A few years ago I did something life changing: I joined what is commonly known as a CSA. CSA is an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture, and what that means is a person buys seasonal food directly from a local farmer. It also means that a person eats better, period. Sure, it had its challenges; but the advantages the experience provided me, the knowledge I gained and was able to pass on, and the respect I now have for those persons providing the foods I eat far outweigh my initial trepidations. The food tasted better because it was fresh. I lost weight as I enlarged my intake of vegetables and fruits. My self-worth increased because I taught myself to cook.
On Saturday, May 12 the Louisville Free Public Library on York Street is hosting its first-ever How-To Festival. Assuredly, there will be something for everyone to learn and do. A book that will help you learn how to shop, eat, and cook better is Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients. It comes from the editors of Whole Living magazine and is a powerful resource covering everything from what we ought to be eating to why we ought to be eating it. The recipes are easy to prepare, many contain fewer than ten ingredients, and all are tantalizingly photographed.
The book begins with an encouraging foreword from Martha Stewart and graceful introduction from the magazine’s editor, Alexandra Postman. Postman’s tone is neither preachy nor militant (sometimes food writing can be these and it is most unfortunate). A helpful primer or reminder, called The Golden Rules, is included. As suggested, copy it, and post it in your kitchen. But if you break them, all is not lost. They aren’t there as commandments, just knowledge.
A short section called Common Terms follows. This is a quick introduction ranging from why a body can’t function without carbohydrates to simplifying the differences between LDL and HDL cholesterols. It also covers fats: what types are found in which foods and why it’s important to monitor one’s intake.
Next are sections devoted to the Power Foods themselves: a full page for every vegetable, fruit, grain and legume, nut and seed, and healthier types of animal protein. Health benefits are explained in easy to read detail along with guides on how to buy and store as well as preparation tips. For instance, if the produce you have access to doesn’t look like the photos, don’t buy it. Spinach shouldn’t appear in slimy bunches. Carrots should be firm. Splits and cracks indicate age and anemically pale colors won’t give you the flavor or nutrients you’re after. Request better stock from your grocer or venture out to one of the many farmers’ markets we have here in Jefferson County. Recipes that include each item are listed on the Power Food’s page. Also fun and interesting is the “Did You Know?” feature.
Then there is the wealth of inspiring recipes for breakfast, sandwiches, soups, salads, main dishes, and desserts. Most recipes are straightforward, uncomplicated and require no special techniques or equipment. That’s one of the beauties of good, fresh food.
The book closes with a chapter on The Basics: a pantry guide to what items to stock, why, and how to use them effectively. An in-depth, clearly written glossary expands information on the common terms at the beginning of the book as well as explains possibly unfamiliar words. One of the best and most helpful aspects is the “Eating for Your Health” chapter. It offers dietary suggestions for people with or wishing to prevent allergies and asthma, cancer, depression, heart disease, diabetes and more. The book concludes with a nutritional index of all the power foods: their serving amount, calories, fat, fiber, and other important factors.