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Mark Bittman on Easy, Healthy Cooking -- Plus a Giveaway!

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We're sitting down with our favorite writers and cooks to talk about their upcoming cookbooks, their best food memories, and just about anything else.

Today, Mark Bittman, author of VB6, creator of the Cooking Basics app, and this week's Food52 Guest Editor, describes how home cooks can help solve the American food system's biggest problem. And, to make cooking even easier, he's giving away 5 downloads of his app!


As New York Times columnist and best-selling author of How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything VegetarianMark Bittman has made cooking accessible to millions of readers and has proven it's possible to cook flavorful foods with simple, healthy ingredients. 

In his latest book, VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health...For Good, Bittman provides even more tips for making everyday cooking feasible -- and enjoyable. In it, he outlines the "Flexitarian" diet, a semi-vegetarian meal plan that benefits the body as well as the planet. Read on to learn more about Mark Bittman's food philosophy, in his own words. 

You've recently become more involved in food politics. What do you think is the biggest issue that needs to be solved to improve America's food system?
I think radically altering the Standard American Diet (yes, it’s SAD) is the most important place to start. Changing the way Americans eat will affect industrialized food production, the healthcare system, even climate change. By eating large quantities of sugar and meat -- on average, Americans each eat more than 150 pounds of meat and poultry a year, something like three times the global average -- and by not consuming enough fruits and vegetables, we’re hurting our hearts, our planet, and our fellow beings. 

In your opinion, what's the biggest myth that keeps people from cooking?
That cooking is hard, which we know it’s not. In fact, I think most people who take the time to become used to cooking find it a welcome respite from the chaos of their lives. (Am I crazy?) People become intimidated by words like ratatouille or tagine, but they’re both basically one-pot dishes that I guarantee anyone can make. When people buy frozen meals and packaged goods because they think cooking will either be too time consuming or cost too much, they’re throwing their money away. In reality, you’ll end up eating tastier, healthier and cheaper meals if you’re cooking from scratch at home. Obviously not everyone can cook all the time, and it’s easiest if you have a cooperative spouse, or roommate, or kids, or whatever…but it can be done. 

It's lunchtime, you've only got 10 minutes to prep a meal, and it's got to be vegan. What do you make?
The fast answer is: salad.

But I generally have some kind of extra cooked grain lying around -- like bulgur, quinoa or rice. I often have beans, too. To that I add whatever veggies I have -- frozen edamame, carrots, broccoli, what have you -- and maybe some tofu. Toss that all in a pan with a bit of oil, some soy sauce, maybe some chile flakes, and you have a satisfying meal in under 10 minutes. 

More: Looking for satisfying, flavorful recipes that also happen to be vegan? Gena has you covered

Your cookbooks literally teach us how to cook everything -- but what types of cookbooks do you tend to buy for yourself? What types of recipes attract you? 
Those days are gone for me. I don’t want to get into complicated food, and I don’t really want to hunt around for ingredients. I’m pretty happy with the repertoire I have, actually. 

When guests arrive unannounced, what do you make for them?
They don’t. 

This week, Mark Bittman, is serving as a Guest Editor at Food52. He'll be choosing a Wildcard winneranswering your questions in a Twitter chat on Wednesday, and sharing a recipe each day.

We're giving away 5 downloads of Mark Bittman's Cooking Basics app. To enter, tell us about the best healthy one-pot dish that anyone can make -- we'll pick five winners at random by Friday, June, 28 at 3 PM EST

Tags: Vegan, Lists, 5 Questions