Gluten For Punishment
Oh, this tastes “healthy.”
That’s perhaps the worst thing somebody can say about savory snacks or bakery products.
Okay, maybe there are some more descriptive words to describe a lousy-tasting bun, bagel or energy bar. Garbage, cardboard, sawdust and ack-ack-ack come to mind. Or how about using any one of the many alternatives for the big doo-doo?
No, none of these terms are quite vile as the h-word.
Yuk. That tastes “healthy.”
“Healthy” has gotten a bad rap over the years because so many of the “better-for-you” products taste like “poep,” as my Dutch friends like to say.
Take the fat-free snacks when they first came out in the early 1990s. I don’t want to dump on any company, but when we received the first samples, the response was anything but enthusiastic. In fact, I remember Ray Lahvic, my editor at the time, grabbing a cookie, taking a bite and saying, “Geez, I wouldn’t feed this [kakashka] to my dog.”
Yes, “healthy” failed the dog test.
A decade later during the Food Marketing Institute show, a good bud of mine invited me to try his company’s low-carb whole wheat bread.
“We’re not the first on the market with this product because we wanted to make the best out there,” he said.
He handed me a slice, and I chewed and chewed and chewed. And chewed and chewed and chewed. My eyes soon started to wander. They almost began to water. I started to search for a trashcan, but I must have not been too discreet about it.
“Don’t you dare spit that out,” he said.
Then we had the Omega-3 fish oil phenomena where the ingredient was purified so that it didn’t taste like a rotting carp on a hot summer day. I plopped two slices in the toaster and a minute later my wife’s yelling from upstairs, “What the hell are you making down there? It smells like [high heaven] up here.”
Since then, I’ve been banned from cooking anything that swims under water. Thankfully, the technology has improved since the early days. Either that, or I have lost my sense of smell.
Now, everybody is rolling out gluten-free pretzels and other snacks, and they taste “oh-so healthy.” Sure, I can understand avoiding gluten if someone had celiac disease. Actually, I feel sorry for anybody who has to eat gluten-free products because they taste so puke-in free. They’re simply like low-carb snacks with a bad makeover.
Fortunately with the whole grain movement, bakers and snack producers have learned that less is not necessarily better when it comes to health. Today, it all boils down to basic mathematics, says Harry Balzer, vice president at The NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y.
“A generation ago it was about subtracting bad things from your diet, but today healthy eating is more a matter of addition and subtraction,” he says.
Wholesome is now the new healthy. The best “healthy” products are those made with ripe bananas, real blueberries and other from-the-earth natural ingredients. As seen with the evolution of “made with whole grains” white bread, the industry is redefining the taste of “healthy” by adding a little honest-to-goodness to their products without changing their texture or flavor.
So next time someone gives you something that remotely looks, smells or tastes “healthy,” just tell them where to stick it.
Give ya’ a hint. It’s not far away from where doo-doo, kaka and poep come from.
Dan Malovany, editor