Friday, June 21, 2013

Food Reward Friday

This week's lucky "winner"... low-carb gluten-free bacon chocolate mocha ice cream cake!!



WHS reader Nick sent me this one (thanks!).  The cake is a "dense, brownie-like chocolate cake, nestling layers of coffee ice cream", with "whipped chocolate ganache, and pressed crunchy crumbled bacon into the sides", etc.  I have to hand it to creator Melissa Sevigny, this cake looks TASTY.  Cake + Bacon = Food Reward.

This is not just any old fattening unhealthy white flour cake though-- this is a slimming, healthy low-carb gluten-free cake!  So go ahead and eat the whole thing*.

Seriously though, this is a great example of how people go wrong with healthy eating.  Start with a reasonable rule of thumb, then end up undermining it with culinary work-arounds.  For example, eating whole foods tends to be a good idea, but if your interpretation of that is eating whole wheat scones every day, you may not get the outcome you're looking for...


* I didn't see Sevigny make any claims about the cake being slimming or healthy.  Still, the fact that the cake is described as low-carb and gluten-free will imply to many people that it's healthy.

Image credit: Melissa Sevigny.

28 comments:

Matthew Green said...

Ah, an ice-cream cake... perfect for a hot summer!

Mellissa Sevigny said...

Thank you for posting a link to my bacon cake! I feel it necessary to point out in response to this dubious honor though, that 1) this cake was made specifically for a baking contest and does not represent how I normally cook or eat, and 2) it's obviously over the top, and therefore meant for special occasions.

Maybe I'm giving them too much credit, but I like to think that the majority of people on a low carb and/or gluten free diet can look at something like this and say "Wow, I bet that tastes awesome, but I probably shouldn't eat it every day." To help people make those kinds of decisions, I also post the calories, fat, net carbs, and protein for my recipes, so that they can budget and track accordingly.

I believe that Diabetics, Celiacs, and even people looking to lose weight through low carb eating deserve to indulge in a treat or reward occasionally, within the confines of their eating plan. To suggest otherwise is both judgemental, and bordering on irresponsible.

I appreciate your thoughts on food as a reward being a potential minefield, however, an all or nothing dogmatic approach is just as damaging long term, in my opinion.

And by the way, this bacon cake? Worth every single carb and calorie! ;)

Melissa Mcewen said...

What is this I don't even...

Imagine if instead of having this monstrosity at home, someone just ate cake when they were out with friends, sharing a single NORMAL slice of good cake, which probably tastes better and definitely has a fraction of the calories. They'd be so much better off.

Robyn Schwarz-Pimer said...

I don't like that you imply that something being gluten free automatically makes it healthy. People who eat gluten free, prior to it becoming another fad diet, do it because they have a serious disease or allergy. My husband was diagnosed with Celiac disease 2 years ago, and because of this he can't eat many of his favorite foods. Things that you probably enjoy on a daily basis, healthy or not, he cannot indulge it. I would consider making this cake, not because I think it is healthy in any way, but because it is something special he can enjoy. Would we eat the entire thing in one sitting? No! Your post accuses this blogger of falsely promoting healthy eating, when she is really just giving people like me things that compare to non-gluten free items. Have you ever eaten gluten free for an extended period of time? I would challenge you to do so and see if you feel the same way about this cake.

Mellissa Sevigny said...

In response to Melissa Mcewen - that would be awesome. Unless you are diabetic and a NORMAL piece of cake might send you into a diabetic coma. Or have Celiac disease and a NORMAL piece of cake could end you up in the hospital. I think those of us without NORMAL bodies and dietary requirements deserve to eat something delicious when "out with friends" just as much as everybody else. Just sayin.

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Melissa S,

Thanks for stopping by. The post is satire so I hope you don't take it personally. As I said in the post, I didn't see you make any health/weight claims about the cake. However, whether deliberately or not, the LC/GF label does give it an aura of being healthy, sort of like the "organic" label makes people think candy bars are healthy at Whole Foods.

You stated that it's "judgmental" and "bordering on irresponsible" to suggest that celiacs and low-carbers shouldn't have treats (clarification: that's not my position). Those are strong words-- I'm not sure I'd call it judgmental or irresponsible to advise someone who's trying to lose weight to avoid low-carb gluten-free bacon chocolate mocha ice cream cake-- I think "common sense" is more like it. That being said, people should have treats if they want treats! It just depends on what your goal is.

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Robyn,

I take your point. For someone with celiac disease, obviously this is going to be healthier than a normal cake. But I think you can still appreciate the point of my post, which is that LC/GF, organic, "natural", etc., often gives people a false sense that a food is healthy.

You asked if I have ever eaten gluten-free for an extended period of time. I have been 100% GF for periods of several months in the past, and I've been low-gluten for
~5 years. I rarely eat bread or cake. That does not change my perception of the low-carb gluten-free bacon chocolate mocha ice cream cake.

Mellissa Sevigny said...

Hi Stephan,

No worries - I ain't mad about it. ;) I think it's an excellent topic for discussion actually, and I even posted a link to your post on my FB page. I do think buzzwords like low carb and gluten free are over used and abused lately - and they certainly don't automatically make something healthy. That being said, low carb and gluten free dessert options (in moderation of course) have their place in a balanced diet, the same as traditional desserts do. I don't think we're at odds on that, and I appreciate your willingness to post my comments in response!

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Melissa S,

Sounds like we're on the same page then. Cheers.

ZeusCarb said...

Is there anywhere for one to get a recipe for this? I'll give you all the money I have; This is the most awesomest cake I've seen or will ever see ever. Must haz!!

Robyn Schwarz-Pimer said...

Hi Stephan,

Thank you for your response! And I agree with you, Gluten Free has become a buzz word that makes people think they are eating healthy. Or it is purely a marketing tool to get people to buy more expensive things. That would be a great blog topic, items that are labeled gluten free for the sake of generating sales, when they are naturally gluten free. Cheers to you for addressing these kinds of things with your blog.

Melissa Mcewen said...

"In response to Melissa Mcewen - that would be awesome. Unless you are diabetic and a NORMAL piece of cake might send you into a diabetic coma. Or have Celiac disease and a NORMAL piece of cake could end you up in the hospital. I think those of us without NORMAL bodies and dietary requirements deserve to eat something delicious when "out with friends" just as much as everybody else. Just sayin."

I have diabetic friends that I go out with a lot and they can have normal cake in moderation.

There is no need for people with celiac disease to consume sugar substitutes. A cake with a moderate amount of sugar and fat instead of massive amounts of fat to make up for not having sugar will be as satisfying and less caloric.

Mellissa Sevigny said...

In response to Melissa,

Celiacs don't have an issue with sugar, they have an issue with gluten, which is found mostly in wheat products - like the white flour found in traditional cake recipes. I'll definitely agree that sugar substitutes are not healthy, but in small quantities, I'm willing to take my chances.

Still, I can't help but notice that you seem disgusted with my cake on principle,due to its "massive amounts of fat" and your assumption that means it's also massively high in calories. Now I'm not arguing that it's healthy, nor am I taking your issue with it personally, but I think you're maligning my bacon cake as a dessert option unfairly. So to go along with your scenario of eating cake out with friends, I submit this:

Chili's Molten Chocolate Cake nutrition info per serving (source, CalorieKing): 1110 calories, 59g fat, 136g carbs, 12g protein.

My bacon cake per serving: 520 calories, 49g fat, 6g net carbs, 9g protein.

Now they've got me on the protein, I'll give you that, but at double the calories, significantly higher fat, and don't even get me started on the sugar and carbs - I'll take my cake any day. Also, bacon.

Mellissa Sevigny said...

Hey Zeus,

Stephan was kind enough to include a link to my recipe in his blog post. Come on over to the dark side! It's delicious here! ;)

Melissa Mcewen said...

It's not really fair to compare Chilis cake to your cake since the former is such an exaggeratedly caloric industrial food. My gluten-free cake, which I make for friends who are gluten-free, is simply chestnut flour, eggs, sugar, vanilla, cacao, salt, and butter. It is 300 calories a slice. And it is a pretty dense and caloric cake already.

Lynda said...

Melissa - to quote you

"I have diabetic friends that I go out with a lot and they can have normal cake in moderation."

And would these friends be having insulin or metformin with that cake? The entire point of diabetics having a low carb cake is so that they can stay off medication.

Catnip said...

@Stephan

Your posts make you look like an eating disorder sufferer.

praguestepchild said...

Melissa writes: "There is no need for people with celiac disease to consume sugar substitutes."

Exactly, just as there's no need for fish to own bicycles. But who was asserting this in the first place?

Diana said...

Melissa (M):

"Imagine if instead of having this monstrosity at home, someone just ate cake when they were out with friends, sharing a single NORMAL slice of good cake, which probably tastes better and definitely has a fraction of the calories. They'd be so much better off."

Celiacs and people w/gluten sensitivity can't do that. So what is wrong with a moderate portion of this?

And what is monstrous about this? It's ice cream, a cake base (which I assume is gluten-free; haven't followed the link), and bacon. OK, the addition of bacon is not my style, but the rest of it is OK. People w/autoimmune disorders should probably avoid grains (all of them); that makes desserts hard.

I honestly do not see what your point is, beyond sneering.

cherishthescientist.net said...

@Melissa Mcewen - I'm sure your cake is lower in calories. But it has no bacon...and bacon trumps calories on certain days. Also, as someone who suffers from celiacs and tries to eat low-carb, there are times that I really, really get tired of the limited choices I have. Some of my favorite places are places I simply can't eat at ever again because there is nothing I can get that is gluten-free. (I can't even walk into my favorite bakery because of all the flour in the air.) It is nice that, once in a great while, there may be reason for me to do something really fun and unique to overcome the dietary tedium or celebrate a special event. Sadly, Dairy Queen isn't an option in such circumstances.

Galina L. said...

"the LC/GF label does give it an aura of being healthy"
For many who have to (or even choose to) follow a LC or GF diet the LC/GF label also means (besides the absence of GI or blood sugar problems)that such food is very easy to eat in moderation, unlike some regular cake or cookies. The meaning of the label "healthy" could be wider than just the amount of "calories" in 100 gram of a product.

Derrick Capson said...

I love Ice Cream Cake!

Lori Miller said...

A small piece of regular cake would mother's blood sugar over 200. The Chili's cake would send her to the hospital. But as much as she'd love the bacon cake, she couldn't finish a piece of it in one sitting.

BTW, my mother became obese and diabetic on a bland, boring, starchy, Midwestern diet, and I never saw her binge eat.

misterjosh said...

"the LC/GF label does give it an aura of being healthy"

This frustrates me. This statement is only true for the stupid and the ignorant. Why should everybody have to cater to the stupid and the ignorant in every post and with every recipe?

LC and GF are just information that people can use to make decisions with.

Stephan - you can call this satire all day long, but it's pretty obvious that you're passing judgment here, and I don't understand why. I think the cake is a little silly, but what is life without a little silliness?

As for Melissa M, "...having this monstrosity..." again with the judgment - why do you feel the need to proclaim your superiority over and over?

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi misterjosh,

I don't think you have to be stupid/ignorant to be led astray by these things. I know plenty of intelligent people who buy unhealthy processed food thinking it's healthier than it is due to the language on the packaging. It might seem obvious to people who obsess over food and nutrition, but to people who have a more casual relationship with food, it isn't. Framing affects the way we see food.

You wrote: "you can call this satire all day long, but it's pretty obvious that you're passing judgment here, and I don't understand why. I think the cake is a little silly, but what is life without a little silliness?"

Satire is critique through humor, so yes I was passing judgment. I think I explained why pretty clearly. The cake is silly, and I have no problem with that. I was using it to make a couple of larger points about how we perceive food.

By the way, I almost didn't let your comment through due to your disrespectful comment about Melissa. You're free to disagree with me or any other commenter, but don't make it personal.

Clover_Grl said...

I'm not sure I understand. This looks to be a culinary masterpiece, and I intend on making it and eating it as fast as I can. And you're saying people should avoid foods like this? Why??
If you want to eat cake, make it beautiful and creative like this one. If you don't want to eat cake, don't. I suppose the bacon might be a bit unconventional for some, but what's life if you never live a little? The pleasures of the flesh are all we really have, and being able to enjoy food without consuming tons of sugar and flour seems like a grand idea to me.
If you're concerned about the calories (though seriously, you don't need to worry, I doubt anybody could overeat something this rich) just eat smaller slices. Not hard, and you'll be able to spread the yumminess further that way!

Clint said...

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/27/how-carbs-can-trigger-food-cravings/?hp&_r=1&

As someone who has had to deal with obesity and IR, I'll tell you what would happen if I ate a slice of the low carb cake: I'd eat a slice and probably be satisfied. I may have another slice (1,000 calories omg), but I wouldn't eat for several hours as I would be satiated and food averse after the slice or two of low carb cake. I doubt I'd exceed my TDEE if I ate two slices as long as my other meals for that day were low carb.

Now here's what would happen if I ate an isocolaric high carb version: I wouldn't be satisfied immediately and I'd have to go back for another slice. A few hours after the second slice, I'd be hungry again as my blood sugar would be falling. Not only would I be hungry, but I'd also be fatigued and lethargic, so I would expend less calories on spontaneous activity.

The best way to control my hunger is to avoid fluctuations in blood glucose. I don't need to drink protein shakes or eat lots of lean meat to be satiated. On the other hand, I can eat over 200g of protein and I still won't be satiated if I'm eating lots of high glycemic carbs. This is a fact for me and many other obese people.

OK, so it's a fact that falling blood sugar levels are the cause of excessive hunger in obese people. How do you get hypoglycemia in obese people who don't have type 2 diabetes? I'll give you a hint: it starts with the magic 'I' word.

Jane said...

Stephan said: For example, eating whole foods tends to be a good idea, but if your interpretation of that is eating whole wheat scones every day, you may not get the outcome you're looking for...

Jane said: What's wrong with eating whole wheat scones every day? ...but her comment did not appear. Now Jane says: What was wrong with my comment?