Features & Feedback

by | Feb 20, 2009

I had a handful of great stories brewing for today’s post, but decided instead to take this opportunity to highlight some interesting things on this blog all you quick browsers and email subscribers may have missed. I also want to gather your feedback on features you would like to see on the new SummerTomato.com. That’s right, soon we will have a brand new name, a brand new look and a brand new website!

I want to start by thanking everyone who has participated in the great conversations we have been having this week in the Comments section of my posts. If you have never visited the comments, we often have very interesting discussions there and I frequently chime in to answer readers’ questions (and ask some of my own!).

Here are some examples of the questions we’ve addressed:

From Karin: I was enjoying a lovely meal of leeks and collard greens and was thinking about this cancer article, and it got me wondering. Should I have mixed in some spinach or something with these greens? I know variety is always better, but do you think it would have any measurable affect on cancer?

From Darya:

@Karin Good question about mixing greens. Yes, technically it might be slightly healthier to have more different kinds in one meal, but if you are eating them all in the same week it is just as good.

From a culinary perspective, spinach is a very delicate green while collards are very hearty. I wouldn’t recommend mixing those specifically. Kale or chard would be a better option, but you would have to work with a more complex flavor profile that might not taste as good. Worth an experiment though!

From Matt: I believe, as Darya touched on above, adopting healthy eating (and exercising) habits now can really pay off in the future…I am at the point now that I don’t know why anyone would continue to eat poorly. I think depression, ignorance, and apathy only go so far…no one is forcing people to eat poorly except themselves.

From Darya:

@Matt I also find it difficult sometimes to understand the fatalistic attitude so many people have toward health. From talking to people though, I think a lot of it stems from the confusion and misinformation that gets filtered to the public about health.

Also, because fresh fruits and vegetables are old-fashioned and “health” food is usually thought of as powders and bars, it has a reputation for being bad tasting. To me this is the biggest irony of all. If I had to choose between my diet and the typical Western diet on taste alone, I would choose mine in a heartbeat (and probably thousands more!).

The myths surrounding the value and taste of healthy foods are what I’m trying to dispel here.

From Greg: Interesting comments, but does anyone else agree that its only a matter of time before modern medicine does away with cancer and heart disease? I mean, people already get heart bypass surgery and cancer surgery, so doctor’s ability to treat this stuff is only gonna get better- I wonder if that influences people about whether they worry about cancer or not….

From Darya:

@Greg You would be blown away if you saw the data on how much more effective food is than “modern medicine” for both preventing and curing most of our chronic diseases. Check out the health books on my side bar.

It is hard for healthy people to comprehend how horrible it is to have debilitating disease for 1, 5, 10 years. You cannot enjoy your favorite activities, you are a burden on your loved ones, your mind is confused and basic functions are difficult. Medicine can do nothing about these things, but food can keep you sprightly into your 80s and 90s.

From Peter:
I must admit, albeit embarrassingly, I am a bit lazy when it comes to food preparation. How much time do you usually spend on a typical dinner prep?

From Darya:

@Peter On week nights I try for under 15 min. I’m ridiculously busy and always starving after my workouts, so I have little patience for extravagance.

On weekends I might take a bit longer, for the foodie in me. My soups usually take 30-60 min, but that’s lunch all week.

From Healthyliving: If I do buy stuff at the grocery store that is unhealthy, is it better to just throw it away? I go back and forth between eating it and throwing it away, even though I know that throwing it away would probably be the best thing to help me fit into my jeans…..

From Darya:

@Healthyliving Great question! When I have junk food I don’t want I just give it to my friends. Most of them will eat anything. Sharing those calories over many people makes them less bad for everyone!

Subscribe to comments

These were just a few examples of the great discussions we have had. If you are interested in this kind of direct feedback, I encourage you to visit our comments section occasionally and participate. If you would just like to listen passively, a good option for you might be “Subscribe to Comments”–there is a link on the sidebar for you to subscribe via your news reader. If you do not have a new reader, I highly recommend Google Reader. I use it to zip through dozens of blogs and news feeds everyday.

Quick Links

Another feature on the sidebar you may not have seen is the new Quick Links section. There I have posted links to my FoodFeed (more on this in a second) as well as links to the major topics featured on this blog:

These are to help you navigate the site better and find older articles. In reality, these buttons are the same as the “labels” links at the bottom of each post. This list is simply the most common labels. You can click labels from any location to find more articles on a particular topic.

SummerTomato.com will be structured by several categories similar to the Quick Link labels. Currently the categories are:

  • Basics – The basic tenets of healthy eating and weight loss
  • News – Health news stories and the latest research
  • Market – Farmers market updates so you know what fruits and vegetables are in season
  • Science – Analysis of the scientific research that is the basis of my recommendations
  • Recipes – An archive of all my recipes
  • Tips – Quick tips and tricks to make healthy living easier
  • Thought – Reflection and opinion on health, news and (when appropriate) politics

Articles at Summer Tomato may be linked into several categories depending on the topic, as well as subcategories for each topic (e.g. Market and Recipes will be further divided into seasons). There will also be labels/tags and a search box for very specific article searches. This structure is designed for easier navigation to subjects that interest you. If you have any suggestions for the navigation structure of the new site, now would be a great time to let me know!


The other Quick Link I mentioned (“I’m eating…“) is my FoodFeed. You might remember that several months ago I announced that I would post everything I eat (TwEating) on Twitter. I did this to give people a better idea of what kind of foods constitute a healthy diet (and also prove to you that I’m not vegetarian!).

Though I have been TwEating for nearly 3 months, a few weeks in I became aware of a Twitter-related service called FoodFeed, where everyone is encouraged to post their meals. Since I learned of it, I’ve posted everything I have eaten there as well. Now it is possible to follow my meals without following all my Tweets.

I was already planning to show my streaming Twitter feed on SummerTomato.com. I think this is good because it will include both my TwEats as well as all the interesting health articles I read each day–I only post about a small fraction of them on my blog. But alternatively I could have a feed with only my TwEats via FoodFeed. Since this is really just for you guys, I would love to know which you would prefer.

Concluding thoughts

The reason I started this blog and am building a better one is because I want to help each of you eat and live healthier. From what I gather by listening to people, the biggest barriers to health are usually convenience and confusion about health/nutrition science. This is your chance to help me make SummerTomato.com as convenient and user-friendly as possible, so please take a minute and share your opinions.

Thanks for your feedback!

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11 Responses to “Features & Feedback”

  1. Dinneen-EatWithoutGuilt says:

    First, I love that your asking readers what they want! That’s great. I also liked that you answered readers questions. Nice.One of the great things I love about your blog are the recipes. They’re simple and easy to follow, not to mention tasty!Thanks Darya for continuing to give us great information and advice!

  2. Steve Parker, M.D. says:

    Hi, Darya.You’re doing such a great job I can’t think of any helpful improvements.-Steve

  3. Karin says:

    Wow!!! I can’t believe I was spotlighted in your post- thanks I guess, a bit embarrased :”) I love your blog too darya as I’m sure you can tell from my posts, but good heads up, I’ll think about it for a bit and see if I can come up with anything.

  4. Scott says:

    Can’t wait to see what your new site looks like. And I love following your Tweats, its pretty cool that you actually do it; I could never post what I eat with that kind of consistancy. Its hard to tell the difference between what the food feed and Tweats would be like on your new website; I personally like Tweats/Twitter because I already use Twitter and am familiar with the format, whereas foodfeed just seems separate. But on the other hand foodfeed is an interesting concept of many people writing down what they eat. Plus, I guess on foodfeed you wouldn’t necessarily post links to all the other stories that aren’t in your blog; tough choice here. I don’t know, maybe do both side by side and see what works best!

  5. Matt Shook says:

    Damn. I probably should have read this post before commenting in the last one again. Oh well…to reiterate it again, I find the full twitter feed is appropriate…for it’s diversity of information, such as TwEats, science articles, and up-to-the-minute Laker injuries. Well, maybe not that last one…One thing I like about this current setup is that I don’t have to do any signing in when I am already signed into my google account. It’s kind of nifty to know that I can post as myself without having to sign-in again.While the random words are often hilarious, it’s occasionally annoying to type in multiple word verifications. I realize this is to prevent lame posts from uber-obnoxious spambots, but maybe there is some other way around it…Another thing I’ve noticed with the “email subscriptions” is occasionally the new posts arrive in my inbox a day after they have been posted on the site. Not sure if this problem is on my end…but it’s not really that big of a deal.I think the categories are very good. How about adding other one called “Ask the Tomato!” or somesuch where readers could submit their own burning questions that may highlighted and answered once a week in a post? Just throwing the idea out there…As far as navigation goes, I prefer clean and simple. I kind of like how this blog organizes the posts by month…it kind of coincides with the seasons and the latest farmers market produce.Lastly, more pictures of delicious fruit and vegetables…less pictures of greasy mounds of lard. ;)I’ll let you know if I think of anything else…

  6. Car Blog says:

    You have a very good blog, yo make it better i would say, you can post pics of the food while cooking.

  7. Darya Pino says:

    @DinneenThank you so much for the compliments. The recipes will continue and hopefully keep improving. Spring and summer cooking are my favorite!—–@Steve *blush*—–@KarinDon’t be embarrassed, you always ask fantastic questions. Please keep them coming!—–@ScottYes, the main difference between the Twitter stream and the FoodFeed stream is the ‘other’ content, such as news stories and my random conversations with friends. As Matt points out, I tend to Tweet during Lakers games too.FoodFeed is more focused, but Twitter has richer content.—–@MattWordpress is set up so that once you have a comment verified (your first comment using a specific email address is automatically sent to moderation to be approved by me), your new comments no longer need to go through moderation. This rewards frequent readers and commenters while keeping spam to a minimum. Hopefully this will address your concern.I had to make an executive decision about what time of day my email posts go out. For consistency I chose between 9-11am (PST). At that time, all posts I have written since the last email will be sent.Unfortunately, if I do not get my daily post up before 9am, it will not go out until the next day. In my future life where I don’t have 3 jobs I will have an easier time keeping a schedule. In the mean time please bear with me :)—–@Car BlogThat is a great idea! I would love to post more pics while I’m cooking. Unfortunately I don’t have enough arms right now to make this a reality. I can try to take more pics during prep stages (I used to do this, but have kind of forgotten about it). If I ever get married, this should become easier for me 😉

  8. Katie says:

    Wow, I’m so excited about your new site!!!! When is your official launch date? What are the biggest differences between this blogspot blog and the new one that we should be aware of? I personally would be most interested in food feed because then we would get to see what other people are eating too, right? If I joined foodfeed could I post a picture along with the description of what I’m eating?

  9. Greg says:

    Since you’re asking for feedback, have you ever thought of making a top-10 post for questions that people ask you the most? I often feel like I wanna ask you something, but don’t wanna hog-the-blog, and I’m curious what other people ask you that may not get out onto the posts. Good idea?

  10. Darya Pino says:

    @KarinI’ll post tutorials after launching. I’m hoping for 4-6 weeks, but you never know what snags are going to come up. I want it to be awesome for you guys :)If I post my FoodFeed, it would not include everyone’s @having posts, just my own. If you join FoodFeed you can post what you like as well as links to pictures. Those would show up on the FoodFeed website. You are welcome to show off your fixins with links to them on this website :)—-@Matt @GregYou both expressed interesting in having a section to ask me questions, and I have now added it to my new site! We’ll test it out and make modifications as they seem necessary. Thanks for the great idea!!

  11. NB says:

    I’m inclined to vote for Foodfeed, Twitter just has too much superfluous stuff that isn’t really related (despite how interesting your life is…..)Is there a way you could have your website sort out the Tweats that are relevant? That would be ideal, because I do want to see all the articles and other stuff- but it just becomes too much if its everything.

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