Tag Archives: Jennifer Larue Huget

The Musical Fruit!

On this morning’s coffee break, I read Jennifer LaRue Huget’s article about beans: what they are, why they rock, and how they figure into the new (2010) Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The article is short, sweet, & to the point; most of the information it contains is info I was already familiar with. Why am I posting the link, then?

Simple: to reinforce the message that legumes rule.

It’s easy to forget how good we have it. Yesterday, during my daily chat with my sis, the topic of clean eating came up. I related that most of the produce Hook and I eat is organic. Most of our meat is grass-fed/hormone-free/etc. It’s been a year, at least, since I ate a non-strained yogurt. I still eat junk food, of course, but in a conscious, deliberate way.

As I described my diet, I thought, “Holy shit: I eat like a king.” And most of the time, this golden fact slips from my consciousness. I certainly try not to take my diet for granted, but there’s a difference between not taking something for granted and feeling true gratitude.

I eat beans every week, several times a week. Yeah, I’m a carnivore, but I happen to like beans. Beans are cheap; they don’t require cooking — only rinsing! — and they’re not as refrigeration-sensitive as other proteins.* Moreover, beans are super versatile: you can fashion them into spreads, stir them into soups, include them in tacos or wraps, or even serve them (smashed) with eggs. If you’re a salad fan, you can sub them in for chicken breast or hard-cooked egg.

Despite my frequent bean consumption, I don’t often give beans the acknowledgment they deserve. They’re the workhorse of my weekday lunches, the staple meekly waiting in the pantry. They’re Birkenstocks to the Louboutins of fresh Petrale sole, oysters, filet. Birks need their day in the sun just as much as any other shoe, and today is that day.

Beans, here is my shout out. You are one of my favorite protein sources, and my lunches wouldn’t be the same without you.

In the spirit of this hastily defined Bean Day, here’s a list of my favorite ways to eat beans (in descending order of most favorite to least favorite):

1) On salads: Most commonly, I top salads with Cannelini beans, but I also use pintos, black beans, and chickpeas.

Kale salad with white beans.

2) In burritos: At Chipotle, or Papalote, or Trapisueno, or at my home.

3) As part of Huevos Rancheros: OK, so Huevos Rancheros aren’t part of my everyday (or every week) diet, but I freaking love this breakfast dish. Undying, valiant love. I first sampled Huevos in grad school, and quickly spread the gospel. It’s hard to beat eggs, black beans, hot salsa, and cornbread, dished up with sour cream.

4) Roasted: I’m referring here to Mark Bittman’s recipe for roasted chickpeas. I haven’t yet served these as a main dish, but they’re great on salad (again) or as a snack.

5) With Rice: When I was in grad school, beans and rice were one of my easy, go-to dinners. To prepare: prepare rice as normal. For the beans, empty one can black beans, liquid and all, into a saucepan. Add black pepper, lots of cumin, minced garlic, and lime juice. Simmer until liquid reduces. Serve beans over rice; top with cilantro and sour cream. Delicious, quick, and cheap.

An honorable mention goes out to pork and beans, which I lovvvvvvvvved when I was a kid. My dad would gussy up canned P&B with ketchup, garlic powder, chili powder, and a sliced hot dog. Scoff if you will, but that mess was tasty.

However you eat them, show beans some love this week — and share recipes, if you have favorites!

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*I’m not suggesting that beans don’t need to be refrigerated. Rather, I’m saying that I don’t get as skeeved about bringing my lunch salad sans ice pack as I do about eating a turkey sandwich that was unrefrigerated during my commute. PHEW! That was a lot.

In the news: too little and more than enough.

Two news items caught my eye this morning. The first was Jennifer Larue Huget’s most recent column in which the author fesses up to her love of homemade bread and wonders, rhetorically, whether she’ll be able to reincorporate it into her diet without gaining back the weight that she lost. I feel for her: really, I do. I eat more bread than most anyone I know (save my sis, who outmatches my Love for All Carbohydrates). Homemade bread is especially craveworthy; often, I’ll tear or slice a piece off before the loaf is even cool.

Bread that Hook and I made. I did not eat the whole loaf; the bread was much better than it appears in this pic.

I’m not sure how I feel, though, about Larue Huget’s musings re: striking homemade bread from her diet. As the author herself acknowledges later in the column, bread is part of a balanced diet — a necessary and tasty part, I might add. I’ve certainly taken short hiatuses (hiatii?) from so-called “trigger foods,” but I’ve never ousted them from my diet completely. Rather, I’ll 1) buy or prepare said foods in smaller quantities; 2) save said foods for special occasions; and/or 3) just come to terms with the fact that sometimes I’m going to eat an ass-ton of bread (or licorice, or popcorn), and that’s OK. That the author of a column titled “Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy” promotes a different message concerns me. You?

The second was Kath Younger’s response to a Marie Claire article that casts aspersions on the impact of healthy-living bloggers’ work. I’ve been reading Kath Eats Real Food for almost two years; I found Kath’s posts enormously helpful when I made the decision, about two years ago, to de-junkify my diet. Kath’s blog was a springboard, of sorts,  a place where I found comprehensive archives of healthy recipes, tips for preparing not-totally-common foods (i.e., wheatberries), and a steady stream of enthusiastic rhetoric about making balanced choices, in the kitchen and elsewhere.

This is Kath's picture of her lunch, eaten the same day on which she defended herself against accusations slung by a Marie Claire writer. (Picture by Kath Younger, found on her website.)

Kath’s responses to the questions posed by Katie Drummond are solid. Younger asserts that her blog is meant to depict her life: how cooking, eating, and exercising figure into her daily routine, that “[b]logs are platforms for socialization about whatever topic suits the day. Food is just a conversation starter.” I agree with Younger’s statement that blogs serve much the same purpose as women’s magazines in inspiring those seeking to get healthy — much the same purpose, even, as television, The Internetz, and people within our actual, real-life social networks.

As far as whether “healthy lifestyle” bloggers set a dangerously unrealistic example in terms of how much one should eat versus how much one exercises, that’s up for debate. Kath’s blog doesn’t seem controversial in this regard, but some “health” blogs do. I mean, that’s the nature of the internet, right? People can blog about whatever they like, regardless of the validity of their beliefs.

Really, readers should approach blogs with the same discretion that they bring to anything they read or view: they should consider the author’s identity and motivation, the text’s intended audience, the text’s and author’s larger social/historical/political contexts. Readers should consider their own situations, their own extant and still-forming standards for how they’d like to change their lifestyles (or if they’d even like to change).

I understand why Drummond makes the case that [some] healthy living blogs may undermine truly healthy habits, that some blogs may indeed foster or represent disordered perceptions of food. But a blog isn’t a definitive source of information; just as an op-ed piece represents one person’s view of a subject, so a blog offers an individual the chance to share his or her thoughts about whatever topic, regardless of his/her formal education about that topic. Take it from me: I blog.

What this controversy stems from is hurt feelings about sensational journalism. Was Drummond’s article one-sided? Sure. Is slanted writing common in journalism, especially in women’s magazines? Yes. In this situation, there are two bottom lines: blogs aren’t all-out authoritative, nor are they meant to be, and drama sells, baby!

Now, to bed. There’s no drama that compares to this lady’s early early wakeup time.