National Recovery Month 2012: Try Cooking

  • September is National Recovery Month.  The week of September 17 to 23 is SAMSHA's second annual National Wellness Week.


    The theme is to celebrate everyone living in recovery and the efforts we make to live healthy.


    One of the suggested activities for the week was to show peers how to cook a healthful meal.  Good food nourishes the mind as well as the body.


    How do you feel after you've chowed down on processed food as opposed to how you feel after nutritious dining?  I bet: crabbed or crappy or lethargic.


    At 45, I suddenly became a cook.  I have a binder I store recipes in and I've bought 10 cookbooks to create meals from.

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    As an Italian woman, I prefer organic food, not so-called Frankenfood grown from GMO crops.  I realize not everyone has access to organic food.  Yet if you do, it's well worth the cost because organic food tastes better in my humble opinion.  Also: you're often supporting local farmers, not agribusinesses whose patented seeds for GMO crops require killer amounts of the agribusinesses' own pesticides.


    I'll give you a list of the foods you can safely buy that aren't organic and a list of foods to be bought organic if at all you can.


    Fruits and vegetables with the highest level of pesticides that you should always buy organic include: apples, carrots, celery, cherries, cucumbers, grapes (domestic and imported), green beans, hot peppers, lettuce, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, potatoes, raspberries, spinach, strawberries and sweet bell peppers.


    Fruits and vegetables with the lowest level of pesticides that you don't have to buy organic include: asparagus, avocados, bananas, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, eggplant, grapefruit, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemon, mangoes, mushrooms, onions, papaya, pineapples, sweet corn (frozen), sweet peas (frozen), sweet potatoes, tangerines, tomatoes, watermelon, and winter squash.


    In the spirit of recovery week I'm going to end this SharePost with recipes. 


    I recommend you cook your own meals as often as possible.  I wrote in here years ago that to become self-reliant is the number-one goal for a person diagnosed with schizophrenia.  Cooking healthful meals is the best way to take care of yourself.


    I kid you not: at my house in the summer, it's nearly all tomatoes, all the time.  So all the recipes feature tomatoes: a plentiful staple in the summer and also available year-round.


    Cooking them is best, yet either way they contain lycopene, a substance thought to ward off cancer.  Not only is the tomato sauce in pizza full of lycopene, the oregano in pizza might also reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men.


    Pain Catalan with Extra Tomatoes and Goat Cheese (from the New York Times)


    2 slices whole-wheat country bread (you can substitute whole wheat bread.  I use Bread Alone's organic multi-grain bread from a bakery in New York State.)

    1 garlic clove, cut in half

    1 large or 2 smaller ripe tomatoes, in season

    Salt to taste

  • 1/2 ounce goat cheese crumbled or thinly sliced

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    1.  If you'd like, toast the bread.  Rub with the cut side of a garlic clove.

    2.  Cut one of the tomatoes in half and generously rub the juice and pulp on the bread slices.

    3.  Cut the tomatoes in slices and layer over the bread.  Spread the goat cheese over the tomatoes.

    4.  If you'd like, season to taste with salt.

    (You can garnish with a few basil leaves, optional.)



    Insalata Estiva Alla Siciliana (Summer salad, Sicilian style) from Insalate


    4 ripe red tomatoes cut into wedges and seeded

    1 cucumber, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

    1 red onion, thinly sliced

    1 tablespoon dried oregano

    1 teaspoon salt

    1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


    1.  In a large bowl, thoroughly combine all ingredients.

    2.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.  Toss again before serving.

    (I buy bread and sop up a slice or two with the olive oil as I eat the meal.)



    Caprese Salad (a classic)


    Mound of mozzarella di bufala or of fresh mozzarella

    Ripe round red tomatoes


    Cut mozzarella and tomatoes in slices and alternate on a dish.  Drizzle with olive oil and season tomatoes with salt to taste.


    Though it's almost fall, you can use these recipes year-round even though summer is the ideal time.


    To find a Greenmarket near you that sells organic produce free of pesticides, log on to LocalHarvest.  Some Greenmarkets do operate year-round, like the one in Union Square in New York City.


    Also in the spirit of National Recovery Month (and only a coincidence that the two happen in September): my next SharePost will detail the 25th anniversary of my own recovery.


    I hope you enjoy the recipes.

Published On: September 16, 2012