I had the distinct pleasure of having dinner last month with two of my favourite people: Daniel and Anna –Marie. I served a yummy stuffed zucchini, cut veggies and fantastic banana cookies and fruit for dessert. It sounds fairly simple and in some ways it was, but because Anna –Marie needs to eat a gluten AND dairy free diet, it was a little more challenging than usual to prepare this meal.
The zucchini was easy – I omitted the cheese on one of the zucchini boats and omitted the breaded topping. The veggies were eaten plain or with tzaziki, of which Anna-Marie could have a little. The cookies are gluten/dairy (and sugar) free – as long as you use gluten-free oats and no vanilla.
And that’s where I began to get an appreciation for the fact that if you have food challenges and you like to bake, you need to be rich. Gluten-free oats are a little bit hard to find and when you do, you pay through the nose for them. It also made me think – again – about the cost of eating healthy; not that eating gluten is necessarily unhealthy but I think you know what I mean.
Why is it that real food is more expensive than crap food? I’m not even talking about organic food – an apple of any kind typically costs more than a chocolate bar or a twinkie. A can of lentil soup costs more than a box of Kraft Dinner. A piece of salmon (wild or farmed) costs way more than a package of wieners. Isn’t there something wrong with that picture? Shouldn’t peaches be cheap and ramen noodles expenive?
I know that there are ways to eat healthy and economically – cooking and baking from scratch, making different choices, even eating less, for example – but I feel for people who have health issues or who are on extremely tight budgets and struggle to feed themselves and their families. It’s just wrong, isn’t it? I realize that there are economics involved here and that this is a complicated conversation – but food is a right, not a luxury, and as such should be affordable for all.
If you want to explore this issue more fully and you live near Abbotsford, I urge you to come see the exhibit Just Food – the right to food from a faith perspective at the Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford. It includes artwork from 18 artists – Canadian and international – who were given two human rights declarations and scripture texts from the Old Testament and asked to create two pieces of art based on these. It is a stunning exhibit. October 16th is World Food Day at 7 pm, MCC is hosting a panel discussion on this topic at the Reach, along with a guided tour of the exhibit.
In the meantime, I’d love your thoughts on all this!
Here’s my cookie recipe, which I got from the Vancouver Sun. If you’re concerned about gluten, buy gluten-free oats and omit the vanilla.
Go Bananas Cookies
1.5 really ripe bananas
2 tablespoons coconut oil, warmed
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup ground almonds
3 tablespoons finely shredded coconut (unsweetened)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup raisins, or chocolate chips or dried cranberries (I’ve used all three and I like cranberries the best. I think peanut butter chips would also be awesome.)
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mash the bananas and then mash in the vanilla and coconut oil, set aside. In another bowl, whisk together oats, almonds, coconut, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and raisins (or whatever you’re using.) Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until combined. The dough is very loose and does not hold together well, but don’t worry about that. I took a tablespoon of dough in my hand, gently formed a ball and squeezed it together as much as possible. Place 1 inch apart on a baking sheet. Bake for 14 minutes until bottoms are golden. Let cool for about 20 minutes to set. Makes about 15 bite-sized cookies.