'Slow Food' Is Quick Fix

Food

April 03, 2005|By Sandra Pinckney

I love Sundays. From the Sunday paper to Sunday supper, it's my day to recharge, relax and, most of all, to cook. When my daughter was little, I would spend the day cooking for the week. It made it easier to serve wholesome meals on school nights, if I didn't have to start from scratch.

Things have changed a lot since then. There has been an explosion of convenience foods on the market ... everything you can imagine from precooked bacon to microwave mac and cheese.

Fast-food restaurants are everywhere, and they make it so easy for you. With drive-through windows, you don't even have to get out of the car. Quick, cheap, convenient.

But there's a price to pay for all this convenience: a nationwide epidemic of obesity.

According to the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, roughly 66 percent of all Americans are overweight. Minority communities are especially hard hit, with black women at the top of the list. Nutritionists believe eating a steady diet of foods (fast foods), loaded with fat and salt, is mostly to blame.

In his Academy Award-nominated film, Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock makes the point by going on a fast-food binge. For 30 days, he eats only at McDonald's. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. He gets super-sized portions if offered. After a month of hotcakes and sausages, Quarter-Pounders, nuggets and fries, he gains 24 pounds. What's worse, his cholesterol skyrockets, his energy plummets and he suffers liver damage.

To be fair, Spurlock could have chosen any fast-food restaurant, and the result probably would have been the same. But the point is, eating too much of the wrong kinds of foods will make you fat and sick. Being overweight increases your risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers.

Some people believe the cure for fast food is Slow Food, an anti-fast-food movement that's catching on around the country. The Slow Food movement aims to be everything fast food is not. It's about eating fresh food -- not processed. It's about cooking slow -- not fast. It's about encouraging people to make time to prepare meals from scratch and to live a slower, more harmonious lifestyle.

Imagine, after decades of processed, microwave and fast food, a movement that teaches what our grandmothers knew all along: that tradition, family values and good nutrition are best taught around the dinner table over steaming plates of home-cooked food.

One example of that tradition is this recipe. My Aunt Marilyn's baked chicken with gravy was a family favorite when my daughter was little. The chicken is tender and full of flavor, and the dish makes lots of delicious gravy.

Sandra Pinckney, a former Baltimore TV journalist, is host of Food Finds on the Food Network.

Aunt Marilyn's Baked Chicken with Gravy

6-8 servings

1 cut-up chicken (or the chicken parts you like)

1 teaspoon salt (I use kosher salt)

3/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup of fresh sliced mushrooms (optional)

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can water (using soup can) or 1/2 can of water mixed with 1/2 can white wine

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and pat dry chicken pieces. Season with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and garlic powder. Place pieces skin side up, in a single layer in a casserole. Sprinkle with sliced mushrooms. Blend cream of mushroom soup and liquid of your choice. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle with paprika. Pop into oven and bake for about 1 hour.

Per serving: 287 calories, 29 grams protein, 18 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 2 grams carbohydrates, 0 grams fiber, 92 milligrams cholesterol, 486 milligrams sodium.

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