Food that Matters, a la Bittman

From Salon’s review of Food Matters by Mark Bittman:

The essence of the Bittman approach is simplicity, ease and quality, but that means he has to walk a fine and constantly shifting line. Americans’ attitudes toward what we eat are laden with class and cultural baggage.

Now Bittman has waded even further into the fray by publishing “Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating With More Than 75 Recipes,” an unusual blend of manifesto, self-help manual and cookbook designed to convince people that they can drastically improve their diets with relatively little discomfort. Not only that, but in doing so, Bittman avows, they can also save the planet and relieve some of the pressure on their pocketbooks. As promises go, that’s a whopper, a super-trifecta encompassing the major obsessions of the current moment: weight loss, environmentalism and penny-pinching.

Laura Miller succinctly notes that Bittman’s book is “applied Pollan”, referring to Michael, who wrote The Omnivore’s Dilemma (reductive summary: eat more local, sustainably created foods) and In Defense of Food (reductive summary: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”)

I’ve been a fan of Bittman’s since he wrote for Cook’s Illustrated. He’s the creator of the New York Times cooking column “The Minimalist,” advocating real food cooked simply and easily. He has Bitten, a blog at the New York Times, and his How to Cook Everything, which I consult so often pages are falling out, just celebrated its 10th anniversary.

My family and I aren’t ready to try the “vegan till 6pm plan”, but I was game to give the Food Matters approach a try. This was Monday’s meal plan:

Breakfast: yogurt and cereal
Morning snack: tofu and berry smoothie and frozen waffles
Lunch: Spinach and sweet potato salad with warm bacon dressing
Afternoon snack: buttered popcorn made on the stovetop, and hot cocoa
Dinner: Beet soup with Three Legumes (From Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)
Dessert: B.T. McElrath chocolates

The downside was the time involved in planning and making things, and having a lot of dishes to clean. The upside was that the food tasted great, the kids even tried the beet soup, and I felt good about the quality and variety, and I didn’t feel deprived or resentful. Now I see if I can keep this up, and if practice makes it easier. (Salon link from Arts & Letters Daily)

2 Responses to “Food that Matters, a la Bittman”

  1. Steph Says:

    Alas, our household will never be vegetarian, since my boyfriend is essentially uninterested in meals that don’t have meat in them. Also, I don’t think I could manage planning that many meals per day given my 8 - 5:30 pm work schedule… I have a hard enough time just getting dinner on the table every night! ;)

    That spinach & sweet potato salad sounds really delicious though!

  2. girldetective Says:

    Yes, we’re not likely to be dong the vegan till 6 thing either. But I have liked the idea of using a very little meat more as flavoring to a lot of grains/veggies. That sample day only worked because it was a three day weekend. I’m not sure I could even manage it on a regular one!