Saturday, July 4, 2009

Food Matters

For several years now, Mark Bittman's cookbooks, especially Quick and Easy Recipes from the New York Times and The Minimalist Cooks at Home, have been my go-to sources when I'm looking for something new to try for dinner. I like his approach to food--his recipes are generally quick, easy, and strongly flavored, but they feature real food rather than prepackaged shortcuts. They're foodie cookbooks for the busy and/or not particularly gifted cook--people like me.

In Food Matters (2009) Bittman comes to the same conclusions as Michael Pollan did in The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, offering a practical and flexible how-to for Pollan's mantra: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Bittman urges readers to cut back significantly on meat and dairy products and to treat refined carbs as occasional treats, while eating as many fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains as we want. By doing so you'll both reap health benefits of reduced risk of diabetes and cardiac disease and help the planet, because livestock, especially cattle, contribute to global warming and are, for that matter, an inefficient way of feeding an increasingly crowded world.

I'm going to try it. I've been looking for a healthier way of eating, since I could stand to lose some weight and my annual bloodwork is starting to show dodgy cholesterol and triglyceride numbers. If Bittman's approach works for me, I won't have to count calories or give up anything I love forever. At the moment, I'm on vacation, and Bittman's approach emphatically approves of things like enjoying one's mother-in-law's yummy chicken fried steak with gravy or eating out at a nice restaurants. But I'm taking the week to look at recipes and think of how I could apply the approach to my busy everyday life--breakfast will be a challenge, for example, as will figuring out what to do for quick snacks. And you know, July in Seattle is just the right time and place to start eating more fruits and vegetables. We were at the farmers market this morning, and you never saw such an array of luscious berries, cherries, lettuces, sweet onions, etc. etc. Anyway. I'm going to try and see how it goes. Maybe I'll even start another blog about my efforts...

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