Monday, January 11, 2010
Hey, it can't be all olive oil, all the time. Sometimes you just need a little butter in your life. Well, at least I do.
Now let it be noted that I said a little. I feel the need to mention this because everyone's favorite artery-clogger, Paula Deen, featured a recipe on the Food Network during an episode of her show titled "The Lighter Side." The recipe, which I'm sure is delicious, called for 8 tablespoons of butter.
Interesting! I didn't know that cooking fish for 4 people in a stick of butter was an ass-reducing method! Even I, who suckity-suck at math can figure that that's 2 tablespoons of butter per person, adding an additional 200 calories per serving.
Now I don't know about y'all, but if I'm going to consume 200 extra calories, it's gonna be on a Mojito or something, not fish, for Heaven's sake.
Which brings me to another point. Americans are fat. We are fatter than ever. We are also busier than ever and work harder than ever. Which means that when hunger strikes, we often eat out. And when we eat out, we don't really know how our meal is prepared behind the closed doors of a restaurant kitchen.
Oh, sure, we think we do. We're not stupid. Any person worried about the size of her backside knows that she shouldn't order the Fettuccine Alfredo, the Chicken-Fried Steak or the gut bomb that is the Outback Blooming Onion.
A girl who worries about the size of her butt navigates a menu carefully, makes shrewd decisions. She orders the Chopped Salad, the Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry, the Asian Grilled Salmon with Rice.
Menu-Savvy Girl, I applaud you. You are diligent and you are wise. So...why is your ass still fat?
Your ass is still fat because even when you make "smart" entree choices, the chef behind the closed door fattens it up with plenty of butter or oil or cream because--NewsFlash! Butter and oil and cream make food taste delicious!
Case in Point: I was leafing through my husband's Men's Health magazine (which is a great magazine, by the way) and stumbled across an article about this very same issue. Health-conscious diner walks into a restaurant, scans the menu, makes health-conscious entree selection. Wrong-o.
Say, for instance, you walk into P.F. Changs China Bistro. You are informed enough to avoid calorie grenades like the fried Crab and Cream Cheese Wontons, the Dan-Dan Noodles or the General Tso's Chicken. You aren't stupid.
You choose a healthy menu option like Asian Grilled Salmon with Rice. You eat your meal, enjoy the time out, feel good about your healthy dinner. Which had, unbeknownst to you, 734 calories, 32 grams of fat and 1,306 mg of sodium.
Is your jaw on the floor? Good, because mine sure was. Because you know what? I've actually ordered and eaten that thing. That flubbery sound you're hearing? That's the junk in my trunk. It's growing.
My point, and it's a cruel one, is that eating out on a regular basis will make you fat, even when you're trying to make informed food choices. Truly, the only way you can control the fat and calorie content in your food is to make it yourself. Sorry. I know that message sucks really hard.
I guess the only good news is that eating at home will also save you money, so there's solace in that. I think we're all a little worried about money nowadays, right?
I not telling you to stop eating at restaurants. Even I am not that big of a bitch. Eating out is fun, and social, and part of a balanced life. I definitely eat out, and I'm concerned about my health and the size of my hiney.
I'm just making the leeeetle suggestion that you eat out less. As in, less than one meal out of three, which is what the average American does. That's kind of a scary statistic there.
And instead of eating that P.F. Chang's ass-busting salmon, I'm making this.
Salmon with Ginger Soy Butter
from Men's Health Magazine
4 salmon fillets, 4 to 6 ounces each
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for an hour or two
1/2 tablespoon minced chives
1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Juice of one lemon
1/2 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
Combine everything except the salmon in a bowl and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are incorporated.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil or canola oil in a large stainless-steel saute pan over medium-high heat.* Season the salmon with salt and pepper; when the oil is lightly smoking, add the fish, flesh side down, to the pan. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the skin is lightly charred and crisp.** Flip the fish and cook for 2-3 minutes more, until the flesh flakes with gentle pressure from your finger but is still slightly translucent in the middle. (Salmon is best served medium, but if you want yours completely cooked, saute for another 2 to 3 minutes.)
Serve the salmon with a generous spoonful of the flavored butter, which should begin to melt on contact.***
per serving: 390 calories (salmon only, cooked the Men's Health way; my way is more like 337).
cost per serving: $2.46
* I am lucky enough to own a Calphalon ridged grill pan. It's awesome. It's extremely efficient and non-stick, so I got away with brushing the salmon fillets with a mere 1/2 tablespoon of oil and then plopping them onto my grill pan. It came out perfect, did not stick and I saved 150 calories in the overall dish. If you don't have this pan, you should get one. Only caveat: do not put your expensive Calphalon pan in the dishwasher. Hand-wash this baby. The dishwasher will take away all of it's magical non-stick capabilities. I learned this the hard way.
** If you prefer, you can use skinless salmon fillets
*** I decided to melt the butter and combine it with the rest of the sauce ingredients, because I wanted to be able to drizzle a little of it over the side dishes of rice and steamed snap peas. It tasted terrific this way!
Interested in guest posting on this blog? Click here!