Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Give a hand to Hannaford

I read about Hannaford Supermarkets' Guiding Stars program in Adbusters.

The gist of it is that Hannaford is marking products with stars that signify healthiness. Between zero (least healthy) and three stars (healthiest) are awarded.

"Almost eighty percent of the products rated did not receive any stars."

This correlates with my opinion of the modern supermarket. I buy lots of food in the produce section, usually some beans, pasta, oil, canned tomatoes or nuts in the middle aisles, eggs or some cheese every few visits, and sometimes frozen fruit or vegetables. In other words, I skip the bulk of the middle aisles with their food-imposter substances.

Hannaford won't disclose the formula they used to award the stars, but it looks pretty sound to me. This page indicates that "pluses" are fiber and certain vitamins, while "negatives" are saturated fat, cholestrol, and sugar. Here are some other interesting ratings.

High scores: pasta, cereals, seafood, fruits and vegetables (100% of fruits and veggies received three stars!)
Low scores: canned soup, meat, soft drinks, bakery items, flavored yogurts, eggs, butter

I'm impressed that Hannaford pulled this off without a huge corporate outcry. Hooray to them for standing up to highly processed foods that masquerade as health foods. They also don't seem to be biased towards animal products.

"The team also took into account less-than-healthy foods and beverages that are fortified with added vitamins, minerals or fiber to help overcome their nutritional shortcomings.

'We didn't give points for over-fortifying,' said Jeffrey Blumberg, a professor of nutrition at Tufts and a member of the scientific team." (More here.)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My new favorite ingredient

is "vital wheat gluten," which was very instrumental in making the yummy dinner shown above. We tried the chickpea cutlet recipe which has been floating around. (If you google "chickpea cutlets," you'll see lots of other reviews.) I've always been dubious of fake meat; I really hate processed foods and there are some scary ingredients in some of those. But I can get behind the chickpea cutlets as a tasty and satisfying main course. The only change I would make in the future is to replace the thyme and sage with black pepper. I just don't care for the taste of those spices, and I think the recipe calls for too much thyme.

We served them chicken-parmesan style, topped with a spicy mushroom spagetti sauce and parmesan. Yes, that is real parmesan. As I've said before, I can greatly reduce my cheese consumption, but I can't give it up entirely.

Leave a comment if you've tried the cutlet recipe!

PS: The most interesting thing I ate this weekend was probably ginger-eggplant chutney at an Indian restaurant in DC. Strangely, it was red and did not taste strongly of eggplant or ginger. But it was slightly sweet and intriguing. I want to have a chutney-making day before the weather turns warm. Let me know if you have any good recipes!

Monday, January 7, 2008

A Sublime evening

Happy New Year! I'm back and ready to rock in 08.

Things have finally settled down a bit--I sold my condo and moved to a rental while we wait for the housing market to stabilize. However, I'm on a business trip all week and haven't fully unpacked in my new place. I look forward to returning and settling in.

I was waiting for this picture (thanks, Tracy!) to write about our fabulous meal at Sublime, an upscale vegan restaurant in Florida. Oh my Buddha*, was it good. I have been eating pretty lightly for the past month or two and I overdid it at Sublime. I had that "I'll never eat again" feeling for at least 12 hours afterwards. But it was worth it.

We started with the Yin and Yang and Florasian "sushi" (I'm going to stop putting things in quotes to denote vegan-ness). For mains, two of us had the Portabello Tenderloin (shown above with its tower of onion rings), one had the Piccata, and HS had the grilled seitan steak. My portabello was absolutely delicious. The sauce was rich and pepper-y. We shared a piece of coconut cake and a brownie for dessert. HS goes to Sublime every year when he's in Florida and I hope to continue the tradition!

*This is a great expression that Thai people use.