Saturday, April 28, 2007

Super Tasty Super Natural Cooking

Quinoa-what? Amaranth-who? Wheat berry-huh? J's nose wrinkled when I first described the new cookbook from 101 Cookbooks' Heidi Swanson--Super Natural Cooking: 5 Ways to Incorporate Whole & Natural Ingredients into Your Cooking. My man likes his rice white, and in his defense, the few times I'd previously tried cooking with quinoa or other whole ingredients, the results were less than stellar.

However, Swanson's book ensures my crummy creations are things of the past. Her book shows you how to put whole ingredients to good use, without sacrificing flavor. She's not preachy (a fatal flaw of many health food nuts) nor does she encourage you to give up butter, cheese, or other dairy products that make life worth living. She just shows you how to use them better and pair them with super-healthy grains and vegetables in simple recipes; for example, her Risotto Style Barley and her Sweet Potato Spoon Bread. I will admit I'm not completely sold on the "use natural sweetners" chapter. I'd rather use the bad stuff (white sugar) in my cupcakes, but just make cupcakes less often. That said, I haven't actually tried any of the recipes in that section, so I should reserve judgement.

Best of all, her book helps you eat better on a regular basis, recognizing the difficulty of a healthy breakfast and lunch for working people, . This past week, I followed two of her time-saving tips and they made a world of difference. First off, I made her Sprouted Garbanzo Burgers, following her advice to cook a bunch, then store in the fridge for a weeks worth of lunches. These reheated beautifully, and I kept them interesting with different sides and veggies all week. Second, per her instructions, I whipped up a big pot of steel cut oats on Monday night and stored it in the fridge, making breakfast easy Tuesday-Saturday. Each day I nuked a serving in a bowl, swirled in some apple butter and some blackberries, scarfed it down, and was out the door in minutes, feeling like a super natural super star.