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Why I Don’t Bargain Shop for Food

by | Mar 15, 2017

Farmers market it Portland, OR

Money is a touchy subject. Even without bringing up finances directly, people like me who encourage others to eat Real Food often get branded as elitist out of hand.

I get it. Finding and affording fresh food can be difficult or impossible for some people, and that is heartbreaking. But I don’t think that should make the entire subject off limits.

Food is a complex topic that includes issues related to health, economics, culture, human rights, animal welfare and the environment/sustainability. We also need to make food decisions multiple times a day in order to survive.

I consider all these things when deciding what to purchase for myself and my family, and know first hand what kinds of tradeoffs come up when choosing what to eat. Over the years both my priorities and financial means have changed dramatically, and ultimately evolved into the system I use today.

Here I’ll take you through my thought process in making food decisions, including how I’ve adapted to lower and higher income levels.

Of course none of this is intended as a judgement or condemnation on anyone else’s decisions. Everyone’s values are personal and equally valid, and obviously you need to do what works for you and your family.

My goal here is to shed some light on a difficult subject and hope it provides some clarity for those who are trying to make heads or tails of these issues.

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How I Became Obsessed With Mexican Food (+ recipe)

by | Feb 21, 2017

My best childhood memories include big family BBQs at my grandparents’ house, jumping off the diving board anywhere my mom would let me, riding bikes with my brother Dana, and of course Mexico.

My grandfather’s parents were Mexican immigrants. He grew up in Texas in a bilingual home, then ultimately enlisted in the Army where he served in WWII and became a featherweight boxing champion. He was so good at boxing in fact, that he was ultimately recruited to fight with the Marine Corps as well.

After his service he met my blue-eyed, red-headed grandmother in LA. Together they were a spitting image of Ricky and Lucy Ricardo.

After getting married they opened a German sandwich shop and hofbrau in LA. Grandpa was the chef and I don’t know why he chose German food, but my guess is that he was trying desperately to assimilate into the country he loved so he and his family would not be stigmatized by his immigrant heritage. Spanish was never spoken in the home my mother grew up in.

By the time I came into the picture though we ate Mexican food a lot. Even though my mother was the one with Mexican heritage, my father was a self-proclaimed Mexiphile and it was a rare day that our home wasn’t stocked with homemade salsa and guacamole (pronounced wah-cah-moe-lay, please). Chips were optional.

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3 Biggest Lessons from Foodist Kitchen (even though I’m an experienced cook)

by | Dec 28, 2016

roast peppers with mozzarella

OFFER EXTENDED: Save $15 on Foodist Kitchen until January 8 using code NEWYEAR2017

For me nothing is more flattering than when someone I trust and respect in my field says something nice about my work. Of course it makes me happy when a family member or close friend compliments me too, but I can’t help but wonder how much the love bias is influencing their words.

So when author, scientist and fellow healthy food writer Jules Clancy reached out to tell me how much she enjoyed my Foodist Kitchen program, my heart skipped a beat.

I have been following Jules over at Stone Soup for years and know she’s an experienced cook. So I was deeply flattered to hear that she got so much from the program even though it is primarily designed for beginners.

When she offered to share her favorite highlights from the program with all of you, I jumped at the opportunity. I’ll let Jules take it from here.

Use code NEWYEAR2017 to get $15 off Foodist Kitchen until Jan 6 January 8.

Jules Clancy LOVES real food and hanging out in her kitchen. She has a degree in Food Science and is the author of ‘5-Ingredients 10-Minutes’. For a free eCookbook of delicious 5-ingredient recipes sign up for the Stonesoup weekly newsletter.

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Learn to Cook Without Recipes in 2017 (and save $15)

by | Dec 26, 2016

OFFER EXTENDED: Save $15 on Foodist Kitchen until January 8 using code NEWYEAR2017

As I’ve explained before, cooking is by far the most important habit you need if you want to take control of your health. The reason for this is pretty simple: you can guarantee that your plate is filled with vegetables and other Real Foods that are satisfying, nourishing and delicious.

If getting Real Food on your plate is easy and you’re excited to eat it, then you have a recipe for long-lasting good health. You win.

An added benefit of cooking at home is it’s a great way to detox from weeks of holiday parties, family feasts and airport food. Amirite??

Of course, cooking your meals at home is easier said than done.

If you don’t feel confident in your cooking skills the whole “satisfying and delicious” part may elude you.

If you’ve always relied on recipes to decide what to buy and how to turn it into dinner then getting Real Food on your plate “easily” sounds like a pipe dream.

If the extent of your kitchen talent is heating up a frozen dinner, then eating “vegetables and other Real Foods” is a genuine Christmas miracle.

Cooking isn’t one skill. It’s several skills (knife work, flavor pairings, intuition for flavors and when food is “done”) mixed with a set of habits (grocery shopping, keeping a clean kitchen, using up leftovers) the end result of which is ease and confidence in the kitchen.

And for one reason or another many of us never learned these essential lessons.

I created Foodist Kitchen to solve this problem and teach you to cook without recipes in 30 days. And what better time to start than in your week off before the New Year?

From now until Jan 6 January 8 use the code NEWYEAR2017 to save $15 on the Foodist Kitchen program.

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Foodist Approved: Greek Bison Burgers Recipe

by | Aug 16, 2016
Greek Bison Burgers

Greek Bison Burgers

A note from Darya:

Big news! Our very own recipe guru Elyse Kopecky’s amazing new cookbook Run Fast Eat Slow is out in the world.

If you’ve been cooking Elyse’s recipes here at Summer Tomato for the past few years you already know how freakishly delicious everything in this book will be.

Even more exciting is that this book is specifically designed to nourish you for optimal athletic performance. Elyse’s co-author is world class marathoner and 4-time Olympian Shalene Flanagan, who credits a real foods approach to helping her perform at her best.

Together Elyse and Shalene have created over 100 nourishing and delicious real foods recipes that any home chef can make with ease.

Check out Run Fast Eat Slow today and show your support by attending her book events and checking her out on Good Morning American this Thursday.

Congratulations Elyse!



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Foodist Approved: Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Veggies and Sardines Recipe

by | Jul 19, 2016
Pesto Pasta with Grilled Veggies and Sardines

Pesto Pasta with Grilled Veggies and Sardines

Yup, you heard that right, sardines! Sardines are a much-underutilized ingredient, but should be a staple you keep on hand in your pantry. They’re a great addition to pasta because they add satisfying umami flavor, protein, and a serious omega-3 boost.

Since sardines are much lower in mercury and other toxins, they’re my go-to over tuna (Darya’s too). My two-year-old loves them and eats them straight up out of the can (personally I prefer them mixed into dishes like pasta and egg salad).

For this pasta dish, I was inspired by the broccolini and summer squash at the farmers market, but feel free to mix it up and grill any assortment of summer favorites. Red peppers, eggplant, fennel, and asparagus are other reliable grill-time staples.

If you’re feeding a small army, I recommend doubling this recipe. It makes great leftovers and can be served cold as a salad for lunch the next day.

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Foodist Approved: Summer Quinoa Salad Recipe

by | Jun 14, 2016
farmers market quinoa salad

farmers market quinoa salad

The ingredients in this hearty grain salad celebrate the start of summer and the opening of farmers markets across the country. This quinoa salad is packed with a power combo of kale, sugar snap peas, and radishes and is tossed with a bright lemony vinaigrette.

The secret that takes this salad from good to great is adding finely grated lemon zest to the vinaigrette. The zest brightens the other flavors and creates a beautiful flavor profile.

A microplane zester is an inexpensive tool worthy of adding to your kitchen gadget collection. Otherwise a paring knife can be used to carefully remove the zest from the pith. This will give you large pieces of zest that then need to be minced finely. Lemon zest adds exceptional flavor to everything from dressings to marinades to baked goods.

I’ll admit it. I made this salad three times this week! The first night for recipe testing, the next night for dinner at grandma’s house, and a couple nights later for a dinner party with friends. It was an acclaimed winner at every event.

Top this salad with a soft-boiled egg for a quick, nourishing meal or serve as a side with grilled steak for a no-stress dinner party.

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Foodist Approved: Mexican Pozole Soup Recipe

by | May 17, 2016
Pork Pozole Verde Soup

Pork Pozole Verde Soup

I asked Darya what she was craving this week and she said a Mexican-style soup. I tend to cook a lot of food that’s French and Italian, inspired by my time living abroad in Switzerland, so I was thrilled to turn-up-the-heat and experiment with creating a dish that incorporates roasted peppers, earthy cumin, and slow-cooked pork shoulder.

If you haven’t cooked much with pork, this recipe will inspire you to try something new. Pork can be a healthy and richly satisfying part of your healthstyle if you seek out a butcher selling local meat that’s been raised humanely. After a long, slow simmer (a slow-cooker works best) the pork shoulder gets so tender that you can shred it into bite-size pieces reminiscent of Southern-style pulled pork.

To save time, this dish can be made with canned diced green chiles, but prying open a can isn’t nearly as much fun as charring a whole tray of fresh peppers (just try not to set off the fire alarm!). It takes just two to three Anaheim peppers to add some nice heat to the soup, but if you’re going to go to the trouble to roast fresh peppers you might as well char a whole bunch.

You can chop and freeze the extra roasted peppers in individual portions for future soups, stews, or my personal fave—homemade fire-roasted salsa (tomato season is almost here).

Just before serving, stir in chopped purple cabbage to sneak in a cruciferous star and to add a satisfying crunch to each bowl.

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Foodist Approved: Green Curry Braised Salmon Recipe

by | Apr 19, 2016

green curry braised salmon kopecky 650px
This green curry salmon recipe, compliments of James Beard award-winning cookbook author Diane Morgan, proves weeknight dinners can be fancy without the fuss.

Last week I was thrilled to see the first fresh wild Alaskan salmon of the season at my local grocery store. It was an excuse to put friend Diane Morgan’s beautiful new Salmon cookbook to the test.

After flipping through all the mouth-watering recipes in her book, this recipe jumped out at me as being both simple and unique. I love making flavorful curries and hadn’t thought to try one made with fish.

I’m never good at following a recipe exactly, but this recipe is perfect as written below. If you’re feeling adventurous you can try these small tweaks:

Being a veggie lover, I couldn’t resist tossing in a hearty handful of baby spinach in the last couple minutes of simmering.

I also substituted coconut sugar for brown sugar.

Since I was using my favorite potent green curry paste, Oregon-based Thai and True, I scaled back to slightly less than 1/4 cup. If you prefer less spice than start out with 3 tablespoons of curry paste and you can always taste and add a little more curry at the end of cooking.

This recipe is great served on top of jasmine rice, short-grain brown rice, or quinoa.

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Foodist Approved: Sweet Potato Salad Recipe

by | Mar 15, 2016
Sweet Potato Succotash

Sweet Potato Succotash

With Spring right around the corner it’s time to bring back nourishing salads. And I’m not talking about uninspiring limp lettuce salads, but hearty, satisfying bowls of color. This creamy sweet potato salad stands on its own as a complete meal or pairs harmoniously with juicy burgers.

In our household we love to create side dishes whose leftovers can be transformed into work lunches. If you’re working 9-to-5, you need serious mid-day fuel to prevent that late afternoon slump (we all know that dreadful crash that leads to junk food snack attacks).

Thanks to the power combination of sweet potatoes, edamame, corn, and pepitas all tossed together in a rich yogurt-based dressing this salad will sustain you throughout the afternoon.

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