Archive for February, 2012

February 20, 2012

Eating Local Can Be Easy…

A trip to a different farmer’s market on the way to Doughnut Day and a local dinner was the result!

Our normal farmer’s market day is Saturday. But with Friday being opening night of a play that the twins are part of, we have been at the theater for the past three Saturdays rehearsing and building and painting sets. But the play has now opened, so the set is built, and as we were heading to our Mardi Gras weekend party, we drove past one of the smaller farmer’s market in our neighborhood (just in our immediate Arlington/Falls Church area, we have three year-round weekend farmer’s markets — pretty lucky, I know!), and decided to stop in to see what was available. There were only about 8 stalls, but Smith Meadows was there, and there was a vegetable stall.

So, we g0t some sweet Italian sausage, some carrots, and some salad.

Quick boil of the carrots, served with melted butter and some local honey….

Chop up the onions (from the grocery store), cook the sausage in a frying pan with a little bit of water. When the water evaporates, add the onions, and enjoy the smell of frying onions!

Marry that with some red quinoa (organic) cooked just like rice in the rice cooker, some unsalted butter from South Mountain Creamery, … and voila, dinner!  Even the Picky Eater enjoyed it (especially once soy sauce could be added to the quinoa).

Sometimes, the SOLE dinner is the easiest one in the fridge.

February 11, 2012

Moving From “Oh, no, it’s Meatless Monday?!” To Embracing Pollan’s Rule 2: Mostly Plants

When you are feeding two teenage boys, and one picky teenage girl, implementing the mostly plants rule can seem impossible.  There are many nights when the eldest will sit down for dinner and groan, “Oh, no meat tonight? Guess I’ll need a snack later.” And, yes, we do try to observe a “Meatless Monday” rule in our house, although the meatless meals don’t always fall on Monday. Fortunately, the Family Foodie parents think that reducing meat consumption is an important goal, so we work together to make this happen. And we are making progress in increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables we are eating and reducing the amount of meat (although sometimes the pace of improvement sometimes seems to be more like that of the tortoise than the hare).

Here are some of the steps we have been taking, that I am sure you can do too!

  1. Join a CSA and shop at your local farmer’s market. Because of the CSA, we have tried lots of vegetables that we would not have typically purchased. Members of the squash family (both summer and winter), kale, collards, green beans, parsnips, turnips, green radishes come immediately to mind. Now these vegetables have become part of our regular shopping lists, and it’s much easier to take advantage of the variety we see. Expanding your food palate is the first step in moving to a mostly plants diet, and I have been amazed at the willingness of the kids to try new vegetables – especially if they come from the CSA or market.  The Picky Eater isn’t a hundred percent behind trying new veggies – but she’ll try most everything except cooked greens!                                                               
  2. Eat your colors. This is Pollan’s rule number 25. I think that this is one of my favorite rules in the book! There is nothing more fun than sitting down to a colorful plateful of food – not, however, one made colorful by the addition of food coloring L!  Again, the farmer’s market is central to this process. One of my favorite discoveries the year before last was a wonderful orange cauliflower – we roasted it and the sweetness of the dish convinced even the doubters at the table to ask for food. The colors available locally do vary with the season, and my goal for this year is to make better use of my freezer to store the bounty of colorful summer produce. I have some frozen blueberries from the market that I can’t wait to eat, but I only have one bag, and so I am waiting to use them…                             
  3. Cook around the world. We are blessed with kids who love to try different ethnic cuisines – and who love the challenge of making it themselves.  And we have access to many different ethnic grocers here in Northern Virginia. Recent explorations into international cuisine have involved making pho (Vietnamese chicken noodle soup), Tom Ka Kai (coconut chicken soup), and chickpea curry.                                                                                                                     
  4. Embrace your slow cooker. The slow cooker makes meals like chickpea curry a possibility during a crazy work week.  Buy your beans dry (and organic if possible), and just put them in the slow cooker with veggies, seasonings, and as much cooking liquid as needed. Turn it on and come home to dinner.  This is one the boys love, and I usually get a phone call, I mean a text, when they get home from school asking if they could have just a little bit of whatever is in the slow cooker…                                                                                                                                                                          
  5. Snack on fruits, veggies, and nuts.  This one is pretty easy to follow – the challenge for me is to keep enough fruits and snacking veggies (apples, cucumbers, carrots) in the house!                                                      

I’m looking forward to hearing about your favorite strategies that you use to help move your family toward eating mostly plants. Do share!

February 4, 2012

Following Pollan’s Food Rules. Rule 1: Eat Food.

How hard can it be to “Eat Food”, Michael Pollan’s first rule of eating well?

As those of you familiar with his canon, after writing The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Mr. Pollan synthesized what he had learned into a manifesto to eating well, In Defense of Food, which was then followed by a set of rules or heuristics about how to put what he had learned into practice in his volume, Food Rules. As someone who is an active participant in the eating local, sustainable, organic (fill in the blank with your favorite adjective) movement, I see his writing as a source of wisdom and inspiration.

And, I thought it might be a good time to step back and think about how well we are doing in following the Pollanesque guidelines.  In Defense of Food summarizes his guidance in a wonderful memorable set of phrases:

“Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”

How, then, is the Family Foodie doing at eating food?

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