Against the Grain
I’m always looking for ways to work healthier, more “whole” meals into my week – but I have to be honest, it’s got to be on my terms. I love mixing and matching staples so as to creatively dress up a salad or give Mac and Cheese a figure friendly make-over, but I’m not the best at cutting things out cold turkey. There are a few conditions that must be met in order for the dish to make it to my table: it’s got to look incredibly-mouthwateringly appetizing, it must be full of character and flavor, and it’s got to have some serious “savour” appeal. I want to look forward to savoring every bite.
Which is why when I came across Food and Wine’s spotlight on Marco Canora (Italian Chef, Restauranteur, Cookbook author – famed foodie extraordinaire), I was inspired. This guy, while he favors using more whole and what he refers to as “intact” grains (for the word on what intact actually entails, see here and here) neither appeal nor taste is sacrificed. Plainly put in Rule #1 of his “Rules for Good Eating”, Canora states that “Deprivation is not a long-term solution; Satisfaction is. On a good food day, eating is a source of pleasure…” Hallelujah and pass the pudding please! In Canora’s approach to whole unprocessed eating, there’s no shortage of fantastic flavor, no lack of vibrancy or variety, and no pressure.
After a two-decade long diet of ice cream, refined sugars, and cigarettes (guilty of at least 2 out of the 3), the chef’s health began to suffer – in Canora’s own words “It was not pretty”. Fast forward to the present; he’s working intact grains like farro, spelt, rye, and steel cut oats into top chef creations. His new book A Good Food Day delivers a fresh approach to healthy, happy eating, with an array of dishes ranging from spelt rigatoni, to sweet brown rice risottos, to escarole salads with red quinoa and hazelnuts. Words don’t do it justice; if I could dip a spoon into the page, I would. For a recipe or two, or just some simple happy eating inspiration, here are a few new tricks to try from a guy who knows grains.