Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Ellie Krieger: Food Network's Savior?

A few weeks ago I flipped to the Food Network as I was lounging in a hotel room. The host, a pretty brunette, was cooking whole-wheat pancakes, a healthy-looking wrap sandwich, and asparagus wrapped in smoked turkey. I double-checked my hotel viewing guide; was this really the Food Network? There were no spastic arm movements, no cutesy sayings, and no tablescapes. No gluttonous amounts of butter and mayo, and no cocktails that looked like something dreamed up by a nefarious frat boy1.



When I got home I confirmed that it was indeed the Food Network, and the show was Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger. Since then I've watched a few more episodes and I am happy to report that Ellie is a fine addition to the Food Network family. My biggest beef with Sandra Lee and Rachael Ray is that I don't think they don't enjoy cooking. Now, I don't enjoy it every day (hence the occasional leftover day), but I have no problem with spending an hour or two in the kitchen every now and then if it means that I'll have a really fantastic meal at the end of it. This is one of the reasons I love Giada and Ina: they are patient with their food and won't cut corners to shave a few minutes off of their preparation time. Ellie seems like this too: she's not obsessed with the clock and how to make cooking seem easy.

Ellie Krieger has her masters in nutrition from Columbia, and unlike that other Food Network nutritionist, she looks healthy and seems knowledgable about nutritional information. I learned that cherry tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C, and that by rinsing off beans, you reduce the sodium by 40%. Imagine that: a cook who is informed about what she puts into her body, not just if she can cook the whole thing in less than 30 minutes. Her book, Small Changes, Big Results has some excellent reviews and sounds like it espouses the same philosophy as her show.

I'm loving her show, but it's not perfect. A cook's knife ability is one of the things that separates the pros from the rest of us, and right now Ellie's knife work is decidedly amateur. Sometimes Ellie seems nervous and not very comfortable in front of the camera, but after seeing video of Giada's early years, I'm convinced anyone can become a star in front of the camera with enough practice. Finally, some of Ellie's portions are, shall we say, meager. As an American, I'm used to gigantic portions and spending time in Europe only solidified this. However, I have been fooled a few times now by thinking that she was making a side dish and it turned out to be the main course. A few stalks of asparagus does not a dinner make. That's pretty easy to adjust, though, if you realize that her portions run on the small size.



Kudos to the Food Network for adding an informative, non-gimmicky show to the lineup. I guess something has to balance out yet another "food on the road" show.



1 There was one cocktail, but it was rather refined.

2 One more thing, how hot is her husband? According to this bio, his name is Thom and he's an Outward Bound expedition leader.

9 comments:

VRA said...

I do agree with you. She is something different. No "my way" but you also can do it. She looks very organic.

al91206 said...

I also love this show! I was looking it up since it hasn't been on for the past month or so...

I hope it wasn't canceled - she's REALLY good.

JR Austin, TX said...

I just watched it tonight for the first time. I have to admit, I was expecting another Raytard or Semi-Horrible Cooking, but I enjoyed it. She tries to educate a small bit about nutrition but is realistic about what is healthy vs. what actually tastes good. The fact that she said she could never do a bleu cheese dressing with anything other than REAL bleu cheese - well, she's ok in my book for a "healthy cook" so far. She also presents her dishes pleasantly, without any of her own annoying -isms, hand gestures, and especially without a totally kitschy-kitchen background!

I'll keep watching and will probably try some of her recipes to see if she stands up to the fool-proof Ina test.

Emily said...

Sorry, just stumbled by but I wanted to say I agree. I just saw my first show tonight and since I've been watching Food Network and revamping Ina or Giada recipes I'm excited to not have to be the middle man anymore. Ellie figures out the healthy bit, I just get to try recipes. Wheee!

lauray72 said...

I love Ellie's show and her recipes. They are wonderful and I'm anxious to try some more. I dissagree in regards to the portion amounts with her recipes. I haven't had a problem at all with the portions. I think we as Americans need to "get real" in regards to how much we eat on a daily basis. There is a reason we have a problem with obesity in this country.

ellie1777 said...

I started watching Ellie (hey thats my name too) about a month ago one day while surfing the tv. I like her so much that I have my Tivo recording her automatically and go to the Food Channel website to print out the recipes I like. I really like her healthy style and that is what we were looking for. She is so healthy looking too. Hope she stays around for a long time.

Levi said...

Actually Ellie's show is about easy cooking as well. I have cooked a lot of her meals and almost everything I have cooked from watching her show, it has taken me less than 40 mins. And I have just started cooking.

I agree I like her. I also like Paula Deen (I live in the south), I eat Paula's sort of cooking on Holidays and when I am having "cheat days" but I mostly eat healthy stuff, so I am loving Healthy Appetite.

Pam & Kevin said...

Hi, I so agree. I started watched Ellie's Healthy Appetite program on the Food Network. I was instantly hooked after having made the Salmon with a sweet and spicy rub and a lentil side dish. I was never a fan of lentils until I made that dish. to think it was healthy too was an extra perk. The DVR is now set to record all of her programs. I picked up a copy of her new book, "The Food You Crave" and it is fabulous. A number of the recipes from her show are in it. If you haven't tried her Sloppy Joe's, Chicken Chop Suey - definitely give them a try. Better (and healthier) than when we were kids. Her Red Pepper Fettucine with Feta is amazing!

Lyricaldiva said...

Until recently I was the only one watching this show on Saturday mornings but lately my husband and kids forego their snooze buttons and tune in with me. Ellie not only breaks down the nutrional values, but she does it in a way that my kids understand. They've even become label readers and excellent helpers with planning our menus. Thanks so much for your ideas, and keep up the good work.Lyricaldiva, FL