YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Cranberry Slaw

Here’s a sweet little recipe, something to do with cranberries that I am sure NEVER occurred to you before! It makes a perfect appetizer or salad course for a Thanksgiving meal. Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours…

  • 6 c. green cabbage, sliced and shredded thinly
  • 2/3 c. dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c. toasted slivered almonds
  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise, vegan if preferred
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced

Combine the lemon juice and mayonnaise in a large bowl, and whisk until smooth. Add cabbage and mix well until all the cabbage is well coated. Add remaining ingredients and mix again. You can serve it right away, or cover it and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Serves 8-10.

Thank you to vegkitchen.com and Nava Atlas for this creative gift.


A Commodity-Based Diet

A few months ago Michael @Ruhlman lent me a captivating new book written by Chef Dan Barber and called The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food. In 2009 Time Magazine named @DanBarber one of the 100 most influential people in the world. I’m a little bit chagrined to admit that I am still reading this book, primarily because it makes me think so hard that I can only get in a chapter at a time before I have to set it aside and think about what the author just said.

Third Plate is what has gotten me thinking about the fact that mainstream America is surviving not on nutritious food but, instead, on a commodity-based diet. Read this recent post for more about commodities as they relate to food.

As I explained a few weeks ago, the salient characteristic of a commodity is that its price is determined not by quality, but by quantity. The commodity market grows with the ability to meet the demand for product. The particular commodity meets explicit contractual requirements that generally have no relationship to the product’s nutritive value or taste. The source and nutritional quality of the product become, essentially, irrelevant. Examples of commodities include white flour, sugar, soybean oil, “degerminated” corn meal, corn syrup, and corn starch. 

We can grow commodity, we can eat it, we can export it and feed it to animals. We can modify it chemically to remove a significant part of its nutritional value, and then use words like “enriched” and “fortified” when epidemics of anemia (iron), beri-beri (thiamine) and birth defects such as spina bifida (folate) lead governments to require replacement of some of the nutrients whose absence caused those epidemics. But sending commodity around the world under the guise of preventing hunger does not make it nutritious. The short cuts created by commodity-based eating are manifesting themselves in a worldwide epidemic of a different kind of malnutrition than ever seen before. The first and most visible symptom of this malnutrition? Obesity.

This is a major frameshift in the way we think about food. I would suggest that the best way to get around it, for now, is to ask yourself if you will be nourished by the item that you are lifting to your mouth. If you are unsure, then consider this possibility: Even though it is edible, it may be not food, but rather (as Michael Pollan calls it) a “food-like item.” Go ahead and eat it, if you’d like. But then go find something something nutritious to eat.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Apple-Walnut Oatmeal

Late last week, somehow, while no one was looking, autumn flew by and winter blew in. It’s an achingly beautiful look — trees still completely covered with gold or red leaves, shivering in the foreground of a white crystalline landscape, the lake dark grey in the distance. And it’s really cold, unexpectedly so, so here’s what I’m having this morning. It’s a lot of flavor for breakfast, and they’re all the right kinds. You might smile while you’re eating it. Continue reading


Lentils & Collards Soup

I’ve posted this recipe on these pages once before, but I thought it was worth repeating. I love how the aromatic cumin and cinnamon and lemon flavors in this soup are so different from the spice combinations I usually use. Continue reading


What Thomas Friedman Said About Culture

This week I heard Thomas Friedman, the journalist, author, and Pulitzer prize winner who writes extensively on globalization (market), environmental issues (Mother Nature), and the Middle East. He shared his perspective on these and more, as you can see if you check out the twitter feed I generated while I listened. I’ve been thinking a lot about one particular thing he said, which was this: “Culture really matters. People, God bless ‘em, have bodies and souls.” Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Cannellini Bean Ragout

I’m starting to think about something warm and a little sweet, with a special bit of pizzazz for the holidays coming up. If you pull out your crockpot and make this, you will be a very happy camper. Your tastebuds and belly will thank you. And me. Probably both of us. Make it soon. Then you’ll have time to make it again for Thanksgiving, or a potluck, or a holiday party. Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Musings on Applesauce with Recipe

Applesauce is a big thing around here in the fall. I make it at least a couple of times almost every year, a habit I inherited from my mom, who also used to make it when I was growing up. In fact, one of the very first gifts I received from my mom on becoming engaged many years ago was a garage-sale find, a cone-shaped food sieve (officially called a “chinois”) for making applesauce. Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Pumpkin Chili

If you are looking for something warm, toasty and filling to make for dinner next weekend, give this pumpkin chili a try. Try to make it the previous day if possible, or maybe in the morning. If there’s time to let it simmer on a very low heat for a few hours, do so. When it’s done, just turn off the heat, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, and then serve. It is a perfect October meal-in-one, the cornmeal is already built in, and it’s rich in beans and veggies, my two favorite foods! Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Pumpkin Harvest Rice

Take all your favorite fall flavors, and mix them up in a big beautiful bowl! This is a wonderful dish for company, but the leftovers (if there are any) the next day are even better. Continue reading


On #Commodity and #Terroir

Today we’re going to talk about commodities. What is a commodity? When goods and services are traded on the grand scale for other goods and services, they become “commodities.” One characteristic of a commodity is that its price is determined not by quality, but by demand. The greater the demand, the greater the market. That’s what determines whether an item is a commodity. Continue reading