As I mentioned in my Weekend Cooking post last week (Book Review: The Way to Eat by David Katz and Maura Gonzalez), this is National Nutrition Month, as declared by the American Dietetic Association. I love their theme for 2011: Eat Right With Color. They are inviting bloggers to participate and have provided us with the nifty graphic and they are adding us to their blog roll this month — scroll down on the right to see Joy’s Book Blog under Useful Links among many other blogs to explore.
The theme Eat Right With Color reminds me of my first successful step toward healthy eating. I was eating the typical American diet, when most days I had a serving of vegetables at supper and on bad days didn’t even manage that. I began eating more vegetables and fruits when I made up a game I called Eat the Rainbow. I challenged myself to eat, each day, some vegetable or fruit in each of five color families: red, orange, yellow or white, green, blue or violet. As soon as that got too easy (a matter of weeks — because it was fun!), I made up variations. Once I established a good fruit habit, I challenged myself to get all the colors from vegetables. When I was getting the color variety that my diet needed but still falling a bit short on the quantity, I challenged myself to eat all the colors before supper and then have vegetables at supper, too.
While talking about tips for eating more vegetables, let me introduce my friend Alanna Kellogg–fellow Kirkwoodian, food blogger extraordinaire (A Veggie Venture and Kitchen Parade), and new weekly columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (that’s so cool!). Alanna has recently started a weekly feature called How to Eat More Vegetables with great tips from her bag of tricks and ideas from other contributors. Here is my tip: Eat the Rainbow! Check the How to Eat More Vegetables page for all the tips Alanna has collected so far.
The Eat the Rainbow game was partially inspired by Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson, particularly the chapter “Cook by Color.”
Book: Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
Publisher: Celestial Arts
Publication date: 2007
Summary: Heidi Swanson is a food blogger (101 Cookbooks) and photographer turned cookbook author. The photographs pop with color and texture and feature the ordinary surfaces and serving plates of a home kitchen.
As the title suggests, the emphasis in this cookbook is on natural foods. After warning that the label “natural” means nothing in the processed food world, Swanson shares her test for natural foods on page 3:
I’ve found that I can typically figure out what fits into my definition of a natural ingredient by asking myself two questions: If pressed, could I make this in my own kitchen? And, can I explain how this is made to an eight-year-old? I’m looking for two yes answers here.
Some of the recipes in Super Natural Cooking feature ingredients that are somewhat unusual, items you might find more readily at a natural foods store rather than a supermarket, things like amaranth, calendula, and edamame. But there are plenty of recipes that won’t require a separate shopping trip–Toasted Wheat Germ Soup (wheat germ is in a jar in the cereal aisle at the grocery store I frequent), Red Indian Carrot Soup (named for red carrots but can be made from ordinary orange ones), and Golden-Crusted Brussels Sprouts.
The recipes are vegetarian, but you might not notice if you aren’t paying attention. Many dishes look plenty hearty enough for meat eaters. Gnocchi alla Romana on page 105 is a rustic pasta made with eggs, sprinkled with cheese, and served with tomato sauce. A serving of that would not leave you looking around for a meat course!
Thoughts: When I reviewed Super Natural Cooking on my Goodreads account in January 2008, I wrote this:
The recipes seemed fussy to me right now — every one had either a new ingredient (which was okay since that was the point of the book) or a new technique. I think I’ll check this out again when I’ve played with some of the ingredients more.
Time worked. I found plenty of recipes that I want to try this time through, starting with Shredded Green Beans with Lemon-Lime Zest and Snipped Chives, another recipe that won’t take a trip to Whole Foods to procure the ingredients.
Appeal: Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson will appeal to anyone ready to explore more widely the world of whole and natural ingredients. The introductory material of the book and each chapter provide plenty of inspiration for trying new things and the recipes have details of exactly how to use those ingredients.
Heidi Swanson has a new cookbook coming out next month and I can hardly wait: Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen.