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How To Word a Rant About All White Flour

O.K. , I am not a nutritional expert and when I try to talk about it, I'm not sure I can talk the talk. I just know that we have a huge obesity crisis in this country and that all white flour is rather dead nutritionally.

You ever notice how converts are always the most zealous in their (newfound) beliefs? Well, I'm wanting to bring this " begin using some whole graiin flour" message to the various food/recipe sites in which I participate. For example, below is what I just posted on a newly posted recipe on Serious Eats. Could you help me improve the wording? I want to just be able to cut and paste a general message like this when I see the occasion. I hope you won't reprimand me. I'm hoping/trusting that a knowledgeable CH will help me here; otherwise i'll prob just keep posting the message below. I'm being lazy in not doing my own research, but even if i did, i still would trip over the language. I do appreciate your help!

(Plse Improve this Wording):

<What I really want to say, in a bit of a rant voice, is WHY can't Serious Eats baker-recipe developers learn that using all white flour is BAD for you/ empty calories? Particularly in our world of increasing levels of obesity? So many options to keep the flavor good, but increase the nutritional value (nonexistent in an all- white flour recipe). Unless you're craving an angel food cake, use kamut flour ( equal in nutritional value to whole wheat flour, but milder in flavor), half and half to start, for whole grain goodness. And maybe some other whole grain things to add texture (wheat germ, bran, nuts etc.) This cake is heavy anyway, so you can play with lots of healthier components. YOU, as a public voice with a large audience of followers, have an opportunity to start helping change the way we eat in this country. When you lead the way, people will follow. Just sayin'.>

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  1. The obesity epidemic is likely a consequence of the increase in the sugar content in much of our (US) food. See Dr. Lustig's lecture: Sugar — The Bitter Truth.

    1. Maybe don't rant. How about "I tried this recipe with half kamut flour to boost the nutrition and it was great!"

      1 Reply
      1. re: babette feasts

        +1 to this approach. I think subbing whole grain flour for white flour is awesome, and like the extra flavor and texture it brings, but it's not appropriate to every application, everyone's taste buds are different, and no one likes reading a cut-and-paste rant. Make the recipe your way and share your substitution successes! Explain what they bring to the finished product, taste- and texture-wise so that others know what to expect when they do the substitution. Bring more value to the conversation than OMG U R SO UNHEALTHY.

        Also, posting the same message over and over again will likely get you banned or ignored as a troll.

      2. I'd also say that convenience foods play an extremely large part in obesity, much more than the popular flour choice.

        As for your question, I'm not sure you'd be able to reply without sounding preachy. What was the recipe you were commenting on? Perhaps you'd be more successful reworking the recipe and posting your healthier alternative.

        1. Serious Eats is NOT about healthy; it's about delicious.

          So, you're amped about using alternative, more healthy flours - great! Do it and post your results and talk to your friends, etc. Preaching to a recipe developer that they're doing it wrong will never get a god response. Also, the blanket "all white flour is bad for you with empty calories" is kind of silly when you're talking about dessert. I don't want my dessert to be good for me; I want it to taste good. I eat a very varied diet, no processed foods, vegetable I grow myself, etc, etc, etc, but I eat white flour breads and pastries and cookies with absolutely no guilt. I have the feeling that the good people at Serious Eats feel the same. Perhaps instead, you might suggest they start a new column on healthier baking. That might get a better response. Heck, they might even suggest you run it.

          1 Reply
          1. The importance of whole-grain flour in bread is that it provides fiber (what you cal "texture"). I don't imagine many people want fiber in a cake, and those who do probably load it up with sugar anyway to make it palatable. It is better to reduce or give up sweets than to try to make them "healthy."

            As for bread, my observation is that there are very many choices of whole-grain bread available, at least in metropolitan areas.

            1. Serious Eats is not in the nutrition business, so your rant is targeted to the wrong audience. The issue here is not cake - which is not a health food - but how much cake someone eats, and THAT is impossibly beyond SE's reach. The single healthiest approach to cake is not to change the recipe, but to eat a smaller portion of it, less frequently. Fiddling with a cake recipe is not like fiddling with a soup recipe in nutrition terms.

              You're aiming this at them will only make you look utterly ridiculous for failing to get that.

              Besides, you will have tons of folks who will counter-rant that all flours (whole or not) are not terribly "healthy" to begin with, so that your rant would only represent a marginal reduction in "unhealthiness".

              My attitude is: keep dogma out of food, and keep it in religion, where it will do less harm. Food dogmatists who invade recipe sites do not help things one bit. (And I am someone who is not unsympathetic to nutrition issues: many of my own recipes are made by me with spreadsheets for nutrition profiles, and I weigh most of my food and keep a daily food diary. So understand that my caution here comes from a different perspective than you might imagine.)

              2 Replies
              1. re: Karl S

                +1. I hate reading a blog about, say, hot dogs, and then SOMEONE always has to pipe up about how meat is murder, nitrates, nitrites, etc. etc. etc. If I'm going to read a blog/article/recipe about a cake, the last thing I want is to have to scroll through someone's off-topic rant about the obesity epidemic. There's a time a place, and a cake recipe is neither the time nor the place for politics.

                You say they have an opportunity to start helping change, but they have no obligation to do so.

              2. Start your own blog, don't complain on others.

                I believe in making information accessible to others but your format isn't the way to do it.

                If you need to be told this look to the soda ban in NYC as an example of how people don't like being told what to do. Whether you agree or disagree isn't my point, it's that you need to look at the reaction of many of the people to understand that a post such as yours will only ever get many people to associate your user name with your being a nutcase and you will be ignored every time.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Astur

                  Or how many of Mark Bittman's former fans who think he has just gotten far too cranky since he tried to fill the shoes of Healthy Food Advocate/Scold. (I think it was a serious career mistake for him, one that will not end up being terribly fulfilling unless his idea of fulfilling is anointing himself as a prophetic Sisyphus.)

                  Marcella Hazan and Madeleine Kamman get to be scolds on cooking technique: it's their schtick and they do it well. People who are OCD about nutrition, however, should stay far away from recipe boards other than to quietly submit recipes without the homilies and scolding, else they will be treated like the over-earnest vegans and macrobiotic folk of the 1970s.

                  So, give me a good recipe, explain why the unusual ingredients make it at least as equally delicious or even more delicious than conventional approaches. Provide the nutritional information. Do NOT say it's healthier in any way, shape or form, and do NOT denigrate the conventional approaches: either of those will scream "This recipe will probably suck" to the average recipe hound. People who seek out healthy food for healthy food's sake are not looking at cake recipes: they are eating fruit and cooking fish and lean meat and roasting vegetables (and having very small portions of decadent sweets and other temptations as an occasional treat - and they don't care about making those healthier, because they are using portion control to make that a marginal issue).

                  1. Not going to pull any punches. IMO, you will sound like a troll. One analogy I can think of would be going to the forum of the Semi-Homemade show, and posting about how it takes only 30 seconds to prepare a from-scratch pizza dough or fresh vegetable soup.

                    I frequent some forums related to cat-herding and especially cat nutrition. Believe me, people food is a Sunday stroll in the park compared to the minefield of opinions regarding cat food. You probably would not go on a raw feeding subforum to tell them that Meow Mix is on sale this week, and if it is good enough for your cats, it's good enough for theirs.

                    I would take this rant-y feeling as a sign that my interests and concerns have evolved beyond the scope of Serious Eats, and look for another community of like-minded cooks who want to prepare foods that taste good and are good for you. (Hey, that oughta be an ad slogan!) Besides feeling you can relate to the topic, the content there would be genuinely useful to you.

                    1. Everything is bad for you, duh!

                      Those are TREATS, what nutritional value are we talking about? It's like trying to increase nutritional value of alcohol.
                      Your rant should be about teaching people how to eat in moderation (even your cake with kamut flour or whatever other healthy ingredient is not good when not part of balanced diet and eaten in large quantities).

                      1. Don't make my cake more nutritious. It is cake. I want it to be cake.

                        Kamut? Truvia? Tofu? Leave them where they belong and keep them the hell out of my cake.

                        The means to making our society a healthier one isn't @ changing the components of a food like chocolate cake, it is about getting people to move more. It is about getting them to eat proper nutritious foods as a habit, and sweets as the occasional treats they should be. elevating cake to a healthier place in the food chain is ignoring the real problems.

                        I love whole grains. Heck I eat whole wheat pasta, quinoa, and brown rice. Most days I have some sort of spinach salad as part of my breakfast. I eat massive amounts of fresh produce. Eating habits like those are a part of keeping me fit, healthy, and happy.

                        Let them eat cake.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Brandon Nelson

                          Or let me eat cake. A small piece. Really. Just sometimes.

                          Or: Put that cake recipe down, and no one gets hurt.

                          1. re: Karl S

                            Can I have a small slice of key lime pie instead?

                            1. re: Brandon Nelson

                              YES! YES! YES! Rock on, Brandon Nelson!

                            2. What the others said...plus whole grain flours are not ~always~ the best nutritional advice for ~everyone~ so you have to be careful.
                              If you are not an MD, don't play one on the internet.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: pedalfaster

                                If you are not an MD, don't play one on the internet.
                                great line and what's good advice on posting in SE is also good advice on CH.
                                Even on the special diets board I'd love to see a few credentials.

                                FWIW, OP-if you want to be heard call Ed on the telephone. He's people friendly and likes hearing from SE'ers.

                                1. re: pedalfaster

                                  More good advice from someone with a great screen name. Pedaling faster is a smart part of the game plan, too!

                                  1. re: pedalfaster

                                    Thank goodness someone finally said it...

                                    'If you are not an MD, don't play one on the internet.'

                                    There are a very few 'food scolders' on CH, and I have walked away from a thread now and then to keep myself from scolding the scolder. But if I am asking for recipes for cake, or smoothies, or bread or rice, I am asking for recipes, not nutritional advice. We even have a Special Diets forum here on CH now for those who must argue with their food, and that's great. But please don't drag your arguments into my dinner. I eat healthy, and in moderation, and live an active life. If I want cake, dammit, I just want cake.

                                  2. Start your own blog, don't complain on others.

                                    Yes. If you feel so strongly about this, and I sympathize with you on this issue, then start a learning blog that showcases ways to make baking more healthy.

                                    Whether or not you use whole grains, please know that diabetics still should not eat that much of the stuff. And overeating whole grain muffins will still pack on the pounds. Yes, enriched and unenriched, white flour is not a food to eat at every meal. But then neither is whole grain flour really.

                                    And, the problem isn't limited to white flour, but also to white rice, pasta, and potato flour. Its an epidemic of cheap calories of nutritionally empty carbs out there.

                                    1. With all due respect, save your rant for another board. White flour has existed for ages and if people can't learn to close their mouths when full, that's their problem. Even if we change the recipe to so it's half the fat and 1/4th the calories, greedy fools would think that's an invitation to eat 4 times more food.

                                      Serious Eats is for serious food lovers. If people don't like it, there's always Weight Watchers.

                                      1. http://www.seriouseats.com/bios/?ref=...

                                        I still say reach out to SE, the folks there are super approachable and have some solid cred. Know your site owners before you send a formal rant :)