Editor’s Note: Erica, one of our two regular Guest Contributors won Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook back in October. We asked her for an update. Since this drawing, none of the ladies on our “Who Are We” page enter the giveaways, at the time of drawing Erica was not a club regular. -Christina
I have fallen in love, it’s true…with Mark Bittman’s new book, The Food Matters Cookbook. I will be very honest in saying I am not a cook, nor has nutrition and health always been a priority for me. However, when my son started eating solid food it became VERY apparent my diet needed some revamping in order to raise D to be a healthy kid with good food habits. Bittman’s latest cookbook has shed a whole new light on cooking and how I see food!
Not only does Bittman provide a slew of recipes, but he gives a new perspective on what you eat. His five Food Matters Principles for Sane Eating sum it up pretty well: Eat fewer animal products than average, Eat all the plants you can manage, Make legumes and whole grain part of your life, Avoid processed foods, and Everything else is a treat. Bittman explains how to make these principles easy to incorporate into your life, even for a relatively new cook such as myself! He even includes charts that list vegetables by season with easy substitutions when out of season and lists of what you should keep stocked in your pantry. For me this information makes a world of difference when trying to plan my menus and shopping list!
In Part IV of his book, Bittman lists his recipes into three categories: Fast, Make Ahead, and Pantry Staples. AMAZING! On the weekends I will plan to cook one or two Make Ahead recipes and store them until whichever weeknight we eat it. I will also look at the Pantry Staple Recipes to make my shopping list a little lighter and use up the food I already have (who doesn’t like to save a little money right?) My favorite list, the Fast Recipes! I use at least one of these recipes a week (usually two). As a single mom of a very active two-year old and the Deputy (yes just like Barney Fife ha) Director of a homeless shelter that is open 24/7/365 things can get a little hectic. I do not have the time to cook for hours or even an hour most days, but still want my son to have something besides a hot dog and mac n’ cheese for dinner.
The recipe that I have made every week has been Couscous Salad with Dried Cranberries and Pecans (full recipe on p. 162.) I first came across this recipe when I planned my Thanksgiving. As I mentioned I work for a shelter that never closes, so I worked everyday Thanksgiving week (including Thanksgiving.) I had to plan recipes that I could cook from Monday to Thursday that would still taste great on Thanksgiving. The Couscous takes about 15 minutes to cook. Then all you need to do is chop some scallions, parsley and carrots. Through in some pecans, dried cranberries, lemon juice, and some spices – you’re ready to chow down. Since Thanksgiving, I have made it as a side every week with Salmon or Turkey Burgers. Yes, throughout the Christmas holiday too!
If you do not own a Bittman cookbook, YOU SHOULD! He gives incredible insight into how we can treat ourselves and the world we live in with more respect through the choices we make in our food consumption.