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Thursday, May 23, 2013

MAIN COURSE

When you think about dinner and decide on a main course, what probably comes to mind are foods like chicken, fish, ribs, if you're a meat eater, or perhaps pasta, lasagna, or rice and beans if you're a vegan or vegetarian. Or maybe you pick up a cookbook, but is this a good place to look for inspiration? Most tomes emphasize overly cooked, heavily seasoned options, as if to justify putting these recipes in a cookbook. The ideal diet requires a minimum of cooking. And of the cooking options, steaming, boiling, and sautéing in water/broth are by far the best choices, since they retain moisture and use moderate temperatures (limited as these methods are by the boiling point of water, 212 degrees Fahrenheit, which is much lower than the temps at which foods are baked and grilled).

It is also advisable to eat as many vegetables as possible in their raw form. For thousands upon thousands of years before the discovery of fire, our ancestors ate their food raw. We evolved on raw options, which are to adults what mother's milk is to a baby. Hmmmmm good! But we live in a modern age and for most going entirely raw is impractical. But if you go 2/3 raw, 1/3 cooked, you are on target. That is to say, fruit for breakfast and lunch, with perhaps some greens thrown in, and a lightly cooked dinner. Even some all raw days thrown into the mix are an excellent option. That is to say, mostly fruit throughout the day, with a big kale/spinach/lettuce salad with avocado and other vegetable fruits for dinner, yum!

When preparing dinner (and it is always healthiest to cook your own food, as you know exactly what goes in it and can dispense with hidden oils and additives that chefs tend to use abundantly) you can pick up a cookbook but it is often best to let invention and intuition be your guides. Rather than starting with a grain (pasta, rice) or a legume (lentils, beans) as your main course, choose a vegetable to serve as your centerpiece. After all, vegetables are the most nutritious foods around, so it is fitting that they occupy the primary position on the plate. After choosing your vegetable, note the appropriate cooking method for that vegetable, and build your meal around it. What we often do is, say we elect to eat zucchini. We will consider what other foods are tastiest sautéed and then include foods such as onion, mushroom, eggplant, cauliflower and/or tomatoes and peppers in the dish. If we find steaming more convenient or appealing for that night, we'll focus on foods such as potatoes, kale, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli, all of which are best steamed. Then adding fresh veggies (pepper, tomato), maybe some avocado, beans, sundried tomatoes, olives, garlic, nutritional yeast, and other garnishes, rounds off the dish, which is a culinary delight.

Make vegetables your main course!

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