A foodie's quest to turn up the heat through strength and conditioning with whole food and a hungry mind.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Eat All the Junk Food You Want…..

….as long as you cook it yourself. Did the title catch your attention? When I read the first part of this sentence in Michael Pollan’s book, “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” I didn’t know what to think. Then I finished the sentence and it made sense. Mr. Pollan is a great author with very interesting and informative books on food and culture. I take a lot of his suggestions to heart, and the junk food one is no exception.

The following quote is from an interview with Mr. Pollan when asked what his favorite rule is:

“Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.” That gets at a lot of our issues. I love French fries, and I also know if I ate French fries every day it would not be a good thing. One of our problems is that foods that are labor or money intensive have gotten very cheap and easy to procure. French fries are a great example. They are a tremendous pain to make. Wash the potatoes, fry potatoes, get rid of the oil, clean up the mess. If you made them yourself you’d have them about once a month, and that’s probably about right. The fact that labor has been removed from special occasion food has made us treat it as everyday food. One way to curb that and still enjoy those foods is to make them. Try to make your own Twinkie. I don’t even know if you can. I imagine it would be pretty difficult. How do you get the cream in there?"

In support of Pollan’s rule, I’d like to post a couple “junk food” recipes to enjoy at home and stop wasting time with the processed stuff in a box or food chain. Let’s start with the fries..

First, here’s the ingredient list for McDonald’s French Fries from their website.
French Fries:

Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*, citric acid [preservative]), dextrose, sodium acid

pyrophosphate (maintain color), salt. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to

preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.

CONTAINS: WHEAT AND MILK *(Natural beef flavor contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as starting ingredients).
Cut out the fast food fix and try these Baked French Fries instead:

1 large baking potato
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder


1.Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).

2.Cut potato into wedges. Mix olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder and onion powder together. Coat potatoes with oil/spice mixture and place on a baking sheet.

3.Bake for 45 minutes in preheated oven.
This is a good recipe to use as a base, but you can substitute sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, or any other starchy vegetable. Have fun and try something new while knowing you can pronounce the ingredients you’re eating.

Another junk food favorite is Mozzarella Sticks. Try these baked cheese sticks at home (have your kids help!) and never succumb to the fried from frozen fast food chain sticks again.

Mozzarella Sticks
8 ounces mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons flour
2 eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 teaspoons melted butter
1 Cut cheese in 1/2" x 1/2" x 3" sticks.
2 Toss with flour and set aside.
3 In small bowl, beat together eggs and water and set aside.
4 In separate bowl, combine bread crumbs, italian seasoning and garlic powder.
5 Dip sticks in egg mixture, then coat with crumbs.
6 Repeat this process.
7 Place on a plate in a single layer, cover with foil and chill for 2 hours.
8 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
9 Place cheese sticks on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with melted butter.
10 Bake until crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes.
11 Heat a little spaghetti sauce to use for dipping.
For quick snack ideas, just make sure to always have baby carrots on hand. Or, buy a few veggies like jicama, turnips, broccoli, and celery; then wash, cut, and store to be ready throughout the week. It may only take an hour to prepare these cut up treats to help keep you from turning to that bag of chips in the pantry.
These are fun to make and a rewarding treat. Making your own “junk food” will help minimize the amount of bad foods you eat by introducing the labor aspect as it should be. Try cutting junk food out for a month, I bet you’ll feel a lot better in the end!

Here’s a picture of mechanically processed meat from Fooducate.com that is used for things like hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and pepperoni. Let this be motivation to cook your food and know what you’re eating.

Craving something bad from a food chain? Search on how to make it yourself and get in the kitchen to put those pots, pans, and utensils to work!  Heck, break a sweat while your at it...cooking is a good workout too!


  1. Great idea for simply enjoying the things you like to eat. Transforming junk food into a healthy snack. I agree with you that not enough people cook at home.

  2. Thank you, Antropia, cooking gives you a great sense of satisfation too!