Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Saturday, April 30, 2011

An Honest Relationship with Honest Food

I have never been on “a diet". I’m not good at just doing what someone else has thought up (which might explain why I work for myself now). My diet is what I eat every day, not something that I go “on”, like a pill. I don’t even have a good label … I’m not a vegetarian, or gluten-free, not a junk food addict, not a locavore, or limit myself to raw food. I have given up on finding a one word description, but I think this is catchy: “A healthy relationship with healthy food.” Maybe it will be the title for my first book! So, what does this mean?

A healthy relationship: This means that I care about it, that I put effort into making it good, that I have fun with my food. It means not doing sneaky things, like going to a McDonalds drive-through and hiding the evidence. Or eating a whole container of ice cream because I’m sad. Or just eating crap because I’m bored. It means paying attention, and honoring the food you eat. 

 Honest food: right now, this is my biggest challenge. Honest food is real food, not a collection of chemicals. Cheetos are a good example of a chemical collection, not food. Most any 7 year old can understand that. But what about a tomato at the grocery store? Grown in Florida with lots of fertilizer and pesticides, picked when green by (likely illegal) migrant workers, gassed before buying to make it red. It looks like food, but doesn’t really taste like much. How about beef? Where the majority of the weight of the animal is added at a feedlot, fed government-subsidized, Round-up resistant genetically modified corn? Plus plenty of antibiotics since cows really aren’t plumbed to eat corn. And maybe a salt and chemical solution shot into the meat to make it even more tender and “flavorful.” Is that honorable food? Where do you draw the line? It would be nice to have meat from animals that lived a happy, natural life and vegetables from your local organic farmer but that’s hard to do. For some, impossible. You need to decide where you will make trade-offs. In the next few blogs, I will go through some of my rationalizations on what is OK to eat, or not. Or not much. 

 But meanwhile, let’s talk about Kale. It’s good braised, and a great addition to beans or soup. It’s really good for you. Unfortunately, it makes this year’s “Dirty Dozen" for pesticides. Fortunately, it’s something that is widely available at farmers markets (in the winter in Arizona, and I suspect most of the year in San Diego, although it grows best in cool weather), so that’s where I normally get it, either from an organic farmer, or one that doesn’t use pesticides. Organic is usually available at Whole Foods. But since Kale is so good for you, even if you need to buy at the supermarket (where its unlikely they will have organic) – go for it. You don’t eat it every day. Wash it well. And here is a way to make kale into a tasty treat – really, you can eat this like popcorn! 

Kale Chips

Serves 2

You can use any kind or kale.  The best for this is the Tuscan Kale (dark long leaves), but the more typical green curly leaf is good too.
1 large bunch of Kale, washed and dry
Olive oil (~ 2 tablespoons)

Pre heat oven to 350F, use convection if you have it.  Cover 2 large sheet pans with parchment paper.
Remove the heavy center stem from the kale.  You can do with a  knife, but generally I just hold the stem in one hand, and pull the leaf off with the other.  For large leafs, tear in half or thirds.
Make a pile of kale leaves on each pan.  Add about a tablespoon of oil to each.  Mix well with your hands, so that eat leaf is nicely coated, then spread out evenly.  There should be a single layer.
Put the pans in the oven.  After about 8 or 10 minutes, toss the leaves, they should be limp and maybe starting to dry.  Cook for another 5 to 8 minutes, or until nicely crisp (a bit brown) but not too dark.   Remove from the oven, salt and toss.   Slide into a large bowl and enjoy!

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