Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Do cooking shows make us cook more or eat more?


I received the following question via email:

I was at the gym this past weekend and on the TV was Hungry Girl doing her cooking show.  I am a HUGE fan of the IDEA behind Hungry Girl, but once you really take a look at some of her recipes, you will find that there is a whole bunch of CRAP in them (egg beaters, fat free half and half !?!?! sugar substitutes etc.) which all made me think.....WHAT WOULD LAUREN WATCH if she were running on the treadmill right now and she wanted to watch a cooking show?

This is a great topic and I love that you are exercising while watching cooking shows.  I can’t say I do the same but have four cooking/food TV shows that I watch. I enjoy Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa as her recipes are the ones I go back to time and time again. They always work and work  particularly well for families and groups. You have to pick and choose though. One day Ina can be making her Lemon Chicken Breasts (one of my staple recipes) and the next day there’s two sticks of butter getting tossed into the food processor (those aren’t Foodtrainers-friendly). 

I am also a Giada fan and DVR Giada at Home. I believe the show is filmed in Malibu. If it’s not it’s another incredible beautiful California oceanside location. The photography is so appealing. I love Giada’s philosophy, learn a lot from watching her cook but don’t always feel her recipes deliver (although this tilapia was a recent keeper).  I have noticed that both my husband and sons enjoy Giada when I am watching (I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on that one).
The show that probably comes closest to my food and nutrition philosophy is Ellie Krieger’s 
Healthy Appetite. Ellie is an RD and her shows are chock full of nutrition information. Ellie is always looking for a way to add flavor without adding calories and to ensures her recipes pack a nutritional punch. I know some friends who don’t love Ellie’s show or manner and I would encourage you to try her cookbooks in that case.

My favorite food TV show isn’t necessarily healthy. I actually thought of it when I read a recent article entitled “Do Cooking Shows Make you Fat”?  The show is called The Best Thing I Ever Ate. On each episode food personalities (there is now such a thing) gush on any given topic from “foods in a bowl” to “snack foods”. This is food foreplay. It makes my mouth literally water and if you could “click to order” the food discussed I probably would. I was sick in bed watching one episode and went downstairs to Google McClure’s pickles.  I do think food and cooking shows can increase your appetite. This show definitely turns me into a “hungry girl”.
What are your favorite food TV shows? Do you cook what you see being prepared? Does it change your eating in any way? Does it make you hungry?

Congratulations to Sam (Mom at the Barre) for winning our Purely Elizabeth Giveaway.


30 comments:

  1. I never catch TV anymore. In fact we got rid of cable a few years ago when we realized we were watching cooking shows instead of cooking. Or watching sports instead of playing them, as in my husband's case. We accomplish a lot more and are a lot healthier without the TV.

    Now food blogs, that's another story. Since I write one it obviously forces me to cook and develop recipes. That's not so bad. Reading other people's blogs makes me hungry. Canelle et Vanille being the number one suspect.

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  2. Food blogs make me hungry too. Angies Recipes, The Spiced Life. I love food so I'm easily enticed.

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  3. I feel the same way about Hungry Girl. When she first started with her blog or website or whatever it was...I forget...I subscribed. But then every single thing she recommended I was like, EW! So, I unsubscribed. As for cooking shows - I tend not to watch only because I assume any cooking show will be showing me a recipe that I would have to severely modify to make GF/DF. That and they make me hungry.

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  4. I'm with you on all 3 of your cooking show picks! I also love paula deen (although she is NOT The picture of health lol). I LOVE giada though, more for the calm of her kitchen then her actual recipes!! I love top chef though! Have you ever watched! It is awesome! I DO think that these shows makeyou want to eat more and I love that your reader made known that HG isn't so healthy...she's totally artificial and it drives me nuts how popular she is!

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  5. The best thing I ever ate kills me too! Some of these "food porn" shows can certainly send people to the kitchen after it should have been closed. But I do think that cooking shows may help to motivate people to cook, or at the very least consider ingredients that compose a dish. The hosts usually mention good shopping/budgeting tips too.

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  6. When I worked in publishing I helped edit one of Nigella Lawson's books. After that, I was hooked. Talk about food foreplay! Wow. Not only does she make everything look so fresh and easy, she then eats it as a midnight snack! I am not a fan of Rachel Ray at all, but just made this great veggie/tofu fried rice recipe last night that turned out really well! This was a great post, Lauren!

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  7. I looooove food porn -- tv, cookbooks, magazines, blogs, all of it. I don't watch a whole lot of Food Network anymore, although Best Thing I Ever Ate gets me every time, because it feels pretty dumbed down to me. Love Ina, love Ellie. Otherwise, Guy Fieri and his ilk bore me from a food perspective. But the new Cooking Channel....love at first sight. So much good info about ethnic cooking and food trends. I don't think the food porn makes me eat more when watching/reading, but it does contribute to my overall obsession with food which can't be good.

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  8. I too am glad I am not alone in disliking hungry girl. All day I am talking to clients about getting rid of artificial sweeteners and other "fake" food in their diet and that show is showing you how to use this stuff to take in less calories. Yuck!! I love Ina, Giada and Ellie. I do end up making many of the recipes, but I like to watch the shows to learn tips on how to prepare certain foods, best cooking methods and how to pair flavors. I learn something new about cooking with every show I watch. They definitely make me hungry though watching them!

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  9. Ok Marie, so based on your comment above, am I dumb? Maybe when it comes to TV I am. Dumb and vulnerable.

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  10. My 2 favorites are the same as yours, Ina and Giada. Ina is the one who taught me that any vegetable is good roasted with salt. Honestly, cooking shows taught me to cook. When I was first married, I used to tape (yes, on a VCR) 30-minute meals. I would come home, watch the episode, then go buy the ingredients and make the meal. Over the years, I have shifted away from Rachael Ray's style, but I am thankful for all that she taught me. As for whether or not cooking shows make me hungry, they DEFINITELY do. It turns out that food books also make me hungry. I have been reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver before bed and find myself going to sleep with a rumbling tummy.

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  11. I love cooking shows and watch (via DVR) them regularly. I definitely think I am a better cook from watching and have experimented with foods I otherwise might not have tried. My favorites are Ellie Kreiger, Claire Robinson (love 5-Ingredient Fix), Tyler Florence (he's great but a little advanced for me) and of course Giada. I also like Melissa D's $10 dinners -- good tips/tricks to save money.

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  12. I have no idea why I watch food shows. I never make anything I see on them and yet I somehow find it relaxing to watch others cook. I especially love Giada's show and I am 99% sure she films from her actual Malibu home. She is gorgeous, as is her home!

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  13. OMG, that's not what I meant! My hesitation when typed that line should have been my warning sign. What I meant is that Food Network used to be about cooking and restaurants and, well, food. But now (at least when I'm home), the lineup seems to be about building really big cakes and competitive eating competitions and building table-scapes while making "meals" out of processed stuff. I do love the shows that are about cooking, like Ina and Ellie. But I can do without a lot of their shows now. Remember the PBS series Great Chefs of (name the city)? Or Julia and Jacques? That's my kind of food porn.

    But I would never call you dumb or vulnerable. I'm sorry my comment came off that way.

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  14. Cooking shows always make me hungry even if I just ate, or am on a treadmill! Part of why I prefer to run outside :)
    I always think there should be a Top Chef restaurant that serves the exact same courses as they're presented to the judges. That would be awesome. So, of course I love Top Chef, but also up there on my list are Ina, Giada and Good Eats... and if we're not talking healthy, can't turn off Cake Boss or Ace of Cakes. Yum.

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  15. Food shows and blogs definitely make me hungry! But I just love getting ideas from them.
    I love Giada and Ellie! They are 2 of my favorites. I even have some of their books.

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  16. If anyone has Hulu i would suggest looking up and watching Avec Eric. It's Eric "the silver fox" Ripert's show.
    absolutely beautiful and mostly food trainers friendly. Lots of fish recipe's!

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  17. Great topic, Lauren.

    All TV watching makes people eat more – if it’s not the programming it’s the ads, and the conditioning many of us have to snack while watching.

    Nevertheless I have to thank Ina Garten and her Barefoot Contessa for getting my kids super excited about cooking. They have learned a lot from her, and cook from her books.

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  18. So true and at end of the day (unless we all are at the gym on the mill) it's more time sitting. I love Ina though her panting and increasing size does worry me.

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  19. I have never once watched a Food Network (or other) food TV show and actually made what they prepared. For this reason, I think the shows make us eat more. Does this stop me from watching them? Nope. But in reality, the show just gets us interested in the book that the chefs all sell at local bookstores, and THOSE are the recipes I ultimately make (well, sometimes!). My favorite food show is Good Eats. I love all the food science, and I do actually learn a lot about cooking methods and techniques.

    I can't stand Hungry Girl. I agree with your reader; a lot of her foods are crap! And, she suggests veggie burgers (frozen) for a "lean burger" when many people would much prefer 90/10 ground beef. haha, I'll just never forget when she said that.

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  20. I cannot deal with Hungry Girl - all her stuff is highly processed junk. But i really love "Extra Virgin" on the Cooking channel. It's Debi Mazar and her cutie Tuscan husband, making homestyle Italian cooking. All whole foods, all looks amazing!

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  21. I don't know good eats or extra virgin, excited to try. Love the Hungry Girl hate (not personal) but can't we make things healthful in a natural way...yes we can :)

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  22. oooh...the Extra Virgin show is really good!

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  23. When I first moved out of my mom's house (five years ago!) and could watch whatever I wanted, I got lost in the cooking channel. Mostly Giada and Rachel Ray. I credit quite a bit of my cooking skills to that... I was seriously addicted!! I don't own a television anymore, and so I only watch sometimes when I go to my mom's. I wouldn't say they made me eat more... just eat more food that I could be proud of preparing.

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  24. What a funny post! This was definitely me a few weeks ago. My husband and I were catching up on the last season of Top Chef on a weekend. And it definitely ended with us ordering takeout (albeit gourmet take-out, not fast food).

    Cooking shows are a little less tempting for me, but Top Chef is a dozen plates at a time. I can barely stand it!

    For viewing while on exercise equipment, I love "What Not to Wear." It's entertaining, doesn't take too much attention and it can be kind of motivational, too (I workout in part to look hot in clothes, I admit it).
    -Hannah

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  25. Great post and great comments!

    I watch Food Network shows at the gym when I do cardio, and I always think it's a bit comical, especially when they are making less than healthy foods. I really never cook exactly what I've seen on T.V., but I often get inspirations. I also really enjoy watching Ina and Giada cook.

    I don't actually think watching food shows at the gym influences what I eat as I forget about it by the time I'm done with my workout and showered.

    I have never seen Hungry Girl, but it sounds like her approach is not the best. I certainly think that lots of processed, low calorie foods do not equal health...

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  26. I also enjoy the Barefoot Contessa and Giada, although i have never made any of the recipes. I also like 5-Ingredient Fix, and, I confess, Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives. Talk about unhealthy food! But, my husband and I find it very entertaining, and, yes, it makes me hungry!

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  27. i love cooking shows but never actually follow the recipes they share! i enjoy fancy food competition shows like top chef, but would much rather prepare simpler meals at home. and i always tend to watch these shows after i've cooked and while i'm eating dinner, so i guess i'm into it more for the drama, not the food.

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  28. Giada's would have to be my favorite food-related tv show. Although Top Chef would be a close second.

    Maybe it's the way it's filmed but Giada has a way of making food look stunning. I want to make it right there and then, only to remember that I am not a cook and my pantry is bare!

    I watch a lot of the numerous cupcake challenge shows also.

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  29. sometimes, when they use deathdrop gorgeous girls !! that's not fair!

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  30. Nice blog. This is what I blogged about Iron Chef America http://caroleschatter.blogspot.co.nz/2012/01/iron-chef-america.html

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