What Food REALLY Looks Like – The Ethics of Food Photo Editing

There’s always something in the news about deception in the media. Usually it is in reference to photoshopping the images of models or celebrities to make them look skinnier. On rare occasions they have even photoshopped an image to make someone look larger. In both cases though, we all recognize that in small amounts photo editing can be okay, even encouraged. Think about it- do we really want to open up a high fashion magazine and see a blurry, dark photo? And what about all of the cool effects that photoshop can do?

Certainly some fall more into the artistic lines of photo editing and I bet that most of us can all agree that in those cases it’s perfectly fine.

While there currently isn’t much in the way of guidelines on what should and shouldn’t be allowed in photoshopping, a line, albeit faint, is starting to be drawn. Simply, from my perception, photoshopping can be said to have gone too far when an image is altered and drastically changed from the original. Under marginal or even moderate changes that are acceptable could be saturation, exposure, lighting, and erasing (in the case of flyaway hairs or unwanted background extras).

photo-editing-before-after-family

Christmas pictures for 2013! We have more that I will have to share with you soon.

Drastically altered is when someone’s size is changed, their wrinkles/cellulite are erased to unrealistic proportions, and when the person in the image looks nothing like they did before.

While not everyone may agree with the list I just wrote out above (and just note that is in no way comprehensive, merely an example) I think we all have at one time or another at least thought about what should or should not be allowed when it comes to photoshopping people.

One thing that we may not have thought about is the photoshopping of food images. As social media users it is to be expected that a majority of us have used a photo editing software before. I personally use it for almost everything. My profile pictures, my family’s annual Christmas picture, vacation pictures, and yes, my food pictures. When I first started blogging I had no idea that photo editing software even existed, let alone that so many of the bloggers that I was reading were using it.

And if you look back to my first blog you will see that my photos were not just lackluster but very blurry and unappealing.

pancakes-unedited

Oy vey. Doesn’t that just make you cringe?!

Of course I’ve learned a lot since then though, and while in no way am I a photo editing expert, I do know the basics of improving a picture.

Isn’t it amazing how much better food looks after a quick touch-up?

pancakes-edited-1

Still not great, but a little better and WAY less embarrassing. I can’t believe I even posted the BEFORE picture on here.

Quick, make a guess as to which side is the before and after! 😉

The same goes for a number of more recent pictures on this blog as well.

xmas-allergy-recipe-cinnamonroll-1

wiaw-collection-biscuits

Now, it’s easy to believe the recipes on blogs just naturally look that clear and crisp. I’m not trying to discredit the hard work and time that is put into setting up the food shots and then the time it takes to edit all of those pictures. Really, what bloggers do is incredible. But, similar to the question posed with photoshopping models and celebrity images, where do we draw the line with editing our photos of food?

before-after-microwaverollsbefore-after-biscuits-tallMy take has always been that I will make the food look as best as I can without altering it. I don’t try to deceive anyone with serving size, color, shape, texture, etc. My editing consists of clearing up blurry photos, fixing saturation, and occasionally removing some annoying little crumbs. 

I’ve always made honesty my policy and that’s why I am sharing these before/after examples to make my point.

before-after-cinnamonbread

before-after-biscuits

I enjoy photo editing. I think it’s incredibly fun and exciting. Making my photos look nicer makes me feel like a “professional” almost, even though I have a long way to go.

What bothers me is those who try to deceive readers with their food pictures. I don’t have anyone specific in mind when I’m writing this out, but I know that there are those out there that set up their food, and edit their photos in a way that doesn’t really reflect the recipe that they are posting. Have you ever followed a recipe 100% and it turns out looking completely different from the promised picture? I have and boy is it frustrating!

I do know that this also happens a lot with food advertisements. Take for example McDonald’s hamburger. If you haven’t seen this video yet, you really should.

This article also gives some great picture representations of food deception in the media.

And since WIAW is all about food honesty I am linking up with Jenn at Peas and Crayons today so I can hear everyone’s thoughts on this topic.

No questions for today. Just tell me your thoughts on food photo editing in blogs and in the media.

Smile, It’s WIAW (Amish Friendship Bread)

My butt is so cold right now.

Sorry, too much information you guys. I’m just so stinking happy. Seriously, I’m grinning from ear to ear. Hat-covered ears I may add.

If for some reason you are pinning my image, you are weird and awesome.

You see, on Friday I said that I was going to be stargazing for my astronomy class, but that ended up being cancelled due to bad weather. This week is the last chance for students to do it, and my teacher said that with the weather we’ve been having, the chances were just not very good that they would be able to hold anymore stargazes this semester. Since completing one was required for my class, you can just imagine the mental breakdown I had when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to do it. There were a lot of tears, a lot of talks with my mom, and finally at the end of it all… acceptance. I had to accept that it was my fault, nothing could be changed, and I would just be more proactive with my next class. (Edited to add: I still would have received credit for my class if I hadn’t been able to go the stargazing, but since it was mandatory my grade would have dropped significantly.) 

As my mom said in one of our Facebook conversations, “Remember all of these life experiences make us stronger.” To which my response was, “Ya. Ya.” 🙄 But I knew she was right.

Quick and Healthy Amish Friendship Bread (With Paleo and Non-Paleo Directions!)

Why may you ask am I smiling then? Because I didn’t give up. I kept on calling the planetarium, hoping each night that the automated voicemail would change, saying that the stargaze was on for that night. And finally it was.

All of the praying and hoping, and tonight I got to stand on the top of the astronomy building roof with a wind chill below 5 degrees and look at the stars with 19 other students who would rather have been anywhere but there. As I said, my butt is cold. Like so cold that I have been sitting inside for 30 minutes and it still hasn’t “defrosted” yet. But that’s okay. Because I’m happy.

Quick and Healthy Amish Friendship Bread (With Paleo and Non-Paleo Directions!)

Do you know what else makes me happy?

Seeing all of the bloggers who have signed up so far to help with my 12 Days of Allergy-Free Christmas Recipes. It is going to be amazing. If you haven’t already, check out what we are up to, and if there are still spots left when you read this, sign up! 🙂

12-days-1

Another thing that makes me happy would be that it’s Wednesday. Aka the best day of the week (well, as far as the blogging week is concerned at least).

The recipe that I am sharing today is a quick version of the usually yeast-based Amish Friendship Bread. If you have never tried the original recipe, you are missing out. It requires a process of letting the bag of batter sit for 10 days, with you mixing new ingredients in every few days. Then when the 10 days are up you take 1/4 of the batter and add a whole bunch of other ingredients (like flour, sugar, pudding mix, etc.) and then bake it up into wonderful loaves. With the remaining batter you now have more bags to pass onto friends (hence the “friendship” part of the title) or to freeze and keep for yourself.

What do you do when you don’t have a batch of starter lying around though? Or what if you just don’t want to wait 10 days for loaves of deliciously sweet bread? Enter my solution:

Quick and Healthy Amish Friendship Bread (With Paleo and Non-Paleo Directions!)

Quick and Healthy Amish Friendship Bread

Grain/Gluten/Wheat-Free, Nut/Dairy-Free Options, Paleo

Makes 2 loaves, 8 thick slices each

Quick and Healthy Amish Friendship Bread (With Paleo and Non-Paleo Directions!)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup yogurt (I used cow but coconut would also work to make this dairy-free) + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil/butter/ghee
  • 1 cup granulated sweetener (I used Monk Fruit in the Raw, but coconut sugar, date sugar or baking stevia would work too)
  • 1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups flour*
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • milk (as needed— reference notes section below)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (or homemade carob chips)
  • granulated sweetener and cinnamon for topping

Quick and Healthy Amish Friendship Bread (With Paleo and Non-Paleo Directions!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two loaf pans with parchment paper.
  2. Mix together the yogurt and vinegar; set aside for 5 minutes.
  3. After the yogurt has set, combine the eggs, oil, granulated sweetener, yogurt and vanilla together in a large bowl.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. (Add milk if using all purpose flour to consistency).
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Divide the batter equally among the two lined pans. Sprinkle some granulated sweetener and cinnamon.
  7. Bake for 60-120 minutes. (I give the large range here because you should be checking probably starting at 1 hour and then in frequent intervals thereafter. This bread took about 90 minutes for me to bake, but oven temperatures vary so much, as do ingredients, that it would be wise to check often. Also, I baked the two loaves together in the oven, so if you bake them separately you will need to cut the baking time). The bread will be done when there is a golden crust on top, it springs back to the touch, and a toothpick comes out clean. Check for all 3 to ensure a perfectly baked bread.
  8. Let cool for at least half an hour before slicing. Enjoy!

*Notes: To make this grain-free use almond flour (or another nut/seed flour). The grain-free version fell for me in the middle a bit and isn’t as pretty as these pictures, but  it was still equally delicious. You can also use all purpose flour as most of the pictures reflect, but you will probably have to add some milk to thin the batter out. I added about 1/2 cup milk to reach a good, pourable consistency. And though not tested, an all purpose gluten-free flour blend should also work well in here; add additional milk if needed.

Quick and Healthy Amish Friendship Bread (With Paleo and Non-Paleo Directions!)

Thanks again to Jenn for hosting this lovely weekly round-up where we all get together and share great food!


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Questions for you:

  • What is making you smile today?
  • Is there anything that you almost gave up hope on, but ultimately came through for you?
  • How cold is it where you live? 
  • Have you ever tried Amish Friendship Bread before?
  • What are you sharing for WIAW this week?

No Need for A Cup — “Milkshake” Recipe and WIAW

I must say I was aghast at how many of you admitted to disliking superhero movies on Friday’s post. Truly I intended the question to be more rhetorical and expected everyone to agree that superhero movies are wonderful. While I do think that some of you are missing out on what is Chris Hemsworth in metal breastplates and locks of gold, I’m also happy that you feel like you can be honest on here without being judged (I only thought *slightly* less of you Thor-haters 😉 ).

While we speak of being honest I must also admit to forgetting quite a few promised posts. Today is just one check off the list of several that I will be knocking down. Starting Monday I have plans to tackle them full force, one each week. Today though is all about the food. Since I tend to only post recipes for baked goods, you may have started to think that that’s all my family eats. On the contrary those make up just one or two days out of the weekend and during the work week their days are dessert-less (aka. much more lackluster 😉 ). On Friday I showed you a savory recipe involving beef and vegetables that is much closer to what my mom and dad have for supper each night.

Beef and Zucchini Skillet

Another thing that my dad personally consumes multiple times a week is his smoothie. Oh how the man loves his smoothies! When home I (and my mom) are probably asked four times a day if we will make him one. And only about 25% of the time do we say yes.

I posted one of the smoothies on Instagram two weeks ago but I also want to share a version of it on here. While the smoothies that I make do contain fruit and yogurt, they actually are much more “milkshake” like in taste and texture (at least that’s what my dad has led me to believe!)

Peanut Butter and Banana "Milkshake" (Instagram)

The base of the smoothie always includes one or more bananas and some plain organic yogurt. Most often I also add in nut butter and carob powder as well. Here is the recipe that I have been making most recently:

Banana, Nut Butter, Carob "Milkshake" (Paleo and Vegan)

Banana, Carob, Nut Butter “Milkshake”

Grain/Gluten/Wheat-Free, Dairy/Nut-Free Options, Egg-Free, Vegan Option, Paleo/Primal

Makes about 2 1/2 cups (1 or 2 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas, sliced and frozen
  • 2/3 cup plain organic yogurt (use coconut to make this dairy-free)
  • 2-4 tbsp nut butter (just a “big scoop!”) (to make nut-free use sunflower seed butter)
  • 2-4 tbsp carob powder (again, I just add a scoop in, no measuring necessary)
  • optional: a splash of vanilla and a dash of sea salt

Banana Soft Serve

Directions:

  1. Place the frozen bananas in the food processor first and blend until creamy and smooth. You may need to use a spoon occasionally to scrape down the sides of the processor to fully incorporate the bananas.
  2. Next add the yogurt and blend.
  3. Now with my base I add in the nut butter, carob powder, vanilla and sea salt. Give it a whirl until it is all one color and thoroughly combined!
  4. Enjoy 🙂

Note: He also likes them with strawberries which I would add instead of the nut butter (1/2-1 cup frozen). But peanut butter and carob is his favorite combination.

Banana, Nut Butter, Carob "Milkshake" (Paleo and Vegan)

***Although the pictures are in a glass, my dad much prefers I just hand him a spoon with the food processor, blade and all 🙂 ***

Are you someone who can drink your smoothie straight out of the food processor or blender? Or do you always have to serve it in a glass? Have you ever eaten your oatmeal straight from the pan, or a lasagna right from the casserole dish? Or does it just not feel “right” unless you eat your serving from a plate or bowl?

I’m definitely an in-betweener on this. While I feel perfectly fine snacking straight out of whatever I cooked/made my food in, I always have to eventually remove it to a plate/bowl/cup to eat my actual “meal.” Otherwise it doesn’t feel legitimate to me… Am I the only one?

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Before I skidaddle, I want to fulfill my promise from Friday and give a quick review of Thor 2.

sustenance-thor-2

Using one of the most frequent words in my vocabulary, it was AWESOME! 🙂

If you enjoyed the first movie you will certainly like this one as well because there is a lot of character development with Thor and Loki. There is also some great chemistry between Jane and Thor which I adored.

If you didn’t like the first movie, I would still encourage you to watch the sequel. After it was over I was explaining to my friend that I can’t pick a favorite of the two because they are just so DIFFERENT. It’s would be like comparing… a smoothie and a milkshake? ( 😉 ) Both are amazing but to compare the two is unfair because they have different qualities that don’t crossover.

This sequel was extremely fast-paced and was jam-packed with humor. I don’t think I stopped laughing for more than a minute before Loki made some snarky comment again. Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis was as hilarious as ever, and the minor characters of Dr. Erik Selvig, the new intern Ian, and of course all of the royalty/warriors from Asgard were wonderful too. The lines were very well written and the back-and-forth dynamic between the characters was perfect. Witty. Visually Stunning….

GO. WATCH. IT.

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Oh, and go check out Jenn’s WIAW party for this week too… 😉

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Questions for you:

Just tell me your thoughts!

Fall Flavors (Chopped Kitchen Challenge and WIAW)

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of What I Ate Wednesday!

Along with Jenn’s weekly party I am also participating in another fun link-up hosted by Sarah at Slices of Sarah Pie called Chopped Kitchen Challenge. This month’s theme was Flavors of Fall which is just perfect because I already have so many Fall recipes that I’ve posted recently.

wiaw-ckc-challenge

The Fall flavors that are being showcased in Sarah’s challenge are Apple, Chili, Pumpkin and Ginger. Surprisingly I actually have recipes in all of these categories! And at the end I have a brand new recipe for you to enjoy.

First up is APPLE.

Just as a side note, I have WAY more apple recipes than I previously thought, so I just picked out the best.

Apple Recipes (Gluten-Free)

Dairy and Grain-Free Cinnamon Apple Pancakes // Grain-Free Apple Crumbly Bread // Microwave Apple Protein Crisp // Irish Soda Apple Bread // Apple Chunk Cinnamon Rolls // Vegan Apple Crisp

Next is CHILI POWDER.

For which I only have a single recipe, but don’t fret because it’s a good one.

Chili, Chips and Cheeze (Paleo and Dairy-Free)

Chili, Chips and Cheeze

Now it’s time for PUMPKIN.

Apparently I am a pumpkin fiend as well as an apple one!

Pumpkin Recipes (Gluten-Free and Mostly Vegan)

Grain-Free Pumpkin Calzones // Pumpkin Pie Bars // Pumpkin Bread Bake with Pumpkin Frosting // Microwave Sandwich Bread // Microwave Protein Brownies // Pumpkin Banana Bread Batter

Finally I present to you my GINGER recipe.

This also happens to include PUMPKIN as well.

Pumpkin Ice Cream (Paleo and Vegan)

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Grain/Gluten/Wheat-Free, Nut-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Option, Vegan Option, Paleo/GAPS-Friendly

Makes approximately six 1/2 cup servings 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas, sliced and frozen
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (coconut or almond yogurt to make this vegan)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (any type of milk will work here)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup honey (maple syrup would work here too)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt (optional but it helps to bring out the flavors)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Place the frozen banana slices in a food processor or strong blender. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  2. Then add the remaining ingredients and blend again.
  3. Pour the mixture into freezer-friendly container. You can use a bowl or tupperware container (I used an empty yogurt container).
  4. Place the container in the freezer and stir every 30-60 until minutes until thick. This is more of a soft serve type ice cream, but you could try freezing it solid and using an ice cream scoop dipped in hot water for more of a hard pack ice cream.
  5. Distribute between bowls and serve! (This would also be amazing topped with nuts like pecans and walnuts).

Pumpkin Ice Cream (Paleo and Vegan)

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking through my collection of Fall Flavor recipes. If you have a recipe that contains apple, chili powder, pumpkin or ginger, go link-up with Sarah’s challenge now! It’s over in less than 24 hours. Also make sure to check out Jenn’s WIAW which I am sure is filled with even more amazing fall food ideas and recipes.

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Questions for you:

What is your favorite ingredient? Apple, chili powder, pumpkin or ginger?

What is your favorite recipe that you have made this Fall?

Is anyone else still getting used to the time change or is it just me?