Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Battle of the Bulge: Rise of the Flexitarians

Thanks to Mark Bittman, I have discovered that there is a term for my current state of food consumption: Flexitarian

While I am an animal lover, I am not so in love that I abstain from meat and cheese. However, while I will eat red meat without qualm, I just don't like it; I prefer the fowl, but I do not crave it on a daily basis. Dairy is my weakness, but beyond the milk in my morning cereal, cheese indulgence is also kept to a minimum.

I have been blithering on lately about Dr. Joel Fuhrman's theories on health and weight maintenance, but I must admit that I have not purchased his books, nor have I taken on his plan whole-hog (so to speak). I have plucked amongst his information and whittled it to suit myself. Specifically, I have made point to consume, as my main food group, vegetables.

But, before there can be a discussion about what to include in one's diet, let's first focus on what to exclude. Such as: Ready made. Processed. Fast food. Thanks to a cringing exposé by Michael Moss, the American public has now been clearly informed as to the—for lack of a better term—poison peddled by the food companies. Copying and pasting all the scary bits would take quite some time, so read it leisurely. Here's a video interview for more concise info.
No ready made means . . . cooking. Yeah, cooking doesn't seem to be the most thrilling of activities. Until I started doing it regularly. Cooking is not really bound by recipes; every time I tentatively experiment and succeed, I heartily share and consume my accomplishments. Cooking is a sport, a challenge to be tackled, not a meek pastime for Stepford wives. Look at all those television chefs, with their "Bam!" and verve. It's entertaining to watch; so why don't we try it ourselves?

It's a matter of changing priorities and budgeting time (not that much is needed). For me, cooking takes less time than getting dressed, parking, waiting in line, and recovering from indigestion. I can guarantee my audience that by taking the same hour for the gym, say, and placing it in cooking instead (with real, quality ingredients!) there will be more results, waist-line wise. It's all in the food, in the amount and in the fresh ingredients, as opposed to the elliptical. 

Michael Moss and his fellow journalist, Michael Pollan (who came out with a book, "Cooked,") showed, in an article, how it can be done. Entitled "Pots and Pans, but Little Pain," they shop in a regular supermarket, and concoct with just a little planning and effort, a mouth-watering lunch. Watch this video about their outing. It's quite informative.
The problem with cooking is that we’ve denigrated it,” Mr. Pollan said. “There’s just a cultural problem of persuading people it’s a valuable way to spend their time.
Mr. Moss agreed. “Just imagine what Madison Avenue could do if they wanted to sell home cooking,” he said.
I used to be the gal who would come home and grunt like a cavewoman for her dinner. But now, if there is nothing ready, I eagerly oil a pan and merrily slice and dice. (I'm a tv watcher. If I am doing this happily, then believe me, it can be quite invigorating.)

For the sake of health, as well as taste (never mind the wallet) embrace the way of the pot. I would recommend Calphalon, or anything non-stick hard anodized (like this everyday pan from Cuisinart). A good pot makes cooking all the more fun, flavorful, and most of all, easy

Recommended television chef? Jacques Pépin cooks for the real world, where an army of interns aren't lurking behind every stage kitchen chopping up and measuring neat bowls of ready-to-use ingredients. He shows the techniques needed, as opposed to recipes; how to cook and slice in the onion is more important than how many onions. There are many videos of him out there; watch one and learn something. (Since he uses butter and treif indiscriminately, keep in mind that with cooking, there is plenty of wiggle room. Experiment!)
He has two books out there called "Fast Food My Way" and "More Fast Food My Way." Yeah, it's fast.    

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