Saturday, October 9, 2010

Squeaky Clean Jellybean


I read an article the other day about the concept of 'clean food' and although I don't want to preach to you, I thought I'd share a bit of what was said.

Basically the premise of the article was about the concept of eating food in it's purest state. And no, this doesn't mean you have to eat organic raw carrots and celery sticks but basically steer clear from packaged, canned, bottled 'food' and to try to eat food as close to it's natural form as possible. And it doesn't only refer to obvious things such as choosing fresh fruit over canned fruit, but also choices you make when consuming, for example, soy - soybeans (edamame) are more natural than soymilk which has gone through more stages of processing etc.

The article also encourages us to make smarter choices wherever we can in order to gain the most nutritional value from our food; wholemeal grain bread instead of wholegrain, making your own soup instead of canned, adding your own flavourings to plain natural pot set yoghurt instead of buying pre-flavoured yoghurt, fresh herbs instead of dried, replacing bottled pasta sauce with cans of whole tomatoes flavoured with your own ingredients, eating whole rolled oats not quick oats with added sugar and using lower salt homemade stock and so on. The main reason for this is to avoid consuming large amounts of preservatives, food colourings, additives, un-needed sugar and, the big one, salt. Also, this kind of mentality focuses on the benefits of eating food that is in season because that is when fruit and vegetables are at their tastiest and definitely the cheapest.

I understand how easy it is to reach for the packaged ready to eat in 5 minutes risotto dinner, but what are you really eating? Probably a crapload of salt and not much else. I find it really scary how many of us don't know how to make ourselves simple, filling and nutritious meals, especially my generation who were born into a lifestlye of convenience, disposability and more importantly, choice. Unfortunatly variety in this respect is a catch 22, great on one hand, the devil on the other. Although we now have the option to buy a cheap, filling, pre-packaged meal, we are faced with the dangers of not being able to look after ourselves properly through the lost knowledge of basic food preparation and the importance of nutrition.

So, I don't expect myself or you to comply with the clean food mantra 24/7 but it's something to think about next time you reach for the frozen chicken nuggets!

Here is a dish that is a prime example of how easy and quick it is to make a delicious meal using fresh, wholesome ingredients, sans the bottle of pesto sauce. It's a classic Italian dish that's a twist on your usual everyday basil pesto. I discovered it a year or two ago, only takes about 10 minutes to prepare from start to finish and is so full of flavour it's not funny.

Spaghetti with Garlicky Tomato and Almond Pesto

2 punnets of cherry tomatoes
2 cloves of fresh garlic, lightly bashed
120g whole natural almonds
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
A small chunk of parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
A few springs of oregano (or any herbs you've got)
200g dried spaghetti (I like wholewheat cos it's nice and nutty but normal is fine)

In a food processor blend together the almonds, tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, paremesan cheese and some lightly torn up herbs and blend again to achieve a cohesive consistency. It's nice to still have a few chunky bits in the sauce.

Cook the pasta and drain. Put back into hot pot and pour over the pesto. Stir through the warm pasta until all bits are smothered with the delicious garlicy nutty sauce and serve!

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