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cooking salvation

(Can you tell I have internet in the house again? Get to go back to my Saturday morning tradition of reading the Sunday morning NYT)

There’s an article praising Michael Pollan’s latest book, which is a list of rules to flesh out his primary one–Eat Food, not too much, mostly plants.” I’m not going to link to it, because there are too many scare tactics related to obesity. I am a person who gets rebellious at those tactics, not motivated by them. Which is why I like Pollan, who does not tend to do that.

I actually follow a lot of his rules already. Most of my meals are cooked by me.  I’ve been experimenting with making my own pasta sauce and stir fry sauce. I tend to add tons of fresh vegetables to my pasta or omelets. I love fresh vegetables (as opposed to canned or frozen), and in the summer got most of my from the farmer’s market. I generally avoid what we think of as processed foods –bologna or powdered cheese or chips, etc. I make awesome whole-wheat pancakes using The Art of Simple Foods. Most of the meat I eat, every few meals, tends to come from free range chicken. I’d eat a little free range beef, or whatever the term is, but it is very difficult to find.

So here are a few of my dilemmas:

One of the foods I have not shaken my childhood obsession with is refried beans. What used to be a bean and cheese burrito is currently a toasted tortilla, a layer of black beans, then piles of vegetables and some cheese. Last couple of weeks, I’ve eaten that for lunch three times a week. I tried making my own refried beans, but it took me at least 3 hours of somewhat constant work, made a complete mess, were not very good, and did not last long enough for all that effort. What to do? Amy’s organic has some very good low sodium ones, but I’ve only ever seen them at one fancy independent store. I could buy a whole case at Amazon…guess I should.

And then the tortillas. Are those processed? I prefer to get them at Trader Joes. I avoid Mission because anything that regular must be overly processed.

And the cheese? All cheese is processed, even if by hand by artisan farmers. Pollan says to avoid things marketed as healthy b/c they are usually artificial junk (which I agree with) but what about low-fat cheese? I read the ingredients to see if there seems to be some natural way of getting to the low-fat, like skimming milk.

Is roasted coffee or dried tea processed?

Trader Joes Barbeque sauce, which I dearly love?

Butter or Smart Balance half and half butter? (I would think butter, based on Pollan’s rules, but there seems to be a lot of support in my family for the latter).

Syrups for drinks? I tend to avoid anything with artificial sweetners, but sugar can be just as bad.

I have started carrying around cashews for snacks. They work more or less well depending on how little I ate for lunch. Gma’s addicted to Starbucks now, so I have to have something for our afternoon run, or I’ll end up with a pastry. We joined their card club so I could get free wifi, but it also means we get free syrups for drinks. I tried various ones, but am back to thinking that coffee plain and simple, with cream, is the best.

I’m keeping a bar of dark chocolate in the house for sweet cravings. I’ve lost a couple of pounds while I’m here. Grandma wants everything low fat and low sodium, so I’m needing to adapt my make everything from scratch to that. She also eats small portions. But then she loves fast food. So as long as I try to avoid the “meals” and the pastries, I think I’ll be ok. I’ve lost a couple of pounds already, maybe I’ll keep losing.

(Can you tell I should be working on Chapter 1 and am instead rambling about food)

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