For The Love of Food

by | Oct 23, 2009
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.

The LA Times has a nice review this week about the benefits (or lack of) of different kinds of milk that is worth reviewing. I’m also a bit surprised to see that there is some real science backing the claim that garlic wards of colds (the vampire claim is still pending). You should also check out Dr. Steve Parker’s self-experiment on the ketogenic Mediterranean diet.

I’m happy to announce that I’ve been nominated for a People’s HealthBlogger Award by Wellsphere! Wellsphere is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in healthy living. To vote for me I think you have to create an account with them, but you can delete it when you’re done (and I have yet to get any spam). I’d really appreciate your support. The guy in 1st right now only has like 50 something votes. We can beat that, right?


I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you there. (Note: If you want a follow back on Twitter introduce yourself with an @ message).

For The Love of Food

  • Poring over facts about milk: cow’s, goat’s, soy, almond, rice and hemp <<Very informative article about the pros and cons of various milk products. I get asked about milk a lot, and my usual answer is that the type you choose is mostly about preference. But I would still recommend limiting all milks in general, since too much of any of these comes with associated health problems. Watch the sugar in the vegetarian milks. You should also be aware that calcium probably causes prostate cancer in men. (Los Angeles Times)
  • The Claim: Garlic Can Be Helpful in Warding Off a Cold <<Apparently there is some truth to this claim. I cook with garlic regularly, so maybe I should add this to my reasons that I never get sick. (New York Times)
  • 60 Delicious Detox Dishes <<Beautiful photos and wonderful recipes for post-football detox. You know who (me) is featured ;) (Macheesmo)
  • 10 Simple Freezer Tricks to Save You Time and Money <<Gotta love kitchen tips. Making good use of your freezer is a great way to save time and money. (Lifehacker)
  • A Few Cookies a Day to Keep the Pounds Away? <<B.S. of the week I’ve mentioned the cookie diet in passing before. Are these people serious? Unfortunately, they are. (New York Times)
  • Web Surf to Save Your Aging Brain <<When pressed I always say that my computer habit is probably the least healthy thing I do (I sit here a lot, in case you haven’t noticed). So it’s good to see there’s a chance it may at least be good for my brain. (HealthDay)
  • My Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet <<Dr. Steve Parker is doing an interesting experiment on himself over at the Diabetic Mediterranean Diet Blog. He put on a few pounds intentionally and is now trying to lose weight and improve his health by following a very low-carb ketogenic diet. His daily trials and tribulations are fascinating to me. He seems to be struggling quite a bit, including leg cramps, potential vitamin deficiencies and food cravings. Major props to Steve for doing this to himself for our benefit. As someone who has been through virtually every diet, I can feel his pain. For me cutting out processed carbs (not all carbs) is the perfect balance.
  • Lard Lesson: Why Fat Lubricates Your Appetite <<Some people say saturated fat isn’t bad for you, but I’m not convinced. This is not the first time it has been linked to insulin resistance. (Scientific American)
  • Salsa de Chile de Arbol Recipe <<Looking for something to do with all those extra chilies this season? Look no further than this delicious salsa recipe. (Over The Hill And On A Roll)
  • Nerdy food photos <<These are some of the most awesome nerdy food photos I’ve seen. Can’t decide what I like best, the mitosis cookies or the chromosome gummy worms. (Kevin Van Aelst)

What are you reading?

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For The Love of Food

by | Jul 3, 2009
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.

There are a ton of interesting articles and news stories out this week, and unfortunately I did not have room here to include a favorite recipe. See below for instructions on how to find a comprehensive list of my reading recommendations.

There are some heavy topics here, but all are worthy of your full attention. For balance, I posted several contradictory articles to make it clear that these issues are not simple and clear cut. Anyone who claims otherwise is not thinking hard enough.

If you would like to see more of my favorite articles each week or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious, and share with me your favorites as well.

Submissions of your own best food and health articles are also welcome, just drop me an email using the contact form. I am currently accepting guest posts at Summer Tomato for any healthy eating and exercise tips.

For The Love of Food

  • You. Need. Fat. <<I love Michelle’s (@MPfennighaus) perspective on dietary fat in this article. Just this week I’ve fielded a ton of questions and confusion about fat. I love oils, and so should you. (The Daily Balance)
  • Eating Animal Fat May Lead to Pancreatic Cancer <<Just in case you were thinking about going crazy Atkins-style after that last article, remember that not all the news is good about certain kinds of fat. This study just shows an association (not causation) of animal fat and pancreatic cancer, but moderation is usually a good idea. (HealthDay)
  • Horizon organics alert: here comes “natural” <<B.S. of the week Seems like Dean Foods is bent on ruining all the biggest organic products. First Silk Soy Milk, now Horizon. Apparently they want to charge you organic prices for foods that aren’t certified organic (aka conventional). Don’t fall for it. (via @marionnestle at Food Politics)
  • This just in: Vegetarian diets are fine <<Looks like the American Dietetics Association has finally issued a bill of approval on vegetarian diets. Not sure what took them so long. Personally I don’t have much of an opinion on the vegetarian thing. Sure it can* be healthier than a typical Western diet (*see next 2 articles), but if health is your concern you have more options as an omnivore. No matter what food religion you subscribe to, vegetables are the cornerstone of any healthy diet. (Los Angeles Times)
  • How High Carbohydrate Foods Can Raise Risk For Heart Problems <<Yes, refined carbohydrates are the real culprit in heart disease, not fat. (ScienceDaily)
  • Metabolic Syndrome May Make Breast Cancer More Likely <<Metabolic syndrome, also caused by carbohydrates, increases risk for breast cancer. (HealthDay)
  • Dear Mark: Freezer Essentials <<Those of you living in states that aren’t California may want to start stocking your freezer now, before your farmers markets close up for the winter. Mark Sisson offers some tips on how to make that dream a reality. (Mark’s Daily Apple)
  • Don’t be Fooled by Healthy Food Imposters <<I pick on Diets In Review a lot for being completely full of crap, but I like to give credit where credit is due. Finally some good advice about fake health food from an otherwise irresponsible publication. (Diets In Review)
  • It’s Time to Learn From Frogs <<One of the most important articles I’ve read in weeks. This is a fantastic piece in the New York Times about why we should stop being naive about the impact of environmental toxins (especially endocrine disruptors) on our lives.
  • Soy isn’t affecting men’s hormone levels…but something is <<Another important piece on the impact of hormones on human development. Looks like soy isn’t the problem some people (not me) thought it was. (Nutrition Data)

What great articles did you read or write this week? Leave your links in the comments.

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For The Love of Food

by | May 8, 2009
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or my Facebook fan page know I read a lot about food and health. Every week I post dozens of interesting articles and tips I find around the internet, most of which I do not have time to blog about. In the interest of awesomeness (and time) I have decided to start posting my favorite articles from the week  every Friday in a new segment, “For The Love of Food.”

For those of you with time constraints or an aversion to social media, this should help you find and prioritize the most worthwhile food and health stories and recipes. It will also free me up to do more in depth research for my Monday and Wednesday posts, something I think we can all appreciate.

I work like mad to keep up with the most interesting news on the web, but I would love your help in this! Please feel free to send me your favorite links and I might include them in Friday’s post (with a shout out, of course!). If you think it is appropriate, you are welcome to send me articles from your own website, but please please please only send me your best material. My time is extremely limited and I hope no one chooses to abuse it by spamming me with every single one of their blog posts. But I do want to see your best work, so send it along!

If you find anything awesome that I missed, go ahead and leave us a link in the comments.

Oh, and since I know you’re wondering, yes I carved that heart out of a red bell pepper myself ;)

For The Love of Food

  • Freeze That Thought <<My favorite advice article this week about optimizing your freezer, by Mark Bittman at the New York Times.
  • Drink Away Dementia? <<There isn’t enough info about the role of food in cognitive health. I hope all the news is this good! From Medline.

Let us know what you think!

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Quick Fix: Collards, Carrots and French Green Lentils

by | Apr 24, 2009
Collards, Carrots and Lentils

Collards, Carrots and Lentils

Last week I wrote about the perfect balanced meal and featured a picture of my dinner the previous night: collard greens, carrots and French green lentils. Since then I have had more than a few requests for the recipe and am happy to provide an encore to the How To Get Started Eating Healthy book.

Lentils are incredibly nutritious and easier to cook than dried beans. They also have the third highest protein content of any plant. A single serving of lentils contains 18 g of protein, 63% of your daily fiber and 37% of your iron in only 230 calories!

That’s more iron than 1,123 calories of prime rib. Remember when I said every plant could be considered a superfood? Well, lentils are no exception.

Lentils and other legumes are also great for weight loss and are a fabulous alternative to grains for individuals who are insulin resistant or diabetic, since they have minimal impact on blood sugar.

For a pan cooked dish, you want lentils that are fairly robust and maintain their shape after cooking. I prefer French green lentils, but standard brown lentils also hold up pretty well. Simply boil them in excess water with a pinch of salt for 20 minutes or so until tender (do not overcook). Strain, then toss them in with your vegetables at the end of cooking just to coat with flavor and heat through. Lentils freeze well, but can be kept fresh in the refrigerator 3-5 days.

In this recipe, kale or chard can easily substitute for the collards. If you want to use spinach, add it last after the lentils. Fold it in and allow it to wilt into the dish.

Collards, Carrots and French Green Lentils

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 collard leaves
  • 4-5 medium carrots
  • 1/2 cup French green lentils, cooked
  • 1 small leek
  • 1 clove garlic
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • lemon juice (optional)
  • chopped parsley (optional)

If you are making your lentils from scratch, quickly pick through them for pebbles, give them a rinse then boil them in excess water with a pinch of salt for 20-30 minutes, until tender. Even though I rarely consume more than half cup (cooked) in one sitting, I usually like to cook up at least one cup dry (at least 4 servings) and save the rest for later. Start them boiling as soon as you step into the kitchen and start cooking your vegetables at least 15 minutes after you turn them on.

In the mean time clean and chop your leek and mince your garlic. Peel and slice your carrots at a sharp angle to maximize the surface area for cooking. Clean your collard leafs, chop off the stems then stack them on top of each other in a pile. Cut into one inch squares, removing any sections that have thick pieces of stem.

Heat a pan on medium heat, then add olive oil. When the oil swirls easily in the pan, add the leeks and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes, until the pieces break up and become tender and translucent. Add carrots and stir. Cook 2 minutes, then add collards. Sprinkle with sea salt and continue to cook, stirring occasionally.

Be careful with your heat when pan frying collard greens–don’t let it get too high. The leaves easily trap steam from cooking, and I had a few jump out of my pan onto the floor. They make a loud popping sound too, which is very exciting. If it makes you feel safer, you can cover the greens for the first minute or two while they soften.

Shortly after the collards turn bright green from cooking (4-5 minutes), clear a space in the center of the pan and add your minced garlic in a single layer (you can add a touch more oil if necessary). Let garlic cook 30 seconds or so until fragrant, then add the lentils and mix with the other vegetables. A squeeze of lemon juice, zest or a dash of vinegar is a good addition here, if you like. A sprinkle of your favorite herb, e.g. Italian parsley, basil or thyme, adds depth and complexity if you have them around.

Continue cooking 3-4 more minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. If you are using cold lentils, cook until warm. Adjust salt and serve.

This dish is wonderful as a main course, by itself or with brown rice. It can easily be scaled to accommodate a large crowd if you have a big enough pan.

What flavors do you love to pair with lentils?

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How To Get Started Eating Healthy: Stock Your Freezer

by | Apr 15, 2009
Rice Balls

Rice Balls

There are many places you can turn when you’re feeling lazy or are too busy to cook a fresh meal, but instead of reaching for the take-out menu I prefer to turn to my freezer. For one thing, even the taqueria directly downstairs from my apartment cannot whip up something as quickly as I can. And their grilled veggie burrito (not to mention the carne asada burrito!) is substantially more expensive than anything I would make–I’m sure you can guess which is healthier too.

(This post is part four of the series How To Get Started Eating Healthy. Part one is Stock Your Pantry, part two is Essential Groceries and part three is Seasonal Shopping.)

Your freezer is an invaluable resource for storing foods that are best made in large batches. Frozen fruits and vegetables from the grocery store can also come in handy when you are in a pinch. Below is my personal list of freezer essentials, but please add your own in the comments and tell us how you use them:

  • Frozen rice balls The single most essential item in my freezer is my giant bag of frozen brown rice balls. When I first explained the best way to make rice, I mentioned that I prefer to make a large batch and freeze it in individual servings. This is a trick I learned from a former housemate that always cooked traditional Japanese food (thanks Kiyoshi!). He used white rice, but I think this method is even more valuable for whole, intact grains since they are not particularly easy to integrate into your meals unless you make them yourself. Whole grains take quite a while to cook, but if you make a lot and freeze them you only need to cook grains occasionally. In addition to rice, you can also freeze other grains like barley and steel cut oatmeal.
  • Cooked legumes To know me is to know that I love beans and lentils. Legumes are some of the healthiest food you can eat, and are among the best sources of protein on the planet. The only problem is they can take a long time to cook. Lentils cook pretty quickly (~20 minutes), but I like to make beans in large batches in the pressure cooker and freeze the rest in 1-2 tupperware containers that I thaw at my leisure. Lentils can be frozen as well.
  • Green legumes In addition to beans I have cooked myself, I also keep a stock of shelled, frozen soy beans and petite green peas in the freezer. These cook in just a few minutes and are delicious tossed with nuts, garlic and fresh herbs. My recipe needs some serious updating, but if you want an example of what I mean check out my Edamame and Peas Quick Fix.
  • Frozen fruit I always have a few bags of frozen wild organic blueberries for the days I run out of fresh fruit for my cereal. They thaw pretty fast (sometimes I put them in the microwave for 30 seconds) and are pretty tasty. They are great in oatmeal and pancakes as well.
  • Walnuts I keep my walnuts in the freezer to prevent the unstable omega-3 fatty acids from going rancid. Other nuts likely store well in the freezer too but tend to be more stable at room temperature than walnuts, which are particularly high in omega-3s.
  • Soups I love soup and cook it often. If you have ever browsed through James Peterson’s book Splendid Soups, you know why. The problem with soup is there is only one of me and the recipes tend to serve at least 4 people. Unless you want to eat the same thing all week long, freezing your left overs is your best bet. An added bonus is that you end up with a freezer filled with your favorite creations that can be eaten on lazy days.
  • Bread I do not eat bread often, but love to have it in the house just in case. But I never buy regular, sliced grocery store bread that is full of preservatives, dough conditioners and other bizarre ingredients that belong in the lab. Instead, I like to go to my local bakery (Acme or Tartine), get a fresh loaf, cut it up into single servings and freeze it in gallon freezer bags. You would be shocked at how nicely frozen bread reheats in an oven set to 325. Alternatively you can take it out a day early and thaw it in the fridge.
  • Meat Most of you already know that meat stores well in the freezer, but you can also store scraps and bones to make your own stock. Conveniently, you can also freeze your homemade stock.
  • Sauces During the summertime my local markets are practically giving away basil. It is such a wonderful herb, I cannot help making big batches of pesto all season. Leftover sauces can be frozen and taken out in winter when your favorite flavors are harder to find.
  • Spices I have recently started grinding my own spices, but like many things it is easier to do it in large batches. Extra spices store well in sealed containers in the freezer.

Your freezer is a great resource and I encourage you to be creative. It can make healthy eating much easier by giving you quick access to healthy foods, and also spares you from monotony when you cook in large batches.

How else can your freezer help you eat healthy?

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