Veggie Tales: eating food, mostly plants

The title of this post is a hat tip to Michael Pollan, who has become a personal hero of mine for literally changing the way I think about, obtain, and eat food. His motto “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” has become the rule by which I plan my meals now, though it is all still a work in progress.

See, I’ve been trying to lose 10 lbs since Christmas when I foolishly allowed myself to overindulge in sweets, not realizing that what everybody says is true: after age 40 it is hard to lose weight! I’m not going on a diet, but I am cutting out most of the sweet stuff. I’m also trying to stay away from processed foods as much as possible and to fill my plate with veggies. In other words, instead of dieting I am trying to just eat well, and not so much in the Canada Food Guide sense of the word, but in the In Defense of Food sense. I’m not going low-fat either, instead I’m going to do with dairy what I do with meat: enjoy the real thing but do so less frequently (stay tuned for a post about homemade yogurt and cheesemaking – I ordered this last weekend!).

In the meantime, the task of eating “mostly plants” is made so much easier by having them growing fresh in the garden. There is something extremely satisfying about heading outside with a bowl and a pair of scissors, washing the greens, and then eating food that just an hour or so ago was still growing. And yes, it is true what they say, the stuff does taste better and brings an extra amount of pleasure due to the fact that we watched the entire process from seed to plate.

The photo above is my first harvest of Rainbow Swiss Chard, which was part of dinner this past Wednesday. I started eating chard last year and enjoyed it, but I confess that the bitterness was an acquired taste…and I acquired it because I thought it was so darned healthy! But Husband resisted. Well, the chard from my garden had not a trace of bitterness in it, I swear! Even Husband proclaimed that he would actually eat this stuff on a regular basis, it was that good.

Now part of enjoying this wonderful food is knowing how to prepare it and there, I confess, is where I have a weakness. I’m not much of a cook and I have a pretty small repertoire of recipes I’m familiar with. I’ve never really enjoyed it all that much either, much preferring to bake instead of cook dinner. But now that I’m determined to improve our eating habits (not that they were all that bad to start with) and utilize the fruits of our labour in the garden, I’m more eager to learn. And here I have to tip my hat to another, though more unlikely, hero – Martha Stewart. This past Christmas my stepmother gave me a subscription to Martha’s Everyday Food magazine. The recipes are easy and I love the way they organize them so it is really easy to find a side dish or entree. The meals are healthy and there is a focus on seasonal ingredients, too. Using the three magazines I’ve received so far I was able to make the following delicious dinners:

Sauteed scallops with roasted new potatoes on a bed of tossed salad with chive vinaigrette. The potatoes were from the farmers market and the greens were from our garden. The dressing was made with chives from my herb garden. The original recipe called for dill, which I have in abundance (it’s growing like a weed) but I confess I actually can’t stand dill so I substituted chives. The recipe also called for salmon but it was too expensive (and I didn’t want to buy the farmed stuff, which is all they had at the supermarket) so I went with scallops instead (I’m afraid I don’t know where they came from but hey, baby steps…right?).

Salmon fillets with white wine and chive reduction, steamed red potatoes with thyme butter, sauteed rainbow chard with lemon, and fresh tomatoes with parsley vinaigrette. The Pink Salmon was from Iron Maiden Seafoods (one of the 100 Mile Diet suppliers) and a very reasonable price I thought ($6.50 for a piece that gave both Husband and I each a generous portion). I overcooked it somewhat (a common mistake with me and fish), but it was still yummy. The tomatoes were from the farmer’s market, the parsley and thyme and chives were from my herb garden. The potatoes were a last minute grab from the supermarket and were, I have to say, pretty bland.

Pork and beans on rice with garden salad. Okay, this recipe wasn’t from Martha, but it’s an example of how I think we should eat meat (if one does choose to eat meat). The greens were from our garden, and I mixed them with cherry tomatoes from the farmer’s market. The pork sausage was from Pasture to Plate and was lovely and peppery (and not bright pink, due to not having any nitrates in it). I paid $10 for one pound which gave me four huge sausages. The kids each ate one and the other two were pulled out of their casings and sauteed with beans and diced tomatoes in sauce, and chopped green onions fresh from the garden. So while the pork was pricey by supermarket standards (though given the difference between pasture-fed and pasture-raised pigs and the sorry lot in life of factory-farmed pigs, one can hardly argue about price) the secret to enjoying such luxuries (and that’s what we should consider meat) is to make it go farther. Adding beans is a great way to do so, and it yields a hearty meal that fed both Husband and I with another bowl leftover for the next day.

Eating this way is getting addictive. I am now committed to buying and eating local as much as I possibly can, getting rid of as much processed food as I can (though I confess to a weakness for Cheerios in the morning), and preparing meals that are heavy on the veggies. There is always room for dessert, however. And I’ve decided that I might just turn Sundays into “dessert day” given the lip-smacking success of my first attempt at Miranda’s Rhubarb Crumble recipe.

I know it’s going to take some time to get there, but we’re on our way to better eating and it feels great!

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Your chard is just gorgeous! I tried chard for the first time this past winter and love it in stir fry. I’m not much of a cook either (stir fry, steam, or soup is basically my repertoire). But it works for me.

    My hubby eats his corn flakes and sometimes I’ll nibble on some flakes in the morning, but mostly, I’m all local or homemade (breads and stuff). It just tastes so darn good, how can we ever go back? Good luck with Pollan-ian non-diet 🙂 I’m with you!

    Reply

  2. Hi, I’ve been reading your blog for a little while and I love it. I don’t know how I came across it but I suspect MDC?

    You may want to have a look at my blog, it’s all about food, lots of recipes and lots of THOSE for veg. I am pretty much a locavore so most of the recipes I’ve posted in the last year are predominantly local ingredients. (I’m in Victoria which is close enough to local to you I think?)

    thanks for the good reads! Oh, and the best way to do chard is lightly steamed with a dressing of melted butter and balsamic vinegar with about half a garlic clove grated in on a microplane grater. Toss all that together and serve. Yum!

    Reply

  3. The chard looks great. Mine are barely sprouted, are those re-sprouts from last year, or did you just get a very early start? I have a suggestion for any lingering bitterness with your chard. right at the end of steaming, or frying your chard add just a splash of vinegar of your liking, I find rice wine or apple cider workd nicely. It’s amazing, but it washes that bitterness right away. Lemmie know how you like it.
    P~

    Reply

  4. Gorgeous chard! Mine is still only about a centimeter high! I steam it and add a bit of butter and some nutmeg…mmmm…

    Reply

  5. Posted by ruralaspirations on May 26, 2008 at 7:49 am

    I got the chard as seedlings from a local, organic grower at the farmer’s market.

    I prepared my chard by simply sauteeing in olive oil and then added a splash of lemon juice before serving. There was no bitterness with mine!

    The store-bought chard I generally saute with olive oil and garlic and add some red pepper flakes. Good, but still a tang of bitterness. P~ I will try your suggestion next time I have store bought chard (will I ever?? lol).

    Reply

  6. Beautiful chard. I planted some last fall (we’re very temperate here) and, honest to God, it is still alive. At this point, I’m charded out and am begging it to die. It clearly loves our climate, unlike other things I have planted.

    In any event, I too am trying to lose weight and, in theory, it should work to eat local, unprocessed food. My problem is that the food is so damn good, I end up eating more of it than I should. And homemade desserts? Beat the pants off of Weight Watcher bars and Skinny Cow ice cream any day of the week. Guess that lets you know how my pants are fitting.

    Reply

  7. Here’s a link to a recipe I use all the time. Although it calls for kale, I use it with any type of green, chard included. It’s SO good, that even my kids can’t get enough of it:
    http://www.grouprecipes.com/37185/garlicky-braised-kale-with-sun-dried-tomatoes.html

    Reply

  8. […] June 1). I’m shopping at the farmer’s market every weekend, I’m learning all sorts of new recipes and new ways to prepare this local, seasonal fare I’m bringing home or harvesting from the […]

    Reply

  9. […] Posted by ruralaspirations under gardening, know your food   I’ve been enjoying fresh salads and chard for a while now, as well as adding fresh green onions and herbs to my cooking. I recently planted […]

    Reply

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