Friday, October 29, 2010

Real Food Friday

In Radical Homemakers the author mentions an essential skill for modern homemakers as "rediscovering the taste of real food." It's an interesting notion to think about.  The prepared foods these days are full of salt sugar and artificial flavorings.  In essence we forget what real food is supposed to taste like.

I remember one time when I was pregnant with Owen I was hanging out with my teenage brother Mark and my mom at a college church function.  It was a dinner where they had Cosco rolls and a big tub of margarine.

---Now, I respect my mother for trying to raise us on good food.  Michael Pollan talks about how our mothers didn't have nearly the amount of choice that we do today regarding real food.  But regardless of that my mother cooked mostly from scratch and provided us with a variety of fruits and vegetables to eat.  So as her children we know what real food looks like.---

Eating his margarined-up roll my brother asked "How come the fake stuff tastes sooo good?"  And it's true.  Fake food is manufactured to appeal to our taste buds.  But in reality our taste buds are being over-saturated with salt and sugar-with some artificial flavors thrown in as well.  Even wheat bread these days is sweetened with HFCS.  We aren't actually tasting the taste of real foods anywhere.

I suggested a recipe to my sister the other day for roasted fall vegetables.  She told me afterwards that after a few bites she and her husband said to each other, "Meh, it's OK. . ."

But then she said as they continued eating they actually ended up thinking they liked it quite a bit more--they just needed time to get used to the flavors and have them meld in their mouths a bit more. 

We had the roasted vegetables on top of spinach with crumbled goat cheese on top.  Soo delicious--but different.  It doesn't taste like frozen lasagna.  The flavors are mellow and subtle.  You do have to get used to them, introduce yourself to real flavors that occur in nature, and get over a dependence on so much salt.

I'll admit that part of the reason I like real food is because I like the taste, and part of the reason is because I value real food and so I get a satisfaction from eating it that isn't related to taste.  It's a feeling of virtue for eating something I know is so good for me, and it's a feeling of well-being that comes because I (at least in that meal) am living life according to my ideals.

In some real food- taste trumps virtue, but in other foods I still rely heavily on the fact that I know the food is good for me to get me to muscle through the taste. 

The next day we ate the roasted vegetables on pizza.  Our kids will eat anything when it's on pizza.  Pizza is a comfort food.  It can be a nice gateway to real foods (or it can be some of the poorest excuses for food you put in your body--but it's your choice). 

So here is Real Food Friday--it's an invitation, but it's also a challenge.  Get outside your comfort zone, make some food--real food.  It's satisfying to make and healthy to eat. 

Here is my contribution-- one last variation we didn't get to is puree-ing the vegetables with some lemon juice --and chicken stock if you like it thinner-- making it a roasted vegetable soup. 

Roasted Fall Vegetables:
1 lb butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound red potatoes scrubbed, and quartered
2 small red onions peeled and quartered
1/2 pound carrots halved lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 sprig rosemary
salt and pepper
olive oil

Preheat oven to 450*  Pile vegetables on a large sheet pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.  Add garlic and rosemary to pan.  Roast until vegetables are tender and starting to brown, 40-50 minutes, tossing the vegetables halfway through.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

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