The Next Step

I have to say, following these rules (see sidebar) has been a lot easier than I expected. I enjoy the extra baking and my family likes the homemade bread and snacks. Making oatmeal from scratch rather than from an instant packet requires nothing more onerous than washing an extra pot. Frying an egg takes no more effort really than pouring a bowl of cereal, and on the weekends I make at least one extra large batch of whole wheat pancakes or waffles and freeze the extras for use during the week. Dinners also have not been a problem, as long as I think ahead.

I do find I need to shop for groceries more frequently because I am buying more fresh produce, but my trips to the grocery store are much quicker because I pretty much skip the entire middle section of the super market. I’ve even started taking my kids with me again, and instead of complaining about all the things I am not buying, they read ingredient labels, amazed at the number of ingredients found in some of their favorite snack foods.

In his book, In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan repeats the following mantra: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I think for the most part, we are now eating “food”, as opposed to over-processed food products, so recently, I have been trying to act on the rest of the mantra, specifically “mostly plants.” I am finding this to be much more of a challenge.

For the most part, I have fallen into the habit of serving the typical American dinner: a slab of meat as the main course, accompanied by a starch, vegetables and maybe a salad. I’m searching for ways to eliminate or reduce the amount of meat (or eggs or cheese), in our diets. I have to admit, I have probably not been as adventurous as I could be. I should push the kids a little to try unfamiliar vegetable or spice combinations. But, to be honest, I find it incredibly frustrating to find, after spending an hour or more cooking, that my kids hate what I’ve made. I wouldn’t care really, but I feel obligated to find something else for them to eat, which is not easy especially since we no longer have things like frozen dinners or chicken nuggets in the house. For the time being, I find that the kids are very happy with a soup or chili in which perhaps half the meat is taken out and replaced with beans. I am hopeful that over time, I will be able to reduce the proportion of meat to beans until the meat is gone completely.

Here is a soup from Martha Stewart Living that contains both meat and beans. It also has turnips and kale, which my kids actually eat without complaining:

Olive oil

1 large onion, diced

1/4 C. flour

2 1/2 quarts of chicken or vegetable stock

2 med. potatoes, diced

2 parsnips, diced

1 large turnip, diced

1 bay leaf

1 whole chicken breast

1 bunch fresh kale, chopped

2 t. finely chopped fresh oregano (or 1t. dried)

1 can white beans, rinsed and drained

2 C. low-fat milk

1. Saute the onion until translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in flour and continue stirring until combined, about 1 minute

2. Stir in the stock and add all the vegetables except the kale, the bay leaf and the chicken bresast. Cover. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.

3. Transfer chicken to cutting board, cool and then pull from bones and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Return chicken to pot, add kale and oregano. Cook until Kale is tender.

4. Add beans and cook 10 minutes. Stir in milk; cook just until heated through, about 5 minutes. Don’t let soup boil or mild may curdle.


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