I read Michael Pollan‘s new book Food Rules last night. He says you can read it in under an hour, and he is absolutely correct. It’s a fun little book with 64 easy-to-remember rules about buying, preparing and eating food. The rules are all intended to be clarifications of Pollan’s three main food rules:
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
If you are interested in food and cooking, and you think a lot about what you’re going to eat, then you are probably, like me, already following many of these food rules. I have a few food rules of my own that fit into Pollan’s ethos and that have served me well. They are:
- Keep the 4 C’s out of the house: cookies, candy, chips and cola. This helps prevent mindless snacking.
- Designate special occasions for special foods. For instance, I make a big breakfast on Sundays — only on Sundays. I pick a holiday or other special day once a month or so to make a dessert, but otherwise stay away from sugary treats altogether.
- In the restaurant, opt for a seafood or vegetarian entree. I find that my choices are generally healthier this way.
- Be a half-vegetarian. We eat vegetarian meals at home about half the time (3-4 nights a week on average).
- It’s okay to eat french fries every once in a while. I love french fries!
Once I started following these rules last fall, especially #1 and #2, I have managed to maintain my weight at a number that I am pleased with, even through the holidays. And I am sure I am eating well. For instance, I am snacking a lot more on fruit, nuts and yogurt now that I don’t have any junk food around.
Soup is probably the dish that makes it easiest to stick to the food rules. Broth-based soups are low in fat and calories, are generally full of vegetables or totally vegetarian, and must be enjoyed slowly, sitting at the table (unless you are more adept than I at not spilling hot liquids on the couch). Hot soup is also very satiating, so when you eat soup at the start of a meal, you eat less overall.
Once you know the basic procedure for making soup, it is a simple matter to throw one together whenever you’re at a loss for what to make for dinner. Last night, I was cooking for one, since my husband still isn’t feeling well in the whole GI area. In less than a half-hour, I threw together a vegetable soup using an onion, a few small potatoes, some green beans, a can of whole tomatoes and a container of chicken stock. I always grate some Parmesan on top for the extra umami it brings. Extremely yummy, simple to make, and the leftovers will make a nice lunch or freeze well for later.
More on Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: