Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Inspiration - Winter week #7

In this week's box: Heart of gold squash, green cabbage, mixed potatoes, Sugar Snax and Bolero carrots, parsnips, Dried hot red peppers

Have you read the publicity this week about the U.S. government's new dietary guidelines?  There was some big news buried in the usual advice to lower consumption of salt, saturated fat and sugar. (For a copy of the whole report for all you wonks out there, as well as summaries and other details, go to http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-DGACReport.htm)

First, we are all encouraged to EAT LESS!  Who knew?  In a nation of all-you-can-eat buffets, gargantuan restaurant portions and ubiquitous vending machines and fast food places, this is not always so easy.  For years food manufacturers have lobbied strongly against adding these two words to the dietary guidelines.  They like to talk about "food choices" instead.  That is because they are in the business of selling us calories.   A message telling us to eat less means less sales for the food industry.  Since Americans as a group already have available to us way more calories than we need, eating less means less food company revenues, plain and simple.  Or it could mean more food waste, which would be a shame.  Or we could ignore this advice and keep buying food we don't need and getting fatter, which would be a shame too.

The next piece of big news is that we are advised that fruits and vegetables should take up HALF OUR PLATES.  Previous guidelines have just told us to eat more fruits and vegetables.  Now the amount is quantified for us - half our plates!  This would require a pretty big behavioral change for most people.

CSA members are way ahead of the curve in this vegetable/fruit eating challenge.  But I know many dedicated CSA members who still find it difficult to add more fruits and vegetables to their daily meals.  Cook more meals at home from scratch and some of this will take care of itself.

Here are a few tricks that help me:

1.  Add vegetables to tried and true basics.  For example, I add winter squash puree to our breakfast polenta and chopped spinach to spaghetti sauce.  Sometimes I put grated carrots in mac and cheese or extra onions and peppers in sloppy joes.  Caramelized onions or even cooked sliced potatoes make great pizza topping.  I use cole slaw or sliced radishes to add crunch to sandwiches.  Put more vegetables in the tuna or hamburger hot dish.  For breakfast, make a frittata with lots of vegetables instead of plain scrambled eggs.  The possibilities are endless.

2.  Soup.  Eat a hearty soup featuring vegetables at least once a week. Minestrone can be adapted to make good use of many types of vegetables.  If you include some cooked dry beans and pasta, you have a full meal.  Here is a July post with a minestrone recipe:http://cookoutofthebox.blogspot.com/2010/07/inspiration-week-7.html

3.  Take meat out of the middle of the plate.  Don't be afraid to have all vegetable meals once in a while.  Last night we had a little pickled herring with crackers as an appetizer for protein.  Dinner was baked ratatouille (frozen from last summer) on polenta, with some grated parmesan on top.   Tonight dinner was spinach souffle, red cabbage slaw and some winter squash gnocchi with sage butter.  There were a few eggs in the souffle and the gnocchi - I didn't worry at all about enough protein.  (Besides, tomorrow we are having pork chops for dinner.)

Here are some ideas for ways to use the veggies in your CSA box this week:

Salad -- Grate or shred carrots, by hand or in a food processor.  Now you can make all kinds of salads, such as:
Carrot apple -- add grated apple to carrots, along with a handful of raisins and some chopped peanuts.  Dress with a little orange or lemon juice and honey.  Add some plain yogurt if desired.

North African carrot salad - add this dressing to shredded carrots:  mix equal parts olive oil and lemon juice - about 3 T each.  Add 1 clove minced fresh garlic, 1 t. sugar, 1/2 t. cumin seed, crushed, 1/2 t. crushed dried mint leave, salt and pepper to taste.  If desired, add some crushed dried red pepper flakes.

Vietnamese rolls
Moisten rice paper rounds according to package directions.  Fill with shredded carrots (radish too if you have some),  bean sprouts, chopped tofu, peanuts, cilantro and mint.  Roll up and serve with your favorite peanut-chile dipping sauce

Root veggie hash
Cut carrots, parsnips and potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes.  Heat heavy frying pan, add olive oil.  When oil is hot, add cubed vegetables.  Cook until browned on one side and then turn.  Add chopped onion or shallots when vegetables are almost tender.  Serve when vegetables are browned and tender.  Add fresh chopped parsley if you have some.  Good served with a fried egg on top.  Variation:  Add a little ground pork or sausage to the vegetables when they are cooking.

Mashed - These are simple and good.  Just peel parsnips and cook in salted water until tender.  Drain.  Mash parsnips with some milk and butter, season to taste with salt and pepper.  You could also mix the mashed parsnips with some egg and a little flour.  Fry in some butter and voila - pancakes.  These would be good on a bed of sauteed cabbage.

Parsnips with dark beer glaze
This recipe is from From Asparagus to Zucchini - the cookbook from the Madison area CSA coalition.
1 pound parsnips, cut into small chunks
1 cup sweet flavored stout or brown ale
1/4 t. cinnamon, 1/8 t. cloves
2 t. butter
salt and pepper
1-2 T maple syrup
Simmer parsnips, stout and spices in a heavy covered pan about 8-10 minutes, or until tender.  Remove cover and raise heat so that liquid evaporates and reduces to a glaze.  Stir in butter and optional syrup.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

I really encourage you to try making some sauerkraut.  You can watch me do it right here:
Next week I will give you some ideas for cooking with sauerkraut (even though it won't be ready for about 3-4 weeks)

Potatoes and squash
Make a simple meal of baked potatoes and baked squash halves.  Add some chopped apple and a little butter and honey inside the squash halves.  Have some cabbage slaw as a first court and splurge on a nice piece of cheese for dessert, just like the French do. 

1 comment:

  1. Yes! Eat less! It's a great message.

    Thanks for the great meal ideas. Feels so comfort-foodish. I'm in!

    I made a similar version of the hash for my mom last week. I was staying with her after her knee replacement surgery and while I did have her narcotics on my side I made her hash with carrots and potatoes with cheese on top. She didn't even taste the difference!