Hearty Stews, Heavy on the Vegetables

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There is an extreme version of just about every stew you can name — beef stew, Irish stew, curry, cassoulet, bouillabaisse — in which vegetables are used, if at all, as “aromatics.” You may start by sweating a little bit of onion, carrot, celery, maybe garlic, with a bay leaf and a thyme sprig, and then you proceed to brown your main ingredient, usually chunks of meat, and add some liquid.

It’s difficult to believe that this tradition goes back much before the ’50s, because so few people had access to the two pounds or more of meat that it takes to make a stew containing little else. From Henry IV to Herbert Hoover, the promise was made that every Sunday, there would be a chicken “in every pot.” No one ever said “a half-pound of meat per person per day,” which is about what we eat.

Read the rest of this column and get the recipes here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Sustainable Diet Resolutions

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New Year’s resolutions tend to be big, impressive promises that we adhere to for short periods of time — that blissful stretch of January when we are starving ourselves, exercising daily and reading Proust. But, and you know this, rather than making extreme changes that last for days or weeks, we are better off with tiny ones lasting more or less forever.

Mostly, though, when it comes to diet, we are told the opposite. We have a billion-dollar industry based on fad diets and quick fixes: Eat nothing but foam packing peanuts and lemon tea, and you’ll lose 30 pounds in 30 days. Then what? Resolutions work only if we are resolute, and changes are meaningful only if they are permanent.

What follows are some of the easiest food-related resolutions you will ever make, from cooking big pots of grains and beans once a week, to buying frozen produce, to pickling things à la “Portlandia.” Committing to just a few of these, or even one, will get you moving in the right direction toward eating more plants and fewer animal products and processed foods. My suggestions are incremental, but the ease with which you can incorporate them into your normal shopping, cooking and eating routines is exactly what makes them sustainable and powerful.

Flexitarianism is about making a gradual shift, not a complete overhaul. It is a way of eating we are much more likely to stick to for the long term — which, after all, is the point of resolutions in the first place.

Get all the resolutions (with accompanying recipes) here.

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Mark Bittman’s New Vegan Mantra Leaves Room for Play

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 10.15.11 AMBy Molly Gore for SF Weekly.

Let’s get one thing straight: Mark Bittman is not a vegan. The first thing he does, sitting down to breakfast at a beautifully curated vegan feast while on tour to promote his mostly-vegan eating manifesto, is demand some dairy.

“What do you say we send this whole vegan thing to hell and get some milk around here?” he says. On cue, dainty milk pitchers arrive, and Bittman’s coffee gets a hearty dose.

The scene is an apt introduction to the longtime New York Times food columnist’s new and entirely nondogmatic approach to eating, outlined in his new diffusively-titled book, VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 To Lose Weight and Restore Your Health…For Good. The book promotes a principally-vegan diet before 6 p.m., permitting reasonable freedom after that time to eat whatever you darn well please. Well, almost. He puts a few soft restrictions on the nighttime freedom, namely common sensical advice like not eating milkshakes until dawn and “all but” eliminating junk food (the “all but” being a nod to the truth that “everybody needs to break the rules sometimes”).

Read the rest of this article, here.

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Healthy, Meet Delicious

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There was a time when few of us thought about what we ate, but that’s been turned upside down since the reigning wisdom first decried salt, then cholesterol, then saturated fat, then almost all fat, then red meat, then carbohydrates and so on. Recent culprits include so many foods and foodlike substances that at least twice a week someone asks me: “What’s left to eat? I feel like nothing is safe.”

Before the end of innocence, when hyperprocessed food dominated the diet, we might eat a breakfast of Pop-Tarts or another sugary pastry, followed by a lunch of burgers, fries and a shake, and a dinner of meat-laden pizza, and feel not even a twinge of guilt. Now, almost nothing can be eaten without thinking twice.

Read the rest of this article here.

Posted in Food Politics, Vegan