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Pass the parsley, please

Last week I wrote about food. This week I will write about food again. It should come as no surprise that food is one of my favorite subjects, if not the favorite subject.

You’ve heard of objectum sexuals? These folks love objects, they experience intense emotional connections with everyday things — bridges, stereos, guitars, cars … you get the drift. For me it’s food — my attraction to food — the buying, preparation and consumption.

When I’m cooking, it’s one of the most relaxing times of the day. I feel like I’m setting myself free. I can breathe (and mind you it has to be free-form cooking, sans recipe books). I get pleasure from smelling and seeing raw ingredients come together to a finale of exquisite taste. Is there an emotional connection? Darn right there is! A bad dish is often a predictor of impending ill health or humor — which sends my husband to his study and so when it hits, he’s behind closed doors.

My natural proclivity for foods and my fondness for people in general (but of course there are those I would feed hemlock to) is a great human connection. My family and friends know I show my love through food and it’s pretty predictable. No surprises here.

A family friend, Kenny, doesn’t much mind cooking, but he deplores shopping for food. I frankly cannot understand his aversion. I love grocery shopping over shopping for clothes, jewelry or household knick-knacks. He must be weird — if he’s not like me and he doesn’t like what I like, he’s a candidate for a make-over.

“Let’s go grocery shopping together,” I tell Kenny. Even here, in “Siberia with a View,” shopping at our local grocery store is an almost-daily highlight for me. When I get to Denver and hit the Oriental market, I’m like a kid in the toy store.

Please pass the parsley. Did you know that a mere ounce of parsley provides 43 percent of the recommended dietary allowance for Vitamin C and 18 percent of the RDA for iron in men (12 percent in women) — plus 1 mg of beta carotene. Powerful stuff, isn’t it? Additionally, it helps to cleanse your breath if dinner is heavy on the garlic (which, by the way, in this cold — as in the sickness — season, you should eat lots of garlic to keep the bugs at bay).

Doesn’t loving something or some activity make one an aficionado of it? I’d like to believe I’m a good shopper; so, indulge me.

Do view nutrition labels. Yes, if you see me shopping with my bifocals perched on the tip of my stubby nose, it’s so I can read labels. I swear the print is getting smaller — must be a sign of economic hard times. I’ll be carrying a magnifying glass, soon.

Any food called “healthy” needs to contain at least 10 percent of the daily value for one of several important nutrients — in addition to being low in fat, saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol. Bet you didn’t know this is called the “jelly bean rule,” since jelly beans have zero fat, sodium or cholesterol — but also no nutrition. (This may be why my jelly-bean-loving friend, Margie, is so itsy bitsy).

Go for the greenest. When buying salad makings, select vegetables with deepest color — dark greens and reds. Why? The dark color means beta carotene and other carotenoids, vitamin C, folic acid, calcium and other nutrients are present.

Don’t dismiss frozen produce. Some frozen fruits and vegetables contain just as many nutrients as fresh produce. Some of our fresh vegetables aren’t so fresh after sitting on display in the store following transportations across the country.

Don’t forget fiber’s finest. Load up on whole-grain breads, rolls and cereals, as well as brown rice and dried beans. For the physically active, you need carbs to fuel your body’s engine.

I know the convenience of TV dinners can be terribly tempting. I succumbed to the temptation last week and picked up two Kashi southwestern chicken dinners. After eating the Lilliputian-sized portion, Tom and I had to rummage through the fridge for more food. My goodness, those little bitty servings must be designed for a person with the metabolism of a sloth.

But if you qualify as the proud owner of a sloth-rate metabolism, have absolutely no interest in cooking but must occasionally eat to survive, then choose your frozen meal carefully. There are those that contain less than 10 grams of fat and a lower amount of sodium and cholesterol.

I cannot shop on an empty stomach without coming home with junk food. When my tummy is full, I am a lot more discerning and more willing to spend the extra time to pick through fresh produce. And, no, I’m not one of those who will squeeze and prod every apple in the bin for the best. The other day I stood in line behind a lady who was choosing “very carefully.” When she was finally done, I asked her if she could tell me which one was the second best. Lucky for me she thought this was funny. A bit of humor goes a long way, so, please pass the parsley and play an April fool’s joke on me.