April 6, 2012

A Different Kind of Feast ...

"When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste."  Laiko Bahrs

While practicing for maintenance by pretending not to be obsessed with food, tee hee, I've been thinking of holiday feasts and feasting in general. What do you think of when the words splurge or feast come up?

When I ate SAD (Standard American Diet) I thought of huge Thanksgiving spreads with 3-5 kinds of pie, or Christmas baked goods and candies or Easter chocolates and peeps. Although I gradually ate less and less of those things over the course of the last year I still thought of them as the gold standards of festive eating.

But today I ate a feast that included none of those things. I went shopping the other day so I have the maximum inventory of fresh produce. Yesterday I had a large, beautiful, leafy salad and lots of lamb, but today I wanted a different kind of feast.

I lined a baking sheet with foil and spread a nice layer of slushy coconut oil, to which I added generous pats of Kerrygold butter. I had 2 mildly-wrinkly rutabagas that I peeled and sliced, along with a nice yellow summer squash. Three nice beets, peeled and sliced, added sweet flavor and spectacular color to 1/2 head of cauliflower divided into large florets.

I folded foil over the veggies and baked them at 350F for 30 minutes, then flipped them over and re-covered them for about 25 minutes with fresh basil and chives added to "flavor" the steam. For the final 25 minute session, I just stirred the veggies and left the foil open.

The rutabaga slices were slightly chewy, so on a future batch I'd probably give them 15 minutes on their own before adding the others which were all PERFECT, by which I mean barely cooked but not yet soft. A sprinkle of salt and I dived in:

Rutabaga, yellow squash, beets and cauliflower with basil, chives and salt.
Okay, I hear your thoughts. "Vegetables? She baked vegetables and she's calling it a feast? What's up with that?"

But it WAS a feast. I usually include one fresh-cooked vegetable in my main meal--occasionally 2--but having generous quantities of four definitely felt a level above and was a delight to my senses. And that's my point today: we define what a feast is and how often to have one. On this particular day a four-vegetable baked dish was a guilt-free feast (which doesn't change the fact that I'm planning to have a Cadbury egg on Sunday.)

I challenge YOU to go beyond cooking dinner and mix some whole foods into a feast. You'll feel better for it, I promise.

The pleasure of junk food lasts until it slides down your throat: the pleasure of good health manifests itself 24/7 in better sleep, less pain, greater mental clarity and capacity, and greater physical ability.” J Stanton – gnolls.org

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