My Favorite Healthy Eating Blogs & Resources (what are yours?)

by | Feb 8, 2012

Photo by ssoosay

I don’t know the exact numbers, but something like a gazillion of you have asked me for a list of my favorite healthy food and science websites.

Back in the day I used to keep a running blogroll, but it took too much work to maintain and there are politics (and lots of email spam) involved in having a whole page of Summer Tomato dedicated to promoting other sites, so I decided to do away with it.

But questions keep coming from people wanting to know where I find all the stories for my Friday link love posts, my preferred alternative to a permanent blogroll. The unfortunate answer is that I subscribe to an extraordinary number of blogs (you’d probably cry if you saw what I go through every Thursday), and there are too many sites and I edit the list too often for it to be useful for most of you.

That said, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have my favorites.

Sadly one of those favorites, the news feed at Food52 (formerly Food News Journal), recently decided to hang up the towel and stopped sending out their daily food links. It was an amazing resource and I’m totally heartbroken. But as a result I’m also now looking for a few more excellent food and health news feeds to supplement my weekly reading, and I need your help.

Below I’ve shared my favorite sites and resources, in no particular order, that I rely on regularly for top-quality content. Though I subscribe to many more than are listed here (and I still get a lot of content from Twitter, Digg, etc.), these are the ones that consistently provide share-worthy content on the web and I would never post on Friday without flipping through them first. I respect these sites tremendously and am looking for more publications of this caliber to add to my collection.

If you think there’s anything I can’t live without, please leave it in the comments and I’ll check it out. Thanks in advance for your help!

Health & Science News

Science Daily – Health and Medicine

Medline

New York Times – Health

LA Times – Booster Shots

Health Blogs

Nutrition Over Easy – Monica Reinagel

Weighty Matters – Yoni Freedhoff

Whole Health Source – Stephan Guyenet

Raw Food SOS – Denise Minger

Dr. Weil’s Daily Blog – Andrew Weil

Mark’s Daily Apple – Mark Sisson

Green Blogs

Treehugger

Ecosalon

Food Safety & Politics

On Food – Mark Bittman

Food Politics – Marion Nestle

Marler Blog – Bill Marler

Grist – Food

Healthy Recipe Blogs

101 Cookbooks

Smitten Kitchen

David Lebovitz

Ruhlman

Simply Recipes

Ruth Reichl

Jenn Cuisine

Sprouted Kitchen

What are you reading?

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8 Inspiring Places To Find Recipe Ideas

by | Apr 27, 2011
Foodie Inspiration

Foodie Inspiration

Healthy eating and cooking for yourself go hand in hand. If you have the resources it is possible to eat healthy while dining out, but restaurants that don’t use processed foods can be difficult to find and tend to be pricey. They also limit you to a handful of different dishes that can become monotonous if you rely on them for most of your meals.

But keeping your healthstyle interesting can be a challenge even if you cook for yourself. Although shopping in season inevitably rotates you through new ingredients over the course of the year, we can still slip into the pattern of making the same dishes over and over again. And while repetition can be easy and comforting, it can also be problematic.

Monotony and boredom are your enemies if you are trying to make healthy eating a way of life; junk food will be extra tempting simply because it’s more interesting than the same boring meal you’ve had 10 times before.

To keep yourself from getting in a cooking rut you must actively seek inspiration for new dishes and flavor combinations. This is true for both kitchen newbies and seasoned chefs, and it gets easier with practice. The more you learn to outsource your creativity and experiment, the better you get at finding meal ideas in your daily life.

Inspiration can come from anywhere. These are some places I often find new ideas, but you are only limited by your imagination.

8 Places To Cook Up Recipe Inspiration

1. Farmers markets

My number one source of inspiration is always the beautiful produce and other goodies I find each week at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Not only do I often find interesting new ingredients to experiment with, I also find familiar foods that look so fresh and delicious I can’t help but buy them and turn them into something wonderful.

If you are thinking about buying something but do not know how to cook it, ask the vendor for ideas or common preparations. I recommend you get anything that looks new and interesting, since most vegetables are relatively cheap and Google puts a universe of recipes at your fingertips.

2. Restaurants

Most major cities (San Francisco especially) are home to amazingly talented and innovative chefs of all different styles and flavors. Steal their ideas! If you have a memorable meal while out on the town, take mental notes on the flavors and textures that capture its essence. You don’t have to be able to recreate it exactly at home, but you can definitely borrow the concept, simplify it and adapt it to your own skills and needs.

For example, I was recently struck by a dish at a spectacular restaurant that was composed of beets with dill–a flavor combination I had never tried. The dish was technically complicated and I wouldn’t bother attempting to make it the same way, but later that week I did roast some beets and change up my usual recipe to include dill instead of mint (sans chèvre). Turned out fantastic.

3. Food blogs

The number of outstanding food blogs today on the interwebs is staggering, and I love to skim through them looking for wonderful recipe ideas. I can’t even begin to list all my favorite sites here, but I try to highlight at least one mouthwatering recipe each week in For The Love of Food posts.

4. Travel

Nothing inspires enthusiasm for new flavors and recipes like traveling to a different locale. Eating traditional cuisines–the way they are supposed to be made–is one of the most intimate and meaningful ways to engage with a culture. Learn a few of the cuisine’s basic ingredients and cooking techniques and you can bring a tiny bit of your experience home with you. Think of this process as a procedural photograph you can use to remember your trip.

Again, you don’t have to recreate dishes exactly the same way in your own kitchen. Sometimes just a single special ingredient can evoke an entire cultural experience.

5. Friends

We all have that friend who is an amazing cook (love you guys!). Not only does this person sometimes hook you up with delicious treats, chances are your foodie friend also loves to talk about food and cooking. This is a goldmine for new ideas and sometimes even a little help and guidance. Maintain a healthy, food-centric relationship with this person and watch the inspiration roll in.

(Hint: If you don’t have a friend like this come hang out with me on Twitter @summertomato)

6. Books

Cookbooks are wonderful but, to be honest, I rarely use them. The reason is that I’m usually too busy to bother lugging the giant things off the shelf and thumbing through them for something specific. I usually either wing it in the kitchen or search online for what I need.

Literature, however, can be a huge inspiration for me to try out new things in the kitchen. It wasn’t until I read The Moor’s Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie that I really started exploring Indian cooking. The Last Chinese Chef helped me learn to appreciate the depth of Chinese cuisine. And I cannot eat enough Spanish tapas when I’m reading Hemingway.

7. Podcasts and radio

I love Mondays because all my favorite food podcasts are waiting on my iPhone for me to listen to on my commute. Both entertaining and educational, foodie podcasts never fail to inspire me to try new foods and cooking methods. They also make me a better cook by describing tips and techniques I am unfamiliar with.

8. TV

Although I do not watch TV regularly, there was a time when I would catch a periodic episode of Top Chef or other foodie show. What I enjoyed most about these programs was the times they would explain the decision making process that goes into creating a dish. But even if culinary improvisation isn’t in your cards, you can at least borrow their ideas (just like at a restaurant) and make similar meals for yourself at home. The recipes used are often posted online.

You can also get meal ideas from TV dramas and sitcoms. Remember Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi? That’s where I first learned about mulligatawny.

Recipe inspiration can come from anywhere, but if you aren’t looking for it a stroke of genius may pass you by.

Where do you get your inspiration in the kitchen?StumbleUpon.com

Originally published February 24, 2010.

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How To Eat Healthy Without Whole Foods

by | Mar 4, 2009

junk foodBy this point you can probably guess that I do the bulk of my grocery shopping at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and at Whole Foods (with the occasional trip to Trader Joe’s). But not everyone is blessed with year-round farm stands and high-end grocery chains in their cities. So how are you supposed to take my advice when you don’t have access to the same resources?

What Would Darya Eat?

I will admit I am not a seasoned grocery shopper when faced with either a real winter or non-city suburbia, but I can guarantee you that I would find a way to eat healthy despite these obstacles. Here is how I would approach these difficult situations:

Use Google to find a health food store.
Most towns have at least one small health food store, and these can be a lifesaver (literally) if you are trying to maintain a healthy diet. Finding one can be tricky, but you can do it if you know what to search.

Unfortunately, the idea that fresh, whole foods are the best way to promote health and fight disease is still something of a radical concept associated with hippies, liberals and elitists (run!!). For the most part, people still do not take the idea of healthy food seriously. Thus, a Google search for “health” will usually bring you links to medical sites or shady pills and powder supplements. And “health food” will get you a mixture of vitamin shops and useful grocery stores.

To get what you need, I recommend searching “organic groceries” followed by your city, then state.

In the following example I searched for “organic groceries Newport Beach, CA”. Several entries come up, but the most useful are Google’s local business results or the local.yahoo.com link.

organic groceries search
Stores that come up in these searches usually have an excellent selection of healthy shelf items such as grains, beans, cereals and canned goods. The best deals are usually in the bulk bins (check near the back or side of the store).

These places will often have a small selection of organic produce.

Find a local produce market. Like the health food stores, produce markets that primarily sell fresh fruits and vegetables are not big fancy operations that are easy to find. Instead they are usually small, family-run shops that cater to a loyal clientele. Frequently these shoppers are hunting for specific products used in, for example, Asian or Latin American cuisines.

The fruits and vegetables you find in stores like this are often imported and inexpensive, which is a mixed blessing. Clearly imported produce is not ideal if you are interested in buying local, organic foods. However, in many cities fresh fruits and vegetables are almost nonexistent during the winter, and these specialty stores can be a fantastic alternative. They are certainly better than nothing (or Costco).

Another bonus of these markets is that they can be great sources for hard to find ingredients like fresh galangal (Thai ginger) or kefir lime leaves.

To find these stores in your neighborhood type “produce” into Google followed by your city and state. Again look for Google’s local business listings.

It is worth noting that these stores can vary quite a bit in quality and cleanliness, so it is a good idea to stop by several different shops until you find the one that best meets your needs.

Read local blogs. I am admittedly a little biased on this topic, but blogs can be a fantastic source for local news on food, eating and gardening, all of which will give you clues about what local food is available during the current season. You can use Google’s Blogsearch tool and type in what you are looking for (e.g. “winter vegetables”) along with your city and state to find what is buzzing near you.

Buy frozen vegetables. I do not particularly like recommending frozen vegetables because in my opinion they do not taste as good as fresh ones, and I believe enjoying your food is a critical part of establishing healthy eating patterns. But despite their texture, frozen vegetables actually retain most of their nutrients and can be an excellent healthy option during the cold months. When I do buy frozen goods, I stick to the hearty fare like beans, peas, corn and bell peppers, but if you do not mind the texture of some of the leafy greens, they are perfectly healthy. Frozen berries also hold up pretty well.

Be creative. Winter is one of the best times of the year to go pantry diving and finally do something with that bulgur or those red lentils. Be creative!

Cans of diced tomatoes, anchovies, capers and olives can easily be turned into a puttanesca sauce. Winter squash is great for bean stews. Have fun with what you have and winter will be over before you know it.

Conclusions

This list is meant to be a jumping off point for people to explore healthy eating in challenging circumstances and is an example of the kind of thinking I would use if faced with a similar situation.

Effectively using Google’s search tools to find vendors in your local area can make it much easier to stick to your healthy diet, even without warm weather or a big city. Getting involved in your local food scene is another way to discover healthy opportunities anywhere.

I am certain there are many more effective ways to stay healthy without a Whole Foods.

For those of you who actually live in places where fresh vegetables can be hard to find, I would love to hear your strategies for healthy eating all year long! Let’s brainstorm!

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