Chicken w/ Ziti and Broccoli

Overfed and Undernourished

For my 50th recipe post I thought I would share some insights from my new favorite book “In Defense of Food”.  This book has left me feeling violated, lied to and completely untrusting of government food agencies and food companies.  Michael Pollan has let the cat out of the bag about the Western Diet:

  1. A new study failed to find a link between a low-fat diet and the risk of coronary heart disease.
  2. The push to replace saturated fats with corn/soy products has backfired, as these trans fats are twice as bad and they are killing us.
  3. Western Diseases (obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer) are linked to the Western Diet of highly processed foods and refined grains.
  4. Cultures that do NOT eat the Western Diet, do NOT demonstrate the same chronic tooth decay and disease.
  5. In 1973, the FDA overturned a law from 1938 that required food companies to label foods as “imitation” (even if they are).
  6. To get Omega 3’s in eggs, they force hens to each flaxseed (fish oil).
  7. There are 17,000 new foods introduced each year.
  8. Don’t eat food your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize.
  9. Don’t eat food products that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than 5 in number or d) have high-fructose corn syrup.
  10. Food with health claims on them aren’t worth eating (a banana doesn’t come in a box with a sign “high potassium” on the front).

Chicken Ziti and Broccoli:

  • Drizzle some olive oil in a large pan. Chop and heat 1-2 cloves of garlic and heat in the oil.  Sprinkle a few red pepper flakes for extra flavor.  Note:  Use 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder if you prefer).
  • Salt/pepper and cut 4-6 chicken breasts into bite-size pieces and brown in the oil.
  • Boil pasta water and cook bite-sized broccoli florets in the water until cooked through.  Use hand strainer to pull out broccoli.  Reuse water to cook a little more than ½ pound of ziti (save some pasta water).
  • Add to pasta and broccoli to chicken in the pan.  Add about a ½ cup of half & half (or milk or chicken broth), ½ cup of parmesan cheese and a juice from 1/2 lemon and stir.  Sauce will thicken quickly.
    If using whole garlic, take it out now.
  • Add more salt/pepper if needed.
  • Stir.  Add a little pasta water if needed to thin sauce and serve with a little more grated cheese on top.

How Can the Kids Help?

  • Smash or peel garlic (after mom smashes to open).
  • Add EV Olive Oil to the pan (pour until you count to 3).
  • Help wash broccoli and cut into bite-size pieces (or tell Mom which pieces to cut).
  • Help measure chicken broth and parmesan cheese.
  • Roll the lemon to loosen juices and help squish juice in a bowl (get seeds out) or turn lemon upside down and let juice go through your fingers to catch the seeds.
  • Fun Folic Acid Coloring and Activity Pages:

Did You Know?

  • Chicken Ziti and Broccoli is a staple in Boston (especially in the North End) but is not nearly as common in Philly.
  • Crops are shrinking to a few “high-yield” varieties (e.g., half of all broccoli grown commercially in the U.S. is a single variety due to its high-yield).
  • The combination of eating broccoli and tomato together slowed tumor growth more than either one eaten separately.  Better check-out my Chicken Tomato-Broccoli dinner!

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