Saturday, March 31, 2012

Weekend Cooking; Food for Thought

I cooked routine, easy meals this week.  Leftovers, pasta with some of my frozen-from-last-summer pesto, and hamburgers nourished us this week.  Over the last few years our family meals have taken new direction.  Change is good.  I would say we've always been on the cusp of healthy eating but not over the edge. Many people consider us to be over-the-edge though.

I've eaten a vegetarian diet since I was a teenager.  Teenage boy was raised vegetarian. (Except for Gpa Dean who kept taking him to McD for chicken nuggets on their manly Saturday wash the truck days!!)  My husband, who spent time as a young boy in both Sierra Leone and Malaysia has a versatile palate and he's a runner.  He swayed easily with my vegetarian cooking.  Every once in awhile he would come home with a package of ground turkey, shape patties, and serve them for dinner.  I just ate the side dishes.

As Teenage Boy became well, a teenager, and more active he begged for meat.  I'd read Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, where she talks about making responsible meat choices.  Every foodie should read her book. After some local research I found a Gentleman Farmer who sells straight to the  consumer for a reasonable price.   Now I can purchase meat from him because he has the same ideas about animals that I do and I've introduced meat back in to our diet over the last three years.  My veg friends are shocked and a little disgusted but I've enjoyed the journey.  I like the idea of helping the farmer practice sustainable, healthy food production.  It's all about supply and demand.

We still eat vegetarian at home most of the time and when we venture out for food I always eat vegetarian.  I want restaurants to think about what they serve and how whole groups of us are left out when only  two veg menu items are offered, usually one of the items is a cheese quesadilla; not very healthy and I'm a cheese snob.  Lucky for us we have a dairy that practices sustainable and wholesome farming where we can purchase hormone-free milk and local cheeses.  Trust me there is plenty of eye-rolling going on at our table as I sweetly question wait staff on vegetarian eating options.  Nachos with cheese SAUCE always riles me up and confuses the poor wait person.

Teenage Boy is now tackling our sugar habit. He is an athlete and has decided to cut out refined sugars.  We don't eat a ton of sugar at our house but I like to bake and Teenage Boy loves to have cookies or bars on hand to eat.  He is super thin and needs multiple food choices throughout the day.   We are soda free but the kids drink healthy-ish real juice. Cereals are another area where sugar is an issue but we do have a special way of serving cereal that deserves an entire post all its own. The search is on for baking recipes that use natural sweeteners other than refined sugar.  I need to read more to understand my options.  Obviously we all know sugar isn't good for us but what kind of treats can I make that my kids will still think of as edible and not tree bark?


1. I browsed through this book, Chloe's Kitchen,  online yesterday and am completely enticed.  While we are not vegan I think this cookbook offers some great variations on everyday recipes.  Why not throw it into our already jumbled randomness of food ideas?   Has anybody experimented with this book?

2. I started watching The Future of Food on Netflix instant while Groovy Girl was in gymnastics class.  I plan to finish watching today.  Genetically modified foods scare me and we need to be wary of their existence on our grocery shelves.  I discovered this list of food documentaries on Lettuce Eat Kale. I've watched a few of them (I highly recommend King Corn) but should probably watch all.  I always feel disgusted and angry after watching but more involved as well.  Sick but smarter...

3. I get this Rodale newsletter through email and found this must-read article about the over-used word, natural.  It's crazy that we've watched this word transformed from a positive into a meaningless word.  Tragic.  Someday I hope it will come back from the dark side.   The bottom line is if you see the word natural on products-it's not because food manufacturer's have watered-down the meaning of the word-ON PURPOSE-to make more money.

With all that...
Stay positive.
What changes can you make if the future of food is important to you?

This post is connected to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking meme.  Click her link to see more food-related posts.  


  1. Genetically modified foods scare me too. Corn is particularly bad. We eat organic as much as we can and the only meat we eat is locally raised and 100% hormone free and grass fed and raised by people we know personally and are our friends.

    It's expensive and difficult to make wise food choices. Good luck on the sugar thing ... I bake every 4 to 6 weeks. I don't see anything wrong with a treat now and then, just not every day.

  2. A very informative post. I love Barbara Kingsolver's novels and would like to read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; I have heard so much about it.

  3. I enjoyed this post! Its great the kids are trying to make good food choices. My 16yo boy recently became a vegan and I am cooking what he needs and trying to be supportive. I have heard that you can experiment with applesauce as a replacement for sugar in baking. Baking is funny, though, it is less forgiving than regular cooking, so different substitutions may or may not work.

  4. Terrific post. My suggestion for sweet treats are yeast breads made with some of the flavors you might use for quick breads or muffins -- a lot less fat, sugar, and salt for the same flavor profile. I use real maple syrup in pumpkin and applesauce breads, a mix of honey and molasses in date & nut bread.

  5. When my son was little I substituted fruit juice for sugar - can't remember the science to it, but I'm sure if you google fruit-juice sweetened cakes or cookies or whatever they're out there.

  6. It can be difficult to find the type of foods you want to eat. I've found an organic farmer near us who raises free-range chickens and bison as well as vegetables. Good luck to you!

  7. This is a great post. I wish I were more thoughtful about what we eat, but honestly I don't have the energy or the money to be too picky. Here in SD cattle ranching is huge and local meat is definitely possible.

    I'm dying to hear your cereal post, we eat a ton of cereal.

  8. Very informative post! I too stay away from processed and don't put any stock in the words fat free- natural- sugar free etc. it is expensive to eat healthy. I have no idea where around me I could get local meat. Maybe the butcher at the local meat market would know. Have never gone there! Thanks!

  9. I love this post! And Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is one of my very favorites.

  10. my son was vegetarian for over a year. \it was a challenge to feed him enough so he wasn't always hungrey. Now he's a carnivore and really watches his diet. He does so much research on food and nutrients, very impressive. he is continually informing me of the best foods to eat. Thanks for this interesting post.


Please take a minute and share your thoughts. Your comments can make my day!