Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Food Rules, Omnivore Drools!

Michael Pollan, author of great books on food such as "The Omnivore's Dilemma", has come out with a new one: "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual"

Some of the Rules:

#19 If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.

#36 Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.

#39 Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

This all sounds like good advice, and ties in nicely with this weeks's Change The World Wednesday challenge:
This week, for seven whole days, read food labels and refuse to buy anything containing the following:
  • Hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives
  • Bleached or bromated flour
  • Any ingredients that you aren't familiar with and/or can't pronounce
When it comes to junk food, I recently discovered the pleasure of oatmeal bars as a replacement for heavily wrapped and processed "granola bars". It takes a few minutes to mix oats, butter, a little sugar, an egg and what-ever else you please, then slide it into the oven. What you get out is as healthy as just about any of those "power bars" that you buy for $2.50 at a store, and you don't even have to check the label to see if they've slipped in an ingredient that was "made in a plant". The money you save more than compensates for the time you spent in the kitchen.

Another of my food rules is always to use cream, not creamer. Cream tastes good and, in moderation, is not bad for you. The only reason you'd ever think that a clumpy white powder is a "creamer" is because it tells you that on the box. How credulous can you get?

New Rule: Any foodstuff that has to tell you what it is for, is not something you want to put in your body.

For example, "Energy Drink" tells you that it is something you have to drink, which suggests that its target market is the stupid. The word about "Energy" is doubly stupid; all foodstuff have some amount of "Energy" in it. The only substances that lack "Energy" are those at Absolute Zero and were you to ingest any of THAT in significant quantities, you would surely die. Come to think of it, you'd be unlikely to be able to "Drink" any of it since there are darn few things that are liquid when close to Absolute Zero. More to the point, the "Energy" in those drinks are typically either sugar or a stimulant like caffeine. You might as well suck on some sugar cubes, which are a whole lot cheaper, or have a spoon of honey, which has the added advantage of being something that your body might have evolved to process.

Screw it. I'm having an apple!


What A Card said...

Love this post! Any chance you'll share your oatmeal bar recipe? Aside from the issues with the ingredients in granola bars, we're also dealing with food allergies in our house. And, I'm trying not to buy individually packaged items. So granola bars are right out on all three counts. But I do kind of miss them :)

rewinn said...

OK, here's the recipe. It's modelled after the mazurka bars we enjoy at coffee shops, so it may be a little crumbly:

1 cup oats (DON'T use quick-cooking oats; the rougher and slower the better!)
1 cup oat flour plus a scant 1/2 cup hazelnut flour (you can use any other flour but we like these best!)
1 stick butter
a scant 1/4 cup brown sugar (the less processed, the better: a rougher sugar is more flavorful!)
1 egg
Cinnamon & nutmeg to taste.

Mix, then press into the bottom of a glass pan; press into the top a handful of crushed nuts, e.g. walnuts, almonds ... whatever you have on hand.

Bake until done. We bake almost everything at 350F but other temps will do.

Can you tell from the above that I'm a rather casual baker? There's no sense worrying about ultraprecise measurements or substituting whatever you have on hand, since there are natural variations anyway in atmospheric humidity etc. Each result will be a little different but almost always tasty!

I hope the above is helpful. It doesn't take much time to put together and you can talk with your spouse while you're at it.

(HINT FOR MEN: chix did da men what cook for dem!!!)