I am going to teach a workshop at our school’s upcoming Math & Science Night called “Eat Locally, Act Globally” and I have been struggling with whether or not to talk about processed food as well as local food. To me, that gets to about half of what real food is – knowing what it is exactly that you are eating. The science of whether it is better for you and/or the earth can get tricky. (The other half, which is eating fruits and vegetables grown by someone you’ve met – or yourself – withing a hundred miles or so, is clearly better for you and the earth.)
But the subject just keeps coming up. On the way home from a show late Monday, I heard Mark Bittman and Alison Aubrey discuss the topic on Talk of the Nation. I was inspired to check out Bittman’s new cookbook, and they both brought up some simple guidelines that I’ve heard before, but bear repeating:
When you’re looking for “real food”, shop on the perimeter of the market and if you must make a foray into the interior aisles, check the ingredients list. If it has more than 5 ingredients: avoid. Or, if it has ingredients that you can’t pronounce and/or have no idea of what they are: avoid. My kids really enjoy the latter investigation. I tried to add a link here but can't quite figure it out so you'll have to cut and paste:
In this spirit, I’m including a recipe that has nothing to do with vegetables. Lest you think we live like Puritans, know that my children have Easter baskets with chocolate in them (dark, of course) but not Peeps (what the hell are those things, anyway??). We do eat sugar in our house. But if we’re eating cookies or cake, I just feel in my gut that it’s better if they’re homemade – then at least I know what’s in them, and I can add a bit of food value. So check out CHOCOLATE CHIP BAR COOKIES with pecans. Bars are easy and less time consuming than cookies – though you do have to remember to leave the butter out to soften. My friend Michelle always seems to have 2 sticks of butter and 2 eggs in a dish on her counter – it’s like she’s ready to bake at any moment.
Then I have included a simple weeknight pasta, SIMPLE VEG & GOAT CHEESE PASTA and and the slightly more complicated (but not TOO cmplicated), SPRING PEA RISOTTO, for when you have a little more mental energy. And it is nice enough for company.