Thursday, November 7, 2013

Countdown to eating a lot

Oh, where to begin? So many weight loss and weight maintenance studies our there. And yet, a recent study shows that a large percentage of research on obesity and nutrition tend to overstate their results. Is this really a surprise? I also think the topic lends itself to that. We like to grab onto a definitive "solution" or "answer" when it comes to obesity and nutrition. I know I've certainly been guilty of cherry-picking data I need to make a point. But then again, I'm just blogging here, not claiming I've done grant-funded research. 

I do recommend you seek out the entire article. But that's not where we're going now....

I'm going to take a break from some of the usual format this month and go for a theme. We're coming up on one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. For almost every T-day for the past 22 years, I've hosted anywhere from 3 to 30 people for the feast. Over the years, I've gotten intoa "zone" where I cook EVERYTHING, down to making ice cream for the pies. All guests just bring drinks, themselves and an appetite. It's worked out very well. 

I have some standard favorite dishes (there are a few I've been told can never leave the menu), but it also gives me a chance to try some new things each year. Very rarely is there a true cock-up (more often the casualties are dropped dishes). And I actually find it very enjoyable to just prepare and cook up a storm for a week. 

This year, however, we have a slightly different agenda. Thanksgiving falls on the first night of Chanukah. Yes, the All-American holiday where we all gather together to give thanks and eat a lot of food we may avoid most of the year is now being mixed up with a Jewish holiday where ... we all gather together to give thanks for being alive and eating a lot of food we may avoid most of the year.

Hmmm...this shouldn't be too hard.

Except when you're a kid and you probably feel more left out when everyone around gets Xmas presents, Chanukah doesn't play a big role in many adult Jews lives (or Adult Jews with no kids, I should say). 

Yes, it commemorates, as do many Jewish Holidays, our survival at almost being wiped out, and, like most Jewish holidays, it involved a lot of fried food. And I don't want to be frying latkes just as we're all sitting down to turkey.

So how to combine these two holidays into one super food day?

The rest of this month, I'll be trying out a few recipes and sharing them online. As you know, it's hard for me to actually write down amounts, but I will do my best to ensure you can all share in this. Yes, yes, I am very magnanimous that way.

One of the things I often skip or avoid is a bread with Thanksgiving dinner. In the past there's been pumpkin biscuits, a basic wheat loaf, polentas "crackers" but most often I buy a baguette or two. But I've been toying with a cornbread idea. It's quick, easy and goes well with the all those fall foods. 

But how to make it Chanukah-like? I've seen a few pumpkin or sweet potato corn breads. And a traditional Jewish dish is tzimmes. My family made it with carrots, but I had some yams, which is also "traditional." So why not make a Tzimmes Cornbread? Hmmmm...

I used yams and prunes. I think carrots may be added next time, but yams were a nice thought because you can microwave them very fast. And I thought using coconut oil added another "fruit" flavor to it. I also tend to favor my cornbread more on the corn side with less flour. I actually dropped the flour on the floor (see? that's my thing!) and after that clean-up, I substituted chickpea flour. The end result was good but I think whole wheat flour would work a little better, giving it a little less density. 

I decided to spice it with middle eastern spices and spiked the prunes. The result:

It was fragrant, sweet yet not too much (which is sort on un-tzimmes like) but a nice amalgam of holidays!
This could be good with gravy or applesauce and sour cream! Or even with peanut butter as a snack.

Will it make it to the holiday table in a few weeks? We shall see...

The Streamlined Ska Librarian's "Tzimmes" Cornbread:

12 prunes, cut up
1/4 cup bourbon or rye
1 1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsps ras al hanout
1/4 tsp dried mint
salt to taste 
2 egg whites 
3 tbps coconut oil
1 to 1 1/2 cups yams, cooked 
1/4 cup yogurt, sour cream or buttermilk
1/2 cup honey
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar 

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Soak the prunes in the bourbon
3. Combine next 5 ingredients
4. Add next 5 and mix well
5. Stir in prunes and bourbon. Adjust seasoning
6. Bake for 30 minutes or until done. 


Menachemi, Nir, Gabriel Tajeu, Bisakha Sen, Alva O. Ferdinand, Chelsea Singleton, Janice Utley, Olivia Affuso, and David B. Allison. “Overstatement of Results in the Nutrition and Obesity Peer-Reviewed Literature.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 45, no. 5 (November 2013): 615–621. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2013.06.019.



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