These Japanese candies are called kompeito, little constellations of pure sugar. They taste like rock candy with perhaps a slight flowery undertone. I have quite a lot left over from the Little K launch party (they didn’t fit in the piñata), and I’m not sure what to do with them, but they take me back to my childhood. My mom didn’t buy very many sweet treats when I was a kid. She made almost everything from scratch, and the ones I requested over and over were sliced, candied sweet potatoes fried to a crisp called karinto, and oshiruko, which is essentially a sugary azuki bean soup with small floating mochi balls. Because we ate mostly whole, unprocessed foods and dessert wasn’t a regular offering, I savored the homemade confections my mom would energetically whip up on special occasions.
I’ve noticed that when my schedule gets frenetic, the first thing that goes is nutrition. Overwhelmed by one thing or another, I’ll quickly assent to eating out or will resort to serving my family Mac n Cheese (the blue box which is not the kind found in the “Natural Foods” section that’s supposedly healthier). On some occasions, I forget to eat altogether. Worse, I’ll toss together a salad but because I’m tired and want to avoid the food-related skirmishes, I’ll douse K’s plate with cheese and let her dip everything in ketchup.
I want to return to my roots of whole, unprocessed eating. Every June, I buy a stack of reading materials as a birthday present to myself and this year, I focused on books about food. I’m really excited about these four:
By Jenny Rosenstrach of Dinner: A Love Story (blog and book). It looks like a considered, wholesome meal plan for the entire family designed to encourage kids to eat better.
By Sarah Kolman. Well, the title says it all, doesn’t it? The author is a nurse and takes a food-centric approach to health, which I absolutely advocate.
By Heidi Swanson. With her award-winning blog 101 Cookbooks, Heidi Swanson is the grand dame of food blogging, and I’ve listened to and read rave reviews about her cookbooks for years. I saw the paperback version at the bookstore and immediately snagged it.
The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook: Over 300 Delicious Whole Foods Recipes, Including Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, and Egg-Free Dishes
The title of the book does beg the question, “What exactly can you eat?” I’ve already almost completely eliminated dairy from my diet, and I’ve seen some remarkable improvements with my skin and premenstrual bloating. Inspired by this, I’ve been toying with the idea of going gluten-free. There’s a lot of material out there about how thyroid conditions are exacerbated by gluten, and though my carb-loving body is rebelling at the thought, it might be worth an experiment. Also, one of my very good friends who is also a magician in the kitchen told me that the recipes are superb, and her endorsement is enough for me.
Do you have cookbooks to recommend? I love me a good cookbook!