Pinterest has become the fastest growing website ever, attracting 21 million passionate monthly users. The food and drink category is one of the largest and most popular — with more repins than any other category. Now people are pinning instead of clipping recipes, planning dinner parties and weekday suppers on Pinterest, and searching for food ideas on Pinterest instead of browsing traditional recipe sites or flipping through magazines. It’s a true phenomenon. Pinterest is also a tremendous way for bloggers to drive traffic and find new audiences. All good.
Oreo Layer Dessert by Linhasebolinhos on flickr
Like millions of other folks, I’m certainly enamored with Pinterest, and I use it to organize recipes, track food trends, collect blogging tips, save decorating ideas and post my nutrition articles. And I love following other bloggers on Pinterest. But what I don’t like so much is the popularity of gooey, over-the-top desserts that dominant so many pinboards. I don’t even like the oft-used description of “food porn,” but I guess that’s what it really is.
I looked at Repinly to find the most popular food pins of all time, and guess what, it’s sugary, fad-laden creations like Oreo Layer Dessert (46,309 repins) and Butterfinger Pie (21,663 repins). Hey, I’m not against a nice dessert now and then. I have my own board of Something Sweet, among my 42 boards, which includes Whole Grains, Veggie Love, Salads I Want to Try and All About Hummus. So desserts are OK, but does the world really need more calorie bombs like these creations made with cream cheese and whipped topping. Come on, we can do better than that. Do we really need more ideas for cookie-stuffed cookies smothered in chocolate or deep-fried? I’m not the only dietitian troubled by what’s happening on Pinterest. Julie Upton over at Appetite for Health recently wrote about the same topic: “Are Pinterest recipes destroying your diet?“
Butterfinger Pie by S. Kosoris on flickr
Similarly, many of the most popular photos on food photo galleries like Foodgawker and Tastespotting are big gooey desserts, too. One of the most gawked of all time recipes on Foodgawker is Sex in a Pan — again, made with blocks of cream cheese and cartons of whipped topping, along with packages of instant pudding. What’s up with this combo? Not my kind of dessert. I also took a look at Punchfork, and the most liked recipes include Slutty Brownies, Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies, No Bake Nutella Cheesecakes, Chocolate Covered Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches, and Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars.
All of this sugar overload is one of the reasons why my friend and fellow RD blogger Regan Jones and I decided to create Healthy Aperture, the first food photo gallery that’s helping to expose what’s healthy on the web. We hope to make a little dent in the world by showcasing the great work of other food bloggers who are creating healthier recipes — inspiring you to get in your kitchen to cook up something delicious and nutritious. Sure, you’ll find desserts on the site (not really the cream cheese and whipped topping kind) but the majority of photos are wonderful ideas to help you eat more vegetables, boost your whole grains or lighten up your entrees. You can search for recipes that are gluten-free, vegan or kosher. Or you can get some great ideas for breakfast, snacks, seafood and Meatless Monday. We also have a Pinterest page, hoping to inspire healthier pin collections.
Vegetarian Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce by The High Heel Gourmet
So I don’t think you need to delete your dessert boards. Just don’t speed your time coming up with yet another way to stuff a cookie inside another cookie, or collecting recipes that combine cream cheese, whipped topping, instant pudding and candy bars. There are lots of healthier options to inspire you. We hope that Healthy Aperture is going to help.