Every Tuesday I receive my farm share box. While I occasionally look at the ingredients and wonder what new and exciting dishes I will be able to make in the week ahead, I do look forward to receiving the seasonal produce because I enjoy the challenge of figuring out what I will create. Sometimes, I will order an ingredient that I have rarely used just so I can try my hand at making something completely new and different. Here are a few reasons why it’s good to try new ingredients:
- They say that variety is the spice of life — experimenting with new ingredients is a great way to keep things interesting in your kitchen and at the dinner table. A few weeks ago, I got some Jerusalem artichokes in my farm share. My go-to dish for most root vegetables is to roast them in the oven. I decided instead to make a Jerusalem artichoke soup, which my kids really enjoyed.
- When you try new ingredients, you get exposed to a variety of nutrients and vitamins that may not be in the foods that you typically eat. For a long time, Brussels sprouts never made it into my grocery basket because my family was not too fond of them. I decided to give them another go and found, to my great delight, that everyone enjoyed them! The best part is that Brussels sprouts are loaded with vitamins and are a great source of antioxidants!
- Trying new ingredients is a good way to set an example for your kids, and to encourage them to try new foods. When your kids see you experimenting with new and different foods or cuisines, they are more likely to try new things as well. For instance, when my youngest daughter saw me eating artichokes, she was intrigued and decided to give them a try. They are now her favorite vegetable.
So, while on the subject of new and different ingredients or recipes, here’s a new take on the classic Caesar salad that I started making this winter:
Baby Kale Caesar Salad
FOR THE DRESSING
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 anchovy fillets packed in oil (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
to taste (if using anchovies, you will
probably need very little salt)
FOR THE SALAD
cut into 1/2-in. cubes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz. baby kale, washed
1/2 cup thinly sliced Parmigiano-Reggiano
(I like to use a vegetable peeler)
- 1. Combine dressing ingredients and mix well. If using the anchovies,
mix until fillets have dissolved into the dressing.
- 2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss bread cubes and olive oil on a baking sheet
until cubes are well coated; bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until brown and crisp.
- 3. Combine kale and croutons in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss well.
Add half of the Parmigiano and mix again. Top with remaining cheese.
I am a big believer in the notion that our physical health is interrelated with our emotional health. Many times, emotional issues underlie physical ailments. So, when it comes to food, I couldn’t agree with Chopra more. We tend to use food to nourish ourselves on many levels. And while this may not necessarily be a bad thing, it becomes detrimental to us when we are making poor food choices or eating to excess. What I have found, in my studies on food and healing, is that food has a tremendous power to heal, but it also has a tremendous power to harm. If we are not mindful of the choices we make, food can cease being a positive source of sustenance.
This is why, according to Chopra, rather than following a prescribed diet, if we are trying to lose weight it is essential to adopt a mind-body approach to food. We need to change the way we think about food and ourselves. We also need to become more aware and become mindful of the foods that we eat. As we do so, we will also change our entire lives in a positive way. As Chopra notes, at the end of his book, “Overeating was the original problem, which most of us would consider important to solve but mundane. Yet the solution – awareness eating – had a long reach. It expanded into awareness living, and the most inspiring way to live is spiritually. The themes of lightness, purity, energy, and balance apply to lightness of soul and purity of heart, the balance of inner and outer, and the energy to pursue your highest fulfillment.” (p.226)
I agree with much of what Chopra writes about in >em>What Are you Hungry For? The Chopra Solution to Permanent Weight Loss, Well-Being, and Lightness of Soul. The effects of choosing the wrong foods go beyond the simple fact of becoming overweight. There are many acute health issues (such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, to name but a few) that also come with overeating. It is ever more important to become aware of the foods we choose to nourish us so that we can maintain a state of balance and well-being. I feel that there are many ways to do this, and we as individuals need to find the practices that resonate with us.