The Food Matters Cookbook is the essential encyclopedia and guidebook to responsible eating, with more than 500 recipes that capture Bittman’s typically relaxed approach to everything in the kitchen. There is no finger-wagging here, just a no-nonsense and highly flexible case for eating more plants while cutting back on animal products, processed food, and of course junk. But for Bittman, flipping the ratio of your diet to something more virtuous and better for your body doesn’t involve avoiding any foods—indeed, there is no sacrifice here.
Since his own health prompted him to change his diet, Bittman has perfected cooking tasty, creative, and forward-thinking dishes based on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Meat and other animal products are often included—but no longer as the centerpiece. In fact the majority of these recipes include fish, poultry, meat, eggs, or dairy, using them for their flavor, texture, and satisfying nature without depending on them for bulk. Roasted Pork Shoulder with Potatoes, Apples, and Onions and Linguine with Cherry Tomatoes and Clams are perfect examples. Many sound downright decadent: Pasta with Asparagus, Bacon, and Egg; Stuffed Pizza with Broccoli, White Beans, and Sausage; or Roasted Butternut Chowder with Apples and Bacon, for example.
There are vegetarian recipes, too, and they have flair without being complicated—recipes like Beet Tartare, Lentil "Caviar" with All the Trimmings, Radish-Walnut Tea Sandwiches, and Succotash Salad. Bittman is a firm believer in snacking, but in the right way. Instead of packaged cookies or greasy chips, Bittman suggests Seasoned Popcorn with Grated Parmesan or Fruit and Cereal Bites. Nor does he skimp on desserts; rather, he focuses on
fruit, good-quality chocolate, nuts, and whole-grain flours, using minimal amounts of eggs, butter, and other fats. That allows for a whole chapter devoted to sweets, including Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies, Apricot Polenta Cake, Brownie Cake, and Coconut Tart with Chocolate Smear.
True to the fuss-free style that has made him famous, Bittman offers plenty of variations and substitutions that let you take advantage of foods that are in season—or those that just happen to be in the fridge. A quick-but-complete rundown on ingredients tells you how to find sustainable and flavorful meat and shop for dairy products, grains, and vegetables without wasting money on fancy organic labels. He indicates which recipes you can make ahead, those that are sure to become pantry staples, and which ones can be put together in a flash. And because Bittman is always comprehensive, he makes sure to include the building-block recipes for the basics of home cooking: from fast stocks, roasted garlic, pizza dough, and granola to pots of cooked rice and beans and whole-grain quick breads.
With a tone that is easygoing and non-doctrinaire, Bittman demonstrates the satisfaction and pleasure in mindful eating. The result is not just better health for you, but for the world we all share.