Sunday, April 09, 2006

One-Pot Polenta with Herbs

Having a little herb garden next to the back porch makes it easy to just go out with scissors and snip some goodness to put into a simple dinner.
Here's an easy one-pot polenta dinner that you can make in the microwave. Cook and prep time together is less than a half hour, part of which you can use to put together a nice green salad to go with it. I might add cooked chickpeas or beans to this when I next make it, for more complete protein.

In microwave-safe dish, put:

  • 1 c polenta

  • 2 c hot water

  • 1/4 c red onion

  • 1 c frozen corn kernels

  • paprika

  • fresh herb snips

  • dash of light olive oil

  • dash salt or soy sauce (optional)

Microwave on high for 4 mins covered, stir, nuke for 4 mins uncovered, stir, nuke another 3 mins, stir. Cover and let set for 3 or 4 minutes. Ta-dah! You'll probably want to add salt, we tend to cook without it and add it to taste, or crumble a salty cheese like havarti or feta into this dish at serving time.

Weekend Herb Blogging

Monday, April 03, 2006

What's cooking?

As someone whose system was just cleared out rather forcefully (ugh) by some kind of virus going around, I'm trying to use this 'fresh start' (did I say UGH) yet to change some eating habits. There's nothing like an antagonized system to make one carefully re-examine what one is eating-- just think about eating it, and you get instant, gut-level feedback saying 'yes!' or 'aieeee! no!'.

Somewhat old news, but still not widely known-- the Harvard School of Public Health Healthy Eating Pyramid, a real contrast with the USDA food pyramid we all learned in school. The pyramid is depicted here, but go read the really good stuff, explaining the research behind it and contrasting it with the USDA one.
From EAT, DRINK, AND BE HEALTHY by Walter C. Willett, M.D. Copyright © 2001, 2005 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Reprinted by permission of Free Press/Simon & Schuster, Inc

If you're more ethnically or culturally inclined, the Oldways Institute has traditional-diet pyramids for the Mediterranean, Latin American, Asian (seems like a BIG category for just one pyramid to me, but hey), and vegetarian.

Eh? Where were these 'traditional vegetarians' from, anyway? Ah. Variations of this traditional healthy vegetarian diet exist throughout the world, particularly in parts of North America, Europe, South America, and most notably, Asia. Given these carefully-defined parameters, the phrase traditional healthy vegetarian diet is used here to represent the healthy traditional ovo-lacto vegetarian diets of these regions and peoples.
For persons who wish to improve their diet, this model provides a highly palatable, healthful framework for change. Equally positive results can be obtained either by entirely adopting a vegetarian diet, or by alternating meals based on this vegetarian model with meals inspired by healthful dietary traditions of other cultures in other parts of the world, such as the Mediterranean, Asian, and Latin American diet models. Evidence is clear that people enjoy the foods of other cultures, and partake of these foods to enhance and augment their knowledge and understanding of different cultures. This food guide pyramid is the fourth in a series that has been developed during the past few years to illustrate graphically the healthy traditional food and dietary patterns of various cultures and regions of the world. This initiative is a result of a multi-year conference series, Public Health Implications of Traditional Diets, jointly organized by Harvard School of Public Health and Oldways Preservation Trust. It is an element of the Cultural Models for Healthy Eating project, a long-term Oldways educational program.

In that spirit, last night's dinner was a simple rice-cooker meal that I seem to have handled ok.

  • 1 'cup' (rice cooker cup, about 1/4 c english measure) brown long-grain rice
  • 1 'cup' (ditto) yellow split peas
  • 5 - 6 'cup' water
  • dash each of thyme, basil, paprika, bell's seasoning
  • about quarter tsp of whole yellow mustard seed
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons light olive oil
  • double handful frozen chopped tomatoes (2005 garden)
  • small handful frozen chopped green onion (2005 garden)
  • 7 dried apricots

    Came out very nice. Keep an eye on it, the crust will brown/burn when the water is gone, so when the dinger dings, scoop it out of the cooker into another dish. If your rice cooker is nonstick, attempt warily.