Here, in New York, we’re at peak summer harvest.
How will you celebrate this seasonal bounty?
For easy home-cooking inspiration, click on the photos (above and below) for healthy and delicious recipes to try in your own kitchen.
“Good food” can mean different things to different people. It can also change over time.
My own perception of “good food” has evolved over the years. As a teenager, “good food” described food that tasted, well…good…in all its highly palatable, sugar-infused or processed forms: cereals, candy, chips, dip, cookies, tasty snack foods, soda. As a college student on a budget, “good food” was all about cheap—and filling—instant gratification: jumbo cinnamon rolls, boxed mac ‘n cheese, canned tuna fish with instant rice and Domino’s pizza. Throughout my 20s and 30s, “good food” was an epicurean adventure. I studied classic French cooking at Manhattan’s French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center). As a well-published food writer, I reviewed restaurants and enjoyed five-star dining when the occasion presented itself. Reviewing cookbooks, recipe testing and my food writing travels enhanced my appreciation for world cuisines and food traditions.
After a series of health challenges (caused by a long period of undiagnosed hypothyroidism and multiple food intolerances), however, my definition of “good food” changed once again. It’s neither fancy nor French. Nor does it require expensive kitchen equipment or going to culinary school.
For me, “good food” is fresh, flavorful, seasonal and simple.
Good food requires minimal preparation for it to taste delicious because the quality of the food, itself—whether it’s organic kale or pasture-raised chicken—takes center stage. Think of a perfect sun-ripened tomato; cucumbers, zucchini or baby lettuces plucked from a home vegetable garden or local farmers’ market; and just-picked berries. Imagine a grass-fed rib-eye steak, seasoned with just salt and pepper, then seared in a cast-iron skillet (or grilled) for minutes until medium-rare. Or, an herb-roasted pasture-raised chicken.
Good food comes from vegetable crops that have been grown in organically rich soil—not drenched in pesticides or cultivated with genetically modified organisms. Good food also comes from healthy animals that were raised as naturally as possible. They are free of growth hormones and antibiotics; ideally, have access to pasture and space to roam; and eat their natural diet.
Cows, for instance, are herbivores; they are meant to eat grass, leaves, twigs or bark from bushes or trees. (Grains, like corn and soy, are not part of a cow’s natural diet.)
Quality animal protein is an important part of my anti-inflammatory, hormone-balancing diet (especially my thyroid and adrenals). At our upstate farmhouse in the Hudson Valley, we are lucky enough to be able to buy our meat and poultry from nearby Northwind Farms, a small, family-owned and operated farm where the animals live very happy, healthy lives. In the photo, I’m at Northwind Farms, holding a very sweet Barred Rock red-combed rooster in my arms.
Good food nourishes and balances the body. It should leave you feeling strong, energized, focused and alert.
Don’t miss the window of opportunity to catch this last delicious wave of summer in your kitchen!