A few years ago I was a scrapbooker and heavily involved in a related site where most of the members were in America. On the site there were a lot of swaps run, and a popular one was recipe swaps, although I always sat them out, and for good reason. The other members loved the sound of what I ate, but either couldn't find the ingredients I used locally or they baulked at the price of Serano Ham, Kalamata olives and the many varieties of European cheese. On the flip side, I couldn't get what their recipes contained either, but it wasn't because of exotic ingredients, it was because they contained processed junk that we just can't get such as Miracle Whip, 'Pudding' and Cool Whip.
I've found in my search through food blogs that there are two types of 'chef':
- Type 1 uses many processed ingredients with a tin of this and a jar of that, albeit with some fresh ones too at times. Dessert bloggers seems to be most guilty of falling into this category.
- Type 2 uses almost entirely natural ingredients from scratch. Funnily enough, not all 'healthy eating' type bloggers fall into this category, but some dessert bloggers do (sugar is actually natural, even if it isn't particularly healthy!)
So what type do I favour? Well I'm not that much of a fan of the processed foods opted for by Type 1 - a lot of the time I just can't get '1 can Green Chile Enchilada Sauce' or Spike Seasoning, and to be honest I don't know if I want to! The UK has also not bought into things like 'Sugar Free, Fat Free Cheesecake Mix', I suspect because we don't get a lot of those processed mixes in the first place even with all the sugar and fat (and really, mixing cream cheese, eggs and sugar is hard for the real thing?!).
Why am I averse to these things? Well I think that when companies make things such as 'Sugar Free, Fat Free Cheesecake Mix' they're extracting a lot of what makes the original taste good, and so have to replace it, but with what? Chemicals mainly. I like to know that if I'm trying to eat a healthy meal that it genuinely is healthy and that I haven't just replaced one thing that's bad for me with another!
It's also a well known fact that many 'low fat' things that are created are high in sugar - one of my colleagues was eating a major supermarket's 'fresh tomato soup' earlier in the week, and he happened to look at the ingredients. Almost first on the list was sugar, and looking at the nutritional values, it turned out to be almost the entire sugar amount in a recommended day. He nearly fainted! He's very keen on 'healthy living', cycling to work, running half marathons and competing in triathlons, and had thought soup would be a healthy option for lunch. This wasn't even advertised as low fat, but had all the nice 'contains x amount of your 5-a-day' labels, and the traffic light system showed green on fat content.
Now I will grant you that dessert bloggers are not always going to be 100% healthy, given the chocolate, cream and so on that is often used, but they can come up with recipes from scratch that are healthy - fruit based desserts and the like, so I do follow a couple of them. I do get a bit frustrated with the 'healthy food' blogs that rely on the processed options quite often though.
What do you think? Are you averse to adding something processed, or do you prefer to start from scratch? What makes a good food blog chef for you?