Alton Brown’s “Diet” ~ Rachel

Alton Brown is best known as the zany host of Good Eats on the Food Network, a show that combines science and cuisine in an oddly entertaining half-hour of television.  Since I’m a geeky scientist AND I like to cook, it’s a great show for me, unless of course he’s covering topics like olives (S9.Ep21) which I won’t put in my mouth.

Recently, Alton lost a bunch of weight. So much so, in fact, that the interweb was a flutter about how sickly he looked. I have to admit, it took a little while to get used to his skinny self but I know his less than skinny self was not healthy. Anyways, he did an episode on his “diet” and gave us some guidelines on how to eat. Apparently, his “diet” resembled the South Beach Diet. I don’t believe in diets because they forbid foods and I don’t think forbidding certain foods is the answer. However, Alton has some good (and interesting) suggestions for how to eat:

Foods to Eat Daily: Fruits, whole grains, leafy greens, nuts, carrots, green teas

Foods to Eat 3 Times per Week: Oily fish, yogurt, broccoli, sweet potato, avocado

Foods to Limit to Once per Week: Red meat, pasta, desserts, alcohol

Foods Totally Eliminated: Fast food, soda pop, processed meals, canned soup, any type of “diet” foods

I’m not going to touch upon all of these items and I can’t speak to some of Alton’s reasoning (like for instance, why broccoli gets its own shout-out), but here are some thoughts and suggestions on some of the items.

Daily fruit: I’m not a fruit eater. I know I should be, but I’d choose a plate of brussel sprouts over an orange any day of the week. It’s not that I dislike fruit…it’s just not my thing. Not to mention that fruit is much more expensive and seems to never actually be in season. I don’t like buying produce if it’s not in season since it rarely tastes great and the carbon footprint it left getting to my grocery store is too big.  Am I worried that I don’t eat enough fruit? Nah…I’ll figure it out one of these days. For now, I’ll just keep adding spinach to every meal.

Sweet potatoes: I think I would eat sweet potatoes every day if I could. But only if there aren’t any marshmallows involved. I don’t think it counts as food if there are marshmallows in it.  Here’s a really good recipe from Weight Watchers that incorporates sweet potatoes: Cuban-Style Pork and Sweet Potato Slow Cooker Stew

Avocado: I would eat avocado every day too, if I could. Half of a medium avocado is about 4 points…that’s like eating a 4oz portion of chicken breast. Is it worth the points? Oh hell yeah! My new thing to do is to mash up half an avocado, add a small chopped tomato with its seeds and juices, add one Light Laughing Cow Cheese Wedge and some Tony’s Creole Seasoning (which I put on everything) and throw it all on a flatbread with some low-sodium deli turkey meat. I ran out of those flatbreads (which are only one point) so I think I will eat my guacamole concoction with some Food Should Taste Good Multigrain chips today.  Avocados might be high-ish in fat but it’s a great monounsaturated fat that might help lower cholesterol. They are also great sources of potassium, folate, Vitamin E and carotenoids. I’ll happily eat those points. It’s like paying good money for a quality purse. Or something like that. I buy my purses at Kohls because I am brutal on them and they don’t last long. I’ll happily spend my money…and points… on good foods.

The Foods You Should Eliminate

Fast Food: Michael Pollan says it’s not food if it came through the window of your car. Point taken. One day I will give up Taco Bell (which I affectionately call Toxic Hell) but until then, I can at least make better choices there.

Soda Pop: I’m from western PA so it’s just pop to me. Diet Dr. Pepper with Cherry is like liquid crack to me and I absolutely love root beer. I don’t think I’m giving up pop anytime soon. But I can certainly decrease my intake and make sure it’s diet every time. Small baby steps…

Processed Meals: I don’t eat a lot of these to begin with but every now and then I need a Lean Cuisine meal because of time constraints (or I don’t want to fix lunch). The butternut squash ravioli is my favorite…and really the only one I buy.

Canned Soups: Full of sodium, not so full on taste. Make your own soup. It’ll be much much better!

“Diet” foods: I’ve touched upon this before but let me just reiterate that the Weight Watcher’s Ice Cream Candy Bars are DELISH. I think I have one nightly. And no, that probably won’t change for awhile.

Sorry for the long post. I was having trouble deciding on what to write about and then lo and behold, I just started rambling. Have a good weekend y’all!

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  • Jane  On February 5, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    I also love Alton! And I’m a science geek who loves to cook! I think his list is reasonably sensible, although I also wonder why carrots and broccoli get individual attention. I don’t do too badly on that list because I eat a mostly vegetarian diet with fish or other seafood five or six times a month.

    Good luck with the baby steps toward no soda!

    • Rachel Palmieri  On February 5, 2010 at 3:31 pm

      Hi Jane! Thanks for finding me here. I checked out your blog and I see we both struggle with fruit 🙂

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