For The Love Of Food

by | Jul 30, 2010

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week, the science behind why different diets work for different people, how the nutritional value of our produce is declining and why Coca-Cola is being sued for breaking the Jelly Bean rule. Also, new research about the role of personal relationships in health and another benefit of drinking alcohol.

Oh, and the BS of the week was so bad I deleted it. Didn’t want to waste your time when there were so many good things to read.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete reading list join me on the new Digg or StumbleUpon. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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Farmers Market Update: A Midsummer Day’s Dream

by | Jul 25, 2010
Star Squash

Star Squash

“And, most dear actors, eat no onions or garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath; and I do not doubt but to hear them say, it is a sweet comedy.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act 4, Scene 2), William Shakespeare

It is hard to imagine having anything but sweet breath after leaving the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market this weekend. I must have tried at least a dozen different varieties of pluots, and at least as many peaches and nectarines (my favorite this week).

Organic Yellow Peaches

Organic Yellow Peaches

Nectarines

Nectarines

There were strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Apricots and figs. Melons and tomatoes. All sweet as can be.

Organic Raspberries

Organic Raspberries

Even the greens looked tender and sweet. I couldn’t help but get some of this red kale from Green Gulch Farm. There is something amazing about fresh picked greens grown with care. They look so soft, yet crisp and nutritious.

Beautiful Collards

Beautiful Collards

Red Kale

Red Kale

I would have bought some of the beautiful collards as well if I had been able to resist the beautiful chioggia beets, whose greens came attached for free (here’s my favorite beet recipe). I also grabbed one of their tea bouquets. Yes, we have some seriously sweet breath up in here.

Fresh Tea Bouquet

Fresh Tea Bouquet

Chioggia Beets

Chioggia Beets

I’m very excited to see that midsummer is in full swing and the eggplants are finally worth noticing. And being the chiliphile that I am, I was delighted to find that the peppers are starting to heat up.

Green Hot Chili Peppers

Green Hot Chili Peppers

Rosa Bianca Eggplants

Rosa Bianca Eggplants

I noticed fresh green beans have appeared too (no wax beans yet).

And lastly, does anyone know what glacier lettuce is??

Glacier Lettuce

Glacier Lettuce

Fresh Green Beans

Fresh Green Beans

Today’s purchases:

What did summer bring you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Jul 23, 2010

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

I’m excited to announce this week the launch of my personal blog daryapino.com. It’s still very much a work in progress, and there’s a decent chance it may change a lot in the coming months. But since it is meant to be a more informal peek into my personal healthstyle (which I get asked about all the time (???)), I figure there’s no harm in announcing it at this point. There are a few posts up there now, including a review of Anthony Bourdain’s new book Medium Raw, to give you an idea of what to expect. Let me know what you think.

I found a ton of interesting links this week ranging from really cool scientific discoveries on the benefits of whole foods to frightening food safety issues and vegetable MRIs. I also found some proof that organic tomatoes are better for you than the tasteless kind.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete reading list join me on the new Digg or StumbleUpon. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

  • USDA Admits Link Between Antibiotic Use by Big Ag and Human Health <<The horrendous conditions that exist in industrial feedlots require the animals be given huge doses of antibiotics to  stay alive long enough to be profitable survive. This overuse of medicine creates superbugs, antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are becoming a serious problem in our very own hospitals. Solution seems obvious to me. (Huffington Post)
  • Good cholesterol may mean little for statin users <<Interesting new data showing that statin users get no extra benefit from having high HDL “good” cholesterol. I’m a little surprised by this, and will be following this research closely. (Medline)
  • Ten-Year Comparison of the Influence of Organic and Conventional Crop Management Practices on the Content of Flavonoids in Tomatoes <<Translation: Organic tomatoes are more nutritious than conventional tomatoes in a well-designed 10-year study. Why this research didn’t make the news is beyond me. But of course if a poorly designed study shows no difference in the nutrition of organic foods then it’s front page material (in science we call this a negative finding and it should require EXTRA proof). So I’m calling BS of the week on the lack of press here. (Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry)
  • A rose may be a rose but perhaps a calorie’s not a calorie <<Cool study showing that whole foods use more calories during digestion than processed foods, even when the meals have the same number of total calories and are almost identical. (Weighty Matters)
  • The Claim: Artificial Sweeteners Can Raise Blood Sugar <<Yes, yes they can. Artificial sweeteners have never been shown to have any value, and they also taste pretty bad. I vote for natural sweeteners with real calories. Just use them sparingly. (New York Times)
  • Why Toasting Dried Chiles Matters <<Cool experiment on the flavor added by toasting dried chilies before using them. I’m totally trying this. (Serious Eats)
  • Your Salad – Is the convenience worth the risk? <<This is a subject that has been bothering me a lot lately. Industrial lettuces have been getting E.coli and salmonella like crazy this year, so even vegetarians and generally conscientious eaters are at risk unless they buy produce directly from farms (which can be impossible for many people). I don’t know what to say except rinse your bagged salads well. (Marler Blog)
  • WTF Should I Do with All This Summer Fruit? <<Tips on freezing fruit so you have a stash come winter. (Chow)
  • Inside Insides <<One of the coolest geeky food blogs I’ve come across. They take MRIs of fresh produce!!
  • Tarragon Egg Salad <<I love egg salad, and am learning to appreciate tarragon. I declare this recipe on the menu! (Simply Recipes)

What inspired you this week?

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Great Thinkers: 10 Inspiring Quotes For Healthy Living

by | Jul 19, 2010
Universe in a magic Drop

Photo by h.koppdelaney

It always helps to start off the week with the right frame of mind. Huge thanks to Cathryn for sending in today’s guest post!

Cathryn Johnson is self proclaimed health-nut and a content writer for Online MBA Rankings who gives advice on the education, pursuing an online mba and living a healthy life. In her free time she enjoys travel, theater and having fun in the sun.

Great Thinkers – The Benefits of Good Health

by Cathryn Johnson

Many of us, when we think of weight loss, exercise and living a healthy lifestyle, we think like Mark Twain:

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.

We focus on the negatives. We think about how hard it will be and all that we will be missing. But the real joy and benefit of good health comes from focusing on the positives of health, what we gain through living well.

Here are ten quotes from great thinkers to challenge, motivate and inspire us to exercise, eat right and live healthier lives:

10 Inspiring Quotes For Healthy Living

1. Buddha (c. 563 BC to 483 BC) – a spiritual teacher from ancient India who founded Buddhism

To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.

2. Marcus Valerius Martialis (known in English as Martial) (circa 40 AD – 103 AD) – a Latin poet from Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula) best known for his twelve books of Epigrams

Life is not merely being alive, but being well.

3. Edward Smith-Stanley (1752-1834) – English statesman, three times Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness.

4. Paul Dudley White (1886 – 1973) – an American physician and cardiologist

A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.

5. Henry Ward Beecher (1813 – 1887) – a prominent, Congregationalist clergyman, social reformer, abolitionist, and speaker

The body is like a piano, and happiness is like music. It is needful to have the instrument in good order.

6. James Leigh Hunt (1784 – 1859) – an English critic, essayist, poet and writer

The groundwork of all happiness is health.

7. Francois Rabelais (c. 1494 – 1553) – a major French Renaissance writer, doctor and Renaissance humanist

Without health, life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering.

8. Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) – an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist and author

A healthy body is a guest-chamber for the soul; a sick body is a prison.

9. Persius (34 AD -62 AD) a Roman poet and satirist of Etruscan origin

You pray for good health and a body that will be strong in old age. Good — but your rich foods block the gods’ answer and tie Jupiter’s hands.

10. Menander (ca. 342–291 BC) – Greek dramatist, the best-known representative of Athenian New Comedy

Health and intellect are the two blessings of life.

What inspires you to live healthy?

 

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Farmers Market Update: Salad Time

by | Jul 18, 2010
Tokyo Turnips

Tokyo Turnips

At this time of year, salad might be my favorite food. I know, salad sounds boring. It sounds cold, tasteless and painfully healthy. The kind of healthy that no one really wants to be.

But in early summer health is the last thing on my mind when I choose to make salad. Truth is I just can’t wait to eat all the beautiful greens and fixings I find each week at the farmers market. Food like this is a treat, and probably not at all what you think of when you think of salad.

Any good salad starts with greens. The little gem lettuces, arugula, spinach, mizuna and even more untraditional greens like purslane.

Purslane

Purslane

Salad Mix

Salad Mix

Purslane is a succulent green that is supposedly high in omega-3 fatty acids. Personally I eat it for its lemony flavor and unique texture. It’s a great addition to any salad mix.

After greens I like to layer flavors and textures into my salads. Cucumbers from the farmers market are completely different from the flavorless, waxy beasts I remember from childhood salads.

Armenian Cucumbers

Armenian Cucumbers

I love the long, curly Armenian cucumbers, but you can also find Mediterranean cucumbers, lemon cucumbers and several other varieties I’ve never tried. Most don’t require peeling. If you don’t have cucumbers, raw sweet summer squash are delicious in salads too.

Zephyr Squash

Zephyr Squash

Lemon Cucumbers

Lemon Cucumbers

Turnips, radishes and carrots are particularly good salad additions in early summer, contributing a distinctive crunch and deeper flavor than the delicate lettuces and cucumber. If you choose good quality turnips and radishes, their greens can be added to your salad mix as well.

Rainbow Carrots

Rainbow Carrots

French Breakfast Radishes

French Breakfast Radishes

Summer tomatoes add both sweetness and brightness to salads, because of their relatively high sugar and acid content. For salads I prefer the deeply flavored heirloom varieties such as cherokee purple and brandywine varieties. Roasted peppers can serve a similar function.

Sweet Peppers

Sweet Peppers

Summer Tomatoes

Summer Tomatoes

To add substance I turn to foods that are higher in fat and protein, like avocados, nuts, eggs, grain or meats. Today I picked up some avocados and eggs from the farmers market. My favorite salad green of late is the chewy and rustic farro grain. If you haven’t tried it yet I highly recommend it.

I like to finish my salad with summer fruits and herbs. Any stone fruit is fantastic and pairs nicely with balsamic vinaigrettes. Figs are also delicious if you can find them.

Pluots

Pluots

Other things I loved this week include the Ruby grand nectarines from Frog Hollow and organic cauliflower.

Organic Cauliflower

Organic Cauliflower

Frog Hollow Ruby Grand Nectarines

Frog Hollow Ruby Grand Nectarines

Today’s purchases:

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For The Love Of Food

by | Jul 16, 2010

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

If you are certain milk is good for you, please read the Los Angeles Times article explaining why it may be time to reconsider. There’s also good news this week about the benefits of green tea, exercise, vitamin D and fish oil. I love good news!

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete reading list join me on the new Digg or StumbleUpon. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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Does Fruit Make You Fat and Old?

by | Jul 14, 2010
Mango Vendor in Bangkok

Mango Vendor in Bangkok

Several readers have asked lately about the impact of fruit–specifically the sugar in fruit–and it’s capacity to cause weight gain and accelerate aging through insulin signaling:

“Do people usually gain weight because of eating fruit and does the sugar in fruit age us?  I just hate to think that I am doing my body harm by eating fruit.”

If this question sounds insane to you, it shouldn’t. It is actually a very reasonable query that was sparked by two Summer Tomato articles, one about saving money while eating healthy and another on calorie restriction, aging and quality of life. In the first article I recommend thinking of fruit as dessert, a treat to be enjoyed once or twice per day. The second article is about the impact of sugar and calories on aging.

Body Weight

The fact is that fruit contains a lot more sugar than other natural foods and in large enough quantities it can contribute to weight gain. But fruit is certainly not bad for you, nor is it worse for your health than anything else in life.

The sugar in fruit contributes calories to your diet, but since you need calories to survive fruit is still a very good choice. The reason is that in addition to sugar (fructose, to be specific) fruit also has vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and many other things that contribute to health and possibly slow aging.

On the rare occasions when I do make an effort to lose a little weight, however, remembering that fruit should be dessert is something I keep in the back of my mind. I eat fruit every day, but when trying to lose weight I keep it under two servings and always choose whole fruit–avoiding anything blended or juiced. (Drinking calories is usually a bad idea.)

But this healthstyle tactic is not for everyone.

Why?

Unlike most people trying to lose weight, I already have a very healthy diet and fruit is one of the easiest places I can trim calories without feeling deprived. Cutting out things like fat and protein make dieting very difficult because you are always hungry. In my experience reducing unnecessary carbohydrates–especially sugars–is the easiest and healthiest way to lose weight.

But it is essential to remember most people are not overweight because they eat too much fruit and the vast majority of people would benefit from eating more of it.

Aging

The question about whether sugar causes aging is a fascinating one that I am very interested in.

Yes, in most organisms eating sugar has been shown to promote aging, but this has not been proven in humans. Sugar induces aging via the insulin signaling pathway, so therefore any food that increases insulin signaling could theoretically accelerate aging. The problem is that you need insulin to survive–those who cannot produce insulin have a disease called type 1 diabetes.

The good news is that eating a diet that minimizes insulin signaling is also the best way to lose weight and stay healthy, so if you are living a healthy lifestyle (one that includes fruit) you do not need to worry about anything else.

Although fruits have sugar, it is extremely unlikely that they accelerate aging. In fact, most evidence suggests that fruit slows aging because of its high levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

If anti-aging is your goal, fruit is your friend not your enemy.

For more on insulin signaling, check out my post at MizFit Online, When is a calorie not a calorie.

Conclusion

While fruits contain sugar, they do not pose a special threat to your health goals. Eat and enjoy fruits as a wonderful and delicious part of life.

How much fruit do you eat?

Originally published August 31, 2009.

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Summertime Farmers Market Checklist

by | Jul 12, 2010
Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

A harsh reality hit me this past Saturday. Believe it or not, I was woefully unprepared to bring everything I wanted home from the farmers market.

It wasn’t obvious to me at first. After all I had remembered to stop at the ATM for cash, brought with me my large market bag, and even had my trusty roll of plastic bio-bags to collect all the delicious summer greens (plastic is so 2008).

This was not a rookie farmers market mistake I made, this was more of a seasonal oversight. Dedicated farmers market shoppers (particularly fruit lovers) have a special concern in the summer that does not exist in the winter: soft produce.

Nothing is sadder than arriving home from the farmers market and finding your bags full of mashed plums and tomato sauce. If you purchase a decent amount of produce you are almost certain to have some fruit casualties if you rely on only one large market bag, even if you’re careful to place them at the top. The tender skins of summer fruit are simply too delicate to withstand any pressure, whether it’s from weight, neighboring produce or the sides of your market bag.

Losing produce is even more heartbreaking when you realize that those stone fruits and heirloom tomatoes could have easily cost upwards of $3.50 per pound.

Luckily there are ways to avoid this tragedy. I recommend a two tiered approach. First, bring a few stackable tupper containers. You want them to be big enough that they allow two or three fruits to fit comfortably inside without pressure from the lid, and without the fruits pressing too firmly against each other.

On the other hand, you don’t want the fruits rolling around inside the tupper. You can avoid this if you place the fruits inside the tupper while they are still inside their paper or plastic bag. Be particularly careful if any of the fruit or tomatoes you purchase have protruding stems, since these can puncture and ruin neighboring fruits.

It is also useful to bring a second, smaller market bag so you can keep your delicate produce completely separate from your heavier purchases. This will save you from worrying about what goes where in your bag and you can focus all your energy on finding the best produce.

Glance through this checklist next time you head out to your local summer market to be sure you have everything you need.

Summertime Farmers Market Checklist

1. Cash

Don’t count on vendors taking credit cards or there being an ATM nearby.

2. 2 Large farmers market bags

One bag to carry the heavy stuff, and another (it can be smaller) for your delicate fruits and tupper.

3. 2-3 Medium-sized tupper containers

Look for wider, flatter containers that can keep peaches and plums in a single layer, stems facing down.

4. Small biodegradable or green bags for produce

These are to carry loose greens and other produce.

5. Sunglasses

It’s summer, and bright out!

6. Camera

Farmers market produce is inspiring and the market changes every week. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to capture the beauty.

How do you get your soft produce home safe from the farmers market?

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Farmers Market Update: Ode To Summer

by | Jul 11, 2010
White Nectarines

White Nectarines

Dear Readers,

I know that many of you enjoy the farmers market and visit it regularly, and if this describes you I’m sure you already know what I’m about to write.

For those of you who like the farmers market but find yourself cooking up excuses each week not to go, it is time to talk yourself out of that habit. At least this once. If you’re ever going to make visiting your farmers market a priority, now is the time. This is the season when a taste of a simple plum can change your life (I got mine from Paradez Farms).

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

Pluot Slices

Pluot Slices

There are only a few weeks of the year when berries and stone fruits haunt the market simultaneously, when you can get sweet cherries and perfect peaches. Even the tomatoes now would never be mistaken for anything other than a fruit. At this time of year it is possible to win friends with salad (I’ve done it many times already).

Summer Squash

Summer Squash

Green Chard

Green Chard

Today I saw children begging their parents to buy foods that most of us grew up hating (beets!). And I even bought a bag of broccoli simply because it was so cute. That’s right, even vegetables are getting their moment in the sun.

Adorable Broccoli

Adorable Broccoli

Summer Beets

Summer Beets

(the garlic and onions are photogenic??)

Summer Onions

Summer Onions

Purple Garlic

Purple Garlic

An added bonus is the late summer produce is just beginning to arrive as well. Today I bought my first corn, and saw eggplants available at a few different stands.

Bodacious Yellow Corn

Bodacious Yellow Corn

Mission and adriatic figs are also available, and surprisingly sweet for this early in the season. I even spied a few melons hanging out today, though I was too busy cradling peaches and nectarines to get one home safely.

Mission Figs

Mission Figs

First Eggplants

First Eggplants

And for today’s Moment of Zen, I present: kohlrabi.

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

Enjoy the summer! And if you discover or learn to love anything new this year, please come tell us about it.

xoxox
Darya

Today’s purchases:

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For The Love Of Food

by | Jul 9, 2010

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Lots of interesting health and nutrition stories this week. I particularly love the piece about how exercise impacts cognitive performance, and the bits about the health benefits of grains. I’m not in the mood to focus on any BS this week, but if I did it would have certainly been the Monsanto court decision.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete reading list join me on the new Digg or StumbleUpon. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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