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Posts Tagged ‘Real Food Movement’

Photo courtesy of Budget Bytes

That was fast.

Just a week after I took up the pursuit of an easy homemade alternative to store-bought pasta sauce, I think I’ve found my go-to recipe.

Over at Budget Bytes, Beth posted a recipe for a slow cooker marinara sauce in November (gotta give kudos to Pinterest for helping me find it). She noted that the long, slow cooking process (eight hours on low) carmelizes the sugar in the crushed tomatoes. Carmelization gives the sauce a depth of flavor that jarred pasta sauce simply cannot replicate. It’s got the hint of sweetness that a good tomato-based sauce should have without the artificial, overpoweringly syrupy sweetness offered by most manufactured sauces these days.

It was a cinch to make, too. I diced an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic the previous night and dumped everything into the 4-quart slow cooker crock the next morning. The husband texted me at lunch to let me know that it smelled delicious.

I browned a little ground beef to make a simple meat sauce and served it over two small servings of penne. (And while I’m talking about pasta, let me recommend that you cook half the recommended serving size listed on the box. The suggested serving sizes are obviously calculated to make you buy more pasta, not maintain a healthy weight.)

I might add some crushed red pepper next time for a more piquant sauce, but other than that, I’m very satisfied with this recipe. Like other tomato-based sauces, it’s going to freeze well, meaning that I’ll now have ready-to-serve pasta sauce in the freezer instead of the pantry.  It’s going to be versatile, too: Besides meat sauce, it’s going to be a great topping for ravioli and a good dipping sauce for the husband’s homemade calzones.

Next goal: A go-to, not-too-salty soup recipe to keep in the freezer.

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How weird to be in the middle of a food trend and not realize it.

I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of processed food in my family’s diet for the past few years. I was unemployed for a few months when we first moved to Huntsville, so I started cooking a lot to try to save money and fill time. And not Hamburger Helper-type cooking, either. I’m talking from-scratch cooking, as in grate your own cheese (melts so much better than pre-shredded) and making your own meatloaf spice mixture (because have you READ the ingredients on those little flavoring packets?). The salad spinner became a permanent resident in the fridge, always filled with fresh (and local, when available) greens.

We didn’t give up EVERY processed food, mind you. There may or may not be a multipack of frozen pizzas from Costco in my freezer right now. The peanut butter that the husband eats every day is incredibly hydrogenated (I’d go bankrupt trying to feed him the real stuff). I don’t make my own mayonnaise, although I should make my own salad dressing.

So I’m not claiming that we’re dietary saints. But we’ve both maintained our weight for the past five years despite some substantial lapses in workouts, and we’ve put a significant dent in the number of colds and other odd viruses that haunt so many households. Coincidence? Maybe, but I’ll take it.

We find ourselves in the middle of the Real Food Movement. Come on in. It’s delicious.

I rescued a copy of The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite from my mom’s Goodwill box a few months ago and just got around to reading it. Author David A. Kessler explores, among other things, how utterly processed the average American diet is. The food industry exists to sell us cheaply manufactured goods that make us want to eat more, no matter how much sugar, fat and salt it takes to get us hooked.

I spotted a title at Barnes & Noble this weekend that actually distracted me from the Harry Potter table: Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food: Kick Your Fake Food Habit, Kickstart Your Weight Loss. Author Christine Avanti explores factory food addiction and how her move to fresh, real foods helped her lose weight and, more importantly, maintain her weight. I didn’t pick up the book because, I told myself, I’m not trying to lose weight OR fill up my bookshelves right now, but I’m very curious to read Avanti’s findings.

The thing about (who knew?) being part of the Real Food Movement for the past couple of years? I can now often taste the difference between processed foods and real foods. For example, I can taste the excessive sugar in jars of spaghetti sauce — there’s only one variety I can really stand to eat now, and the husband’s not fond of it. The flavor of salt in canned soup is getting overwhelming — heck, I can taste salt in one variety of CHEESE now, prompting me to replace it with another.

So, as anticlimactic as it may be, my New Year’s Resolution is to keep following the Real Food path. I’ll also be changing up my exercise routine (more on that later), but mostly I’ll continue figuring out how to feed the husband and myself quality, delicious foods and get further away from the “better living through chemistry” theme that has overtaken our food industry for the past few decades.

To that end, I’m afraid the pantry is about to lose two longstanding residents. You’ve been handy, jarred spaghetti sauce and canned soup, but I can taste your additives, and I can make you better without them.

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