You are what you eat! So here are 16 things that made my year.
16. Apple Chips
A great (and sweet) alternative to a potato chip or a granola bar.
15. Sugar Snap Peas
Like to munch snacks on the road? Put a bag of these in your passenger seat. Thirty-five calories for 2/3 cup and some serious Vitamin C too.
14. Brussels Sprouts
This emerald vegetable is like the helpless nerd everyone loves in spite of himself. Don't cringe, just try them.
13. The Orange
Have you ever had that post-dinner sweet tooth? An orange will do the trick. They were a delicacy in the Victorian era, you know. Hydrating, fun to eat, and packed with a full day's worth of Vitamin C. Forget the juice. The real thing has only 80 calories and 1/5 of your daily recommended fiber.
12. Fresh Basil
Smashed up into pesto, sliced into pasta noodles, sprinkled onto a sandwich...I kept a happy plant on my porch until the first frost. Then the plant...not so happy.
11. The Baguette
Though I haven't quite mastered the art of Julia Child's French baguette, I have certainly enjoyed trying.
Dried or fresh, these taste great as a snack. The dried ones taste just like the Newton, but minus the cakey exterior and the weird ingredients. Fresh figs are expensive, so buy them in the fall, when they are in abundance. In 2011, I'll experiment with figs in recipes.
9.Free Range Eggs
My go-to dinner is scrambled eggs with onion, garlic, carrots, green pepper, and any other misfit veggies or meats around the kitchen. This year I learned that chickens are meant to roam free and peck at bugs and other critters on the land. When they eat this way, the fat content in their egg yolk is an ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats. Chickens kept in pens and fed grains, or chickens fed "organic" food, or chickens on a vegetarian diet are deprived chickens that produce a lesser egg. The low protein diet upsets the balance between the omega-3 and omega-6 fats in the egg yolk. Why does this matter for humans? The type of egg you eat determines the type of fats you consume. Buying free-range eggs is costly but worth it.
8. Goat Cheese
Besides the fun of saying "Fromage de Chevre," this stuff has a unique flavor that reminds me of tinkling bells and purposeful "baas" high in the Pyrenees. Put it on a pizza, pair it with a cracker and fig jam, toss it in a salad with pears and walnuts.
7. Soft Corn Tortillas
Like a little hug for your breakfast burrito or your turkey taco. And corn tortillas stack up against flour. Seventy calories versus 140. One gram of fat versus three. Fourteen grams carbohydrates versus 25. Careful--most grocery store corn tortillas contain preservatives. Grab them at Whole Foods. Extra points for sprouted corn. (And for those of you who have hated corn tortillas your whole life--try browning in a pan before eating.)
6. Plain Lowfat Yogurt
Gone are the days when I'd eat a Yoplait in two bites and go into a sugar crash. Gone are the days in which I'd eat fat free, sugar free yogurt and still feel hungry. Plain, lowfat yogurt is great by itself. Or, try stirring in a little honey, jam, or granola. It has the same amount of protein as two eggs and a third of your daily recommended Calcium.
5. Fresh Pasta
Mama mia! This is the real deal. Makes boxed pasta look like a diet drink.
Julie and Julia author Julie Powell claims you can never have too much butter. I disagree. But for goodness' sake, why use margarine or that sneeze of a cooking spray when you can use good old butter? If you don't believe me, grab some mushrooms and brown them in three separate pans. Use Pam, margarine, and butter. Then, tell me which tastes the best and leaves you the most satisfied.
3. "Five" Ice Cream
Haagen Dazs makes up for a name that prompts a "Gesundheit" with this simple, honest-to-goodness ice cream. A pint of this got me through a lot of tough spots. Excuse me, did I say a pint? I meant a single half cup serving. Who eats a pint of ice cream in one sitting?
2. Olive Oil
Olive Oil was the starting ingredient for nearly every dinner I made this past year. I learned that "Extra Virgin" olive oil is the best because it comes from the first cold press of the olive. Other olive oils, such as "pure" and "light" are really lesser olive oils in disguise. They use second-rate olives and go through multiple presses.
And the #1 Food of 2010...
...I can't hear you...
I cracked open one of these babies for the first time on the Fourth of July. I ate her on the lawn of a 17th century farmhouse at a Benedictine Abbey. Quite an adventure, but tasty nonetheless, especially dipped in butter. Lobster: not a date food.