Cook and Eat Like "Julie and Julia"
"Julie and Julia" is a wonderful film, filled with high praise for great food and strong women. Everyone should see it. And everyone should cook and eat like Julie and Julia. The food does not have to be French, but it does have to be cooked at home with fresh ingredients.
America would be a much healthier place if everyone cooked and ate as Julie and Julia do. Buying fresh and cooking at home gives you complete control of what you feed your family.
Cooking at home does not mean buying a frozen pizza and cooking does not mean heating the darn thing in the microwave. Buying fresh means buying from the “perimeter of the grocery store” ( from Michael Pollan’s book “In Defense of Food”), the areas where ingredients such as broccoli do not have a marketing department or a bar code.
Buying fresh means you know what you are eating. Buying fresh or fresh frozen (e.g., frozen green beans with no added sauces) means one ingredient that a farmer grew. Buying frozen prepared foods means that the ingredients were shipped to the factory in a truck. Buying a prepackaged frozen dinner almost certainly guarantees that you do not have a clue what you are really eating.
Cooking at home does not necessarily mean hours in the kitchen or butter in everything. From scratch cooking can be done simply and in a way that is good for your heart. I was trained to cook by a Cordon Bleu graduate, and for the past 34 years, have cooked virtually all of our dinners while working 50 hours a week. (I am proud to say that I bought my now taped-together, and tattered two-volume “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in 1977.)
First, always start with fresh or unprocessed ingredients. As above, I agree, frozen green beans are still just green beans, and almost as good as fresh. Second, find recipes that do not stress you. Third, plan a meal that gives you some healthy protein, two or three veggies, a good carb like yams, and cook the food in good oils.
Just to get you started, here is a wonderful, Julia-like, from-scratch dinner that can be done in a legit 30 minutes.
Tonight we are doing a simple salad with scratch dressing, pork medallions (you can use chicken breasts but they take longer to cook), oven roasted veggie (almost any will do, tonight it is asparagus), and, for dessert, sautéed apricots with yogurt and mint.
First, the asparagus. Turn oven to 350. Chop off the bottom third of the asparagus and discard. Place asparagus on a baking sheet and lightly toss in a tablespoon plus of olive oil, salt and pepper. Pop this into the oven for a full 30 minutes. If your asparagus is thin enough, the asparagus will turn into a delightfully sweet, almost candy-like crunch.
Next, the pork medallions. Heat your skillet (medium high heat) and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Cut a pork tenderloin into ½ to ¾ inch thick slices and toss in flour. Cook the medallions about 3 or 4 minutes per side and remove to a serving plate. You may need to cook the pork in two batches. Deglaze (pour liquid in and scrape up the bits and let thicken for a few minutes) the pan with dry white wine (vermouth works well) or water. Flavor the deglazed liquid still in the pan with lemon juice or tarragon or capers or nothing (your choice), and slide the medallions back in to absorb the flavors over low heat.
Now a salad. Either quickly chop a head of good lettuce (remembering that iceberg lettuce is a nutritional desert) or open a back of mixed baby greens. Make a salad dressing by mixing a third of a cup of olive or canola oil with ¼ cup of vinegar (yes, you can guess at the portions here), add a dollop of Dijon mustard and whisk with a fork.
Dessert. Halve the apricots and remove the pits. After dinner as the dishes are being cleared, warm another sauté pan, add a bit of oil, and quickly sauté the apricots (cook until they start to turn color on the bottom). Flip another minute or two to warm through and put on plate with a dollop of quality, non-flavored yogurt. You may top with mint or a drizzle of honey. Serve.
You cooked, your significant other cleans the kitchen and dishes.
And that is how you eat a healthy meal quickly. You know exactly what you ate. And you ate some good protein cooked in good oil, two or three veggies (depending on size of the salad), and a fruit. The American Heart Association and both Julie and Julia would approve.
Eat well to stay well.
Dr. Bob Gleeson
Posted 11:45 AM