Weeknight CookingWhat to CookDinner, Faster

The Best Way to Eat Healthfully is to Cook at Home

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I left a screening of Michael Pollan's new film In Defense of Food—based off his 2008 book with the same name and airing on PBS on December 30th—feeling overwhelmed.

Pollan's argument is that we don't need to jump on every hot dietary trend or study every piece of scientific literature: On the biological level, we know what to do ("Eat food, not too much, mostly plants," is how he sums it up) and we're actually bombarded with misinformation that persuades us to make harmful choices, often under the guise of health.

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Photo by Bobbi Lin

But even if every individual has the innate programming to eat well, the problems are huge and systemic: They're cultural and corporate and socio-economic and evolutionary, and they're not going to be solved in a day (and Pollan says that the food movement is in need of litigators and community organizers, especially).

Photo by Mark Weinberg

In the meantime, what can we do? What can we do tonight?

We can cook! Cooking at home—using whole, minimally-processed ingredients and doing our best to think about what's in season and where it comes from—is the best way to support local food systems and to eat real food.

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But elaborate, time-consuming meals aren't realistic. These 22 weeknight-ready recipes—full of vegetables, beans, grains, and the occasional meat/fish/chicken—provide real food fast, so you can do your small part to help (and help yourself in the process).

Lablabi (Middle Eastern Spicy Chickpea Stew)

Lablabi (Middle Eastern Spicy Chickpea Stew) by creamtea

Chile-Roasted Chicken and Sweet Potatoes with Cilantro Rice

Chile-Roasted Chicken and Sweet Potatoes with Cilantro Rice by Sarah | Wisconsin from Scratch

Creamy Polenta with Sautéed Apples, Mushrooms, & Calvados

Creamy Polenta with Sautéed Apples, Mushrooms, & Calvados by QueenSashy

The Splendid Table's Pasta with Two Broccolis and Raisin-Pine Nut Sauce

The Splendid Table's Pasta with Two Broccolis and Raisin-... by Genius Recipes

Mushrooms and Garbanzos on Toast with Cider and Thyme

Mushrooms and Garbanzos on Toast with Cider and Thyme by Rebecca Fallihee | Eggplant...

Lemon-Chicken & Pepe Soup

Lemon-Chicken & Pepe Soup by foxeslovelemons

Tomato-y, Yogurt-y Shakshuka

Tomato-y, Yogurt-y Shakshuka by Nicholas Day

Chickpea Bolognese

Chickpea Bolognese by inpatskitchen

Cold-Weather Soupe au Pistou

Cold-Weather Soupe au Pistou by Caroline Lange

Garlicky Smothered White Beans on Toast

Garlicky Smothered White Beans on Toast by Gena Hamshaw

Slow-Cooked Tuscan Kale with Pancetta, Bread Crumbs, and a Poached Egg

Slow-Cooked Tuscan Kale with Pancetta, Bread Crumbs, and ... by Alexandra Stafford

Weekday Chicken Tacos

Weekday Chicken Tacos by savorthis

Velvety Mushroom Soup

Velvety Mushroom Soup by lastnightsdinner

Sally Schneider's Slow-Roasted Salmon (or Other Fish)

Sally Schneider's Slow-Roasted Salmon (or Other Fish) by Genius Recipes

Lobios Salad (Spiced Kidney Beans with Herbs and Feta)

Lobios Salad (Spiced Kidney Beans with Herbs and Feta) by Kenzi Wilbur

Autumn Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette

Autumn Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette by Ali Slagle

Meen Moiley

Meen Moiley by Aysha | The Malabar Tea Room

Seafood Stew that Reminds Us of Portugal

Seafood Stew that Reminds Us of Portugal by drbabs

Weeknight Soy Sauce-y, Peanut-y Tofu

Weeknight Soy Sauce-y, Peanut-y Tofu by Nicholas Day

Jerk Pork Stew

Jerk Pork Stew by Madhuja

Fish Yassa

Fish Yassa by savorthis

Scallion and Coconut Rice with Pork

Scallion and Coconut Rice with Pork by gingerroot


Tags: michael pollan, weeknight, dinner, dinner recipe, easy dinner, easy