When I began writing about food, I was in the midst of feeding three children who ranged in age from infancy to pre-teen. One just needed a quiet place to nurse, the middle child wanted nothing more than pizza or plain pasta with butter. The third child was beginning to worry about weight and nutrition. My kitchen was chaotic to say the least.
One day, I was sitting with a friend and we began to talk about our kids’ food quirks. I posed a question: What foods were available in the Garden of Eden and, after the eviction, did Eve have trouble feeding her boys? We both laughed, but then talked about how simple it must have been to eat in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 1:29 there is a quote which tells Adam and Eve that every food they could ever need had been provided for them: “And G-d said: ‘Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed — to you it shall be for food’.” There is nothing about chips, and chicken fingers, buttered pasta and more.
Eve never battled TV advertisements and the thousands of new foods that debut each year. According to the FDA, 21,528, new food products were introduced to our supermarkets in 2010 alone. Since then, people have begun to demand healthier choices, fewer chemicals in their foods, and more organic produce. So that number of processed foods is decreasing as manufacturers look to healthier foods, more gluten-free options, and better labeling. Still, I hear from young mothers all the time that they try to give their kids healthful and nutritious food but that, somehow, the kids want the latest advertised treat or won’t eat the healthful meals that have been carefully planned.
So, for good health in the New Year, it’s back to the Garden of Eden and those foods that might have given Adam and Eve all kinds of secret health benefits, much of them in the form of seeds and nuts and fruit. Today, seeds like Chia, Hemp, sunflower, flaxseeds and more top the list of superfoods to eat every day. In addition, organic greens and berries are also among the healthiest foods that we can eat. These are available in many supermarkets and health food stores; from them, we can make our own healthful and delicious foods for our families.
Michael Pollen, acclaimed cookbook author and food guru has, as his mantra, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” As we exit the land of latkes and brisket and look to the New Year, this sounds like a good plan.
Nuts and Seeds Snack Bars (Pareve)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
2 Tbsp. flaxseeds
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1 cup cereal, such as unsweetened puffed rice or wheat flakes or your choice
1/4 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios or hazelnuts, or a mix
1/2 cup snipped apricots
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup dried cranberries, blueberries or raspberries
1/3 cup creamy almond butter
1/3 cup honey or pure maple syrup, dark or grade B
2 Tbsp. Turbinado or raw sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line an 8x8 baking dish with waxed paper. Lightly grease the paper. Set aside.
Place the first 7 ingredients, up to and including the nuts, on the rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven for 4 to 8 minutes, until just fragrant. Remove to cool. When cool, pour into a large bowl.
Place the almond butter, honey, sugar and vanilla in a small pot and heat until it just begins to bubble. Mix well.
Add the apricots, raisins, cranberries to the bowl with the seeds and nuts, and toss to mix. Pour the almond butter/honey mixture over the nuts and fruit and mix well. Scrape into the prepared 8-inch pan and smooth with a spatula. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Makes 16, 2-inch bars or 8, 2X4-inch bars.
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
That Are Good For You (Pareve)
2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup unbleached flour
2 Tbsp. flaxseeds
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cloves (optional)
2/3 cup unsweetened smooth applesauce
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3-1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil melted and cooled
1 cup raisins, chopped apricots, or dried cranberries
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/2 to 2/3 cup chocolate chips or chunks, your choice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment and set aside. Place the oats, sugar, flours, seeds, baking soda, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Use a whisk to blend.
In another bowl, mix the applesauce, vanilla and coconut oil. Whisk to blend. Scrape into dry ingredients and mix well. Add the fruit, coconut and chips and mix evenly.
Drop by rounded spoons onto the prepared pan. Place both pans into the oven and rotate and turn halfway through the baking time. Bake until golden around the edges, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely on the pans. Makes about 12 large or 24 smaller cookies.
Super-Simple Glazed Carrot
These are carrots that even kids will love. Mine used to eat them for after-school snacks and I often packed them in lunch boxes to eat at room temperature.
1 large onion, cut in quarters and thinly sliced
2 to 3 tsp. Canola or extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 to 2 pounds carrots, peeled, sliced on the diagonal, 1/8-inch thick
2 to 4 tsp. dark brown sugar or pure dark amber maple syrup, more or less to taste
1 to 2 tsp. water
OPTIONAL: A pinch of cayenne pepper, or salt and pepper, to taste. Fresh parsley for garnish
Cut and slice the onions. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions and cook until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
While the onions are cooking, peel the carrots and slice them thinly on the diagonal. Pat the carrots dry and add them to the onions. Add the brown sugar or maple syrup and mix well. Add 1 to 2 tsp. water and mix. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for about 5-8 minutes over medium-low heat. If you like, add a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper and mix. Check to make sure that there is some liquid in the pan (this should come from the carrots). If there is none, add more water. If there is too much, uncover the pan and continue to cook until the carrots are tender and the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Serves 8 to 10.