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On a recent episode of Top Chef, contestants were tasked with the mission of creating dishes for a group of LSU college freshmen. While most chefs doctored dishes typical of college offerings, one stood out by preparing a simple broccoli entree.  She had few takers and had she not won immunity for this challenge, she would have been asked to pack her knives and go.

Perhaps the plate wasn’t the best representation of broccoli.  Upon judgement of her and two other contestant’s dishes, Tom Coliccio commented, ” I think a good strategy for institutional food is you have to load it up with salt, fat, sugar, acid to get flavor out of it.”

Geez, that’s culinary genius, Tom.

Why are we still stuck in that stinkin’ thinkin’?

You wouldn’t put sugar in your car’s gas tank, why would you pour it into your personal tank?
What kind of oil does your car’s manufacturer suggest? Is it a specific quality oil?  Wouldn’t you want that for your body’s engine? (think hemp, flax and chia seed)
How about that salt? Do you enjoy the damage to the finish of your car after a long winter? Picture your body rusting from the inside out.

Can we produce massive quantities of food and omit/reduce those ingredients without sacrificing flavor?
Can we whip up healthy food that appeals to the masses?

Yes, We can…
We can become a healthy nation.
We can think outside the typical culinary box.
We can challenge conventional wisdom.
We can be open to and creative with a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle.
We can have long lines at the broccoli station.

The recipe below contains no added fat, sugar or salt. The small amount of balsamic vinegar was of high quality and was not enhanced with caramel or sugars. This recipe is cost effective and can quickly and easily be mass produced without losing quality or flavor. And, I’m betting the freshmen at LSU would love this spicy concoction.

Go ahead and add some broccoli if you wish!

We’d like to see you on our side Tom…before your heart attack.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
1 1/2 c dried black beans
1 1/2 c dried chick peas
12 tomatoes, roasted
1 large vidalia onion, roasted
1 garlic bulb, roasted
6 c vegetable broth
2 dried chipotle peppers, soaked in balsamic vinegar and water
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 sweet potatoes, diced
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp marjoram
spinach
juice of lime

Directions:
Soak beans overnight and prepare the following day by cooking on medium-low heat until tender.
Soak chipotle peppers in a mixture of balsamic vinegar (1 tbsp or two) and hot water.
While beans are cooking, make a small slit on each tomato, slice onion into several large pieces and skin and separate each piece of garlic. Place the tomatoes (slit side up), onion and garlic on a parchment or tin foiled cooking sheet.  Roast in a 450°-500°  oven until pieces begin to turn brown (about 10-20 minutes, keep a careful eye on the garlic so that it does not burn). Allow to cool.
While ingredients are roasting and then cooling, skin and dice sweet potatoes.
Seed and finely dice chipotle peppers.
After cooling, skin tomatoes.
Dice tomatoes, onions and garlic.
In a large heated pot, add tomatoes, onions, garlic, vegetable broth, chipotle peppers, cinnamon stick, sweet potatoes, beans and cumin.
Let simmer on medium-low heat for the remainder of the day.
About an hour before serving, add fennel seeds, marjoram and spinach.
Add a bit of juice from a lime to each individual serving.

How do we become a healthy nation?  Please leave a comment…

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