The health halo strikes again

Since the Seattle ABC affiliate saw tragically fit to not air Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on Friday (which I didn’t know until I actually turned on the TV to watch it), Jeff and I ended up watching it online Sunday evening. Imagine our shock and horror to find that, nearly to a one, every single commercial was for processed food.

Yes, I’m serious.
Not fast food, and not the junkiest of junk food, but that special breed of processed food that tries to look like real food. Only it’s not. We’re talking a brand of ravioli that’s all glossed up to look fancy and elegant, as if fancy and elegant equals healthy. We’re also talking frozen fettuccine Alfredo (45% calories from fat) with a whole serving of vegetables. Like, wow! A whole half-cup of veggies. Sign me up…not! In case you’re curious, here’s the ingredient list:

Blanched Fettuccini (Water, Semolina, Wheat Gluten), Skim Milk, Cooked White Meat Chicken (White Meat Chicken, Water, Modified Tapioca Starch, Chicken Flavor [Dried Chicken Broth, Chicken Powder, Natural Flavor], Carrageenan, Whey Protein Concentrate, Soybean Oil, Corn Syrup Solids, Sodium Phosphate, Salt), Broccoli, Carrots, Soybean Oil, Water, Red Peppers, Parmesan Cheese (Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes), 2% or Less of Asiago Cheese (Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Modified Cornstarch, Sea Salt, Romano Cheese ([Made from Cow’s Milk], Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes), Enzyme Modified Parmesan Cheese (Cultured Milk, Water, Salt, Enzymes), Sugar, Seasoning (Maltodextrin, Flavor, Enzyme Modified Butterfat), Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Whey Protein Concentrate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Lactose (Contains Milk), Datem, Spice, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid, Calcium Lactate, Seasoning (Wheat Starch, Extracts of Annatto and Turmeric Color, Natural Flavor).

Does that look like real food to you? Me, either. I find it deeply ironic that in this episode of Food Revolution, Jamie was schooling his students to avoid any food that has words you can’t identify on the ingredient label.
Clearly, Mr. Oliver is not responsible for the ads placed on his show. But I had fun trying to guess who the advertisers were trying to target with these ads. In other words, who is watching Food Revolution? Based on the ads, I would guess a large segment of the demographic (real or perceived) is made up of people who like the idea of eating healthier, and know they should eat healthier, but either: 
  1. Don’t really want to step up to the plate (so to speak) and actually prepare a healthy meal that didn’t come in a box, or
  2. Think that these processed foods being advertised are truly healthy, either because of the healthy-sounding buzzwords in the ad itself, or because it’s being advertised during Jamie’s show (as if he was endorsing these foods, which I’m quite sure he’s not). The “health halo” effect, in action.
Sigh. One serving of veggies at dinner is not enough. There are many schools of thought on what a healthy diet is (Mediterranean, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, Asian, macrobiotic, raw food, etc.), but I think advocates for each would agree that you need more than a half-cup of veggies at dinner. And at lunch, too.
Tonight, we each had a grilled chicken andouille sausage (from Whole Foods) along with fresh sauerkraut, a pile of kale chips (a half-bunch of kale each), and a little fennel-orange salad from one of my old-school cookbooks, Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. I had a fennel bulb that needed to be used, I had oranges, I had lemons, I had olive oil. Game on! This was a simple little dish, super fast to make, that is a perfect crunchy-and-refreshing accompaniment to a richer main dish. I halved the recipe, but I’m posting the full recipe below.
Fennel and Orange Salad
Serves 4-6
2 fennel bulbs
4 oranges
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Remove feathery leaves and stalks of the fennel. Slice off root end and discard it. Discard any discolored or damaged outer layers.
  2. Thinly slice the fennel bulb crosswise. If the bulb is large, you may want to first cut the bulb in half lengthwise. 
  3. Place fennel slices in bowl. Section the oranges into the bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, or until ready to serve.