I was listening to the Alton Browncast last fall, a podcast featuring the popular Food Network host of “Iron Chef America” and “Cutthroat Kitchen”, and heard some really great advice (paraphrased):
If you enjoy french fries, have as many as you want.
Yup. French fries, donuts, whatever you want. Go to town. But there’s a catch.
Make them yourself and make them from scratch.
French fries? Peel the potatoes, slice them, fry them yourself, clean up the mess. Donuts? Make the batter, heat the oil, fry them yourself, sugar or glaze them yourself, clean up the mess. Slice of pie? You guessed it…
I really like this advice, for four main reasons:
- Making something from scratch gives you an appreciation for how much goes into a food item you otherwise take for granted, and few people take the time to prepare for themselves something you can pick up at a fast-food restaurant or grocery store for a dollar or two. As we teach our kids to understand more about the ingredients of food, meal preparation, and taking care of their bodies, we want them to develop this appreciation.
- Making something from scratch gives you total control of the ingredients, both the quality thereof and the proportion. You can put aside any concerns about preservatives, chemical byproducts, or excesses of sugar and fat if it’s something you measured out for yourself.
- Making something from scratch takes time and effort, both of which naturally encourage moderation. It takes far more effort to prepare a super-sized portion of onion rings than it does to order them from the fast-food counter, so you’re not likely to do it often or to eat as many in a sitting.
- Plus, the philosophy permits everyone to have a moment of edible indulgence. No one should sustain themselves on the diet printed on a burger chain’s drive-through menu, but it’s not the end of the world to allow yourself a little salt or a little sweetness periodically.
Our favorite DIY meal? Family pizza night: homemade crust, with a little help from the food processor, and chicken we’ve baked or grilled ourselves.
I do recommend listening to Alton Brown’s podcast, the Alton Browncast. The shows release schedule is intermittent, understandable given the number of on-air appearances Brown makes on the Food Network, and it features Brown’s interviews with foodie personalities from across America. It blends practical everyday cooking advice with the science and theory behind culinary specialties, a combination that made his “Good Eats” series in the early 2000’s a fan favorite. You can find it on iTunes.
Meanwhile, Alton Brown’s live show, “The Edible Inevitable Tour” arrives in Vancouver on February 20, 2015. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.