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For The Love Of Food

by | Oct 19, 2012

For The Love of Food

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

This week we learn that multivitamins might fight cancer, TV is killing us all, and less exercise may be better for weight loss.

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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For The Love Of Food

by | Oct 12, 2012

For The Love of Food

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

Why food companies shouldn’t be regulating themselves for safety, GMO foods should be labeled, and too much exercise is a bad idea.

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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For The Love Of Food

by | Aug 17, 2012

For The Love of Food

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

This week learn why a knife can help you eat less, eggs aren’t really as bad as smoking, and how to tell real from fake olive oil.

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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For The Love Of Food

by | Jun 1, 2012

For The Love of Food

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

This week learn why we were better off with quarter pounders, butter is better than “buttery,” and frankenfish are the next Monsanto.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomatoGoogle+ 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 Make Eggs Taste As Good As Bacon

by | May 30, 2012
Fried Eggs

Fried Eggs

Something magical happened a few weeks ago. While trying to figure out what to do with the first fresh eggs I’d found at the farmers market this season, I discovered the greatest egg ingredient in the history of mankind.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little (truffles are pretty darn good on eggs), but not much.

Generally I am a big fan of adding some kind of ground red pepper (usually chipotle or ancho) to fried or scrambled eggs. But this day I tried something a bit different.

Digging through my pantry I remembered that I had a ton of smoked paprika left over from the hummus I made. I decided to do an experiment and sprinkle the smoked paprika onto my eggs.

I can’t believe I went all my life without knowing about this.

But before I explain why exactly the smoked paprika made my eggs so amazing, I want to address what I’m sure many of you are wondering:

How healthy are fried eggs?

Answer: Eggs are perfectly healthy, and frying doesn’t make them any less so.

Personally I cook my eggs in olive oil (it’s just easier), but even if you use butter it isn’t a problem since the amount you need to cook is so small.

What scares people about frying eggs is an irrational fear of dietary fat. But theoretically the amount of oil you use to fry an egg should be about the same as you need to scramble eggs, so it isn’t clear why fried eggs would pose any more of a problem. I use olive oil to scramble eggs as well.

The other issue people have with eggs is the yolk. It amazes me how often people proudly inform me that they eat eggs but “only the whites,” as if this were some unique virtue.

I understand that the public health message we’ve heard about eggs for the past few decades has been extremely negative, but eggs have since been completely exonerated from heart disease accusations. There was a time when it was assumed that dietary cholesterol (which is definitely higher than normal in eggs compared to other foods) would raise blood cholesterol, but it doesn’t for most people. In fact, the healthy fats in egg yolks are likely to positively impact your good HDL cholesterol.

Moreover, dietary fats in general have been shown to be excellent at satiating hunger, and are thus a terrific replacement for calories from refined carbohydrates. That makes egg yolks your ally in fighting heart disease and burning fat, not your enemy.

Then there’s the fact that egg yolks are incredibly rich in vitamins and minerals, since they are meant to be nourishment for a developing life.

And finally there’s the most important part, that farm fresh egg yolks are out-of-this-world delicious.

Which brings me back to how to make the best eggs in the universe.

First you must start with high-quality eggs. Two factors have the biggest impact on egg flavor. The first is the diet of the hen who laid the egg, and the second is the egg’s freshness. Thus for best results you want to find the freshest pastured eggs you can get your hands on. Pastured means the hens that lay the eggs are allowed to peck around on grass eating bugs and whatever else they find.

Your best shot at finding pastured fresh eggs is at a farmers market or direct from a farm, since if they are already on a grocery shelf they probably aren’t very fresh. Try to find eggs less than 1 week old. Their day of boxing should be clearly marked on the carton. It requires a little math, but I’m not the one who made up these rules.

Chances are good that if your eggs are very fresh then they are from pastured hens, but this is not guaranteed. Ask the farmer and try to hold out for hens that are allowed to roam free in grass during the day. If you cannot get fresh pastured eggs, “cage-free” is your next best bet for flavor (though these may still be fed a limited diet).

Without asking the farmer it is hard to tell the difference between real pastured eggs and industrial eggs labeled “cage-free” that are still fed standard or organic chicken feed. One good indication will be the price, since pastured eggs tend to run $6-10/dozen here in SF. Trust me, it’s worth it.

I do not endorse the taste or healthfulness of industrially produced eggs (even the fancy kinds), and if you do eat them you should be careful to cook them completely.

(Aside: I never worry about the safety of eggs from farms I trust, so I always eat them runny. If you think runny eggs are gross, I don’t blame you. Runny industrial eggs are gross, and before I had fresh eggs I would have completely agreed with you. But fresh egg yolk is incredible, and it is something you have to taste to really appreciate. I definitely recommend stepping out of your comfort zone on this one.)

Once you have great eggs, fry them one at a time in 1 tbsp olive oil or butter on medium low heat and sprinkle with sea salt, course ground black pepper and a pinch of smoked paprika. The paprika adds a depth and complexity above what even chipotle peppers can offer, and the smokiness is reminiscent of—I kid you not—bacon. Needless to say, it is the perfect compliment to eggs.

Fry your eggs for just two minutes or so on each side, being careful to keep the yolk intact while turning. You really don’t want to overcook eggs, which will turn them rubbery and ruin the effect.

I haven’t actually tried these eggs with bacon yet, though I certainly plan to. But bacon is no longer a requirement for making a show stopping breakfast of champions. Here I served them with some ruby chard sautéed with pistachios and garlic.

Did you guys know about smoked paprika on eggs and if so, why was I not informed?

Originally published March 3, 2010.StumbleUpon.com

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5 Unconventional Tips To Save Time In The Kitchen

by | Apr 9, 2012

Photo by r.reveche

Darrin Carlson helps smart, busy men learn how to cook real food at Lean, Mean, Virile Machine. When he’s not doing analytical chemistry he’s trying hard not to fall off his surfboard. You can follow him on Twitter @Darrin_Carlson.

You may not be able to spend a couple of hours in the kitchen every day, but that doesn’t mean you should have to fall back on microwaveable mac and cheese either.

Although it’s important to build healthy habits by learning to prepare your food from scratch, most of us still have to devote a lot of time to work, school, friends, family, and other obligations.

This is why these five unconventional kitchen hacks are bound to come in handy.

5 Unconventional Tips To Save Time In The Kitchen

by Darrin Carlson

1. Peel potatoes without a peeler

Peeling potatoes can be a pain. Here’s a way to simplify the process.

Instead of peeling the potatoes before cooking them, peeling them after. The process of cooking the potatoes causes their skins to loosen (almost like a honey badger), allowing you to remove it freely.

Get a pot of water boiling and add the potatoes. Boil for about 45 minutes and pour out into a colander in the sink. Turn on the cold water above the potatoes. Hold one potato under the water stream, twist and pull to remove the skin. Holding potatoes under cold water cools down the exterior enough that you don’t burn yourself, while the inside remains hot.

2. Peel garlic without a knife

Traditionally, you needed to peel garlic cloves by whacking them with the side of a knife to loosen the skins and then peeling off by hand. But if you have to peel quite a bit, you can save yourself a lot of time by ditching the knife altogether.

Start out by separating the cloves by pushing down on the bulb with the heel of your hand. Then, take the cloves and toss them into a large mixing bowl (or a covered saucepan). Then, cover it tightly and shake it as if your life depended on it for a few seconds. The skins should peel off during this process.

3. Peel a hard-boiled egg fast

If you’ve only got a couple of hard-boiled eggs to peel, the best way is to use the “blowout” method. Pinch off both ends of the egg and bring one up to your mouth while holding your hand on the other side. Now, blow hard into the egg and it should slip out through the other end and into your hand!

If you’ve got a lot of eggs to peel (or you’re afraid of scaring your dinner guests off), you can also use a method similar to the one above for peeling garlic. After removing the eggs from boiling water and cooling, put them into a large mixing bowl or saucepan and cover. Shake for a minute and the shells should come right off.

4. Peel a banana like a monkey

Sick of mangling your banana every time you try to peel one? Tired of making the end all mushy when you try to peel the stem back? Take a cue from the way monkeys eat them.

Instead of peeling from the stem, go after it from the opposite side. Pinch this end between your fingers and it should split. You can then peel the sides down without having to squish the fruit.

5. Chill a bottle of wine quickly

Now that you’ve put in all the hard work learning how to peel potatoes, garlic, eggs, and bananas like a boss, you’ve earned a drink. But what if that pinot grigio is still at room temperature?

No problem. Fill up a sink (or bucket) with cold water. Add a few dozen cubes of ice and a handful of salt. Put the bottle in and stir it around. In about 15 minutes, you should have a perfectly chilled bottle of wine!

Water is a better conductor of heat than air, and adding salt lowers the freezing point, allowing you to quickly chill wine (or anything else, for that matter).

What are your favorite unconventional ways to save time in the kitchen?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Feb 17, 2012

For The Love of Food

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

This week McDonald’s comes up with a game changer, Dr. Oz proves once again that he’s a scumbag, and science gives us a few more reasons to eat fish.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. 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.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | May 27, 2011

For The Love of Food

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

This week I found a surprisingly in depth and thoughtful piece on genetically modified foods, an even more impressive food commitment by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and a few good signs that the politics of food labels are headed in the right direction—truth.

Also, for you geeks my thesis work is finally published. Here’s the deets.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links at Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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Farmers Market Update: Spring Treasures

by | Apr 17, 2011
Purple Spring Onions

Purple Spring Onions

I’m not sure I’ve done enough yet this year to illustrate what a truly special season spring can be. In the springtime, everything is new.

Breathtaking Tulips

Breathtaking Tulips

We get the first greens and fresh colors since the final harvest in autumn, but in the spring everything is sweeter and more delicate.

Bloomsdale Spinach

Bloomsdale Spinach

We don’t just have garlic, we have the sweeter and more subtle green garlic. Carrots, while large and husky in the winter are small and tender in the spring. These baby carrots taste nothing like the fake, flavorless “baby carrots” that come in big bags at the supermarket. These carrots are special.

Real Baby Carrots

Real Baby Carrots

Swiss and rainbow chard are better right now then they are at any other time of year. They’re so beautiful it’s hard to not bring extra home to put into a vase.

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

Artichokes and asparagus are also peaking right now. I was so overwhelmed by the sweet, earthy smell of artichokes when I walked up to the farm stand that I forgot to actually take a photo of the beautiful vegetables (there are plenty from previous weeks if you want a peek).

Though most people don’t think about eggs as a seasonal product, they are. Chickens don’t lay as many eggs when it’s cold. Plus, pastured grass is lush and filled with plump, tasty bugs once spring arrives. We got some pullet eggs this morning from Eatwell Farm. We had asked for the extra-large eggs, but apparently they sold out before the market even opened this morning. They’re that good.

Pasture Raised Eggs

Pasture Raised Eggs

For farmers market noobies, one of the most impressive things you can introduce them to is Meyer lemons. Lemons are sour and their peels are bitter, right? Not Meyers. While they aren’t exactly sweet, their acid is not harsh. And their peels are so thin and tender you can eat them raw. Meyer lemons are divine.

Perfect Meyer Lemons

Perfect Meyer Lemons

But one of the best aspects of spring is the hints of summer that sneak in from week to week. Now we have strawberries, and they’re actually getting good.

Endless Strawberries

Endless Strawberries

We also have some early tomatoes and ripe, creamy avocados, two of my absolute favorite summer ingredients.

Haas Avocados

Haas Avocados

As a last throwback to winter I plan to make a soup with one of these celery roots later this week.

Celery Root

Celery Root

Today’s purchases:

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For The Love Of Food

by | Apr 8, 2011

For The Love of Food

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

Tough decisions were made this week to narrow it down to 10 stories. Love the calorie infographic, also the commentary by Dr. Ludwig on industrial food and the “small” 32 oz. soda at a SF movie theater.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg, Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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