Friday, November 30, 2012

Jack LaLanne: "Life Is a Battlefield"

We haven't heard from our idol Jack LaLanne in almost two months, so here we are:

(If you are receiving The Delicious Truth via email, click here to watch a man who was very much ahead of his time.)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Roasting Sweet Potatoes - Easy, Easy, Easy

Roasted Japanese and Jewel sweet potatoes.
Roasting food is one of the easiest ways to cook. The secret? Put food in oven, remove food when it is done. No joke.

I just cooked two varieties of sweet potatoes—Japanese (the whitish) and Jewel (orange)—and it took just a couple minutes of active preparation. The payoff in flavor and nutrition, though, far exceeds the effort.

After washing the sweet potatoes, I cut them into smaller pieces and put them into the toaster oven (375 degrees). About 25 minutes later, they were soft. After they cool, I'll store them in the refrigerator and eat over the next several days.

Remember, cooking does not have to be a Julia Childesque production.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"How Do I Know If My Spices Are Still Good?"

"How do I know if my spices are still good?"

That's a question I hear a lot and my answer is straightforward: "Smell them."

Instead of being beholden to "best by" dates—which, for the majority of foods, are manufacturers' suggestions—use your nose and sniff. If the cinnamon you bought in 2004 still smells like cinnamon, then you (and your cinnamon) are fine and there's no need to waste money on a new bottle, no matter what the expiration date on the old bottle reads.

I have a half-full bottle of whole cloves that—literally—I bought in the mid 1990s and am still using because the cloves are as pungent as they were almost two decades ago. If the spice companies had their way, I'd be on my seventh bottle by now.

To help dried spices stay vibrant, store them in a cool, dark place. (The freezer is best, if feasible.) Keeping them in a cabinet above the stove or in direct sunlight will force their flavor to fade fast, leading to needless repurchasing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Infant Fruit Juice Meets Stiff Resistance in Australia

It looks like the Australians are light years ahead of Americans when it comes to feelings about fruit juice. Whereas our love affair with juice seems unquenchable, at least a certain segment of the Australian population realizes the issues with the liquid that lost its fiber. (The fiber found in whole fruits helps regulate our bodies' intake of the fruits' sugars, a process that doesn't happen with just juice.)

As I wrote about two weeks ago, the Chief Health Officer of Queensland (an Australian state) recently called for her constituents to curtail giving fruit juices to their kids in an attempt to combat the state's ballooning weight issues among its children.

Now, parents have forced Woolworths, Australia's largest supermarket chain, to pull fruit juice for infants from its shelves. Here's the story, courtesy of Australian Food News:

Woolworths Delists Infant “Fruit Juice” Following Social Media Outcry

November 27, 2012
Kate Carey
"Woolworths has announced it will delist a range of infant fruit juices under the Bebi brand, which have raised concerns from angry parents on the Woolworths Facebook page.
"The Bebi fruit drink range claims to be the world’s first infant suitable beverage, and is marketed as being suitable for infants from six months. The juice range in 'organic white grape' and 'organic apple and banana' flavours is sold in a bottle that comes with a teat, just like a baby’s bottle.

"Australia’s consumer watchdog CHOICE reports that last week, midwife and mother Jessica Williams started a petition with calling for Woolworths, currently the only stockist, to stop selling the Bebi range of drinks, fearing that many parents would see them as 'healthy.'

"Along with the petition, many parents left comments on the Woolworths Facebook page claiming that the Bebi range will lead to tooth decay, sleeping problems, and unhealthy weight gain. 

"Woolworths has said that they have consulted with an in-house nutritionist and will be removing the product from its stores over the next few weeks.

"Bebi has since issued a statement to clarify that the product is not a substitute for milk, and meets all standards of the Australian and New Zealand Food Standards Code.
“'Most people seem to understand that Bebi is not promoting our products as substitutes for breast milk and that our products are recommended for infants over 6 months of age, a time when parents are often trying to introduce their child to new feeding experiences,' a Bebi spokesperson said."

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cooking 101: How to Make Candied Butternut Squash

I baked a butternut squash the other day and it was flavorful enough to eat plain, helped only by a little unrefined sea salt. However, after several times eating it like this, I needed something different, so I concocted—in the manner of candied yams—candied butternut squash.

First, I melted some butter in a pan. I then added the butternut squash (which I had cut into ½-inch cubes), maple syrup, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. I also added a little water to help create sauciness. 

Stirring occasionally, I cooked everything for about five minutes. I used a lid on the pot, which further helped the development of the aforementioned sauciness.

If I may say so myself, it was delicious (better than expected) and I'll definitely be incorporating this into my winter cooking rotation.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Mark Bittman: "All Hail the Sweet Potato"

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. Just in case you missed Mark Bittman's ode to the sweet potato earlier this week ) "All Hail the Sweet Potato" in The New York Times, here's the meat of his piece:
I am not suggesting that you substitute the sweet potato for the turkey as the centerpiece on your Thanksgiving table, though you could do worse. I am merely saying that the sweet potato deserves more attention and even a bit of praise.

"If you bake a sweet potato properly — in its skin, with a few holes poked in it (they’ve been known to explode, in a messy but not dangerous sense) — you will get a combination of textures that no other food can offer, and with no added ingredients: sweet stickiness, from the caramelizing liquid that oozes from the inside out; a little bit of crunchy chewiness, from the parts of the skin that this liquid helps brown; a soft, velvety yet slightly leathery skin, perfectly edible; and, of course, the meltingly tender, ultra-luxurious flesh, which can range from creamy white to familiar orange to deep red and even purple, and is perhaps best enjoyed with a sprinkle of salt.
"It’s in this pure form that you will see sweet potatoes eaten in parts of Asia and Africa, out of hand, on the street, in the way we once ate chestnuts and we now eat hot dogs and pizza and cheeseburgers. Why the sweet potato is too simple, crude, healthy and natural for American street food has more to do with marketing than intrinsic value, for if you try a baked sweet potato split with a fork, mashed with a little butter — almost unimaginably rich — then reflect upon how good it might be even without the butter … you might be tempted to take one up in your hand on a cold day and snack  on it while walking down the street. Ignore the stares: you’re doing yourself a favor.

"I’m not one to extoll the nutritional benefits of one plant over another — we should be eating more of all of them, and less of tortured, chemically enhanced birds — but sweet potatoes are almost unfairly potent, especially when it comes to beta-carotene (happily, made more bio-available when eaten with a little fat), fiber and a host of micronutrients, including not only common ones but those whose benefits are still being explored. If that alone isn’t a reason to eat them, it’s a reason to consider eating them instead of a bag of pretzels when you’re craving starch, or a handful of cookies when you’re craving sweets.

"The sweet potato, of course, is not only fit for baking: it can be grated and stir-fried; sliced and steamed, sautéed, broiled or roasted; wrapped in foil and baked in a fire; fried or, even better, cut into “fries” and baked with a little oil until crisp (or included in tempura); made into soup, a pasta sauce, a filling for ravioli or pie; used as a thickener; dried and eaten as a snack; reheated and drizzled with olive oil; braised in curries or soy-based dishes or European-style stews. Turkey, actually, is not nearly as versatile.

"North Carolina has long been our leading sweet-potato-growing state, but thanks to global warming the crop is moving north, and they are now routinely, reliably and happily grown by friends of mine throughout New England.

"They keep all winter; actually, they’ll keep through next summer. They’re always there. They cost next to nothing. When you peel them, or bite into them, their color never fails to surprise you. They are dense, sweeter than most candy and soft. If you didn’t take them for granted, you’d be giving thanks for them. Let’s."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

The Delicious Truth will return tomorrow (unless I spontaneously combust after I eat all of the butternut squash-spinach gratin, cranberry sauce, apple crisp and chewy chocolate gingerbread cookies I cooked for today's meal).

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey's Dark Meat Contains More Nutrients than White Meat

My annual "Dark meat is so much better than white meat for several reasons" post:

Happy Thanksgiving!

As usual, there will be a scrum at our buffet table.

I eat the dark meat of turkey (and chicken) almost exclusively, since I find it more flavorful and tender than white meat. Unfortunately, many at my Thanksgiving meal feel the same way.

But why is some meat dark and some white? Here’s the scoop, courtesy of the Really? column in The New York Times:

"In general, what makes one cut of turkey — or any other type of poultry — darker than another is the type of muscle it contains. Meat is darker if it contains higher levels of myoglobin, a compound that enables muscles to transport oxygen, which is needed to fuel activity. Since turkeys and chickens are flightless and walk a lot, their leg meat is dark while their wing and breast meat are white."
Contrary to popular belief, the article adds, dark meat has only marginal more fat and calories than white meat:
"[A]ccording to the Department of Agriculture, an ounce of boneless, skinless turkey breast contains about 46 calories and 1 gram of fat, compared with roughly 50 calories and 2 grams of fat for an ounce of boneless, skinless thigh."
And, as usually is the case (magnified for foods from quality sources), the fattier version is much more nutrient-dense:
"Compared with white meat, [dark meat] contains more iron, zinc, riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamins B6 and B12."
Click here to read the entire article.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thankful for Sales and Coupons, Especially at the Same Time

In addition to all the really important stuff, I am also thankful for sales and coupons, especially when the timing works so that I can combine savings.

Witness this morning's three-item purchase at my local Whole Foods, one in which I paid $6.38 for butter, bread and chocolate chips that normally retail for $14.48. Bob Barker, eat your heart out!

Here's how I did it:

The bread, a Whole Foods organic seeduction loaf usually priced at $5, is currently on sale (last day today) for $3.49. In addition, I used a $1 coupon from the store's The Whole Deal bimonthly savings circular to bring the cost down to $2.49.

The butter, Kerrygold's superlative product made using milk from grass-fed cows, sells for $2.99, but with a $2 coupon I've previously written about, I paid only $0.99 for a half pound of butter.

The chocolate chips, organic bittersweet chips from SunSpire, normally cost $6.49 for a 9-ounce package, much more than I'd ever pay. However, all SunSpire chips are on sale at my Whole Foods (until November 27) for $4 a package, a far saner price. Even better, I used a $1 coupon in the circular and paid only $3.

Total cost for the three items was $6.48, but since I used my own bag I received a $0.10 discount, making the final cost $6.38. Not bad if I say so myself!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Recommended: If You Care Baking & Household Products

I made pumpkin muffins over the weekend (click here for the recipe) using unbleached totally chlorine-free (TCF) baking cups from If You Care, a company that makes a bevy of high-quality, environment-friendly products. 

Chlorine is used to whiten most paper products, including paper towels, napkins, toilet paper, baking cups and wax paper. But, according to the If You Care website, "[s]ince no chlorine is used for bleaching, no chlorine is dumped into our lakes, rivers and streams." Never thought about that one while filling your water bottle, eh?

The company sticks to this ideal when creating all of its products. Here's a long-form mission statement, again from the website:

"If You Care is committed to protecting the environment by producing high-quality alternatives to conventional kitchen and household products. The materials we use are specially chosen to reduce their impact on our environment. We use unbleached paper, recycled materials and wood and paper coming from sustainably managed forests. We replace petroleum based ingredients with natural and renewable resources. We use paper from pulp and paper mills practicing the highest levels of clean water management. Every care is taken to ensure that each step– from factory to store shelf – conforms to strict standards for the conservation and protection of our greatest asset – the environment."
In addition to the baking cups, I use If You Care parchment baking paper, cheesecloth, cooking twine and household gloves; I highly recommend them all. For a full list of the company's products, click here. For information on where to buy If You Care products in the United States, click here. For retailers around the world, click here. For online retailers, click here.

(All products discussed within The Delicious Truth are purchased by me in stores or farmers' markets. I receive no compensation or other considerations from the companies or farmers whose products I highlight.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

July 1972: Rolling Stones Visit New York City; Everyone Skinny

I was watching a documentary about the Rolling Stones yesterday and it contained footage from the band's famous July 1972 visit to New York City and Madison Square Garden. I've seen the film clips before, but something immediately struck me yesterday that I had never noticed before: everyone was skinny.

Yes, the sex, drugs and rock n' roll kept Mick, Keith, Mick, Bill and Charlie thin, but I'm talking about everyone, even the innocent bystanders in the street scenes who represented nothing more than historical background.

The New York City policemen were uniformly thin as a rail, a fact I'll attribute to a lack of bullet-proof vests and a lot less food laden with bleached white flour, high fructose corn syrup, antibiotics, hormones, pesticides and genetically-engineered ingredients. (Click here to read a post I wrote two years ago about overweight policemen.)

I started watching more carefully and, for the next 20 minutes, counted only one person who was not thin. He was noticeably bigger than everyone else, but would be a dime a dozen in 2012, just 40 years later.

I am sure there are many factors to explain our collective weight gain, but I am convinced that our food supply and what we eat are prime players in the transformation.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

PAN: "Stop the Pipeline of New GE Seeds!"

Here's the latest action alert from Pesticide Action Network, which dovetails with the post I wrote yesterday about public water supplies poisoned by pesticides and other detritus of our modern food supply:
"While the 'Big 6' pesticide corporations were pouring millions into defeating California’s initiative to label genetically engineered (GE) food, their suite of 'next generation' GE seeds continued to move quietly toward USDA approval.
"Herbicide-resistant seeds in the pipeline — including Dow's 2,4-D corn and Monsanto's dicamba soy — will drive up the use of these hazardous chemicals, destroying neighbor crops and creating unnecessary health risks to farmers and rural communities.

"Urge USDA to stop the GE pipeline» Dow’s application for 2,4-D-resistant corn is first in the queue, and 2,4-D soy and Monsanto’s dicamba-resistant soy are not far behind. With a decision on the first application due any day, we need to speak up now. And loudly.

"Scientists warn that 2,4-D corn alone could increase the herbicide's use by 30-fold. The introduction of dicamba soy could cause a similarly dramatic surge in use. And both herbicides are known to drift, easily destroying other farmers’ crops of tomatoes, grapes, beans, cotton, soy — just about any broadleaf plant.

"And just as Monsanto's RoundUp Ready seed line led to the emergence of herbicide-resistant 'superweeds' across the country, so too will the next generation of GE seeds. But instead of abandoning the losing strategy of stacking seeds with herbicide-resistant traits, Dow, Monsanto and the rest of the Big 6 are introducing more of the same.

"Say no to this pipeline of bad ideas» Call on USDA to stop the pipeline of next generation GE seeds, and take a stand for farming communities across the country. The first step? Rejecting Dow's 2,4-D corn.

"The Big 6 are intent on maintaining and expanding their control of our food and farming system, introducing one GE crop after another in a pipeline of untested products that drive the pesticide market. Join us in saying, 'No more!'
"Thank you for adding your voice to the swell."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Water Poisoned by Pesticides Coming to a Town Near You

You may not be a Latino farm worker making $14,000 per year, but don't think that the repercussions of pesticides on these laborers' lives won't eventually effect us all. Believing otherwise would be severely naïve, even with the avalanche of "our products are absolutely safe" marketing courtesy of the same people whose deception was instrumental in the defeat of Prop 37 in California last week.

Here, according to an article in today's New York Times ("The Problem Is Clear: The Water Is Filthy"), is what some Californians are dealing with, thanks to years of pesticide use and the ever-increasing proliferation of the genetically-engineered crops that require further application of these chemicals:

"Seville, with a population of about 300, is one of dozens of predominantly Latino unincorporated communities in the Central Valley plagued for decades by contaminated drinking water. It is the grim result of more than half a century in which chemical fertilizers, animal wastes, pesticides and other substances have infiltrated aquifers, seeping into the groundwater and eventually into the tap."
"Many such communities started as farm labor camps without infrastructure, said John A. Capitman, a professor at California State University, Fresno, and the executive director of the Central Valley Health Policy Institute. Today, one in five residents in the Central Valley live below the federal poverty line. Many spend up to 10 percent of their income on water. 'The laborers and residents of this region have borne a lot of the social costs of food production,' Professor Capitman said."
These problems are not endemic to segments of the population that fly below the radar. 

  • Our food and farmland? Sprayed with pesticides.
  • Our front lawns and backyards? Sprayed with pesticides.
  • Our youth and high school sports fields? Sprayed with pesticides.
  • Our golf courses? Sprayed with pesticides.
  • The cracks in our sidewalks? Sprayed with pesticides.
Remember, these chemicals don't only travel downhill. Click here to read the entirety of "The Problem Is Clear: The Water Is Filthy"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Parents: Avoid Fruit Juice, Says Australian Health Official

In lieu of Coca-Cola and Gatorade, many parents give their children fruit juice, which, unfortunately, isn't the best solution. The juices (even organic ones) are full of sugar but devoid of fiber; the fiber found in whole fruits helps regulate our bodies' intake of the fruits' sugars.

Since spreading the word about this meets stiff societal resistance, I was happy to see the following story in this morning's Australian Food News (AFN). If one Queenslander stops giving his kid fruit juice, Jeannette Young will have earned her salary. Unfortunately, AFN's headline is misleading; Young isn't calling for a governmental ban, just a parental one.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Calls for a Ban on Fruit Juice and Soft Drinks

"Queensland parents should ban their children from soft drinks and fruit juices in an attempt to reverse the alarming rise in childhood obesity, according to Queensland Chief Health Officer, Jeannette Young in an announcement today.

"The announcement comes at the release of the fourth report of the Chief Health Officer, The Health of Queenslanders 2012: Advancing Good Health.  According to the report, one in five Queensland children is now overweight and a further one in ten is obese, making a total of 27 per cent of children, or about 200,000, overweight or obese.

"In 2006, 21% of children aged 5-17 years were overweight or obese – a figure which has steadily grown about one percentage point each year since then.

"Dr Young said that to combat the issue, parents should cut back on sugary drinks given to children.  According to Dr Young, with up to 10 teaspoons of sugar in each 375ml can of soft drink, a child drinking one can a day will consume 18 kilograms of sugar in a year.

“'Many parents think fruit juice is a healthy alternative, but it is a poor substitute for whole fruits and is loaded with kilojoules [calories, metric-style]. The high acidity level masks the fact that fruit juice has about as much sugar as soft drink,' Dr Young said. [Emphasis mine.]

“'Ireland is looking at a proposal to ban junk food advertising during children’s programs and we too must look at different ways to improve the health of our children,' Dr Young added.

"According to Dr Young, parents are responsible for developing healthy behaviours for their children at an early age.

“'There is only so much that governments can do. In the end it is the parents or carers who choose what to put in their children’s mouths,' Dr Young said.
“'Making healthy choices can be difficult at times, but the problem continues to worsen and it is time for parents to stand firm,' she added."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Veterans' Day Holiday

The Delicious Truth will return tomorrow.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Root Vegetables Now Dominate at Farmers' Markets

The offerings at my local farmers' markets have officially changed. The bins of late summer/early fall vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc.) are now holding root vegetables—carrots, turnips, rutabaga, parsnips, celeriac—plus onions and potatoes. Only the heartiest of greens such as kale, spinach and some Asian varietals can survive the colder temperatures. 

I bought some beautiful carrots and parsnips this morning and plan to make a carrot-parsnip soup. Feel free to substitute any vegetable. Making mashed rutabaga or mashed carrots or mashed parsnips or mashed celeriac, in lieu of mashed potatoes, is another option. Feel free to use a combination of root vegetables as well. 

For instructions on how to make a carrot-parsnip soup, click here for a post I wrote on how to make carrot soup. Simply use some parsnips as well and skip the ginger if you don't like ginger.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Water, Water, Everywhere . . . How About a Broom or Rake?

I've witnessed the following scene three times in the last week. Remember when people would use a broom or rake to clean up leaves? I am guessing that this gentleman doesn't walk four hours round trip for a jug of potable water. (If you are receiving The Delicious Truth via email, click here to watch this needless use of resources.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Sad Day in America: Prop 37 Defeated by Dirty Dollars

It's a very sad day for this country, and most people don't even know it. They also don't know what's in their food, thanks to the $50 million spent by pesticide and junk food companies to keep it that way and defeat California's Prop 37. Thank you, Monsanto, and your $8.1 million. Thank you, DuPont, for your $5.4 million. Thank yous as well to Pepsi, Bayer, Dow, Syngenta, Kraft and Coca-Cola for your millions.

The pattern, though, is not unprecedented. When these and similar companies feel threatened by possible changes in laws that will hurt their bottom lines, they spend as much money as necessary to keep the status quo. Add the labeling of genetically-engineered foods to a list that includes soda taxes and plastic bag fees.

While California would have been a huge win considering its economy is one of the world's largest, the next fight is ongoing in Washington State, where supporters of I-522, “The People’s Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act,” are working to collect the 241,153 valid signatures needed to get I-522 on the state's November 2013 ballot.

Here's this morning's New York Times article by Andrew Pollack on Prop 37's defeat. Rest in peace Prop 37; may I-522 be subject to a more fair fight, minus the chicanery, obfuscation and tomfoolery.

"California voters appear to have rejected a closely watched ballot measure that would have made the state the first in the nation to require the labeling of foods made from genetically modified crops.

"With 95 percent of precincts having partially reported by early Wednesday morning, the measure was trailing by 53 percent to 47.0 percent, according to the California secretary of state.

"Support for the initiative, once greater than 60 percent according to opinion polls, crumpled in the last month under a barrage of negative advertisements paid for by food and biotechnology companies.

"Had it passed, the initiative, called Proposition 37, could have prompted other states to follow California and perhaps given impetus to efforts to require such labeling nationally.

"It could also have led to a reduction in the use of genetically modified crops, which now account for more than 80 percent of the corn, soybeans and sugar beets grown in the United States. That is because food companies, fearing that some consumers would shun products labeled as genetically engineered, would instead reformulate their products to avoid such ingredients.

"With so much at stake, food and biotechnology companies amassed a $46 million war chest, according to Maplight, an organization that tracks campaign contributions. Monsanto, the largest supplier of genetically engineered seeds, contributed $8.1 million and DuPont, another seed supplier, $5.4 million. Kraft Foods and Pepsico each contributed at least $2 million.

"Proponents of the measure, mainly from the organic and natural foods business, raised only $9.2 million and did not mount a meaningful television advertising campaign until a few days before the election.

"Backers of Proposition 37 argued that consumers have the right to know what is in their food and that dozens of other countries, including those in the European Union, require such labeling.

"The Food and Drug Administration does not require labeling of a food just because it is genetically modified, saying that there is no material difference between such foods and conventional counterparts. If the genetic engineering were to impart some significant difference – such as changing the nutritional characteristics or introducing an allergen — then that difference would be noted on the label.

"The opponents of Proposition 37 did not so much directly attack the notion of consumers’ right to know. Instead, they said Proposition 37 was worded in a way that might lead to red tape, rising food prices and a flurry of lawsuits against food companies and supermarkets.

"Backers of Proposition 37 called these claims misleading. 'We’re not forcing them to do anything but put two to six words on their label,' said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, an advocacy group opposed to crop biotechnology.

"The big issue in the background is whether such crops are safe. The general consensus in the scientific community and among regulators is that the biotech crops now on the market generally are. Critics say adequate safety studies have not been done."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cooking 101: How to Make a Quick Meat Sauce (Bolognese)

I gave a cooking lesson last night and one of the dishes we made was a quick Bolognese sauce. It's really just a tomato sauce with ground beef and would make traditionalists quiver, but—when great ingredients are used—it can be sublime.

My version consists of five ingredients: one pound of grass-fed ground beef, a 24-ounce jar of Bionaturae organic strained tomatoes (see photo), one chopped onion (medium, large . . . it doesn't matter), unrefined sea salt and fresh ground pepper. If I am feeling crazy, I'll also add parsley, basil or oregano. You like garlic? Add garlic!

Here's how I make it:

Heat a tablespoon or two of fat (olive oil, butter, rendered beef fat, etc.) in a sauté pan. When fat is hot (but not smoking), add grass-fed ground beef. Using a spoon or spatula or stick, break apart meat and cook it until it is about 75 percent done. Remove the meat to a bowl, leaving some of the cooking juices/fat in the pan. Add the chopped onions and intermittently stir them; you want the onions to turn soft and translucent, not brown. (Use the down time during this step to make your meal's vegetable.)

When the onions are soft, add the meat back to the pan. Add some unrefined sea salt and fresh ground pepper (more than you think), plus any dried herbs you are using, and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes (trust me, the Bionaturae strained tomatoes are extraordinary and worth the extra money; other brands' chopped, diced and whole also work, but the sauce's final consistency won't be as luxurious) and stir.

Bring the mixture (it will be a little liquidy) to a boil and return it to a simmer. Let it simmer (uncovered) for about 15 minutes, making sure to stir occasionally and to scrape off anything that has stuck to the side of the pan. Turn off the heat; the sauce will have visibly thickened. Let it sit (still uncovered) for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally; it will thicken even more. If you are using fresh herbs, add them after you turn off the heat. There will be enough residual heat to cook parsley, basil, oregano, etc.

After letting the sauce sit, taste it and reseason accordingly. You'll probably need more salt and pepper.

This sauce will stay in the refrigerator for almost a week and its flavor will improve during that time. Feel free to freeze it as well. 

One more tip: if you have other vegetables (i.e. mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, peppers) that you want to use, cook them at the same time as you cook the onions.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Version of Rice and Beans (and Vegetables)

My lunch today (I'm just wiping the remnants off my shirt) was my version of rice and beans. 

I cooked some dried kidney beans this morning (easier than you think; cooking time was about 90 minutes, almost all unattended) and used the beans and the cooking liquid (water flavored with bean flotsam and jetsam) as the foundation for the dish.

To this soupy mixture I added already-cooked brown rice. While I was heating this, I chopped some carrots, turnips and parsley and shredded some Kerrygold cheddar cheese. I added these to the pot, along with unrefined sea salt, fresh ground pepper, ground cumin, homemade hot sauce and fresh lemon juice. I had half an avocado in the fridge, so I added that as well.

My version was vegetarian, but next time I make it I'll add some bacon or chorizo, which will make it more traditional.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Wrong Information from Employees at Whole Foods

I was in Whole Foods yesterday and a woman asked the butcher if they had any organic ground beef. 

"No," he answered, "but all of our meat is free of hormones and antibiotics and pesticides." 

"No, no, no!" I exclaimed, sort of under my breath. 

I am amazed at how much incorrect information is offered by food market employees, especially at Whole Foods. In this case, the butcher was two-thirds correct. All meat Whole Foods sells from its butcher counter is free of hormones and antibiotics. But unless the meat is organic, there is a very good chance that the livestock's feed contained grains sprayed with pesticides. 

A couple weeks ago, in the store's bulk section, a shopper asked an employee about whole grains. The convoluted, rambling and incorrect answer would have been perfect for a presidential debate, but it didn't do the customer any good. (Click here for an explanation of whole grains.) 

Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Does Your Corn Contain a Bug Zapper in Every Bite?

If you live in California, vote "yes" for Prop 37, which calls for the labeling of genetically engineered foods. If you don't live in California, tell all your friends and family who do to vote "yes." And for everyone, here's another reason (courtesy of the Environmental Working Group) why we all have the right to know what is in our food: 

(If you are receiving The Delicious Truth via email, click here to watch "Bug Zapper in Every Bite.")