Friday, July 4, 2008

Getting Started: Day One

Copyright 2008 Carrie Boyko
Today's Organic Fruit Purchases
So it's D-Day. You've decided to make the switch to organic foods and today is the day to begin. But where do you start? With a list, of course!
1. Open up your refrigerator and make a list of the basic items you cannot do without (i.e. milk, eggs, cheese, butter, juices, fruits and vegetables, sandwich supplies, etc.)

2.Now do the same with your pantry: bread, flour, sugar (my bad!), coffee, tea, oatmeal, cereals, canned goods, vinegar, oil, peanut butter, etc. If you are planning to go cold turkey, might as well clean out the fridge and pantry while you're working on the list. By all means, don't forget the garlic. I absolutely can't get through a day without it.

3. Probably by now you have decided where you'll try to shop for the first round of product searches. For me it was my local supermarket, that happens to carry a reasonably good selection of organics. Typically, it has been my experience so far that supermarkets' prices are somewhat better (especially in store brands) because of volume buying. I shop the 3 local organic markets AFTER I hit the supermarket. If you have a farmers' market close by, plan to go when they are open, and give yourself time to talk with the farmers. Many farm organically, but because they are small, cannot afford to have their produce certified as organic. All the better for you, as their produce will be fresher and cheaper.

4. If you have the time to browse my previous coupon post for items you'd like to try, it could potentially save you a LOT of money.

5. After you've gotten what you can at the supermarket and the farmers' market, go straight to the largest organic market in your area. This will be FUN, so plan to enjoy the experience. Our Whole Foods Market was a virtual mecca of organic goodies, the likes of which I did not expect to find. They even carry organic versions of some of my kids' favorites like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Oreo cookies and Fruit Loops. (Honest, I never bought Fruit Loops, but Whole Foods does have their own take on this popular children's cereal.) Beyond what I wanted to buy for my kids, the adult selection is exceptional, as well. Organic wines and cheeses are in abundance, frozen pizzas are for everyone (right?!), and the produce aisle is to die for.
By now you're exhausted and yet exhilarated by the thought of cooking up some wonderful concoction with your kitchen full of healthy foods. Keep it simple tonight so you can take some time to regroup and plan for Day Two, which probably should come next week. Meanwhile, you'll need to look up some recipes that you can make with your new collection of goodies.
Here is my family's favorite (and my easiest 4 ingredient recipe) pomodoro sauce (tomato sauce for spaghetti or any pasta you like) recipe, which I got from a great novel, True Believer, by Nicholas Sparks. It's also great for chicken or eggplant parmesan. Here goes:
2 large cans of organic San Marzano tomatoes
(I like the crushed ones, but there are other choices)
1 stick of organic sweet cream butter
2 large organic white (or red, NOT yellow) onions
1/3 cup grated or shaved organic Parmesan cheese
Open and pour the tomatoes into a large saucepan. Peel and slice each of the 2 onions in half horizontally. Place the four sections of onion in the sauce and cover. Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Simmer for 1-1/2 hours covered. Check and stir after an hour, but don't disturb the onions. When the time is up, the onions will have melted into the tomato sauce, and you can either stir them in or scoop them out with a large slotted spoon. Serve fresh over hot pasta and sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesan.
Let me know how you like this sauce. I have tried it without the butter and find little, if any, difference in taste, and less fat, calories, and cholesterol are a wonderful perk. You may also wish to try it by adding garlic in much the same way as the onion. The infusion of the onion flavor is wonderful, even if you scoop out the meat of the onion, so I imagine garlic would do much the same. I'd love to hear from you. Happy cooking!

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