Sunday, February 14, 2010

Food Staples - Quesadillas

Annie, over at Sensible Living, posted recently about a TED talk given by chef Jamie Oliver. (aside - if you have not stumbled across this fantastic series of lectures, please check them out - I have listened to several eye-opening, heart-opening, life affirming talks by incredible people) She has linked to his talk, which is well worth listening to - the gist of it is this. He implores us, in particular Americans, though the rest of the world is not far behind, to address the disconnect between our health and our food, to treat our eating habits and consumerism surrounding food as a national emergency. He has some solid ideas about how to reverse the trend that is leading our children towards shorter lives than we will have. He is impassioned, in particular about teaching children about food: how to recognize it, and what to do with it. He suggests teaching children 10 basic recipes by the time they graduate high school, recipes that will serve them through difficult financial times. It is about creating a connection between our health and the food we are putting in our bodies, and, to my thinking, creating a habit of better eating, a habit of eating fresh foods that you know how to cook for yourself.

We are lucky in our family to have kids that are interested in food, are not afraid to try new things, who like to be involved in the cooking, have suggestions about what might taste good together, and who like to visit the farmer's market every week to select our fresh produce. We are slowly making the next step of growing our own food; last year's garden was a disappointment to Dan and I, but I remember visiting the plot in October, as we were pulling things out and starting to lay it to rest, and the girls yanked some forgotten carrots out - Eliza waxed poetic about how amazing it is to plant a seed, and months later pull a full grown vegetable from the ground, without ever going to the store! She is part farmer in her soul, I'm sure of it, and I hope to further nurture that this spring as we put in a new garden.

Eliza has long made the connection between her health and food; as an infant she had trouble digesting the dairy in my breastmilk, and still on occasion will decide that something just has too much dairy in it for her, or that she's had enough. She is very sensitive to sugar and has crazy mood swings if she has it, and understands the connection between sugar and a lowered immunity and will sometimes decide for herself whether or not having a sugary something is a good idea for her. I took her to the doctor's this week to investigate a small rash, and she asked the doctor why, when children are coming to her to get over being sick, she and the nurses give them lollipops and popsicles when they leave? The doctor sort of sputtered, taken aback, saying something about "well, yes, I guess that's a contradiction to our policy, a mixed message". Good point...

Anyway!!! Annie urged her readers and fellow bloggers to share those recipes that our families fall back on when money or time or both are short. Here is something that I'm sure is familiar in many families, but I thought I'd share our version, as it's a staple around here and is so versatile for the season or budget....


Quesadillas, Plot 55-style

tortillas - you can make your own if you have the time. Annie shares a good recipe here. We will sometimes use a recipe passed on from a Highlights magazine; it is super easy, but I will save that for another post. We usually use the sprouted wheat tortillas (Ezekiel brand) that come in the frozen food section of our grocery store and the local health food store.

beans - I've just started cooking beans in my pressure cooker and I love love love how they turn out. We usually eat black beans.

cheese - yeah, the queso! We like sharp cheddar around here, as organic or natural as we can get it; Ani prefers the mozarella. But I thought I would also mention that for years we made quesdillas without cheese. I suppose we should have called them something else, but I've had a lifelong love affair with cheese and couldn't give up the illusion. As I mentioned, dairy was difficult for Eliza as a baby and toddler, and she was nursing, so we didn't have much cheese around. This is when we discovered another favorite ingredient that provided the creaminess...

sweet potatoes. (or as my husband insists: Yams!) We bake a couple of sweet potatoes still, even though we are now eating cheese, and throw those in. So so very good.

greens - the girls like a little spinach in their quesadillas. I am enjoying a quick saute of garlic and kale that I add to mine...

fresh veggies - is this starting to sound more like a burrito???? Yes, they are rather huge. We have fresh veggies on the table to add to the individual quesadillas - the running favorites are sliced bell peppers and red cabbage. To me what makes this meal a regular option for our family is that it does have fresh greens and other vegetables in it, in addition to the grains and the proteins.

optional condiments - we use, or don't use, whatever is handy. If we are "flush" and it is the start of the month, and we have just grocery shopped, we have avocados, salsa, fresh or pickled jalapenos, and sometimes yogurt, sour cream, or a drizzle of goddess dressing.

variations - on the rare occasion that we have fish or chicken around (we don't eat much of either), leftovers will often make it into the quesadilla. Mushrooms, potatoes, leftover salad...all are fair game!

6 comments:

Tan Family said...

I love what you said about health and food. It is so important that our children understand the importance of growing, harvesting and eating real, fresh, organic fruits and veggies! Although I don't eat cheese, I love your quesadillas...very yummy and colorful. :)

poppy said...

food is love - happy st. valentine's day

J & Reba said...

i think if i got to choose someone else's house to eat at for a week I would pick yours. :)

kellyi said...

Oh yum. Jamie Oliver is well known round these parts for his impact on school dinners - don't know if the TED talk mentioned this or not...

Going to try these out :)

Annie said...

Awesome post! Thanks for following suit!

Can you believe that I have to have black beans shipped up to me by my mom because I can't buy them dried anywhere here where I live? I love them as much as you do but my big jar is empty until a new shipment comes.

debbiedas said...

These sound very similar to our fajitas. SO yummy. And like you...I couldn't live without cheese. It doesn't matter what kind...I love them all. I must have been a cheese maker in a former life. :)