Saturday, March 21, 2009

Food Combos Amp Up Nutrition

I was astonished to read an article on MSNBC yesterday that said there are nutritional benefits to eating tomatoes with olive oil, garlic with fish, or in drinking a glass of o.j while eating a bowl of oatmeal.

The vitamin C in the juice and the fiber in oatmeal, for example, clear away artery clogging cholesterol three times better together, than if they are eaten separately.

I was just speculating, in my last post, over the evolutionary benefits of collecting recipes. I was trying to figure out why we are so inclined to seek out a list of ingredients to cook together, rather than just thinking "I have a cup of rice in my cupboard, a half a can of tuna in the fridge, and look, a carrot." We could save so much money if we didn't insist we need cilantro, scallions and soy sauce for that rice, mayo, celery and a bulky roll for the tuna, and tomato sauce, onion and pasta for that carrot.

Then, here comes an article on food combinations, which states the sum of a recipe is greater than the parts. Apparently we have evolved to eat lemon with kale, because the vitamin C in the lemon helps release the iron in the kale. Astonishing.

"The complexity of food combinations is fascinating because it's tested in a way we can't test drugs: by evolution," says Jacobs. And, he adds, "it's tested in the most complex of systems: life." What's more fascinating, however, is that the evolution between eater and eaten might answer the long-held question about why humans live longer, healthier lives on traditional diets. "

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I Spent $57.66 at the grocery store

I recently found a blog, called Less is Enough, written by a woman who normally spends $90.00 a month on food. Last month she conducted an experiment to see if she could actually live on a dollar a day.

And she can, quite easily. I think I could too, if I made that my priority. Really, I could just live on brown rice, cabbage, orange juice and beans and I would save a bundle. I wish I were that disciplined. The catch is, I have this inner hunger artist, who demands variety, sugar and recipes with "names." Why do we focus on recipes? Who eats "tomato-bacon-wheat," or "bread, tuna, onion, oil" ? We eat Spaghetti Carbonara or, Pan bagnat, or Singapore Noodles, or Pad Thai, because our food is more than just a collection of edible ingredients, its a story. And why do we insist on eating food stories, instead of just an ounce of this and a cup of that? After all, this woman's $30.00 a month experiment shows just how much you could save if you skipped the story, and just viewed food as a carrot, some rice, and a piece of chicken meat. I think the "stories," i.e. recipes, evolved over time to help people remember to include micro nutrients in their diet. Pan bagnat isn't just a reminder: eat oily tuna, don't forget bread. It's a story that says mix tuna with capers, vinegar, onion, garlic, black olives, layer on arugula, let it chill, because that tasted good the last time we did it. And these micro nutrients are just a collection that tasted good, and which made the body say, "ah, I needed that dose of calcium with my B12. Brain, remember that combination. Maybe give it a name."

Anyway, that's my excuse why I spent $57.66 on:

Barefoot Merlot wine $6.00, Canned salmon $2.84, frozen peas $1.29, imported tuna $3.66, eggs $2.19, Grey Poupon Mustard $3.29, mozzarella cheese $1.99, ricotta $1.99, frozen fruit mix $3.99, 2 boxes of Pastene brand pasta $4.38, Omega 3 spread $2.69, shallots $1.79, celery $1.99, basil $2.29, organic carrots $2.99, 2 portabello mushrooms $2.59, shiitake mushrooms $3.99, whole wheat rolls $1.99, paper towel $1.79.

My plan is to make salmon burgers, portabello burgers, a creamy pasta broccoli dish (with broccoli from last week), a pasta primevera dish (cold pasta salad with the tuna ) and to get drunk. (just kidding.)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mother Love

A quote from Carl Jung on the mother archetype:

. . . the mother-love which is one of the most moving and unforgettable memories of our lives, the mysterious root of all growth and change; the love that means homecoming, shelter, and the long silence from which everything begins and in which everything ends. Intimately known and yet strange like Nature, lovingly tender and yet cruel like fate, joyous and untiring giver of life–mater dolorosa and mute implacable portal that closes upon the dead (Archetypes 92).

Psychology of Food

I have read in some Jungian Psychology tomes, that food, that is the image of food, the topic of food, is associated with the mother archetype. In symbolic terms, anorexic thinking is shaped by a rejection of the mother archetype, and, I suppose, to be addicted to food is to always be seeking, and never finding, the "Good Mother."
My belief in this is influenced by the brilliant Marion Woodman, and her work including The Owl was a Baker's Daughter, the Still Unravished Bride and Addiction to Perfection. These are not pop psychology books, but imaginative psychological ruminations on women, food and the longing for nurturing.

The other night I had a dream, I was in a second floor room of a large house. People have come to the house to inspect it, or look around, or something. A chicken is in the room, and startled by the people, it flies out the window. I go outside and pick up the chicken, or, rather, it is handed to me by someone who has picked it up. I am afraid to hold the chicken, a pretty, red and yellowish bird, but I decide to hold it close to my chest, like holding a baby. The chicken is still alive, but its neck is broken, and as I hold it, it dies.

I once sat with a dying chicken, a friend's pet, that a dog had gotten a hold of and snapped its neck. I felt very sad and afraid as it labored to breath, even though it was "just a chicken," one bird similar to the thousand I had bought in a supermarket and brought home to saute.

I had made a chicken stew this week, and ate it all week till I got absolutely sick of it. I ended up throwing it out on Friday, thinking it might no longer be safe to eat.

Food and mothering are inseparable themes in my mind. I hold the chicken to me, like a mother holding a baby. When I cook a chicken stew, I am attempting to feed myself, to take care of myself, as a mother sustains a child. The chicken, in the dream, has broken its neck in a fall from a window (chicken's don't fly too good.) It is passing from the state of being a living bird, to being food, although I wouldn't eat this chicken, as I wouldn't have eaten the bird I watched die after being injured by the dog.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

$115.24 hauled home from the grocery store

Chicken breasts on sale $5.83, frozen shrimp $5.99, mushrooms $1.99, 1 broccoli crown $1.99, 1 carrot .57, Napa cabbage as big as my head $9.67 (didn't think it was going to cost that much!),
garlic .46, lime .50, 2 lemon $1.00, basil $2.29, cilantro $2.29, 1 red pepper $2.13, hot pepper .07,
multigrain bread $2.29, peanut butter $4.69, coffee $4.59,milk $4.19, pasta $1.99, oyster sauce $4.99, (not the price it said on the shelf, usual grocery store rip off), frozen fruit $3.99, oatmeal $2.75, cheddar cheese $2.29, parmesan $2.99, kidney beans .89, rice vermicelli $2.66, brown rice $2.69, tomato puree $1.55, tomato paste .50

non food: fish oil capsules $7.49, Tums $4.54, tooth paste $4.59, Ivory soap $2.47, Chapstick $1.19, Oil of Olay beauty creme $7.97, dental floss $2.00.

This always happens when I have several new recipes in mind to try. This is not a frugal haul, but I will make it last two weeks.