meat & 3 veg

Confused about what's healthy to eat? Wondering whether you're meant to eat like a Cretan peasant or a Paleolithic hunter gatherer? Walkley award winning health writer Paula Goodyer dishes up her ideas on eating smarter.
Chew on This, Sydney Morning Herald
I have been critical of Chew on This over at Fairfax. In concept I like it, but too frequently the scope becomes murky and the blog becomes a place for radical vegans and animal activists to air their (not entirely informed) opinions.

For the second week in a row Paula Goodyer has kept on track with "The (healthy) fast food kitchen - saving time with the right tools." It seems a study in USA found 70% of participants' meals were cooked at home, but in doing so a large amount of "convenience" items were used - sauces, vegetable mixes, etc., although these convenience items made no significant difference on the time it took to prepare a meal than to prepare from scratch.

Instead of recommending the americans put their can opener in an easy to remember place, Goodyer advises that he secret to getting meals together quickly is by having the right (low tech) tools such as knives, grater, zester, stove-top steamer.

Gleaning the reader comments it appears that the most used tools are plastic containers and the freezer. Most of the comments were about getting organised, doing a big cook up, and freezing batches, which is in itself, better than passing the buck.

The thing that surprised me however, was that in this bbq touting society we live in, not one person mentioned grilled meat with salad / vegetables. Surely this would have to be one of the most straightforward, easy to prepare, easy to clean up, quick to cook, no fuss and still delicious dinners? I don't mean slowly stewed leather boots and 3 veg boiled for 1 hour while nana watches the news. Simple cuts of meat char grilled and served with or on vegetables or a salad.

Think, chicken scallopine dressed with lemon juice and served with butter tossed green beans, pork fillet marinated with soy, honey & ginger, char grilled and served on steamed baby bok choy (i even do this by wrapping the veg in foil and sending out to the bbq). Or what about a piece of wagyu sirloin (David Blackmore's, no less) char grilled without adornment, atop mashed potato with a mesclun mix tossed with marinated olives. Healthy? Quick? Easy? Delicious. Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick!

knickers in a knot

The new Australian federal government has stuck by its election promise to conduct an ACCC inquiry into grocery retailing in Australia owing to inordinate inflation in grocery prices - unaligned to our national consumer price index (CPI) and grocery price movements in other, developed countries.

Meantime, spare a thought for people in Zimbabwe, where inflation for food and non-alcoholic beverages for the year ending January 2008 has been 105,428.0 % as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald.


Have you ever wondered how they do it? How some retailers are able to offer food at significantly lower prices! Well, here's an example of what lengths some people will do to be price competitive. The moral to the story? You get what you pay for!

Reported in the Sydney Morning Herald:

A Sydney meat retailer has been fined $8500 for dosing chicken in a chemical used to disguise old or substandard meat as fresh.

Obo Trading of Ashfield will have to pay $11,970, which includes costs, for illegally dosing old chicken mince with the presentative sulphur dioxide (SO2), the Primary Industries Minister, Ian Macdonald, said.

The company has also been added to Government's "shame list" of dodgy food outlets on the NSW Food Authority website, he said.

The fine was issued by magistrate Pat O'Shane in the Chief Industrial Magistrates Court after an inspection of the shop by a NSW Food Authority officer last March.

"The practice was not only deceiving consumers, but it could also be dangerous for people who are allergic to the chemical," Mr Macdonald said.

"This illegal practice will not be tolerated, and the Iemma Government will continue to crack down on illegal food practices.

"NSW Food Authority officers routinely test for SO2 whenever they inspect meat retailers and, if businesses are doing the wrong thing, it's only a matter of time before they will be caught.

"Most meat retailers are doing the right thing, but those few rogue operators will be caught and prosecuted."


broken record

Not wanting sound like a broken record, but it really is this simple. Eat fresh, natural foods, and source them as freshly and immediate to harvesting as you can!

Today Paula Goodyer talks about it again the Sydney Morning Herald...

favourite things - laksa

There are times when I seriously begin to wonder whether laksa is addictive...

I was introduced to laksa at a school friend's house. Since going to university beside china town there's been no turning back!

Laksa is "first date" food, a leveller. It's virtually impossible not to flick a curried speckle across the table while slurping on the rich and spicy coconut based soup, trying not to inhale blobs of sambal, and fishing out the filling with the choppies.

My favourite laksa is at To's and my emergency laksa is home made using "asian home gourmet" laksa paste as the base.

To's Malaysian Gourmet, Shop 3, 181 Miller St, North Sydney

old dog, new tricks

I love food. Not just eating it. Not just cooking it. Not just buying it.

I spend a lot of time thinking about food. Too much time. But before you sign me up for the next season of "Biggest Loser" I don't necessarily spend this time devoted to the thought of eating.

I find it amazing that the planet hosts such an array of edible items, animal vegetable & mineral all uniquely evolved to the ecosystems and microcosms they reside in. And then, and this is the interesting bit for me, the "humanoids" have adapted culture and cuisine around these evolved edibles.

Food of just about any ethnicity is fascinating to me (even if I'm not prepared to try everything) and love seeing what people bring to work/school for lunch - especially in a multicultural work place.

The other thing I catch myself wondering is, "whoda thought?" What brave person put his hand in the mangroves to pull out the first crab ever eaten? Who thought to whip oil and eggs together? Were they surprised when they ended up with mayonnaise?

I am not a technical chef. I am a cook. Possibly a little more intuitive than most, but an untrained home cook. I have done one cooking class (ever) and I spent some time hanging around the kitchen when working at a (then) trendy pub. And my parents were all about fresh food and good quality.

When I cook, more often than not, it's ad lib - based on recipes books and magazines I've inhaled, things people have told me, dining out, what I see and smell, and what's in the fridge. The great thing is that from time to time I surprise myself.

It was with great pleasure then, that wanting some won ton soup for lunch and knowing I had no stock nor chicken bones in the house, that I recalled some "black beans" in my fridge. So I boiled them up for 10 minutes and ended up with a flavoursome soy based stock, worthy of my (frozen) won tons. Delicious.

carbon labeling

On face value, it sounds like a great initiative - supermarkets labelling products, which would allow customers to see at a glance how much greenhouse gas was used to produce the product.

However further into the article, the real story is simply:

"Woolworths and the Australian Food and Grocery Council will examine the benefits of carbon labelling."
The cynic within is screaming "bandwagon, bandwagon!"

Let's face it, supermarket retailing in itself is a particularly ugly business. The carbon footprint of supermarkets within themselves is fundamentally obscene - think of the open refrigerator cabinets groaning under the weight of an array of products that come in all shapes, sizes and packaging.

Do you really think analysing the carbon footprint of a product from go to woe, is going to be in their best interest? Do you really think the benefit of such labeling (to whom the benefit falls I am uncertain) will be a cost effective exercise?

At the end of the day, these corporations are interested in profit and shareholder returns, and share price.

To quote from the article,

"Only 8 per cent of Australia's largest companies believed climate change posed a present threat to their business, a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found, but there is an emerging market for "green" businesses.

Last year, consumers spent $12billion on LOHAS goods - a marketing term for lifestyles of health and sustainability."