I just finished reading Mark Bittman's Food Matters (you should read it; it's fabulous), and it convinced me (again) to eat many, many more plants. If you're anything like me, deciding not to eat something leads to obsessing over it, dreaming about it, and eating it in extraordinarily large quantities. Here's how the conversation with myself usually goes:
Well-intentioned me, on a Sunday night, after a sugar-, carb-, meat-, cheese- and alcohol-laden (otherwise known as fun) weekend:
"OK. This week I'm going to commit to being healthier. I'm not going to eat refined carbs or sugar. I'm going to scale back the wine. I'm going to eat less meat and cheese. I'm going to work out every day! I can do it!"
Realistic, food-loving me, about 15 minutes later:
"But wait... what about bread? I think I should be able to have bread. And what about those cookies I was going to make? And chocolate. OK, but only dark chocolate, and only in small portions..."
Hungry me, Monday morning:
"I WANT A DONUT!!!!!"
Clearly, this approach is not working out so well. So instead of reminding myself several times a day of what things I want not to eat, I am expanding the horizons of what I would like to eat. Namely, plants. Fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains. These things are delicious! Instead of choking down blandly prepared, sad piles of refrigerated grains and veggies, I want to eat plant-based meals that taste amazing! And this is not hard, it just takes a little imagination, a willingness to experiment with new flavors, foods, and combinations, and maybe a little planning.
Most of the savory rhubarb recipes I've seen so far combine it with either meat or legumes and Indian spices. I made some lentils with rhubarb, and I loved it so much that I can't wait to try some of the other things I've seen! The rhubarb is pleasantly sour, but not sharp. Combined with the sweetness of caramelized onions and the earthiness of the lentils, it is delicious, and even better eaten as leftovers for lunch the next day!
Lentils with Rhubarb and Caramelized Onions
adapted from this recipe from My Little City Food Garden
1 onion, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1/8 cup dry white wine
4-5 fresh stalks rhubarb, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup lentils
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or a few sprigs fresh if you have it on hand)
Salt to taste
Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onions a small handful at a time, waiting until each addition softens a little before adding more. Once the onions are golden, caramelized, and smelling like heaven, add the wine and deglaze the pan. Add rhubarb, lentils, vegetable stock, and thyme, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cover immediately, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 35 minutes, until liquid is evaporated and lentils are tender. Adjust seasonings and serve.