Summer School: Slow and Simple

Hey there. I want to give you a heads up on a little “summer school” project I’ve devised for myself, in case anyone else wants to join in. I’ve been perusing my nutrition bookshelves, and decided to formally work through a book I bought last summer, Marc David’s The Slow Down Diet. This isn’t a diet in the way you might normally interpret that word. Rather, it’s a step-by-step process to develop a healthier attitude toward food.

This book might be good for you if you:
  • Rush through your meals
  • Don’t take the time to eat regular meals
  • Obsess about eating the “right foods”
  • Eat when you’re not really hungry
  • Eat only for pleasure, not for health
  • Eat only for health, not for pleasure
It’s an eight-week program, and I plan to begin on Saturday, June 4. If you would like to work through the program at the same time, this gives you opportunity to get your hands on the book. I was able to find it through my library system, although I liked it enough to buy it. I’ve read the book, but this summer will be my first time for doing the journaling and other exercises.
Once the eight weeks are up, I plan to keep going with Jan Chozen Bays’ lovely book, Mindful Eating. She is a pediatrician and meditation teacher, and her book focuses on renewing “our sense of pleasure, appreciation and satisfaction with eating. It has six chapters, including one meaty chapter on “The Seven Kinds of Hunger” (and you thought there was just one!). I plan to cover a chapter a week.
For extra credit, I’ll also be reading Marc David’s earlier book, Nourishing Wisdom. I bought this several months ago when I was visiting a local college I was thinking about applying to. I’ve skimmed it, but haven’t read it yet. It focuses on turning food into more of a source of nourishment and pleasure, and less of a source of conflict and confusion.
OK. That was the “slow” part, now on to the simple. Last week, Mark Bittman posted a recipe for “The Easiest Bean or Grain Salad on the Planet.” The man does not lie. I had intended to make a version of it yesterday afternoon for lunch today, but then yesterday around noon Jeff and I were both starving. Lunch needed to be three things: Quick to throw together (we were starving), healthy and veggie-rich (Jeff was making lasagna for dinner, which is a little rich), and delicious (naturally).
I already had the chickpeas I’d soaked simmering away on the stove, and they were tender and ready to go. I didn’t have time to cook a hearty grain like brown rice or wheatberries, so I quickly boiled some water and added a half cup to a half-cup of bulgur in a bowl. Meanwhile, I got the rest of the few ingredients together while Jeff massaged some olive oil into the rest of our bag of Full Circle braising greens (kale, collards, chard, beet greens) and seasoned with dark sesame oil and some tamari. 
As soon as the bulgur had absorbed the water, I tossed it into the bowl where the other ingredients were ready and waiting. I tossed some crumbled feta cheese on top, because it suited the chickpea-bulgur combo. Delicious! This is exactly the type of simple, healthy, recipe I’ll be relying on the next few years when I’m juggling work and grad school. I’ll be testing out some more simple, delicious and nutritious recipes this summer.

Easiest Bean or Grain Salad on the Planet
Serves 4

Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
1⁄4 cup olive oil, or to taste
1⁄4 cup chopped red onion or shallot
Salt and black pepper
4 cups cooked or canned beans, drained, or cooked grains, or a combination (I used 3 cups chickpeas and one cup bulgur)
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley

  1. Put the lemon juice, oil, onion, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper in a large bowl and whisk until well combined. If you’ve just cooked the beans or grains, add them to the dressing while they are still hot. Toss gently until the beans or grains are coated, adding more oil or lemon juice if you like.
  2. Let cool to room temperature (or refrigerate), stirring every now and then to redistribute the dressing. Stir in the parsley just before serving, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
P.S. I didn’t make it to see “Forks over Knives” this weekend, but I made a firm date with myself to see it after work Friday, while Jeff’s working late. I can’t wait!