Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend a screening of the documentary A Place at the Table, a film that highlights the challenges many families face living in food deserts- lacking access to fresh, whole foods. The film described “food insecurity” explaining this concept as a situation that occurs when a family is unsure about how they will eat enough in a given day or week. 1 in 4 children in the United States are currently living in this state.
Children cannot physically and mentally develop as they should when they are fed only processed foods full of Salt, Sugar, Fat (a book I recently finished). In many communities, rural and urban, families are forced to make decisions about proper nutrition according to their limited budgets, not according to what their bodies need and require. Those in poverty seeking enough meals or calories to survive a day or week must make choices that prevent them from buying nutrient dense, healthy foods.
In many cases, these foods are not even available- fresh fruits and vegetables simply are not sold in some communities. Instead, families must rely on the offerings of the local bodega- foods that come in cans, shiny bags, or frozen trays. Food donations and food banks can be crucial sources for food, but the “nonperishable” nature of these donations often ensures the foods will be highly processed, full of calories, and lacking in vitamins, protein, or fiber. Many individuals are not malnourished in the ways we typically think- they are often getting plenty of calories- and frequently too many- but the calories are empty.
Because of current farm subsidies to large farms producing corn and soy (to feed cows and develop high fructose corn syrup), smaller farms are unable to survive growing only fruits and vegetables- which the government does not subsidize and support. Thus, the food industry encourages the production of “food” in laboratories using a lot of corn and soy- salt, sugar, and fat and these companies benefit from this policy, while access to fresh produce is limited.
This simple recipe includes more limited fresh ingredients but is still full of healthy, whole foods and is a much healthier alternative to buying a jar of tomato sauce. Many traditional jarred tomato sauces contain added sugar and preservatives. This recipe allows you to choose a healthier alternative. The beans are a great protein supplement to replace the traditional, highly processed meat that is often added to pasta sauces.
I always make double so I can have a healthy lunch at work.
garlic white bean tomato sauce with zucchini pasta:
- 1 can cannellini beans- rinsed (I generally prefer dried beans, but you can look for bpa-free cans)
- 1 box chopped tomatoes (I like Pomi brand- found near the canned tomatoes- bpa free packaging and “tomatoes” as the only ingredient
- 1/2 can tomato paste
- 3-4 fresh garlic cloves
- 1/2 small onion
- 2 T fresh, chopped parsley
- 2 T fresh, chopped basil
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 t sea salt
- 1 t fresh cracked pepper
- 1 t dried chili flakes (optional)
- 2 medium zucchini
Mince garlic and dice onion. Sautee in skillet with olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, add beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and chili flakes to saucepan. Then add garlic and onions and simmer for 20 minutes- stirring occasionally. While sauce is simmering, create zucchini pasta. Use a vegetable peeler, slicing lengthwise, turning the zucchini after each peel (like peeling a carrot). Continue to peel the zucchini until you see seeds. Sautee zucchini for 2-3 minutes until warm, but do not overcook. Top zucchini pasta with tomato sauce.