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How I Learned to Cook Without Recipes

by | Apr 29, 2015

darya-veggies-blog

Going away to college was a huge shock for me.

I was so neurotic about food at the time that I refused to live in the dorms and pay for the required school meal plan. So I got an apartment with some friends and attempted to feed myself for the first time in my life.

Oh boy.

For the first few months I ate out every meal. In Berkeley this was fun since there’s so much great food, but the novelty eventually wore off.

I also didn’t appreciate the extra 25 pounds that all seemed to pile onto my thighs. So I decided to start making more meals at home.

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The Real Reason You Don’t Cook

by | Apr 28, 2015
Photo by BruceTurner

Photo by BruceTurner

Yesterday I told you that cooking is the habit that has had the biggest, most positive impact on my life. But unless you’re already a regular cook you probably thought this was super depressing.

People who don’t cook inevitably groan when I suggest that cooking is the solution to their problems.

Cooking? Ugh. Something about it just makes it sound like so. much. work.

Even struggling your way through one meal is a pain. Taking the time and effort to actually learn to cook regularly? That’s just nuts.

Or at least there’s no way you could do it right now. Maybe you’ll do it this summer or something. (Translation: it will never happen)

But I also told you yesterday that there was something deeper lying underneath your aversion to cooking. Because the truth is that if you really found cooking rewarding, then you’d figure out how to make it happen day after day.

So what is it exactly that separates those who cook from those who don’t? What is it that can transform cooking from a tedious, burdensome chore to a fulfilling, creative endeavor?

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The Single Most Important Habit You Need for Better Health

by | Apr 27, 2015

Woman Chopping Parsley

Have you ever tried something new for your health because you heard it was good––like buying cereal with extra fiber and calcium––but didn’t notice any real difference in how you look or feel?

You *hope* it is helping you be healthier and strengthening your bones, but you don’t have any way to know if it’s actually doing anything.

Most new habits people try fit into this category. They’re low impact and you get very little or no immediate feedback on how it will impact your life in the long run.

There’s no immediate benefit and, when it comes down to it, you have no good reason to keep doing it.

There are many problems with habits like these. One big one is that with no feedback you don’t know if what you’re doing is helping, hurting or just plain pointless. You have to act on faith that nutrition science (or wherever your advice came from) is steering you in the right direction––not something I’d recommend.

But an even bigger problem is that habits without an immediate and meaningful reward are the first to slip when life gets the better of you.

Would you rearrange your day to make sure you can do something that may or may not be important to you at some unspecified future time? I know I wouldn’t.

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For the Love of Food

by | Apr 24, 2015
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

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

This week the worst US bird flu outbreak ever, the truth about slow-digesting carbs, and sugar reduces stress response.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (Yes, I took that picture of the pepper heart myself.)

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Foodist Approved: Grilled Spring Veggie Salad with Farro

by | Apr 23, 2015
Grilled Spring Veggie Salad with Farro

Grilled Spring Veggie Salad with Farro

Now that the nights are staying warmer, we’ve finally rolled out our trusty grill. Over the years, it’s become tradition in our household that when it comes to grilling, my husband, Andy, takes over.

I’m not sure why I’ve never intercepted. He likes his meat charred until it resembles an inedible hockey puck, while I prefer my meat to come off the grill retaining some amount of life.

Recently, Andy was on the road, and I decided to fire up the grill all by my lonesome. To my delight, I discovered there’s something deeply satisfying about manning a grill. Sorry honey—from now on I’m the grill master.

I filled the grill grate with an assortment of seasonal veggies that I had simply drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. The asparagus, zucchini, and squash all turned out sweet and juicy with just the perfect amount of flavorful charring.

The best part was there were no pans to scrub after I devoured dinner.

Next time you’re grilling, cook up an extra large batch of your favorite seasonal vegetables—get creative with the assortment. Serve them the first night hot, right off the grill and the next day toss the leftovers into this satisfying salad and call it lunch or dinner.

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Away Court Habits: Living Well on the Road

by | Apr 20, 2015

Photo by ikarl67

When I was a kid I used to dream of one day having a job that would take me all over the world.  I have always loved to travel, so in my brain I envisioned a non-stop vacation filled with exotic places, foods and adventures.

Of course, reality is nothing like that.

There is a huge difference between traveling occasionally (whether for work or play) and traveling regularly, several times per month.

When traveling is a special occasion, there really are no rules. Foodists have accounted for periodic indulgences in their healthstyle already.

But when travel becomes your normal, your Home Court Habits become diluted and you need to integrate a new set of (much more complex) habits to make up the difference.

Recently my travel schedule has moved from periodic to frequent. And adjusting my healthstyle to account for the change hasn’t been easy.

Putting aside the difficulty of eating well at airports and on the plane, simply being outside your familiar environment can throw off even your most ingrained habits, like cooking and exercise.

After 6 months––and much trial and error––I’ve finally developed a set of Away Court Habits that help keep my healthstyle in check while traveling.

I won’t pretend that these are as powerful as my Home Court Habits, but after nearly two weeks away on my last adventure I came home feeling pretty darn good about my state of health and fitness.
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For the Love of Food

by | Apr 17, 2015
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

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

This week the tastiest food is the healthiest, why some restaurants are eliminating tips, and BPA impacts fertility for three generations (!).

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (Yes, I took that picture of the pepper heart myself.)

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Wisdom Wednesday: Moderation is for Suckers

by | Apr 15, 2015
Photo by broterham

Photo by broterham

Moderation might be the most overused word in the entire nutrition universe.

I know, I know. You like the idea of not restricting yourself and being able to eat anything you want so long as it’s not “too much.”

It sounds healthy. Balanced. Sane.

You might have even mistaken some of my willpower bashing here at Summer Tomato as an endorsement of moderation. Something like, “Use a little willpower, but not too much.”

It sounds lovely. If only it actually helped you achieve your goals.

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Do You Secretly Hate Your Workout Classes?

by | Apr 13, 2015
Photo by Nottingham Trent University

Photo by Nottingham Trent University

Recently a good friend told me she was struggling to maintain her workout habit. She could force herself to go to a class every now and then, but it wasn’t enough to keep her in the shape she prefers.

She was relying on willpower to get herself to go and it wasn’t working.

“In order to build any habit it has to be rewarding,” I explained. “You need to love it so much that you’re willing to rearrange your day to make sure you can do it.”

I know this firsthand, because it happens to me all the time. Especially when you have a flexible schedule, something my friend and I have in common.

Every week meetings, calls and opportunities come up that conflict with my workout. But skipping workouts makes me miserable, so unless it’s a life or death situation I reschedule everything else before sacrificing my workout time.

There’s no way that would happen if I didn’t love my workouts.

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For the Love of Food

by | Apr 10, 2015
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

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

This week feminism and dieting don’t mix, willpower is redeemed, and how to improve your vision.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (Yes, I took that picture of the pepper heart myself.)

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