It’s my birthday, and I only want one thing…

by | Nov 18, 2013

Photo by Will Clayton

I’ve never been one to make a fuss about my birthday. Honestly, it was rarely an option.

As someone who spent far more of her life in school than she cares to admit, it didn’t take long to realize that the week before Thanksgiving usually meant only one thing: midterm exams.

Somehow champagne, parties, presents, and birthday cakes rarely percolated to the top of my to-do list on the day of my birth. (Well maybe champagne, but not usually until after school got out for the holiday.)

Now that I have more freedom in my schedule I decided to ask myself: what would I really want to spend time doing if it were entirely up to me?

I realized that since I spend so much of my time thinking and writing about how to help you solve your health problems, what I would really love is to know how it is working for you guys in your daily lives.

This year for my 34th 29th birthday my wish is to hear about any of the successes you’ve had as a result of my work here at Summer Tomato, or in Foodist.

Have you lost weight? Lowered your blood pressure? Learned to cook? Convinced your kids to eat cauliflower? Reached one of your dreams?

I would love to hear your stories and triumphs, if you’d be willing to share. Not only will hearing from you totally make my year, but I’m sure others will gather inspiration and motivation from your success as well.

If you wouldn’t mind, please tell me in the comments any way I have helped you get closer to your ideal awesome life. If you’d like to share but are feeling a little shy, I’m asking the same question of my monthly newsletter subscribers, and the replies there will go directly to my private inbox. So feel free to sign up and let me know that way if you prefer.

Anything you have to share, big or small, would make my day.

Thanks so much.

xoxo

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97 Responses to “It’s my birthday, and I only want one thing…”

  1. Cathy says:

    Happy Birthday Darya! I hope you have many more!

    I am currently training for my black belt in kickboxing and constantly ran into barriers when it came to eating right. Given I train five times a week, I found that I was getting sick of the taste of ‘artificial’ protein shakes and panicky about what was good for me and what wasn’t.

    Then I stumbled upon your blog a few months ago and practically devoured your wisdom. A lot of what you write makes much more sense to me than some of the ‘fad’ dieting sites I have seen. I am fortunate to live in London where I have an abundant choice of organic and wholesome food stuffs. Reading your blog gave me the confidence to try new ingredients, explore what my local Whole Foods and market has to offer, buy things that have ingredients I recognize and not be afraid of salt.

    I have made a quinoa and lentils convert of my fiance, replaced snacks of chocolate biscuits, with pistachio nuts and understand that, like my achy muscles after training, my mind gets ‘achy’ thinking about what to eat next.

  2. Tracy K. says:

    Happy Birthday!! Years ago I lost almost 40 pounds, but this year I’ve struggled with losing/re-gaining the same 5-8 pounds. My husband recommended your book.

    Since reading your book I have stopped counting calories (I know the food amounts that work for me but held on to this old habit until recently). I’ve also stopped stressing about returning to my lowest weight, which I had arbitrarily picked anyway as being the “perfect” number. My focus has shifted to healthy eating and exercise. I feel good! Your book was the push I needed to start the journey back to the healthiest version of myself.

      • Mandy says:

        When I first found this website, I didn’t really explore it much but I liked the recipes a lot. They are absolutely delicious. At this time I was begginging to lose weight. I was never over weight I just wanted to become leaner. I was loving myself and felt so healthy, but then I went to an extreme. I was counting calories all the time and only eating 900 calories a day, not good for an athlete like me. I gave up desserts and I used to love them do much. I started feeling sick and weak, and I felt like I was never thin or good enough. It got so bad that I needed to reevaluate my lifem so I came back to this website. I read Darya’s biography and felt like I could relate. I would deprive myself and thrn binge like she used to do. I felt like someone in this world understood me so I began to follow this websites advice. I am currently trying to establish a stable eating habit and Darya has helped a lot. I am happier again, especially with my desserts.

  3. Alexandra says:

    Happy Birthday Darya!
    What really helped me was to keep a food diary for a week or so, I was so surprised when I found out I was not drinking enough water, and relying on carbs to curb hunger, instead of protein.
    Your web site and your book are helping me to develop a better relationship with food. All those years of dieting can really mess up a person’s head.
    Thanks, and I love your recipes, you provide unusual takes on food.

  4. Mary says:

    I was already pretty on track when I came across Summer Tomato, but my mom was a bit frustrated with fluctuating by about 20 pounds over the last few…decades, honestly. (She would go up a bit, lose weight by restricting what she ate big time, then go back up again.) I knew your book would be perfect for her, so I bought it for her, and it really clicked with her! She is a teacher, and before reading your book, she would eat almost nothing all day, then snack/graze all evening while grading papers and watching tv. Now, she makes sure to eat something in the morning, takes a healthy lunch with her to school, and makes a real meal when she gets home rather than snacking on whatever packaged food is lying around. Her switch is also great for my step-dad because instead of eating the frozen microwavable dinners that he usually ate, he is eating the real food that my mom makes.

    I am getting married in February, and my mom is thrilled that she is on the path to looking great not only at my wedding but for the rest of her life. She has even shared her copy of your book with some of her coworkers, and they now hold each other accountable during the day. From my mom and me…Thanks for everything!

  5. Happy B-day Darya!
    I, like you, have a past running marathons and slaving away at the gym, dieting, you name it. I listened to Foodist a couple months ago when I had hit a plateau and couldn’t get rid of all the baby weight. Six months after the baby, I was still 15 pds over my pre-pregnancy weight. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong.
    Foodist changed me. Thanks to you, I started listening to my body and taking in only foods that made me feel good. I still do cardio, but far less often/intensity and upped my weight resistance training. I managed to lose the rest of the baby weight (and a bit more) and am leaner, toner and feel better than before. All before my baby’s first birthday.
    Thanks so much and happy birthday to you!

  6. Jay B. says:

    It’s not much but I’ve managed to lose and keep off 6 lbs just on chewing my food 25 times. I am much more health conscious about the food that I eat. I love The Foodist audiobook! It’s amazing. I actually have both audiobook and hardcover. :)

  7. Josh Johnson says:

    Introduced me to muesli…my breakfasts are far more healthier now!

  8. Abby says:

    Happy birthday! Thank you for all of your work and wisdom. I discovered your website this summer and practically devoured it whole (food pun!). I had already absolved to cut out processed foods and sugar from my lifestyle, but I found that reading your thoughts and tips has changed my relationship with food entirely. Now I understand the need for it to be something that truly brings me pleasure, not something that I mindlessly ingest and then feel guilty about later. I rarely feel guilty about food now, because I know that if I’m eating something that’s really “bad” for me, that I am REALLY enjoying it! I have lost 15 pounds and feel very comfortable at this weight. I feel that I have developed really strong habits for a healthy, feel-good future. I can’t wait to read Foodist!

  9. First and foremost, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You wanted something so benign for your day, so here goes nothing…

    Truth is, I am a big guy. I haven’t always been but for almost 6 Months now, I am starting to finally see a change in my face and my profile.

    Little tips of what I should be cooking or things that are fairly quick or a “set and forget” for awhile has been the key to becoming more successful as a healthier person.

    That being said, ST has been a HUGE reason for it. I am a programmer most of the time and usually takes up a good 18 hours of my day. Last thing I really want to do is cook, clean, etc. However, as someone who HATES fast food and super picky, this site was useful BUT with your new book?

    I am purposely staying up till 3 AM eating Cauliflower drizzled with my own homemade Olive Oil (BBQ’d rosemary, roasted garlic with extra virgin olive oil wrapped in foil and grilled, fresh oregano & thyme, red pepper flakes, with a bay leaf and then pushed tightly in to a Olive oil bottle to sit for a few days.), fresh squeezed Lemon (mostly from my backyard!), a Lime, splash or so of Sea Salt (I am allergic to Iodine, Sea Salt != iodine), and blended & then spread: garlic, fresh basil (from my kitchen plants), mint (usually spearmint), and Italian Parsley, then baked!

    So, I did what you said, replace those fries with cauliflower and I have never looked back… So when you’re in Vegas, I will be happy to make it for you :).

    Thanks for everything you’re doing for us!

    Sincerely,
    Lance Seidman

  10. Katherine says:

    Happy day of birth!

    I’m sure you don’t remember, but I’m a fan who approached you this year when you were at Whiskey Soda Lounge in Portland.

    I, too came to your book with a lot of prior knowledge, but I will say that I started a salad club at my job at a software company and it changed quite a few people’s regular routines. People who usually ate at food carts or brought frozen lunches are now eating vibrant seasonal produce-packed salads instead, and actually got excited about eating them. And the popularity spread like wildfire! I think at our biggest, we had about 45 participants?

    Anyway, thank you for making healthy more accessible, and more realistic. Keep it up!

    • Darya Rose says:

      Whoa! 45 members of salad club?! That had to be an amazing salad!!

      Of course I remember you and love when readers spot me in the wild. We plan to be spending a lot more time in PDX too :)

  11. Kirsten says:

    I just recently found your website and have started reading Foodist. The blog about how goals are for losers was especially eye-opening for me. I am soaking in the knowledge and working on changing my thought patterns and paying close attention to my habits. I have a lot of work ahead of me and am grateful to have found such a sane approach to what often feels like an insane part of my life!

  12. Emma says:

    Hey Darya Happy Birthday!

    You helped me realize that I could still be happy, healthy and enjoy life without the constant anxiety of weight loss and dieting.

    Also you seem to have done a great job at addressing almost every major health question under the sun.

    Keep at it! Love your stuff :)

  13. Katie says:

    I’m down 10 lbs, and have been able to squash my nagging sweet tooth! I look forward to getting out of bed in the morning, just to get to my homemade muesli. I was able to not only change my diet, but also the diet of my husband—without him even realizing it! Turns out when food is really good, you don’t think about the pasta that’s no longer on the table. My healthstyle is so easy to stick to and I feel no deprivation. I’m happier, healthier, and even more excited about food (never thought that was possible)! Thank you for organizing all of this nutrition information and relaying it in a way that is easy to understand and implement. You were just what I needed to jumpstart my new healthstyle revolution. Thank you, and Happy Birthday!

  14. Cathryn says:

    Happy birthday! This past year, you inspired me to attempt to cook! I also have a new appreciation for cauliflower (better than french fries and no guilt)and the simplicity of baking a chicken! Thank you for all that you do. Please keep sharing your EASY recipes. :)

  15. Ron says:

    Darya,

    Happy birthday! I hope and pray you celebrate in grand style! Truly, life is short and all of us should be ready to celebrate whatever good comes our way at the drop of a hat!

    As for me, know that I have lived a very obese life for a good bit of time. However, today, I’m so much healthier, and I’m the incredible shrinking man! I’ve changed my whole outlook on life and you have been a part of the journey. I’m grateful for your passion, your knowledge, and your lack of judgment on those of us who have failed at living a healthy life.

    With deep gratitude and appreciation!

    Ron

  16. Sandy says:

    I’ve dealt all my life with weight issues, and I’ve finally concluded that I need to develop my own “owner’s manual” to cooperate with my body instead of hating it and fighting with it. Your information doesn’t always support what I’ve found works for me (that unique owner’s manual I’m discovering), but your gentle messages are always supportive and encouraging. And your weekly digests lead me to information that helps me on that owner’s manual or just generally teaches me something. Thanks for all your hard work and happy birthday!

  17. Hi Darya,

    Happy Birthday! Great idea about your birthday gift and I would like to give you my story.

    Since following you and many of the recipes I have lost 40 pounds since June 2013.

    Now to understand how important that is I currently have diabetes, heart condition and a few other things going on that really don’t help me to follow a strict diet so I use the Mark diet which works. The one thing that I can honestly say made it easier was reading your blog, following many of your recipes and ideas and just plain believing in your work.

    I read Foodist and loved it and go to it every so often when I need a little motivation to continue. since losing the weight I’ll be honest I cheat here and there but never gain it back. I truly believe that changing my lifestyle completely has made the difference not a diet. I don’t worry about how much I lose as much as what I eat. The weight falls off on its own.

    What I do have to say is thank you for the best birthday gift I have received since my birthday was in June and that’s when I really started following your advice.

    Have a great birthday and if you want a longer version of this I’ll be glad to do it.

    Be Well
    Mark

  18. Katjandu says:

    Happy Birthday Darya!

    Just reading your emails and a brief visit to your site and I’m now eating my own granola!

    After reading the other comments and watching the video about your book; I’m ready to purchase it and find a new way to be healthy and happy.

    Thanks for all of your work and your inspiration!

  19. Linda says:

    Happy Birthday, Darya!

    It was your post that caught my eye about 5 years ago and explained to me why eating locally and organically was so much better for me and my family. I have not yet read your book, but it’s on my bucket list for the new year; maybe if I’m really good, someone will give it to me for Christmas!

    I cared for my mother, who had Alzheimer’s, heart issues and diabetes, here in my home using your ideas as a guide for feeding her. She was healthier, in some ways, during those last 3 years than she had been for many years before.

    So, thank you. Please don’t go away. And please feel free to post even more often! I would LOVE that! Bless you! :)

  20. vivian says:

    happy birrrrthday too yoou! haappy birrthdaay tooo yooou! i have learned to appreciate the value of foods as a result of reading your work. i am also beginning to take more interest in the wonderful complexities of my own body! i love to think about what to eat and Most importantly, i love being satisfied! thank you!

  21. Mark Freeman says:

    Happy Birthday!

    I’ve lost 76 lbs in the last 12 months after re-starting on Weight Watchers and sticking to it. I’ve added many of the things I learned from reading your blog and your book, Foodist to my routine. I really discovered many new things at the farmers market thanks to your information.

  22. Sharon says:

    Happy birthday Darya!! I hope it’s a day filled with fun times and lots of champagne.

    In order for me to tell you how your site has effected my health, I have to start by telling you a bit of my health background. I was always incredibly self conscious about my weight and body. By the time I was 10, I was 5’8″ and weight 140 pounds. I grew an inch and gained about 20 pounds in high school. Then college happened. My freshman 15 was more like a freshman 45! At my heaviest, I weighed in at 225lbs. Luckily, because I leveled off at just south of 5’10” and have a curvier shape, it didn’t look like I was that overweight. But I was; in fact, I was considered obese.

    After I moved back home at 22, I decided to lose weight. I started with walking, tested different styles of eating, dropped fast food (I honestly have no idea how I practically lived off of McDonald’s when I was younger!) and eventually added weights and pilates to my exercise regime.

    By the time I found your site, I’d been vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan, on weight watchers and tried south beach. I did lose weight – about 50 pounds – over about five years, but I still had a very unhealthy relationship with both my body and food.

    Then I found you. Your site changed my life. It changed how I view food. It showed me that the best diet (for me) is one that energizes me, not makes me feel guilty or weight down. For me, that’s a mostly plant based diet with eggs and fish. More than anything, your work helped me improve my relationship with food. I’m nowhere near perfect, but the fact that I’ve maintained a 50 pound weight loss and added both regular exercise AND a variety of vegetables into my life is outside the norm of this country. Yes, I did the work and I’m proud of my accomplishment. But you gave me the roadmap. Without your site, I’m sure I’d still be this size, maybe smaller even, but I would no way have found so many delicious and healthy vegetables to eat. And my relationship with food would probably still be a very dysfunctional one. I’d still be unhappy with my body.

    I can’t begin to thank you for how much you’ve changed my life in a positive way. I’ve even got my parents eating (and loving) some of your recipes! You do truly great work, and I will support whatever you put out in any way that I can. With your help, I’ve not only improved my eating but also my health. And it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

    Thank you Darya, and again have the happiest of birthdays!

  23. Debra Oliver says:

    Darya,

    I want to wish you a beautiful and lovely birthday today! Usually, I would not respond to these requests because of the time and effort that it takes. However, I know that you genuinely will read and care about your readers and for that reason alone I wanted to write you. I love your veggie snack recipes and it has converted me to baked cauliflower, celery sticks, and other filling healthy snacks instead of the usual chocolate or bread treat. You seem like a kind and thoughtful person. As a person, myself, who has more education than I would like to admit I think you are using your degree as well as I would hope to in the future. Thank you!

  24. Amanda says:

    happy birthday Darya

    there is more cauliflower being eaten in our house because of your broiled curried cauliflower recipe. I love your passion for food!

  25. Living in the land of beer and cheese (Wisconsin) and being a college student I long for some healthy solace. I have found both Summer Tomato and Foodist to be a good outlet. Your Friday emails are a life saver!

  26. Musia says:

    Happy Birthday! Your posts helped me a lot during last year! I am eating tons of different vegetables every day (fresh and simmered for a short period of time). I am not overcooking any meat, poultry or grains. I like eggs, home made sour kraut, beets and other root vegetables. I reduced my portions significantly. The only thing I do differently, is drinking 1 liter of home made raw goat milk kefir daily and not having any acne anywhere on my face or body. When I started, I got many of them on my face right away (just as you had predicted), but then (after one month of drinking kefir regularly), they disappeared. My body regulated and adjusted itself, and my face now is cleaner and younger than ever.

    Thank you for helping us leaving a happier life! Stay healthy.

    P.S. I am 49 y.o.

  27. Polly Anderson says:

    you’re completely wonderful–I adore your blog! Not only for the awesome content, but also because it almost single-handedly pointed me in the direction of a sane relationship with food. I went from slightly overweight stubborn, blind “Paleo” dieter (who would have those “hey, what the hell?” cheat days multiple times a week on average!) to just living and eating healthfully and being SANE. Food is no longer a big deal anymore, you know? Your blog really helped me to be a healthier, happier college kid. The coolest part? I not only stopped obsessing with food, but also my weight and ironically the result was effortless weight loss. Funny how that happens, huh? Thanks SummerTomato, for being anti-DIETING! NEVER EVER AGAIN!) Thanks for LIBERATING ME! :) and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  28. Diane says:

    Happy birthday!!

    I love raw vegetables and am a big salad fanatic, but realize there’s so much more I could be doing with them. I’m a little embarrassed at my lack of cooking skills, so really appreciate the easy recipes you’ve posted. They’ve been simple enough to not be intimidating, and a little success has inspired me to get creative and add my own twists. A special thanks for Cabbage and Eggs, and Roasted Delicata!

  29. Kat says:

    When I turned 18, I had been scarfing down the Lean Cuisine BS for about two years. I was never overweight–I just couldn’t cook and anything that took more than 5 minutes to prepare was terrifying to me.

    Once I stumbled upon your website, my brain exploded and I began to realize that Lean Cuisines were 1)not tasty and 2)not as healthy as they purport (also not filling, I could seriously eat two of those). It was around this time as well that I started going to the small (and only) farmers market in my city and started cooking regularly.

    Fast forward aboooout 5-6 years and my friends know me as the one who’s informed about nutrition and knows how to cook something besides toast. I’ve never gained any weight despite varying stress levels while in college and sometimes months long lack of exercise. Vegetables are my favorite and I’ve taken my sweet tooth down to insanely low cravings.

  30. Happy birthday, Darya! What a wonderful birthday request. In the beginning, Summer Tomato got me to appreciate Farmers Markets and the joy of discovering new veggies. I now understand the draw of a scrumptious heirloom summer tomato! Then I read Foodist and got to know you, and through that, I am learning to let go of the struggle. I am finding more joy in food, and sharing it with others. I have learned that life-long systems, not ambitious goals, are the answer for me. If I just stick with my home court habits (like breakfast, 10,000 steps, home-cooked meals that are planned ahead, and warm dinners eaten at the table), I can achieve the best weight for me. It’s a journey, but I’m less agro about getting there (wherever there is) and more mindful of everything I eat in the process. Thank you!

  31. Rafael Adame says:

    Happy Birthday:

    I have been following you for some time. I bought your book and it was…stolen, I know it means a lot to the book thief, I hope she gets good results following your advise. I don’t have issues with my weight, I just wanted to learn to cook something different. Yesterday I prepared the Miso chicken and the wakame cucumber salad as a side dish. My guests were happy. All of this is thanks to you and I am very happy you are very young and will share with us for many more years.

    Cheers

  32. Beth says:

    Once I started reading Summer Tomato, the priority for going to Farmer’s Markets went waaaayyy up. I’ve since encouraged a lot of my friends to go to their local farmer’s markets. So I’d say this has been the number one thing. I’m also a lot more aware of my eating habits.

    Oh! And that cauliflower recipe is one of my FAVs!!! I make it or something similar about once a month. Yum. :)

  33. Clint says:

    Darya,

    After following your blog and reading your book we started eating more fresh, seasonal foods. We became regulars at our local farmers market and our kids love it. Our fridge, pantry, and health have all improved. We have 4 children and we have changed their eating habits dramatically. AND the coolest part is how they have enjoyed it. We aren’t forcing broccoli on them. We are involving them in the decision making process from market to belly. We have seen health and behavior improvements due to these changes.

    You have a great style and we enjoy the wisdom you pass on.

    Thanks!

  34. Darya Rose says:

    You guys are starting to make me teary-eyed. This is so awesome :)

  35. Rita says:

    Happy Birthday, Darya

    I found your blog when I wanted to start eating healthier not necessarily loss weight. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis three years ago and am always looking for ways to improve my health. Your book and blog has taught me to focus on real food not processed food. Once I stopped eating processed food my digestive health has improved and so has my energy. I also practice mindful eating. I have learned to enjoy foods I thought I would never eat. Thank you so much for all you do.

  36. Emily Bean says:

    Happy Birthday! Instagram tells me you’re having a wonderful birthday and you sure deserve it!

    I’ve been practicing healthy routines for a few years now, but your book & blog have definitely inspired me to enjoy life more. I realized that I was making everything in my life painful. I couldn’t just work out, I needed to be training for some brutal race. I thought that I should never eat sweets and when my sweet tooth kicked in I felt guilty for eating them. I figured I should make healthy food and swallow it down, no matter the taste.

    Now that has changed. I run a few miles several times a week and actually enjoy my runs. No race needed. I pick the sweets that truly matter to me and enjoy them guilt free. Best of all, I am enjoying my healthy meals! I know how to cook, but you finally connected the dots that I can use my cooking skills to make healthy choices taste amazing. Roasted broccoli with the right seasonings… a thousand times better than plain & steamed!

    Thanks for showing me that I don’t have to choose between healthy or happy. I can have both :)

  37. Kristen says:

    Happy Birthday Darya!!!

    I just wanted to share with you that since reading your blog, I have taken in so much useful knowledge about health and nutrition, whether it is a simple, delish recipe such as the Delictica Squash (execellent btw) or an in depth analysis of how our bodies respond to nutrients, food additives, etc. I especially enjoy learning the science about food. For example, your posts regarding the harm that sugar does to the body and how to be more mindful of sugar in the not so obvious foods, helped me very much. I have a huge sweet tooth and it really was out of control. I was making strides to correct it, and sort of hit a plateau, to which I still had cravings and consumed non-suspect foods that snuck in a lot of sugar (i.e. yogar). However, once I read your posts and the work of the researchers and scientists that you credited, I was able to get over that plateau and I feel better than ever! The cravings have stopped and now I can be around all the yummy goodies at a party or at a restaurant, have one treat and feel happy. Thank you so much for all that you do!

  38. Timothy says:

    A friend of mine lost a foot to the diabetes last year, so I gave him your book. He improved his diet and so far has not lost any other limbs. Also, I bought an Aeropress on your recommendation. Thank you soo much.

  39. Nini says:

    Hi Darya, happy birthday and all the best wishes for you.

    I bought a pedometer because of you and walk more than ever. I was quite sedentary in my adolescent (luckily I never get fat, it’s genetic probably). Now, I feel very healthy. Off course, I also eat less processed food and try to enjoy every meal. Thank you so much, greeting from Indonesia. You should try our many kind of fruits and veggies someday :)

  40. Anne says:

    Happy Birthday, Darya!! I hope you had a fantastic birthday weekend!

    Your blog and book has helped me focus on enjoying food a little more (both the good and bad). I traveled quite a bit for work and have little time between my shifts to enjoy my snacks/meals. A lot of robotic eating at that time! Now I’m back to a less hectic schedule and you’ve convinced me how to take it easy, really focus on what’s going on my plate, and enjoy cooking again. I find that I’m eating less meat proteins and eating a lot more vegetables and whole grains. Love kale, quinoa, and lentils thanks to you! More veggie power!

    Thanks for all you do :)! And Happy Birthday again!

  41. Rich Slabbekoorn says:

    For most of my adult life I’ve struggled with two things: maintaining a healthy weight and a chronic cough beginning every fall around October and usually lasting until sometime in May. I’ve never smoked but spent a lot of years exposed to secondhand smoke which I’m sure contributed. I was also diagnosed with some sort of repository allergy and later, when my cough turned into a wheeze, asthma. After using over the counter allergy medication and an inhaler on a semi regular basis for nearly three years I discovered your web site. I decided it was time to stop trying to lose weight and listening to all of the pseudo-healthy eating advice and simply focus on eating healthy, naturally grown and raised food. Following your philosophy I eliminated most processed food from my diet including flour and sugar as well as significantly cutting back on the amount of meat I ate. Then an amazing thing happened. Within a year I’d dropped 40 pounds back to the weight I was at when I graduated high school. More amazingly my breathing improved to the point where I no longer needed the inhaler that first winter and needed significantly less antihistamines this past winter. It’s now nearing the end of November coming up on the third winter and I’ve not yet needed anything. I recommend your book and site to anyone who will listen. Thank you!

    Happy birthday!

  42. Hilary says:

    Happy Birthday!

    SO I’ll be honest. I love your website and preordered your book, Foodist, with excitement. And then it sat on my bookshelf until recently…. (only because I’m not a big reader). But once I read it, it made me pretty happy. I am currently going to school for nutrition and I’m on the road towards becoming a registered dietitian. My problem with what I’m learning in school is that they don’t talk about optimal health. Sure eat vegetables, lean meat, whole grains – limit processed foods. But thats it. Do they talk about local food, organic foods, real whole foods, pros and cons of meat, dairy, and grains. NO. We focus mainly on what to do in disease states. If you have renal disease, I’m your gal. But they don’t just tell us what to eat or what not to eat. Were just supposed to figure it out I guess?
    But if I chose to go the other way, and become a registered holistic nutritionist – guh! wheres the SCIENCE! Sure tell me about the wonders of agave and brown rice syrup but its just too heavy on the anecdotal evidence for me. Alas! Chapter 4 of your book just about kept me from losing my mind. Its everything I knew in my head but couldn’t string together in a coherent way. Its everything I ever needed and wanted to hear. Thanks, times a million. Hope you have a great birthday :)

    • Darya Rose says:

      That’s crazy. I find the nutrition community also rarely talks about the HOW/WHY we eat and how to make health easier (they seem to prefer to make it harder). Like we’re all freaking robots who should just eat what we’re supposed to. Good for you for wanting better for yourself and future clients :)

  43. Gus says:

    Thank you for writing from your heart and providing a real-life example and path to an empowering lifestyle.
    I gave back the 25 pounds I found since our wedding and lowered my BP to 117/78. No Meds!
    Our passion has become the time my wife & I share experimenting and creating in the kitchen with each other, friends and family.
    Your book was the missing link to the journey we are on and for that I am forever grateful…may all your days be happy!

  44. Consuelo says:

    Hi, Darya! Happy birthday!
    I wanted to thank you for your awesome book. It has made me realise that I was doing everything wrong worrying about my diet and starving to death. I started to walk a lot and I’m eating really, really good. Here in Chile we don’t have suppliers like in San Francisco, but I’ve made my changes and it feels perfect. I’ve haven’t lost too much weight but I feel great. My body is doing what I want and I feel that my resistance is getting better.
    Thank you for caring about us. You’re absolutely right when you say that we can be healthy and eat properly. Thank you! Please have a lot of fun and take pictures for us!

    Kisses,
    Consuelo

  45. Jeremy says:

    Darya, Happy Birthday! When I was in law school I gained a substantial amount of weight, and had tried for years to lose the weight. After finding your site I started to keep a food dairy on my phone, and then started to make small changes to my meals. The first change was to stop drinking a can of coke for breakfast and instead eat a protein rich breakfast. I slowly started to replace all the processed food I was eating with whole foods, preferably locally grown organic, that I was fixing myself. I now cook my meals five to six days out of the week. I also purchased fitbit tracker to track the number of steps I took throughout the day, which motivated me to walk more. I found those walks were a nice stress reliever. Those walks turned into slow jogs, then nice long runs. I now run around fifteen miles a week. Over the last year I have lost 90 pounds and ran two half marathons.
    Thank you

  46. Happy birthday! And congrats on your always amazing blog – and I am now reading the book Foodist. Lots to take in.

  47. Jessica says:

    I don’t have kids, but I convinced my parents and sister to eat cauliflower! And they love it. :)

    Your blog has definitely taught me a lot. I think between learning how to cook healthy food that doesn’t taste like grandma’s overcooked peas, and avoiding processed foods, I feel so much better, both mentally and physically. Thank you and happy birthday!

  48. Samantha says:

    You and your posts motivated me to make a life change. I started to cook more trying healthier options (my husband loves seeing me motivated in the kitchen, even if it turns out to be something he doesn’t necessarily like) and i changed a lot of bad habits (sometimes I may still go to those bad habits but I am now completely aware of what I am doing). I love staying current on all health news which can either help my family or even keep me reading important/interesting things rather than being on Facebook all day. I can pass on knowledge from all your posts to everyone I care about to help them as much as you help me. I dont really know how to put in words what you and summer Tomato has truely done for me except to say my life 5 years ago is nothing compared to now with my motivation to stay healthy and fit and the knowledge on health and better habits. I’m so much happier. Thank you! And thank you to your husband for being interesting and great to listen to cuz if my husband didn’t listen to yours then I may not have found Summer Tomato .

  49. Robby says:

    You’ve given me the gift of being able to cook for myself. You made it so approachable and accessible even for those of us with limited cooking experience and time. I can’t thank you enough for this gift that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life :)

  50. Britta says:

    Dear Darya,

    I had already lost about 30 pounds when I came across your homepage. I had to have your book immediately and with each page I read I felt more like “Yeah, I’m on the right path”.

    There were a lot of things in this book, that I already did – for example not counting calories or cooking myself. And some people kept telling me, I was doing it all wrong. How could I efficiently lose weight without knowing how many calories I ate?

    Reading your book gave me the strenght to carry on and I am more sure about what I am doing than ever. What I love most about your book – aside from your love for real food – are the homecourt habits. I developed some of my own and since then, losing weight has become easier than ever. Still about 20 pounds to go, but I am sure to make it and to keep it that way.

    Happy Birthday – and I hope you can forgive me for all my mistakes in this little text. I am from germany and reading english texts is far more easy than writing myself :-)

    Britta

  51. Shamus Halkowich says:

    Happy birthday Darya,
    Just got back from seeing Ben Harper at Walt Disney Concert Hall and it turns out it’s his birthday, too. That’s good company.
    I’ve thought about your question on and off through the day and for me, it’s about thinking about how our actions fit into our healthstyle.

    Drives our decisions every day.

    Thank you!
    Shamus

  52. Elle says:

    Happy Happy birthday!

    I love your site – stumbled upon it once, signed up for your emails and have been enjoying them ever since. I haven’t yet read all of your site or recipes and I haven’t read your book but after the comments here I think I shall buy it for me for Xmas (I’m in charge of gift buying for the holiday in my family…for myself also).

    I’m a public health professional and my work also deals with nutrition – what you write makes so much sense and you deliver your message in such a pleasant way.

    In the last year I have developed severe food intolerance for eggs, cow & sheep dairy, row leafy greens…can’t eat any of those any more. I’ve been compensating myself by eating non-dairy sweets (including home made) so I gained a few unwanted pounds.
    Two weeks ago I started the whole30 diet that is supposed to help fight the intolerance but I feel so deprived all the time (though I’m not hungry at all, eat tons of fresh vegetables and fruits and have lost 3lbs) and that makes me think of your blog – I really need to find a way to eat healthy within my new restrictions (eggs, dairy) AND feel happy about what I eat.

  53. Katy says:

    Happy Birthday- no matter your age, birthdays are awesome. Period. End of story!

    I have a little different story than most people who have commented thus far- I just found your book and blog a week ago. So, needless to say, I haven’t really lost any weight, there have been no changes in nagging chronic symptoms of a poor diet, etcetera. I am at the beginning of my new way of thinking- but everyone must start somewhere.

    I’m not fat. Ever since high school I have fluctuated +/- 15 pounds. Very much like you, though, this was a big deal and caused me to try every eating plan under the sun. I was successful getting ridiculously in shape on a few occasions, but it constantly had to track calories to stay there. I was convinced something was wrong with my thyroid because, for goodness sakes, no one should have to work that hard to maintain status quo! What I was and wasn’t eating was constantly on my mind.

    I got a “real” job (read: a lot of sitting) and I wasn’t able to workout for an hour six days a week. Then my Dad lost his battle with cancer when I was 25 and I no longer wanted to have to focus on eating and workouts anymore. I was exhausted. Not to mention in pain: I had horrible digestion issues- gas pains, bloating, you name it.

    I stumbled upon your blog when looking for tips to identify food allergies (because, like trying to blame my thyroid, my issues MUST be someone’s else’s fault!) and decided to try your tips first. The past week I have focused on getting 10,000 steps a day, keeping a foodist diary, and chewing. I have found that chewing has eliminated most of my digestive issues. I found that I don’t need to keep a diary because I know when I have too much food- time to admit to myself that writing it down doesn’t tell me anything I don’t already know. Lastly, the 10k steps takes away my guilt of not wanting to do a formal workout somedays. I now workout when it sounds fun.

    I still have a long way to go- I know I need to work on my portions. However, focusing on habits and not calories is so refreshing. Onward and upward!

    Katy

  54. Ashley says:

    I’ve just finished reading your book, and it is helping me to kick my Weight Watchers habit for good! I’ve been on and off WW for the past 11 years. I suffered greatly from what you called the “what the hell” effect. When I would screw up a day, the rest of the day (sometimes week) would be a free-for-all. I was just growing weary of the roller coaster of being “good” and “bad”.

    My weight hasn’t fluctuated greatly over that time, except for during my two pregnancies, which was a definite time of “what the hell” for me. Those little ‘vacations’ from WW contributed to my gaining more than recommended. But then afterwards, WW did help me lose my pregnancy weight within a year. My youngest is now 14 months, and it’s time to kick WW to the curb and integrate healthy habits more intrinsically into my life.

    I’ve only been a follower of yours for a couple of weeks, but I believe I’m a convert. I feel very free to be rid of the shackles of weight watchers, and to be in control of my healthstyle. My daily mantra that I repeat often is that I can have anything I want to eat whenever I want it, I just don’t choose that now. I’m also recommitting to 10K steps/day (long time fitbit user here), and to weight lifting.

    My initial goal is to lose about 8 more lbs (current weight – 173, 5’8″). That will get me back to my wedding weight (8.5 years ago). After that, I’d like to get below 160, which would put me in a healthy BMI. I think these things are doable, and I’m taking a long term view! There’s no rush because this is a sustainable way of life for me.

    Thanks for your book! A real game changer for me.

  55. Julia says:

    Happy Birthday Darya! I am living and eating so much better since I found your blog. You make it exciting to eat healthy and colorfully. I have weight and arthritis issues but doing much better these days & lost 20 pounds, moving more – yoga & walking and eating better, – high fiber, anti-inflammatory & antioxidant rich foods. You are an inspiration for my life style change.

  56. AJ says:

    Thanks to all of your work, I…

    1. Significantly increased the proportion of consumed food that is high quality (local, organic, sustainable, pasture-raised)
    2. Eat SO many more vegetables
    3. Went from having a sweet tooth to rarely touching sugar and rarely missing it
    4. Chew 25 times
    5. Know to CHILL OUT about food/diet issues and embrace that a “healthstyle” is a journey that can change and adapt over time
    6. Love farmer’s markets!
    7. Can make and share delicious easy recipes that include ingredients such as cauliflower, kale, chickpeas, zucchini and more.
    8. Discovered how awesome sardines and legumes are
    9. Keep up with the latest news and scientific findings on healthy eating
    10. Own some pretty nifty kitchen gadgets (and even non-kitchen related items she’s recommended like safer beauty products)
    11. Strive to meditate on a regular basis
    12. Feel so happy to know that people who practice/utilize/preach about the importance of science can have a place in popular culture

    In conclusion: Not only have you helped me get closer to my ideal awesome life, you helped me figure out the things that make an ideal awesome life.

  57. Allie says:

    No crazy success story, but because of you I now know that sauteed peeled zucchini can be just as good, dare I say sometimes better, than pasta :)

  58. Marisa G says:

    Happy (Belated) Birthday, Darya!

    You have given me the gift of inspiration.

    Also, thanks to you, I own a pedometer and walk/run 10,000+ steps most days. I eat tons more veggies, have a much higher standard for how food should taste, shop at the farmer’s market every week, eat beans and lentils and salads much more frequently, and enjoy being the slowest eater at the table.

    Am very much looking forward to reading Foodist (as everything I’ve soaked up so far has been from your videos and blog posts) and cooking more when I finish with grad school in May!

    Thanks for everything :)

    p.s. My boyfriend now eats a healthy breakfast every day and has many more veggies, too! (And loves it.)

  59. Tara Nofziger says:

    I love reading your blog and your book, and have used several of your recipes. To make a long story short, you’ve helped me transition from 30 lbs of weight loss on Tim Ferris’ slow carb diet and create a sustainable healthstyle. I think the best thing I can tell you is that I passed your curry roasted cauliflower recipe on to a friend and she just told me that her 7yo son ate 1.5 heads of cauliflower at dinner tonight! Behold the power of curry!

  60. Jen says:

    Happy Birthday!

    I enjoyed reading your book. I have spent the last few years trying to diet, and starting on Monday naturally! Does that day ever arrive? You have inspired me to stop that nonsense and enjoy food again. I have only lost about 5 pounds but I am paying more attention to my habits good and bad. I am slowly learning which foods make me feel good and what doesn’t. For this knowledge alone I am thankful because now I can work on creating healthy habits that last. Thank you!

  61. Ris says:

    Hi Darya!

    Happy belated birthday! I am so grateful to you for your amazing website and book. They have both changed the way I eat over the past few months. I’m sure you hear this a lot, but I used to HATE cauliflower until I tried your recipe! Beets and kale and a few other veggies weren’t really my favorites, either. (Love that beet salad that converted your dad!) I think the best thing you’ve done for me is help me realize that it’s not the specific vegetable that I don’t like, it’s the way I have (or others have) been preparing it. Since then, I’ve been more adventurous in trying new vegetables and even getting my husband and other family members to give them a shot!

    This is another big thing for me: I’ve always loved to cook, but I’ve never let myself cook simply, for some reason. By that, I mean preparing complicated recipes with 1,000 ingredients and as many steps. Oddly enough, since reading your book, I’ve rediscovered the joy of preparing food simply and letting the ingredients speak for themselves. A little bit of olive oil and a high heat roast on acorn squash, marinating chicken in herbs and lemon juice and throwing it on the grill, etc… your philosophy has influenced the way I treat ingredients and has made me less of a “cheffie” perfectionist in the kitchen, if that makes any sense. It’s made preparing dinner on weeknights and grocery shopping less stressful, and I think it’s made me a better cook because I can appreciate the ingredients for what they are.

    Your philosophy of an overall healthstyle has sworn me off dieting forever. I used to do South Beach every time I needed to lose some pounds, and it would “work” temporarily, and then a month later I’d be back up where I was before (or even heavier). I hated the restrictiveness of it, especially because I love food! I like that your philosophy celebrates food instead of banishing it, or labeling foods inherently “bad.” Now, I try not to think of it as being “bad” or being “good” when I eat something. It has allowed me to change my focus to eating for overall health rather than weight loss only. I admit, I could be better about the mindfulness aspect, but when I do remember to focus on it, I see great results.

    Thank you so much for all you do! I love the blog, and I think I’ve recommended your book to everyone I know!

  62. Samantha says:

    Hi Darya,
    I just finished reading your book. My favorite chapter is the one about helping your loved ones eat healthy. I am experiencing the painful frustration of trying to help a parent deal with weight gain and apathy often when they don’t want to be helped. Lots of great tips to overcome that. Great book, I use it as an on-hand extended reference from your blog.

    xoxo

  63. Happy belated birthday! As you know, Mike and I started reading your blog several years ago. Thanks to Summer Tomato, we have learned soooo much. As a result, and due to some awesome personal influences, we’ve lost a combined 85 pounds. Crazy.

  64. Kate says:

    Happy Belated Birthday!

    Since finding Summer Tomato and reading Foodist:

    * I no longer “store” cheese other than Parmesan; I don’t cut it out of my diet, but pre-shredded convenience cheese doesn’t live in my fridge any more;

    * I switched from an English Muffin and low-fat cheese for breakfast to your muesli, plant milk (usually hemp, which I discovered I love), a hard-boiled egg, and one piece of fruit. I almost never am hungry before lunch now and notice that I don’t even get as hungry in the afternoon;

    * I eat pasta less often but switched back to “regular” and enjoy the pasta I do cook MUCH more than when I was eating the whole-grain; and

    * I just started a new job and will be primarily brown-bagging it, after a decade at a job with a free lunchroom, so I look forward to implementing a lot of your principles in my daily lunch life and maybe even dropping a few more pounds!

  65. Karen says:

    Darya –

    I hope my response is not too late! Over the past year or so, two things have happened for me, both of which are equally important, and started with reading your blog and understanding that things can be different.

    The first is that over the past year, I have stopped “dieting” and started eating for my well-being. I have struggled with vanity weight over the years, but have never had a huge issue. That being said, I have always worried about my weight and therefore tried to restrict what I ate significantly. I have been working with a nutritionist to develop those “home court strategies” that I need to ensure that I am eating proper meals and snacks to fuel my day. In doing so, I feel freed from the worry and stress that I have carried with me for about 15 years. This stress about my weight and body image was like a never ending cycle.

    The second thing that happened was that I discovered how much I LOVE delicata squash. Your recipe for the squash fries is life altering. Because delicata is only available for a short time, I look like a crazy person at the register with 10 of them at a time. Good thing they are so shelf stable!

    Thanks again, and happy birthday!

  66. Saif says:

    happy birthday to you Darya. hope you are doing fine.
    when i first heard about summer tomato, i felt a little strange about the name, thought about something else rather then food. at first i didnt consider summer tomato to impress my life, i subscribed the newslatter just to assist to my assignments, but later on i had completely changed my mood of life, regarding foods. i started to get interest in my eating and foods. what i like most about summer tomato was to get more and more about vegetables and fruits. i started to join a more hygenic mode of life. today i have nearly changed my entire family. thanks to you darya
    saif rehman

  67. Michelle says:

    Hi Darya,

    I bought the audiobook version of Foodist and couldn’t be happier! I have always been overweight, and struggled with attaining a healthy lifestyle. Thanks to your book and blog – I eat more vegetables, eat less processed foods and have far less cravings. You have changed my relationship with food forever! I just wish you would post more of your recipes or even a picture of what you are eating everyday would be inspiring.

    • Darya Rose says:

      The recipes for almost everything I cook regularly at home are already on the blog. I mix these up with different herbs and veggies depending on the season and my mood. Typically I don’t follow a recipe at all, that’s why I hired Elyse to create some for you guys :)

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