Saturday, August 25, 2012

Paula Works Out

Paula's Best Dishes with Paula Deen

Paula has her personal trainers in the kitchen with her today. She’s going to cook a healthful meal and then work out with them. She IS looking good these days and that can only bode well for her health.

One of the trainers, Drew, is a hugely ripped guy (muscularly speaking) and Shaz is his very pregnant wife. Paula hands them knives and puts them to work chopping vegetables. I’m happy there is no mandolin involved, because these folks may be good at squat thrusts and chin ups, but not necessarily manipulating vegetables next to sharp blades.

A question. When you have folks in your kitchen, do you casually hand out knives and let people go at it? I’m not quite as relaxed as Miss Paula. I need to have my zucchini cut just so and my carrots in an even dice. I am definitely guilty of the I-can-do-it-better-myself syndrome. HOWEVER, that is only in the kitchen. I would never have a problem with someone else wielding a vacuum in my house, cleaning up newspapers or dusting. (What’s that?)

Paula mixes all the (unevenly) chopped vegetables together with salt (too much), ground oregano, red wine vinegar and 2 or THREE tablespoons of olive oil. (ONE would have been enough.) She sprays her grill pan with Pam, which really makes it difficult to clean properly.

I’ve started applying Pam differently than I used to. I use fewer non-stick pans these days and things DO stick to stainless steel. So I spray a good amount of Pam into the CENTER of the pan and I spread it around by hand, not with a paper towel. (That would waste too much Pam.) And if you spray the whole pan - including the sides - you end up with those burned-on driplets that are impossible to remove. That's why I would never spray a grill pan. I would just do the same thing and spray a big wadge of it in the middle and then spread it around the surface.

Shaz asks Paula if THIS (a more healthy style) is how she cooks every day. That gives Paula the opportunity to launch into her the-butter-stuff-is-just-for-television-and-I-wouldn’t-be-able-to-fit-through-the-door-if-I-cooked-that-way-everyday speech.

Paula puts the vegetables on the grill and emphasizes, “We eat a tremendous amount of vegetables in the south.” 

Next she and Shaz are making a maple glaze for salmon. Paula starts by saying she’s going to melt a half a stick of butter. “NOT MUCH,” she hurriedly adds before anyone has time to say anything. She tells Shaz to mix up 2 tablespoons of Dijon, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and ¼ cup of maple syrup.

Hold on a sec. Since when do you need butter in a marinade for fish? Of course, butter added to ANYTHING (except maybe iced tea) makes stuff taste better, but we’re in our workout clothes here with personal trainers just inches away. Skip the butter. OR add dramatically less, just for the flavor. Also the ¼ cup of maple syrup is too much. If you’ve got 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, just match that amount. You don’t need to double it.

I really think the idea here should be to get away with adding as few fatty or sweet ingredients as possible. Don’t add them when you don’t need them and don’t take them away when you do. (On that last point, wait until you see the coconut pie.)

Paula adds a lot of black pepper to the marinade and then stirs in the butter. She pours that all over the salmon steaks, which, by the way, have that faint pallid color of farm-raised salmon. I KNOW IT’S SO MUCH CHEAPER, but, gosh, does it pale in comparison to the flavor (and color) (and nutrition) of wild salmon.

Paula has Drew push the vegetables to one side (he does have huge muscles, after all) and she puts the salmon on the grill, skin side down. She cooks it until the skin is crispy and turns it over to finish cooking. She serves up the salmon with vegetables. It looks good, but there’s more fat and sugar than there needs to be.

I’ve found that the least amount of olive oil and salt I can get away with for a baking sheet full of vegetables is 1 tablespoon of oil (I use the best extra virgin) and ¼ teaspoon of Kosher salt. If you're vigilant about coating the vegetables well, those amounts are fine.

Next Shaz is going to show Paula how to make a “Cut The Calorie Coconut Pie”. The crust sounds normal - graham crackers and butter. That goes into the pie dish and it gets refrigerated instead of baked. (Baking would give it a toastier flavor).

Then Shaz adds 2 cups of milk to a pot with 2 beaten eggs. Paula immediately identifies it as skim milk and tries not to wince. (I hate skim milk, so I’m with her on that.)

Paula whisks that over heat as Drew adds a teaspoon of salt. (!!!) Paula adds 2 tablespoons of flour. I guess the healthy part is the watery milk?

Shaz adds 2 tablespoons of sugar substitute. Seriously, I don’t even know what that is. Is that what people with diabetes are supposed to do? I liberate those pink packets from restaurants, so I have some in the house if anyone ever wants it, but I would never actually use it myself.

And COOKING with it? IS that healthy? It doesn’t feel that way to me. Shaz says, “It’s really good for you, because you’re not actually using REAL sugar.” But is this stuff any better?

Paula says okay to everything. Shaz says this pie is 225 calories per slice. How many of those calories come with that artificial taste in the back of your mouth?

Paula shows off her biceps to Drew as she whisks the filling and says, “Not bad for 64, is it?” AND, she adds, she can run to that table over there with no problem. Paula is such a cut-up. Drew says she’s doing a good job of RUNNING that mouth too. (Isn't that a little rude?) Paula says if running her mouth counted as exercise, she’d weigh 15 or 20 pounds. Funny. And I love how she says pounds. Pih-yow-nnds.

Shaz brings the mixture to the boil, adds the vanilla off the heat with 2 cups of organic unsweetened shredded coconut. They make the point that there’s no butter in the recipe. Paula says it would taste better WITH some butter. They fill the crust and refrigerate it for 10 to 20 minutes.

Paula tells them she invited a friend over to exercise with them. Drew says pain loves company. Paula’s best friend Donna comes in just in time for them to finish making the pie. Paula says she can’t wait to get to the exercise. (Yeah, sure.)

For the topping, Paula measures a cup of cream and adds more sugar substitute and coconut. Is there a bit of a disconnect here? I know I’m clueless about a diabetic diet. I get that sugar is evil, but, really, is fat okay??? Plus I AM a bit confused. Before the break, Paula said they’d be making a meringue for the pie and now they’re covering it in (a thin layer of) fakely sweetened whipped cream and then a bit more coconut. I’m pretty sure the point of cutting down or cutting OUT sugar isn’t to add a load of cream to the dish.

The pie goes into the fridge for 2 hours, while the gang goes outside to work out. Donna and Paula pass around a ball the size of large honeydew. Donna keeps dropping the ball and Drew says every time she drops it, she owes him 10 pushups and for Paula - TWENTY pushups. Paula says “I ain’t dropping my ball, honey!”

As they move to other exercises, Drew is wiping HIS brow with the effort it takes to keep these two moving. Paula announces that the exercise should end with the stair climber. Paula is really excited and RUNS (more or less) up the stairs and announces “To the kitchen!”

Drew pretends to be upset that the workout is over and he goes to inspect Paula’s fridge as she gets the pie out. She tells him not to touch her mayonnaise or butter. They cut the pie and Donna says that Bobby Deen would love this pie. Is that some kind of promo for his recipes-my-mama-makes-but-without-the-fat-and-calories show?

Paula says coconut cream is her favorite pie. Shaz says (again) that this pie is 225 calories a slice as opposed to 425 calories for regular coconut cream pie. (The recipe says it serves 8.) Shaz adds that the pie also has 14 grams of fat per slice. Wouldn’t that have been A LOT less if they had covered it in meringue instead of whipped cream? But again I guess the villain is sugar. 

This whole thing is somewhat confusing.

Paula asks when they are going to work out again. Drew says in ten minutes. Paula says she was thinking they should plan it for the same time…NEXT YEAR. Next August, we should tune in to see if Drew and Shaz are back...and if Paula has added to her sit-up and push-up count.

The sweetener suggested in the recipe is Truvia. Here are two interesting posts about sweeteners – natural and not - from
Is Truvia Healthy?
My Natural Sweeteners of Choice (I’ve always felt that agave was a bit of a con.)


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Talk about a headline that draws your attention. Who wouldn't be intrigued in a train-wreck sort of way at the idea of her working out?

I get the butter thing. Maybe the trainers encourage a paleo diet. A lot of new-agey nutritionists are abandoning supposedly healthful oils for butter because good quality grass-fed butter is way more natural than heavily processed canola oil or vegetable oil (which is made from soybeans and there is a pretty vocal anti-soy crowd among the new-agey nutritionists). There is also a belief that without fat, your body will not absorb the calcium and vitamin D in milk, so that's why she didn't use skim? Granted, not much else in her show indicated she's on any sort of diet of this type.

Sue said...

Hi Rach,
AND we did see Paula shifting those balls around!

The trainers definitely did not say they followed a paleo diet. I have no problem with a bit of butter in the right place (which always seems to land on the wrong place!), but HERE it was unnecessary. AND if they had used WILD salmon, which has so much more flavor, they REALLY wouldn't have needed it.

I just don't think a recipe that uses butter and maple sugar can be labelled as particularly healthy. Delicious? YES, but that's another story.

I'm all for 1% milk, but the trainer used skim. Calcium absorption is just an added benefit to the much improved taste.