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If you've read Nina Planck's What to Eat and Why, you may remember her referring to vegetable serving sizes as a 'doll’s portion'. That sounds about right. But, then again, I don't want to think about vegetables in portions.
I do think about portions of meat, cheese, butter, and bacon - anything really that might come between me and being able to zip up my jeans. But I have no interest in defining my diet by what I don't eat. I'd much rather focus on the food I love and everything that I have yet to try.
This hasn't always been true. I've spent my share of time agonizing over fat and cholesterol content, smoke point, BPA, Omega 3, the list goes on. And it's not just me that I've tortured, Keith has patiently participated in whatever my current mantra happened to be. I remember he and I laughing at this New Yorker cartoon because it resonated with the control I tried to wield over our diet.
Published February 1, 1993, cartoonist Mike Twohy
At some point I realized that being neurotic about food might be worse for us than a less-than-perfect diet. Whatever that is.
A couple of weeks ago, there was a great article in the New York Times titled, Eat Your Heart Out. The article discusses findings from an Australian study on the diets of men with heart disease in the late 1960s to early 1970s. A couple of notable quotes:
The men were followed for an average of 39 months, and those on the polyunsaturated-rich diet lowered their cholesterol levels by an average of 13 percent. But they also were more likely to die, and in particular to die of a heart attack, than those who stuck with their usual diet, which consisted of about 15 percent saturated fat.
And my favorite:
In broader terms, the new analysis muddies the already murky issue of just how diet affects heart-disease risk and health in general.
I don't mean to suggest that I have a breezy approach to eating. You've probably noticed a lot of whole grain and vegetable laden recipes on this blog. You may have also noticed that I don't often suggest packaged foods as ingredients. And if you hang out with us, you know that we're not fans of mainstream fast food. We're also picky about buying meat; we like to know that the animals were treated well, including sun on their faces and their choice of plant or bug in their bellies. Vegetables, organic please, unless they're absolutely out of our budget. But you'll also see Keith and I, icy beer in hand, splitting a burger at one of the brewpubs in Bend. And, what's that, it's your kid's birthday and you're having the party at McDonalds? We'll be there - save us some fries.
What about you? You're here, so I bet you like to cook. What's your approach to cooking and eating?
While you're thinking about that, here's a recipe. It's a super delicious dish that we've had several times in the last couple of weeks. It comes together in less than 20 minutes and boasts enough vegetables to impress even Nina Planck. I've called for bacon, but just a little, to flavor the broth and make the greens sing. And my favorite part, it's topped with the fresh flavor punch of Meyer lemon gremolata: Italian parsley, Meyer lemon zest, garlic.
Steamed Cod Over Greens with Meyer Lemon Gremolata
- 2 strips bacon cut crosswise in to ¼" lardons
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ pound Brussels sprouts thinly sliced (I use the slicing disc of my food processor)
- 1 bunch kale or chard roughly chopped
- 1 cup or more chicken or vegetable broth
- 12 ounces cod fillets or other firm white fish
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the Gremolata
- ¼ cup flat leaf parsley minced
- 1 small clove garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest minced
- Heat a large lidded skillet or wok over medium heat until hot.
- Add bacon lardons; cook and stir until fat renders and bacon is slightly crisp.
- Add garlic; cook and stir until fragrant, about 15 seconds.
- Add Brussels sprouts and kale or chard; cook and stir until softened, about 5 minutes. Pour in broth and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Top greens with cod fillets; drizzle fish with olive oil and season lightly with salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
- Cover skillet, leaving some air space above the fish, and steam until fish is opaque all the way through - 8 to 10 minutes depending on thickness.
- While the fish steams, mix the parsley, garlic, and zest in a small bowl; set aside.
- When fish is done, remove from skillet and set on a plate.
- Divide greens, bacon, and broth between two serving bowls. Top each bowl with a fish fillet and sprinkle gremolata over the top.