Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Learning how to cook is always such a hit-and-miss experience. It requires patient and tolerant people who are willing to wait long, hungry hours while you figure out just how long to cook lentils or bake a 10-pound roast.
I was born into a family of understanding people. There was one time, though, when I decided to make real garlic bread, with roasted garlic. I found a recipe, and proceeded to follow the directions, roasting an entire head of garlic. As I started to spread the soft white garlic onto a loaf of French bread, my mom suddenly got up from the kitchen table. "You are using way too much garlic," she said. I adamantly declared I wasn't. "I had followed the recipe," I told her, and I knew it was going to be amazing. She was still skeptical, but, luckily for me, the garlic bread was fantastic. The garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper all saturated the white French bread.
Trying out a recipe that uses an entire head of garlic takes some guts and a little faith. Sometimes, making healthy eating choices is the same. You know you want to eat healthy, you try to eat healthy, but everyone else is going for that Swiss cheese and bacon hamburger with a biggie side of fries, so why not you?
Subway has these great commercials on the air. A guy asks his co-workers if they want him to bring back lunch. The co-workers are gung-ho and start putting in their orders. "I'll have the I-ate-so-much-I-just-want-to-sleep-for-three-days platter," one guy says. "I'll have a bucket of please-keep-your-shirt-on," another says. The point of the commercial is that Subway is a healthy alternative to the fatty, greasy fare most fast-food chains market.
Although the commercial is a good laugh, it also has a deeper, more serious message: Our bodies reflect what we eat. When you look around at most of America's population, you will see that what we are eating is fat and sugar, and lots of them.
The thing that most people miss is that eating healthy doesn't have to mean bland eating. Take, for example, the two recipes in this article. Both are healthy, low in saturated fat, high in flavor and relatively simple to throw together.
I adapted both of these recipes from "Food for Thought: New Southern Classics Blended with Stories from Celebrated Birmingham Authors," published by the Junior League of Birmingham, Ala. It's a great read, and full of unique recipes and musings on food.
Garlic Stuffed Potatoes
The great thing about this recipe is that it uses no butter or extra salt. All the flavor comes from the garlic and olive oil. You might feel like you are using too much garlic, but roasted garlic is quite mild and creamy in texture. You can easily use a whole head in this recipe and not be overloaded with garlic flavor.
4 medium red potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup soy milk
1 head of garlic
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
Rub potatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bake at 400∞ for 1 hour. Cut 1/4 inch off the top of the head of garlic. Roast at 275∞ for 1 hour. Scoop out potato pulp, and save potato skins. Scoop out garlic pulp. In a bowl, combine potato pulp, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, soy milk, parmesan cheese and roasted garlic pulp. Stuff potato shells with mixture. Bake at 350∞ for 20 minutes.
Pecan Crusted Tilapia
This tilapia is amazingly flavorful and crunchy, but not fried. Much to my surprise, tilapia is a healthy powerhouse. One serving of tilapia has 10 percent of the recommended daily intake of potassium, has lots of those good-for-you Omega-3 fatty acids and is low in calories. Tilapia is a bit low in taste, so that's why you have to do something a little bit fancy with it. Also, tilapia is raised in the United States and is an easily renewable resource.
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup soy milk
2 tilapia filets (6 ozs. each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Place pecans on cookie sheet and broil for 30-60 seconds. Do not burn. Remove from oven and let cool. Beat eggs and milk together. Combine roasted pecans and breadcrumbs. Dry tilapia with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides of tilapia with Cajun seasoning. Dip each filet into egg mixture; dip both sides into pecan mixture; repeat. Repeat with other filet. Place on greased baking dish. Bake at 350∞ for 8-10 minutes.
Subway has these great commercials on the air. A guy asks his co-workers if they want him to bring back lunch. The co-workers are gung-ho and start putting in their orders. “I’ll have the I-ate-so-much-I-just-want-to-sleep-for-three-days platter,” one guy says. “I’ll have a bucket of please-keep-your-shirt-on,” another says. I like the first commercial when the lady ordered thunder thighs and a badonkydonk butt. Hilarious!