Coming in Second to White Flour (or Why I Will Never Enter Another Healthy Recipe Competition)

Is a recipe that uses white flour as a main ingredient something that you would consider “healthy?” A quick Google search would indicate that conventional wisdom is no. Every entry on the first three pages – I didn’t bother to go to a fourth – explains how white flour negatively impacts your body and overall health. Imagine how crushed I was when back in December, still a relatively new healthy cook, the  organic, healthy and did I mention delicious dark chocolate salted figs were trumped by a recipe containing, gasp, white flour!

Last year, in what was highly out of character, I entered two recipes in a local “Famously Hot and Healthy” recipe contest. (Famously Hot is the tagline for our region, a play on the temperature and all of the great things we have here.)  I had been meeting with a nutrition counselor every week for over a year, given up fast foods and processed foods, and lost over 60 lbs. I was especially proud that I had gone from heating Spaghettios in the microwave to cooking full-fledged clean and delicious meals. I took great care to enter recipes that were clean, organic, vegan, gluten free and tasty, and both of the recipes I submitted made the finals.

The “cook off” was held within a week of my father passing away, but I still participated; I thought that it would be a good distraction and Dad had been so proud of my conversion to clean eating. It was tough, but I prepared my recipes and transported them across town for the tasting. When the winners were announced, the coordinator hesitated a little on the winning dessert. She said that because the Apple Nut Bread was made with white flour, there was some concern that it didn’t quite fill the healthy bill, but that the inclusion of “spices” technically fulfilled the healthy part.

Huh? The fabulous dark chocolate salted figs I made came in second to a white flour recipe? Really? I was really surprised, and more than a little annoyed. But in a stressful time, it really brought many laughs to my family. Weeks later, I would just utter the phrase “White flour, hmph,” and we would all just explode into giggles.

Truth is, I’d all but forgotten this recipe contest foolishness until today. I received an email requesting that the winners cook a batch of their winning recipe and bring it to a City Council meeting where the winning recipes would be presented. (Of course, I received the email by mistake because my recipe lost to a recipe that contained flipping white flour!) And you know what? That email brought the whole thing back – the sting of my recipe being beaten by one containing, hmph, white flour.

I knew the staff member who coordinated the contest, but I never expressed my feelings to her. I’d just lost my dad, after all, and I was emotional. I also didn’t want to be seen as a bad sport. But after receiving today’s email – did I mention by mistake – I figured enough time had passed to give her some constructive feedback. I suggested that if there is a next time, they carefully define what they consider healthy because it was frankly way too much work to come in second to a recipe that used white flour.

White flour. Hmph.