By Gini Rainey
Anyone who knows me, knows my diet isn’t exactly what a healthy person would consider healthy. I mean, my favorite, go-to meal on the run is nachos and I sure won’t be having any of those any time real soon. My oven heating element decided to do a slow electric burn last night while my nachos were melting down and it will be a few days before the replacement arrives. I hate it when people ask me what my favorite food is. Normally my answer is pretty much “whatever is in front of me.” I’m not a picky eater. My parents wouldn’t allow that. There are a few things that I’m not overly fond of and certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to eat, but if it’s well-prepared and the mood is good, I think I could be convinced to eat most anything. This is from someone who grew up gnawing on pickled pig’s feet and pickled cow’s tongue – so you see, the line in the sand isn’t too deep.
I have a cookbook ,“Eat Well Stay Healthy” that was written by Pamela Westland and published by Chartwell Books, Inc. in 1984. Flipping through it just now, the section “Healthy Vegetable Cooking” jumped out at me. My mother-in-law has always been a good cook, but when it comes to vegetables, she pretty much cooks the bejeebers out of them. At a family dinner a while back, our nephew surreptitiously mentioned to me that he’d never seen broccoli such a pale color of green and with such a soft texture. She also likes to make a cheese sauce and pour it over a lot of the veggies – I’m sure our cholesterol levels shot sky-high after meals at her house!
This cookbook, though, is very interestingly composed. Not only are there sections such as Healthy Meat Cooking, Healthy Fish Cooking, Healthy Desserts, but it also has Health in the Raw, Bran and Fiber Cooking, as well as one on Menu Planning. There’s even a recipe for Brown Rice with Cheese Sauce, but with a caloric count of 2,950, I’m not so sure that it would be a diet-healthy dish for a calorie counter.
Seeing as how I am going to need to be creative during mealtime over the next few days, the recipe for a Barley Bake (which I’m pretty sure I can either cook in a crock pot or micro-wave) sounds pretty good and very healthy. First heat the oven to 350° and melt 2 tablespoons butter in a Dutch oven. Now sauté 1 crushed clove of garlic and 2 sliced onions over medium heat until soft. Stir in 2 cups of thinly sliced mushrooms and continue cooking for 2 minutes, then stir in 1 cup of washed barley, 1 teaspoon paprika and ¼ teaspoon cayenne. Season with salt to taste, and then stir in 1 ½ cups chicken broth. Bring slowly to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and cook in the oven for 40 minutes or until the barley is tender. Fluff with a fork and garnish with chopped parsley before serving. This would be good as a side dish, but can stand on its own as a main meal. If you use your crock pot it would also make a great summer side and not heat up the oven.