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For The Love Of Food

by | Jun 29, 2012

For The Love of Food

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

This week, the final coffin nail for low-fat diets, how to get kids to eat healthier and the truth about food expiration dates.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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6 Tips For Not Regretting Your 4th of July BBQ

by | Jun 27, 2012
Blueberries & Raspberries

Blueberries & Raspberries

Holidays are for celebrating and are meant to be enjoyed, but you don’t have to sacrifice your health or beach body every time you attend a BBQ. These 6 BBQ survival tips can save you hundreds of calories you won’t even miss, and keep your health and fitness goals on track.

6 Healthy Eating Tips For Your 4th of July BBQ

1. Use small plates

Research clearly shows that people who choose smaller plates and utensils eat less without even noticing it. The difference can be as substantial as 50% fewer calories consumed, yet everyone reports the same level of fullness and satisfaction. Try borrowing a plate from the kids table or the dessert tray.

2. Eat slowly and mindfully

People who eat more slowly eat fewer calories over the course of a meal. BBQs are a perfect opportunity to pace yourself as you mix and mingle with friends and family. The more you’re chatting, the less you’re eating.

3. Eat healthiest foods first

If you are eating slowly and off small plates, you may as well fill up on the healthiest stuff first. Salads are a great place to start because watery vegetables slow digestion and have very few calories. Try to choose something with oil and protein as well, because these will help you feel full sooner.

4. Skip the chips, crackers and bread

Refined carbohydrates are the worst things you can eat because they offer little satisfaction, loads of calories and dangerous insulin spikes. BBQs are filled with wonderful food, so do yourself a favor and save your calories for the really good stuff.

You don’t have to eat your burger without a bun, but pass on the pointless chips and other snacks that lure you when you’re not thinking. If you’re feeling bored, grab a Frisbee instead.

5. Keep dessert small

The difference between a large slice of cake and a smaller slice of cake can literally be hundreds of calories. And to reiterate, sugar and refined carbohydrates are the most dangerous foods. You don’t have to pass on dessert completely, but keep your portion sizes in check for this course.

6. Think before you drink

There is a place for alcohol in a healthy lifestyle, but making smart choices can be the difference between losing or gaining weight (not to mention your self-control). One sugary margarita can have 600-800 calories. That means 3 margaritas is more food than you should be consuming in an entire day. Is that really worth it? Stick with wine or beer, drink plenty of water and remember to pace yourself.

Small tricks can save you hundreds and potentially thousands of wasted calories that you will never notice or miss. Why sacrifice a good time when you can just upgrade your healthstyle?

What are your favorite tips to eat healthy at a BBQ?

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Why I use the “S” word

by | Jun 25, 2012

Photo by Charlotte Astrid

In response to last week’s post How To Eat Dessert And Still Stay Skinny, I got an email from a reader asking why I use the word “skinny” when it undermines my message of health:

“I’ve been following your blog etc for a few months now. I love it and have shared your posts widely…. Unfortunately, your emphasis on being “skinny” really puts me off, not just in this article but in your bio and elsewhere in your writings.

To me, and folks in my world, to value “skinny-ness” is to encourage excessive — and often obsessive — emphasis on body size without regard to health. This dangerous message is everywhere in our society, and not consistent with the rest of your message. Do you see how this undermines your credibility — despite your academic credentials?

Please consider changing your language from “skinny” to “a healthy weight.”  I don’t think this is just semantic.”

This is a very important point, and I want to thank the reader again for bring up her concerns. Since I’m sure there are at least a few of you with the same question, I wanted to share my response:

“Thanks for writing, I really appreciate your input. I totally get your point, but there are a few reasons I make the word choices that I do.

First, I’d guess that given your stance the reason you enjoy Summer Tomato at all is that I actually do make a concerted effort to not use the words “skinny” or “thin” in the text of my articles, particularly when I talk about goals and motivation. (My bio is a different story, I was intentionally trying to illustrate the thoughts of a chronic dieter.)

But I do occasionally use these words in headlines. The reason is that one of the major categories of people I’m hoping to win over with my message is dieters. I want them to focus on being healthy and stop dieting.

The problem is, to get their attention in the first place I need to speak their language. The word skinny rings bells with these people and draws them in, and then my message is different from what they expect and that’s how changes are made.

The phrase “healthy weight” does not even come close to bringing in the click throughs as the word skinny, which I’ve seen in my Facebook and Twitter traffic analytics. I’m less interested in preaching to the choir then helping lost people find a new way to live.

Another important point is that I feel the phrase “healthy weight” has been greatly over-used and has come to mean something a little bigger than it should. Sadly, the latest statistics suggest many overweight people believe they are a healthy weight, simply because the average has been so skewed in the upward direction over the past 20 years.

Health is definitely my message, but I’m very careful to not let people off the hook just because they are the same size as their friends and family.

I’m walking a very tight rope with my message balancing health, weight loss and quality of life, and I’m acutely aware of the power of words. I hope you understand that to make the biggest impact I need to reach the people who need me the most, even if sometimes it comes off as less academic and more mainstream.

My hope is that I’m in a position to bridge these two worlds and get diet trends headed in the right direction again.”

To be clear, I read a lot of great blogs that do preach to the choir, and I share them here regularly.

But one of the best things about the Summer Tomato community is that it includes people from all walks of life, from young college students frustrated with their bodies to baby boomers and academics with more letters after their names than in them. We also have foodies trying to balance their love of food and need for health, and geeks just trying to get fit enough to beat their friends at Kinect.

Most people that come to Summer Tomato for the first time don’t know that the solution to all these goals is the same. My main mission here is to help people see that healthy habits (not dieting) is what makes you both thin and healthy, and provide you with the tools to create a healthstyle that works for you.

I hope one day these points will be obvious to everyone, but in the meantime my experience has shown me that the best way to capture someone’s attention is with the promise of looking great and eating amazing food.

I was happy to get a sweet reply back from this reader signed,

Even a bigger fan than before,


What do you think about the “S” word?

Originally published May 30, 2011.


Farmers Market Update: Burgundy, France

by | Jun 24, 2012

Wild Asparagus

Elyse Kopecky is an Oregonian living, working and playing outdoors in Geneva, Switzerland. She’s a passionate foodie lifestyle blogger who enjoys inspiring friends to live fresh. Follow her adventures in the kitchen and on the trail at and @freshabits.

Farmer Market Update: Beaune, France

by Elyse Kopecky

Beaune is a historic ville surrounded by vineyards and small organic farms spread across rolling hills. It’s known as the wine and gastronomic capital of the Burgundy region, and for good reason. The tiny town comes alive on Saturdays with an impressive local food market featuring specialties from the Burgundy region.

Beaune Market Square

I have a passion for farmers markets (borderline obsession) and often drag my husband to obscure places just to check out the local market. I first fell in love with Beaune in March when my husband and I planned a fun Burgundy-wine-and-cooking weekend excursion to celebrate our 7th anniversary.

Buying Vegetables

My husband and I returned for a second visit this June. Our trip was well timed. The bountiful spring harvest had begun, and the stands in the market were packed with an array of colorful fruits and vegetables. I loved all the variations of fresh berries, including wild sweet strawberries, tart currants, blackberries, and cherries.

Wild Berries

Wild Berries

The Beaune farmers market takes over a historic square in the heart of the walled old town and overflows into the surrounding cobbled side streets. Within the square there is a well-worn covered food market where you’ll find the butchers, artisan cheese makers, and fishmongers setting up shop.

Market Crowd

Don’t be alarmed that the meat actually resembles the animal, meaning the chickens, ducks, and pigs still have their endearing heads attached. That’s how the French spot quality and freshness.

Outside, the square is packed with rows of tables where the farmers sell everything from seasonal produce to olives, dried herbs, cured meats, farm-fresh eggs, crusty baguettes, creamy honey, hand-pressed oils, freshly picked flowers, and of course Burgundy wine (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the specialties of the region).

Cured Meats

One of my favorite stops was the stand of a young organic farmer from the Ferme duJointout, where they grow a rotation of seasonal vegetables and raise grass-fed goats and sheep. By the time my husband and I got to the Jointout stand, all that remained were a small selection of cheeses and a few bouquets of herbs, spring greens, and lettuces. With dirt from his farm caked beneath his fingernails, the young farmer looked as if he had arrived at the market straight from the field. A sure sign of farm-to-table!

Organic Farmer

I bought one of his last heads of deep purple romaine lettuce and my favorite chevre frais (goat cheese). The chevre frais was the first item we polished off when we arrived back at our home in Geneva. The Jointout artisan cheeses are so fresh and creamy that they alone are worth driving to Beaune to discover.

The French are serious about their food. They will happily talk about their produce, where it comes from, how it was grown, and how best to prepare (cook in butter, top with cream of course!).

Chanterelles Mushrooms

Chanterelles Mushrooms

Burgundy is proudly a leading region for organic food (called agriculture biologique) and most of the surrounding farms open their doors to visitors (you can buy half a lamb directly from the farm). Although, you do have to be careful that you’re buying from the “producers” and not the “traders,” just as you have to be in any market in Europe, but the traders are fairly easy to spot because their stands are usually full of bananas and pineapples, items clearly not native to France.

Organic Radishes

I made my way up and down every aisle and easily filled my basket to its brim. Luckily I had my husband tagging along to carry the load.

The Bounty

Here’s what we purchased:

  •  wild strawberries
  • cherries
  • blackberries
  • charentais melon (French variety)
  • baby potatoes
  • green dried lentils
  • wild asparagus
  • romaine lettuce
  • rhubarb stalks
  • coeur de boeuf tomatoes
  • sunflower honey
  • chevre frais
  • whole grain baguette
  • Burgundy Pinot Noir

Thankfully, Beaune is an easy two-hour drive from Geneva. My husband and I are already planning a return visit during the fall harvest. You can read more here to explore the impressive organic farmers and winegrowers in the Burgundy region.

Bon app!

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For The Love Of Food

by | Jun 22, 2012

For The Love of Food

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

Sorry this is a bit late today, I’m on the road and neither my flight nor my hotel last night had functional internet?! Starbucks, of all places, saved the day.

This week a new perspective on salt, new information on GMO foods and a brilliant strategy for getting drugs out of our meat.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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How To Eat Dessert And Still Stay Skinny

by | Jun 20, 2012

Photo by E.Baron

Cutting processed foods and refined sugars out of your diet is arguably the most important dietary change you can make to improve health and lose weight. But will one slice of birthday cake inevitably tighten your pants and cut your life short?

Not necessarily.

Quality of life is hard to measure, but it certainly involves some balance between good health and hedonistic enjoyment of things that might not be perfectly healthy. The question is how we find this balance for ourselves, and how do we make sure our behavior helps us keep that balance?

The answer, of course, will be different for everyone. Competitive athletes have higher physical demands for maintaining ideal health than, say, a scientist. And I’m not a fan of watering down my favorite foods—especially desserts—with “healthier” ingredients. But there are a few general guidelines that can help the majority of us live a little without constantly fighting the battle of the bulge.

9 Tips For Dealing With Dessert

1. Eat dessert once per week or less

As a general rule I try to keep my dessert consumption to once per week or less (it is often less). A larger person may be able to get away with a bit more, but setting a weekly maximum can help you keep tabs on your sugar consumption. If you are actively trying to lose weight, aiming for once every two weeks or less is ideal.

Sugar is problematic for several reasons. Most of you probably realize by now that excess sugar causes rapid blood sugar and insulin spikes that force extra calories to be stored as fat. Over time these spikes will alter your sensitivity to insulin, negatively impacting your metabolism and risk of type 2 diabetes. Extra insulin signaling is also associated with heart disease, high blood pressure and accelerated aging.

The less refined sugar you eat the better, but assuming most of us aren’t willing to give it up completely it is helpful to have a weekly maximum to keep consumption in a reasonable range.

2. Pick your occasions

Once you decide to budget your sugar consumption, it is time to start choosing your priorities.

Is your weekly group meeting at the office (the one where there’s always doughnuts) really a special occasion? In other words, is that stale chocolate doughnut you wolf down while half asleep really worth the extra workout or skipping dessert with your kids this weekend? Probably not.

If you think about it, there’s a good chance you don’t even enjoy that doughnut as much as you assume you do. And we both know you’ll feel horrible after eating it anyway. So why do you believe that you want it?

When you stop and really think about your food choices, you’ll often find that many of them come from conditioning rather than true preference. But just because 12-year old you liked low-quality sweets doesn’t mean the adult you has to continue eating them.

Save desserts for the times that are really worth it, and realize you aren’t missing much by skipping the Costco brownie bites.

3. Don’t eat dessert alone

Special occasions are moments of celebration you share with people you care about. One of the wonderful things about life is these moments happen all the time. Our weeks and months are perpetually marked by birthdays, weddings, promotions, vacations and a million other reasons to celebrate. Use these special times as cues for when to indulge.

On the other hand, there is nothing particularly special about sitting alone on your couch watching TV. Try to get out of the habit of eating dessert alone, especially if this is something you rely on for comfort. If you just want something sweet, try having a piece of fruit or some herbal tea instead.

I recommend not keeping any pre-made desserts in the house at all. Why torture yourself?

4. Know dessert when you see it

If you’re eating dessert several times a day but only think you are eating it once or twice per week, none of these rules are going to help you maintain your health and physique.

I’ve written before about the hidden sugars in common foods such as sandwiches, salads and fruit yogurts. There are clearly benefits to eating a salad, but syrupy dressings contribute to your sugar intake whether there is lettuce around or not. Overly sweet non-dessert foods make it more difficult for you to enjoy real indulgences without consequences.

Be aware of the sugar content in the foods you eat and actively try to minimize it in the bulk of your diet (i.e. choose sandwiches without teriyaki or BBQ sauce, salads with savory (not sweet) dressing, cocktails without juice or syrup, and plain yogurt).

If you’re eating healthy and minimizing sugar 90+% of the time, your waist will hardly notice the occasional birthday cupcake.

5. Little indulgences count

Just as you cannot ignore the 27 grams of sugar in Yoplait yogurt, you can’t grab 2 or 3 pieces of candy every afternoon from the bowl in the office without it adding up.

Be aware of the little cheats you make throughout the week and don’t kid yourself about their impact. If you decide that the work day is just too hard to get through without these, that’s fine. But you aren’t doing yourself any favors by pretending they don’t exist. Remember to count them in your mental dessert tally and keep it in mind when you’re looking lustfully at your grandma’s homemade apple pie and wishing you hadn’t had so much sugar this week.

6. Choose quality over quantity

If your goal is to limit your sweets but you don’t want to feel like you’re missing out, make sure your choices emphasize quality over quantity.

A few bites of good quality dark chocolate is infinitely more satisfying than a handful of Hershey’s kisses. Desserts can rack up 25-50 calories per bite. Get the most bang for your buck by picking foods with actual flavor and not just extra sugar and salt.

Hint: This tip should also help you stick to tips #2 and #5.

7. Go splitsies

Half a dessert is 100% better for you than a whole dessert.

If you really really want to try one of those cookies your co-worker has been bragging about for months but have already had your ice cream this week, try taking only half of one. Better yet, find someone to split it with you so you aren’t tempted to finish it. If it’s that good, a few bites should be plenty satisfying.

8. Resist peer pressure

Some people take a special pleasure in encouraging others to do things they know are bad for them. These people also tend to be good at recruiting others to join in their banter.

Be prepared to get nagged occasionally for not wanting to eat foods that aren’t worth it. But if you have decided in advance to stick to desserts you know taste better than what your friends are pushing, it really isn’t that hard to ignore them.

Who’s really missing out here?

9. Use the gym

Despite our best efforts, we all eat too much dessert every now and then. This isn’t good, but it isn’t the end of the world either.

When this happens to me I use it as an opportunity to amp up my workout routine. By far my best runs are on days when we have birthday cake in lab–I feel like I can run for days with all my extra energy.

Your muscles use sugar as fuel, so use it up while you can and give your metabolism a little boost (having a little extra blood sugar and insulin around when you’re exercising can actually improve your metabolism) and prevent those spare calories from being stored as fat.

You’ll probably feel better after working it off too.

How do you deal with dessert in your healthstyle?

Originally published March 31, 2010

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I Love You Mom, But You Suck At Cooking Vegetables

by | Jun 18, 2012

Photo by Telephone Melts

A strange thing happens to some people after their first few experiences with perfectly cooked farmers market vegetables. It is not always easy to admit, but after awhile you might find yourself thinking that the veggies you grew up eating were, ahem, pretty horrible.

It is common for people of both my generation and my parents’ generation to have been raised on frozen spinach, canned beets, over-steamed carrots and boiled broccoli—foods that would make anyone with taste buds pick up their fork and run to the nearest steakhouse.

Is it any wonder that vegetables rarely rank on anyone’s favorite foods list?

Unfortunately, sometimes these negative early experiences can create life long food aversions that could have been avoided with a little extra TLC in the kitchen. They also help propagate the unhealthy eating habits that are now so common in America.

But our exposure to bad vegetables isn’t really Mom’s fault. Over the past 50 years America has been seduced by the allure of convenience. We’ve come to believe that meals come in packages and cooking is too hard and time consuming to bother with. We rely on supermarkets for our fruits and vegetables, which we expect to be the same year round.

The watering down of our food culture is directly responsible for our vegetables losing flavor (they are bred for shelf life, not taste) and us losing our ability to make them palatable. As a result vegetables have become an afterthought, something we eat from guilt and obligation, not from love.

But the good news is that this trend is reversing. People are starting to understand that where food comes from is important and has a tremendous impact on how it tastes. We are learning that it is worth it to go out of our way and spend a little extra money (at least occasionally) for the best ingredients. Restaurants are beginning to pride themselves on serving locally sourced foods–it is no longer uncommon to see farm names printed next to ingredients on menus here in San Francisco.

Focusing on quality ingredients and real foods is forcing us to reexamine cooking as well. I remember how surprised I was the first time I realized that instant oatmeal only saves about 3 minutes compared to real oatmeal and that sautéing fresh spinach is easier than making a bag of the soggy frozen kind. Not only are we starting to understand that taste is worth sacrificing a little convenience for here and there, but also that the inconvenience we feared isn’t as big a deal as we might have guessed.

But not everyone has been converted quite yet.

Learning to shop for and cook seasonal foods does involve a learning curve, and the first steps are always the most difficult and intimidating. (These aren’t exactly skills we pick up in school or learn in our daily lives.) To get and cook real food requires finding local farmers markets and knowing how to work a stove, for starters. Since farmers markets don’t usually run daily, a bit of foresight and planning are necessary if you hope to make it a part of your weekly routine. Working a stove demands some basic understanding of how food reacts when heated.

One of the reasons I wrote Foodist is to show you that these things aren’t actually as difficult as they may seem at first. And once you acquire just a few basic cooking skills—stir fry in olive oil, oven roasting, basic grain and legume preparation—expanding your culinary repertoire to include dozens of your favorite dishes isn’t much of a stretch.

One of the perks of starting with great ingredients is that messing up a meal is much more difficult than it is when you start with low-quality ingredients and rely on additional hacks and seasonings to mask the lack of flavor. Bad vegetables are almost always either over-cooked or under-salted, so if you can get these right you are most of the way there. Just a few extra seasoning tricks like garlic, chili flakes or lemon zest can elevate almost any green vegetable into something worth building a meal around.

Cooking vegetables well is neither an art nor a science. Learn to prepare a few of your favorites well, then branch out from there. Then next time you visit your parents, maybe you can volunteer to cook dinner and show them how broccoli is supposed to taste.

Have bad childhood memories turned you off to any foods?

Modified since originally published on March 8, 2010.

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Tips To Keep Produce Fresh

by | Jun 11, 2012
spring vegetables


“How do you store fruits and veggies so they don’t go bad? It seems like I can never keep things fresh…”

I employ several different strategies to keep my produce in good condition until I’m ready to eat it. Here are my tricks for buying, cooking and maintaining the freshest fruits and vegetables.

Shop Regularly

Although it is probably self-evident, I think it is important to state that the freshest vegetables are the ones you bought today. They are even fresher if you get them at the farmers market (picked yesterday) rather than a grocery store that imports produce from around the world. In order to keep fresh vegetables and fruit in the house and eat healthy, you must shop for produce and groceries at least once a week.

Download my free guide for more tips on How To Get Started Eating Healthy.

Shop Strategically

This is my true secret to keeping food fresh. Different foods have different shelf lives, and you can take advantage of this fact when planning your meals for the week. Always make sure you buy a few robust vegetables for your Thursday and Friday night dinners (or try to schedule your restaurant dates for later in the week).

Cruciferous vegetables (both leaves and roots) store the best and can last well over a week in the crisper. Examples of cruciferous vegetables are broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, chard, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. Root veggies include carrots, beets, parsnips, sunchokes and potatoes.

Summer squash can last for many days in a dry plastic bag in the crisper, and winter squash can last weeks on a shelf. Eggplant has a shelf-life similar to summer squash and can be stored in the same manner. I’ve heard eggplant keeps even better outside the fridge, but I’ve never tried.

Delicate vegetables like lettuce, spinach and other spring greens are not as robust and should be eaten more quickly. Juicy fruits like berries, stone fruits and even tomatoes are more time sensitive and should be incorporated into meals earlier in the week.

Cook Intelligently

Having a rough idea of what meals you are going to make during the week can help you keep veggies fresh in several ways. In addition to planning your dishes around which vegetables last the longest, you can also prepare large batches of food early in the week then freeze or refrigerate the leftovers to eat later.

Avoid over-shopping by buying ingredients to use in multiple different dishes, rather than buying extra items for vastly divergent menus. For example, rather than purchasing red peppers for a stir fry and radishes for a salad, you can skip the radishes and add your extra pepper to your salad instead.

When buying herbs, I like to get one bunch of Italian parsley (it keeps a long time and is incredibly versatile) and only one bunch of a more delicate herb like thyme or cilantro. With this strategy you can explore recipes of different cuisines that utilize similar ingredients. For instance, if I have cilantro I may make Mexican food one night and a Vietnamese dish another night. Both incorporate fresh vegetables and herbs, but the flavor profiles of these cuisines are entirely different.

This is where it comes in handy to have a well-stocked pantry–go beyond the basics and learn to work with ingredients like fish sauce, coconut milk or quinoa. This is a great way to delve into a cuisine and explore different flavors.

Store Properly

Proper food storage can also go a long way in keeping your produce as fresh as possible. Generally speaking, most vegetables maintain their crispness best in the aptly named refrigerator compartment, the crisper. Crispers have different humidity settings than the rest of the fridge and are optimized for vegetables.

I find that leafy greens and herbs keep best in dry plastic bags or tuppers. When you get home with a large bag of salad greens from the farmers market, rinse them clean and spin them in a salad spinner. Let them sit out for an hour or so to completely dry, then put them in large tuppers to store for the week. With this strategy the crisper is not necessary.

Most fruit (including tomatoes) I keep outside the refrigerator to protect the taste, but berries are an exception. I have had fantastic luck using a reader’s suggestion to keep berries in a jar or tupper with the lid closed tight. I always put my berries away immediately after getting them home, trying to handle them as little as possible to keep any mold or bacterial spores out. I try to roll the berries into their new container without actually touching them with my hands. I buy berries much more often now :)

Revival Techniques

Sometimes despite your best efforts you end up with a wilted head of lettuce or a floppy bunch of basil. But if wilting is your only problem and the plant looks otherwise edible (still green and free of mold), all is not lost!

The reason plants wilt is they lose water from their cells to the environment through osmosis. But the osmotic properties of leaves can be used to your advantage. You can revive wilted greens by submerging them in a bath of cold water for 30-60 minutes, which replenishes the water in the leaves and allows them to regain their crispness! It is astounding how much they will perk up.

I learned this trick from a friend and fellow scientist–one of the many advantages of being a little nerdy.

Mold is another issue when storing fruits and vegetables, but you can sometimes salvage a batch of food if you catch it early and carefully remove all traces of it to keep it from spreading to the rest of your produce (this may involve finding a new container for the uncontaminated portion). Remember, mold is a living, growing thing that breeds more of itself. Keeping foods in sealed containers and touching them as little as possible with your hands can help control it.

Finally, fruits produce gases that cause neighboring fruits to ripen more quickly. If you have something that is perfectly ripe or over ripe, you may want to keep it away from the rest (unless of course you want the nearby fruit to ripen faster). Likewise, keeping fruits in bags will trap the gases and cause them to ripen more quickly.


With a few tricks and a strategic plan it is possible to keep fresh fruits and vegetables in the house for an entire week. Beyond that it is a little tough if you want your food to be truly fresh.

How do you keep your veggies fresh?

This article was originally published June 22, 2009.

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For The Love Of Food

by | Jun 8, 2012

For The Love of Food

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

This week learn who really tells us how much soda we should drink, why there’s something besides fructose that makes it bad for you and the search for the ideal amount of exercise.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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My Weekly Workout

by | Jun 6, 2012

Food is by far my favorite thing to write about, but exercise is another essential component of my healthstyle and many readers have asked me to share my weekly routine.

To be honest, however, I have avoided posting my workout regimen for several reasons. First, I am not a trainer and this is in no way intended as a training program for anyone. These exercises are just what work for me and you should not assume they will work for you as well. I also worry that some fitness snobs will come out of the woodwork and accuse me of doing everything wrong, a criticism I have no interest in refuting or discussing.

That being said I have been a consistent gym goer for the past 18 years and feel very comfortable in the weight room.

My routine has changed over the years, but I am very happy with my current fitness level. At 30, I feel confident saying I’m in the best shape of my life and it feels awesome.

A few points to start:

  • I work out 3-5 days a week and start every session with half hour of cardio. The only thing that keeps me out of the gym is scheduling conflicts. I love exercise.
  • I almost always workout with a partner–a male nearly double my size–and our workouts are approximately the same (obviously using different weights).
  • We rotate cardio equipment between treadmill (either running or brisk walking at a steep incline), stationary bike and elliptical machine, trying not to repeat the same exercise 2 days in a row.
  • For strength training we focus on 2 or 3 muscle groups per day, and try to get through all the major muscle groups twice in a week (but I’ll settle for one time per week if that’s all I can fit in).
  • I do an abdominal workout every time I’m at the gym, rotating through a few different exercises throughout the week.
  • I always wear gloves when I weight train to avoid callousy man hands. (BTW, these aren’t hot on men either). They also make me look tough while I’m lifting.
  • I try to do my lifting slowly and controlled in both directions of the movement. But sometimes I forget.
  • For most of these exercises we use free weights, but once every week or two we’ll use the machines to mix it up.
  • In addition to my weight training sessions, I make an effort to walk extensively each day. According to my Fitbit pedometer I take between 8,000 and 17,000 steps per day (this includes my workout). This is intentional and I do it for both stress relief and fitness purposes.

On any given training day we do two or three of the following sets of exercises after our cardio workout. If we anticipate being able to workout every weekday, we will use the last two days of the week to push harder and complete the entire set in just 2 days.

Muscle Groups


My shoulder workout consists of shoulder presses and lateral raises in a superset (each exercise back-to-back, then rest). I do 3 sets of ~12 reps using dumbbells.


My only bicep exercise is dumbell curls. I alternate each arm and do 3 sets of 20. I superset my bicep workout with lunges, still holding the dumbbells.


I do tricep workouts on the cables using the rope attachment. We do supersets of bent-over tricep extensions and tricep push downs.


I use specific cable machines for back exercises. We superset cable seated rows and cable pulldowns, usually 3 sets of ~12. For lower back I do lifts using the Roman chair, usually holding a single 10-pound barbell weight to my chest.


For chest we superset bench presses (I just use the 45-pound bar) and flies using dumbbells. For these I’m happy to get through 3 sets of 10.


I’m not fond of the quadricep and hamstring equipment at my gym (my partner uses them), so I only use the machines for V-squats and hip extensions. I do 3 sets of 20, and superset if the gym isn’t too busy.


Each day we rotate between the various abdominal equipment we find in the gym. This usually includes hanging leg raises, incline crunches and a few others.

Final Thoughts

As a female I was reluctant to begin almost every one of these weight training exercises, besides abs.

Nervous, I started with biceps and triceps, then shoulders and back. I gave myself a 6-month trial period and said if I thought I was getting too “bulky” at that point I would stop. The opposite happened and I became more adventurous in the weight room.

Six months later I reluctantly worked chest exercises into my routine and was again pleased with the results. I only recently started my leg workouts and, again, was blown away by the unexpected awesomeness of the transformation.

I became stronger, thinner and my clothes looked better after each exercise I added to my regimen. From my perspective, strength training is infinitely more rewarding than running marathons.

Has weight training helped you reach your health and fitness goals?

Originally published April 14, 2010. Little has changed in my routine and I’m still kicking ass and taking names.

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