Monday, December 17, 2012

different kinds of healthy

The label healthy is overused and ill-defined.  It's so hard to define that its use in advertizing is not regulated, so anyone who wants to can slap "healthy" onto their packaging and get me to buy their preservative-and-sugar-laden "healthy alternative."  ("Healthy alternatives" seem to belong to the class of things, that also includes chips, chocolate, and just one more, that knowing better rarely keeps me from.)  Cooking and eating locally and seasonally, luckily, encourages buying things that don't come in labelled packages and usually makes healthy for my body and healthy for the planet overlap, although thorny questions like crop spraying, overfishing, and mercury do still crop up.  When the question of healthy comes up, some people start thinking about a whole series of things related to fat content and other things you can count.  If I had to make a list of my all-time favorite things to eat, butter and cream would be near the top, so if I have to think about limiting how much of them I eat, I get very very sad.  But if I think about combining butter and cream with a fantastic variety of other local and seasonal products, and if I follow my school-teacher-mom's mantra to eat a rainbow every day, I get different kinds of healthy mixed up in the best way, and I get to eat things like creamed spinach (with, for full rainbow effect on the plate, hash browns and chuck roast braised with carrotts and onions).

Creamed Spinach
serves 4

24 oz. spinach
3 T butter
3 T flour
2 1/4 cups cream, half and half, or milk
1/2 cup grated romano or parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg

Steam the spinach for 5 minutes or boil it for one.  Remove spinach from pot and set to cool in a colander.  As soon as spinach is cool enough to grasp, chop into small peices, then squeeze in a ball between both hands to get out as much liquid as possible.  Do this into a cup and drink the yummy stuff, or use it in a broth! 

Melt the butter in a large pan.  Whisk in the flour.  Pour in the cream 1/2 cup at a time, whisking constantly.  Stir in grated cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and stir until cheese is melted.  Stir in spinach.  Enjoy.