Holiday indulgences still weighing heavily on the minds (and hips) of many winter revelers, the added stress of New Year’s resolutions brings out the worst in some people. I’m not talking about those determined to follow the gospel of the latest diet fad or exercise craze- They’re only trying to do what’s right, what society expects of them for all their gustatory sins. No, I’m pointing straight to those spreading this propaganda, pushing the miracle cures and instant detoxes, complete with catchy slogans so obtuse that it’s hard to find any true meaning behind them. “New Year, New You” is undoubtedly one of the most prevalent, springing up again year after year, the elastic of its tenor just as punchy in 2016 as it was in 2006, and perhaps even 1996. It’s a good thing most consumers can’t remember the marketing pitches from these forgotten eras, or else we’d all be bored to tears for the redundancy of it all.
As a food obsessive and enthusiast, the saying that really gets to me above all others is the call to “Eat Clean.” Tell me, when was the last time you got a plate of food at a restaurant and thought, Oh, I’m so hungry, but this meal just came out much too dirty for me. What would that even look like? A plate full of soil, wriggling earthworms and all? Would it constitute a reasonable excuse for sending the dish back, an offense on par with receiving a carbonized, unforgivably burnt pancake? My own personal mantra has become a reactive “Keep Your Laundry Clean and Your Food Dirty.” Yes, I want to buy my kale with ladybugs still clinging to the leaves. Yes, I will actively seek out potatoes that are in dire need of a good scrub. I want my food to be that dirty, because to me, “dirty” should be synonymous with “fresh.”
Rant aside, there are still some redeeming side effects to the annual revitalization of healthy eating. While I may not be a fan of the label, I do love a hearty meal that doesn’t contain the same amount of oil required to power a snow blower through a foot of icy slush. Thus, titles notwithstanding, I’ve found some real edible gems in Terry Walters’ work. A prolific recipe writer, I’ve been enjoying her food for years now, and this brief feature itself is long overdue. Eat Clean, Live Well was released well over a year ago, but has proven to be a real catch in a sea of nutritionally-oriented cooking tomes.
Pictured above, the red lentil patties in particular have become an indispensable staple for quick meals, perfect for preparing in batches, freezing, and reviving on the fly. The crisp exterior allows them the fortitude to withstand the burger treatment, standing strong without crumbling on the bun yet yielding to a downright creamy interior texture. For a more elegant meal, they function beautifully atop roasted or sauteed vegetables, drizzled with delicate herb-infused sauces and garnished with tender micro greens. Or, as is most often the case, they’re downright dreamy paired simply with tahini or a pungent, garlicky aioli sauce for dipping.
Don’t fall for the hype; eat as dirty as you like. Just make sure you wash your hands before sitting down at the table.
Red Lentil Patties with Garlic and Fresh Herbs
Reprinted with permission from Eat Clean Live Well © 2014 by Terry Walters, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
1 cup red lentils
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped roasted red pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, basil, cilantro or any combination)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup gluten-free bread or rice crumbs
Rinse and drain lentils and place in pot with vegetable stock or water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer covered 15 minutes until lentils are mushy and all liquid is absorbed (you may want to leave lid cracked open slightly to prevent pot from boiling over). Remove from heat and set aside.
In large cast iron skillet, sauté garlic and onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil until soft (about 3 minutes). Add roasted red pepper and sauté 1 minute longer. Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a bowl. Add lentils, fold in herbs and sea salt, and season to taste with pepper. Gradually fold in breadcrumbs until batter is thick (you may not need all depending on how dry your lentils are) and set aside for 2–3 minutes to allow batter to thicken.
Drizzle cast iron skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Scoop batter and roll into 1 1/2 -inch balls. Place in skillet and flatten into patties 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Cook until crispy (4–5 minutes per side), transfer to baking sheet and cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter until ingredients are used up and serve.
SERVES 6 (makes twelve 2 1/2-inch patties)
6 thoughts on “Down and Dirty with Clean Eating”
The problem with social media is that most food bloggers are ex I.T. “experts” or swam the competitive fields of internet marketing “back in the day” and are applying everything that they learned to pushing their particular vernacular at the average Joe. What happens next is that there is a constant deluge of marketing, advertising, new catch phrases, re-hashed catch phrases, hash tags, exclamation marks and anything else that can possibly be used to direct traffic to their particular post. I have no problems with people promoting themselves but when everyone is screaming at you in hashtags it becomes offensive. “Clean eating” made me grind my teeth the very first time I saw it. I thought “WTF?!” Like anyone eats dirt! Another attempt to grab Joe average by the ring in his/her nose and guide them to someone’s money making scheme. Is it any wonder that Joe average is getting wise to these ploys. Pretty soon this mass marketing deluge will stop affecting people and will cease to work. The cycle of a trend in motion. My pet hate is bloggers that use their kids to push their own ideals and who self diagnose with all of the allergies under the sun to gain a slice of the social media money pie. SO tired of it all to be honest. You are a shining light in all of this. You are honest about your advertising and straight forward about when you are sharing it with us. Thank you Ms Hannah for that. It’s why I am still here ;)
Great post and agreed on dieting trends, supplements, and other marketing scams. Eat Clean has been overused and I’m not sure I even know what it means anymore, does anyone? The recipe looks wonderful, thanks!
Yum. Sounds wonderful.
Indeed. Sometimes I joke that I will call my someday dreamed of catering business “Dirty Kitchen”, although that might not be good for sales…
Love the “keep your laundry clean and your food dirty” mantra. I never thought of it that way. :) Thanks for the insight!
Happy New Year!