh how I agree with you. I am so over the fake food. I really don’t understand the “caveman” movement. I have had to learn to use substitutes but that is due to food intolerances, not to pretend to be eating a certain way.

  11. Andra

    I don’t think riced cauliflower is a poor substitute, I think it’s delicious. I prefer cauliflower to white potato except in the case of the glorious French Fry, of course. Generally, grains/starch make it so there is less room on the plate and in the stomach for vegetables. The “paleofying” of desserts does make me laugh. I’m all about a grain free/low sugar treat, but it’s really gotten out of hand and completely misses the point of the Whole 9/Primal/grain free lifestyle. Eliminating grains and sugar has helped me rid my body of systemic inflammation that was keeping me from working and moving, so I have nothing but praise for “caveman movement” even if I bristle at the “paleo” label.
    Andra´s last blog post ..New Goodie~ Pure Wraps

  12. Jody - Fit at 54

    LOVE THIS & YOU LORI!!!! I so agree! Yes, I make less fat items but I call it what it is!! Cauliflower is never gonna taste like mashed potatoes!! Ask my hubby!!! xoxo to you!

    OK – I am missing Pixie – can we get a pic this week?? 🙂 You are more important than Pixie but she makes me & my friend smile too!!!!
    Jody – Fit at 54´s last blog post ..Getting Comfortable with Uncomfortable

  13. Kathy Ditmore

    Love, Love, Love this post and all its frankness. I always think the foods you post look delicious and I truly value your opinion on what’s good and what’s not. Mostly because it completely coincides with my opinion. LOL! I enjoyed this post.

  14. Roz@weightingfor50

    Woo Hoo!!!!! GREAT post Lori! We do differ in our opinion of nutritional yeast though! 🙂 I tried it, not as a substitute cheese (because lets face it, there IS no substitute for good cheese!!!) but I like the savory tang it adds to some foods.
    Roz@weightingfor50´s last blog post ..Blackberry “blop”

  15. Sharon

    Totally agree. What’s fun is trying something new and finding you actually LIKE it, not because it’s a sub or fake of something else, but simply because it’s good in its own right. I actually like the mashed cauliflower, but you’re right, it ain’t mashed potatoes. It’s just another cauliflower recipe!!
    Sharon´s last blog post ..Our New Normal

  16. Joanne

    Good points brought up, Lori.
    As for the nutritional yeast as a cheese substitute? Never, ever…well,
    maybe for someone who doesn’t like cheese but PLEASE! Don’t take my cheese
    away 🙁 Fully agree 100% on that point.

  17. Christine

    I actually rejoice when I see recipes for alternatives for the “real” thing because I have a severe allergy to wheat (I break out in hives all over). Some people eat these “fake” recipes because we are searching for something similar to what we wish we could eat.

  18. Lisa

    Fantastic and so important! Sadly, I’ve stopped following some bloggers who have like 90% of their diet being “frankenfoods”…diet this, low fat this, etc.

    The longer I live in maintenance mode and the more fit I get, the less “fake foods” I want. It makes me feel like crap. I just can’t do it. I’d much rather eat LESS real mayo than a LOT of the diet mayo.
    Lisa´s last blog post ..Island Life

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