A friend of mine posted a link to “13 banned foods still allowed in the U.S.” and I was intrigued by a link on that same page was to “50 Seemingly Healthy Foods that are Bad for You”. Fortunately I know to take such lists with a grain of salt, yet as I clicked through all 50 items in the slide show, I was both puzzled and bemused. So many of these foods are packaged or pre-prepared! Since when did fruity gummy snacks start counting as “healthy”? Once again, repeating the observation I made about the lack of vegetarian options in American restaurants, I saw the obsession with calorie counting. I just want to say it here loud and clear: fewer/no calories does NOT equal “healthy”!
Maybe I’m not sympathetic enough to what seems to be the target audience of people trying to lose weight by eating “healthily”. Yes, I am one of those people who always buys full-fat yoghurt and drinks semi-skimmed or whole milk. I just don’t eat junk food; my sweet tooth is picky and limited; I shy away from prepackaged sandwiches and meals; I eat until I’m satisfied and only when I’m hungry. I don’t think about calories at all when I eat or cook — or, if I do, it’s to make sure I’m getting enough. I choose to eat what I eat because I like it and because, well, it’s healthy.
So, for an experiment, I am going to keep a log of what I eat from today until next Tuesday. And to ensure to my readers that I’m not rigging it by consciously choosing low-calorie foods I will wait to do all the calculating at the very end. I already know that the calculations are going to be tricky because I prepare most of my food.
Until then, I leave with you a recipe I recently made for dinner. This new series also will make up for my lack of book reviews: I may not read as much these days, but I still have to eat! Chosen because it is vegetarian, full of yummy veg, and colourful, F. and I enjoyed this roasted butternut squash with goat’s cheese.
Roasted butternut squash with goat’s cheese
(adapted from BBC Good Food)
- 1 small butternut squash
- garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tbsp olive oil (or a glob)
- a pinch dried chilli flakes
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- half a courgette, cut into chunks
- half a sweet red pepper, cut into chunks
- half a carrot, cut into chunks
- a handful of chestnut mushrooms, cut into chunks
- 1 small red onion, cut into thin wedges
- 100g cherry tomatoes
- 25g pine nuts
- 50g goat’s cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 tbsp breadcrumbs (made from plain crackers)
- a dash of dried parsley
- 1 tbsp grana padano (or parmesan)
- Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds then cut criss-cross patterns over the cut-side of each one. Mix together the garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, chilli and thyme and brush this mixture over the flesh. Bake for about 30-40 minutes until the flesh is tender.
- Meanwhile, make the filling: put the courgette, pepper and onion in a roasting tin and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Season and roast for about 20-25 minutes until tender and starting to brown at the edges. Add the cherry tomatoes and pine nuts and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Mix the breadcrumbs, parsley and grana padano. Arrange the roasted vegetables and goat’s cheese in the squash halves, scatter with the breadcrumb mix and bake for a further 10 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
It was delicious — and there was enough filling left over to mix with couscous the next day for a yummy lunch. The next time I make this, though, I will also peel the squash to make sure that it cooks all the way through, leaving no hard bits.