Packages featuring pictures of sunkissed oats and fresh papaya are not what they seem.
Nobody expects to pick up a Nigella Lawson book and find mung beans and lentil salad recipes. Equally, it is a pretty safe bet that Marco Pierre White would be more likely to serve pig’s trotters than Quorn burgers were you to be invited for dinner.
Celebrity chefs tend to corner markets: indulgent, classic haute cuisine, fish, rustic and so on. So I was not surprised to see a Jamie Oliver recipe in a magazine for homemade granola with berry compote. It was described as a healthy pud that was quick, easy and delicious.
With nuts and seeds, dried fruits, honey, oats and yoghurt on the list of ingredients, it appeared to live up to its healthy image. Yet an uneasy feeling told me that I might be better off with sticky toffee pudding. Indeed, when I analysed the recipe it had 912 calories and 33g of fat per serving. You could have sticky toffee pudding and a piece of cheesecake instead and still be 162 calories better off.
It is not that Jamie had the ingredients wrong. He had just used a lot of them and, maybe, had not appreciated that too many nuts, seeds and dried fruit, combined with more than a jar of honey and a family-sized pot of yoghurt, can turn a “good for you” idea into a calorific minefield.
It is an easy mistake for a chef to make, but one that makers of peach and apricot cereal bars, crunchy tropical breakfast cereals and lemon sunrise muffins play on ruthlessly to lure us into the hidden calorie trap.
Take a typical flapjack. Most of the ones you buy at railway stations, garage forecourts and paper shops weigh about 100g. As they are packed with oats, usually with a few raisins thrown in and a picture of the sun rising over a golden crop on the packet, you could be forgiven for thinking you were making a virtuous choice.
Source - Times