What food blogger – especially one with Obsessive Pun Disorder – wouldn’t love the chance to say they bit off more than they can chew? Thanks (I think?) to Recipe Redux, I had the opportunity to do just that. For November, we Reduxers were charged with using a new whole grain. So I dove right in and tried to modify a recipe I’ve never made before (pan-seared oatmeal) with a grain I’ve never eaten, much less prepared – spelt.
The idea was to modify the sweet breakfast recipe into a savory version that would highlight the richer, mushroom-y flavor of spelt. The result? Well, let’s call it Accidental Spelt Salad, because there were some… structural issues that required a salvage job and a bowl.
I mixed cooked spelt with egg and Dijon mustard and layered it with some Gruyere cheese in the middle. This chilled for about an hour; I then inverted it and cut it into neat little triangles. Alas, here’s where things went south.
We now know that mushrooms are tasty little buggers, adding earthy flavor and filling texture to all kinds of recipes. Nutritional science has also revealed that they are decent sources of B vitamins, copper, and selenium, and a few varieties even boast surprisingly large amounts of vitamin D. But I sometimes wonder, before all that, who first saw a bulbous fuzzy growth atop a pile of decomposing matter and thought, “That belongs in my mouth?”
Maybe we shouldn’t think about that too much, actually; my job of extolling their dietary virtues would become more difficult if we’re fixating on terms like “gilled fungi” or “spore-bearing fruiting body” (thanks, Wikipedia). Instead, let’s focus on melty risotto, savory pancakes, and the recipe that saved my relationship with veggie burgers: pecan mushroom burgers with gorgonzola sauce.
A week into full-fledged vegetarianism, I’ve gotten lots of “Cool! Why?” from people I’ve told about my recent decision. Frankly, it’s not that big of a leap – I’ve been a low-frequency meat eater for health and environmental reasons, and I genuinely prefer plant-centric recipes.
Tomato ricotta tart
More recently, the ethics related to eating meat have weighed more heavily on my mind (explaining to my 5-year-old how those chicken drumsticks got on our plates will do that, I guess). So I made the change and now eat anything plant-based, as well as dairy and eggs. Seven days into this, the switch hasn’t been that big of a deal (aside from my glee that I can rock the No Meat Athlete shirt in an upcoming race & be legit about it).
Another question that may be more relevant to you is what this means for the blog. ETW posts are heavy on the plant-based recipes already, but I’m not going to swing 100% in that direction now. The reasons are many, but they can be boiled down to two main ones:
- There are already a zillion vegetarian/vegan blogs written by people with way more experience and insight than I have. Teh internets don’t really need another.
- I started this blog as a way to explore nutritional science as I’m working toward becoming an RD. The reality is that I’ll have to meet clients where they are, and help them with healthy choices that meet their preferences, which for many will include meat.
So that’s the upshot: while there won’t be any more meat CSA posts, ETW will otherwise remain omnivorous. I’ll be back with the usual theme-recipe rigamarole in a few days!
Lab. Anyone who’s brushed elbows with the sciences knows what that word means. Goofy protective eyewear. Pipetting. Titrating over and over and over. So imagine my glee to discover that for nutrition nerds, lab also means this:
Recipe modification lab - crispy chicken fingers & sweet potato wedges
Food! Cooking! Dessert, even! All this comes courtesy of the Food, Culture & Society class at Framingham State. In lab, we’ve worked on healthy modifications to salty, high-calorie, sat-fat-heavy recipes; prepared menus based on quick and healthy recipes; and tried out no-meat entrees and desserts. I get to spend a couple hours chopping, blending, broiling and sampling every week, and often leave campus with enough leftovers for dinner. Best use of tuition dollars evar.
A quick note to remind readers that I’m giving away two samplers of Funky Monkey dried fruit snacks. Just leave a comment on this post to get entered! Comments received before 3:00 pm EST today will be eligible. Good luck!