Welcome I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone that I watch Food Network and Cooking Channel. Actually, I’ve been watching less recently. Like so many other networks, there seems to be an increase in “drama” in the shows and promoting things that I’m just not on board with, but these are actually not the food trends I’m referring to today. I’m talking about the “hip and modern trend” of molecular gastronomy.
Food For Thought Don’t get me wrong. Science and technology can be a great thing. I’m a big fan of air conditioning, automatic washers and dryers, and reliable automobiles. And you can’t have cooking without a little science, like the action of yeast to make bread dough rise and pasteurization that keeps our food safer for longer periods of time. But when it comes to consumption of foods, whole is better. The closer to nature the food item, the better it is for our bodies. Knowing this, I just can’t get on board with the “frankenfood” lab creations that seem to dominate this trend of molecular gastronomy.
Frozen parmesan air, melon caviar, and potato foam are just a few examples listed on the official website of molecular gastronomy. The trend is for chefs to take a sort of chemistry set and turn our favorite foods into something completely different and out of the box. Using chemicals, such as transglutaminase, carrageenan gel, xanthan, and liquid nitrogen, or special tools like a hot infusion siphon or a gourmet whip kit, chefs take ordinary foods like fruits and veggies and turn them into “works of art.” You can now order molecular gastronomy home kits to try, because who doesn’t want an untrained person exploring with chemicals around their family’s food?
I’m all about creativity and eating with our eyes, but what’s wrong with the beauty of food the way it was created? I love looking at the bright colors of fruit arranged on a plate or the way the skillet glows with fresh colored peppers and onions. Bright green avocado, sliced or mashed, needs no special presentation to be a feast for the eyes. A steak or burger cooked to perfection is a work of art in itself.
When I was reading up this trend, feeling somewhat indignant, I kept reading chefs and equipment companies talking about the safety. “All the chemicals are biologically-based, so they’re perfectly safe,” said one website. You know what else is biologically-based? Arsenic. Opium. Cobra Venom. And none of these items are considered safe to consume, right?
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a perfectly clean diet. Bags of chips and bottled salad dressings have their fair share of chemicals listed on the package, but I really try not to eat as much of these, or other highly processes foods these days. It’s just my opinion, but I feel like the further our generations get from whole, natural foods, the more issues there will be with things like food allergies, digestive diseases, and obesity. Even just a few generations ago, in my great-grandparents’ era, you hardly ever heard of anyone being allergic to food items or having IBS or Crohn’s Disease. I know I’m not the only one who looks to our food processing industries as a big source for our modern medical dilemmas.
I wish I could just live in a space where I grow my own vegetables and buy my meat and dairy from local farm sources. The logistics and cost of this endeavor would be overwhelming. I know because I’ve checked. But what I can do is keep as many chemicals out of my family’s foods as possible. I can buy more whole foods and less processed foods. I can cook at home 90 percent of the time, or more. I can show my family and friends just how beautiful a plate of unadulterated vegetables or fruits can be. Ah, I’ve never been a trendy girl, anyway!
Want to read more on this topic? Check out my post, Good Fresh Wholesome Ingredients.
Today’s Recipe I truly love to cook using fresh, wholesome ingredients. Buying fresh vegetables and meats are a blessing to be grateful for! Today, I’m sharing one of my favorite “whole” foods recipe that is not only healthy and delicious, but quick and convenient, proving that eating well doesn’t have to be hard.
I love stir-fry’s because I preserve the rich, bright colors of the vegetables in this cooking method. I’m using fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts that I prepare at home. I am using frozen stir-fry vegetables for convenience, but they are just as healthy as fresh. Frozen vegetables are flash-frozen at their peak of ripeness which preserves their nutrients. I buy vegetables that contain no salt or added sauces and this allows me to serve a variety of vegetables all year long, even when they’re not in season or the prices climb too high. The addition of fresh jalapeno, lime, and basil will add a brightness of flavor to the stir-fry. I top it off with some crunchy roasted peanuts for texture. You can serve this dish over rice, but I often do not to keep carb counts in check. Plus, I like to enjoy the protein and vegetables as they are in this dish. This meal is low-carb and low-sodium.
Spicy Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry with Peanuts
- 1 TBS EACH olive oil and sesame oil
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- salt and pepper
- 1 TBS minced garlic
- 2 fresh jalapenos, seeded and sliced thinly
- 1 8-oz pkg fresh snow peas
- 2 12-oz pkgs frozen stir-fry vegetables (try to avoid those with added salt)
- 1/2 fresh lime
- 3-4 fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts
Heat oil in large wok or skillet at 325 degrees. Slice chicken into thin strips.
Add chicken to hot oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for a couple minutes and turn. Season again, lightly, with salt and pepper. I don’t measure my salt and pepper, but it’s like a pinch.
Add garlic, jalapenos, and snow peas. Toss and stir fry with chicken.
Add frozen vegetables. The moisture from the vegetables will combine with the garlic and jalapeno, creating a low-sodium, no-sugar sauce. Cook about 8 to 10 minutes until vegetables are tender.
Squeeze the lime over the entire dish. Add in fresh basil that has been cut into thin ribbons. Stir and cook an additional one or two minutes.
Turn off heat and top with peanuts. Serve immediately.