I saw these two “healthy” recipes in the latest Rachel Ray magazine. Sad to say, Rachel and her team are promoting the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.)! The magazine features advertisements from USDA-managed industry marketing groups such as the National Egg Board, Beef Producers of America, and the National Dairy Council. From these advertisements I learned that eggs now have “less cholesterol!” and that cow’s meat is an “excellent source of high-quality protein.” These statements are ironic, since a single egg still contains 95% of the daily recommended maximum of cholesterol and even one more bite of meat or dairy in a day would exceed that limit. The protein in 100 calories of sirloin steak is 13.2 grams, while the protein in 100 calories of spinach is 13.4 grams.
It is worth talking about these marketing campaigns. The money to pay for full-page advertisements in Rachel Ray magazine comes from a marketing “check-off” program for each industry. Congress approves the creation of say a beef check-off, so all American producers of beef must pay a certain amount into the program (for example, $1 per head of cattle). The US Department of Agriculture uses the money in the check-off to advertise for the industry. They are responsible for such hit advertisements as “the incredible, edible egg,” “got milk?” and the dramatic “Beef: it’s what’s for dinner!” It seems reasonable that the Department of Agriculture should promote the products of American agriculture. However, the USDA also produces the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” every 5 years. They are the agency responsible for the creation of the Food Pyramid that we grew up with, and now the nearly incomprehensible My Plate graphic. Could there be a slight conflict of interest here?
I do enjoy the recipes in Rachel Ray magazine for their flavor combinations. Here are two original Rachel Ray recipes that I have rewritten so that they fit into a whole foods plant-based diet. By removing the oil, meat, and dairy and using “whole” ingredients anyone can enjoy these truly healthy meals!
Healthy Butternut & Parsley Penne
1 1/2 Pounds pre-cut butternut squash cubes or 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
Freshly cracked black pepper
Freshly grated or ground nutmeg
1 Pound 100% whole-wheat penne rigate
1 Bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems and leaves separated, each finely chopped
4 Large cloves garlic, minced
1 Piece (1 inch) fresh ginger, peeled, then grated or finely chopped
1 Chile pepper, such as Fresno or jalapeno, finely chopped, or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 Bunch scallions, whites and greens separated, each finely chopped
1 Cup vegetable stock or water
Preheat the oven to 475F. On a baking sheet, season the squash with pepper and nutmeg. Roast until just tender and brown at the edges, about 17-20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the penne according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water when done. While the pasta is cooking, heat a pan over medium-high heat. Add the parsley stems, garlic, ginger, chile and scallion whites. Add a tablespoon or two of water to prevent sticking. As the water evaporates, add a little more as needed. Cook until the scallions are tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add the stock and reduce heat to simmer. Add half a ladleful of the pasta cooking water to the sauce. Add the pasta, parsley leaves, scallion greens an squash to the skillet. Stir to combine. Adjust the seasonings.
Healthy Slow-Cooker Potato Stew
3 Onions, thinly sliced
3 Cloves garlic, crushed
Freshly cracked black pepper
3/4 Cup vegetable stock or water
1/2 Cup dark beer, such as stout or porter
1 3/4 Pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 Carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 Parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley
Heat a large skilled over medium-high. Add the onions and cook 2 minutes using the water saute method. Add the garlic, season and cook until the onions are softened, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the stock and beer and simmer for 2 minutes; transfer the mixture to the slow cooker along with the potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours. Sprinkle with the parsley before serving.