Words have a way -- some words more than others -- of slipping and sliding around over time. Take natural, as in "natural" foods. Twenty years ago natural usually meant whole-wheat flour, sesame seed, wheat germ, nutritional yeast and organ meats.

Now, for some, natural refers simply to organically grown, perfectly ripened vegetables and fruits. Or butterfat, for that matter; squash soup for four might include four cups of heavy cream, 2 tablespoons each of oil and butter, and half a cup of swiss cheese.

And who's to say who's right? Clearly, a food can be natural in one respect, but not in another. Organically grown wheat, for instance, can still be shorn, through refinement, of vital nutrients. A fresh tomato could well have been contaminated with parathion, which decomposes by the time it reaches the consumer, but is not good for the well-being of farm workers.

Perhaps a term other than natural might be more useful. For Mahatma Gandhi the keyword was "innocent." A food is not fit to eat if it harms the body, or if its production or consumption is at anybody's expense -- including the animal kingdom and the environment itself.

Vegetarian food, then, is innocent -- whole grain cereals and breads and locally grown, seasonal vegetables.

Here, the mealy sweetness of winter squash is a great foil for the sharp, "clean" flavor of greens in Golden Squash and Greens, and Cabbage Kuchen is a traditional German recipe -- unusual, highly satisfying.


(4 to 6 servings)

1 large butternut or other winter squash (about 2 pounds)

4 cups chopped kale

1/2 cup chopped scallions

1 tablespoon oil

2 tablespoons buttermilk

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon dill weed

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cottage cheese

Quarter squash and remove seeds. Steam or bake til soft. Peel and mash. You should have 2 cups mashed squash.

Steam kale to desired tenderness (some people would say 5 minutes, some 1/2 hour -- go by your preference). Saute' onions in oil in a small pan.

Combine buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, dill weed, paprika, salt, and cottage cheese in a blender; blend until smooth. Stir into onions and combine with squash and kale.


(6 servings)


2 onions

4 cups shredded cabbage

2 tablespoons oil or butter

1 cup yogurt

2 eggs, beaten (can omit 1 yolk)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon caraway seed


2 cups whole-wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

1 cup skim milk

2 tablespoons oil

For topping, slice onions thinly and saute' with cabbage in oil. Mix in yogurt, eggs, salt, pepper, and caraway seed.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Combine egg, milk, and oil and stir briefly into dry ingredients. Spread in a greased 8-by-8-inch pan. Spread with topping and bake for 35 minutes at 375 degrees.