Friday, August 3, 2012

Menus--First of August

August is here and the Pacific Northwest is still so green. It's amazing, but I'm not sure when (or if!) my tomatoes will come into their red glory before the frost comes. I have hordes of green tomatoes but just a few reddening ones. Still, I'm optimistic. One simply has to be with tomatoes. The related angst is well compensated for in just-harvested, sweet-tangy fruits, and I find myself planting the plants with renewed optimism and anticipation each year regardless of how jaded I may have become following the previous first frost. I am hoping for the best with this batch of menus.

Direct-heat--Pan-fried tofu (you should try it), corn on the cob, biscuits, lettuce & tomato salad
Braise--Braised vegetables and beans, Parker House rolls, garlic roasted kale (my kids love this)
Cassarole--Lasagne and green salad
Pizza, etc.--Pizza with nut cheese, sundried tomatoes, and shaved zucchini, apples and peanut butter
Soup & Stew--Roasted vegetable & chickpea curry, jasmine rice
Noodle--Spaghetti Carbonara, green salad

This set of menus offers several opportunities for trying alternative proteins. The pan-fried tofu is really great, but you could pan-fry a chicken breast or pork cutlet as well. You could make a regular cheese and pepperoni pizza, but the nut cheese is suprisingly delicious and the shaved zucchini offers a surprisingly creamy, fresh element. My husband said that we ought to serve it for company sometime when I made it for him. In the curry I call for chickpeas. You could use prawns or some sort of other meat, but with the carbonara (a carnivorous treat!) the next day I decided to go for the plant in the curry.

Why the emphasis on plant-based foods? For general health and environmental responsibility, primarily. I and my family seem to feel better when we eat fewer animal proteins and fats. However, I do not feel that it is necessary to cut them out entirely. I try to live by a scriptural dietary recommendation that is known as the Word of Wisdom. This is the same scripture that is the basis of the lifestyle decisions of any teetotaling Mormons you may know. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a Mormon) I recognize the Word of Wisdom as inspired scripture; however, anyone can probably agree that adherence to its tenets would make him healthier. I feel that animal proteins and fats have their place in my whole diet; however, I try to ensure that they are not the primary focus of said diet. One side benefit of reducing my animal protein intake is that I can afford to purchase pastured, humanely raised meats, eggs, and milk products. They taste better, are often more nutritous, and I feel good knowing that my dietary choices did not require an animal to live an unnatural, restricted life. As Toad (of Frog & Toad by Arnold Lobel) said, "That is why!"

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