The basic ingredients needed to sustain life have always included grains, berries, nuts, flours, beans, vegetables, fruits, water and animal protein.
The interesting thing to think about is the infinite number of ways to combine ingredients when producing a food product or recipe.
Healthy recipes are just simple combinations of healthy ingredients.
This concept is easy to understand....
White Flour + Sugar + Fat = Cookie
Bean + Vegetable + Water = Soup
You will notice that all of the ingredients used in my recipes are just everyday, inexpensive and basic.
The wonderful flavors come from the clever combinations of these basic ingredients.
The guidelines that I follow when choosing ingredients to create my recipes are listed below
Whole Grain-Whole Food Philosophy
Eating whole grains has many benefits. Whole grains stave off hunger and are higher in dietary fiber, antioxidants and nutrition than processed grains. They fill you up and keep you going, so to speak. Popular whole grains found in my recipes are ones like brown rice, whole wheat, whole oats, millet and wheat berries.Other whole grains featured include buckwheat, barley, popcorn, quinoa and wild rice.
Whole foods are foods that are consumed as they are found in nature. Eating an apple as opposed to drinking a glass of apple juice is a good example. The whole apple has more vitamins, fiber and natural sugars than the processed juice. This line of thinking can extend to almost all processed foods as compared to their fresh counterparts. The general rule of thumb is to stay away from the manufactured items in the middle of the grocery store and focus on the whole food items found along the edges like fruits, vegetables and lean protein. I try to use as few processed foods as possible in my daily diet as well as my recipes.
Limited Meat Consumption
The American Heart Association recommends no more than six ounce of lean protein daily. At first this may seem like an unreasonably small amount of fish, steak or chicken, but this is because we are accustomed to eating large pieces of meat as our main course.
You will notice that the New Taste recipes pay more attention to creative combinations of basic grains and vegetables. These dishes are well balanced and filling while still allowing the option of adding meat.
Vegan and Vegetarian Dishes
The recipe list is full of dozens and dozens of wonderful vegan and vegetarian choices. For some reason the word vegan is sometimes confusing to some people. Vegan recipes are simply recipes made without meat, eggs, honey or dairy. Dairy is the biggest difference between the vegan diet and the vegetarian diet. Many vegetarian recipes rely on dairy to compensate for the lack of meat. There is a tendency to eat much more than the recommended amount of dairy on the typical vegetarian diet as well as the typical American diet.That is why I say cheese is just a bad habit.
Cheese and Dairy
"Americans now eat an average of 33 pounds of cheese a year, nearly triple the 1970 rate. Cheese has become the largest source of saturated fat; an ounce of many cheeses contains as much saturated fat as a glass of whole milk". New York Times 11-12-10
The biggest contributor to this over consumption of dairy is cheese.Cheese is a convenient, economical ingredient that we have in abundance.Over the years, cheese has wound itself into almost all of our recipes. We can eat cheese at every meal without ever stopping to think about it. I have decided to take a step back and evaluate where cheese is necessary and where it should be eliminated from a recipe. The same goes for all dairy products. Example being that you don't need to add heavy cream to a soup recipe just because this is how you have always made the soup.
Plant Based Food Pairings
There is an endless list of fruits, vegetables and spices that create amazing new flavors when they are paired together.Examples range from the simple pairing of peanut butter and jelly to more complex flavors of tomatoes and basil, apricots and almonds, cilantro and lime, and so on. My recipes utilize this concept to create optimum flavor without relying on the more common (and unhealthy) flavor enhancers such as fat, sugar and salt.
Organic and Sustainable Foods
Healthy pesticide-free foods and humanely raised animals are available in markets all over the country. Choosing to purchase these items is a personal decision, as they are often more expensive. Buying food at your local farmers market is a great idea and highly recommended, whenever possible. Local farmers markets are a great place to find fresh products that have more flavor and nutrition as compared to ones that have been transported thousands of miles to the local chain store.
Dealing With Sugars
Health issues associated with the over consumption of sugar and high fructose corn syrup are well documented.
The amount of these sweeteners used in processed foods today is out of control. As peoples taste buds get used to the high level of sweeteners that are pumped into processed food and beverages, other foods like fruit and vegetables become bland and tasteless. Natural flavors can't compete and we can see the results. In the New Taste recipes I use a variety of different sweeteners, each having their own distinct flavor. They are used sparingly, just enough to be noticed. Examples include dried fruit, fresh fruit, agave nectar, honey, brown rice syrup, date sugar and maple syrup. Some of these sweeteners are processed while others are not. My feeling is that I would rather take control of the amount and type of sweetener used in a recipe while using my experience and judgment to create products that are both enjoyable and healthy.
And Another Thing....
You may notice that the recipes create a lot of extra food. My years in the kitchen have proven to me that it is just as much work to make a small batch of something as it is to make a large. I recommend dividing the cooked food into three portions, one portion for your immediate consumption, one for another day and one to give to a friend. The friend concept is all about community and sharing and it works both ways.
Finally, this is not an all or nothing deal. Start slow and see how you feel. Try a few recipes and pay attention to your mood and energy level.