Farmers Market Update: Amnesia

by | Jan 31, 2009

collard leaf

First off, I would like to apologize for getting this post up so late. I brought my camera to the market today, but unfortunately it was missing its memory card.

So yeah, both my camera and I were experiencing memory dysfunction.

In a lot of ways being camera-free was liberating; my shopping was easier and less hurried. But I do regret not getting a picture of the cherry blossoms from Hamada Farms.

As an alternative to authentic farmers market pictures, today I opted to bring my purchases home and try out some new photo equipment I am experimenting with. This project took all afternoon, and the rest of the evening I spent editing and writing.

Please let me know what you think about these photos. I am considering using more images like this at Summer Tomato in the future. (Don’t worry, they won’t entirely replace my regular farmers market pictures).

I think the images of leafy greens are particularly cool because they look like dendritic arbors of neurons, which is what I work on in lab every day.

———-

Today the market was beautiful. It was calm and not at all crowded, but I could feel winter winding down. The sun was bright and almost warm.

At the stands there were only a few lingering winter squash and more delicate greens are springing up everywhere. Pomegranates cannot be found at all (new cereal topping ideas anyone?) and even the citrus selection is less diverse than it was a few weeks ago.

Spring is on its way!

Today’s purchases:

  • Trumpet mushrooms (Far West Fungi)
  • Romanesco (Dirty Girl Produce)
  • Ruby chard (Star Route)
  • Pink pomelo (Paredez Farms)
  • Naval oranges (Hamada Farms)
  • Blood oranges (Hamada Farms)
  • Meyer lemon (Hamada Farms)
  • Baby artichokes (Iacopi Farms)
  • Collards (Capay Organics)
  • Gold chard (Capay Organics)
  • Treviso (Capay Organics)
  • Kiwi (Four Sisters Farm)
  • Rosemary (Chue’s)
  • Italian parsley (Chue’s)
  • Garlic (Chue’s)
  • Espresso Temescal (Blue Bottle Coffee)

I would love to know what you think about my photos! And FYI, the scientific glassware is a pet project of mine, I didn’t get it at the farmers market….

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Body Fat Test: One Year Later (part 1)

by | Jan 30, 2009

This week my awesome gym (Bakar Fitness) was once again offering hydrostatic body fat testing courtesy of Fitness Wave.

I had my body fat and metabolic rate tested last year and thought it would be interesting and informative to go in for a one year follow up.

I also want to give you an idea of what to expect if you decide to “get dunked.”

(note: This is part 1 of a 2 part post. The first post focuses on the hydrostatic testing experience rather than my personal story. Come back next week for part 2).

“Hydrostatic” body fat testing is a lot like it sounds: you get weighed under water. The principle behind the method is that virtually all tissues in your body–bones, muscles, organs–weigh more than water. That is, everything sinks except fat. The density of fat is lower than other tissues and consequently, fat weighs less.

Using this knowledge you can calculate how much fat you have by comparing your weight inside and out of the water. The lighter you weigh under water compared to on land, the more fat you have. You can convert this into an exact body fat percentage by doing a little math. (Don’t worry, Fitness Wave does this all for you).

Calculations are even more accurate when you throw in measurements like height. For this test I even had my ankle size measured.

During the test you step into a tank of warm water (pictured to the right) and position yourself on a metal scale. You are instructed to blow out all the air from your lungs and submerge your head while the operator checks your weight. This process is repeated at least three times, and takes about five minutes.

The bottom line is that when packing your bag for your body fat test remember that you will get wet.

A bathing suit and towel are appropriate.

If it is January (or summer in San Francisco), you may also want to bring a change of warm clothes and sandals. When testing, the Fitness Wave trailer is stationed down near the loading docks between the Community Center and Genentech Hall at UCSF Mission Bay. You probably don’t want to walk from the locker room to the trailer in your bikini.

Hydrostatic Testing Checklist:

  1. Bathing suit
  2. Towel
  3. Warm clothes
  4. Convenient shoes
  5. Healthy dose of perspective

Packing your bag is not all the planning you need to do before getting a body fat test. As I explained last year, I also recommend you decide before you go about what you will do with this personal information. Determine beforehand whether or not you want to tell your friends what you are made of to save yourself from stress and awkward conversations later on.

Overall the testing was (once again) a great experience, and I highly recommend getting a hydrostatic test if you get the opportunity. I received a print out of my numbers and an email with more information the next day.

Next time I will reflect upon how my eating and workout habits have affected my body composition over the last year. Check back next week for all the gossip.

Keep up with Summer Tomato by using these links to receive posts via email or RSS feed. Email subscriptions require an activation step once you receive a confirmation in your inbox.

Click here to read Body Fat Test: One Year Later (part 2)

Have you ever had your body fat tested? Are you interested?

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UPDATE: Cheese-filled Bacon Blanket And Meat Cake

by | Jan 29, 2009

UPDATE: New York Times embraces the bacon blanket!

I saw this story a few days ago, but it is now the most emailed story in the New York Times Dining section so I have no choice but to update this post.

Apparently someone decided to take the bacon blanket to new heights by filling it not with cheese, but with more pork. (This pic is their work, not mine).

Is this the most brilliant stroke of genius of 2009?

This writer says yes.

———–

Here’s my original post:


I know I usually post wonderful, healthy recipes for you guys but sometimes it is just as valuable to see the opposite.

They call it a “Bacon and Cheese Roll,” but I think the name sells this creation short by not specifying that they actually weaved bacon slices together to form a bacon blanket.

Impressive.
Part of me believes this could actually kill you on the spot.
I mean, I love bacon and I love cheese, but I look at this and think only one thing:
Why?
And because there is no limit to the perversity of some imaginations, here is a three layer meat cake for your viewing pleasure. (Click the link to fresh99 for the recipe).
Let it be known that the frosting is mashed potatoes and the filling is ketchup and worcestershire sauce.
I can understand a nice steak every now and then, but a slice of meat cake?
Once again I have to ask…. Why?
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The Latest on Carbs, Fat and Weight Loss

by | Jan 29, 2009

A study published last week in the journal Obesity may make you question whether you really want to rely on the Atkins or South Beach diets to reach your New Year’s Resolution goals.

It is widely believed that low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets support weight loss in most individuals and indeed, there is a good amount of research to back this claim. Despite this, few studies have examined the after effects of a low-carb diet, particularly once normal eating is resumed.

In a new study, scientists had rats consume either a regular high-carb diet or a low-carb, high-fat diet for sixteen days. After this period the diets were switched and rats were maintained on the opposite diet for another sixteen days. Both diets included the same number of calories, so the only difference between the groups was the relative percentage of macronutrients.

As you might expect, while the rats were fed a low-carb, high-fat diet they lost weight compared to rats on a regular diet. Interestingly, however, despite this loss of body weight there was little to no loss of fat, and therefore the rats that lost weight had a relatively higher body fat percentage than the rats fed a normal diet.

The low-carb rats also had lower energy expenditure (exercise and calorie burning) than rats on a normal diet, and the decrease persisted even when the animals were returned to a normal diet. This is consistent with reports of exhaustion in humans undergoing very low-carb diet regimens.

Furthermore, animals that were temporarily put on a low-carb diet regained more weight than animals that were never fed a low-carb diet. This suggests that short term exposure to a low-carb diet increases risk of weight gain compared to no dieting.

Uh oh.

According to this research it is possible that a low-carb diet may actually cause you to gain weight in the long run. How very unfortunate.

But while these results are compelling, do not go stocking up on pasta just yet. First remember that these are rats, not humans. The way scientists change the composition of a rat’s diet is by giving them different pellets of bizarre lab food with various proportions of “nutrients.” This is not the way humans eat (assuming you don’t spend too much time in GNC), nor can it ever reflect a healthy human diet. It would be great if they could put the rats on a diet of seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fatty fish, but that is not the way animal research works. This is something to keep in mind whenever you hear about nutrition studies.

Also, nutrition research using rodents rarely distinguishes between the qualities of different macronutrients. For example, did the “high-fat” diet contain mostly saturated fat, trans fat, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats or all of the above? A similar question can be asked about the quality of carbohydrates, but it is difficult to imagine high-quality carbohydrates coming in pellet form. A huge body of scientific literature suggests that the quality of different macronutrients is far more important to health and weight than relative proportions of refined macronutrients.

Protein is another question mark in this study, which the authors acknowledge. The low-carb diet they used was not high in protein like a typical Atkins style diet. However, their findings were similar to studies that did use higher protein content and their animals were fed sufficient protein to maintain normal body growth, so the effect of protein on their findings is likely to be small. Their goal was to examine the effect of extreme carbohydrate restriction, and this was accomplished.

Regardless of this study’s imperfections, the results shine an interesting light on our current understanding of how relative proportions of dietary macronutrients effect body composition, long-term body weight and metabolism.

Have you experienced weight gain after going off a low-carb diet?

UPDATE: This article is also available at Synapse.

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High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contaminated With Mercury

by | Jan 27, 2009

I swear, it is too early for April Fool’s Day and this headline is not a joke. I wish it were.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy reports that two new U.S. studies have found detectable levels of mercury in 55 brand name foods made with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS, from three different manufacturers).

Mercury is a potent toxin that effects the brain and nervous system. It is particularly dangerous for developing children and is associated with learning disabilities and other neurological problems. Because mercury has a particularly long half-life in the human body, women of childbearing age should also avoid mercury.

What upsets me the most about this finding is that these are the kinds of products that are directly marketed toward children.

Maybe you have heard of some of these:

  • Quaker Oatmeal to Go
  • Coca-Cola Classic
  • Yoplait Strawberry Yogurt
  • Minute Maid Berry Punch
  • Hunt’s Tomato Ketchup
  • Smucker’s Strawberry Jelly
  • Nutri‐Grain Strawberry Cereal Bars
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup
  • Pop‐Tarts Frosted Blueberry

For the complete list of contaminated products, click here.

The author of one report is careful to point out that this is “just a snap shot in time,” because they only tested one sample from each product. I hardly find this reassuring, however, since their analysis was also limited to the handful of products they selected and does not tell us about everything else on the grocery store shelves.

At this point we have no way of knowing which products contain mercury and which do not. What we do know is that all of them contain high-fructose corn syrup and are products of our industrialized food system.

I’m starting to wonder, how many outbreaks and contamination scares does it take to screw in a light bulb? That is, the idea light bulb within our federal government that asks,

“Maybe we should take steps to improve the safety and nutritional value of our nation’s food supply?”

Crazy thought, I know.

Keep in mind we are not even talking about the colossal damage these products do to our health and economy without mercury.

Are fresh, natural foods that grow from the ground such a ludicrous alternative?

Please share your thoughts, this topic always baffles me.

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Farmers Market Update: Clouds

by | Jan 24, 2009


You know what’s great about gloomy weather? I get the farmers market all to myself! No crowds to shove through, no one grabbing lemons out of my pics before I can snap them.

Cold weather days when the tourists decide to stay indoors are the best days to take pictures and make friends at the market.

Oddly enough I ran into Alice Waters today at the Ferry Building–you know, Pol Pot herself. I didn’t take her picture or interrupt her activities; she seemed the be enjoying the anonymity as much as I was so I left her to herself. She was hanging out at Boulettes Larder, probably planning something amazing as always.

Today was also a “field trip” day at the market. I brought along my friends Adam and Emily to show them around, one of whom had never been to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market before. Though it is common for your first market trip to be a life changing experience, not having the huge crowds made our explorations that much more rewarding.

Another thing that made today particularly special is that for the first time in a while, Dirty Girl Produce had a big basket of baby savoy cabbages on display, the very same cabbages that inspired the birth of this blog. How quaint my blog was back then, just like these cute little cabbages. Awwwww.

I bought something called a Bears lime today at Happy Quail Farms. They couldn’t tell me much about what makes these limes special besides them having no seeds. My faithful internet wasn’t much help either. I’m beginning to think maybe this is a hybrid plant created at UC Berkeley….

(Oh wait, I think it is just a Persian lime with a misspelled name. These are probably Bearss limes, even though they are yellow. That just means they are riper.)

I purchased the rest of my citrus at Hamada Farms, because all the stuff I bought last week was out of this world.

Finally, I am really excited to report that Tierra Vegetables has an outstanding assortment of dried chilies and today I found a mixture to make harissa (I found a molé mix too). Harissa is one of my favorite things about Moroccan food, but it is not particularly easy to make from scratch nor is it readily available in grocery stores. I have been craving a Moroccan tagine from my favorite soup book, but have not made it because I was missing harissa. Now I have it!

As you can tell, it was an exciting day for me. I hope your day is just as full of discoveries!

Purchases:

  • Baby savoy cabbages (Dirty Girl Produce)
  • Dino kale (Iacopi Farms)
  • Romanesco (Eatwell Farms)
  • Daikon (Chue’s Farm)
  • Kiwi (Four Sisters Farm)
  • Melo gold (Hamada Farms)
  • Chandler pomelo (Hamada Farms)
  • Blood oranges (Hamada Farms)
  • Navel oranges (Hamada Farms)
  • Satsuma mandarins (Hamada Farms)
  • Clementines (Hamada Farms)
  • Bearss lime (Happy Quail Farms)
  • Harissa spice mix (Tierra Vegetables)
  • Soul Food eggs (Prather Ranch)
  • Pain Epi loaf (Acme Bread Co.)

Anything good at your market today?

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Anthony Bourdain Takes A Shot At Alice Waters

by | Jan 23, 2009

On Monday, January 19, the dcist printed an interview with celebrity chef and star of the Travel Channel’s No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain. When asked if he had any advice about food, Bourdain took the opportunity to point out that Alice Waters “annoys the living s***” out of him.

Really? Thanks, Tony, great advice.

Here is the excerpt (here is the link):

Any advice about food?

I’ll tell you. Alice Waters annoys the living s*** out of me. We’re all in the middle of a recession, like we’re all going to start buying expensive organic food and running to the green market. There’s something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic. I mean I’m not crazy about our obsession with corn or ethanol and all that, but I’m a little uncomfortable with legislating good eating habits. I’m suspicious of orthodoxy, the kind of orthodoxy when it comes to what you put in your mouth. I’m a little reluctant to admit that maybe Americans are too stupid to figure out that the food we’re eating is killing us. But I don’t know if it’s time to send out special squads to close all the McDonald’s. My libertarian side is at odds with my revulsion at what we as a country have done to ourselves physically with what we’ve chosen to eat and our fast food culture. I’m really divided on that issue. It’d be great if he [Obama] served better food at the White House than what I suspect the Bushies were serving. It’s gotta be better than Nixon. He liked starting up a roaring fire, turning up the air conditioning, and eating a bowl of cottage cheese with ketchup. Anything above that is a good thing. He’s from Chicago, so he knows what good food is.

I’m not sure where to start.

Clearly Bourdain understands neither the goals nor the motives of Waters’ political activities. No one is trying to legislate good eating habits. Well, maybe someone is, but it isn’t Alice.

Waters is one of a growing number of activists that recognize the government already has too big a hand in governing what we eat, specifically through controlling what is available. Currently the federal government (i.e. tax payers) subsidize the mass production of food and products known to cause heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

Decentralizing our food supply means putting our food production back into the hands of people who grow real food rather than high-fructose corn syrup and trans fat. Why this is “unrealistic” is beyond me.

His economic argument–as if Bourdain knows anything about being poor–is equally infuriating:

“We’re all in the middle of a recession, like we’re all going to start buying expensive organic food and running to the green market.”

It is a common misconception that eating fresh, seasonal food is prohibitively expensive. This is simply not true. Sure the produce at Whole Foods is pricey (you pay for what you get), but their dry goods are inexpensive and of high quality.

You know what’s expensive? Brasserie Les Halles.

Farmers markets are becoming more prevalent every year and local, seasonal produce is some of the highest value food you can buy. Cooking at home is far more cost effective (in price, long-term health and often time) than eating out.

Once again, thanks for the advice Tony.

Does Alice Waters annoy the s*** out of you too?

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10 Super Bowl Snacks That Aren’t All Bad

by | Jan 21, 2009

As much as I wish it weren’t true I know several people that consider the Super Bowl to be the biggest, most important holiday of the year. For most of us though, the Big Game is just another excuse to party.

The only problem is that at most Super Bowl parties, junk food runs the field.

If you have been following this blog you probably noticed that I am not the biggest fan of diets. But one thing I loathe even more than a regimented diet is diet food.

I mean, low-calorie egg rolls? What’s the point?

So I am not going to tell you to buy baked potato chips, unless of course you actually prefer them to the other kind. I am personally fond of Kettle Chips, but I eat them so rarely that if they are around and I feel like having a few I don’t worry about it. You shouldn’t stress out too much about things you enjoy.

On the other hand, you should clearly avoid putting down several bags of Kettle Chips (or anything else) on Super Bowl Sunday. But there are still a ton of delicious snacks you can enjoy during the game without doing too much damage to your health or physique.

Buy what you like, but try to choose most of your snacks from this healthy list:

  1. Tortilla chips – Despite my previous endorsement of fine potato chips, tortilla chips are probably a better option. They have slightly fewer calories, a little more fiber and, most importantly, have a better fat profile (more polyunsaturated and less saturated fats). These days you don’t have to worry as much about trans fat (hydrogenated oils) as you used to because it has been banned in several states, but it is worth checking the back of the bag to be sure.
  2. Salsa – As far as health goes, salsa is almost a perfect food. Tomatoes, onions, cilantro, limes and chilies are all great for you. Salsa is low in calories, has little to no fat or carbs and makes almost everything taste better. One way to improve store bought salsa is to use it as a base and add your own fresh tomatoes, onions and cilantro. It really makes a big difference.
  3. Guacamole – Although it is high in calories, this avocado-based dip is filled with monounsaturated fats that are both healthy and filling. Make your own to avoid all the extra weird ingredients added to the store bought kind. Just mash up some avocados, squeeze in some lime and season with sea salt and pepper. My secret is to add half a cup or so of the salsa I made—this is a tastier way to enhance the flavor than those mysterious powder mixes. If you finish making it and it is still bland, add more lime and/or salt. A small minced garlic clove can be a nice addition too.
  4. Cut vegetables – I am grossed out by those slimly little bullet-shaped carrots that come in a bag, but real fresh carrot sticks are fantastic. If you can, get your vegetables from the farmers market the day before. This time of year you can find carrots, celery, bell pepper, radishes and daikon. The flavors of market fresh veggies will astound you and elevate this otherwise boring snack food into something divine. What a difference a real vegetable makes!
  5. Nuts – Nuts are one of the easiest, healthiest snack foods out there. It doesn’t even really matter what kind you get, they all have their own benefits. As usual, I recommend going with premium quality if you are going to serve them solo. I am particularly impressed with the value of nuts from Trader Joe’s. They are about half the price of nuts everywhere else and taste even better.
  6. Tacos – If you are serving a meal to your guests then tacos are a great, healthy option. Grilled meats (or veggies) are pretty harmless in taco-sized quantities. Use the small little corn tortillas (keep them warm and soft by wrapping them in a clean towel and leaving them in a low temperature oven) and serve cut up tomatoes, onions, cilantro (pico di gallo) and hot sauce. Authentic Mexican tacos do not have cheese on them, so just skip it. Your friends will love you I promise.
  7. Fruit – Everyone loves a platter of fresh cut fruit. This time of year we have all kinds of citrus and apples to choose from. Kiwis are in season too if you are looking for something more exotic.
  8. Steamed artichoke – Artichokes are bursting with antioxidants, and serving them whole makes for a beautiful snack that a room full of people can enjoy. Cut off the top third of the leaves, trim the remaining pointy leaves with scissors, remove the stem and steam it upside down in a covered pot. After 20 minutes turn it with tongs so the leaves are pointing up. Drizzle with olive oil, Meyer lemon juice, chopped Italian parsley and sea salt, and steam for another 20 minutes or until the leaves are easy to remove. With this much flavor you don’t even need a dip.
  9. Hummus – This Middle Eastern dip is delicious and much healthier for you than your standard Super Bowl party fare. Serve it next to those cut up vegetables. My recipe is here.
  10. Cucumber water – Even if your guests are spending most of the day by the kegerator, it is in everyone’s best interest to stay hydrated. Slice up some cucumbers and add them to a pitcher of water for a simple and impressive refresher.

What are your favorite healthy Super Bowl snack foods?

UPDATE: This article is also available at Synapse.

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Healthy Lunch: Chicken Chard Soup

by | Jan 21, 2009

Since summer ended I have been searching for the perfect winter lunch to bring to work. I want something healthy, delicious and, given the season, warm.

Roasted vegetables are a pretty good choice, but I learned the hard way that they don’t quite have the long-term appeal of summer salads (i.e., I got sick of them really fast).

My latest experiment is soup.

Soup appeals to me for many reasons:

  1. It stores and transports easily and can be heated up in a minute or two in the microwave. This makes it a perfect food for the office.
  2. Almost any recipe can be turned into a soup, so you can enjoy cuisines from all cultures–you could eat soup every day for the rest of your life and never eat the same one twice.
  3. Soups are easy to modify, and hard to mess up.
  4. As many of you know, I have a lot of experience making soup.

I accepted the challenge.

The first place I turned was my faithful Splendid Soups, by James Peterson. I can’t imagine there is a better soup recipe book on the planet. Not only have I used it to make dozens of spectacular soups, but it has made me a better overall cook as well. This book is truly a treasure.*

I had several goals for my first soup:

First, I wanted it to be healthy and light, meaning it should have something green (e.g. chard) in it and be broth based rather than cream based.

Second, I wanted to use the whole chicken I bought at the farmers market. I don’t normally eat meat for lunch, but I had been wanting to experiment with whole chicken and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

I ended up modifying one of the vegetable recipes in the book to include chicken. Peterson gives detailed instructions on how to use chicken in any soup, so I simply followed his technique.

My soup turned out divine, but preparing it took longer than I had hoped.

Word of advice: Ask the butcher to quarter the chicken for you (unless you are planning on roasting it). This was only the second time I had quartered a chicken, and though it wasn’t very difficult it definitely cost me 20-30 minutes because of my inexperience. Oops.

Chicken Chard Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium chicken, quartered
  • 1 large bunch of Swiss chard, trimmed
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium sweet onions, diced
  • 2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 28-0z can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 4 cups (1 box) chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 0.5 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil

Heat some olive oil in a pan just large enough for the chicken to cover the bottom. Add the chicken skin-side down and cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes. Turn with tongs and cook for another 5 minutes, remove from heat and set aside. If at any point the chicken begins to burn, lower the heat.

Shred the chard by cutting out the stems (I like to leave a few in, but I cut them in half), stacking and rolling the leaves, then cutting them in thin, 0.25 inch strips. This is the same chiffonade technique we use on basil, sage and mint leaves.

In a 4-quart pot, cook onions, garlic and chilies in olive oil on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Allow the onions to become translucent, but not brown. Add thyme and cook 2 more minutes.

Add broth, water, tomatoes and chicken and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for 15 minutes or until the chicken feels firm to the touch. Remove chicken and set it aside to cool. Add chard to the soup and simmer 10 more minutes.

Remove chicken skins and cut chicken into bite-sized chunks. Return chicken meat to the soup, add parsley and simmer 2 more minutes. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and serve with crusty bread.

This soup will keep up to 5 days in a cold refrigerator.

*Note: If you decide to buy Splendid Soups (or any other item from Amazon), please consider using one of the links from this site and help support my blog. My favorite books and kitchen equipment are listed in the Shop.
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Should I Buy Whole Grain Pasta?

by | Jan 19, 2009
Pasta

Pasta

Is whole grain pasta really better for you than regular pasta? Recently I featured pasta puttanesca greened up with a little kale in the sauce. When one reader made this recipe at home, he opted to use whole grain pasta instead (I used a regular rigatoni).

But if I care about health so much why didn’t I use whole grain pasta originally?

You probably already know that I health-heartedly support the regular consumption of whole grains. But I also hold that there is a huge difference between intact grains and processed whole grains. So yes, brown rice is better for you than white rice, but pasta is different.

Noodles are made of dough and are therefore processed no matter what. For this reason they will never be a pinnacle of health food, but that does not mean that there can’t be a place for them in your diet. Italians eat pasta almost every day, and most of them are healthier than us. The important thing to think about when you are eating pasta–any pasta–is quantity.

So to answer the question, is whole grain pasta better than regular pasta? Maybe a little. But because I do not eat pasta very often, and because when I do eat pasta I eat a normal (aka small) portion, I always buy what I think will taste the best with meal. And for me, that is usually handmade fresh pasta (the soft refrigerated kind), not the whole grain stuff.

If you do not mind the taste of whole grain pasta, go ahead and buy it. It might be slightly better for you than the other kind. But the impact of whole grain pasta on your overall health is really small, so this is not a question to get hung up on.

Want a healthier Italian meal? Add more vegetables.

What is your opinion on pasta and health?

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