Tag Archives: soup

License and registration, please: Eating The Week takes on Cooking Light’s Superfast

Usually, I have a ludicrous amount of time for food bloggery. I work from home, with my “office” all of 10 steps from the kitchen. And being a freelancer is a fairly autonomous gig, which means I can make room in my schedule pretty easily for menu planning, grocery shopping and cooking.

Nevertheless, there are still times where the workload required for Paying The Mortgage trumps Eating The Week, and I can barely find room in my day to brush my teeth, much less spend 2 hours making chili. So when I saw Cooking Light’s challenge to try out recipes from their Superfast collection – all of which are designed to require less than 20 minutes to prepare – I was gung-ho to add some to my repertoire.

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Leafing through the Week

The trees in our area are still naked sticks, but I’m thinking leaves this week. A while back, I read what Michael Pollan had to say about the nutritional effects of our shift from eating mostly leaves to eating mostly seeds. I can’t remember which of his books this was in – either Omnivore’s Dilemma or In Defense of Food – but you can read it here (scroll down to “From Leaves to Seeds”). Pollan talks about how compared with leafy foods, seeds (grains) supply much more omega-6 fatty acids and far less omega-3s. The same goes for meats from animals who eat grain-based feed instead of grass-based.

We need both types, but as with most things, it comes down to balance. These frenemy fats compete for the same enzymes in our body: too much of one (omega-6) can mean it is harder to convert shorter versions of the other (omega-3s like ALA) into the longer types (omega-3s DHA and EPA) our body likes to use. Researchers postulate that the low omega-3 content of the modern diet is one contributor to increased risk of several chronic diseases, and that we’d benefit from moving back to a diet with an omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio more like 3:1 or 2:1. (See Healthy Kids Healthy Families for more detail).

Chard with pine nuts and raisins (alongside a good source of omega-3s, salmon)

Although the Battle of the Fats also relates to what our meat eats, I’d like to focus on the many reasons to get more leaves directly into your diet. They’re full of nutrients and beneficial phytochemicals. Leafy foods are generally low on calories, so they add lots of volume to your food without adding it to your waistline at the same time. And there are so many options and preparations from which to chose, you can easily get the mild or robust, bitter or sweet, crunchy or smooth, main or side that you’re looking for. For example, look at the variety in this leafy early-spring bounty from my parents’ garden:

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A souper week

When I first pitched the idea for this blog to him, Mr. Eating The Week (aka Tim) was agreeable and supportive. He’d suggested several times that I get a blog started, and one that would feed him regularly? Bonus.

Nearly two months into this experiment, soup week was the first test of Tim’s resolve. First, there were the skeptical mutterings when I suggested that chili counts as soup. Then the cryptic response to my announcement that vegetable pasta soup was on the menu: “You know how I feel about that.”

But for Tim, the line in the sand was drawn at spinach yogurt soup. I wilted spinach, mixed in garlic and mint, thinned with cold water, and chilled as directed, expecting to reawaken our winter-laden palates with a cool, tangy, summer-style soup. But when I put a bowl in front of him at dinner, I got the “sorry, but” face as he handed it back. “This is dip,” he said.

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The Missing Week: fruits and veggies

My fellow Americans, the state of our union is strong, but the state of our dinner plates leaves something to be desired. Specifically, we’re not eating fruits and vegetables as often as recommended. For example, an analysis of NHANES survey data found that less than 10% of American meets the MyPyramid fruit & veggie recommendations. And because everyone was glued to the TV awaiting nutrition news updates this past fall (Right? It’s not just me, right?), you probably remember the CDC’s dismal report that Americans fall far short of the Healthy People 2010 targets for fruit and veggie consumption.

Broccolini, grapes and Italian sausage

This makes for a great topic to kick off a semi-regular series, The Missing Week, in which I’ll discuss deficiencies (the “missing” part) in the average American’s diet and feature recipes (the “week” of recipes part) that help fill the gap. But why should we care about this particular deficit in our collective average diet? Long story short: plant-derived foods are generally nutrient dense and calorie light, and people who eat proportionally more fruits and vegetables are at lower risk of many diseases.

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