Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 2.14.08

loving your body

Healthy Food On the Run
Fast but not costly to your body
By Katie Cornell

Even after reading Fast Food Nation or watching the documentary Supersize Me, your fervent (and hungry) imagination might still convince you to get in the car and drive to an illuminated menu board.
The meal only costs $5, but the long-term repercussions of consuming fast food regularly are much higher. Sure, people get busy, but what if it took you half an hour to prepare a healthy, affordable meal or snack? Here are a few suggestions to jumpstart your appetite and help you avoid visits to the drive-through.

The easiest way to begin thinking “healthy” is by replacing smaller snacks. Instead of eating potato chips on your lunch break, grab a few slices of pita bread and some hummus. A container of hummus costs around $4, and a bag of pita bread contains 6 slices for $3-$5. You will end up spending $8-$9 for multiple servings. Another tasty snack, especially in the spring and summer seasons, is frozen grapes. All you need to do is buy a bag of organic grapes, wash them off and throw them in the freezer. If you’re in a rush, Café Yumm! and Laughing Planet are popular local establishments that practice a new philosophy on the idea of “fast food.”

But don’t be afraid to cook at home. Cara Eddo, manager of The Vintage (at 8th and Lincoln), compiled some of her favorite food ideas for healthy, fast food. The ingredients she used are local and seasonal products that can be found at the market. Each recipe prepares two servings for not too much moolah and, including prep time, takes 30 minutes. No more excuses!

Curried Apple Squash Soup
1 c. winter squash (such as butternut or acorn), peeled and chopped
1 c. vegetable broth
1/2 c. diced yellow onion
1/4 c. chopped celery
1 peeled or chopped large apple
(reserve a few thin slices for garnish)
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. black pepper and salt

Pour olive oil in a 3- or 4-quart pot over medium heat; add chopped squash, onion, celery and apples. Stir and cover for 10-12 minutes or until vegetables and fruit are tender. Add remaining ingredients and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove pot from heat and puree the soup (in batches) in a blender or food processor. Serve immediately with apple slices and a drizzle of olive oil.

The Saigon Sub (or Banh Mi Chay)
1 medium baguette
8 oz. (about 1/2 of an average package) extra firm tofu
1/2 c. thinly sliced cucumber
1/2 c. shredded carrot
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
1/2 finely chopped jalapeno
2 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp. Vegenaise (dairy, cholesterol, and trans fat-free mayonnaise)
Sriracha chili sauce to taste

1/2 c. soy sauce or tamari
1/4 c. water
1 tbsp. agave syrup
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder

To prepare sauce: Mix and stir soy sauce, water, agave and garlic and onion powders in a small bowl.
To prepare tofu: Heat sesame oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Drain water from tofu packaging. Cut tofu block in half and wrap a clean towel around it, pressing firmly on all sides to remove excess water. Slice tofu into small rectangles about 1/3 inch thick. Add tofu to hot oil and cook about 10 minutes, turning periodically so that tofu becomes golden on all sides. With the heat still on, add the soy sauce mixture to the pan of tofu, stirring to coat. Turn heat off after 1 minute.

Assembling the sandwich: Slice baguette lengthwise and toast lightly. Spread bottom half of toasted baguette with Vegenaise, then add layers of chopped jalapeno, cilantro, cucumbers, carrots, and sprinkle rice vinegar on top. Add the tofu last, drizzling it with Sriracha. Top the sandwich with the other baguette half. Cut the whole baguette in half to make two big sandwiches.


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